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Beach Sand Play Dough: The Stories We Tell

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. And here's a fun recipe for Beach Sand Play Dough. Such fun!

Not long after Cassidy and I got back together and knew it was serious, he took me to his father’s house in Truro on Cape Cod. It’s a long house in a wooded area on a gravel road that I always think is impossible to find. It has four bedrooms and has recently undergone renovations, but the soul of the house is intact. You walk into that house in July and breathe in the smell of summer vacation. You walk into that house in December and breathe in the smell of summer vacation memories. Summer could be far away but you can’t turn in a corner in the house without being reminded. Pictures and poetry hang all through the house. There is one wall in particular that captivates me every single time I visit the house. And, it always will.


It is filled, floor to ceiling, with photos of Cassidy and his brothers and cousins from babyhood to adulthood. It tells tales of being buried in the sand, of OREO and peanut butter sandwiches, of beach days and outdoor showers, of corn on the cob and ice cream and finding sand in your shoes long after you have gone back to work or school or winter and whatever other dreaded thing you escaped. You look at these pictures and you see a gift that children have been given. They have been taught to truly know joy and pure fun. Not everyone receives these gifts. The evidence is on the wall. It is written in every expression on every face of every photo. You can’t look at these pictures and not smile. I looked and thought, “I want that.”

father son beach

I grew up with 7 grandparents and my kids are growing up with 6. And I just lost the last of mine only weeks ago, and I not-so-secretly and magically want my kids to have all six for the next thirty years or so. Whatever it takes to bend time and let the stories go on. Grandparents are laughter in the rain, echoes in the wind, and footprints in the sand. They are everything.

They’re truth and consequence and buried secrets and wonderful release. They are time on water and joy through tears.

grandmother and granddaughter

They are history and power. Dreams and time travel. And they are full of stories and memories, because one day we are nothing but stories, so you might as well make it a good one. My grandparents and my children’s grandparents give me that sense of both peace and urgency that everything is ok/not ok, and that it all boils down to love. My grandparents and my children’s grandparents infuse me with the parenting I aim for and sometimes even achieve. All that stuff. It matters. It sticks with you. Where you take them, what you feed them, what you tell them, and how you tuck them safely into bed.

Every night. Sleep tight.

great grandmother and great grandson

I know I promised you some Beach Sand Play Dough and I won’t go back on a blog promise. This “recipe” or craft, if you will, is dedicated to my grandparents, my children’s grandparents, and anyone else who takes their grandchildren to the beach.

Beach Sand Playdough

What You Need:

1 cup flour
1 cup fine sand
¼ cup salt
1 Tbsp. cream of tartar
1 Tbsp. vegetable oil
¾ cup boiling water
Shells, small glass stones

ingredients needed for beach play dough

What You Do:

  1. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, sand, salt, and cream of tartar.
  2. Add the oil and water and mix well.
  3. Knead the dough for 1-2 minutes until it is all smooth.
  4. Mix in some shells and glass stones and have fun molding and playing with the sand playdough. Just like playing at the beach but this sand holds its shape!

mix ingredients together for beach sand play dough

add oil and water to beach sand play dough

mix together ingredients

knead the play dough

mix in shells and glass stones

This is me linking up, as one of my favorite things to do, with Finish The Sentence Friday. This week’s topic is “Grandparents..” 5 minute freewriting (I always go over five minutes) Come link up with your spin on the topic HERE.

So, what would you say?

Beach Sand Play Dough

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  1. OK you know how I am not a fan of PLAYDOUGH here from my past writings on it. But this one I so want to try, because the beach girl in me thinks how cool this really is. Plus, loved the backstory with Cassidy’s dad’s house, too 🙂

  2. We always loved playdough. I made many batches with the cream of tartar, and actually made a bunch of it last year for Sunday school kids. I never thought of including the sand – fun! I think the glass stones are simply stunning. I am not surprised to hear this story about Cassidy’s growing up years. He definitely seems to embrace fun and joy, and I agree that this is a gift many children are never given.

  3. What wonderful memories Cassidy must have of growing up with such family like this! I love how you described it all. I will admit that it makes my heart hurt a little wishing that I had been so lucky. My grandfathers are the only living grandparents I have, and my relationships with them are strained unfortunately. However, what does make me happy is that I have some pretty amazing parents and in-laws that I absolutely adore, and I cannot wait until they become grandparents. My mom already has a pretty good picture wall going of her daughters and sons-in-law so I imagine once the grandbabies come along, she’ll go crazy with posting every bit of their childhood.

  4. Sorry to hear of your most recent loss. I too hope Christopher has next to forever with his grandparents. The bond is so beautiful and special. The Cape Cod cabin sounds wonderful, both times of the year.

  5. My gosh, I haven’t read you in a while (life has been NUTS) and THIS is the first post i read… and as your words always do, they take my breath away. This is gorgeous. What an incredible tribute to grandparents and all the magic and history and generations of love they bring to your family, Tamara! And Cassidy’s…

    I’m not blessed with what you have, so I can appreciate it even more. Long for it even. But Derek’s parents have been a huge gift, and my mom has now entered our lives with more presence and that has been another gift- but this? Your family heritage is amazing, passionate, fierce. I wouldn’t want to let go of it and wrap it tight around my heart forever too. I’m so so sorry for your recent loss. I know how hard that is for you…

    Oh, and yeah, COOL PLAY DOUGH RECIPE! 🙂

  6. I love the beach sand playdough and hearing about Cassidy’s Dad’s photo wall of memories in the Cape. That sounds perfect. I worry about how long Tucker will have all his grandparents – I hope it’s for a very long time.

  7. Please accept my condolences on the passing of your beloved grandparent too, Tamara. What a story of Cassidy’s years in pictures on the wall that comes to life. Both of my grandfathers lived very short lives. My grandmothers lived well into their 70’s and l was very close to both of them. My fondness for tea came from Mame and Nan. l looked up to them for wisdom and guidance in ways much different than my parents, and l learned from them by their example, and most of all by their love for me and my brother and sister.

  8. You really are lucky to have had those wonderful times as a child and that you have continued to share that with your children, Tamara!

    Never made it to Cape Cod. Plymouth is as close as I have been.

  9. Your post is beautifully written, almost poetic like. You had so many grandparents to love you and make impressions upon your soul, and now your children have that same blessing.

    I’m so sorry about the passing of your last grandparent.

    I used to make lots of play dough, but never even thought about adding sand to the mixture. Thanks for sharing that recipe.

  10. Oh, I love this post so much. Your words are touching my heart in a big way! I only had two grandparents as a child. One passed when I was nine and the other three before I was even born. My maternal grandmother was the sole grandparent and I enjoyed her company dearly. Luckily I have wonderful memories of her. She lived to be 100 but had dementia beginning around 90. She didn’t know who we or I was anymore in the last years.

    I think you and your kids are so lucky to have wonderful and plentiful grandparents! I love the description of the wall in Cassidy’s childhood summer home. How beautiful.

    I want to make this play dough! Thanks for sharing this recipe Tamara. I hope when I’m a grandma myself, I can make this with the littles.

  11. I’m so sorry for your loss, Tamara. You and your kids have certainly been blessed with some wonderful grandparents throughout your lives.

    Love the beach sand! Hate it in my swimsuit, but love it as a craft.

  12. Sorry abut your grandparent (I missed a lot this summer). I knew you went to the Cape each summer, but didn’t realize that you had family there. Truro is so beautiful (and peaceful, compared to the lower Cape).

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