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gedankenabfall via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

10 Creative Easter Egg Decorating Techniques

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gedankenabfall via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

Sure, you can buy a kit and dip your eggs in vinegar water for color, but how many times have you done that? Step up your Easter egg game this year with some techniques that show off your creative side.

1. SPECKLED EGGS

Penolopy Bulnick via Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

How do you dye eggs to get a speckled color effect? Use rice! Penolopy Bulnick shows us how to make a dye "bath" without any water by using rice, food coloring, and baggies. You can even double-dip your eggs to get a multicolored speckle; just be sure to let the dye dry completely between colors. You'll find her complete tutorial at Instructables. Bonus: You'll have brightly colored leftover rice you can cook for a prank on the family.

2. SILK-DYED EGGS

These eggs get their unique patterns from old silk ties. Nancy Birtwhistle shows us how to transfer the fabric's dye to the eggs in this Instagram video, and she also has the instructions written out on her blog.

3. CONFETTI EGGS

dharmatradingco via Instructables // CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

These colorful eggs were dyed with the bright tissue paper used for gift wrap. Instructables member dharmatradingco cut up tissue paper into confetti bits and applied them to slightly dampened eggs to transfer the color, and recommends blowing out the eggs or hard boiling them for kids. The eggs shouldn't be eaten, "but you can use the colorful shell pieces in other crafts." Find the step-by-step instructions here.

4. SHAVING CREAM EGGS

Here's a way to make dyeing eggs fun for younger children that doesn't involve vinegar. For this technique, kids can roll the eggs around in a dye bath made with shaving cream and drops of food coloring. Emma Helming Willis has the instructions on her site.

5. OMBRE EGGS

Fading pastel ombre colors look lovely on Easter eggs. Marji Roy at Ashbee Design made these with spray paint in pastel colors. Follow her tutorial to learn how to make your own.

6. MARBLED EGGS

A marbling effect is created when you float paint or ink on top of water, where it can freely move, and then dip an object, such as a sheet of paper, into the water and let an abstract design flow onto it. A modern variation on this method is to color your Easter eggs using a layer of nail polish floating on water in an appropriately-sized container. You can use one color, like Neelam at Patterns and Prosecco, or swirl different colors together like Crystal Owens at A Pumpkin and a Princess.

7. WENDISH BATIK EGGS

gedankenabfall via Flickr // CC BY-SA 2.0

The western Slavic Sorbian, or Wendish, culture traditionally decorates eggs in the batik fashion, using wax to create designs. An artist can create beautiful designs such as the eggs pictured here, but anyone can get started with this technique with basic instructions from Color Blast.

8. UKRAINIAN PYSANKY EGGS

Pysanky eggs are a Ukrainian tradition that produces beautiful designs that can last permanently. They're created with a batik wax method and multiple dye baths to color different parts of the egg. The wax pattern is changed between dye baths to protect the earlier colors and the uncolored parts of the egg. It doesn't have to be as difficult as it sounds—Instructables member esmecat has a basic how-to for beginners.

9. CRYSTAL EGG GEODES

Growing crystals inside an eggshell results in a beautiful, glittery Easter decoration. Yes, you can grow sugar crystals in an eggshell, but these are fast-forming alum crystals that grow overnight. Martha Stewart shows us how to make them.

10. EASTER EGGS THAT GLOW AND CHANGE COLOR

wannabemadsci at Instructables //CC BY-NC-SA 2.5

Instructables member wannabemadsci went all out with eggs that not only light up, but change color. The secret is tiny LED color-changing lights inside plastic eggs. He got the lights by tearing up cheap color-changing electric candles, but they can be ordered online. You'll find the directions for these awesome eggs at Instructables.

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Pop Culture
Game of Thrones Made a Fun Nod to Harry Potter In Its Season Premiere
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Helen Sloan/HBO

Warning: This article contains mild spoilers about the season seven premiere of Game of Thrones. It also spoils minor plot points of the Harry Potter films.

Harry Potter fans may have gotten a strange sense of déjà vu during last night’s Game of Thrones season opener. That’s because the HBO series’ creators appear to have dropped in a subtle reference to the Harry Potter film franchise—and the Internet, in a moment of truly esoteric nerd trivia, picked up on it immediately.

The Easter egg came when Samwell Tarly, eager to discover an obscure bit of history that could help Westeros fend off the advancing White Walkers, asks the archmaester Ebrose for access to the restricted section of the Citadel’s library.

Devoted fantasy fans will recall that in another world, at another time, a young Voldemort asked Professor Slughorn for permission to enter the restricted section of the library at Hogwarts. The connection? Jim Broadbent, the real-life muggle actor who played Slughorn in the final three movies of the Harry Potter franchise, made his Game of Thrones debut last night playing Ebrose.

It seems that no matter where Broadbent goes, no matter how far he travels across fantasy universes, he can’t escape eager pupils trying to meddle in parts of the library where they don’t belong.

[h/t: Independent]

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12 Ways to Use Leftover Eggshells
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iStock

After the Easter egg hunt is done, the ham has been served, and the ears have been bitten off the bunnies, you may find yourself making excessive amounts of egg salad and facing a giant pile of eggshells. But don't throw them out! Because the shells are an organic material packed with calcium and a perfectly abrasive texture, they have lots of benefits that you can tap into for plenty of helpful uses at home.

1. BOOST YOUR TOMATO PLANTS.

Easter means the summer growing season is not far off, and if you're industrious, you might already be growing some seedlings to get a jump on things. When you plant or pot your tomato plants, put some eggshells at the bottom of the hole or the pot. The shells are loaded with calcium and can help protect your tomatoes from calcium deficiency, which causes blossom-end rot.

2. MAKE YOUR OWN HOUSEHOLD CLEANER.

Eggshells are naturally abrasive but don’t contain the toxic chemicals you find in store-bought cleaners. Because of this, they make for a great multi-purpose householder cleaner. For this use, be sure to use eggshells from your deviled egg platter that have not been dyed (it’s OK to use those with stickers if you peel them off). Dry the eggshells completely and then pulverize them in a food processor. Mix them with baking soda in a 1:3 ratio (for example,1 tablespoon of eggshells to 3 tablespoons baking soda) and add water to moisten the mixture. This is a great way to scrub your stovetop, pots, counter, or water stains from your shower.

3. CLEAN YOUR DRAINS.

Dry and pulverize the shells and sprinkle a quarter teaspoon of the powder into the kitchen sink when you drain it after washing dishes. The abrasive egg powder will cling to the bits of food in your pipes and turn into little scrubbers as they move through the pipes. This will help reduce build-up throughout your plumbing.

4. MELLOW OUT YOUR COFFEE.

Make sure your eggshells are clean and do not contain any of the egg membrane (and only use plain shells or those decorated with natural food coloring). Put some of the eggshells in your coffee grounds when you add them to your coffee maker. Eggshells are mostly calcium, which is alkaline, and can absorb some of the acid in the coffee, giving it a mellower flavor. In fact, one test found that stirring some eggshells in a cup of over-brewed coffee also improved the taste.

5. USE INSTEAD OF A BOTTLE BRUSH.

If you have a vase with those annoying, impossible-to-reach water marks on the inside, drop some crushed eggshells into the vase with a little bit of warm water and a drop of dish soap. Swirl the mixture around, and the abrasive shells will scrub off the water marks and rinse right out.

6. HATCH SOME SEEDLINGS.

If you’re agile enough to keep roughly half of an eggshell intact, it makes the perfect container for starting seedlings. Place the shells in an empty egg container (or spruce things up with one of the pretty ceramic egg crates that are popular). Partially fill the shells with dirt and plant the seedlings. When it’s time to transplant them, you can just put the whole shell right into the ground since it is biodegradable and will add to the calcium in the soil (but give the shell a crack on the bottom before planting so the roots don't have any problems getting through).

7. GET RID OF GARDEN PESTS.

Diatomaceous earth is often used in gardens to control beetles, slugs, roaches, and other pests. This natural product is basically ground up fossils, which is an abrasive material that irritates, dries out, and eventually kills the bugs. Leftover eggshells can create the same effect. Pulverize them and sprinkle directly on the pests, their nests, or around the leaves or base of your plants to help control pest attacks.

8. SCARE AWAY STRAY CATS.

If stray or neighborhood cats are using your garden to relieve themselves (or are taunting your dogs by tiptoeing through your yard), spread some roughly crushed eggshells around the area the cats are frequenting. Cats don’t like the crunchy, sharp feel of the shells on their paws, and will learn to avoid that area.

9. REPLACE ANY MICROBEAD CLEANSERS.

Beauty products with microbeads can no longer be produced after July 2017, when a law signed by President Obama in late 2015 goes into effect. Microbeads are great for exfoliation, but it turns out the tiny bits of plastic are damaging to the environment, particularly to fish, who ingest them. Eggshells, however, are a great, environmentally friendly alternative. Use plain eggshells without coloring; dry and pulverize the shells, and mix with an egg white. This can be used as an exfoliating cleanser or as a face mask.

10. ADD TO YOUR BIRDSEED.

Wild birds at your feeder will benefit if you add lightly crushed eggshells to the bird seed. Be sure to use shells that are plain or have only been colored with natural food coloring and have been completely dried (baking the shells at 250°F for about 10 minutes will do the trick). Female birds, who may be calcium deficient after laying their own eggs, will get a boost from this addition to the food. You can also gently crumble the shells and spread them on the ground for the birds if you don’t have a feeder.

11. REMOVE STAINS.

If you’ve got mugs stained from coffee and tea, eggshells can help return them to their original color. Crush the shells and place them in the mug with a little water and let it sit overnight. The porous shells will absorb the stain and leave your mugs clean without any crazy scrubbing on your part.

12. MAKE AN INEXPENSIVE CALCIUM SUPPLEMENT.

Plain or naturally colored eggshells can save you money on your calcium supplements. Studies have found that ground eggshells make a good substitute for manufactured calcium supplements (and in some cases might even be better). One eggshell contains about two grams of calcium, which is twice the recommended daily intake for adults. Rather than having your omelette with a side of shell though, you can add finely ground eggshells to any variety of food that you cook, like pizza or pasta. You can also mix ground shells into your dog or cat's meal as a calcium supplement.

All images via iStock.

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