Tuesday, May 14, 2013


It's funny, the power in email.

A couple of weeks ago, I got a generic email from the good folks at Domino's Pizza. Usually, I dismiss such email as spam or consumer advertising, but this one said that for one month, anyone could watch their staff make pizzas via live video feed at one of their Utah stores. My kids love finding out how things are made and were thrilled to see pizzas being made in real time. Whenever we popped in around the lunch and dinner hours, we got to see a lot of action in that pizza kitchen! In some ways, it was even better than a documentary.

All that live action made us feel like we needed our own pizzeria, of course.

When my girls were like toddler-little, they loved playing kitchen and cooking and making meals for their dolls. As they got older, they gravitated towards the commercial aspect of the food-and-beverage pretend play scenarios - it was all restaurants and cafes and delis and shops and online orders and delivery services. It had to involve money, packaging, marketing, advertising, order chits, inventory, special promotions and customers. And display windows. Oh, the displays were the most important. They had to be pretty so the customers would come, they said. 

A pizzeria, therefore, was perfect. 
I made them some felt pizzas - not the slice-apart kind, but the bulk-risen lumps-of-dough kind. Ours were 12".
Incidentally, these pizzas make perfect indoor frisbees. Actually, outdoors, too. I know because the girls tried them as such.

Instead of a brand-new pizza dough tutorial, I'm reposting photos from an earlier cookie tutorial here. Different size, but identical method.
The only additional feature is a row of topstitching about an inch from the edge, to create a crust rim.

The sauce was just blood red felt circles.

We cut cardboard circles for trays.

Then came the toppings.

All felt. All hand-cut. Took less time than it looks.

Especially the cheese -

see? Just run the rotary cutter over it in narrow lines.
The kids were incredulous when I asked them if they preferred shredded cheese or one big circle of melted cheese. Mom! Obviously! As if there were any doubt as to the answer!

Veggies - peppers, mushrooms, olives, pineapple:

Meats: pepperoni, sausage, Canadian bacon (we just call it ham):

I'm still in conference with the kids over whether or not to treat the felt toppings (except the cheese) with Stiffy. I think that Stiffy would prolong their play-life but the girls like them soft and floppy. 

Here's the Deluxe aka Supreme aka The Works, made by Emily:

And here's a fun slideshow of it being put together:

Ah, felt food. Nothing better, right?
Unless it's felt food with cardboard.
Cardboard, as we all know, makes everything better.

Do you remember the Good Cardboard I got in this post?

It became nine pizza boxes.


so the girls could design their own brand and logo (welcome to The Magic Pizza Cafe):

All those toppings were a lot to write down each time a customer called, so we made order forms for checking off:

Totally, unrelated, I bought a pack of 10 plastic ramekin-type containers at the dollar store the other day,

and the girls hijacked them for dipping sauce freebies:

Here are some pizza variations the girls created -

Edible mandala:





and their interpretation of gluten-free aka crustless.

And just as proof that it wasn't just me, a boring adult, directing, here is a picture drawn by Kate. It's a Small Pizza For Bunny. She even found a small pizza box to put it in. Apparently, 12" pizzas are no good for lovies because they're too huge. 

I got the point.
So yes, Magic Pizza Cafe pizzas now come in two sizes- human and lovie:

"We need an oven," the kids then told me. 
Okay. I have spare cardboard, anyway.

Here's a short section of pool noodle, wrapped with flannel

with a random plastic stick shoved in the bore.

And here's a cardboard box with a hole cut out of one end

for that pool-noodle thing to rest in.

Then a second pool-noodle thing is installed within an identical hole at the other end of a row of cardboard boxes. 

Then some more flannel - a long strip of it, is looped around those two pool noodle things (which, if you've guessed by now, are rollers) to make a conveyer belt. Note that the flannel- both on the rollers and as the belt itself - is essential for good traction. You could use any fabric that has a slight pile to it, so it "catches" as it moves over the rollers. 

Here's the crank - it's just cardboard shoved in the hollow of the axle of the forward roller.

and you put your pizza on one end and convey it to the other.

But that's just the conveyer belt. I'd always wanted to make one because it's such a versatile toy for the kids. I mean, it can be a library chute, a baggage carousel, a treadmill or travelator for dolls, a supermarket checkout ... 

and an oven:

All it needed was a hood. We made ours detachable so the conveyer belt can be used on its own.

The hood slides in and out of a big slot at the back of the conveyer belt.

We stuck a string of battery-operated LEDs in it and lined it with foil for better reflectivity.

Indoors, it's quite realistic.

Here's the pizza in the oven, trundling along the belt, getting all hot and cooked.

Want to see the oven in action?
Here it is without the hood:


It was a very windy day on the deck yesterday!

And here it is with the hood on 
and Emily turning the back roller 
(check out the crank spookily moving all by itself).

Loads of fun.
The girls have been playing pizzeria every day since we made it.

And to think it all started with an email that I almost deleted without even reading. 
I guess you never know where inspiration lurks, huh?


  1. You are the mom I wish my girls had. I hope yours know [one day] how lucky they are.

    Another amazing post!

  2. Brilliant! (and such an extravagant display of crafty love for your girls - I can't get over that oven)

  3. This is so neat. I hope I will be as creative as you when I finally have kids!

  4. Awesome... and YUM!! I'd like to place an order for one with 'everything' and extra cheese, please!

  5. Wow! I don't know what else to say but WOW!

  6. You are the most insanely amazingly incredible Mom. This is such jaw-dropping fun to watch. Those girls are going to look back on their childhood as the most magical, anything is possible dreamland. And what is guaranteed is that they themselves will continue this approach to life into adulthood.


  7. My girls are now 25 and 19, we had an ugly bug restaurant when they were of a similar age, with plastic bugs as ingredients, it was such fun, I loved and love cardboard too! I still have the menu in my keepsakes. I am glad the snow has finally gone for you. We have had a very long and cold winter in the UK too and it is still pretty grim, had to buy more winter jodphurs which I really didn't want to do this end of the year. Please keep it all going, I love reading your posts and it is so wonderful seeing your girls growing.

  8. it made me laugh at how genius it is and made me wish I was a child again !

  9. Wow! This is very very creative! I love it!

  10. Can you come over and play at my house (and bring your cool pizza oven?) Seriously!!! You've knocked my socks off again and this is why I love to see what you and your sweet girls are up to. Love it!


  11. P.S. I loved the menu! But you spelled it wrong, Mom... it's "Magik"... not Magic. ;)

  12. Your ideas are so marvelous! I'm so happy I found you and your blog.

    Smiling in California,
    xo, Nancy

  13. You are awesome!!! You come up with the most amazing things for your kids to play. Great job!

  14. Astonishing! I am in awe. That looks like SO much fun.

  15. Wow, how great is this!! Of course your daughters love playing pizzeria, I would like to have one now, too!
    Best Greets, Ena

  16. this just blew my mind. My snobbery over felt food is now over. Must.Make.This.

  17. Holy cow - that is the cutest thing EVER. Will be making a pizza kit for my nephew's 4th birthday this summer! Thanks!!!

  18. Love you stuff! are you able to recommend any online shops for buying felt. I am interested in making an advent calendar and thought I should try to get good quality felt, any ideas thanks

    1. Plumpeachey: I would suggest going on etsy - the etsy vendors I have seen offer good prices for wool felt and wool-blend felt.

    2. I've only bought 100% wool felt online from one etsy seller - Felt On The Fly (don't have their link onhand, sorry).

  19. I would also love to know if you recommend any online shops for felt - yours always looks so lovely!

    The pizza roller is brilliant!

    1. MaryAnne: I only use 100% wool felt for small-piece projects, like hand-sewn softies (e.g. those felt fairies), Owie Doll hair, the pickable strawberries and plant leaves, and the embellishments of the felt cake. For large items e.g. the felt cake itself, or the pizzas, I used wool-blend or acrylic felt bought by the yard. The pizza toppings, however, were all acrylic felt - wool felt was too expensive to use in such large quantities. However, if you want to buy acrylic felt (aka craft felt), go for the sort in 72" bolts, not the 9" x 12" craft sheets. The latter tend to pill within minutes of being touched! Also, if you coat the pieces with a fabric stiffener, it tends to prolong their life. The pieces will be stiffer but they'll remain more durable.

  20. Wow! My girls would love this. Winter holidays coming up soon so will definitely be making some pizzas. Am particularly impressed with the conveyer belt. Girls have been asking for ages for a supermarket checkout conveyer belt and I have just laughed at them and put it in the too hard basket...but you made one!!!! And I have all the bits in the garage ready to make my own. Fantastic. Thanks.

  21. Wow! My girls will love this. They already play 'cafe' with menus and checklists etc so it fits right in. Winter holidays coming up soon so will definitely be making some pizzas. Am particularly impressed with the conveyer belt. Girls have been asking for ages for a supermarket checkout conveyer belt and I have just laughed at them and put it in the too hard basket...but you made one!!!! And I have all the bits in the garage ready to make my own. Fantastic. Thanks.

  22. This is a cracking activity, I just love it.
    Just as an aside since I make tactile educational toys for visually impaired children, this would be even more interesting if you included different tactile fabrics?
    Though I doubt for your children you could better what youve done here, they look to have had great fun with this.
    I have a HUGE stash at work of tactile fabrics Ive picked up at car boots, jumble sales and bought small quantities of over the years, so its easier for me to find appropriate materials for what I need.
    But for example red pvc make 'cold' tomato slices, fun foam circles could be sausage slices and there is a multi coloured one that( with sight) simulates salami, very thin leather could be ham slivers - that kind of thing? I have to try and find something as close to the real thing for a blind child, to simulate realism but you cant skin an elephant to replicate the tactile elephant on a tactile book page afterall! So alot of lateral thinking has to go on!
    We have Scrapstores over here in most major cities where clean industrial waste of all sorts, is donated by firms so they pay less landfill tax. They are great places to find odments of bizarre and interesting materials of all kinds for kids activities. You may know of similar places already but if not, do some research and see if you have one within driving distance. Am sure youd find grist for your creativity!

  23. Its great!!! I love this idea and appreciated who made this,..... great work.:)


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