To “Dye” For ~Tanya Hanson

 For every Easter of my life, I’ve decorated eggs….except one. Last year when we away from home on a trip to Northern California. Yep. Even one April, when we were in Hawaii I colored eggs –the condo had a big kitchen, and we took the finished product along on picnics at the beach. Something I can’t resist about those little glass cups brimming bright with color. My favorite part is pouring the colors down the drain when I’m done. My own particular rainbow. To this day, the scent of vinegar always evokes this much loved pastime.


But the little PAAS kits got me thinking. How did kids on the prairie dye their Easter pretties in days gone by? I thought I’d do some digging.

First off, the child might draw a design on a clean egg with candle wax. Then comes the fun.

Mother Nature has a beautiful pallet and plenty of “natural” ways to get the job done. These old-style tricks certainly work today. Onion skins seeped in hot water were and are a popular method of adding various shades of yellow, brown and even red. The skins can simply be added to water for soaking or boiling, or the skins wrapped around the egg with cloth.


The juice from cooked beets can make tints of pink and red. A green leaf wrapped around an egg “leaves” behind a beautiful imprint.

To create a marbled design, a child –and Mama; it seems to have been a project requiring more than two hands–would wrap dill or parsley around an onion-skin covered egg, tying it on with string, before boiling, afterward polishing the finished product with oil.

Turmeric and white vinegar is said to produce a lovely yellow, and paprika with vinegar, a delicious orange. Walnut husks leave behind a rich dark brown color, and elderberry juice a lovely deep purple. Strong coffee with a couple spoonfuls of white vinegar also produces beige, tan, and brown hues.

I learned of an old-fashioned mother re-straining the commercial “blueing” in her laundry rinse water to produce a blue tint. Blueberries and red cabbage will produce purple, my favorite Easter color of all.


For green eggs (to go with that Easter ham LOL) soak eggs in water along with four cups of fresh spinach. (One household hint said to use baking soda for this one rather than vinegar.)

These methods all call for a ratio of one quart to two tablespoons white vinegar, and a good overnight soak before boiling. The longer the egg remains in the water, the more intense the color. Boil the eggs for ten minutes in the juices they soaked in.

Anybody eager to give these old-time methods a try this Eastertime?


Thanks to, Holidays Central, and The District Domestic for these down-home hints and helps!)

(P.s. The third Hearts Crossing Ranch novella, Sanctuary,  will be out soon. Here’s my hero: WDYT?

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29 thoughts on “To “Dye” For ~Tanya Hanson”

  1. I remember the little Paas kits, Tanya, but I’ve never tried the methods you write about here. Just reading your blog makes me want to experiment. But something tells me my grandchildren would turn up their noses. They’d rather have chocolate eggs.
    I do buy brown eggs at the grocery story year round just because I love the beautiful colors.
    Gorgeous cover, by the way. Who do you know, girl?

  2. Hi Tanya, The eggs in that first picture are so pretty! You’re so right about the Paas kits and the smell of vinegar. We’ve done many, many of them over the years. With my two boys, it was as much science as art! Lots of messiness!

    The new cover is lovely! Great looking hero!

  3. hi Elizabeth, oooh, chocolate, yum. But I so love dyying these guys. I think the already-brown ones are so beautiful.

    Oh, I remember our two kids. They’d clamor for more and more boiled eggs to dye. I’d have to try to explain that afterard, we had to EAT them, so enough already.

    Nicola Martinez is the artist. She is now ed-in-chief at White Rose Publishing. A woman of so many talents! Thanks for posting! oxoxox

  4. Hi Vicki, don’t you sometimes wish the kids were little again? I guess that’s one reason I can’t stp dyeing…the memories!

    My “hero” is actually a cancer survivor. I’ll tell y’all more about the story closer to release. Thanks so much for posting today! oxoxox

  5. Hi Ann, I totally feel the same. It’s too easy to pop those little color-pills in some vinegar, fizz up a bit…and do the work for you. Thanks so much for stopping by Wildflower Junction today!

  6. VERY interesting article, T! I agree with Ann – I doubt I’d have the moxie to try it, but the topic sure makes for great reading! As for the cover? YUMMM!!!!!!! 😀 Great one!!

  7. I remember the Paas too! What a wonderful article.

    And I must agree with Marianne’s assessment of the cover!

    Peace, Julie

  8. Hi Marianne, my dear buddy! Thanks so much for stopping by. Yes, these techniques do seem a lot of work LOL. I think I’ll buy my usual little kit. Yeah, Nicola did another major design, didn’t she? So good to see you hree. oxoxxo

  9. hi Raquel, thanks so much for posting today. I know– how innovative folks were in days of yore, using what they had on hand! Congrats on the new book. oxoxox

  10. Ooh, this sounds like fun! I may have to try the old-fashioned egg dyeing this year. I’m sure my five-year-old niece would be more than willing to help me. 🙂

    Love the cover! Nicola does such awesome work, doesn’t she?

  11. hi E.A, oh, yes, these all sound like such fun. I really should try them some year. Maybe when my grandson is a bit older. Yes, Nicola is brilliant! thanks for posting today.

  12. Fun info Tanya! I knew some of the methods but not all of them. Spinach for green makes sense.

    My children and I used the onion skins and beet juice one year. It does take longer but better than store dye.

  13. I use this method that preserves the eggs for years. Use a leaf or some sort of plant material (sometimes weeds that are soft make the best designs), hold it to the egg, use a piece of an old panty hose to hold the leaf in place, then tie the hose on the reverse side of the egg with a bag twisty. Cover the eggs with water and gently boil the eggs with onion skins and a little vinegar for four hours. Remove form water, let dry, and remove the leaf and hose. The decorated eggs will last very long if not exposed to sunlight. These eggs we never eat, the insides become hard and the eggs rattle. I plan to do this with my granddaughters this Easter.

  14. Thanks, Pam. Always good to hear from you.

    Hey Paty, so glad to hear from somebody who’s had experience doing this. I can just imagine how lovely the colors must be.

    Thanks for stopping by today, friends.

  15. Tracy, I’m getting excited to try a couple of them myself. Although knowing me, I’ll weenie out and get a PAAS kit after all. So glad to hear from ya today. oxox

  16. Tanya, very interesting. Wish I had some little ones at home to dye eggs with. They grew up way to fast!

    Love your new book cover. Wow! There’s no mistaking it for a western romance with the cowboy and the horse, two of my favorite things. And those beautiful mountains in the background are spectacular. Is this available as a print book?

  17. We have used some of the natural dyes you listed above, with mixed results. Our other option has been to use Araucana Chicken eggs. They are naturally pastel yellow, pink, blue, and green and lovely. I have a basket of them (blown) sitting on my counter.

    Nice cover. Love the mountains. They cowboy isn’t bad either.

  18. Hi Linda, nah, these are still an e-series, on Kindle and at White Rose Publishing. I guess in my dreams they’ll someday have the 8 novellas in a print antho, maybe. But I am getting lots of experience in my latest venue, the inspirational market. So it’s all good.

    I know, our kids grew up way too fast. And my grandbaby, now four, is doing the same thing! Goshdarn it LOL. Thanks for coming by today, my filly sister.

  19. hi Patricia, always so good to see you here. I never have tried any of the natural ways but if I get around to it, I’ll recall your hints. Thank you! And yes, normally I don’t like faces on covers because they never quite match my imagination, but he has grown on me. In the story, he’s a cancer survivor–my favorite kind of hero of all. Thanks for posting.

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