Category Archives: Crafts

Baking Birthday Party!

Congratulations to “semicrunchymomma,” who wins the Estelle headband from Guavaloo for her little girl! Thanks to all who liked & shared!

birthday girl

This darling girl turned 4 this summer, & she told me back in JANUARY (she plans ahead like her mama) that she wanted a “baking party, with cupcakes & pizzas & chef hats.” What fun!

dessert table

I had a field day with my cricut’s cupcake font for the “happy birthday” banner & these fun chandelier hangings my husband suggested:

chandelier

I also used the cricut to freezer-paper stencil custom “Chef [name]” aprons for each of the kids. Kid-sized apron & chef hat sets were around $5 each from Chefskin on Amazon. I kept the party small–8 kids total–to keep cost & chaos to a minimum.

This fun garland was just cupcake papers of different sizes & colors randomly threaded onto embroidery thread with an embroidery needle!

cupcake paper garland

While we waited for everyone to arrive, the chefs colored their very own restaurant menus…

menu 1menu 2

…drawn by the very talented Sister Alison Bowe, a missionary currently serving in our ward! (I enlarged them to 11×17 for the kids.)

menu 3As the menus said, once the kids were all there & dressed as chefs, they got to make pizzas. Our local Grimaldi’s donated the dough, & “Chef Dad” tossed it pizzeria-style before the kids “decorated” them, in the birthday girl’s words.

pizza
Tasty!
pizza 2Then they made fruit, yogurt, & granola parfaits. So that not ALL of the party food was junk.

parfait makingFinally, the part everyone was waiting for: decorating cookies & cupcakes! With like 6 different colors of frosting & more than a dozen kinds of sprinkles, what could go wrong?

cupcakes and decorationscookiesTurns out, not a whole lot. Luckily all of the parents stuck around to help out, which minimized the mess, & the kids took their decorating very seriously!

decoratingdecorating 2The birthday girl loved that she got to decorate her own birthday cupcake!

candles(I used this beet red velvet cupcake recipe. Had to counteract all that sugar somehow, right? See what a conscientious party host I am?)

Each kid got to decorate 4 cookies & 2 cupcakes. They ate 1 of each at the party, & the rest went home in these cute treat boxes from Michael’s, finished with baker’s twine & a darling tag.

favor boxWhat a fun time we all had! Special thanks to Ursula Borrack for capturing such sweet photos of this sweet party!

Shared at Tater Tots & Jello

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Quick Kid Craft: Patriotic T-shirts.

patriotic shirts

This year we wanted to wear something a little different for the 4th of July, so we undertook this easy t-shirt craft after seeing a friend post a picture of her son wearing one. It takes only a few minutes apart from drying, & you can even “girlify” it with a little ribbon! I took sharp scissors & snipped small cuts in the shirt, either on the front pocket, or around the neck. Just make sure you have an even number. Thread the ribbon through & tie into a pretty knot or bow, then squeeze a little hot glue inside the knot to keep it from untying in the wash. Now, if your little girl has an abnormally large head like mine does, you may want to snip the ribbon where it doesn’t show & safety-pin it after she pulls it over her head. Didn’t think about the fact that it needed to stretch… Whoops!

Now on to painting!

What you need:

  • kid-sized white t-shirt (I got mine at Target for $5 each)
  • red & blue paint (you can use fabric paint, but acrylic is so much cheaper–usually less than 50 cents a bottle–& I’ll show you how to heat-set it at the end for the wash)
  • 1″ foam brush
  • 2 paper plates

What to do:

  1. Squeeze a generous amount of your blue paint onto one paper plate & spread it around.
  2. Place your child’s left hand in the paint, coating well. Then carefully help her stamp her hand, fingers outstretched, on the left side of the shirt. Clean off her hand &, if she’s young, let her go play while you do the rest. (By the way, 14 months may be a tad young for this craft; my little one kept squelching her fingers together & I had to spread them myself.)
  3. Squeeze some red paint onto the other paper plate & use your foam brush to paint stripes next to the handprint. The foam helps keep the stripes a nice uniform width. Paint as many stripes as you think look good!
  4. To heat-set: When the paint is completely dry, place a doubled-up paper towel inside the shirt & on top of the painted part, then iron on the cotton setting (high heat) for about a minute. Now you can wash it after they wear it!

If you’re looking for a place to wear your new shirts, how about organizing an indoor “parade” through a nursing home? That’s what we did yesterday, & it was a wonderful experience. We rounded up some friends from our MOMS Club, decorated up our wagons, waved some little flags, & played “Stars & Stripes Forever” on repeat on my iPhone with some little speakers as we marched through the halls. The residents were very appreciative of visitors, & it was a great experience for the kids! They loved marching & getting so much attention, & it was a great teaching moment about how good service can make us feel. My 4-year-old kept saying, “Mommy, they’re so happy to see me!”

decorated wagon

nursing home parade

Where will you wear your patriotic shirts?

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Getting into the Olympic spirit.

I love the Olympics.

I love the athleticism, competition, the drama, & how for 2 weeks every 2 years (we’re thinking winter too) everyone becomes an expert. I love watching people from all over the world come together in the spirit of sportsmanship. And I love that this year I get to pass it on to The Munchkin.

Why are the Olympics so important? Why bother giving Olympic Fever to the rising generation? My friend Kalani wrote a fantastic essay answering that question. There are so many important lessons that athletic competition can teach kids: patriotism, the importance of working hard, how to be a good sport, & – perhaps most importantly in this age of rising childhood obesity – that moving is fun.

So I encourage you to let your Munchkins watch a competition or two with you this year to help them catch The Fever. Here’s how we’re starting with ours.

We’ve decided to let her stay up late to watch some of the Opening Ceremonies Friday, & have started getting her into the spirit by introducing her to the logo & the colors this week by decorating the apartment a little at Munchkin height. We made our own Olympic Rings into a paper chain, with The Munchkin telling me which color strip came next. After just one sheet of construction paper of each color, she had those colors down!

Next she drew her own Olympic Rings. Not a bad first attempt!

Finally, to help her learn a little more about the sports & the competition, I made up a quick medal count chart using clip art to illustrate each category. I had no idea there were so many! If you want one of your own, download it here. Get the medals here — you may need to add extra paper on the side for the swimming category, if it’s anything like 2008 was!

We have a couple other ideas too that I’ll be posting soon. How are you introducing your kids to the Olympics?

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Mermaid Party Redux.

My last post talked about why we shouldn’t overdo it on the party planning. But purchasing everything pre-assembled can get pricey, so here are a few cute things I did to save money & personalize it a little for my Munchkin. I was so busy having fun that I didn’t meticulously take pictures of my handiwork, but I think that’s a good thing (except when I’m trying to explain to other people what I did).

For starters, this is the party theme I bought. However, rather than buying everything to fit the theme, I saved money by only buying the swirly hanging decorations (see below), tablecloths, invitations, & dessert plates. For everything else–flatware, napkins, dinner plates, & even a couple extra tablecloths–I bought cheaper, solid-color items in the party’s colors: light blue, purple, & hot pink. I also got balloons in those colors.

The Munchkin was insistent that the kids all wear party hats, so we got assorted solid-color ones at Party City that happened to match the theme colors really well, then decorated them with sea animal stickers together. She loved helping! In previous years I would’ve been too much of a perfectionist to let her help.

(In the interest of full disclosure, we learned rather quickly that paper hats tend to dissolve after several minutes atop wet heads. But they were fun & they stayed on for the cake, which is what The Munchkin wanted anyway.)

Now for my favorite part: the favor buckets. I bought these sandcastle buckets from Party City for 99 cents (my advice: sign up for their emails before you order; I started getting all sorts of discount offers after I’d placed my order!). They come in 8 different colors, so I’m sure they’d match your theme colors. Then I filled them with awesome cheap sea-life-themed favors from Oriental Trading Company. I hate the buckets that are full of useless crap, so I tried to choose things the kids would actually like to use. The Munchkin loves bubbles, stickers (those were from Party City & also delightfully cheap; we bought extra to decorate the hats with), & stampers, so we included those & a squirty fish thing, then a bag of Goldfish & just a few pieces of candy. To assemble them, we grouped like items together & formed an assembly line; it taught The Munchkin to follow patterns!

These buckets would be great for any ocean-type theme. They received lots of compliments, & they were simple & inexpensive!

Next, the thank-you notes that came with the party supplies were the fill-in-the-blank kind. Those are great for kids who are learning to write, but The Munchkin’s still young enough that I’m doing the writing for her. So fill-in-the-blank would be kind of a copout. Instead, I bought blank notecards from Target (again, they come in lots of cute colors) & puffy stickers from Michael’s (can you tell I like stickers?). The Munchkin & I decorated the cards in little sea life scenes. You could do this with any theme imaginable & it’d look great!

Last but not least, activities. One of the great perks of having the party at the splash park was I didn’t have to coordinate activities. But with Tropical Storm Debby threatening, I came up with a couple last-minute things to keep the kids busy under the pavilion in case we had a momentary downpour. I printed an Ariel coloring page & a couple of sea animal coloring pages & had a bucket of crayons. Then we let the kids make jellyfish. To prep, just cut cheap white paper plates in half & have streamers & a stapler handy. The kids color their jellyfish, & then you tear off some streamers & staple them to the straight side. So easy!

So there you go! Hope this helps with the planning of any ocean-themed parties in the future. Just remember to listen to your own Munchkin rather than what the professionals on Pinterest think, & keep it simple: if you overdo it this year, you’ll just have to try to outdo yourself next year!

Good luck!

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Quick, last-minute (but always cute & thoughtful) Teacher Appreciation gift.

Hi all! Long time no see! I’ll be posting sporatically over the next little while, & I have a feeling that all of them will be themed: “quick & easy,” & often “can be done one-handed.”

I sat down to write this quick post before the Mini-Munchkin woke up, but as she’s starting to stir, this is going to be even quicker than I thought.

The Munchkin had her first ballet recital Saturday. It was beyond adorable. They danced to “Animal Crackers in my Soup,” & because I’m the doting mommy, I’m going to force you to look at her darling costume:

She looks forward to ballet class every week, & her teachers, Ms. Erin & Ms. Lisa, did such a great job with those two-year-olds (my sister calls it “herding cats”) that I wanted to do a little something for them. There are fantastic teacher appreciation ideas all over Pinterest & the blogosphere, but I didn’t have time to do something intricate, & there was no way I was going to venture to Michael’s with two Munchkins.

Thanks to Crystal & Company’s free printable, I was able to make something in less than 10 minutes with items I had on hand. All I needed was gumballs, which I was able to get on a routine trip to Target. & the teachers loved them!

So if you’re one of the few whose school isn’t out & are looking for something cute but quick to show your appreciation, go to her blog for the full instructions. Now I’ve got to go feed a hungry Mini-Munchkin.

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Make your own Minnie (or any) Mouse ears!

For Christmas, we decided to give The Munchkin a Disney World vacation. We just got back from a long weekend of riding Teacups (3 times!), walking a LOT, & meeting pretty much every character there is. We all had a blast!

While contemplating how to present her with her Christmas gift, I decided to give her some Minnie ears, knowing that she’d probably ask for some once she saw everyone else wearing them anyway. Making them was a much cheaper option than buying them, & after her Angelina Ballerina Halloween costume, I had already mastered the proper “ear technique.” I simplified the method I found here for both sets of ears.

  • a headband in your desired color
  • a sheet of scratch paper & a pen
  • a sheet of stiffened felt (preferably the adhesive kind) in your desired color
  • sharp scissors
  • a glue gun
  • optional: wide wired ribbon for the bow
  • optional: another piece of stiffened felt in a contrasting color if you’re making “real” mouse ears like I did for Angelina
  1. Begin by finding a round object like a glass in the right size for your ears. Trace the glass onto your paper. Then draw a little rectangle below that about half the width of your headband. There may be some trial & error finding just the right size to fit around the headband. Fold the paper at the bottom of the rectangle & cut out the shape so there’s a mirror image at the bottom that resembles a dumbbell.
  2. Trace that shape onto the back (adhesive side) of your felt, then cut it out.
  3. Mark on your headband where you want your ears to go. Remove the adhesive from your felt, then put a line of hot glue on the underside of the headband in the appropriate spot for one ear & stick the felt there. Make lines of glue on the felt on either side of the headband & then do a glue circle a quarter to half an inch from the edge of one of the circles. Very carefully stick the whole thing together from bottom to top. The adhesive gives you less wiggle room (one stick is all you get — no repositioning), but it also creates a much better seal with no glue oozing out.
  4. Repeat on the other side. (Preferably while watching Top Gear, apparently.)
  5. Now for the bow. Cut a length of ribbon & loop it with ends together, then pinch in the middle. (Sorry it’s so blurry.) If you want a “poofier” bow, loop it twice & then spread the loops into kind of an X. Glue some of the overlapping bits in the middle together, if desired.
  6. Now cut several more inches of the ribbon. On the back (non-printed) side of the ribbon, place a dot of glue on the top middle & fold a third of it over lengthwise. Place another dot of glue on top of that & fold the remaining third. Now you have a skinny middle piece. Place another dot of glue on the back of one end of said skinny piece, secure it to the bottom side of your bow, & start wrapping it around the middle of the bow, securing with glue as you go. There will be some ribbon left.
  7. Finally, put a larger dot of glue on the top of your headband. Stick your bow to it, then wrap the skinny bit of ribbon around both it and the headband, once again securing with glue as you go.
  8. You’re done! (This is the picture of her after she opened her present on Christmas morning.)

Ta-da!


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Festive (& easy!) headbands for the holidays.

This is the first crafty thing I’ve made in months. Please at least act surprised. But it was easy, inexpensive, & turned out beautifully!

I was inspired by this holly headband I found on Pinterest, but alas, not having green felt or her super-spiffy handheld sewing machine (or any sewing machine!), I decided to use some candy-cane-striped ribbon I had on hand from last year to make these beautiful peppermint roses.

My friend Tamara had just taught me a few months ago how to make these kinds of fabric roses, & trust me, they are SO easy. If I can do it, you can. I promise. Plus, I even remembered to take pictures to have a photo tutorial for you! (You can act surprised again.)

What you need for your holiday headband:

  • a headband (this perfect red sparkly girl-sized one came in a pack of 5 different colors by Goody for less than $5 at CVS, or for girls with less hair, you could use elastic or make the roses small & do a clippie instead)
  • several feet of 2-inch-wide holiday ribbon, wire removed, or fabric
  • glue gun
  • some felt
  • scissors

How to make it:

  1. Take some of your ribbon (no need to be exact… the large rose was almost my armspan; the small one, maybe a little over a foot) & tie a single knot an inch or two from one end. The knot is your rose’s center & the extra inch or two will serve as sort of a “handle” to give you as few glue gun blisters as possible while making your rose.
  2. Hold your “handle” in your non-dominant hand. With your other hand, fold your ribbon in half lengthwise (make sure the pretty side is out, of course) & start to twist it. You’ll keep twisting as you go.
  3. Dab some hot glue on one side of your knot & very carefully wrap the twisted ribbon around it. Keep going around in a circle, dabbing hot glue every quarter-turn or so, so it becomes a spiral.
  4. Continue until you either are almost out of ribbon or feel your rose is big enough. Make an extra-good dab of hot glue for your last one, leaving an inch or two. You should have 2 end bits sticking out the back now.
  5. Cut off your “handle” as close to the knot as you can without injuring anything.
  6. Twist the end bit behind & secure with some more glue.
  7. Repeat until you have as many roses as you want in the sizes you want (try to make them all slightly different sizes).
  8. Now cut some felt circles to be just smaller than your roses. You want it to give the whole rose some structure & stiffness, but you don’t want it to be visible from the front. Glue them to the back of each rose.
  9. Arrange the roses how you want & dab glue on the outsides of the roses to secure them where they join. Then figure out where you want them on your headband (beginning an inch & a half to two inches above the top of the ear is usually your best bet) & put a line of hot glue on the headband, then stick it to the backs to your roses.
  10. Cut a strip of felt a half inch or more wider than your headband that will still be invisible from the front but also touch all of your roses (the example below is a little sparse on the coverage of the small rose on the right). This strip of felt is what keeps everything together, so glue it on WELL. I started with a line of glue along the headband, then securing with another line of glue to the left & one to the right.
  11. Let her show it off at your next holiday party! Maybe even make one for yourself to match!


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Broomstick Treat Bags.

You’ve probably seen these floating around (pun intended) the blogosphere in the past, but they are so cute & easy I thought I’d share them anyway.

Here’s what you need for each:

  • 2 brown paper lunch sacks
  • 1 pretzel rod or a stick from your backyard
  • treats to fill it with
  • festive ribbon or raffia

Now here’s all you have to do:

  1. Cut a few inches off the tops of your bags. Take 1 bag & cut thin strips down about an inch. Then open the other bag & fold out the bottom so you don’t cut into it. Cut thin strips almost all the way down the length of the bag.
  2. Now here’s the hardest part of the whole process: putting bag #1 inside bag #2. Open both bags, then pull the bag with the long strips around the bag with the short ones. Horrible explanation, I know. You can figure it out & say it better than I can, I’m sure.
  3. Fill the bag with goodies. Then place the pretzel rod in the middle & gather the bags around it. Make sure all of the strips make it into your handful.
  4. Tie the ribbon around it. Really tight. Then pull the pretzel rod out a couple inches so it’s still firmly in there, but the broomstick looks more to scale with the bottom of the broom.
  5. Fluff out the little strips above the ribbon, & you’re done!

In addition to working for Halloween, they’d be great at a Harry Potter party. Just finish them off with a golden Snitch nametag & (this brilliant idea comes from My Husband Who Refuses To Read The Books But Still Knows Everything About The HP Series) a hippogriff feather!

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Frustration-Free Photo Hanging.

For us, one of the hardest things about settling into a new place has been getting pictures on the walls. I always want some complicated vignette, & My Husband The Gracious always agrees to go with it, until 78 nail holes & 1 frustrated husband later, we give up.

No longer, my friends!

The secret is newspaper. (Or Publix circulars, cough cough…) It’s so much easier to move around on the wall to get it just right! Observe:

I first saw this idea on one of the many design shows on HGTV that I kind of watch if nothing else is on but don’t really follow (Except Design Star — that one I follow. The next day. When I’m folding laundry.), so I don’t remember which one it was. Since then I’ve seen it used on multiple blogs, so I thought I’d give it a shot.

(P.S.: Even if you’re not doing a vignette, this is still a great idea for those annoying frames that have 2 hangers on the back & somehow never get level no matter how many times you measure. Just us?)

Here’s what you need:

  • Your pictures
  • Hammer & nails
  • Some newspaper
  • Scissors
  • Pencil
  • Bold marker
  • Ruler or tape measure
  • Painter’s tape (or Scotch, if you’re daring or just not in the mood to go buy painter’s)
  • Level (if you have it)
  1. Trace your frames onto the newspaper with your pencil, trying, if you can, to line at least one edge up with a precut edge to keep it as straight as possible. You may need to tape a couple pieces together. Cut them out.
  2. Turn your frame over & find the hanging hardware. Use your tape measure to measure the distance from the top & sides. Find the corresponding spot on your newspaper, measure it up, & mark the intersection with a big bold “x”.
  3. Now make some tape rolls with your painter’s tape & stick them to the 4 corners of each piece of newspaper. Position them on your wall & move them around until you like what you see. Now use your level on one of the uncut edges (i.e. edges you didn’t cut because they came that way) to make sure it’s straight & perfect. Oh, & make sure your newspaper is oriented right so that your “x” isn’t at the bottom or on the back!
  4. Now for the fun part! Hammer your nails into the middle of the x’s, right through the newspaper! How cool is that?
  5. Finally, rip off the newspaper & tape, & hang your pictures. Beautiful! & no angry husbands, to boot!

(We need to update most of the photos in the frames once we get our family pictures back, but you get the idea. Oh, & don’t you love the grey walls & random speaker thing? The joys of apartment living…)

Happy Wednesday!

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36th Avenue

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How to make a licensed character party look homemade.

Have you ever noticed that the parties featured on all those professional party planner blogs all have generic themes, like bubbles, cars, or even just colors? But your kids aren’t going to request a “pink damask” party theme; they’re going to request Hello Kitty, Superman, Elmo, or, say, Mickey. So how can you give them what they want while still adding a personal, homemade touch like the professionals do? Do it yourself!

The Munchkin and SIX — yes, six — of her playgroup friends all have birthdays within a few weeks, if you can believe it. So the moms all got together & decided that, rather than spend the whole month of June going to each other’s birthday parties, why not do a joint party? We just had to figure out the one thing all seven could agree on: “Mickey Mouse Clubhouse”!

I quickly volunteered to be in charge of the decorations, & I did everything with a personal, homemade touch with just over $30! You can too!

Here’s what I used:

  • a few feet of grosgrain ribbon (you can see it in the banner in the photo above)
  • 3 sheets of posterboard (34 cents each at Target)
  • 3 rolls of streamers: red, yellow, Caribbean blue
  • 3 cheap vinyl tablecloths in the same colors
  • The Munchkin’s coloring books
  • a few minutes at Kinko’s
  • The Munchkin’s crayons
  • my friend’s Cricut & her Mickey cartridge
  • free Disney fonts I downloaded from online

That’s it!

I started by going to my friend Maile’s house, where she very graciously helped me cut out dozens of Mickey shapes. That shape is forever seared in my brain. It reminded me of when we learned about children’s book author Bill Peet, who got his start as an inbetweener in Disney’s animation department, but quit when he had a nervous breakdown while animating a Donald Duck cartoon & ran out of the building screaming, “No more ducks! No more ducks!” As I was gluing (& gluing. & gluing.) I thought several times, “No more Mickeys! No more Mickeys!”

But seeing it all put together was totally worth it. The Mickeys ended up all over the place, like on these treat bags. It was a great way to reinforce the theme in a less cartoony way. (I attached a Sharpie on a ribbon to the sign to let the parents write their kids’ names on their bags.)

I used more Mickeys & some brightly-colored cardstock I already had to make placecards for the dessert table. Please forgive the really horrible rubbing out of names… I haven’t spent the $24.95 for the good version of Picnik to do name-blurring the right way. But under the horribleness is each name in free Mickey font. The other 6 kids got Wal-Mart cakes in the Disney character of his or her choice, but we’re cake snobs in this house, & besides, I’d been envisioning this Toodles cake for months. So that’s what The Munchkin got. I’ll post the tutorial Friday!

The signs were photocopies I enlarged from The Munchkin’s coloring books at Kinko’s (for a whole $2.06 total) & glued onto pieces of posterboard. Then My Husband The Artiste & I spent an evening coloring them in while watching Newsies. (Could our family get any more Disney? Maybe I should look into sponsorship or something for all this product placement…) Here are some of them; the “Birthday Clubhouse” logo was designed by the aunt of one of the birthday boys, who’s a professional photographer & graphic designer. She used it for the awesome invitation she made, which I for some reason can’t edit my ghetto way & still save. I’ll try to get it from her so you can see all its awesomeness.

We put each of the characters on a pillar of the Clubhouse, which was the gazebo outside our apartment complex. Perfect, right?

Even more perfect was the fact that Mickey Park was right next door! The kids entertained themselves by playing on the adjacent playground, drawing with sidewalk chalk like Daisy, & fishing for more treats for their treat bags with a “handy fishing rod” my friend Wendy made from a paint stirrer, some yarn, & 2 felt hands glued on either side of a clothespin. Total cost: $2.

Finally, here’s the food table. We had two kinds of chips & homemade salsa from my friend Halley (one was a fruit salsa I am definitely making & hopefully posting in the near future), Mickey-shaped cheese (find them at Wal-Mart) & crackers, chocolate covered raisins, Swedish fish (I mean, “Gooey Fish”), fresh fruit, & Hot Diggity Dogs (find them at Costco).

I made the banner & table tents from more of that scrapbook paper & free Mickey font.

So there you have it! All you need is some paper, coloring books, & creativity, & you can have a beautiful birthday party & a very happy birthday Munchkin…

…or seven!

Don’t forget to come back Friday to see the Toodles Cake tutorial! Here’s a sneak peek:

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