dyeing eggs for Easter

After seeing so many sites with gorgeous naturally dyed eggs and an earlier attempt at it with friends, I knew I wanted to try many foods to find a few that worked. Yesterday, I tested a few by myself – cumin, blueberries, and spinach. Only blueberries yielded a lovely dye that clung to my eggs. Today, in case a few proved disappointing, I selected many food items from the list on this website, choosing what I knew I had in the fridge, freezer, or cabinet.

We used lavender, chamomile, coffee, beets, carrots, parsley, blueberries, cranberries, and grape juice. I prepared the food items by boiling them in water for 5-15 minutes and straining the liquid into my dye cups. In the case of beets and grape juice, I merely dumped the liquid from canned beets into the cup and poured the fruit juice right from the fridge. To each dye cup, I added roughly 1 dump or 2 tablespoons of vinegar. While tending the stove to keep Oliver away and making lunch, the house was coming undone. Oh well.

I got labels ready so we could remember which ones yielded the best color and repeat with our extra eggs.

Elliott was eager to check on color, while Oliver sharked around, eager to pull off the tablecloth. The first batch proved exciting for beets, blueberries, chamomile, coffee, and lavender. Carrot and parsley resulted in no color change, so we just put those eggs in another color, but added rubber bands for effect.

 

After they drip dried a few minutes, I grew impatient and rolled them in a paper towel. This resulted in some that were a bit splotchy, but others held their color well.

Overall, we were quite happy with the shades and variety. Lovely, eh? There is still time today… what do you have in your freezer or cabinet to work with?

a fall snowstorm

A snowstorm has hit our home! One little snowflake coming home from school sparked intense interest in crafting up more, which timed up perfectly with a friend’s snowflake crafting at their home. Even though it is 60+ degrees outside and turkeys are still being made to grace the windows, last night was the night to crank snowflakes out.

And in case we were worried that they don’t quite look like snowflakes, Elliott was quick to take care of that…

 

“That one with the long sides is pretty awesomer. Any kind of crystal can form. Crystals can form like that. Like yours, like mine.”  

 

We were also quite enthused by the sun scattering our snowflakes around the house for us and it made Elliott wish we could have snowflakes stenciled on the walls. That sounded lovely, but we did not bust out the paints or markers to capture those shadows today.

making it better

When so much has been overwhelming and difficult, I am happy to find there is a lot lately that just has made each day a little better.

  • watching my little baby become a little boy, so suddenly

 

  • seeing that same little boy enjoy being 1 so much and partying until he dropped

    

  • the sweet clothing we scored at Goodwill, including two Hawaiian shirts, one for each boy

  • venting at knit night and finding I am not alone in my troubles, plus getting at least three rows knit (a first in over a month)

 

  • my new birthday sewing machines and table ~~ These make me giddy! I realize one will have to be sold, but to get the table, I had to buy both machines at the antique shop. I had to, I’m telling you. 🙂 Plus, the boys were so patient while I inspected each machine, loaded them, and paid for them. I was so proud. It made the whole day just go wonderfully after that.

cutting work

Although it is summer and most people are enjoying the pool or trails, I find the boys and I are inside more often than not. I believe we should be out,  but then I worry about heat and bugs on the baby and when we are out, I end up drippy and grouchy from the heat. So we are waiting on fall!

Because big E is restless and we have been learning shape names with the geometric cabinet, I got back out cutting work. We started this a long time ago, perhaps right around the age of 2, with straight lines. I made them quite thin and got scissors that popped open as his first pair. He liked cutting but grew frustrated if he did not cut perfectly. So now, older and more skilled with scissors, we pulled the shapes back out for cutting and making collages. I should note that between the time we put up the practice precision cutting, he still had access to scissors, but more for just free cutting practice. As his skills improved, we got out a child-sized, very sharp Fiskars pair – they fit his hand, and the actually cut well. Here are the types we used between the ages of 2 and 4.

   

 

In case you are inside more than you planned this summer, I uploaded the files to share – on the left side bar. It just requires construction paper or cardstock paper, a printer, and a paper-cutter (or scissors). The order we showed them to E was: straight lines, zigzags, curves, and then shapes.

And just in case it needs said… I know they are not much, but please, keep them just for personal use. No selling, no passing along as yours. Thanks!

October 10, 2010 – I have removed the files since boxnet was causing trouble on my site… If you would like the documents, comment and ask or email me. Thank you!

where creativity led to today

Amidst all my shushing and jotting of notes and busy day I had going on, I happily looked the other way while BIG WORK took place at the crafting table. I occasionally pointed out that scissors should not be left on the floor for brother to find, or that scissors did not belong in the bedroom, especially to cut paper on the bed, but I otherwise kept my nose, and eyes, out of it. And because of it, a lot more was accomplished.

Here we have the beemer wasp pupa. We are currently watching ladybugs go from their larva and pupa stages to full-blown ladybugs, so I understand the inspiration. The beemer wasp though, well, it must be a new species, native to Forest Ave.

And then came the train and stone tunnel, with a car on a bridge overtop. It has been exciting in our household to watch the  gradual steps as big E tries to move to three-dimensional drawing.

There was even some block building in there today. Ah, the thrill of picture-taking. And he wanted to be in there, like that.  

But this is by far my favorite creation… and you might wonder why. I know, look at it. A jumble of paper clips, tape, paper, and even a stick for good measure. But the story makes the piece. It is actually a model of a park and house. In the back is a fire pit and tree, with a curving sidewalk drawn in the middle. On the right are ‘climbing/hanging things’ (his words) – ‘one for big kids and one for little kids’. The stick is the balance beam. I am not sure what the red rectangle is, but I will use my imagination for some park play thing. Big E is often inspired by his Dad’s model making and wants to help. And if he cannot help, he just designs his own.

I really hope I can continue to mind my business, with crafting and so much more, and not do the adult thing by squelching it all, even in an effort to ‘help’. I don’t want to kill the enthusiasm, the designs, the energy, the pride. Everything I am now self-conscious about when I work.

where creativity led to today

inspired by a book, but making it his own.

 

big E introduces yac (his phonetic spelling) and cat.

creativity and the little one

My oldest little one, big E, well, he loves to craft. Markers, glue, scissors, and lots of paper make for a happy boy. And I encouraged it from the start. I left out the paints and crayons and all the needed tools – a choice he could make anytime of day. And it was going great until about the age of 3. With being older and more skilled, I noticed more messes that resulted from bigger projects. So materials started disappearing off the shelves, I began encouraging him to choose other works, even getting angry and stressed over the mess (ultimately, he gets in so deep, he needs rescuing and help cleaning up – not cool when  we had a newborn). The other day on the verge of losing it yet again, I was finishing up my Facebook time. A friend found a link to a YouTube video of Sir Ken Robinson, who I had actually had the pleasure of hearing speak at the AMI Refresher Course back on February 14, 2009. Here is the video I got to hear yesterday. It is long, but worth the listen in my opinion. While I listened, I ignored the crafting table. Twenty minutes later, this is what he brought over to me:

Lesson learned. When I keep my nose out of it, he is a happy creative boy. And the paper pieces, open scissors, glue stick on its side, pencil rolling on the floor? He was also very willing to clean up the resulting mess after he was done working. And when I had to pick little scraps off the floor that night that he overlooked, I was just fine with it.

Some tips for crafting with young children:

– There is no need to make every project a parent-child project. While it is great to make a project you have seen in a magazine or do a big one together, this does not and should not be the bulk of your child’s crafting. They are creative thinkers and need time to work on their own ideas, not someone else’s.

– After showing a child how to carefully write and draw with crayons/marker/pencils, put an age appropriate amount out on an accessible shelf. Make sure to include a mat to protect your table and paper that fits onto the mat. If you have a low table for them to work at, this is even better. They need a place to work at that fits their body and is always there when they want to work. If your kitchen table is your craft table, a lot of struggles may ensue when it is time to set the table for dinner and the crafting materials are still in use!  At first, you may have to remind the child where they can write (on the paper). But what happens when they do not? Well, without a lot of fuss, have them clean up the mess they made with you and then put them up, out of sight, for one day, two days… Later, give them a chance again, demonstrating again where they can write. For a young toddler or young child, it is important to state where they CAN draw, not where they CANNOT draw.

– As a child is able to be trusted with one medium, make more room on the shelf for a second, or rotate in new choices. Crayons, colored pencils, markers, oil pastels, chalk, clay, watercolors. Introduce them and make sure they have everything handy to use them. For instance, to do watercolors, they need high quality paper, a mat, a brush, a bowl for water, a pitcher to get more water, and a bucket to put dirty water in. You do not want them emptying that tiny rinse cup in the bathroom if they have to cross two white rugs to get there! And don’t forget the sponge or rag to wipe up drips and spills. They will happen and there is no quicker way to kill creativity and discourage working with art materials than to yell over the mess. Trust me, I know.

– When crafting together is happening, make each project your own. Your work and your child’s work. You choose your colors, design, and medium. Allow your child the same freedoms. It may not be what you would choose, but what a sense of independence and satisfaction with their own work at the end! And if they do not like their work at the end? Well, they are then able to reflect on their own choices, not a parent’s choice.

– And if you absolutely cannot tolerate the idea of crayons and markers at first, start with sticker and paper. Put something in their hands. Trust them and you may be happily surprised.

Here are two setups we are using for our boys.

I put out coloring for the very young child at one, watercolors for the older child at the other. Notice that the crayon set up has only three chunky crayons and only white paper for the youngest artist. This helps to focus the toddler on how crayons work and what they are making. Chunky beeswax crayons write well and are easy to hold. The white table and low chair are from Michael Olaf. They served big E from sitting age to about 3. For the watercolor set up, since the older child has more concentration, they are able to set up the materials, use them, and clean them up. It is a bigger work, more responsibility. The green table and blue chair were garage sale finds (with dings to show it). The table is from Ikea. The chairs are old school chairs my mother passed along to us. With two chairs it is great for snacks with friends or crafting with friends. There are lots of options out there. Just find one that fits your child, cutting down table legs if you must.