A day of playdough and ravioli

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We had a great day yesterday. It seems that on the days when I'm just trying to "get things done" Maia and I just butt heads all day long. She wants attention and does crazy things in order to receive it. I just want to finish the laundry or dishes or vacuum the floor or (horror of horrors) sit down at the computer for a little while and then I end up being short with Maia and feeling like a bad mother. But on days when I plan at least one activity that will include Maia and be fun for her, everything goes so much more smoothly. You're saying "of course!" and I am, too, but I just don't always remember or take the time to plan. So here's my goal: plan a month's worth of fun project to do with Maia and write them on the calendar. We can still switch things around or go with the flow of the day, but at least I'll have a reminder and something of a plan.


Anyhoo… Yesterday Maia and I made a new batch of playdough, which is always a fun project. Maia loves the measuring, pouring, and stirring that goes along with any cooking. As always, we used MaryAnn's recipe for play clay from First Art. I know there are a lot of playdough recipes out there, but I love this one so much I just make it again and again.


Maia chose blue and red to make purple playdough, although as you can see below it turned out more pink than purple.


That's a slice of lemon ginger cake on the plate. I was feted with playdough cakes, candy, and marshmellows for the rest of the morning (you can see who has a sweet tooth).


After nap, we started the ravioli, something I've wanted to try for a long time. It always sounded so complicated that I kept putting it off, but it was actually surprisingly easy. I followed a simple cheese ravioli recipe with a filling of ricotta, parmesan, egg yolks, and thyme.


The dough was just flour and egg. It was a bit tough to roll out and I can see the appeal of having a pasta machine. Maia gave up shortly after the above photo was taken and moved back to her playdough.


I spooned the filling onto the dough, brushed on egg white, placed a second sheet of rolled out dough on top, and pressed around the filling with my fingers to seal it.


Then I just sliced between each ravioli with a knife to separate them. Apparently you can buy a crimper/cutter to make this part a little easier, although these worked okay as it was. I used my last jar of canned tomatoes to make a simple tomato sauce to serve over them but by this time I was so hungry that I completely forgot to take any pictures of the finished ravioli.

They were yummy! The dough was a little on the chewy side and I don't know if that's because of the recipe or because I didn't roll it out thin enough. I definitely want to try this again and experiment with different doughs and fillings. Anyone have a good ravioli recipe to share?

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  1. potagergardengirl says

    It’s fantastic!
    Oh I so relate with your above statements about not planning something with the kids then when you try to get something done they start going crazy (my words.)
    I like the idea of your list. Maybe I’ll do that.
    Take Care!/-/-*

  2. says

    My daughter is 4 and does the same thing acting like she is bored and I couldn’t possibly be doing something on the computer at a time like that right? Looks like lots of doughy fun you had though! We made goat cheese and walnut ravioli with an Emeril recipe years ago but I don’t still have it. The other thing I started doing was just making the filling as the sauce to put over penne because it was easier. Of course that defeats the purpose of making the pasta sometimes but whatever. :)

  3. Gina says

    Though it’s not purely homemade, I like making ravioli out of wonton wrappers… I put a little filling in the middle of each square and fold into a right triangle, sealing with a little beaten egg. The dough is deliciously thin! They cook VERY quickly.
    For fillings, I like including some sauteed mushrooms or spinach or chopped fresh basil with the cheese :)

  4. says

    Hi! I don’t have a ravioli recipe, but you’re making me want to find one!
    I just thought I’d mention I like to keep sugar cookie dough in the fridge for my 5 yr old. She loves rolling out, cookie cuttering and even baking them in our toaster oven. Works well for times I don’t have a plan! Which happens more often than I would like… Thanks so much for your blog.

  5. Rachel says

    yummy ravioli! we should do a dinner trade sometime!
    and i love the idea of your plan… hope you post your ideas here so we can all glean; i need all the help i can get at this point! love ya!

  6. teachingtinytots says

    i plan a book and atleast 3 simple activities to go with it and its lots of fun! I’ve blogged about them on my blog if you would like to take a look!

  7. MO says

    Okay, this is going to sound so lazy and it is partly that but also partly because I have a hard time coming up with arty stuff… any chance you want to share your calendar (once you put it together) with the fun stuff planned for each day. It would be an amazing starting place for me for my two boys.
    I agree, though, any time I come home and play or just sit and read with my boys (they are almost 4) before doing anything else (like starting dinner), it sets such a nicer tone for the evening. Before I know it they are happy to start playing on their own while I get dinner going. I seem to forget this (or perhaps it is just trying to fight it) too many times and am promptly reminded after a less pleasant afternoon.
    I’m so happy you are blogging again.

  8. says

    I second the wonton wrappers…delicious and oh so quick and easy. My son actually taught me that trick after they used them to make “peanut butter dumplings” at a party in his Japanese immersion class. At home we made “pizza” dumplings (his idea), filled with mozzarella and chopped up pepperoni, then dipped them in sauce. They were a big hit!
    Even with my 9 and 6 year old boys, believe it or not, whipping up a recipe of homemade playdough or some other concoction (remember I told you about “clean mud” a while back?) is STILL a hit that makes our day!
    Last summer we did something that worked great for getting through those last weeks of summer when we were all getting a little tired of all the togetherness and unstructured time…we made a “fun box” (idea compliments of my sister-in-law). The boys decorated a cardboard box (shoe box size), and wrote ideas of things they would like to do on index cards, some simple and some more elaborate (make playdough, play a board game, build a marble run, go to the Natural History Museum, visit a nature center, go to a movie, have a movie night (rental), paint, visit the Washington Monument, take a walk to Starbucks…) You get the picture. As long as they were reasonably well-behaved (as in, not tearing each other limb from limb), they could pick something from the fun box. It was great, and it made it feel like we didn’t waste those days that could easily have just slipped away amongst the piles of laundry to be folded. I don’t know how many more summers I will have with them still wanting to do stuff with ME, after all… but I thought something like this might be a fun twist to your idea of scheduling fun activities day by day.

  9. says

    Thanks for all the ideas! And sure, I’ll share my “month of activities” once I put it together.
    Julie, what’s your clean mud idea? I need a reminder. I like your idea of the box of ideas to pick from.
    I’ll have to try the wonton wrapper idea for quick ravioli! Thanks!

  10. says

    I love homemade raviolis! I ended up buying a pasta machine at Williams Sonomia for about $50. So worth it! It’s the old fashioned hand crank kind. I love doing a chicken spinach stuffing. The possibilities are endless. A few nights ago I made Butternut Squash Ravioli with a Walnut Butter Sauce. Yumm-o!
    Love your blog!

  11. says

    Here’s a link to a clean mud recipe. http://www.placeofourown.org/activity.php?id=45
    It’s very simple, and of course I use liquid watercolors instead of food coloring! Oh, and the cheaper the t.p. the better for this recipe. If you add a little water, you get an actual moldable substance. The more water you add, the softer and fluffier and squishier it gets. Its really a win-win situation. Like I said, even my big boys were completely transported by this stuff; they revelled in it for a LONG time, even sinking their feet into it. I can send some pictures in an email, but I don’t know how to link to them here.

  12. says

    This recipe looks soooo delicious and fun to make. I just read your article in the current issue of Mothering. I’m glad to have found you, and I want to thank you for providing the excellent information about crafty mom bloggers! Cheers :)

  13. says

    I love this idea of doing a fun thing every day, and planning it out ahead of time reduces that stressful feeling when you think, “Ack, we need to do something different and fun, but WHAT?” An idea you should consider is making soft pretzels (try this recipe), because Maia is probably a great age to help roll the dough into long snakes, and you can teach her how to fold them up into twists or she can make other shapes. I made pretzels with my grandfather all the time when I was a kid and have many fond memories of this special activity, and whenever I made letters or other weird shapes, he’d try his darnedest to keep them intact in the boiling water. Such fun. Plus, you know, you get to eat them afterward. I think I might need to make some for my upcoming road trip next week. =)

  14. Kim says

    I’m glad to hear that other people have children who don’t just play quietly by their side while they get things done around the house :) I can’t get ANYTHING done with my 2.5 yr old daughter around without hearing “Mommy, Mommy, Mommy” about every 2 seconds! Lately, I have found that having some planned activities really helps, especially at times when we are in the house a lot. I started keeping a notebook with lists of activities to try. I have a few activity books (First Art, Toddlers’ Preschoolers’ Busy Book, etc.) that I look through, along with a few blogs, and as I see activities that look like ones my daughter would enjoy, I write them on my “Activities to Try” list. Then, each week, I pick several of those and make a list of activities we might do that week, along with any supplies needed. Then, during the week, any time it seems like a good time for a planned activity, I just look at the list and often will offer her two choices of activities, since we are in that toddler stage when choosing is very important! It has been really helpful to have a list of ideas ready for those times, but I still feel like we have a lot of flexibility to do spontaneous things or just hang out.

  15. says

    Thank you so much for this post…and for your whole site. After 21 months of motherhood I still have those days when I am just at a total loss as to how we can be creative–together. I get such a jolt of inspiration every time I visit here. Thank you thank you thank you.

  16. says

    I started modelling with our daughter when she turned 15 mo (as soon as she stopped taking everything into her mouth). It is so much fun! Our first play dough was bought in a children’s store (the green one) but then I made play dough myself (if you add turmeric for colouring, you will get a nice yellow colour; turmeric is good for one’s skin by the way). Play dough is good for toddlers comparing to plasticine (modeling clay) because it is much softer (I wrote a bit about our modeling activities, esp. how I try to make Soniya interested in the whole process, here http://eng.parentsideas.com/2009/10/modeling-with-toddlers-playdough-wonderful-recipe/)

  17. says

    That is one huge batch of playdough! Looks like fun, and means that i will be doubling my playdough recipe to try out this weekend with the kids. If you can, get neon food coloring, it really makes the colors bold and bright!