Today, Zander and I are really missing our dear friends, Anja, Thomas, and Lea. Since before they could even walk, Zander and Lea played together nearly every single day, and they are more like siblings than friends. Recently, Lea and her family moved back to Germany, and ever since, we have felt a void in our lives. It feels unnatural for them to be so far away. We email photos and videos frequently so we can watch Lea and Zander grow and learn new skills, and this also helps Zander and Lea to remember each other.
Each time I ask Zander if he misses Lea, he shakes his head emphatically and says yes. Today, we saw some videos of Lea dancing, which was one of their favorite things to do together, and my eyes teared up, because I miss them so much. I cannot wait until we are able to go and visit them in Germany! Until then, thank goodness we have email and Skype. I am really looking forward to our Skype call tomorrow morning (our time).
I didn’t blog yesterday, because it was another hectic day, but it was a good one. Zander played with some friends in the morning, and we read a lot of books at home. In the afternoon, he went to the playground with his daddy, and then we all went into town for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony and some Christmas caroling. Downtown Friday Harbor is so beautiful and magical at this time of year, with all of the lovely lights and decorations. The community here really goes all out for special occasions, and it feels nice to be a part of this special group of people.
Just before the tree lighting, Zander made an ornament at a children’s booth, and later he received a hug from Santa Claus and a candy cane from Frosty the Snowman (which his daddy ate, because Zander doesn’t know what candy is or that it is even edible, and we’d like to keep it that way…) Afterwards, we came home for dinner and an early bedtime.
Today is sunny, so Zander and I had some fun playing outside before his nap, and I’m just about to go grocery shopping for the week. I just discovered (and ordered) a book called Eat Vegan on $4 a Day, and I can hardly wait until it arrives, because one of our family goals is to tighten up the amount of money we spend on food, while still eating delicious and satisfying meals. I’ll report more on that later.
For now, I am pleased to report that I am still on track with my weekly food and fitness goals, and I have lost my goal of two pounds for the previous week.
Anyway, on to the really fun stuff: homemade play dough!
I love the idea of making homemade play dough for so many reasons, including that it is 100% non-toxic (edible, even, although it tastes really gross), environmentally friendly, totally simple and safe for a toddler to make with adult assistance, and puts you and your child in complete control of every creative aspect of the project.
A few weeks ago, Zander and I made our first ever batch of homemade play dough. We used the following recipe (which I doubled to make the amount pictured below):
1 cup water
1 cup flour
1/2 cup salt
2 tsp cream of tartar
2 Tbsp veg oil (I used canola oil)
Combine the above ingredients and stir over medium heat until your dough starts to pull away from the sides of the pan. Remove and knead until it becomes elastic. Then divide the dough (if using multiple colors) and mix in the food coloring, or you could go more natural for the color and use things like beet juice, juice from frozen berries, etc.
My dear friend Christine gave me the great idea of adding yummy smells to match the colors, using things like vanilla extract for the white dough, orange extract for the orange dough, peppermint extract for the green or blue dough, etc. How cool is that? The result? World’s best play dough!!
I also saw a really creative idea the other day in someone’s blog for an awesome Christmas gift (I wish I could remember where I saw this so that I could add a link to the blog; apologies that I can’t remember). Anyway, the idea is to make red and white play dough using peppermint extract and (optional) glitter. Layer the red and white dough in a small glass jar to look like a candy cane, then tie on a green bow or some red, white, and green curling ribbon, and you have a perfect, festive, and inexpensive gift or children’s party favor!
I wish I had seen this idea sooner, but I didn’t, so back to what we actually made. Storage is important. Once your play dough is complete, be sure to store it in a tupperware container or ziploc baggies so it doesn’t dry out. We put ours into empty California Baby Calendula Cream jars that we cleaned out and decorated with these adorable personalized stickers given to us by our friends, Jeff and Jami. My motto, by the way, is to never throw out (or recycle) nifty containers like this, because they can be used for so many fun and wonderful projects!
So, as I mentioned above, we didn’t actually make this dough today. We made it a few weeks ago, before this blog even existed. But today, we pulled it out (as we do nearly every day) for some good old play dough fun using cookie cutters and a mini-muffin tin.
First, Zander made some dolphins and a butterfly.
Zander is so proud of himself as he learns to use the cookie cutters properly — and I am proud of him, too!
Then, he had fun just making layers of various imprints into the dough.
Finally, we made a batch of mini “pumpkin” muffins with “cranberries” on top, like the ones we ate earlier this week at our friend Alana’s house. We are going to make a real batch of these very soon, I hope. 🙂
OK, that’s it for now. Time for me to go to the grocery store to buy ingredients for tonight’s dinner — vegan lasagna! Our friend, Heather, is coming over tonight, and for dessert, I promised her some vegan sticky toffee pudding. I will have to be really careful not to overeat, as I could gain 10 pounds just thinking about tonight’s meal!!
I’ll post these recipes in tomorrow’s blog along with some photos. Get ready, because they are both mouth-wateringly delicious and