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Friday, January 20, 2012

Homemade Playdough

Ever bought Playdough in the store?

I'm asking because I haven't.  I take one look at the small containers of way-too-expensive goop and turn and run the other way.  Someone gifted my children some store-bought playdough last summer.  The colors were garish, it dried out quickly and stuck to everything.

NOT like good old homemade playdough!  I love this recipe:  it's quick, fun, lasts forever and makes a lot.  What more can you ask for??

You will need: 
1 cup hot tap water 
1 cup of flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tbsp cream of tartar
2 tbsp baby oil
1 3oz package of jello

 Pour hot water into a medium saucepan.

Add homegrown Dakota Maid flour! 

 Then the salt.  It's a lot of salt but the good news is that it's a great exfoliant.  I use canning and pickling salt in my house so a half cup is pretty easy to come by.

We made blue playdough to start with (Kiddo1's first choice) and used Blueberry Jello.  Jello adds the color and a very nice scent to your playdough.

Playdough is the only reason I have for Jello.

In my single days, I traveled to Pennsylvania routinely for work.  On one of my trips there I purchased an Amish cookbook and I was very surprised by the LARGE number of recipes including Jello.  As luck would have it, on my next work flight I sat next to an Amish woman and her young son as they returned from a medical emergency in Minneapolis.  We chatted about various things and then I brought up the subject of the Jello, the lots of Jello.  She said, "Oh yes, we love Jello!  It's very popular!"  This struck me as funny:  electricity we don't need, but Jello we can't live without.

Then add the cream of tartar.  This is a LOT of cream of tartar and will probably be your limiting agent in playdough production.  The small grocery store quantities only contain 4 tablespoons so purchase accordingly or you will have disappointment on your hands.
Also, I use baby oil as it has a great smell and doesn't go rancid like a vegetable based oil would.
(It should surprise no one that I don't measure the oil, two good squirts is all you need.)

You're going to set your burner to medium heat and get a very helpful three year old girl to stir it for you.

 Stir constantly!!  I can't stress this enough, burned playdough is no fun a'tall!!

In just a few minutes, the mixture will thicken and start to pull away from the bottom of the pan.

Soon it will form a ball.  Don't be tempted to pull it out right away.  Really work it with a tablespoon to dry it out a bit.

Then flop it onto the counter and remember to turn off the burner!  (I speak from experience here...)

Then use your freakish giant hand (can you say distortion??) to knead the playdough until it is cools.  This is the longest part of making playdough, but also the most relaxing.  Why?
1.  The salt acts as a wonderful exfoliant for your hands.
2.  The scent of the Jello is oh-so-pleasant.
3.  The playdough is warm and soothing.
4.  Is there anything more calming that working some playdough?

Hubby asked me to help with something and I said, "Sorry honey, I'm making playdough.  It's very involved, I can't stop now."

When in reality, I was having a spa moment right there in my kitchen!

Kiddo1 and I had an assembly line going and we churned out orange, blue and red before we ran out of cream of tartar.  We have green and yellow yet to make to finish off the new round of playdough.

This playdough is safe if the kiddos eat it.  It's extremely salty as Kiddo2 found out, but won't hurt them if they accidently eat some.  He was fine, but very thirsty!  It lasts a LONG time, months!  In the past, I've discarded it not because it was moldy or dry, but because the two colors I had made were traded back and forth between kiddos so much they were now the same hard-to-describe color.

If you know any kids, or were ever once a kid, make some playdough!  It's fun, easy and just like having a spa in your kitchen.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

She's One!!

A year ago tonight we were a family of four.  At 8:03 the next morning, a red haired baby girl came into our lives and hearts.  

Kiddo3 is one!!  Her name means "light".  And she is certainly that!  I have never known a more happy or smiley baby than this one.  As my mom says, "I've never seen a louder or happier baby!"  You always know where she is, and she's always talking.  Her latest is to say "Yeah!!" to everything you say to her.

I wasn't there for this picture, something about sewing me back up and all...

Just lying there, contemplating the mysteries of the universe.

"Home Grown with Love" ain't that the truth!!  (Kiddo1 pointed out that the two cherries are Dad and Mom and the peas are the kids.  She's very observant like that...)

Here she is giving Grandma the big lip.  Don't worry, she grinned shortly after.

See?  You can't keep a happy baby down.  
(I like to paraphrase Alabama songs.)

Kiddo3 can't help it.  She was born into a family of laughter.
Here she is auditioning for the role of Mary in the Christmas pagent.

Or a bank-robbing outlaw in a John Wayne western.

Big blue eyes are a White family tradmark...see Uncle Skip.

To keep her admirers from her big blue eyes, Kiddo3 has to hide them.

Look at those cheeks!  They get kissed soundly and often...

Under chairs is a favorite place to crawl and then peek out.

This kind of joy greets us every morning. 

Peeking.  See above.

Again, happiness.

And helpfulness.  She unloads the dishwasher. 

And loads it...with herself! 

 She rides that pony like she just robbed a bank in a John Wayne movie.

We've still got red hair...and it's curly!!  

And we manage to get ourselves in positions like this:

And her hair does things like this:

She goes by many names:  the Narski, Muffins, Little One, ElNote...just to name a few.  But she will always be my baby girl!

Monday, January 9, 2012

If I hear one more person...

"I have reached the end of my rapidly fraying rope."

That's a phrase I've said a few times to my husband in the past 4.5 years of wedded bliss.

I said it the other day and it had nothing whatsoever to do with him.  It had to do with this winter weather, or lack thereof, that we've been having.  

All fall, everywhere I went, I heard the following phrase:  "You know we're going to get 200 inches of snow!!"  What I found the most ironic and most maddening about it is that it invariably was said by someone who has daily snow removal.  

Not someone, like me, who may have MONTHLY snow removal.  I am not exaggerating.  It happens so infrequently that we write it on the calendar.

I can't stand that sort of pessimism from those who don't plan their lives around the amount of snow, wind speed, wind direction and the amount of diapers they have left in the house.

Let's take a look at last year, shall we?
Those are 6+ foot drifts across our road.  The only road in or out of our farm.

There's at least 5 feet of snow in my yard, my whole yard and everything in the yard.

Remember?  Remember how stressful it was to be 9 months pregnant and wonder if you would go into labor when the road was blocked?  Remember how you had to spend an extra day in the hospital because your husband was home alone with two toddlers and couldn't leave them to use the tractor to open the road?  Remember how your whole family waited with bags packed for the plow to come so you could go to Fargo for a speaking engagement?

You don't??!!  I guess it was just us then.  And our neighbors.  And anyone else who lives out in the country.  

What has my dander up these days is that some people (again, those with daily snow removal) keep saying "We're going to pay for this nice weather!"  WILL YOU JUST SHUT IT!  I'm so tickled that we don't have to fight snow every moment of every day that I could just burst.  A smile lights my face when I look outside and don't have to wonder if the 4 wheel drive will get us there.  You can't imagine the joy!!!  (Although, there is a very, VERY mild disappointment that the kids don't have snow to play in, it is completely offset by the fact that tonight we took a family walk and they rode their stick horses.)

So, to those of you who INSIST on spreading your weather negativism, spread it somewhere else.  Like on your compost pile, where that kind of garbage belongs.

I, for one, LOVE it and will continue to be THANKFUL for each and every day!

And, if you need me, I'll be sleeping outside in my hammock tonight...

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

2011: A Year in Review

It was a wonderful and busy year here on the farm!  Here are some of the highlights...

We had a baby girl, Kiddo3! 
 Hubby was very proud
 Mama and Kiddo3 were very tired.

We ate yummy things like chicken and biscuits.

We fought snow.  A LOT of snow.

We made yummy things like chocolate pudding.  (Which may or may not work as a wonderful moisturizer.)

Mama got a dishwasher.  And the peasants rejoiced!

We got spring fever and wore our swimsuits.

We were baptized in the first mud puddle of the season.  It was not the last.

We found Mama's lipstick and just had to do it "me-self".

We had our first smile.

And we still had a LOT of snow.

We planted many flats of vegetable seeds.

We covered our sister with stickers and she didn't mind a bit.

Then the snow melted and we had water.  A LOT of water.

But our gardens started to grow!

And so did our babies!

We found new places to read, 

and new places to make messes.

We took baths,

and pretended we were old-timers huddles around the kerosene stove for warmth.

We started a love affair with cowboy hats that still continues.

We got MORE water, and lost our road.

But we had this cutie to ease our pain.

Mama sewed the girls matching Easter dresses.

We picked out our new chickens.

We had to take the boat to go get them,

at the post office!

We became really good helpers.

We looked longingly at the gardens, waiting to plant our seeds.

We saw glorious sunrises on our walk out to our vehicles.

The perennial plants started to grow! 

And the kids continued.

We got dirty, REALLY dirty!

We read books, LOTS of books.

We compared beloved rabbits. 

We loved our baby sister. 

We watched storm clouds roll in,

and chickens grow up.

We watched the calvary arrive to build our new road.  And the peasants rejoiced!

We sold a LOT of eggs.

And we got a new measure of cool.

We helped build new chicken pens,

all of us!

We played "peek" in our beds.

We kept banana bread away from the dog.

We got our first scrapes.

And learned to play golf!

We were silly!

We grew lots of great food, 

and a great little boy.

We took naps, everyday!

We got older, everyday!

We tickled our sister's toes. 

We raised lots of chickens.

And did lots of chores.

We tried new hairstyles. 

And we found sweet moments like this.

We canned pickles,

and blueberry jam.

We did laundry, LOTS of laundry.

We canned peaches.

And ate sweet corn.

And giggled. 

We played in the dirt with our faithful companion.

And we grew more great food!

We picked flowers

and kohlrabi.

We played "peek" on the couch.

We said goodbye.

We did a fun car project. 

And ate yummy things like cucumber sandwiches.

We studied giant frogs.

We made our sister laugh uncontrollably.

We processed apples,
 and lambs, 
 and chickens.

We made toys out of everything.

We had to get a new bed.

We drew pictures of our mama.

And slept in our new bed.

We had lots of yummy food 
that we can eat all winter. 

We started doing "school pages", 
 and coloring.

We raised turkeys.
 and catching escapees. 

Panda bears took a nap in mama's bed. 

We read more books.

We were very excited about new hats from Grandma,
 and the tiniest bit of snow!

We made homemade Christmas gifts.

And took our first sled rides.

We hoped for more snow (only those of us under 4 feet tall).

We climbed into drawers.

We met wonderful people.

We played together as a family.

And, as my favorite movie in 1995 says, "and the peasants rejoiced!"