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Tuesday
Mar242015

Easter egg designs with easy non-toxic egg-white decoupage 

Easter eggs decoupage: designs cut from assorted papers are held in place by egg white for a non-toxic option.Easter egg designs with decoupaged scrapbook paper cutouts and other materials are lovely, but if you glue on the designs with traditional decoupage medium, you can't eat the eggs. And the hollow shells of eggs drained out through holes are far too fragile for the Easter egg hunt.

Planning for this Easter Sunday on April 5, we drained a lot of eggs to test various methods, and it made me remember that my mother had used egg white as emergency glue when I was a child. I decided to see if it would work to stick cutouts from newspapers and napkins to eggs. It worked on boiled eggs, emptied egg shells, plain egg shells and shells that had been "painted" using McCormick's super easy food color and vinegar paint.

Egg-white Glue for Non-toxic Easter Egg Decoupage: Crack open and egg and separate the yolk from the white (refrigerate the yolk for another use), placing the white in a shallow bowl. Add 1 teaspoon of water and whisk gently. 

Materials for Non-toxic Easter Egg Decoupage: To be sure the dyes are non-toxic for eggs that will be eaten, cut out patterns from paper table napkins (the napkins shown are from Dollar Tree). If the eggs will be used for decoration, patterns can be cut from newspaper, scrapbook paper or magazines. 

Color for Non-toxic Easter Egg Decoupage: If you want color, the hands down easiest technique is to mix a drop or two of McCormick food color in a tablespoon of vinegar. We had eight color options working with the traditional "Assorted" colors and fun "Neon!" colors. The color drops also can be mixed if you need even more options. We used caps from seltzer bottles both to mix the egg colors and as stands for the eggs to dry on.

The egg-white decoupage technique works on plain and colored eggs.

Three-step instructions

1. Use cotton swabs to dab paint evenly over egg shells if color is desired. Two coats may be needed for some color. Let shells dry fully.

2. Place selected cutout design into the bowl with egg white glue. To avoid curling, avoid fully soaking napkins. Newspaper, magazine or scrapbook cutouts should be soaked through for easier smoothing. 

3. Carefully place the cutout as desired on the egg shell, and smooth in place gently. Let egg designs dry fully on bottle caps. In our testing, the designs were still in place a full month after having been applied.

 Egg-shell diorama frame: Gently crack the center of a raw egg. Pick away pieces and then use nail scissors to carefully cut an oval-shaped opening. Wash the inside of the shell with soapy water and let dry fully. Paint the egg shell as in Step 1 above. Let dry.

Use white craft glue to adhere trim around the cut opening. Fill the inside of the shell with cotton balls (as shown on the photo's left side at center).  Trim a wallet-size photo slightly larger than the opening. Bend at sides and tuck into the egg shell for a fun Easter photo frame.

Glue a loop to the top of each egg, and they can be hung. Try painting a cluster of bare branches white then hang several of the eggshell frames from them to make a whimsical Easter tree decoration.     

Friday
Feb272015

Forcing amaryllis and muscari bulbs: An At Home Journal (Week 14)

My favorite arrangement of hydroponic grape hyacinths grown in water from their bulbs.Feb. 27: A Grape Hyacinth Cocktail:

This is the favorite of all my hydroponic muscari bulb arrangements.

Grown from bulbs in a decorative cocktail glass filled with clear flat marbles and water, it made a very pretty gift, especially since these decided to bloom in these days when the ground is still covered with a thick blanket of snow.

While I don't really like the idea planting bulbs in pots of dirt to force them to bloom indoors, I like the ease of the water-only forcing technique.

As with my muscari arrangement in the larger blue bowl, their growth was attractive even before flowers formed. It took a bit longer for these bulbs to present flowers, probably because they were in a chilly area near a sliding glass door.

For me, part of the appeal for this arrangement is the way the roots formed a thick web through the marbles in the bowl of the glass. Some roots have even grown down into the base.

In the case of this arrangement and the larger blue bowl arrangement, the excitement of seeing the first blossom was multiplied when I checked a day or two later and there were five or six more.

HOW TO 'PLANT' THEM

A single muscari bulb blossomed in a glass bottle cap filled with four flat marbles and water.  Fill the bowl of a large decorative cocktail glass (or any clear glass vessel) with clear glass marbles and add enough water to come to the top of the marbles. With pointed side up, place as many grape hyacinth (muscari) bulbs on top as will fit. You can basically forget about them until they need more water. In about two weeks, the first green shoots should show, my flowers appeared after about three months.

The 'planting' technique, which also works with large amaryllis bulbs, can be found in detail  here. All the journal entries covering the previous weeks of growing can be found in the Gardening section of the site.

Thanks to Longfield Gardens in Lakewood, NJ for providing the bulbs that made my testing possible.  I'm especially grateful to co-owner Hans Langeveld who patiently answered all my questions on how to grow bulbs in water without one speck of dirt. The company did not pay me for these posts.

This will likely be my last entry about forcing bulbs until the end of March when it's time to bring up the tulip bulbs that are now chilling in my basement.

 

Thursday
Feb262015

Sarah and Bret Gelderman's Westfield nursery

Wednesday
Feb252015

Forcing amaryllis and muscari bulbs: An At Home Journal (Weeks 12 - 13)

Amaryllis 'Splash' flowers open one by one. Smaller buds are developing at the center. Appropriately, the red and white flowers began to open on Valentine's Day.

Click to read more ...

Saturday
Nov082014

Amaryllis bulbs: Winter flowers on a houseplant that's perfect for gifts

In a few months, when winter days are short and color is craved indoors and out, the big, bold flowers of amaryllis can come to the rescue as a houseplant.

Amaryllis are surprisingly easy to grow indoors as a winter houseplant. Their colors range from brights to pastels and bi-colors. There are shades of red, orange, pink, white and even green. Amaryllis 'Monaco' (shown) is a vibrant cherry-red accented by a white eye and white stamens. 

All that’s needed to grow them inside is the large bulb, potting soil and a six- or seven-inch pot with a drainage hole, says horticulturist Christian Curless of Colorblends.com, which sells a broad selection of amaryllis and other fall-planted bulbs at wholesale prices. 

To begin, simply pot the bulb with its top third positioned above the soil line. Water well at planting, then water only as needed --  when the soil becomes dry to the touch. With proper care, the first blooms will appear 8 to 12 weeks from planting, Curless says. One large bulb produces at least two stems, sometimes three, each bearing four or more velvety flowers.

For a broad selection of amaryllis and other fall-planted bulbs at wholesale pricing, see Colorblends.com or call (888) 847-8637. The minimum order is $60

Longfield Gardens, a New Jersey-based bulb company, also sells a number of options, including amaryllis, tulips and hyacinths at Longfield-Gardens.com