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Mar 242010
 

easter-egg-dyeing_242x158 Long before there was Easter, the egg was regarded as a symbol of new life and the advent of spring.  The decoration of eggs became an art form centuries ago and continues today as a delightful craft and enjoyable children’s activity as a precursor to the “hunt” for eggs and candy, enjoyed by children around the world.  Some of the historical techniques for coloring or decorating eggs include:

Etching:  This technique can be traced back to Macedonia and involves first dying the egg, applying a layer of wax in design, then bleaching off the color leaving only the wax-covered areas with color.
Krashanky:  This is one of the traditions coming out of the Ukraine and the word means ‘color’.  Krashanky eggs are dyed a solid, brilliant color, often red to symbolize the blood shed by Christ on the cross.
Eggs_Pysanky2_248x225 Pysanky:  If you have never seen a Pysanky egg, you are missing a beautiful artistic craft.  I was gifted one at the World’s Fair in 1972 by one of our participants and it graced the windowsill in my kitchen for many years before it eventually cracked and had to be thrown away.  The term Pysanky means to write.  Intricate designs are drawn in wax on the eggs, a process similar to batik.  The eggs are then dyed many colors.  There are many regional designs and color selections around the various regions of the Ukraine.
Egg_Original_Faberge Eggs Gold_207x238 Fabergé:  Undoubtedly the most famous and expensive decorated eggs known are those created by the Russian jeweler Peter Carl Fabergé in the 1800’s.  Made of gold, silver and jewels and opening up to reveal tiny figures of people, animals, plants or buildings, a total of 57 eggs were made.  They are now artifacts in museums across the world. The picture at left is the very first one made.  A glimpse into a stunning Fabergé exhibit in 2001 can be viewed here.

Binsegraas:  This Pennsylvania Dutch tradition is not widely practiced today, but involved wrapping the pith of binsegraas (a type of rush) in coils glued to eggs.  Then interesting shapes of calico cloth were pasted on the egg.  The Polish people have a similar tradition, using yarn formed into elaborate coils.

There are other forms of egg decorating that include gluing sequins, beads, flowers and bits of decoration onto blown eggs.  Blown eggs are also used for a cut-out diorama of a little scene viewed through the cut-out section.  In pioneer days, eggs were wrapped in calico or madras cloth, then boiled so the water released the dyes into the shells.  Since most fabric is colorfast, you will rarely see this today.

My favorite activity around the approach of Easter is to gather natural materials and ingredients to make colored Easter eggs with leaf and flower imprints.  This is a favorite tradition started when my girls were little and now carried on with the grandchildren.

Here are materials to gather to make the natural dye, arranged by color they will produce in final dyed egg:
Brown and tan:  Outer layers of onions, black/green tea, coffee, black walnut hulls
Yellow:  Tumeric, cumin, saffron, lemon rinds
Orange:  Paprika, chili powder, carrots
Red:  Fresh cranberries, cherries, raspberries, Spanish onion skins
Purple and blue: Blueberries, boiled red cabbage leaves, beets
Green: Spinach
Grey or slightly lavender:  Hibiscus flowers

Combine the dye source with 1 Tablespoon vinegar and cold water in a saucepan.  There are two different methods.  You can boil the eggs and dyes separately, strain the dye and add hard-boiled eggs in the shell to the hot liquid and let it soak until it reaches the desired hue.  Or, you can wrap uncooked eggs and cook them in the dye as they are being colored.  With the former method, if the eggs need to soak for more than 2 hours to reach the desired deepness of color, you may want to move them to the refrigerator if you will be eating them. Generally, however, natural dyes are going to create more earth-like subdued colors.

Here are the things you want to have on hand:
Botanicals2_298x230 Fresh herb, plant and flower cuttings.  The smaller the better, however, wrapping a large fern that covers an entire egg is a stunning design when finished.  Thinner, flat items are easiest to secure tightly.  Use your imagination. Dandelion flowers will impart a bright yellow splotch in the finished egg, adding a whimsical touch.  Other fresh botanicals will add a bit of their own color, along with imprinted texture and form.  It’s fun to let the process itself randomly influence the outcome.  Children love to do this; it’s biochemistry and art all in one . . . plus you get beautiful eggs to add Eggs_Natural1_238x235jpgto the Easter hunt or to share.
Pantyhose or cheesecloth, cut in squares that can be tied with wire or rubber bands to snugly keep plant material in place.  If re-using nylon squares or cheesecloth, be sure to rinse between eggs.  You’ll want a slotted spoon to turn and remove the eggs while they are in the dye bath, and you’ll want a couple of brown paper bags cut and laid flat to place eggs on to dry.

Here are some tips:  Older eggs work best, buy them at least a week before boiling as newer eggs are hard to peel.  I think white eggs take the natural dyes better, plus you can create additional designs with wax to add bright white to the creation before putting on leaves and flowers. Shine up Eggs_botanical_Easter1_209x253 finished eggs when they are dry with a little olive oil rubbed in.  Eat those eggs!  Don’t waste them – make deviled eggs, egg salad or use in a salad.  Be sure to keep them refrigerated if you will be eating them.  Most of all, have fun, and encourage your children to experiment; you’ll learn new ideas from them.  If you do this project this year, send useaster_eggs_onion_skin_201x208 pictures of your creations attached as a .jpg in an email: samara@wingedseed.com, including your current mailing  address and we’ll send an aromatic surprise back.

Happy Easter and Spring!

 Posted by at 7:02 pm
May 132009
 

There are no known cures for colds and flu, so being prepared by building your own immune system is your best approach if you cherry_2008_300 don’t want to depend on a flu vaccination.   Here’s twelve great tips from the American Lung Association, People’s Medical Society, Family Doctor and Medscape that will reduce your chance for any cold or flu infection.  Don’t forget to check out the many wellness products and ingredients on our website to help keep your family ahead of the game when it comes to warding off cold and flu viruses. If you are going to gym and taking supplemnets like andarine, make sure you do light exercise and regulate the intake of your supplements.

(1)  Wash your hands!  Flu and cold viruses are spread by direct contact.  Germs can live for hours – sometimes weeks – on telephones , keyboards, doorknobs.  You can make your own hand sanitizer by suspending antiviral essential oils in aloe vera gel and saturating paper towels.  Cut them into smaller sizes and carry in a ziploc for quick use on the go.

(2)   Make sure you sneeze into a Kleenex, or handkerchief because virus germs will cling to your bare hands.  Use a tissue and throw it immediately away.  If you don’t have a tissue, cough or sneeze into the air, turning away from people.

(3)   Colds and flu viruses enter your body through the eyes, nose or mouth.  Don’t touch your face!  Touching their faces is the most likely way that children catch colds and pass it on to parents and siblings.

(4)   Drink plenty of water!  Water flushes your system, washing out poisons as it rehydrates.  Minimum daily requirement:  36 oz.  You can tell if you are getting enough water if your urine runs close to clear; if deep yellow, you need more fluid intake.  Don’t mistake coffee, tea or soft drinks for plain old water  . . . they don’t count.

(5)   Take a sauna.  A German research study found that people who steamed twice a week got half as many colds as those who don’t.  One theory is that the air you breathe  in a sauna is over 80 degrees, a temperature too hot for cold and flu viruses to survive.

(6)   Get fresh air, especially in the winter months.  Staying indoors puts you in an environment with more germs are circulating, especially in crowds.  Sleep with a window open.

(7)   Get regular aerobic exercise.  Speed up your heart and pump larger quantities of blood throughout your system.  This will transfer oxygen from your lungs to your blood and increase your body’s natural virus-killing cells.

(8)   Eat foods containing phytochemicals.  Natural chemicals in plants give the vitamins in food a supercharged burst.   Eat copious amounts of dark, green, red and yellow vegetables and fruit. If you take food supplements, you might as well check out this full spectrum CBD UK as it can improve your general well-being. CBD products are safe and proved to be effective, so this might be a good option.

(9)   Eat yogurt.  Some studies show that eating a daily cup of low-fat yogurt can reduce your susceptibility to colds and flu by as much as 25 percent.  It is assumed that the beneficial bacteria in yogurt may stimulate production of  the immune system to help fight disease.

(10)   Don’t smoke.  Heavy smokers get more severe colds and more frequent ones.  Even being around second-hand smoke profoundly zaps your immune system, dries out nasal passages and paralyzes cilia, the delicate hairs that sweep viruses out of your nasal passages.  Experts contend that one cigarette can paralyze cilia for as long as 30 to 40 minutes.

(11)   Cut alcohol consumption.  Heavy alcohol use also suppresses the immune system. and dehydrates your body . . . it actually takes more fluids from your system than it puts in.  This makes you prone to initial infections as well as secondary complications.

(12)   Finally . . . Relax!  Teaching yourself to relax can activate your immune system on demand.  Evidence shows that interleukins (the leaders in an immune system response against cold and flu viruses) increase in the bloodstream during relaxing meditation.  Train yourself to relax in a positive state by visualization (holding a pleasant picture or image in your mind).   Soothing music can aid this process.  Remember that relaxation is a learnable skill to create a state of mind; it is not simply doing nothing.

These tips provide a proactive approach to warding off colds and flu and make your whole life healthier.   We’ll be back next week to continue our Earth Day Every Day series.

Tealight_Candle_Blue_200  Special continued for another week (through Sunday, May 16):  Take an extra 10% off all Samara Synergies.   Good time to stock up on First Defense  for the family’s flu artillery or Calma for aiding sleep.  Many others to choose from.  Orders over $35 will also receive a free decorative tea light holder (pictured at left).    Enter “Colds & Flu #1” (no quotes) in promotional code on checkout page.
http://www.wingedseed.com

 Posted by at 4:42 pm
Apr 262009
 

As we continue to look at simple ways to be kinder to the Earth in our every day lives, I become acutely aware of our climactic Caleb_Tree_Farm_250 changes and challenges.  Here in the Cascade foothills in Snohomish county, WA, we are noticing a trend of colder winters and more often several feet of snow when we used to rarely get inches if any at all.  Early Spring is wetter and floods now happen earlier in the year and longer in duration and intensity.  Wind storms are more prevalent and there are more downed trees to deal with.  And, it’s hotter in the summer months, making it imperative to pay closer attention to the garden plants to insure they are well watered, mulched/composted and sometimes shaded from the sun’s intensity.   We continue the discussion with more ideas to create the optimum circumstances for success in the garden.

A COMMUNITY GARDEN is a wonderful way for urbanites to grow a flower and vegetable garden when you don’t have the space or want to interact with others in the community to create a more green urban environment.  This is also a fabulous way to introduce young people to the joys of growing their own food.  Here’s a few resources in larger cities.
Houston TX:  http://www.urbanharvest.org/
Buffalo NY: http://www.urbanroots.org/
Denver CO: http://www.dug.org/home.asp
Rutgers University has a community garden self help guide: http://tinyurl.com/c83fvu
If you start a community garden, make sure that the soil is tested to insure there are no contaminants like lead or other hazardous chemicals that might permeate the crops grown.  Some communities are starting gardens for the poor to help supplement the diminishing budgets of our older citizens and those who make do with less.   All of these endeavors are rewarding, and again, a good place to introduce children to a sense of ‘community’ while connecting them with Nature.

PLANTING SIMILAR SPECIES of vegetables, like broccoli with cabbage or Brussels sprouts should be avoided as they will compete for nutrients.  Companion planting is aesthetically delightful and helps improve soil while keeping pests at bay.  Here’s a great companion planting guide: http://www.ghorganics.com/page2.html

DIG DEEP when preparing soil for planting.  Digging adds air pockets which help repel root-dwelling insects and oxygenate the soil.  This helps plants put down healthy roots.  This is perhaps the single most important thing you can do to condition the soil.  All organic gardeners I know using the similar approach: first of all, they choose easy slider sheds, and another thing – they prefer to turn soil by hand after using a garden tiller.

Special this week only (through Sunday, May 3) take 10% additional in addition to your 5% web discount off all aroma jewelry and natural perfumes.  Enter “Earth Day#3” (no quotes) in promotional code on checkout page.
http://www.wingedseed.com

 Posted by at 6:46 pm
Apr 202009
 

Last week, we talked about ways to be more gentle with the Earth Garden planted 2003_300 in our everyday lives.  It’s warm and sunny here in the Cascade foothills, so I thought I’d continue with ideas for your lawn and garden, thinking this might be where your attention is joyfully focused at this time.

GROW HERBS IN YOUR GARDEN; they are easy to grow and help encourage birds and butterflies, as well as other useful insects.  They are a great choice for planting between other flowers and vegetables to increase diversity.  Planting basil, oregano, cilantro, sage and tarragon alongside vegetables will remind you to use them together.  Having herbs in your garden is one more thing you can take off your shopping list.

LARGE PLASTIC BOTTLES can be used as mini-greenhouses, an excellent protective covering for seedlings.  Cut off the ends and there you go.

RAIN BARRELS are probably going to be a necessity in the future to help conserve water resources.  They now come in a range of sizes, shapes and colors.  Try a decorative one on the deck with a rain chain for melodic ambience and drain it under the deck into the deck-side plantings.   You’ll be surprised at the savings on your water bill and your plants will love you. This website will offer more tips on proper care.

SOAKER HOSES AND DRIP IRRIGATION can reduce water waste by as much as 70 percent because their delivery system sends water directly to the roots, unlike sprinklers, which waste water through evaporation.

TRADITIONAL HEIRLOOM SEEDS are a better choice than hybridized newer varieties.  ORGANIC NATURAL FERTILIZERS like fish emulsion, bone meal and seaweed-based products are far better than synthetic alternatives.

Special this week only (through Sunday, April 26) take 10% additional in addition to your 5% web discount off all hydrosols.  Enter “Earth Day#1” (no quotes) in promotional code on website
http://www.wingedseed.com

 Posted by at 7:43 pm
Apr 142009
 

The time has come to take our responsibility for stewardship of our bountiful planet more seriously.  Focusing our attention only one day a year to img 050_250honor the Earth isn’t going to solve the myriad problems we are creating.   These problems will grow to overwhelm our children and grandchildren as we continue to ignore the realities of global warming and chemical pollution.  The signs of collapsing ecosystems,  endangered and disappearing species are all around.  In our busy lives, we sometimes procrastinate necessary changes.  We need to learn better ecological habits to reverse a destructive trend before it is too late.   This is the beginning of a series of short articles that will contain simple, yet effective ways to replace harsh chemicals that pollute the environment with safe, gentle natural alternatives and make our lives more in tune with the natural world.  We hope you join us in making these sensible choices.

HOUSEPLANTS act as natural air filters, through photosynthesis, using carbon dioxide and water and releasing oxygen as a waste material.  How symbiotic is that!  You can find delightful houseplants that require little care for every room of the house and never have to purchase synthetic chemical air fresheners again.  These commercial products only mask smells and coat nasal passages with chemicals that diminish your sense of smell.  Samara Botane has a lovely variety of natural environmental aromatic products to keep your home environment, car or camper fresh and clean.  Made with antiseptic and antiviral essential oils, they also limit germs and exposure to viral pathogens.  These come in synergies to use in a diffuser and aromatic room misters.  You can also make your own antiseptic spray by simply adding a few drops of essential oil to a spritzer bottle filled with water.  Try tea tree and lavender, sweet orange and cedarwood, rose geranium and lemon.

HOMEMADE WASHER SOAP can be made by mixing 1 cup baking soda with 10 drops each of lavender and grapefruit essential oils, adding drop by drop and mixing thoroughly.  Add 1 cup of borax and 1 cup of powdered castile soap.  Mix well and store in an airtight container.  Add 1/2 cup to each load of wash.   For really tough stains, dissolve 1/2 cup borax, allow to cool completely.  Add 1 cup distilled white vinegar and 6 drops eucalyptus essential oil.  Soak soiled clothes in this blend for 2 hours before laundering.

Special this week only (through Sunday, April 19) take 20% off all essential oils.  Enter “Earth Day#1” (no quotes) in promotional code on website
http://www.wingedseed.com

 Posted by at 5:23 pm