Christmas 2011 will be known forever after in our house as the Year of the Colonial Play Kitchen -- a term and toy envisioned by Miss Loodyloo, who had no doubts that mom and dad would be able to pull this off, and together, a few weeks before christmas. Yes, she's confident in our geeky history loving abilities, I'll give her that. And enlightened too -- why not customize your play things to the century of your choosing?
But what *is* a "colonial" play kitchen? Well, for this answer, I posted a query on the 18C Life Yahoo group message board. The people who populate this board are the real deal -- professional historians, museum curators, living history re-enactors and smart, knowledgable researchers about colonial life. Some of them literally wrote the book on their 18th century subject and, it turns out, are awfully kind and approachable too. The subject of a play kitchen really delighted a lot of serious people over there and they were so gracious in sharing ideas, enthusiasm and even gifts!
(psst: follow that flickr photo up there if you haven't already ... copious notes inbedded!)
I wanted this to be an active, participatory experience for the Loo, so I tried to involve the senses, especially smell and touch, wherever I could. My homemade gingerbread play dough mimics real food recipes used in kitchens of that time and the smell of cinnamon, cloves, nutmeg and ginger is an authentic nod to the spices used in the 18th century.
I found a pottery bean pot, similar to period redware in shape and color and regional to our area, to hold the dough wrapped in parchment. This way, the Loo could pinch off what she liked to make cookies or roll out a savory crust for pretend meat pies. So far, it has held up well and not dried up in the pot. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for the rest of the year, though it's easy enough to whip up some more if needed.
Mint, lemon verbena, and star anise to start. I think those are minted tomatoes and mushrooms up there in the photo, an interesting combination, no doubt, but it smells terrific. We let the Loo go to town on the day and surprisingly it only took one vacuum session to clean it all up.
Fortunately, we already had some nice quality felt foods but who could resist making a felt chicken to string roast in front of a fire? And speaking of fire ....
The Most Awesome Award goes to Papaloo for his colonial cardboard rendition.
In 3-D. With a real slate hearth.
You rock, honey.
Add one amazing thrift store find --
-- two dollars, a coat of barn red paint, and some quick and scrappy sewing, and then there was baby. Or at least a new home for baby. I'm waiting for the rest of her rag tag crew to show up in there.
And, there you go... a Colonial Play Kitchen and a fresh start to the New Year in the play room.
Ah, eat your heart out Toys R Us ...