Friday, March 29, 2013

Egg on my face

Although I should be thinking about school, or midterms, or job applications, it's (sort of) spring break this week. So, I'm not. I'm thinking about Easter. My parents are coming to visit me this weekend, and since they've never let me host a holiday before, I want to do a good job. This afternoon while I should have been doing something much more productive, I was on Pinterest thinking about my options for festive treats. One seemed obvious: what's Easter without eggs?

There is, of course, an old standby technique for this that always works: Buy Paas Egg Dye. Boil eggs. Put eggs in dye. But, really, where is the fun in that? Who just buys Paas Dye when we have Pinterest!? Practical people, that's who. And we all know, I'm not one of those people.

One handy egg suggestion that has been all over Pinterest is the suggestion to bake the eggs instead of boiling them. Apparently Alton Brown says it makes them creamer. I love that Alton Brown. So, I read the instructions, preheated my oven to 325˚, and evenly spaced a dozen eggs out on the rack.

About 15 minutes into the 30 minute baking process, I hard a somewhat concerning snap in my oven. I sprang to my feet and checked on the eggs. One had cracked open a little, but was thankfully cooked enough that no egg seemed to be leaking out. I reminded myself that when you boil eggs one almost always bursts, and sat back down. But, as I waited I continued to hear these little sounds. They happened more and more often, like when popcorn starts to pop, and suddenly it sounds like a battlefield in the microwave. There were still 5 minutes on the timer, but timer be damned I flung open the oven and turned it off. This is what I found. Things had gotten much, much worse. What you can't see in this picture is that the bottom of the oven is littered with the "caps" that had flown off the tops of the eggs. Not particularly appetizing.
As directed, I used tongs and carefully removed the eggs from the oven and placed them in an ice bath. However, my oven eggs quickly melted the ice cubes.
On the bright side, some of the brown spots did seem to rinse off in the water, at least partially. Compare the 11 rinsed eggs to the exploded one that wasn't rinsed and you must admit, the ice bath helped. But unfortunately, only half of the dozen eggs were intact enough to die. Five could still make deviled eggs. One, I decided, would probably have to meet it's fate as an egg salad sandwich for dinner.
After this debacle I decided to play it safe for the dying process. Boring store bought eggs dye it is. I bought the kind that comes with the little cups and the white crayon. Everything you need! Right?

Perhaps the 99 cents only store is not the place to buy egg dye. Noted.

The directions stated that I was to add 3 tbsp of vinegar to each of the dyes EXCEPT pink. They were very clear about this; it was in bold. The problem is that they were not particularly clear about which tablet was the pink one. In fact, judging by the cups provided, there were going to be two pinks.
I was able to identify blue and green easily. And luckily I have enough food coloring experience to know that the orange one would be yellow, so I had a 50/50 chance. I decided that, estimating from my cups, I was holding a purple tablet and pink tablet. Of course, this was not the case. No sooner had I added vinegar to the "purple" than I realized that what I thought was pink, was orange. Blast. Oh well, the pink will just be a little fizzy is all...

With only 6 eggs to dye, I really wanted to make them count. I started by meticulously drawing polka dots with the white crayon on one egg. Apparently the white crayon provided with my $1 eggs kit was not so much a crayon as a cheap chunk of wax, and didn't seem to have much of an effect. After the first couple eggs, I gave up on the crayon and just decided to soak each egg in a different color while I washed the windows.

Fifteen minutes later, as I pulled my the eggs out of the dye, I noticed that I had gotten blue egg dye on the blouse I was wearing (because of course,  I didn't change out of my blouse from work before doing this). Instinctively, with no thought to the fact that every window in the apartment was wide open and freshly cleaned, I pulled off the blouse and grabbed the OxyClean from under the sink and sprayed vigorously before the dye could dry. To any neighbors who may have witnessed this, I apologize.

In the end, the eggs look about as good as they did when I was a kid, but took twice as long, and given my gains in fine motor skills since then, I sort of expected better.
But, it's Easter. It must be special! So, now half dressed and mildly disappointed, I moved on to the deviled eggs. This, I was sure, would be my success. You see, I read on Pinterest that you can make colored deviled eggs by soaking the white in a egg dye for a couple of seconds, and I was certain that this would be a terrific effect.

The first step, of course, was to peel the exploded eggs. I was raised in a good Catholic, Easter egg eating family, so, I am well practiced at peeling eggs. I can't remember the last time I struggled to peel an egg.  Well, guess what? Not only do baked eggs explode, they're hard as hell to peel. Each egg took me about 4 minutes to pry free of its shell piece by piece. If I didn't have fingernails, I couldn't have done it. Imagine, if you will, trying to pick up confetti off the floor of a gymnasium by hand. That's what peeling these eggs was like. In the end, they looked like this. How could this possibly go wrong?
I cut my eggs down the middle (trying my best to preserve their integrity even though they were a little wonky) and pulled the yolks out. On the bright side, the yolks were yellow all the way through. Another recent Pinterest post told me that the reason they turn grey is due to overcooking. This did, however, sort of turn my hypothesis that the eggs overcooked, and that's why they exploded and were hard to peel, on it's head. They weren't overcooked. Fine.
They were, however, dry and rubbery like nothing I have ever seen before. I kept adding and adding wet ingredients to try to moisten the yolk mixture, but no matter how much I added, it remained just as dry, and reminiscent of play-dough left out on the counter too long. But, refusing to let these failed eggs bring me down, I dropped the whites in the leftover egg dye anyway. Look at how unsettlingly bright they are. Mmm!
I crammed some of the yellow play-dough in each hole, and put them on this stupid chili-pepper plate that I bought at Ross when I lived in the dorms. I figure if the egg coloring is going to ruin something, it may as well ruin something I am looking for an excuse to get rid of.
Maybe we'll just go out for brunch...

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Oh, brother

Early this month my cousin welcomed a new member to her growing little family. I had the best intentions of getting something in the mail to them by his due date, but given everything else I've had to do, of course it didn't get done in time. Finally, this week, with my desk clear (temporarily) of school work, I dusted off the sewing machine.

Using the same pattern from Making Baby's Clothes that I used for the Birdie in a Tree Overalls I pulled together these little overalls for baby Asher.
But everyone sends presents to the baby! While, yes, it is his birthday, and there is nothing more fun than a brand new baby, my heart always goes out to older siblings who have to watch the new baby get showered with gifts while they get nothing. As the youngest in my house, I was never in this situation, but I can imagine it's a little disheartening. I know that perhaps my sources have been a little biased, but I've heard stories of baby Asher's big sister being awfully brave and mature through the process of welcoming a new baby into the family. She certainly deserves something, too! So, with a yard left of the robot fabric I pulled out my favorite standby girls' dress pattern (the same one I used for Goldlocks) to make a matching dress for big sister Lilja.

Personally, I feel that little girls can rock robots just as well as boys can. I mean, it's a dress, that's plenty girly, right? I hope her parents agree.
About the time I finished cutting out this little dress, my mind already on to how darling it would be to use the same little Anorak Snaps on the dress as I did on the overalls, something terrible hit me. I remembered just how irritated my own big sister had been when she and I had to match. Oh, the eye rolls she would give my mother and I when Mom came home with matching outfits for us. It was painful for such a self-aware 10 year old to have to match her (ugh!) little siblings. I swore up and down that I would never, ever, make children match their siblings against their will.

Luckily, however mature and brave Lilja might be, she's not 10 yet. Hopefully she won't yet know to loathe me for sending (ugh!) matching outfits because I went and got old, and now I do things like this. Besides, they can always wear them on different days...

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Mo' Monograms

We made it to the first day of spring, longer days and summer weddings are well on their way. Naturally, last weekend was the first bridal shower of the season, and apparently the biggest weekend for baby/bridal showers of the year.

Not knowing just what to get the bride who is already pretty well established, and getting ready to move into a new home, I decided to go with an old standby, monogrammed wine glasses. The first step was to make an aesthetically pleasing monogram out of CMJ, a harder task that you would expect. 
Next, I taped the image to the inside of the glass and traced it with my Dremel tool (all you need is a diamond head bit).

Overall, I'd say a pretty successful custom shower gift.