The BEST Homemade Playdough Recipe Ever

There was a time for me when the thought of making homemade playdough coincided with things like spinning yarn, milling flour and milking cows.  There was no way.  Why bother when you can buy playdough in a can from the store?

Well, after 4 children I finally learned – homemade playdough is awesome!  The number 1 reason I make my own playdough is because homemade playdough is so much cheaper than buying playdough in the store.

These are some other reasons why I now make my own playdough:

  • I can make a lot of playdough at one time.
  • I can make any color I choose.
  • Because it is so cheap to make I am not concerned with how my kids choose to use it.  Want to mix colors – sure, go ahead.
  • If necessary (because of allergies) I can adjust ingredients, like using rice flour instead of wheat flour.
  • Scents can be added.
  • It lasts a really long time.

Play Dough Recipe:

  • 1 cup white flour
  • 1/2 cup kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoon cream of tartar
  • 1  tablespoon oil
  • 1 cup water
  • food coloring

Mix first 5 ingredients in a pan with a wire whisk until smooth.  Add food coloring.  Cook over medium heat stirring constantly with a wooden spoon for about 3 – 5 minutes. Dough will become difficult to stir and form a clumpy ball.  Remove playdough from the pot.  Transfer to lightly floured countertop and knead for 5 minutes.  After playdough has cooled transfer to a plastic bag or other airtight container.

Secrets for perfect playdough:

  • Always use Kosher Salt.
  • Be sure to whisk ingredients before heating until smooth.
  • Add scents to your playdough like cinnamon, pumpkin pie spice, essential oils, or extracts like vanilla, lemon, etc.
  • Add glitter to your playdough as you are kneading.
  • If your playdough is too gooey, add additional flour as you knead.
  • If you want to make smaller batches with a larger variety of colors, do not add the coloring before cooking.  Cook white playdough and add a couple drops of coloring to small batches as you knead.
  • If it doesn’t turn out perfect the first time, try again.  Make an adjustment.  My first mistake was cooking the playdough too long before transferring it to the counter.

Seriously, take my word for it.  Homemade playdough is easy to make, and so worth the little bit of effort it requires.

Enjoy!

Let Them Cook

I really enjoy cooking – most of the time…  I enjoy cooking when it isn’t necessary, or rushed.  So I guess that is very limiting, and why I always dread dinnertime preparation.

But, I especially love the fact that my kids love to help cook.  All of my kids love to cook.  I suppose there is something awesome about starting with parts and creating something whole.  And then of course the fact that they get to eat their (typically sweet) creation is always a plus too.

This morning I found this brilliant idea today over at HomeBasedMom.  This idea is mom genius.  Homebasedmom’s bread recipe for kids is started in a Ziploc bag.  Sure there will be some spillage, but for the most part all of the ingredients, stirring and kneading take place inside the bag.  And to give her girls even more ownership, this mom wrote the ingredients on the paper lining the table so that they were easy to read – brilliant.

So today we are going to make bread!

We have a Lego problem

How long has it been since you were vacuuming, or better yet, walking into your child’s room at night trying to be ever so stealth – and you step on a Lego?  Ugh.  It hurts just thinking about it.

Don’t get me wrong, Legos are awesome.  I love them.  Legos are one of the very few plastic toys I actually appreciate.  I love the fact that after the initial build (and loss of the instructions) Legos are a tool to inspire unlimited imagination.

But, it seems the number of children in the home correlates with the mass of Legos one owns.   We have a huge Lego issue in our house.

I think I am feeling inspired…

Check out these great ideas by Modern Parents Messy Kids for getting your Legos off the bedroom floor.

I have seen countless ways to organize Legos and really I have yet to decide which way is best.  But getting them off the floor is at least a start.  I like the idea of using many clear containers to store the Legos.  I especially like the idea of choosing shallow containers so that they are easy to transport and easy to locate pieces (as opposed to a deep container you would have to dig through).

Also in this post is a pattern for creating your own Lego storage mat.  I have called these storage mats Swoop Bags.  And I am thinking they wouldn’t just have to be used for Legos – Playmobils also come to mind.  Or, if you would rather skip the sewing part, you could also order a Swoop Bag from this Seattle based company.

And if you would like to organize further than just getting it all off of the floor, this is the advice I received after an interview with my very own Lego Maniac.

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Tips from Cam, The Lego Maniac:

  1. Definitely use clear containers with good snap on lids.
  2. Sort your containers in the following categories: Bricks, Mini Figures, Axles & Wheels, Plates, Motors, Tracks, Roads
  3. Sort Bricks by color.
  4. Build a shelf to display built projects.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip for Tuesday

Yesterday I decided (for reasons I will keep to myself) that I needed to clean the car seat.  It was pretty gross.

If you only have a baby at this point you may not yet be able to accept this, but very soon your sweet little baby will become an adventurous and messy toddler.  You will be amazed (and disgusted) at some of the things you will find lodged and spilled in their car seat.  Sorry to spoil that for you.

This is my tip:

When buying a car seat always look for one that the cover can be completely removed and washed in the washing machine.  Anything that explains “surface clean only” or “partially removable” don’t even consider it.  And when it comes to cleaning the inner body of the seat just go ahead and use the hose.  It is the best way to get all of the little pieces of whatever out of the many cracks and crevices.

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Managing the Monday Madness

Honestly, I have never really quite understood all of the dread for Mondays.  I kind of like Mondays.  For me, Monday generally represents a fresh start.  I start a new list, everyone jumps back into their routine and I get a chance to begin anew.

But I will tell you that when it comes to cooking dinner, that is what I dread – especially on Mondays.  In our house Monday evenings mean homework, baseball practice, Boy Scouts, very soon 4-H, showers and multiple bedtime stories .  It gets kind of crazy sometimes.

In order to remain sane, I have learned to embrace the fact that dinner’s primary purpose only need be sustenance within the evening hour.  In giving myself this grace our Mondays are much more pleasant, for everyone.  This may mean cold turkey sandwiches and fruit for dinner, but that is o.k.

Today I have decided to make Baked Potato Soup in the crock pot.  My favorite (because it is simple) potato soup is inspired by a recipe found at Suchamom.com.  This recipe is super quick and easy.  And best of all, the kids love it!

Loaded Baked Potato Crockpot Soup

But I want a cookie…

May I have a cookie?

No, not now.

But, I want a cookie.

Not now, we will eat dinner soon.

I want a cookie.

Not now, later.

But I want a cookie…

Have you had this conversation before?  If you have a toddler I am sure you have.

Well, bad news is there is no convincing your toddler to wait until after dinner for that cookie (or whatever else it is they are transfixed upon at that moment).

Good news is that your toddler is not really an evil little thing that knows if they just ask one more time you will be broken and give in.  Often that is the way it works out, but really, that was not a plan schemed by your 3 year old.

The fact is that a toddler really cannot make the connection or understanding that he cannot have the cookie now but perhaps sometime in the future.  He also cannot move beyond the desire for that cookie.

I attended a VERY interesting discussion this week on children and brain development.  At birth until about 2 years old a baby’s brain is still quite undeveloped.  All of the parts are there, but there is still much room for growth.  Until the age of about 2 years a baby’s right and left hemisphere is only partially connected to one another, and throughout infancy a child primarily functions according to the right side of the brain, which is known to drive social, cognitive functions, like feelings, touch, play and emotions.  After about age 2, a child’s brain begins to form a fibrous connection between the right and left hemispheres, although this connection is not fully complete until sometime after age 4-5.  Think of this connective fiber as a system of power lines used to connect functions between the Right, social, feeling, emotional side of the brain and the Left, analytical, numerical, thinking side of the brain.  Until this system of connective fibers is complete a child’s response simply cannot be formed using both his feeling and thinking functions, yet is based mostly on purely a need created by emotions.

So… you have two options next time you hear, “May I have a cookie?”

First, you could wait about a year for the brain to grow and you receive an agreeable response.

Or, you can attempt to distract your toddler from this topic and move on to something else.  Good luck!

If you would like to read more about infant brain development check out the book, Bright From the Start by Jill Stam.

6:00 a.m.

Do you sometimes have crazy mornings?  You know, the ones where you rush to get dressed, overlook that nobody’s hair is brushed because you really don’t have time to fix it,  ask your 4 year old to help make lunches because it just won’t get done otherwise, and you are ok with allowing the kids to grab a granola bar to eat in the car on the way to school.  And then of course this always leads to extra sibling” affection” as one kicks the other because “she is in my seat” or “he pushed me.”  Yeah, those mornings….

Well, I have found the solution!

Sorry, but you will just have to get your act together.   Have you ever heard the phrase, “You must be the change you wish to see in the World”?  I have decided this applies everywhere, especially at home.

So in our house tomorrow morning I will be the one to make the changes.  First, I plan to get out of bed at 6:00 a.m., before the sun wakes me up.  Secondly, we will all eat breakfast – on a plate and at the table.

Tonight I am going to try for the first time a crock pot breakfast meal.  I’ll have to let you know the consensus on this tomorrow.

Wish me luck, mostly just in getting out of bed on time.  I am sure the kids and the crock pot will be just fine…

 

 

Normal Everyday Crazy

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This is what MC chose to wear on our walk to school this afternoon to pick up her brother and sister.

I really didn’t think too much of it until several people commented on her “ensemble”.  Then I thought, “oh, well yes, I suppose that is kind of crazy.”  But I am ok with kind of crazy.

Funny thing though, there was a time I would have never considered letting my child step foot outside the door with even a shirt tail untucked or hair out of place.

Now look at me.  My children have definitely changed me.  Some things that would have turned me inside out in the past are now just a part of our normal everday kind of crazy days.  And I am ok with that.

Honestly, I wish I would have learned to be ok with this much sooner.  It wasn’t until child number 3 that I began to embrace the craziness and give my children grace for their (in my opinion) outlandish ideas.

I suppose you get to a point where you realize you are not really the one in control.  Or at least I realized that it wasn’t really necessary for me to be in control ALL of the time.

I like to think of my system now as controlled chaos.  I have control of the situation, but yes, to a bystander it will often look like chaos.

No way in a million years would I have ever been able to convince my single child self of this, but if I could have figured this out sooner many of my days would have much more simple.

My children have taught me that my idea of perfect order is not always necessary.  They have also taught me that when I think order is necessary and it just doesn’t happen, that is ok too.  Because really, most days these things just don’t matter, and a little bit of everyday crazy is absolutely ok.

And yes, just in case you were wondering she also rode the pink scooter with flashing wheels…

Back To School – Making Memories, Traditions and Trinkets

Remember the book All I Really Ever Needed To Know I Learned In Kindergarten?  I think I should write a modern version, All I Really Ever Needed To Know I Found On Pinterest!

Seriously though, skimming through Pinterest I have found some really great ideas.  For example these great links to various back to school ideas…

I love the idea of lunch box notes.  I once met a mother who happened to also be a great artist.  Every morning she would sketch a design, scene, note or whatever on a square yellow post it note and stick it in her children’s lunch.  I know this because when I opened the pantry door each note was taped to the back side.  Her son saved each note.

The great part is you do not have to be an artist at all – or have little squares of paper.  I like to write notes on napkins.  To show your love it doesn’t have to be fancy.  Or, you could use this template and keep a stash of different notes in your drawer to toss in as you make lunch.

Back to School - Free Printable Lunch Notes by PaperCrave LivingLocurto.com

These Pocket Hearts are another super sweet idea.  I know my girls would love to keep one of these in their pockets at school.  Or you could slip this in your little one’s lunchbox or backpack to find during the day.  Granted one might need to be slightly crafty to make these, you might choose something similar but of another material.  A Shrinky Dink (like) charm shaped heart that read “Love Mom” could be another option.

Pocket-Hearts-by-Curly-Bird

How about a Back To School Interview?  These are some great questions I have found.  This is always a good time to go back to later in life.  It is going to be great fun to share my daughter’s plans one day.  At age 5 her plan was to live on a ranch, be a veterinarian, ride her horse to work and have five children who will stay home with their daddy.  I just love it!

back to school yearly interview tradition with questions

1st Day of School Traditions can be great memories and even help ease the transition into a new class.  Children thrive on knowing what to expect and consistency.  While there will be much change and a lot to learn on the first day back to school, having a few traditions to rely on might help relieve some of the anxiety associated with change.

3 fun first day of school traditions

And when they come home from school be sure to talk about their first day.  While a day in kindergarten may seem like a vacation to you, your 6 year old has just made a huge accomplishment.  Ask questions to acknowledge your interest in their success.  This will be a big confidence booster for the many days to come.  Check out these Questions To Ask After the First Day of School.  And if you have one of those children not really interested in conversation use the car ride home to your advantage, they will be in their seatbelts – a captive audience!

Talk About School with Your Kids: Questions to Ask

The “H” Word

We have puppy fever in the house.  Please, don’t mention this to the Commander though!

Over the past few days the kids and I have read Charlie the Ranch Dog (a HUGE favorite), various other dog books including many how to train your dog type manuals found at the library, and watched several dog movies like, Because of Winn Dixie, Air Buddies, Santa Buddies, Firehouse Dog and yesterday 101 Dalmations.

This morning the girls and I were talking in the car.  I was really only half listening as they chatted in the back seat, until I heard in a whisper voice, “I hate Cruella.”

If you ever come to visit us you may overhear one of the kids refer to “the H word.”  And funny enough, they usually will say this in a whisper.  No, it isn’t quite what you think.  Their “H word” is hate.

So this morning when hearing the whisper, “I hate Cruella.”  I figured I better start to pay a little more attention.  Don’t get me wrong, I don’t get mad about hearing that something is hated.  I just really feel there are better options.

Continuing down the road with my 3 and 5 year old we talked about Cruella.  I asked why they hated her.  Immediately the response was, “she is a witch.”  I suggested she is “pretty evil.”  Unsure what that meant, they asked if evil was the same as naughty.  (Naughty is another key word in our household.)  So this made me think, well kind of, I explained, “Cruella is evil because she is intentionally naughty and chooses to be that way over and over again even when she knows it is wrong.”  They both agreed, “oh yes, Cruella is definitely evil,” and proceeded to count the ways.

As I again focused on driving while they chatted in the backseat I thought a bit more about this and the impact our word choice can have on others.  When talking with the children, especially when stating how I feel or discussing their own opinions, there are a few words that are off limits.

For one, we don’t say “hate.”  I really feel this word is much too absolute and suggests the impossibility of forgiveness.   I believe the ability to forgive and be forgiven is necessary for healthy relationships.  Instead I suggest the phrase, “I have yet to find anything to like about ______.”

Another word that is off limits, especially to me as a parent, is “bad.”  I make a point never to refer to the children as bad.  In my opinion the word bad is much too defining.  I feel to tell a child he is bad describes their overall being as if they have no control and they are just inherently bad.  Although the term naughty gives the notion of a choice and that one is able to be in control of their own actions.  This is very important for a child to feel as if they have control, and the ability to make their own decisions, ultimately a huge confidence builder.

So through the rest of these long summer days I will work to choose my words most wisely and in a way that has the most positive impact on my children as I recall Cruella and how she really is evil and not just naughty.