15 April 2010

dye! you b*st*rd eggs! dye!

The week before Easter, as we all noted, Ada Brooks took standardized tests at her lovely two-day-a-week school. To reward the children for a job well done, when they got finished on day three, their art teacher (who was also helping to proctor), had them dye easter eggs.

This wouldn't have been so amazing had they used easter egg dye. Or even food coloring. But no, sir ree bob. Not at jackson classical. That would be so un-classical. (just an fyi...they really aren't against easter egg dye or anything - it was just a joke - i wouldn't want people thinking we're insane.)

What did they use?

Onion skins. And rice.

More fun that way. You surround the egg with onion skins (for color) and rice (for texture) and tie it all up in a piece of porous cloth - cheesecloth and/or cut up old pantyhose work great. Then you boil the eggs , whilst wrapped in the food items/ladies underwear.

So, Ada Brooks brings home this beautiful egg. Not bright or anything, but a really cool antiquey orange color - with a really complicated texture (magical rice).

So... Ada and I have this delightful thought: Let's dye all our easter eggs using foodstuffs! Brilliant we are! It will be such fun - not boring old drop the tablet in the vinegar dyeing - but new and interesting!

So, we did our internet research and made an extensive list of items we had already and a few we needed to buy.

(foreshadowing: don't believe everything you read on the google)

(yes, old people - or the more obstinate middle aged - are saying 'the google' much like 'the kroger' or 'the walmark')

And we spent an entire morning preparing for the egg dyeing marathon.

It was as labor intensive as preparing for a real marathon.

hee hee.

It involved the peeling of multiple citrus fruits, onions and carrots.
Our final ingredient list was as follows:

Tea, Rice, Canned blueberries, rasberries, spinach leaves, peeled onions (purple and yellow), carrots (demolished with a vegetable peeler), orange, lemon and lime peels, grape juice, cranberrypomegranate juice, vinegar, yellow tulips, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, and crushed red pepper flakes.

And Eggs. Thirty six eggs.

(I considered listing these ingredients vertically. It would have been much more dramatic. But scrolling through it would have been annoying. So I'm just trusting that you will know how dramatic it is....)

Here is a picture of the glorious beginnings. Ada clearly was aware at how important this moment was, as she got the 'other camera' to snap a few of her own.

Behind the grape juice, you can barely see the cut up hose, cut up cheesecloth, and rubberbands.

And we spent the next two hours meticulously assembling the egg dyeing pouches. Eason got a bit distracted after about two, Paul chose to do about three, and Ada Brooks and I trucked along, at approximately fifteen a piece.

Then, we grouped the eggs by color and put them in four different GIANT pots on my stove. Yes, i just used italics and caps in one sentence. And i meant it, dammit.

It wasn't an unhappy work, but it was a work. In fact, it is clear from these pictures that it was in fact a very happy work.

But, still, about five hours all in all - of intense, purposed work.

And do you know what it got us? Have you figured it out yet?
It got us a few really cool burnt orange antiquey textured eggs (the ones we did with onion skins) and about thirty-two (32)

[learned that notation when i was pretending to be a lawyer for a couple of years - it comes from a time when court documents were handwritten and for clarity's sake, they wrote the number out in letters and in numerals.... or at least that's what i was told. I'm doing it here for emphasis though]

grayish, pale greenish, whiteish hard boiled eggs. There were some that we couldn't even tell we had dyed, and others that had gone from a beautiful God-made porcelain color to what would be a suitable house for the ugliest duckling.

It was actually a good theological lesson on easter weekend. We can work our way into a frenzy, and without the resurrection, we're s.o.l.

[Have i said before that I spent twenty years.... yes twenty... thinking that S.O.L. means Sorry Out of Luck? Yes, i didn't know what it traditionally means until I was two weeks from giving birth to my first child - and a favorite old friend and I were bopping along the road to see john prine in concert in vicksburg - and I said someone was SOL - and he said that wasn't very nice for an almost mother to say and i said, "well, what's wrong with it?" So, i've continued saying it. And I'm sure the mothers of my children's friends appreciate me teaching them that phrase. But, to be honest, I never think the ugly version of it - i always think sorry out of luck - which is of course what my daddy taught me it meant when i was little...]

Anyway, I looked at those ugly easter eggs, and I thought of Isaiah 64:6 - our works of righteousness are like filthy rags - or filthy eggs, rather. And then I thought of the new testament response to that verse - I mean the whole new testament is a response to that verse - but the one I always think of as the response - Titus 3:5 - Its not by works of righteousness, but according to his mercy, He saves us.

No - not everything is a theological lesson at our house, but might as well take advantage when we can.

I don't even have pictures of the finished project. I couldn't even photograph them.

It was a good thing that I live with a bunch of good natured people. Damn internet research. never again.

Or probably a few more times. This probably won't be the last disastrous crafty moment we have. Oh well, we'll laugh all the way down the lane. Next time, though, someone else is cleaning all four pots and over 20 ingredients.


  1. Hmm ... I wanted to try the recipe below this year but didn't get to the thrift store / my grandmother's attic in time (we instead painstakingly drew pictures in clear crayon on our beautifully porcelain-colored eggs before dropping them into boring vinegar-tablet dye and then figuring out if the drawings worked - at all. This resulted in much hilarity and about 1 (out of 48) beautiful, artistic egg-drawing)

    But seriously. There are pictures in Kendra's (as in "crafts with Kendra" 's) video. So it must be true :)


    ps - i read your blog frequently and enjoy it muchly!
    -Melissa (honors seminar @ ole miss sophomore year with you, me, Paul, + Matt Burford ~among others!)

  2. You know who says Wal-Mark? She may have even invented it since she'll be 89 this weekend...wait for it...you've probably guessed....Rere.

  3. rere is my prototype here. i can actually hear her saying, 'rebecca - i need to go to the kroger...before my seven thirty hair appointment'