A while ago my prince expressed an interest in playing with clay for one of our dates. I found several options at a dollar store, and despite ruining the surprise, I figured I’d better check with him to see which type of clay he had in mind. He chose this one (“Wonder Dough”).
Given the heat predictions outside, we decided this would be a good week to pull out the play dough. But I’m looking for a theme. Learning point: my prince doesn’t need a theme. He just wants to mess around with clay. I do need a theme. If something’s too open-ended I stress out trying to narrow down what to do. So he picked one: let’s make little animals. I looked at the colors again. Animals aren’t red, green, blue and yellow. Yes, I know this comes under the heading of “oh, for crying out loud!”, but for me color is part of the package. If I’m going to make an animal, I want the color to be at least somewhat realistic (and I wasn’t sure how he’d feel about mixing colors to make brown).
So I went looking for play dough recipes online. There are LOTS. If it weren’t for food allergy issues I’d love to try the edible ones (most are peanut butter-based), but given my limitations I adapted a couple to make my own non-edible dough:
Mix in a small saucepan:
1/2 cup white flour
1/4 cup salt
1 1/2 tsp. alum
1/2 cup water
1 1/2 tsp. baby oil
Cook over medium high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture forms a ball (about 3 minutes). It looks like there’s too much water at first, but as the flour cooks, it thickens.
This site says baby oil makes the dough last longer (& not go rancid), but it does change the scent! Fortunately the odor didn’t bother my prince (whew–after the firestarter date, I can’t be too sure!)
I left half white & colored the other half with cocoa powder (not to be confused with hot chocolate mix!). I was impressed by how deep a brown I got with only a little cocoa (1/2 tsp.?–I didn’t measure)–and it made the dough smell nicer :).
I couldn’t think of any creative way to tie in the meal. If my prince were the type that didn’t mind messes, we could’ve make sculptures out of meatball mix or mashed potato, but that was not to be, so I kept the food simple & we pulled out the clay afterward and got right to business. Not surprisingly, I started on a kitty while my prince sculpted a chicken.
I finished first, so I added colored dough for features & made a rose garland for the kitty. Then I made a duck-billed platypus (my brother & I had a stuffed animal of one when I was growing up & I always thought they were neat!),
a yellow rose, a raspberry, a ball of yarn & toy mouse for the kitty, a generic flower and finally a seahorse.
My prince followed up his chicken (he did end up mixing colors…)
By then we’d both pretty much made what we wanted to make. It was 7:30pm.
I asked my prince if he’d like to pull out some more conversation-starter questions or start in on The Wife Desired, the companion to The Man for Her, which we recently finished. He chose the (online) book, so he went to get the laptop set up to read it together while I started popcorn & played around a little with the playdough figures. At first I was just trying to get the kitty & chicken to lean toward each other, but I finally just picked up the kitty & positioned her on the chicken’s lap.
This is my prince’s favorite photo of the bunch :)!
We got through a few chapters of the book before bedtime, with good conversation after each. I’m still trying to wrap my brain around how I can apply the mission of a wife to inspire her husband. I can’t just say “It would make me so happy if you would do x” because I don’t know that. Sometimes things I expect to make me happy don’t. And things I’d never choose ultimately bring me joy. I can’t predict that (My prince says I’m too much of a literalist!) And he wouldn’t find, “It would take such a load off my mind if you’d do x” inspiring. He said it’s too negative–getting back to neutral doesn’t feel rewarding. I’m still chewing on that one…
As we ended the evening I prepared myself for the sad job of dismantling our creations to put everything away. That was one my hesitations for play dough in the first place–when I mess with clay, I want to make something that will last! But my prince stopped me. That kitty/chicken pairing was too cute to lose! He wanted to know if we had a clear dome to put over them to preserve them. I didn’t think so, but he went rummaging in the basement until he found a clear plastic container the right size (I think it once contained candy). I’d already returned the seahorse & random flower to the dough from whence they came, but those weren’t the main points of interest anyway.
The rest are now safely enshrined on the top of the bookshelf.
I’m not sure how they’ll hold up as the months pass, but I guess we’re going to find out!