Friday, April 8, 2011


When I was little, my mom used to fix up baskets for Buff and I.  She filled them with clear green plastic 'grass', and then get out the Paas easter egg dyes.

The Paas easter egg dyes came with a little copper wire 'dipper', a number of colored tablets, and some punch-out cardboard strips printed with grass and flowers or bunny faces or other spring/easter themed illustrations.  The strips were designed so that you could arrange them in a little circle that worked as a sort of stand for some of your eggs.  There was also a cardboard sheet with holes cut in, which theoretically would allow you to stand your eggs in it to dry, but which we didn't like to use because the eggs would end up with bits of cardboard hardened and dried onto them, and because the cardboard edge would rub a pale ring around the bottom part of the egg.

My mom would hard boil some eggs, and then fill up custard cups with vinegar and warm water, and then add one tablet to each cup.  The tablet would release the dye, and then we could color our eggs by dipping them in the various colors.  Some eggs we would dip partway in one color and then partway in another, some eggs we would layer by dipping in one color after another.  Over time, as we dipped eggs into one color and then another, the dyes got muddier - but in some cases they also got more interesting and intense than the original primary color dyes.  Sometimes these more complex colors would 'break' on the egg, so that the egg seemed to be one color with another color or two speckled onto it, as though it had been airbrushed.  These were my favorites.

After each egg was dyed, we would put it on a folded white kitchen towel, which would end up with bright spots of dye all over it when the eggs would dry.

Once the eggs were dry, we would choose which ones would get the cardboard bands, and then we would nestle the eggs into our baskets and put them in a special spot for the Easter Bunny to find.  The next morning we would find some special treats in our basket - there might be little toys, and usually there was a few larger candies - often a hollow chocolate rabbit and some chocolate-covered marshmallow rabbits and/or eggs.  Once or twice we got large spun-sugar eggs that were hollow and had a decorated hole on one end, and when you looked inside there was a little candy scene inside.  These eggs were no good to eat, really, but they were very pretty, so I really liked them and would keep them for quite a long time.

But my favorite part was that every Easter morning we would race around trying to find all the shiny little foil-wrapped chocolate eggs that the Easter Bunny had hidden everywhere.  There were eggs under the couch, on top of picture frames, inside the stereo cabinet, behind books in the bookshelf, inside flower vases, tucked behind paintings, hidden beneath the wax fruit in the bowl... you never knew where you might find those special easter treats.

We would collect all the eggs in a pile on the table, so that we could split them fairly after our hunt was over, and somehow mom and dad knew when we needed to keep looking... usually.  Every once in a while I would find a stray egg hidden in some odd place long after Easter had come and gone.  I suspect that Buff occasionally had the experience, but neither of us was silly enough to tell the other one - after all, how could two people share one little tiny chocolate egg?


When you were little, you had problems with your blood sugar, so a lot of chocolate or candy eggs were not a possibility for you.  So mostly the Easter Bunny hid plastic eggs with small toys and Legos inside, and there would be a bigger toy left in your Easter Basket.  Luckily you found this just as exciting as Buff and I found those chocolate eggs.

But some things stayed the same from generation to generation - we still went to grandma's house and had a wonderful time using Paas dyes to make easter eggs, and happily tucked them into your special basket!

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