Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Rainy Day Fun: Making "Clean" Mud

This activity is something I've seen over and over for use with sensory tables and have been wanting to try for a while.  We woke up this morning to an extra dark, gloomy, rainy day and I decided we would give the "clean" mud a shot.  Now don't let the name fool you as this is not a clean activity by any means.  It's a good ole messy, hands on, dig in, squish, squash, make a mess fun activity.  It's simply a clean version of mud play because it's nothing more than soap, paper, and water.  In fact while there is a mess to clean up at least everything is already soapy.  Ava was confused as to why she didn't need soap on her hands when she was ready to wash them :)

I didn't quite plan this out 100% so we made due with what we could find around the house.  Most of the versions I have found call for either dove or ivory soap.  I have seen a few with more natural organic soaps but we had none of that.  In fact, we really aren't a bar soap type of family but in the back of the linen closet I was able to locate a few bars of lever 2000.  I cannot tell you how old it was and I'm almost afraid to guess but hey, it did the trick.  The difference being that our "clean" mud was blue tinted.  Ava was cool with that, in fact, she corrected me and told me it was snow and not mud at all.

Breaking my flow to say that as soon as Ava said it was snow I was immediately struck with an awesome elf on the shelf idea for next year.  Have the elf t/p the tree (which I know many did this year) but also have him leave instructions for how to make indoor play snow with the toilet paper so that it isn't wasted. 

While researching how to make this I found that there were a lot of varying opinions on amounts and many reviews saying it didn't come out just right.  So I'll tell you what we used but keep in mind you may just want to add a little at a time until it "feels" right.  We used:

  • Half a roll of toilet paper (the cheap scotts kind...I was not about to waste the good kind lol)
  • 3/4 bar of lever 2000 (or any bar soap) grated.  Again the original says ivory or dove which I would recommend if you want it to be white.
  • Approx. 2 cups of warm water.  We heated 2 cups but added it a little at a time and I don't think we used it all.
  • Hint: The more you play with it the more it becomes the desired shaving cream/whipped cream consistency.  
So here we go.  First grate your soap and while you are grating the soap you can have your toddler help with the shredding of the paper into the bin of your choosing.  Since it was just Ava playing we used a smaller Ikea bin but anything would work.  I'm happy to say I finally found something to do with the roll of scott toilet paper that has been in the linen closet for forever because no one likes it.

 Once the paper has been shredded we sprinkled the grated soap on top.
 Then we poured the first cup of water and mixed a bit then added just a little more.  I gave her some measuring cups and things to play with.

 The more you play the more like shaving cream it becomes.

 Ava played for about 30-40 minutes in the goop before she decided she wanted her hands cleaned.  It actually at this point called for a whole outfit change but it did the trick for those winter blues.  We will definitely be doing this again.

Yummy Banana Bread

The last two times we bought bananas they turned quicker than normal and after throwing away the first group I couldn't bring myself to waste the second.  I popped the bananas in the freezer so I could try my hand at banana bread. 

Today when we woke up it was gloomy, dark, and raining.  In other words, the perfect day to bake a loaf of banana bread.  A friend of mine gave me a recipe to try and it so happened we had all of the ingredients (well minus the vanilla extract...............I really need to go get more). 

Getting all of the ingredients set out
 We measured and combined the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt.  I've found that letting Ava measure is helping her to learn more math skills in a fun hands on way.  Not to mention she is learning to bake.
Next we added in the oats and stirred then we had to cut in the butter.  Ava helped slice and drop the butter in and then I used the two butter knifes to finish up.  I swear one day I will remember to get myself a pastry cutter.  Today wasn't bad but when I make my pie crust I'll always regret not having one.
 We didn't have any pre-shelled and chopped nuts but we did have whole walnuts.  It takes a bit more work but they did actually smell  and taste fresher.
  I chopped them up a bit because while I do like nuts in banana bread I don't like them to stand out too much.
 We added the nuts and gave it a quick stir and set it aside.
 Then we combined the egg and milk.  This is also where we would have added the vanilla had we had any.  Vanilla tends to balance out a lot of baked goods but I figured with the banana flavor we would be fine without.
 I put the bananas in a bowl and gave Ava a crab knocker (the kind without the mallet) and let her smash the bananas.
 Then we combined the bananas with the egg and milk mixture.
 We poured it on top of the dry ingredients and mixed until moistened. 
 Poured it into our greased loaf pan and popped it in a 350 degree oven for about an hour.
 Then the best, excuse me, worst part of baking....................we cleaned up.
 With the dishes done and the kitchen beginning to smell of yumminess we sat down to some leftover potato soup for lunch.
 Now to cool
 Later, after we did a rainy day activity, we helped ourselves to some banana bread to reward ourselves for all of our hard work. 
Seems now I have no excuse to waste bananas.  This was really simple and tastes delicious.