April 23, 2014

Earth Day 2014: It's the Little Things

On Earth Day this year we took the children at work on a walk around the university campus. They had a lot of fun exploring sculptures that have been sitting in a field for many years -- probably close to decades now -- and walking around seeing the birds and other animals that inhabit the campus area -- we also stopped by the geology building to check out the dinosaur bones, aquariums and snakes. One of the children shouted excitedly "Omigod! Look! It's green grass!" during our walk, and another proclaimed that it was the best time he's ever had while we were all sitting around the lunch table. It's the little things that make them appreciate this great planet of ours.

April 18, 2014

Easter Eggs Made With Natural Dye

I did some canning the other day. Not your regular type of canning, but vegetables, fruits and such that I steeped in boiling water in order to make natural dyes to use with the children at work -- what's in the jars is just the juices to make for easier transport to work. 

Each year we try to do something fun and unique with the eggs rather than the traditional dipping in the dye made from the little pucks -- last year we drizzled the dye over the eggs. -- and this year we decided to try out the natural dyes. I love how the eggs turned out, and the children had a lot of fun smelling each jar and picking which fruit or vegetable they wanted their eggs to sit in -- we also had tea and grape juice available.

The egg on the left was dyed with orange peels, carrots, dried mustard and celery seed. The egg in the middle was dyed with blueberries, and the egg on the right was dyed with beets. I believe that my juices are a little more concentrated than that of the recipe I used because the colours are much darker than in the original blog post. For each one I made 3 cups and added 4T of vinegar, and the more vinegar the better the hue. Here are the recipes that I used:

Happy dying and Happy Easter :)

April 16, 2014

Behind the Shop: Fabriano Paper

I want to introduce you to the paper that I use in my shop. It comes from a small town in Italy called Fabriano, and was created by the Fabriano Mill where high-quality paper has been made since the 13th Century -- Michelangelo even used their paper.

When I told a friend of mine that works on restoring documents, maps, and books about my shop and the paper that I use, she told me that it was great paper and that the mill was the first to use the watermark, and to discover using gelatine to coat the paper so that the ink wouldn't bleed as much -- think how easy it is to write on a piece of paper towel as it has no gelatine coating.

I have been struggling with conveying the quality of the paper that I use because you are not able to touch it until you get one of my cards in your hands. It is hard to grasp the beauty of something that you can only use one sense to understand -- my husband does not understand why I have to pick-up or touch everything when we go shopping, but this is why. That same friend told me to share a photo of my paper where I held it up against the window so that the light could shine through, or not shine through as is the case with the paper I use for my cards. The lack of light shining through shows you the thickness and quality of the paper.

What drew me to my paper in the first place was the look and feel of it. The surface of the paper is not perfectly smooth. In fact, it looks like it has little craters and bumps all along the surface giving it that handmade feel. Another thing that I really like about the paper is the deckle edge from the paper making process. It's beautiful!

All of the things that I enjoy about the paper are the things that are most difficult to convey. That's why word of mouth, item reviews, and receiving a card yourself are so important.

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