Friday, October 2, 2009

Whip up a batch of fun!

I am all about good, cheap family fun. Outings with coupons, homemade playthings and anything that gets the kids excited and involved without clearing out my bank account get a thumbs-up from me. I grew up like that. My sisters and I made life-sized paper dolls and spent hours coloring them in and making joints at the arms and legs with brads. We sewed dresses we designed patterns for by lying on large sheets of paper and tracing our forms. The afternoons always flew by when we were planning a make-shift neighborhood parade or creating a skit for our parents in the backyard. I don’t think we ever spent much money, but we had a fabulous time!
Lots of affordable family fun can happen in the kitchen. My little sister would spend afternoons making the kind of special “cakes” that can only result from an imaginative 3 year old having unlimited access to every spice and flavoring in the pantry. My parents would enthusiastically bake up her mysterious creations and everyone would take a taste. Though it made us feel like contestants on “Fear Factor,” we always managed to choke down a bite, smile and nod. Fun memories for all of us!
I have yet to be that brave and let my kids loose in the kitchen, but we still manage to have a good time. They love to bake cookies, color Easter eggs and make up fun recipes like homemade play dough. Our favorite in the one that requires the use of Kool-Aid packets (see recipe below) because the color variations are endless and the dough smells so good! Watch out for colored hands, though.
The following recipes are wonderful because making them is part of the fun and they cost only pennies to produce. The cooking processes need to be supervised, but the majority of each of these recipes can have hands-on kid involvement. So pick up a few supplies and have a blast this weekend making some colorful, yummy-smelling sticky stuff with your favorite little people . . .
• Cinnamon Apple Clay
1 cup applesauce
1 cup flour
1 cup cinnamon
1/2 cup white school glue
Food coloring
Mix together in a bowl and add food coloring. Refrigerate for a few hours until the clay is firm.

• Homemade Silly Putty
2 cups white school glue
1 cup liquid starch (find it in the laundry aisle)
Mix together and set aside until dry. Store in an airtight container.

•Gooey Slime
1 cup room temperature water
1 cup white school glue
Food coloring
1 1/3 cups warm water
4 tablespoons Borax laundry booster
Mix together room temperature water, glue, and food coloring in a medium bowl. Set aside. In another bowl, mix together warm water and Borax until completely dissolved.
Next, slowly pour the glue mixture into the second bowl with the Borax solution, but do not mix them together.
Roll the glue-mix around in the Borax solution (around four or five times). Then lift the glue mix out of the Borax solution. Knead for two to three minutes.
Store the slime in an airtight container or zippered plastic bag.

• Biggest, Best Bubbles Ever
1 part Joy or Dawn regular dish soap
10 parts distilled water
¼ parts glycerin (find it at the drug store) or White Karo Syrup
Try making a bubble wand from a wire hanger for giant bubbles!

• Kool-Aid Play Dough
2 ½ cups flour
½ cup salt
2 packages unsweetened powdered Kool-Aid drink mix
2 cups boiling water
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
Mix flour, salt, Kool-Aid and oil until blended. Add boiling water and mix with a spoon until cool enough to knead. Knead until color is blended (expect colored hands!) Add more flour if consistency is too thin. Store in an airtight bag in the refrigerator.
Get out your cookie cutter collection and some plastic knives to make shapes!
These recipes and more information, photos and links for my column are all available on my blog: Feel free to stop by and drop me a note about what you’d like to read about in the future. Know of something great I should eat/do/see? Let me know and I will check it out!

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