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Recipe Club: Playdough Recipe, Ornaments, and Papier-Mache

December 11th, 2006

From George Bernard Shaw:

“This is the true joy of life: the being used up for a purpose recognized by yourself as a mighty one; being a force of nature instead of a feverish, selfish little clot of ailments and grievances, complaining that the world will not devote itself to making you happy.”

Yeah, that’s me alright — a regular force of nature. And this may be all you’re getting from me this week…

Book of the week: I Feel Bad About My Neck: And Other Thoughts on Being A Woman by Nora Ephron. She is a funny, funny, funny lady. Sorry, I could never hope to be even one-tenth as funny as she is, so I will not try.

Christmas pageants are a lot of work, it turns out. If I was into pharmaceuticals I’d be taking a Valium right now.

(I wrote that at nine o’clock last night. It’s Monday afternoon, now, and edited to say: Found a stray Xanax. Took it. Slept for ten luscious hours.) Also, Wacky Girl is a frickin’ tyrant when it comes to cookies. In a matter of years she will be out-baking me. (No small feat.)

I volunteered to bring three dozen cookies for the reception afterward, plus like an idiot said I’d be a parent helper. I made Peanut Butter Blossoms (peanut butter cookies with a few chocolate chips or Hershey Kisses melted on top — you add the chocolate as soon as they’re out of the oven) and Mexican Wedding Cakes. She wouldn’t let us eat any. Made me stash them away. We revolted and ate a bunch. She counted them again, yelled, “You ate too many, you guys!” and rolled her eyes. I insisted, no, really, there are plenty. That’s four dozen. (Around four dozen, anyway. At least three.)

“No,” she says, “We need a batch of chocolate chips, too.” So we baked three dozen chocolate chip cookies and off we went, five dozen or so cookies in tow. Because for real you would not want to run out of cookies after a Christmas pageant. Wacky Girl was not the only one who felt this way — I have never seen so many spritz, sugar cookies, chocolate chips, meringues… on and on… in my life.

It was excellent fun. Wacky Girl, Jr. Angel, did just great. And they got to wear halos, after all. There was much competition amongst Junior Angels and Senior Angels. Sr. Angels got to wear fancy tinselly halos. And wings.

Jr. Angels, in chorus: “Are we going to get halos or not? What about wings? Yeah, wings!”

The pageant director: “You girls are Junior Angels! You just haven’t earned your wings yet! Or your halos!” (Yeah, that one flew.) So they got pretty colored collars to wear, instead of wings, and gold, sparkly halos.

The musical director, during practice: “There is a way of singing this, and it is not the way you’re singing it.” (Man, I love Unitarians. We are so right at home.)

Wacky Girl’s already talking about next year’s show. She wants to sing again, and her brother gets to be a goat, a horse, a sheep, or perchance a cow. Moo. I was in charge of horses and cows this year, as parent helper. A rambunctious group, but they didn’t miss their cues and really, and that’s all a cow/horse wrangler like myself could ask for.

Here are recipes from Sunday School. No latke recipe, however. Dang it! They made them in Wacky Boy’s class, gobbled them up, and learned to play with the dreidel. Wacky Girl’s class ate tangerines and popcorn, and made reindeer out of candy canes, gold pipe cleaners (antlers), googly eyes and red felt balls. (For the nose, natch.)


2 1/2 cups white flour
1/2 cup salt
1 tablespoon alum

Combine ingredients.

Make a large well in dry ingredients and add:
3 tablespoons salad oil
2 cups boiling water
a few drops food coloring

Knead as soon as it cools. Add more flour if too sticky. Store in a plastic ziplock bag or container with tight-fitting lid. (I colored ours green, the last time we made playdough, and put glitter in it. Sooooo pretty.)


1 cup cornstarch
2 cups baking soda
1 1/4 cups cold water

In a medium saucepan, cook the cornstarch, baking soda and water over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, for about four minutes or until mixture thickens into a moist, mashed potato-like consistency. Place in a bowl and cover with a cloth until it’s cool enough to knead.

Knead well and roll out the dough to cut into shapes. Use a straw to place a hole in the top for a ribbon or string for hanging. Allow to dry for 24 hours before painting.


1 cup white flour
2 tablespoons salt
1 cup water
Newspaper strips

In a large bowl, mix the flour, salt and water together until smooth. Cut newspaper into strips and soak them in the mixture. Use your fingers to squeeze off excess paste and layer on to whatever base you are using (balloon, wire rim, etc.). Allow to dry for 24 hours before painting.

Makes approximately 1 1/2 cups paste.

Have fun…


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