Bread Painting

I have been thinking of ways to make breakfast more interesting for the kids. It feels a little bit too routine lately and i thought it would be fun to do something different today. So today, instead of their usual spreads, i got them to “paint” their bread before they eat it.

All you need are condensed milk and food coloring. I only made small amounts per color as condensed milk is really sweet, and knowing the kids, if you give them too much, the bread will surely be soaked in condensed milk. They get to choose their colors and help mix their “paint”.

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The kids enjoyed the pseudo art session and its a really simple and quick activity for them to do in the morning, PLUS it perks up their mood (could be due to the sugar) to do something fun and different in the morning. Lets hope their good mood last throughout the rest of the day…

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Turning toddlers drawings into unique keepsakes

All parents love their little one’s drawings, but as parents, we know the sheer amount of drawings and art work that the children can generate, not only do we have to find space to keep them, we might also want to display some of the more meaningful pieces.

I became rather inspired after attending a screen print workshop, and it really hit me that i could pick those more meaningful and favorite drawings and turn them into wearable art. Because technically, you could silk screen print on any fabric surface.

Now, my boy has BOOKS of his drawings, i believe in letting my children have free access to standard art supplies such as paper, crayons, color pencils, child scissors, cut out shapes and glue, so that they can create or draw something when they feel like it. And he has literally been drawing a few pictures pretty much every day for the last couple of years. When he draws, he has a “theme” and that will be what he will be drawing for weeks, before he changes his topic. I picked out a few of my son’s favorite drawings, and he picked out a few as well. I started with the “easiest”, as i am making my own screen. It happens to be one of my favorite as well, his rendition of sharks.

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I actually combined 2 of his sharks from different drawing sessions, as he was drawing these cute sharks for weeks, and all have the same vibe.

Making the silk screen is rather tedious as i have to trace his sharks out and really be careful with the lines.

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And once i had the silk screen done, we went a bit nuts and printed them on T shirts for daddy and him, printed them on some calico to make cushions as presents for the family and also for teachers day this year. He even had a go at printing.

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For cushions for his teachers, i made a screen with the children’s name and had it printed below the picture as well, they were so pleased and proud of the cushions. We even made some place mats! and they gets excited with setting the table everyday using THEIR OWN place mats.

Over the next few weeks, i just kept making more screens, its pretty therapeutic in a way and i’ll show it to the children in the morning when they get up, and after school he and his sister will have a go at printing.

His ship was another of our favorite, and we though it would look cooler with just the ship and i tried printing with 2 colors this time. So after many many silk screens

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This was our effort for teachers’ day this year

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And the children and daddy got new t shirts that they “designed”

If you are interested in turning your children’s drawings into a memorable keepsake, drop us an email or click on the link to head over to our website for more details. We currently are able to turn them into either cushions or place mats.

Handmade silk screen printed customized cushion

Handmade silk screen printed customized placemats

Baking Fresh Bread

Baking bread is one of my favorite therapeutic things to do, and i really wish i have more time to bake bread on a regular basis. But between chauffeuring the children, mealtimes, homework, swimming, playing, and all the other gazillion things we have to do, buying bread is always simpler and the easier option to do. However, now that the kids are a little older, i have managed to squeeze in baking bread together with them once every couple of months. This is a basic white sandwich bread recipe that is simple and versatile in that we use it to pack their sandwich for snack time, and also their breakfast with their spreads. One recipe will make 2 big loaves, and i will usually slice up a loaf and chuck it in the freezer to make toast the following week.

I found this recipe online after trying out 5 or 6 other recipes, and this one works the best for me. Julia Child’s White Sandwich Bread

As you can probably guess, their favorite part about making bread is playing with the dough, i usually leave them with the dough to play for around 15 mins or until their fingers get stuck in the dough, and then i will knead the dough.

They still feel like they kneaded the dough and always get excited when the dough is “ready to grow!”.

Our yummy homemade bread! Please share with us if anyone has other simple bread recipes. We are still experimenting and trying out different pandan bread recipes, and will share with everyone once we find one that we like! Happy baking everyone….

5 Sensory Eggs Ideas

Babies and toddler learn best by using their senses at this age, hence its really important to give our little ones enough sensory stimulation. One of our favorite things to make are egg shakers, literally fill a plastic eggs with stuff that shake and make some sort of noise inside and seal it. Previously for my two older kids, i have been making egg shakers regularly, filling them with different items so they all sound different, e.g. different beans, buttons, coins, really anything. As they grew, the older ones would make them for the younger ones, and the activity became another learning point for them. Different items made different sounds, how much you fill the eggs with the same items also will produce different sounds. Nowadays, my oldest would have a random urge every now and then to make one of these eggs, and he will just gather the materials himself and make for his little brother.

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So 3 kids along, i frankly was getting rather bored of making yet ANOTHER egg shaker, that i decided i was going to make it more sensory by covering the eggs with different materials, so that the egg not only produces sound, but also FEELS different. These are some ideas that i tried with the kids one afternoon.

But firstly, i tried initially just using normal craft glue to attach the items, which is perfectly fine for the feathers, but the other items, the craft glue kept sliding off the eggs, and it was really hard for the kids to stick them on. So we gave up with craft glue, and used modge podge instead. This worked better and the kids were able to have some fun sticking different bits on the eggs. But for myself, i wanted to make sure that the items attached WOULD NOT come off, if anyone has met my youngest, calling him destructive is a severe understatement. I didn’t trust modge podge would survive his abuse, and decided on using my trusty hot glue gun, which is super easy to use and so quick. I sat in front of the kids and they sat and passed me each item one by one.  We ended up having a pleasant time chatting while i was sticking.

  1. Pom Poms

These are so cute, i had in stock some tiny pom poms, and this really gave such a nice plush feel to the eggs, in fact, this was my daughters favorite, the baby didn’t see this egg till a week after, she was hoarding this under her pillow.

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2. Buttons

I thought of buttons as i had a bunch of brightly colored buttons and figured as he grew older i could slowly introduce colors to him, and it really looks pretty when its done. Excuse all the hot glue strands, the kids were so excited for me to take pictures that i gave up cleaning the eggs before taking the picture….They wanted me to send it to daddy QUICKLY so he could see what we were up to.

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3.Feathers

Feathers just because it really gives a very different textural feel to it, and he could really touch and think about it, also one of the kids favorite item to stick onto the eggs.

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4. Pasta shells

We had some pasta shells left over from dinner, and i liked how the pasta had grooves and lines in them to give them more texture, so we just decided to stick them on!

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5. Beans

We always have a bag of assorted beans at home, we use it to plant or use in our crafts or just to eat as well. But i love this bag of assorted beans from Waitrose, as they come in a really pretty array of colors and sizes. So again, just stick randomly. This turned out to be the baby’s favorite, i guess the different sizes and textures really make it very tactile for him.

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So here you have it! Our tray of assorted sensory eggs

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It was also a great activity for the older kids, they really got to practice their fine motor skills, even though i probably couldn’t  let the baby play with their eggs (he would definitely peel all the bits off and swallow them), i suspect they will ask me to let them decorate some more eggs in the near future…

And the baby is super pleased with his new toy, the best part is… its been almost 2 weeks and he hasn’t destroyed any yet!

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Chocolate Cupcakes

I wanted to share this simple chocolate cupcake recipe that we love and bake regularly. But this time, we decided to indulge ourselves and make some yummy chocolate ganache, so the kids can have a go actually piping the ganache on the cupcake like REAL chefs they say.

When it comes to cupcake recipes, my favorite go to book is “Cupcakes” by Benjamin Wong, who has the EASIEST recipes that kids can easily follow. Also he has incorporated quite a few recipes with local flavors such as Milo cupcakes, Horlicks cupcakes, and for the adults, unique cupcakes such as Pimms Cupcakes.

His cupcake recipe literally only requires 6 ingredients – Self raising flour, cocoa powder, butter, caster sugar, eggs and vanilla extract. And another reason why i love Benjamin Wong’s recipes, is that i find that his recipes are very “forgiving”, especially when little chefs are the ones doing the measuring and mixing. A spoonful of flour or cocoa powder “lost” during mixing or just from “transporting” from counter top to table will not spell doom for your cupcake.

Ingredients:

Self raising flour – 125 g

Coca powder – 2 Tbsp

Butter – 125 g

Caster sugar – 125 g (I usually measure out 100 g, just so its not too sweet for the children, and also as my boy is just learning measures, 100 g is easier for him to manage than him trying to figure out how many more “lines” is 125 g)

Eggs – 2, lightly beaten

Vanilla extract – 1 tsp (The kids usually just pour a bit out).

Steps:

  1. Preheat oven to 180 C
  2. Cream butter and sugar till light and fluffy with mixer
  3. Add eggs a bit at a time and whisk till mixture is blended
  4. Add Vanilla extract
  5. Sift flour and cocoa powder and add to mixture
  6. Spoon batter into cupcake liners

Once the cupcakes are done (around 20 mins, i always stick a satay stick in the middle to make sure it comes out clean before taking it out), let it cool COMPLETELY. Your ganache will melt if you have a warm cupcake.

Chocolate Ganache

Heavy cream – 140 g

Semi-sweet chocolate 200 g ( i usually use chocolate “buttons” so i don’t need to chop them)

Honey – 2 Tbsp ( to make the ganache glossy, and also because the children like squeezing honey) And personally, am not sure how much honey i add, its about 1 bottle squeeze per child, i have 2 children baking with me usually, but i have been known to add up to 4 squeezes…..

Put over low flame and stir till all the chocolate melted, add honey and stir well.

Cool in pot and pour into piping bag. Remember to close the end of the bag with some rubber bands and let it set in the fridge. Once set, pipe away!

The children really enjoyed piping the ganache, and we will probably try decorating cupcakes a bit more often now that they are able to use a piping bag.

Well, doubt anyone of the kids are going to be the next Masterchef, but its not too bad for their first time piping.

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Board Games to play with your Preschoolers

Board games are our family favorite, in our busy daily life, we often take for granted that everyone is always going to be around. So we try as best as we can to schedule in family game time weekly, usually on a Sunday afternoon…and its a time that we all really enjoy and definitely times that my husband and I value and treasure immensely. So we wanted to share with you some of our family favorite board games, and hope you can share your family favorites too!

Monopoly

I never knew till i had kids that monopoly comes in sets for little people. Its pretty much the same basic rules of buying property when you land on the square, you also get a chance card when its your birthday, and you still can end up in jail etc. But minus all the complicated other rules on selling and buying property, even the chance cards are all simplified. In monopoly junior, you just receive $2 at GO, buy a property at the stated value when you land, if you own all the colors, then its double, and that’s pretty much it. The kids love counting their money, (its all in $1 denomination as well, so its easy), a great way to introduce the concept of money, buying and selling, and also counting. The kids always find it hilarious when someone lands in jail and the longest monopoly session we ever had was for (i swear) 2 looooonnng hours. And after that, believe you me when i said the hubby and i came up with a million excuses and reasons why its time to do something else.

For those who are interested i have included links to buy from the comfort of your home, i.e. online shopping, and i found a Monopoly Junior Frozen Edition ……I know i know, i never used to succumb happily to such marketing tactics before i had a daughter that loves frozen, and hello kitty, and My little Pony…….

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00EDBY7X8&asins=B00EDBY7X8&linkId=70e4baecfeead576a9724ccea744bb25&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Monopoly junior

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00NO86S3S&asins=B00NO86S3S&linkId=c7fb8e4156111a5e8ed65818109bfb8a&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Monopoly Junior Frozen edition

Snakes and Ladders

Snakes and ladders is my older son’s favorite, my younger daughter (age 3.5 years when she first played), couldn’t get the concept of moving squares correctly and then following the snakes and ladders up and down. But she got it after a few months, and again its great at getting the children counting. Snakes and Ladders is such an old favorite that you will be able to find it from different shops, manufactures etc. We picked this set as my boy loves pirates, that really the only reason… again.. marketing tactics for weak parents like me..

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Zingo

Ah, Zingo, one of our earliest games that a good friend gifted us for Christmas one year. It was the first game that introduced the children to family game time, and i remembered that they played it everyday on their own. They love the hand action of getting the tiles out and till today still get excited in finding a matching tile. Which is what the game is essentially about, when its your turn, you dispense the tiles and everyone shouts out the tile that matches their Zingo board (think Bingo), and when you have all the tiles shout BINGO! I mean ZINGO!

Recently i saw in the shops that they have other versions version of Zingo where the tiles instead of easy pictures are sight words or match numbers tiles. Initially i really was very tempted to buy, but you have to buy the entire set including that contraption that dispenses the tiles. At $29.99 per set, i figured i will come up with more economical ways to get the kids to learn their sight words and numbers. However, for those you are interested, i included the link if again you prefer online shopping. Depending on the US exchange rate and shipping, it COULD possibly be slighter cheaper.

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B01DY818JG&asins=B01DY818JG&linkId=c5e814b286b4daf1c89d83f5622c2a3f&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Zingo Game

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B008RU8GC4&asins=B008RU8GC4&linkId=7cb1e6239b4488e95ae763d26d2e8461&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Zingo – Sight words

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00GRV5JMU&asins=B00GRV5JMU&linkId=3be8e5459a45805d1911d97909b60116&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Zingo – Word Builder

Animal Safari

One of the earliest subjects that interest my children were animals, animals names made up most of their early vocabulary and they are still very fascinated with animals in general till today. This game is super fun as the aim is to collect as many counters with the different animals, the person with the most animals wins. So its a very easy game to understand as well. You use 2 dice to play, and basically depending on where you land or WANT to land to collect another token, you have to COUNT. If reaching your goal requires you using only the numbers on 1 dice, that’s allowed, or if you need to go further and use numbers on BOTH dice, that’s allowed too. So initially we only played using the addition of both dice (great addition practice for the kids as well), after they are more familiar with it, they are able to make the decision on whether to use 1 or 2 dice to their advantage, initially with some prompting, after a few months, my boy is able to actually think about it. And i love that it gives them the chance to do some “forward thinking” and “forward planning” at this age.

Twister

Ok ok, i know that twister is not technically a board game, but it is a REALLY REALLY REALLY fun game, that i know for most of us, ends when everyone is howling with laughter in a tangled mess on the ground. And that’s just what happens every time we play it. PLUS, it teaches and lets the kids practice their left and their right, and we try “teaching” the baby the different body parts as well. Everyone is happy!

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Seaweed and Meat Floss Cookies

My sons have a very savory palette, strangely, or strangely for me anyways, they are not interested that much in chocolate, ice cream and sweet biscuits. They are however, keropok eating monsters at their grandparents house. So i was very excited to find this recipe that is not only savory, but also contains my sons’ favorite snacks – seaweed and pork floss. Now, i have never mixed the two items together for them to snack on previously, so it did seem a bit odd to find a cookie with both ingredients in. Well, i asked the kids if they would like to try them and obviously they think its a great idea…..

The recipe comes from my trusty book – The secret of cookies by Gu Huixue. And i must say Ms Gu has the most unique cookies, she has the run of the mill, jam cookies, gingerbread cookies to more exotic earl grey cookies, rosemary cookies and even candied tangerine peel cookies.

Ingredients

Butter – 75 g

Caster sugar – 10 g

Salt – 3 g (i just get the kids to add 1 pinch of salt each)

Egg – 50 g (i never can be bothered to measure out “part” of an egg, and with the children impatiently watching me with their big eyes, i just crack a whole egg in)

Cake flour – 150 g

Baking powder – 3 g

Seaweed sheets – 5 g

Meat floss – 20 g

This turned out to be a rather fun recipe as i can break it up into little bits for different child to do. The seaweed sheets and meat floss need cutting into little bits, so i delegated that to my girl who loves cutting.

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Processed with Snapseed.

That “frees” me up to measure the remaining ingredients with my boy while she sits nicely cutting the seaweed and meat floss.

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Processed with Snapseed.

Once all the prep work is done, its just a matter of beating the butter and sugar till light and fluffy, add your egg in batches till well blended and just chuck in all the dry ingredients and mix! The children took turns to add the different dry ingredients and mixing with the spatula. Knead the dough together and the end result is a pretty pliable dough that needs to be refrigerated for about 20 mins.

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Processed with Snapseed.

And it must be a really good day for me, as i managed to get the kids to help me not only to pack up, but to wash up as well! Whoo Hoo! Pre heat your oven at this point after putting the dough into refrigerator to 170 C.

Once the dough is chilled, we flour the surface we are working on, as well as the rolling pins and off we went. The recipe book actually gives instructions on rolling it out into a rectangle and cutting triangles, but obviously triangles is not half as fun as stars and hedgehogs and whales…..

Bake for 20 mins and we have cookies! Actually taste pretty good, my girl still prefers her chocolate chip cookies, but my sons were all pretty pleased with it…it was gone after a day…

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Processed with Snapseed.

 

Grandma’s Present – Whipple Ice Cream?

Our family make it a point to make handmade gifts for family and friends, especially if its from the children. So its nothing new this year that we were suppose to make a handmade present for grandma, but this frazzled mom totally forgot about it till the day before ! Like seriously right? HOW did i manage to forget my mom’s birthday?! Eeeksss! Anyways, we were having lunch at the mall and i got talked into going into TOY R US. In short, in between telling the children NO NO NO to more Legos and Nerf guns, NO NO NO to more Shopkins. What on earth is shopkins anyways? How are you suppose to play with those things??? I digress, but i found this DIY craft range called Whipple.

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I had to admit that i was a tad bit skeptical to begin with, i wasn’t sure how “fun” or creative this would be for the children, plus it cost about $20-$30 depending on how big a set you bought. But since time was running out and mom does have a sweet tooth…..

So each set came with the a bag of “Whipple” cream, a practice card where you can practice your swirls. Of course the kids were too impatient to start on the cones rather than practice…. I got my 5 year old to practice a little… and came with some embellishments.

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They actually really enjoyed creating their ice creams, of course my 5 year old had better fine motor skills than my 3 year old, so his looked “better”. However, this is still an activity that my 3 year old could do independently by herself as well. They really will have a better outcome if they practiced before hand. Initially i wasn’t sure if they provided enough Whipple cream to lose to practice, but each set is really generous with the Whipple cream, so i say practice practice to have a pretty outcome.

They were so pleased with their ice creams, made them feel so chef like, they even told me that if we did this again, they want to wear their aprons and chef’s hat.

The only gripe i have about is the amount of embelishments. Like really, $20 for the set to make 4 ice creams, and after fairly dividing between the 2 kids, each has a grand total of 5 little little pieces of sparkly beads. Obviously even if you doubled it to 10 pieces per child it is barely enough for them to be satisfied. BUT, if you are a crafty mom or a craft supply hoarder….. nothing a little glitter couldn’t solve!

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All in all, was a pretty fun activity, kids and grandma were all super pleased with the results, and i might even be talked into buying more! My daughter is already eyeing the cake sets… and when i was online shopping, Amazon actually has a wider range of Whipple products. Have included the link for those who are interested.

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00IR2QKA2&asins=B00IR2QKA2&linkId=bfcdc83110985a8b3c067e89c8903c98&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Whipple mix cream party set

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00HQB11TK&asins=B00HQB11TK&linkId=66b227ae80e95418ac606aac183b5f37&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Whipple Chocolate suites set

//ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B002B5PBZG&asins=B002B5PBZG&linkId=129e5244c1bbedaa577fc82d99bf01b4&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Whipple W-18 Pink Cream Macaron Set Japanese Sample/replica Food Making Kits

And for all the Anna and Elsa fans: //ws-na.amazon-adsystem.com/widgets/q?ServiceVersion=20070822&OneJS=1&Operation=GetAdHtml&MarketPlace=US&source=ac&ref=qf_sp_asin_til&ad_type=product_link&tracking_id=sharonsim-20&marketplace=amazon&region=US&placement=B00MXJ3R7O&asins=B00MXJ3R7O&linkId=aa40156843a943f9c50d1568f963a3f4&show_border=true&link_opens_in_new_window=true&price_color=333333&title_color=0066c0&bg_color=ffffff“>Queen set W-71 and snow Whipple Ana

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