Monday, October 29, 2012

Seriously, Jack-Egg-Lanterns

In the mad pursuit of ambition and creativity, I find it's important to take time now and then to smell the roses--or the cinnamon and Allspice, season depending.  Lately when I break from my keyboard or lift my pen, I smell woodsmoke, see leaves turning, and think about Halloween.

This time of year, my to do list pulls quadruple-duty to accommodate costume-making, visits to pumpkin-patches, carving, cooking, stewing, souping and baking, and a new tradition of nightly processions by our preschool twins.  Lit only by their tiny, plastic pumpkin lanterns and a few flickering household decorations, they walk the dark hall from the bathroom to their bedroom emitting adorably ominous "ooooooos" and beaming ear-to-ear.  

There's just too much fun potential in Halloween to restrict the celebration to one day a year.  So here it lasts a month, and I got an idea (surely not original, but fun nonetheless) this past spring when all those egg coloring kits hit the clearance bins.  Jack-egg-lanterns! 


With our preschoolers lending eager hands to every task and activity, I'm relieved to report egg-coloring and Jack-Egg-Lantern making is more little kid-friendly and safe than pumpkin carving (which gave me enough palpitations this Halloween season, even with those "safe" carving kits), and easier for little arms than even pumpkin-gut scooping.  And with pumpkins going for $6 each at our local stores, even with supremely organic eggs from hand-raised chickens, each with their own little chicken condo and private yard, Jack-Egg-Lantern making is extremely affordable and my new favorite Halloween craft.

With two girls and four fast hands to keep busy, one orange packet of dye was not going to be enough.  So to keep four hands busy and keep two imaginations working, we combined the red, yellow and pink colorings to make multiple shades of "pumpkin."  I think next time a drop or two of purple would also make a deeper color.  Green and purple are great Halloween colors anyway, and we could have done more to make Goblin or Frankenstein eggs or Purple Monster eggs...  Okay, all the better for next time.  This time, we focused on the pumpkin.  Some turned out more pinky-orange, a few more yellowy-orange, but overall we got a good blend and loved the results! 

For special egg-fects, we experimented with multi-color dipping, and striping our "pumpkin" eggs with white, clear, and black crayons to add dimension and texture.  Looking back, red or dark orange crayon might do even better, especially pre-heated to give the lines more solid consistency.   

Here's an example of white-crayon:

We drew our most vivid Jack-Egg-Lantern faces with a Sharpie, though black crayon also turned out well.  Maybe next time we'll go with yellow crayon for the faces, red or orange for the texture lines, and a deeper orange for the dye to create a lit-from-within illusion.  

I think the most important part of this trial egg run is that it's a simple craft with edible (and healthy!) results that kept us entertained for hours.  Dips, spills, stains, one egg off the balcony (and thankfully no neighbors walking below at the time), and tons of great opportunities for peripheral fun, like practicing our scary faces (see below).  

Of course, eggs aren't just for breakfast, or Halloween.  Consider Independence Day red-white-and-blue eggs in July, colorful ornament eggs around Christmas, glittery eggs for New Years, heart-kissed Valentine eggs in February, lucky green and pot of golden eggs for St. Patrick's Day, and of course the year-round preschooler favorite Green Eggs and Ham!  The key to year-round, nutritious fun?  Hard boiled eggs. 

Have a spook-tacular Halloween!

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