Inspired by this amazing article, we set up a mudpie kitchen in a shady spot in the backyard. To tell you the truth, my kids really don't need to be enticed to play in the mud (I call them the "Muddy Buddies"), but I thought a kitchen would be a natural extension of their daily muddy mayhem. Not to mention that the kitchen made me all sorts of nostalgic for summer afternoons with my childhood best friend Jenni W. (She was Jenni W., I was Jenny H. -- which had the potential to be confusing, but we always knew who we were, so it didn't bother us a bit.) Our best mudpies featured dried azalea topping, a dirty delicacy we dubbed "gramble," and the occasional worm. Oh, and crab apples. I can't forget the crab apples.
We don't have any azaleas here, so I dried out some hydrangeas for garnish. And while there isn't a crab apple to be found, we have no shortage of stinky crab claws. I set that stuff out in buckets, along with a basket of basic cooking tools, and a big bucket of water as a sink. I turned over a large galvanized bin (that we usually keeps our sports balls in) and free-handed some spiral-shaped squiggles on the underside to suggest stove burners.
Then, the fun part. Making mud. We turned the spinkers right on to our kitchen (and Jack helped them along with buckets of water) and kept testing the mud until we achieved the perfect consistancy. Once mud perfection was achieved, the cooking commenced.