Archive for February, 2010

Easter Decoration Ideas

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

Decorate Your Easter Eggs Naturally

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Decorating eggs is a traditional craft practiced by families and artisans around the world. Some use decorating methods handed down over generations, such as the elaborately decorated pysanky of Slavic nations or the cascarones of Mexico. Others invent new ways to embellish their eggs each year — painting them, writing on them, turning them into funny faces, or trimming them with odds and ends from around the house. Many folks, though, prefer their eggs simply dyed in a rainbow of hues. For both children and adults, it can be fascinating to see the effects of dipping the eggs into different colored dyes.

You can decorate either hard-cooked eggs or empty eggshells. Hard-cooked eggs are a bit sturdier for children to use, while empty shells are best if you’re making an egg tree or want to keep the eggs on display for a considerable time. To dye your eggs, use commercial egg dyes, food coloring or dyes you make yourself from foods and spices. According to the American Egg Board, homemade natural dyes are easy to prepare and go well with all-natural eggs.

Simply toss your choice of a handful — or two or three — of one of the materials below into a saucepan. For spices, try a spoonful or two instead. Use your own judgment about quantity. This is an art, not a science. Add about a cup of water for each handful, so the water comes at least an inch above the dyestuff. Bring to boiling, reduce the heat and simmer from 15 minutes up to an hour, until the color is the shade you want. Keep in mind that the eggs will dye a lighter shade than the dye. Remove the pan from the heat.

To achieve the following colors, try these natural dye materials:

  • Pinkish red — Fresh beets, cranberries, radishes or frozen raspberries
  • Orange — Yellow onion skins
  • Delicate yellow — Orange or lemon peels, carrot tops, celery seed or ground cumin
  • Yellow — Ground turmeric
  • Pale green — Spinach leaves
  • Green-gold — Yellow Delicious apple peels
  • Blue — Canned blueberries or red cabbage leaves
  • Beige to brown — Strong brewed coffee or black tea
  • Brown-gold — Dill seeds
  • Brown-orange — Chili powder
  • Gray — Purple or red grape juice or beet juice

Through cheesecloth, a coffee filter or a fine sieve, strain the dye mixture into a small bowl that’s deep enough to completely cover the eggs you want to dye. Add two to three teaspoons of white vinegar for each cup of dye liquid. With a slotted spoon or wire egg holder from a dyeing kit, lower the eggs into the hot liquid. Let the eggs stand until they reach the desired color. For emptied eggshells, stir or rotate for even coloring. With the spoon or wire egg holder, remove the eggs to a rack or drainer. Allow the eggs to dry thoroughly. Within less than two hours, refrigerate hard-cooked eggs that you intend to eat.

If you’d like a shiny finish, rub the dyed eggs with a bit of cooking oil. You can also use food-safe white glue to add natural decorations, such as beans, seeds, small pasta shapes or large pieces of spices. Be creative and experiment to express yourself in unique ways.

For other egg-decorating ideas, visit

However you decide to color your hard-cooked eggs, follow these tips if you’d like to enjoy their high-quality protein later:

  • Wash your hands thoroughly before handling the eggs at every step, including cooking, cooling, dyeing and hiding.
  • If you won’t be coloring your eggs right after cooking them, store them in their cartons in the refrigerator.
  • Don’t color , hide or eat cracked eggs. And don’t eat eggs that have been out of refrigeration for more than two hours.
  • When coloring the eggs, use water warmer than the eggs.
  • Refrigerate the eggs in their cartons right after coloring and refrigerate them again after they’ve been hidden and found.
  • If you plan to use hard-cooked eggs as a centerpiece or other decoration and they will be out of refrigeration for many hours or several days, cook extra eggs to refrigerate for eating. Discard the eggs that have been left out as a decoration.

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Christmas Decoration Ideas

Saturday, February 27th, 2010

10 Great Christmas Decoration Ideas
…On a Budget!

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  1. First things first. Set a plan or a theme for your Christmas decorating. It doesn’t cost a thing to have a good plan, and when you are working with budget ideas, this is what pulls your ideas together, and makes everything you do look purposeful, and personal. Some theme ideas for Christmas? The rustic lodge Xmas, a toyland Xmas, countries around the world, Victorian, country, Santa, snowmen, old fashioned, the list goes on and on!
  2. Make garlands out of felt scraps. Cut Xmas shapes out of felt in miniature, mini stockings, holly leaves, mittens, and string together with needle and floss or strong fishing line to hang all over the house. Remember when you string each shape, tie a knot on both sides of the shape to hold it in its place. You can add more dimension to the shapes by cutting two of each, stuffing them lightly, them sewing the two together. Glue would work also if you aren’t a sewer. Saved used dryer sheets are perfect for this kind of stuffing, or even tiny fabric scraps that are too small for other uses.
  3. Drop a tealight candle in your cleaned out glass mayonnaise jars, tie a holiday ribbon around the neck, and you have a beautiful candle with Xmas charm. You could nestle the candle in peppermints, nuts, or even sand if you wish. Try grouping several together for a dramatic evening effect. These also make great luminaries.
  4. Start a Christmas collection. This can be a great tradition to initiate in your home. My girls and I starting collecting Santas 3 years ago, and it’s something they look forward to, choosing our yearly Santa together. I know it will be a fond memory for them, and I plan to let each child choose a Santa to take with them when the day comes that they leave the nest and start their own home. By the way, this doesn’t have to be expensive, or even store bought. Try sewing or crafting a new decoration each year together for even more memories! Or check out your dollar store…they have some really cute ceramic holiday decorations for a buck or two. Remember, it’s the memories you’re interested in here, not a collectable based on monetary value.
  5. If you are looking to do a toyland theme for your Christmas decorating this year, try searching out teddy bears and dolls at your local thrift stores. Wash them in a pillowcase and put them in your dryer for at least 20 minutes, then dress them up with ribbons and holiday fabrics. Group them under your tree, on mantels, and on windowsills. Stack small squares of cardboard together and wrap as a tiny present, then tuck them under a teddy’s arm, or wrap an empty box and use it as teddy’s seat by the front door.
  6. Place a few inexpensive glass balls in a bowl and embellish with a few sprigs of greenery or some leftover ribbon. If you don’t have an extra bowl (it is the holidays, after all!) try decoupaging a box with leftover Christmas wrap, or cover with a little fabric and glue.
  7. Take down your pictures and wrap them like a gift, then hang them back on the wall for great holiday cheer! You don’t have to do this all around the house, how about just in the entry, or maybe the dining room?
  8. Tie greens or ornaments to the chandelier with a little Christmas ribbon, just make sure they don’t hang low enough for any candles on the table to catch them on fire.
  9. Make your own gift tags out of leftover paper. Ok, this is not a new idea, but try punching it up a bit. Add details by layering shapes over the base paper, use paper punches and scalloped scrapbooking scissors to add style, use a gold calligraphy pen to add names. Or use the scalloped scissors to make old holiday cards into tags.
  10. Sponge stars or other seasonal shapes on your window with paint! No, I’m not nuts. Just add a teaspoon or so of liquid dish soap to acrylic craft paint, (I like white or gold metallic) and after the holidays you should be able to wash it off with window cleaner. Use a non- scratching dish scrubber if you come across a stubborn spot.

There it is, the 10 best budget decorating ideas for Holiday decorating! Always remember the most important reason we celebrate, and the reason we take the time to make our homes warm and inviting… our loved ones! Have a wonderful holiday season!

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