Tag Archives: cookies

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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Simple Shamrock Sugar Cookies.

Happy St. Patrick’s Day (in a week or so) from this non-Irish (Scottish & Welsh, actually) gal!

I found this easy, kitchen-helper-friendly recipe at Better Homes & Gardens (I think) a few years ago & made it again this year for our Mom’s Club’s St. Patrick’s Day party.

  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 tsp. extract of choice (I used vanilla, but you could do peppermint or almond)
  • green food coloring (I’ve used both gel & liquid now, & find that liquid is just easier & doesn’t affect the dough’s composition)
  • 2 cups flour
  • green sanding sugar
  1. In your stand mixer with the flat paddle attachment, beat the butter on medium speed 30 seconds or until softened.
  2. Add sugar & salt; beat on med-high until fluffy.
  3. Add egg, extract, & food coloring. Beat well. Add more food coloring if necessary; it will look paler when the flour is added.
  4. On low speed, gradually add the flour & mix well. Divide the dough into 3 equal parts.
  5. Place a sheet of wax paper on a jelly roll pan or cookie sheet. Pour a generous amount of sanding sugar all over the wax paper.
  6. Take 1 of your dough lumps & roll it into a long “snake” 1 inch in diameter. Let your kitchen helper assist you in rolling it in the sugar to coat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap. Repeat with remaining dough lumps. Toss the wax paper & leftover sugar.
  7. Refrigerate dough “snakes” at least 2 hours, or up to 1 week (yeah right, like cookie dough would EVER last that long in someone’s refrigerator!).
  8. Preheat your oven to 350. Remove one “snake” from the fridge at a time, unwrap, & slice crosswise with a sharp knife into 1/4-inch-thick slices. Take a few of your slices & cut them into thirds to make your “stems.”
  9. Shape your shamrocks by placing 3 slices with sides very slightly overlapping on an ungreased cookie sheet & adding a stem piece. Gently press together. Don’t forget to make a few lucky 4-leaf clovers too!
  10. Bake for about 8 minutes or until set in the middle. Cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then remove to cooling rack to cool completely.

To serve, position them next to each other on a serving dish or tray rather than piling them onto a plate like I did. They ended up looking like a jumble of circles so no one knew what they were until they picked them up. Presentation is everything sometimes!I'm Lovin' It at TidyMom
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Fresh strawberry frosting for heart cutout cookies.

Have you heard of Sprinkles Cupcakes? The first time I heard of them was when they featured this recipe on the Martha Stewart Show a few years ago. Then the California bakery opened a store on the Upper East Side shortly before we left New York, & I had grand designs of doing an East Side-West Side, West Coast-East Coast cupcake taste test to see if they competed with Magnolia, but ran out of time. So I still haven’t had one of their cupcakes. But I’ve never forgotten this frosting recipe!

While I was planning a slew of projects & activities to keep The Munchkin & me occupied & sane in our tiny apartment during Three-Day Potty Training (incidentally, it worked!), I decided on cookies instead of cupcakes because I knew she’d have more fun cutting them out. I had some Pillsbury refrigerated dough on hand, which saved prep time, but honestly the strawberry flavor didn’t come out very well because of the vanilla cookies. Ideally, you’d use the Sprinkles strawberry cupcake recipe too so you really get the strawberry flavor, or if you did do cookies, add some puree or a fruity extract (like lemon or orange) to the dough. But it sure does give a beautiful soft pink hue!

If you plan to decorate your cookies with piping, rather than just sprinkles, you’ll probably want to strain your strawberry puree & add enough cream to reach your desired piping consistency. Also, try to freeze your own fresh strawberries. Buying a whole bag of frozen strawberries at the store not only wastes money & strawberries if you’re not going to be using them; commenters had stated that the less-fresh strawberries made their frosting more gray than pink.

  • about 8 medium strawberries, frozen & thawed (I think they release more juice when they’re frozen… but I could be wrong.)
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter, firm & slightly cold
  • pinch salt
  • 3 1/2 cups powdered sugar
  • 1/2 tsp. clear vanilla
  1. Puree your strawberries in a food processor. (I used a blender & ended up with some small chunks, rather than a completely smooth puree.)
  2. Cream butter & salt in stand mixer with paddle attachment until fluffy. Reduce speed & slowly add powdered sugar.
  3. Add vanilla & 3+ Tbsp. (to taste) puree; mix until just blended & even in color. Don’t overmix.

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Reindeer cookies.

The Munchkin has been looking forward to making these for DAYS. & they turned out just as great as we hoped they would!

I had originally thought to do spice cookies, but The Munchkin said peanut butter, so that’s what we did! Lucky for us, Bakergirl had already made delicious peanut butter reindeer cookies! Hers are for mini reindeer, but I had full-sized “features,” so I made them full-sized. It yielded 18 cookies instead of 40.

  • 3/4 cup creamy peanut butter
  • 1 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup shortening
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 1 egg
  • 1 3/4 cup flour
  • 3/4 tsp. baking soda
  • scant 3/4 tsp. salt (I felt it was plenty salty from the peanut butter)
  • pretzels (I think chocolate- or yogurt-covered pretzels would “stick” better)
  • green M&Ms
  • red Cadbury Christmas Mini Eggs (or you could use peanut M&Ms, but I’m kind of obsessed with the Cadbury Mini Eggs, so we’re using those)
  1. Preheat your oven to 375. Line a baking sheet with parchment.
  2. Cream together first 5 ingredients in your electric mixer. Add egg & beat until just blended.
  3. (Optional: combine dry ingredients in a separate bowl.) Add to the wet ingredients & mix until just incorporated.
  4. Roll into 2-inch balls. Pinch one end between your thumb & forefinger for the “chin.” Then flatten between your palms. Place them on your prepared cookie sheet; I fit 9 on a sheet to keep them from spreading.
  5. Bake 9 minutes or until set in the middle & just starting to brown.
  6. Remove from the oven, & immediately (carefully!) press the pretzels in for antlers. Do this for all of the cookies right away; the pretzels don’t stick as well as the other “features.”
  7. Let your kitchen helper help you press in M&Ms for eyes (M side down, of course) & a Cadbury Mini Egg for a nose.

I was amazed at how good The Munchkin got at decorating these!

Her first attempts were rather… Picasso-like…

But by her 6th one, everything was in its proper place!

Who knew that cookie decorating could teach a two-&-a-half-year-old anatomy?
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{Secret Recipe Club} Big Soft Ginger Cookies

I’m so excited to be a new member of the Secret Recipe Club! To be honest, Amanda accepted me last month, but I was still feeling so nauseous that she gave me a pass. But I’m so glad I got to participate this month, because let me tell you, these cookies are goooood.

They are Country Woman magazine’s Big Soft Ginger Cookies, & they come from No Reason Needed. The Munchkin devoured them — so did we — & one of the missionaries we had over for dinner mentioned that they made him feel like home: his mom makes them all the time & he loves dipping them in milk.

To me, ginger cookies just feel cozy, like the holidays. So what better time to make them than while your husband’s at Target buying you (okay, himself too) the Michael Buble Christmas album?

I didn’t need to change anything in the recipe for them to turn out perfect. I just rewrote the step order for you below so you dirty fewer measuring cups.

  • 2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 tsp. ground ginger
  • 3/4 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp. ground cloves
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup molasses
  • additional sugar (sanding sugar would be great) for rolling
  1. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment. In a medium bowl, combine dry ingredients. Set aside.
  2. In a large bowl with an electric mixer, cream together butter & sugar until fluffy. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in egg & molasses.
  3. With the mixer on low, gradually mix in the flour mixture until well combined.
  4. With clean, slightly damp hands (this was the only way I could keep half the dough from sticking to them), roll dough into 1- to 1.5-inch balls, then roll in sugar. Place a few inches apart on the prepared cookie sheets, then flatten with your palm.
  5. Bake 8-10 minutes or until just beginning to brown around the edges.
  6. Cool on cookie sheet for a few minutes, then remove to wire racks to cool completely. (Though I must say they are deeelicious warm & gooey straight out of the oven!)

Thanks again to No Reason Needed for such a tasty treat!

Secret Recipe Club 

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Flourless Peanut Butter Cookies.

I don’t think I’d ever made peanut butter cookies before last night. But for some reason, I just had to have them.

Fortunately for both you & me, I had pinned a recipe from Make and Takes a couple months ago. Theirs calls for Reese’s Pieces, but I didn’t have those (& besides, I don’t love them — Reese’s must always be peanut butter cups for me), so I tweaked it a little to get these melt-in-your-mouth beauties:

I know, right? Delicious.

  • 1 cup creamy peanut butter (I’m a Skippy girl; what kind do you love?)
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar, plus more for rolling (if you have sanding sugar, roll them in that & they’ll be even more sparkly & delicious!)
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 tsp. vanilla
  • 1/8 tsp. salt
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  1. Preheat your oven to 350 & line a cookie sheet with parchment or a sil-pat liner.
  2. “Cream” the peanut butter & sugars together until smooth in your mixer. (Or by hand if you’re awesomer than me.)
  3. Add egg & vanilla; mix well. Blend in salt & soda.
  4. Pour some sugar onto a small plate or into a pie tin.
  5. Spoon out approx. 1 Tbsp. of dough & roll it between your palms into a ball. Roll the ball in the sugar until well coated.
  6. Place the ball on your prepared cookie sheet & then flatten gently with your palm into about a 2- to 2 1/2-inch circle.
  7. Repeat with remaining dough. Mine made 14 cookies, so I had to get creative with placement.
  8. Bake for 10-12 minutes, or until just turning golden brown around the edges. Centers will be soft.
  9. Allow to cool on the sheet for 2 minutes, then cool on wire rack.

So yummy! Just be warned: they’re a little on the crumbly side, so hypothetically speaking, you may not want to feed one to your 2-year-old in her car seat on the way home from the beach, because you’ll probably need to break out the vacuum when you get home. Hypothetically. (No proof of the crumbly chaos — aside from the crumbs themselves — because I didn’t have my camera. My new phone’s going to have a good camera & a data plan, I’ve decided.)

Tidy Mom

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Strawberry ice cream. 3 ways.

Before we had to put the ice cream maker away for the move, I wanted to make ice cream one last time. Strawberry ice cream, to be exact. The day after I made this decision, Bridget over at Bake at 350 posted a strawberry ice cream recipe! It was meant to be!

I like to eat ice cream in three ways: 1) with a spoon, 2) with a fork, & 3) with my fingers.

But first, we have to start with the ice cream. Which, in this case, apparently comes from the Ben & Jerry’s Ice Cream & Dessert Book. After tasting this, I think I may need to go out & buy it.

  • 2 cups hulled & sliced strawberries
  • 1/3 cup sugar
  • juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 2 eggs, pasteurized**
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
  • 1 cup whole milk

** If you can’t or don’t want to buy pasteurized eggs — or don’t realize until you’re already halfway into the recipe that it calls for eggs that don’t get cooked, ahem — pasteurize them at home! The eHow.com link I used is now broken, but the gist is to bring the eggs you’ll be using to room temp, then heat a pot of water (enough to cover the eggs) to between 145 & 160 degrees F (use a candy thermometer; I don’t have one, so I used my meat thermometer, which was much less precise & my whites got just the tiniest bit cooked, but still whisked up just fine). Add the eggs to the water, remove from the heat, & let sit for exactly 3 minutes. Then remove the eggs, rinse with cool water, & use them!

  1. In a small bowl, combine the strawberries, 1/3 cup sugar, & lemon juice. Stir just enough to coat, then cover & refrigerate at least an hour.
  2. Mash the strawberries with a potato masher, pastry blender, or even 2 forks; set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs for 1 to 2 minutes, or until frothy & light. Bemoan the fact that your arm is screaming in protest. Vow to start lifting weights again.
  4. Gradually add the 3/4 cup sugar while still whisking (& arm still protesting); whisk (with your left hand now) for one more minute after it’s all been added.
  5. Stir in the cream & milk. Add the strawberries & stir well.
  6. Add the mixture to the chilled canister of your ice cream maker & follow the manufacturer directions to process it.
  7. Remove from the canister to a freezer-safe container & freeze for a few hours to allow it to harden. But not too much. Unless that’s how you like it. In our family… well, to give you an idea, The Munchkin calls it “ice kweam soup.”

Now. How to serve it?

With a spoon: Scoop some into a dessert dish. Add some blueberries for some fruity, patriotic flair.

With a fork: Serve a scoop alongside a slice of my most favorite lemon-blueberry pound cake. So many delicious summer fruits together on one plate? You can’t say no to that.

With your fingers: Press a small, hard scoop between two soft chocolate-chip cookies. When I was in high school, I used to frequent a shop near UCLA called Diddy Riese, where they made amazing ice cream sandwiches using soft, fresh-baked cookies & enormous scoops of Dreyer’s (Edy’s, for you Easterners) ice cream, for only $1! The price has since gone up to $1.50, but the lines are still around the block, the sandwiches are still scrumptious, & this ice-cream/cookie combo still brings back tasty memories.

What’s your favorite way to eat ice cream? Are you an “ice kweam soup” person too?

Tidy Mom

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The Perfect Oatmeal Raisin Cookie.

Oatmeal has a special place in my heart. Oats just make every recipe better, don’t they? Heartier, tastier, healthier (yes, I am still deluding myself on this one) — you just can’t go wrong with oats! This Martha Stewart recipe is no exception.

These are our travel staple: any time we’re headed on a road trip, I make up a batch the day before & they keep us going forever. In fact, we had two Indiana-Utah road trips in six months that went awry — in Wyoming both times — & these cookies sustained us in countless mechanic’s shops & in the middle of the I-80 median for hours! (Let’s just say that a new car & a new undercarriage on the new car later, we’ve come to the conclusion that either Wyoming hates us, or their mechanics love us. No offense meant to anyone out there who hails from Wyoming — we’ve just had exceptionally bad luck driving through it.)

  • 2 cups flour
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. baking soda
  • 2 sticks butter, room temp
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. vanilla
  • 3 Tbsp. milk
  • 2 eggs
  • 3 cups rolled oats (not steel-cut or quick-cooking)
  • 1 cup raisins
  1. Whisk together dry ingredients in a medium-sized bowl & set aside.
  2. Cream together butter & sugars. Add vanilla, milk, & eggs; blend well.
  3. Add flour mixture; beat until just combined.
  4. Remove the bowl from the mixer (or, if you’re weak like me… just don’t); stir in the oats & raisins.
  5. Refrigerate dough until firm — 2 hours to overnight.
  6. Preheat oven to 350. Line cookie sheets with parchment.
  7. Scoop out about 2 Tbsp. of dough & shape it into a ball. Place on prepared sheet. Repeat with remaining dough, spacing the balls 3 inches apart. Press down with your palm to flatten to a 2-inch diameter.
  8. Bake until golden but still quite soft in the center. If you’re doing 2 cookie sheets at once, bake 16-18 minutes, rotating pans between shelves halfway through. If baking just 1 cookie sheet, bake just 14 minutes.
  9. Cool on wire racks.

What are your favorite road trip staples?

Tidy Mom

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Union Jack shortbread cookies for the Royal Wedding.

I come from a long line of Anglophiles, so it seemed only fitting that I make something to honor today’s royal nuptuals. But I was having the hardest time thinking of a traditional British dessert to make! At the last minute, I was inspired by Hostess with the Mostess’s beautiful royal wedding shoot to make shortbread cookies.

I headed straight to Martha, & found a recipe for Scottie Dog Shortbread Cookies! How oddly apropos! I followed the recipe, except I added a Tbsp. or so of extra confectioner’s sugar at the end because it’s so humid the dough was too sticky, & I felt the dough needed more sweetness. I also didn’t add the cocoa powder. But if you felt like making these, you could make any shortbread cookie recipe you love.

Here’s how to make the Union Jacks:

While the dough is chilling, cut two 2.25-inch by 3.5-inch rectangles out of cardstock or a cereal box or something. Yes, I used a Skinny Cow ice cream bar box, & no, the irony of using that on a recipe with a cup of butter in it is not lost on me. Cut a cross out of one of them with stripes a quarter inch thick.

After chilling, roll the dough out to 1/4 inch thickness (this takes some doing at first) on a lightly floured surface. Use a sharp knife to trace around the rectangle stencil, then use the blunt end of a skewer (I broke mine in half to make it more manageable) to make impressions on either side of the stripes in your cross. Then make diagonal impressions from corner to corner. This is surprisingly slow work, so I would suggest working in small batches to keep the dough from getting too soft. You can see the difference below; the cookies on the left were done right out of the fridge, & the ones on the right were with too-soft dough. You should probably space them wider than I did too; they spread more than I expected in the oven.

Bake at 325 for 13-15 minutes, let cool, & enjoy at your next British-themed tea party! We’re going to eat these with “princess sandwiches” (I have a surprisingly versatile tiara cookie cutter) for lunch today while we watch a rebroadcast of the wedding, just for fun!

(Ok, ok, I went a little overboard with the photos this morning.)

Did you/will you watch the royal wedding? Did you do anything fun for it? Or do you think it’s just silly to care so much about it?

Tidy Mom

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Painted Easter Cookies.

How’s this for a fun new take on cookie decorating?

Truth be told, it’s only sorta new. You see, the original idea came from my Grandmother, LaRee. She was the kind of homemaker I aspire to be: fabulous cook, incredible seamstress, great pianist (& even wrote music!), & celebrated holidays like no one else.

Every Christmas, my aunt Becky gives the whole family a great gift: a piece of our family history. This past Christmas she wrote about some of Grandmother’s holiday traditions, & even included some of her old recipes! (You can bet I’ll be trying & blogging her Milkless Pumpkin Pie this fall!) One of those traditions was painting gingerbread cookies at Thanksgiving time. The “paint” was egg yolk & food coloring — they didn’t worry about salmonella back then. I thought it was such a fun idea! But obviously, the salmonella bit had to go.

I baked my favorite sugar cookie recipe; this is the recipe that I come back to every time, like a good hairdresser — when you stray, you always end up feeling sorry you did. I got it from a coworker whose wife made them for a potluck of some kind years ago. I hope she doesn’t mind that I’m stealing it & reposting it (at the end of the post) for the world to see, but it really is the perfect cookie — thick, soft, & always delicious. Then I frosted them with I Am Baker’s famous glaze for a nice, hard white surface to paint on.

The next day, The Munchkin’s friend & her mommy came over to paint with us! The paint was a grand experiment that thankfully went right: a healthy glob of gel food coloring (we wanted vivid colors for the girls; if you want a lighter, more watercolor-esque effect, start with very little), plus a drop of corn syrup to stabilize, plus a couple tablespoons of water. I put a different color in each well of a muffin tin & had different brushes for each color to avoid mixing. The brushes were brand new & very well rinsed before using.

The girls had a blast! The Munchkin’s friend, who’s almost exactly a year older than her, was very careful & intent in her painting: she covered each cookie entirely in one color, switching colors only with new cookies.

You could tell the girls’ cookies apart in 2 ways: 1) The Munchkin enjoyed mixing her colors, & 2) the bite marks.

Once the girls got tired of the painting, the mommies got to have a turn. My friend Wendy is a cookie-egg-decorating master, I’ll tell you what.

(Special Easter Bunny tip: if you have small children, skip the fake grass — go with tissue paper instead. Your carpets, vacuum cleaners, domesticated animals, & sanity will thank you.)

Now, before you rush off & go paint some Easter masterpieces yourselves, here are a few things we learned:

One – If the colors touch, they will run. Leave a generous white border between colors, or you’ll get this:

Two – Food coloring isn’t as washable as Crayola. Expect your hands to look like this for a day or two if you have a particularly young &/or messy child:

Three – The corn syrup makes the paint a little sticky, even after drying, so for storage, shipping, packaging, etc., use parchment paper.

Four – No matter what holiday it is or what we’re decorating cookies for, as long as My Husband The Cougar Fanatic is around, there will always be a BYU athlete. Always.

Five – This was totally AWESOME!!!

Here’s the Perfect Sugar Cookie recipe, courtesy of my coworker’s wife, Grace:

  • 1 1/2 cups butter, softened
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 tsp. vanilla (I usually let a little “spill over” to add just a teeny bit more)
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. salt
  1. Cream butter & sugar until smooth.
  2. Beat in eggs & vanilla.
  3. Add dry ingredients gradually & mix until well combined.
  4. Chill one hour to overnight.
  5. Preheat oven to 400.
  6. Roll dough out on lightly floured surface, 1/2 inch thick, & cut with cookie cutters.
  7. Bake 6-8 minutes.

Enjoy, & have a happy, sweet, & colorful Easter!

Tidy Mom

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