how to blow out easter eggs.....

.....using a NASAL ASPIRATOR! Brilliant, I know. This thing has been floating around the kitchen cabinets for over six years and is finally getting some use. 

We're decorating eggs this weekend, but I got way ahead of the game late this afternoon and not only boiled a dozen or so eggs, but blew out a dozen or so eggs as well. 

I'm all excited to decorate the blown out ones. I was all ready to start decorating tonight, got all our crepe paper and dye out, but it's cutting it too close. I need to chill tonight. So eggcited to try this idea I have using pastel and spring-y crepe paper. That's AT LEAST the second time I've used "eggcited" here, surely won't be the last. 

On to the eggs. For the best results, use an upholstery needle, which I just happened to have.

Using a gentle but firm twisting motion, put a hole in the fat end (bottom) of the egg. It should be just large enough to be able to insert a bamboo or metal skewer.

Using the same technique, make a single hole in the top of the egg, again with the upholstery needle.

By the way, how do you like that new nail polish?
It's called "June" and it looks like a Creamsicle.

Next, grab a skewer of some sort, and through the bigger hole in the bottom of the eggshell, break the yolk and scramble the egg within the shell. This allows for smoother sailing when blowing out the egg.

Now the fun/gross part. The blowing. Secure the aspirator (or your lips?) over the small hole at the top of the egg and start blowing over a large bowl. All the contents of the egg should come out with, I dunno, eight to fifteen squeezes of the aspirator.

Afterwards, run the eggshell under water and try to get a little water inside, then blow a few more times. Rinse again and then dry gently with a towel.

First the good news. Beautiful, empty blank canvasses, ready to be decorated.

Then the bad news, a whole lot of raw scrambled egg of dubious quality. We debated freezing these, but I'm ashamed to say they got flushed in the end.

I have to tell you, that was REALLY EASY. You should totally do it. And if you end up discarding the raw, blown out egg like we did, feel bad, but comfort yourself in knowing that you will be able to now create Easter eggs that last for DECADES, not just until you devil them!

Looking forward to showing off our eggs next week, if they come out the way I've envisioned. Happy weekend!


making pasties in the kitchen

Because SOMETIMES sequins just aren't enough. How to upgrade your sparkle, OR, how to make rhinestone pasties. I've retrofitted a beautiful pair of gigantic snowflake-like pasties into bedazzled, rhinestoned, ultra-sparkly gigantic glimmering stars! These are necessary (and one third of the entire outfit) for our upcoming synchronized swimming act at the Tease-O-Rama Opening Night Party

My mother started working on these in February when she was here. She stripped off the sequins, leaving me with the beading to remove. Before I removed the beads, I traced each pastie onto the back side of some ultrasuede, which receives the carpet tape when you put the pasties on, and cut out the shapes. Yes, carpet tape. I also removed the structural mesh cones from the backs, but those will go right back on after the beading is gone.

Here you've got your bottle of Gem-Tac, a good amount of toothpicks, a white crayon, your unfortunate small amount of top tier Swarovski crystal clear rhinestones, and a whole mess of lesser rhinestones. Here comes the fun part, where I make the most out of this random collection of gems.

I had to stop here with my best rhinestones, for fear I'd run out and the pasties would end up asymmetrical. So the centers are extra, EXTRA sparkly.

You know this is a project that should've taken three, four, maybe five hours. I have two kids, one is home all day. This project has taken several weeks. During the night shift, I enjoy a glass of wine, of course, and maybe a Joy the Baker podcast while I'm gluing.

Things got really geometrical at this point. If there is a trick for avoiding this, I can only guess it. I was running really low on my B-team clear crystals at this point, even soaking the ones that I had applied poorly and taken off so that I could remove the Gem-Tac and use them again. I shaped flowy forms from the clear crystals out from the edges of the hexagons to make the design look more organic. Then came the aurora borealis rhinestones, because that's what I had left to work with, and I'll be adorning my ballet flats and fishnets in the same for the act.

In the end, here's what I ended up with. I think they are just gorgeous, and a good learning experience. Definitely will approach a little differently and methodically the next time I do this, in terms of stone pattern and design, but these will CERTAINLY do the trick. As long as they stay put! ;)


play with your food

It's no secret I love food. It's also no secret I love FAKE food. German toymaker Haba puts out some incredible looking little tins of wooden mushrooms, peas and carrots, tea bags, pineapple rings, potato chips, sausages, sardines, gummi bears and the amazing sweet treats in the photo above. I'm so happy Oliver is at an age where he's not putting everything in his mouth, so we can freely play with all these little morsels. 

A sample bag for the entrée round: strawberries, eggs, mushrooms, oregano, and cucumbers.

Stella's number one answer to "what do you want to play?" is "chopped". As in the television show Chopped. In our version, each player grabs a grocery bag and stuffs four or five items in for the opponent to use, the idea being to stump the other player. Like yesterday when Stella filled my bag with carrots, zucchini, fried chicken and a salami....for the DESSERT challange! I wasn't stumped. I "made" a broth out of the chicken and vegetables and cooked my sweetened masa in it. Then I slivered the salami super thin, mixed it with sweetened coconut and raisins, and stuffed them into the masa for tamales. I covered them in chocolate sauce, because I could. 

Of course I had no masa, no chocolate sauce, no coconut, but we pretended and substituted just fine. I am so happy Santa and the Easter Bunny have continued to stock Stella's kitchen over the years. It makes play a lot of fun. Oliver has really gotten into it, too, although he prefers to crash and throw everything, keeping Stella's room in a constant state of disaster.

Some more samplings from yesterday:

 Pretzel encrusted sardines on bagel bruschetta with garlic milk sauce and a pickled ginger garnish.
Also, potato chips sauteed in garlic and lemon on a bagel.

 BLT on a donut, cheese fries, homemade cinnamon ketchup with hot cross bun crumbs to thicken the sauce.
Rice bars with sautéed mushrooms and buttered toast on the side.

Some kind of sweet and sour soup, chicken pot pie, tea.

This is from a different day, but I think I'm looking at a strawberry ginger fizz beverage,
a cherry tart and who knows what's going on with those gummies, lemons and biscuits.

I've mentioned this before here, but I really LOVE to photograph these wooden and plastic foods. I've thought about going through the blog and shooting representative photos of any recipes I've done here with fake food. That would be a lot of fun!


go to the snow

 This page hanging over our kitchen sink is ripped from "Seasons" by artist Blexbolex.
I wrote about cannibalizing this book here.

Last year our trip to the Sierra Foothills to see the snow looked a lot like that picture. Two feet of snow on every roof, twelve foot high snowbanks alongside the road. Lots and lots of snow.

Exactly one year later, the snow levels are so much lower. We were disheartened when we arrived Friday afternoon. Just enough snow to make a snow owl, which we did. We stayed in Dorrington this time, specifically at the very rustic Dorrington Inn and Chalets, but we are known to stay down the road a piece at the Timberline Lodge in Arnold, where our friends Lucky and Irina bring us fishing in the summer. 

 Rustic. Would we stay here again? Yes.

Being from New Hampshire, any amount of snow makes me feel so good. Like I am home, plugged into the earth, and totally alive. All of the memories of my youth flood my system. Sometimes living out here in California is so surreal for me. I am totally at home, and at the same time, homesick. This weekend I was nostalgic for our winter wonderland of a trip up this way last year, and also feeling a great amount of concern regarding where the snow has gone this year. But we made the best of our trip, as we are known to do.

We made our way up to Bear Valley for some great sledding on Saturday. Bear Valley is up a few thousand more feet on the hill, so some nice snow there. Oliver is a ballsy sledder for a toddler. He was bombing down hills on David's lap. Stella and I eschewed our rented sled in favor of sledding on our rear ends, which was almost as fast. 

We had heard a new storm was coming through, and Saturday night, after dinner and a movie, we waited and waited. By eleven o'clock there was still no snow. We kept our hopes up, as we are known to do.

 The scene Saturday evening: no snow.

My eyes popped open at seven o'clock the next morning, and we ran to the window and tore open the sash, to find just what we were waiting for. Snow, falling so fast and soft it was coming down in clumps. It was a sight for sore eyes. I had a good cry.

It snowed for only an hour or two, and then it started melting again. We seized the day, as we are known to do, out in the meadow all covered with snow. We built a fort, we made a small sled run, we ran with the dogs and laid on the ground. All four of us felt lucky we caught that cloudburst of snow. It wouldn't have been the same without it.

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