Wednesday, March 31, 2010

I Told You

Yes, it's only been 10 days since our last blizzard, but this is the forecast for today:

Nearly 90 degrees. What did I tell you about Oklahoma weather? Of course, I thought we'd be well into late April before we saw temps that high, but apparently late March is just as good a time as any. My trees and shrubs are loving the warmth and are leafing out all over the place, but I am a bit worried about my crops of peas, lettuce, and spinach.

Last night I set up my first attempt at an irrigation system, aka a leaky hose:

I had a bit of an issue with powdery mildew last year on my peas due to watering from above and getting the foliage too wet, so hopefully watering on the ground will help with that. I obviously need to buy more hose length for the rest of the garden. The super high temps are only supposed to last for a few days and then we'll be back into the 70s, but summer will be burning down the house before we know it.

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Changes at the WatRanch

So this weekend we decided once and for all to fence in the garden for several reasons. The two biggest reasons were the dog next door who, while very cute, likes to come and play in my lettuce bed, and to give the rabbits some protection from our own mutts. This was an all-hands-on-deck project instead of a Bill-hurry-up-and-do-it project. Which means I became very good friends with a commercial post hole digger and a drill.

I'm most excited about this pergola. I put it together all by myself and I can't wait to plant all kinds of lovely vining, flowering things at the bottom of it.

I also love that this is the gateway to the garden. It looks rough and messy now, but soon enough I hope this view is full of lush greens and vivid colors. This is the view from the inside looking towards the house.

The four quads are very clear in this shot with Quad 4 covered in grass in the immediate foreground, Quad 2 just above that, Quad 1 at 12 o'clock in rows, and Quad 3 recently turned over and rich brown to the left. The raised strawberry beds are also encompassed in the new perimeter as well as a large open area in front of the shed for Joe to stomp around in while I'm gardening.

To finish off the fence, we added garden wire to the existing split rail fence. I did all this myself, too. No doggies are welcome here.

Yes, the shed is STILL under construction, as are guest blog posts describing the progress. We're also planning a patio in front of the shed as an outdoor living/play space for the family. The work we've accomplished on the fence in one weekend has me very encouraged that we can make that happen soon, though there are still gutters to be installed on the house and a storm shelter to be built.

I can't help planning potential new beds, though. I'm thinking this will be a cutting flower bed. It's funny that by placing this boundary around the garden, we've created even MORE planting areas. The gate next to the future bed is for lawn mower access to and from the shed, and Bill put it together using a one of the sections of fence. After I hammered off all of the slats, of course. GRRRR.

Edit: Voting for the rabbits' names will stay open til the end of the week, I think. It's just starting to get interesting. Click here to cast your vote.

Retail Rant/Rave: Walmart Finds

I'm sure there are readers out there who are sick of me talking about how much I love my food co-op and the awesome, fresh, organic, minimally processed food that my family has been enjoying for the past two months. Those readers are very busy, have very tight budgets, and/or are not completely obsessed with food the way that I am.

Fair enough. I'm going to go ahead and admit that I DO still shop at...gasp...Walmart every other week or so because of the extremely limited retail selection in my area. But while there I try to stick to my guns regarding minimal processing, organically raised, and less packaging whenever possible. Surprisingly enough, the responsible eater CAN find products like this at Walmart, and for nearly the same price as the other stuff. Here are some of the products that I've found at my local Walmart (and please note that I'm not being compensated by anyone to talk about any of these products, just putting the info out there).

1. Hormel Natural Choice Deli meats

I've been buying nearly all of my meats through my food co-op, including fresh pork, sausages, ground beef, lamb chops, Texas longhorn burger, etc. Unfortunately, none of the meat producers offer nitrate-free deli meats. Now, the jury is still out on sodium nitrates, which I had never heard of until I was pregnant and told to avoid food that contained them. I did a little research and it turns out that prolonged exposure to nitrates caused lab animals to develop cancer with alarming frequency. Since my son LOVES his ham sandwiches, and since I LOVE my little boy, I'm going to buy nitrate-free meat whenever possible.

I was first attracted to the packaging of these Hormel meats because it was recycled cardboard and natural inks. I know, I know--great reason to buy roast turkey, right? In reading the label, I could see that they had in fact been minimally processed (yay!) and contained no nitrates or artificial preservatives AT ALL. Score! The Hormel website mentions that they are able to process the meat using a high pressure cold water something or other to keep it preserved without chemicals. Of course, it doesn't last very long in my house because we go through ham (and turkey and roast beef) sandwiches like they were going out of style and these meats taste good. And since Hormel is a big industry producer, their products are consistently stocked at Walmart for the same price as the pretend and chemically-injected meats.

2. Back to Nature Crackers
 Along with our sandwich obsession, my family also has a cracker fetish. Bill and I could have crackers, cheese, and wine for dinner on a regular basis and be happy as clams. I've been meaning to attempt to make my own crackers, but the beautiful weather and steady pace of real work has kept me from it. (I'm also saving up for a pasta roller, which will probably help in the cracker department).

In the meantime, I have been buying lots of tasty cheeses from the co-op but had no crackers to eat them with. A brief scan of the depressingly unhealthy (despite WHOLE GRAIN promises from the box) selections in the cracker aisle had me convinced that we would not be able to enjoy our favorite snack without the addition of trans fats, hydrogenated oils, or obscene amounts of sodium. Enter Back to Nature.

Again, I was drawn to the recycled cardboard box, and then fell in love with the ingredients label. Organic all around, no artificial ANYTHING, and super tasty-sounding flavors. I bought 3 boxes to try and I have to say that they were all gone in about a week.

3. Stoneyfield Yogurt
This is probably not a huge surprise to those who buy organic, but I wanted to put it out there because I constantly see people linger at the yogurt section trying to decide which to pick up. Yogurt is one of those tricky foods that few people eat because they looooove the taste of it--most people eat it because they know it is good for them. Unfortunately a lot of brand name yogurts contain huge amounts of sugar and crazy ingredients (no, fiber does not occur naturally in yogurt and any carton telling you that it does will make you fart all afternoon).

Stoneyfield products are all organic, which is an important characteristic to look for when buying food that comes from cows, considering how environmentally damaging the cattle industry is. Their products also don't contain huge amounts of added sugar, which is why I used to buy the Yo-Baby products (from Stoneyfield) for Joe. I say used to because for some reason our Walmarts stopped stocking them, and I started buying his yogurt locally through the co-op.

I also want to put it out there that if you haven't tried Greek-style yogurt, you should. It doesn't taste like olives or feta cheese, it is just a thicker, creamier texture with less fat. No fat, in fact, in many cases. It feels more sinful to eat, but it has more protein than regular yogurt, so you'll be fuller for longer.

That's it for now. I have also found organic, cage-free chicken and eggs for the same price as their shelf-mates in Walmart. Actually, Walmart actually has a generic brand of organic, cage-free eggs. I buy my chicken through the co-op now to do my part in reducing emissions and support local farmers, but it's nice to know that there are options. Actually, a friend of mine pointed out this article from The Atlantic discussing how it is getting hard to hate Walmart as they become more open to dealing locally and stocking their shelves with more responsible foods.

Wally-world still has a long way to go, but it's a start and an opportunity for us to vote with our dollars at the checkout, while doing something good for our families.    

Monday, March 29, 2010

Mutt Monday: Guest Species

As many of you know, there have been some new additions to the family. Until Bill lets me get chickens (not just for eggs, but for top-notch garden manure) I needed an animal that would help me keep my plants fed. Enter rabbits.

I picked up these little poop machines last week and they've been getting accustomed to life at WatRanch. The white and brown one is very active and inquisitive, and always hops out to greet us when we come outside:

I tried to get one of each gender to avoid many baby rabbits, but we think the white one is a girl, and this little guy is, well, a guy.

He's pretty shy, but both are fairly good cuddlers. I tried showing Joe how to feed them fresh blades of grass, but he likes teasing them with the grass instead of letting them have it.

We're still trying to decide names so please VOTE below on the options we've come up with.

Sunday, March 28, 2010


So remember that freak snow storm which proved that spring wasn't really here yet? Apparently, I should have seen it coming.

The first is mudswallows. We have a pair that live out the summer in our frony entryway, and they sit on the ledge of our front door and peek in on us all day. I saw them scoping out the nest several weeks ago, but they didn't stick around. I wondered why, and it seems like they knew about the blizzard via bird weather forecasting.

Well they are finally back:

Forgive the dirty window. It's too high for me to clean with any kind of regularity. When we first moved in we debated knocking down the nest but we quickly realized that there were babies in it, and that would have been REALLY bad karma. We were rewarded a few days later with a positive pregnancy test, so I will let these little guys hang out as much as they want. The nest is a little bald now, but in a month or so they will have built it up with grass and muddy spit.

The other sign of spring that I'd been waiting for was my daffodil bulbs. They flower buds just would NOT open...until the day after the blizzard. Wise blossoms? Maybe.

I'm a little sad that the daffodils I planted in the center flower bed 2 years ago didn't sprout this year. They looked great last year, so maybe the freakishly cold winter killed them? I don't know, but I am pleasently surprised by my hyacinth bulbs in that bed. Last year they were just a few inches tall, but this year they came back HUGE.

They're almost a foot tall. See the honey bee on the white one? They smell amazing.

Thank you, Spring. You were so missed.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Not Delivery...

There are LOTS of things going on at the WatRanch this week, and I promise updates later this evening. In the meantime, I want to share one of our newest family traditions with you, since we've been keeping this one up pretty well: Friday night pizza!

When we moved to OK almost 2 years ago, we immediately realized we'd moved to a "pizza desert." I never realized how fortunate we were back East to have access to some fantastic pizza (oh Little Italy in Baltimore! I miss you!) until we moved here. There are exactly 2 pizza vendors in our small town, one that specializes in obscene amounts of grease and one that is located in a gas station. I'm pretty sure the cardboard box is tastier than either option, and neither deliver. Our local grocery store carries frozen pizzas, but only the frost-bitten Tombstones with the weak plastic wrap and red and green cubed "toppings." No thanks.

We also have the option of driving 30 minutes into the bigger town to pick up Dominos, Pizza Hut, Little get the picture. As if those choices weren't tantilizing enough (blech) we get to look forward to another 30-minute drive back home where we have the privilage of enjoying lukewarm mass-produced pizza. Hooray!

Ahem. Suffice it to say that we have gone without pizza for quite a while. Pretty much a travesty for a Yankee like me. An ITALIAN Yankee, at that.

About 3 weeks ago (after The Making of The Sauce) I realized I had all the tools necessary for an attempt at scratch pizza-making: homemade sauce, local mozzarella & parm, new-found knowledge of dough techniques, a pizza peel, and a baking stone. At about 2pm that afternoon (a Friday) I decided, what the hey, I'd throw some flour and yeast together to mix up a dough (I used 1.5 tbsp yeast, 3 cups warm water, 1 tbsp salt and 7 cups of flour--half whole wheat and half all-purpose--then tossed in some oregano). It rose for a few hours and at dinner time I broke off a hunk,

and rolled it flat,

and tried to make it as circle-shaped as I could. Then I sprinkled corn meal on my pizza peel to make it easier for the whole pie to slide off into the oven, and laid out the crust. I loaded up with sauce, cheese (blend of mozzarella and parmesan), and toppings (I LOVE spinach on pizza. And artichokes. Seriously, the best pizza I've ever had on this planet was the veggie pizzas in Italy--better than the meats). I also throw on some herbs for an extra kick.

The oven is cranked to 550 degrees (as high as it will go) and the pizza slides right onto the baking stone. It only takes 10-15ish minutes to cook, and seconds for my family to devour. When I say that this is the best pizza we've had in Oklahoma, it's not because I'm so great at cooking: it's because we haven't found a decent pizza that is as convenient as this is. Not counting the 2-3 hour rise time (which I was busy doing other stuff during), the whole process took about 20 minutes to prep. I portioned out 2 more balls of dough from what I had left over and froze them, though I probably could have made 4 total balls if I was being more precise about it. On Thursday night (or Friday morning if I forgot) I take one of the balls out of the freezer and let it defrost in the fridge until just before dinner time.

Oh yeah. That's the stuff.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Quick Note

In case you were all hovering in front of your computers with my blog open hitting the "refresh" button 10 million times and wondering why nothing new was being posted (you were, right?) you should know that my little pride & joy broke the screen on my laptop. It was incredible, actually. He shattered it WAY worse than his dad did a few years ago. Ah, the male drive to best one's own father.

Anyway, I should get a replacement screen tomorrow, and then I'll be able to upload the pics I've been taking. In case you were wondering how the garden survived the Saturday's blizzard, be soothed. Almost everything made it through just fine, including my nerves.

Also, I just had to share with you that while on Saturday the temps were in the teens and there was several inches of snow on the ground, a mere 72 hours later I was gardening in shorts and a tank top. Gotta love Oklahoma, I guess.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Mutt Monday: Dog Days of Spring

Bright sunshine, warm breezes, the first inklings of sweat; it's springtime in Oklahoma. It's the time of year when all of the ticks within a 10-mile radius are on the hunt for mammals, and my mutts are on the hunt for shade.

Unfortunately for the ticks, we are going to be VIGILANT about applying Frontline to the dogs so as not to repeat The Tick Incident from last year. Fortunately for the dogs, there is massive construction happening in the yard, so they have ample structures to lie around and wait for afternoon shade to manifest itself.

In the above they've staked out the truck, which will begin providing them with shade in about--oh--2 more hours. Never hurts to be early for a nap, right girls?

Sunday, March 21, 2010

Out Like A Lion

This has been a really hard winter. In fact, I think that if I were to compare my prairie life to the Little House books, this would definitely parallel "The Long Winter," including the death-defying runs for supplies in blinding snow. I first saw the possibility of a late snow in the long-range weather forecast last week and hoped it was just a mistake. We've had brilliantly sunny days in the 60s and low 70s for a week or two now, with the drama of winter melting into memory as plants grew and blossoms bloomed.

Too bad. Mother Nature decided to remind us who was boss. Throughout Thursday and Friday, the reports of what to expect kept getting progressively worse, with an eventual forecast of 5 inches of snow, 40 mph winds, and windchill temps in the teens. I decided to get up on Friday morning and run by a local hay producer that had been recommended to me so I could cover the garden with a thick layer of insulating hay.**

For all of the issues that Toyota has been facing in the last few months, I have to say that my Matrix ('07, no recalls) has been an INDISPENSABLE gardening tool, thanks to the fold-down flat seats with plastic covers. It turns from Momobile to truck nearly instantly.

**For those who know, HAY is not the product that I should have purchased. This was the first thing that went wrong on Friday. I described what I was using the hay for to the salespeople at the hay producer, and they told me to buy this product. But once I got home and started spreading it out, I instantly knew that this seed-laden stuff would eventually mean a ridiculous amount of weeding in my future. What I should have bought was STRAW. I really can't imagine why they sold me hay, other than they could tell I was a clueless Yankee suburbanite and they could make more on pricey hay than cheap straw.

Regardless, time was running out, so I had to spread the offending hay. I'm going to try to rake out as much as I can as soon as it warms up next week. We covered all of Quad 1 with a thick layer of hay and a huge plastic tarp to protect the peas, lettuce, spinach, and other goodies from the snow and hard freeze.

Of course, my beloved peach tree started blooming on Friday, just like it did last year before a late freeze. Last year all of the blooms were killed and we went a whole year without seeing if the tree would produce fruit. This year, I wanted to give the tree a fighting chance. But first, I made sure to take lots of blossom pictures just in case they were all destroyed again.

I grabbed some leftover garden fabric to wrap around the tree to try to give it some insulation from the frozen air. I think between the table of milk jugs, unfinished shed, and the wrapped up trees, my next-door neighbors probably shake their heads every day and mourn their property values.

If you don't think this is crazy enough, you know you can depend on me to over do it. I read online that stringing Christmas lights in a fruit tree might help protect it from a hard freeze. So I had to try it.

After 48 hours of hard winds, this garden fabric has lots of holes and I ran out every few hours to safety pin sections closed. I did see some freeze damage, but the buds closer to the trunk of the tree appear to still be in tact and unfrozen. We'll see tomorrow when I pull off the cover and take out the Christmas lights.

Of course, when something can go wrong, it always does. Just as I was finishing getting everything covered up, I saw that the wind had blown over 3 of my cauliflower seedlings from where they were enjoying the last warm afternoon in the sun for a few days. That meant I had no choice but to put them in the ground. I can't think of a worse time to plant tender seedlings than right before a blizzard, can you? I covered them with a cloche made from the tops of milk jugs, which worked really well...except 2 of them blew away yesterday. Don't get attached to anything in Oklahoma unless it's nailed down. I stuck 2 new cloches over the exposed seedlings this morning, but they looked pretty sad. I don't know if they'll make it.

Then, yesterday morning as I was sleeping in and pretending the blizzard wasn't happening, Joe took it upon himself to turn over the flats of herb seedlings and marigold sprouts on my kitchen table. Bill tried his best to get everything cleaned up before I woke up, but the marigolds were kaput.

Oof. I'm seriously ready for spring and a mild summer. Is that too much to ask?


One of my favorite summer memories from when I was a kid was driving out to a pick-your-own orchard with my mom, sister, and aunt to pick strawberries. We'd pick enough to cart home and spend the rest of the day making strawberry jelly. Well, my mom and aunt would make jelly; my sister and I would mostly wander off with a handful of strawberries and whine until someone took us to the pool.

But the picking was fun and so when I saw that a producer in my food co-op sold live strawberry plants, I jumped on it.

These plants arrived on Thursday and the late blizzard was due to arrive on Friday night. I read somewhere that strawberry plants that have had some exposure to freezing temperatures actually produce better tasting berries in the summer. True? Maybe not, but I thought that these would fare better in the warm raised beds covered with straw than they would in my garage for several days, so I opted to plant them.

I'm trying the everbearing Ozark Beauty and June-bearing Albion varieties. These plants will produce berries for at least 3 years, so I wanted to give them a somewhat permanent location. 

In order to help the plants establish a strong root system which will result in a good yield, I will be pinching off the blooms until July for the Ozarks, and all summer for the Albions (which won't produce berries until next year). 

Right now these plants are covered with several inches of hay and a fabric row cover until the temps come back from below freezing. I hope they make it!

Friday, March 19, 2010

It's About to Get Ugly

I'm in a HORRIBLE mood right now. Why? This:

It's currently a sunny 70 DEGREES RIGHT NOW, PEOPLE! All of my blooming plants that have been stretching out and getting pretty are going to FREAK OUT tonight and probably croak. To make matters worse, my backup plan of covering everything with straw has backfired BIG TIME and I have about 40 new transplants in the ground for a variety of plant-them-now-or-they-will-die reasons.

I'm running around now cloching what I can and taking pictures of the blossoms that will most certainly be dead and brown in the morning. Chance of me getting out of bed tomorrow? 20% or less.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Could It Bee?

I was just taking a break from my pile of work (which is what has been keeping me from and I took a quick stroll around the grounds to check on the crops. I found 2 surprises that I was definitely NOT expecting to find. The first was this:

Last summer I bought a few bags of bareroot peony plants from Lowes on a whim and then left them to bake in the garage for a few weeks. Not smart. If there was such a thing as Child Services for plants, I'd have been hauled away long ago for neglect and abuse.

Anyway, we finally got around to planting them sometime in late June or so, I think, which with our heat was WAY too late. Live and learn. I thought for sure they'd just decompose in the ground and we'd start over someday with new peony plants and actual forethought and information. I was stunned to see these little peony shoots popping out of the front flower bed. Maybe they'll be fluffy pink flowers for us to enjoy this summer, after all!

The next surprise, and by far the most thrilling (in my opinion) was this little guy:

Now, I'm no insect expert, but I think that's a bee. Albeit a skinny and slow-moving bee, but what can one expect in mid-March? Here he is hanging out on my pear tree buds, and I found another hanging out in the blueberry patch. YES! THAT IS EXACTLY WHERE I WANT YOU! I'm nervous for the little buggers, considering we may get another dose of the white stuff this weekend. But I've learned that bees in the garden can only mean good things. I just hope they stick around.

Gardening readers, please feel free to weigh in on my mystery visitors to confirm or correct me.

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Quad 2: Only Time Will Tell

Last week we tilled up the rows for Quad 2 in our four-quad garden scheme. We've only planted out some of it, but this is what the plan is:

The rows are 4 feet across in this quad, instead of 3 feet like Quad 1. We did that because it's a bit of a balancing act to walk between the 3-foot rows, and because there is a bunch of interplanting going on here. Not included in this plant is the fact that at the last minute we cut the last 4 feet from the Swiss Chard area to plant some leftover potatoes in a square trench. We'll let them grow close together so we can harvest small new potatoes while waiting for the others to mature. Here's how it looks on the ground:

See the difference? We lose some planting space, but gain some breathing room to move in between. I'm not convinced I'll keep it this way for the rest of the quads, but we'll see.

As for the actual planting activities, there are currently potatoes, onions and swiss chard in the ground. This is a shot of us digging trenches for the potatoes:

And then a few short days later, the square trench looked more like an in-ground pool:

Gotta love torrential spring rains. Let's just hope the seed potatoes didn't rot in the ground, though I'm not going to keep my hopes up about this little experiment.

Saturday, March 13, 2010

Quad 1 Update

Our plans for Quad 1 changed slightly, but not as much as I thought they would. The original layout included 4 rows of peas, which stayed, and a row each of lettuces and spinach. We cut the lettuce row short and planted onions at the end:

It turns out that I might have more onion sets than I could ever hope to plant. I've planted out another 2 rows in Quad 2 and will probably add some to Quad 3, though I don't know if that will be pushing it in terms of proper planting times for these.

It's nice to know that we will eventually be eating snow peas:

This row is chock full of sprouting Oregon Snow Pod 2 plants. I just hope that they truely do have a bush habit, instead of vining, so we don't have to put up a trellis for this row since we'll be building 3 other trellises. I think they are doing so well because a) the temperatures have been perfect for pea-growing and b) we used Joe food to fertilize them:

I really don't know how this cheerio got all the way out there by the peas, but there it was. Cheerios appear in the most RANDOM places here at the WatRanch.

Other Quad 1 news is that we will soon be attempting to transplant the lettuces that we sowed in milk jugs. I'm not seeing a lot of germination in the planted rows, so it's reassuring that the wintersown seeds are doing so well:

These are the "Flame" seedlings that will grow into pretty red leaves. I can't wait for the first salad!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Tweet Tweet

Hi out there. I'm writing this blog to tell you that I'm not really in the mood for blogging today. Not that I'm trying to be cute, but I usually put some time and effort into my posts, and while I have many posts "in process," I'm in more of a fly-by-the-seat-of-my-pants, can't-focus-on-a-single-thought kind of mood.

Hence, the tweeting. I've been BLOWING UP my twitter feed because it's the perfect, schizo medium for my thoughts today.  I'm also buckling down on actual, paying work, which let's face it, comes before narcissistic, introspective monoblogs.

A brief update on the goings-on of the household:
*Hokie is pretty depressed about her boyfriend leaving. Boston is gleeful and practically crawls in our laps with gratitude.
*We've planted out Quad 2 in the garden, but due to retaining water (the garden, not me...this time) we might have to scrap it and start over. You'll get grids and pictures and more info than you wanted soon.
*I've been focused on cooking really healthy, really balanced meals this last week, which means fish. Those of you who know me know how much concentration and gag-reflex-suppression that requires. So far, lots of success.
*I'M WORKING OUT! A LOT! So far this week I've kept up 2-3 exercise sessions per day, which usually entails elliptical machine+half an episode of The Wire in the morning, the Biggest Loser "Last Chance Workout" DVD in the afternoon, and a long walk or bike ride in the evening with the boys. I feel good, but not like blogging.

There. I'm not going to promise a giant photo-filled post tonight or tomorrow or whenever, but you know you'll get one eventually. Geez, now I'm being kind of rude. Sorry, you didn't ask for that. Back to work and my less-offensive tweets.

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Jello Playdough

One of my absolute favorite playthings as a kid was playdough. Who didn't love that stuff, right? I'm a purist, so I liked to take time to really enjoy popping open a fresh tube of dough and admiring the smoothness of it before mashing it into an unrecognizable blob. I was never really a fan of the colors, though, because it was IMPOSSIBLE to make a realistic looking playdough hamburger or playdough cherry pie using neon pinks and florescent greens. (Yes, I was one of those kids who made playdough food. Sue me. I was no good at making animals because I could never get uniform legs). 

Anyways, my babysitter reminded me a few months ago that now would be a great time to get Joe playing with playdough as a tactile activity, and I wanted something to break the monotony of the large plastic toys and educational videos. I found this recipe online (recopied below) for non-toxic dough made from Jello, and since it was imperative for me that it wouldn't stain hands, clothes, carpet, tile, I gave it a shot. Plus, I already had all of the ingredients in the pantry. Bonus!


1 cup white flour
1/2 cup salt
2 T. cream of tartar
2 T. Vegetable oil
1 c. warm water
1 three oz. pkg. jello (any flavor)


Combine ingredients and cook over medium heat until it thickens and pulls away from the sides of pot and becomes dull. * Note: it burns easily so don't put over too high a heat and keep stirring. Mold and knead until cool enough to touch. Store in a closed plastic bag.


The kneading part was, of course, my favorite even though it can be pretty hot right out of the pot. I had to work fast to get it to cool down because I had a hooting and hollering little boy aching to get his hands on the stuff.

You'll find that it makes about 2 cups per color, so be sure to share with a friend! We spent this past rainy Monday whipping up a batch for our neighbor up the street as a birthday present. The colors aren't as neon as the store-bought stuff, but it will smell like the Jello flavor the first several times you play with it. It's not really edible, unless you have a serious sodium deficiency, but it's non-toxic for sure.