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Thursday, May 30, 2013

"It's a Party!" - Easy Party Planning...

Step 1:  Putting your ideas on a "Party Board"

Party planning can sometimes be a bit overwhelming.  Figuring out the food, the theme, the place, who will be invited and how much should be spent. With Pinterest, party planning can be a snap.  There's so many ideas and tutorials and recipes that can make planning your party a whole lot of fun.  

I always start by making a "Party Board".  I try to decide what I'm exactly going to have that will be fun and will make lots of smiles.  This past May our bowling team was in charge of planning our bowling banquet.  I tried to think of something different instead of bowling balls, pins and other trinkets that you would normally associate with bowling.  I thought why not have a "Tea Party"... kind of corny, but I thought it would be cute and it would make everyone smile.
All of these items can be found on Pinterest.  Check out my Pinterest boards to see the sources...  
Candy Spoons - Candy Shoppe
Tea Bag Holders - Card & Gift Wrap Shoppe (
Tissue Holders - Purse & Tote Shoppe -

Once the ideas are down on paper, it's time to figure out exactly how many items you will need and what supplies you will need to buy.
For the bowling banquet I needed the following:
16 - flower centerpieces
16 - Tea Cozies
16 - Cardstock Teapots (1 for each team)
100 - spoons, teabag party favors, teacup candy holders (not shown), tissue holders, 
chocolate spoons, 16 glass heart bowls and 128 cookies

It looks a little daunting, but we had a few months to get everything ready.  The fun part is getting everything together and then a few weeks before the banquet our team got together and assembled everything.  It is always a blast to have people help.  We have a party to make a party.  It is so much fun! Everyone brings food and beverages and we turn into assembly line workers.

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Each centerpiece had a flower, tea cozy, Team cardstock teapot, and a heart shaped bowl for the decorated cookies. The centerpiece was anchored with gingham card stock.  Each person attending received a teacup party favor with M&M's and nuts, a chocolate covered spoon, a "Tea for Two" party favor with two teabags in it and a fabric tissue holder.

"The Centerpiece"

Step 2:  Time to start the assembly line...

Ahh... those colorful Tissue Flower Centerpieces

I really wanted some silk Gerber daisies for the centerpiece, but it was cost prohibitive.  So I found a tutorial on Pinterest on making tissue flowers.  I made them in lavender, hot pink, yellow and orange. The Dollar Tree came in very handy.  The glass holders were only $1 and they were filled with pastel jelly beans that were purchased before Easter for $1 per bag.  Each container required 2 bags of jelly beans.  The stem of the tissue flower was made of brown grocery bags rolled very tightly and then floral tape was wrapped around to give it stability. Then a lot of hot glue held the flower to the stem.  Cost: about .25 cents each.  A lot cheaper than the Gerber daisies that would have cost about $5 for a bouquet of four, not including the jelly beans and vase. The silk flowers were also purchased at the Dollar Tree.  I needed a bouquet of each color.  Cost: $4. So the flower portion of the centerpiece total cost was approximately $3.50 which included the vase, jelly beans and tissue flower.  Not bad for a very colorful addition to the table.

I pinned the tissue flower tutorial on my "Card & Gift Wrap Shoppe" board on Pinterest....

If you need more information on making pom poms, please visit

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Step 3: Time to make the Tea Cozies

I would have loved to just purchase the tea cozies, but found out that they can range from $15-$40 each on the internet.  Again cost prohibitive.  So, it was time to locate a quick pattern to make them. I decided that polka dots and gingham would be sweet and very springy.  So off to the fabric store to figure out how much it would cost to make 16 of them.  The fabric was $5 per yard with a coupon from Joann Fabrics.  I was able to make 4 tea cozies out of one yard.  Cost:  $1.25 per cozy.  I also needed batting to make them thicker.  I had the batting, but I figure the cost was about .75 cents for each cozy.  That's all I needed.  So the cost was $2 for each cozy and it only took about an hour to make each one...  
I found a tea cozy tutorial on... where else, the internet. Please check out my Pinterest board 

Here is the pattern I found.  You can make your own, but I would use her measurements for the tea cozy. It was just the right size...

I added the flowers from scraps of fabric that I already had.  You will need to cut a 2 1/2" circle template an  a 4" circle template.  I used a file folder for the template.  They were much easier to work with. Each flower uses 5 circles of each size.  I used directions from this "Pin" on my "Quilt & Sew Shoppe". I did make modifications, as you can see.  The tutorial is for a barrette.  I laid the two different size flowers on top of one another and tacked it together.  Then I covered a button with matching polka dot fabric for the center and attached it to the tea cozy.

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Step 4:  On to the Card stock Teapots, Teacup Candy Favors, and "Tea for Two" Teabag Samplers

I love all the beautiful card stock they have available for people who love to scrapbook and make greeting cards.  I haven't attempted any of them yet. But hope to someday. I once again went to Joann Fabrics and found a stack of cute glittery card stock.  It was called "The Glitter Stack".  There are usually about 42 sheets of different card stock in each stack.  The cost was $19.99, but I had a 50% off coupon.  Cost: $10. That was enough to make all 16 card stock teapots and the inserts needed for the teacup fronts.  I also needed plain pastel colors for the teacups (candy favors).  They were also on sale. I purchased a stack of  yellow, pink, blue, green and lavender.  Cost: $4.  I also needed 25 sheets of a pastel striped card stock for the Teabag samplers.  Each piece cost .33 cents.  Cost: $8.25. I purchased small box shaped candy favors from the Dollar Tree.  There were 12 in each package. I purchased 9 packages.  Cost: $9.  I also needed 8 packages of glittery butterflies for the teacups.  Cost: $7.50.  
So lets review the cost:
Glittery card stock - $10.00
Pastel card stock - $4.00
Pastel striped card stock - $8.25
Candy favor boxes - $9.00
Glittery butterflies - $7.50
Approximate Total:  $39.00
We made 16 teapots, 100 teacup candy favors and 100 teabag sampler holders.
The cost per item was approximately .20 cents each. Not to shabby!

Step 5:  Let's make some Party Favors...

I found a teapot design on the internet.  I made some adjustments to it to fit my purpose.
Here is the template... You can enlarge it with a copier or a printshop program on your computer. The finished measurements should be about 7" or so high by 8" wide.
Cut one pattern of the whole teapot and one of just the belly of the teapot. I used a file folder to make the template. It made it easier to trace on the card stock.  Then cut one of the whole teapot and one of the belly only in different patterned card stock.  I added the team's name and number on a separate piece of card stock. Then added a ribbon around the top and finally used a glue gun to attach a double thick card stock stand on the back.  They turned out great!

Teapot Template

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Teacup Party Favor Template

Cut one cup from pastel card stock and one insert out of patterned card stock that was left over from the teapots.  I added a ring of netting on the cup handle and a sparkly butterfly to finish it off.  Once again I used a print shop program on the computer to create our league name and cut them out with pinking sheers to give them a softer look. Once completed, we glued the cups to the party favor boxes purchased at the Dollar Tree.

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Step 6:  Finally....the "Tea for Two" Teabag Wrappers

"Tea for Two" teabag wrappers...the last of the paper items.  I thought what can I give each gal that wouldn't cost much, but would make the theme a little bit stronger.  So, back to my Pinterest boards.  I found this pin that worked just great.  ("Not so Idle Hands Blog"). They are actually candy holders, but I changed it up a bit and put two teabags inside to finish off our theme.
I wanted to make the bend lines perfect and there were 100 of them to do.  Once again I went to the internet to see if there was some kind of tool that would make this task a little easier.
Bingo! I found the "Scor-Pal"...
"WHAT A FIND".... I know I'm probably coming late to this party, but this tool is great!  I purchased it right away.  Hopefully down the road I will be using this to make other card stock items.  So this was a little indulgence for me.  Cost: $29.95+ shipping.  A little pricey, but well worth it...

Teabag Wrapper Template

Card stock usually comes in 12"X12" pieces.  You can cut 4-5 wrappers out of one piece of card stock depending on the design.  The dotted lines are the fold lines.  The Scor-Pal made the lines perfect!  Then a "Tea for Two" label was added.  Sandwich bags worked perfect to wrap the teabags.  After the folds were made the wrapped teabags were put inside and it was stapled closed.  

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Step 7: Now the fun part..... candy and cookies!!!!

I was going to make the teapot cookies, but to be quite truthful I wanted something a little simpler.  So I just made round soft sugar cookies.  I decided to try one of the many recipes that I have pinned on the "Cookie Shoppe" on my Pinterest boards....
The recipe comes from  These cookies are delicious.  Instead of just putting pink frosting on them, I piped pink, lavender, yellow and orange thick bands across them and topped them with pastel royal icing daisies... I found the idea for the royal icing daisies on Pinterest.   
Karen's frosting and icing recipes from is a wonderful source for cookie decorating.

This is her recipe for Royal Icing
3 T. meringue powder
4 cups (1 pound) powdered sugar
6 T. water
½ tsp. vanilla extract (use clear vanilla if you want a pure white icing)
¼ tsp. almond extract

Beat all ingredients together until stiff peaks form (about 10 minutes).  To vary consistency, add water to thin and add powdered sugar to thicken.

Directions for making royal icing daisies... 

To make daisies, use a rose tip, wax paper cut in small pieces and a flower nail. Pipe out petals.  Unlike a rose, turn the rose tip around and have the thicker end on the outside.  Press your pastry bag and pull down.  Make as many petals as you like.  Finish off with an M&M in the center.  Royal icing needs time to set up.  I usually leave them for 24 hours before I peel them of the wax paper.  They will last for a long time in a covered container.

Meltaway Cookies
If you love sugar cookies, this is the one for you.  They are creamy and melt in your mouth.  Please check out "landeeseelandeedo" for the complete recipe.  You won't be disappointed.

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Step 8: Last, but not least..... "Chocolate Spoons"
Just to add a little sweet touch, we made chocolate coated spoons with M&M's and sprinkles on top. I forgot to take a picture of them, but I used a picture from Pinterest  These were extremely easy to make.  
You will need the following:
Plastic pastel spoons - Dollar Tree
Wilton's chocolate wafers - Joann Fabrics or any cake decorating store.  Walmart also carries them
M&M's and sprinkles
We wrapped each spoon in plastic, tied a ribbon around it and added a small "Tea for Two" label on them.

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Special Thanks to our team for all of their help....

...and that's it.... "A Tea Party" theme...  The bowling banquet was a great success.  There were lots and lots of smiles... and that was my goal!  Yes, it's a lot of work, but if you love what you're doing it doesn't seem like work at all.  When you have special friends help, you not only create smiles for everyone else.  You create fun memories to share with them over the years...  Sometime down the road one of your friends will say, "remember when we made all those paper teacups?".... "that was really a fun night"!
There's nothing better than good friends.... and lots and lots of smiles!!!

"Life's dessert first!"

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Cute Gingham Afghan

Crocheting is very therapeutic..especially when you make an afghan like this.  225 granny squares... LOL!!! But the end result is pretty dang cute. I love gingham.  I always liked it because you could match gingham to just about anything.  The same goes with polka dots... So much for my thoughts on gingham. The original pattern for this quilt was for a baby afghan.  I decided to make it a full size afghan.  By increasing it from two rounds to four rounds makes the job pretty easy.  I used regular worsted yarn for the original afghan.  If  I decide to do it again, I would use Caron Simply Soft yarn.  I love the bright colors and the softness of the yarn.  Below I have put a partial color chart of Simply Soft yarn colors.  For more information on Caron Simply Soft, click the link to the Caron website.

Gingham Afghan - I use it at the lake

This afghan is made out of granny squares.  Remember those?  the measurement is 14 granny squares X 16 granny squares, or approximately 56"X64", but you can make it any size that you like.

Here is Caron's website for Simply Soft Yarn.  

4 skeins (14 oz.) Caron's Simply Soft Light Country Blue #9709
3 skeins (14 oz.) Caron's Simply Soft White #9701
3 skeins (14 oz.) Caron's Simply Soft Country Blue #9710
Size H crochet hook or size required for gauge)
One granny square  = approx. 4"
Make 113 squares with Light Country Blue #9709, 56 Squares with Country Blue #9710, and 56 squares of White #9701. Total granny squares 225

Chain 4, join with a sl st to form a ring.
RND 1: (right side): Ch 3, 2 dc in ring; *ch 2, 3 dc in ring; rep from* twice more; ch 2, join with a cl st in top of beg ch-3.
RND 2: Sl st in each of next 2 dc and into ch-2 corner sp; ch 3, work (2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in same sp; * work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-2 corner sp; rep from *twice more, join with a sl st in top of beg ch-3. 
RND 3: Sl st in each of next 2 dc and into ch-2 corner sp; ch 3, work 2 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in same sp; ch 2, work 3 dc in next chain 2 space; ch 2, work 3 dc, ch 2, 3 dc) in next ch-2 corner sp; repeat around granny square, join with a sl st in top of beg ch-3.

Arrangement chart
Position granny squares as per arrangement chart above (14 granny squares wide by 16 granny squares long) 56"X64" finished.  I single crocheted around the whole afghan in white to finish it off.

The pattern I used for this afghan said to connect each granny square by stitching them together with an overcast stitch in outer loops only.  I found it easier to slip stitch each square with a crochet hook. It gave more definition to each square.

Grandma Barb’s Blanket
Each night I cover you
With grandma’s blanket
And I wonder how long
It took her to make it
And I bet she was thinking
Of you the whole time
And how warm it would keep you
On your way to dreamland

-Mike Hoffy to Emmett

Life's short.... eat dessert first!

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

"Yummy in Pink"...

The color pink.... I've always loved it.... any shade...and of course chocolate. There's just something about it. That pink and brown together look sooooo good!  So why not write a post about beautiful "Pink" desserts.  I've tried several of these and they are all great.  My husband's favorite desserts always have strawberries in them.  I do hope you get a chance to try a few of these recipes... they are "Yummy in Pink"!

Frozen Strawberry Pie
A Taste of Home recipe... you can't go wrong with them.  They are tried and true.  I've used their recipes for years and absolutely love them....

1 package (8 ounces) cream cheese, softened
1 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
4 cups chopped fresh strawberries
1 carton (12 oz) frozen whipped topping (thawed)
1/2 cup chopped pecans, toasted
2 chocolate crumb crusts ( 9 inch)

In a large mixing bowl, beat the cream cheese, sugar
and vanilla until smooth. Beat in the strawberries.
Fold in the whipped topping and pecans. Pour into
crusts. Cover and freeze for 3-4 hours or until firm.
Remove from the freezer 15-20 minutes before
serving. Yield: 2 pies (6 servings each)

Layered Ice Cream Cake 
from Family Circle Magazine July, 2007
I found the actual recipe on 

This one is so cream sandwiches, ice cream, yogurt, Oreos and whipped topping.  You couldn't get an easier that this.
15 chocolate-and-cream sandwich cookies
(such as Oreos)
1 T. milk
8-9 ice cream sandwiches
1 pint mint chocolate chip ice cream
1 pint vanilla frozen yogurt
1 pint strawberry ice cream or frozen yogurt
1 container (8 oz) frozen whipped topping, thawed

1. Coat bottom and side of a 9-inch round springform pan with nonstick cooking spray. Line side with waxed paper, using spray to help adhere to pan. Trim paper to height of pan.
2. Finely crush 12 of the cookies in a food processor. Add milk; pulse just until mixture holds together. Set aside.
3. Unwrap 4 ice cream sandwiches. Working quickly, cut each in quarters. Stack strips of sandwiches on end, packing them snugly together, around waxed-paper-lined pan. Repeat with remaining sandwiches to form a stand-up edge. Spoon cookie crumbs into center of pan; press firmly over bottom. Freeze 1 hour.
4. Remove all 3 flavors of ice cream or frozen yogurt from freezer and let soften for 15 minutes at room temperature. Transfer mint ice cream to a small bowl and stir until good but firm spreading consistency. Repeat with vanilla and strawberry. Remove pan from freezer. Spread mint ice cream on bottom, then top with vanilla and strawberry, spreading all layers level. Top with thawed whipped topping, swirling top decoratively. Crush remaining 3 sandwich cookies and sprinkle over cake. Return to freezer; freeze overnight.
5. To serve, remove side of pan, then waxed paper. Cut into wedges

Inside-out Neopolitan Layer Cake
This gal has made me the happiest gal in the world.  I have been looking for this frosting for 30 years...LOL! I made this cake for Administrative Professionals Day... it was a big hit! So thank you, thank you, thank you for this wonderful recipe.... it is much appreciated!!!

For the ingredients and instructions for this cake, please visit
Buttercream Frosting
(I think its also known as French or Italian Buttercream)
5 large fresh egg whites
1-1/4 cup superfine granulated sugar
    (I couldn't find this, so I pulsed regular sugar in my
      food processor)
1 1/2 cups (3 sticks) unsalted butter, softened, cut into cubes
2 tsps pure vanilla extract
5 oz. quality bittersweet chocolate
pinch of salt
Few drops Strawberry Flavor Oil, or 2 T. strawberry puree
Few drops pink gel color

Directions for Frosting:

  1. Wipe the bowl of an electric mixer with paper towel and lemon juice, to remove any trace of grease. Add egg whites and sugar, and simmer over a pot of water (not boiling), whisking constantly but gently, until temperature reaches 10 degrees F, or if you don't have a candy thermometer, until the sugar has completely dissolved and the egg whites are hot.
  2. Place bowl back on mixer and fit with whisk attachment. Whip until the meringue is thick, glossy, and the bottom of the bowl feels neutral to the touch (this can take up to 10 minutes, or longer). Switch over to paddle attachment and, with mixer on low speed, add softened butter in chunks until incorporated, and mix until it has reached a silky smooth texture (if it curdles, keep mixing and it will come back to smooth).
  3. Add vanilla and salt, continuing to beat on low speed until well combined.
**  To assemble cake, please follow Sweetapolita's instructions.
***Just a note... I learned a little trick while I was a cake decorator.  Remove cakes from oven and let cool for a short while.  Then wrap in plastic wrap and put in the freezer until very firm or frozen.  When you are ready to frost, remove cake from freezer and let thaw slightly.  This makes cutting domed cakes easier to trim and to make level.  It also keeps the crumbs from mixing with the frosting...

Checkerboard Strawberry Pie
from Family Circle Magazine June, 200
I found the actual recipe on
This pie is so good....and so beautiful....everyone will think you worked hours on this.  What a beautiful presentation...

Chocolate Crust:
1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (about 9 whole boards)
2 T. unsweetened cocoa powder
2 T. confectioners' sugar
5 T. butter, melted

1/4 cup granulated sugar
3 T. cornstarch
1 1/2 cups milk
1 cup white chocolate chips
1 tsp. vanilla
3 drops red food coloring
1 container (12 oz) frozen non-dairy topping, thawed
2 cups chopped strawberries
      (from 1-pint baskets)
6 strawberries, 1 T. strawberry jelly, 6 plain or striped
chocolate kisses, wrapping removed

  1. Crust: Mix crumbs, cocoa and sugar in medium-size bowl. Stir in melted butter until well mixed. Press mixture over bottom and up sides of 9 inch glass pie plate. Place in freezer until ready to fill.
  2. Filling: Mix sugar and cornstarch in medium-size saucepan. Over medium heat, gradually stir in milk. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a boil, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat. Stir in white chocolate, vanilla and food coloring until mixture is smooth. Transfer to large bowl; cover surface directly with plastic wrap. Let cool to room temperature, about 2 hours.
  3. When cool, whisk chocolate mixture until smooth. Reserve 1 cup of the non-dairy topping. Fold the remaining non-diary topping into chocolate mixture.
  4. Spread half of chocolate filling over bottom of prepared crust. Top with chopped strawberries. Spread remaining chocolate filling over strawberries. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
  5. To decorate top of pie: Spoon remaining nondairy topping into pastry bag fitted with #30 star tip. Pipe border around edge of pie. Pipe grid over top of pie. Arrange whole strawberries in squares on top of pie. Melt jelly in small microwave-safe bowl in microwave oven on high power, about 15 seconds. Brush jelly over kisses. Sprinkle kisses with nonpareils (optional). Arrange in squares or use "uncoated candy kisses.

No-Bake Raspberry Lemonade Cheesecake
Haven't tried this one yet.  I saw this on I Heart Nap Time blog... It looks really yummy


  • 2 cups graham cracker crumbs 1 individual pkg
  • 7 TB butter
  • 1/4 cup sugar
  • 14 oz COOL WHIP whipped topping thawed
  • 1/2 stick softened cream cheese, optional
  • 12 oz can frozen raspberry lemonade thawed
  • 4 oz can sweetened condensed milk

Combine graham cracker crumbs, butter and sugar in a medium sized bowl. Mix until well combined. Press crumbs in the bottom of 8 jars or a 9x9 pan.
In a large bowl combine COOL WHIP, frozen raspberry lemonade, cream cheese and sweetened condensed milk. Stir until smooth. Spoon onto graham cracker crust.
Freeze for 3-5 hours. Let thaw 10 minutes before serving.

Swiss Meringues with White Chocolate Mousse and Raspberries
I love Paul Deen's recipes.  They are extremely rich and so I only use them on very special occasions!  

6 egg whtes
1 1/3 cup sugar
2 drops red food coloring

White Chocolate Mousse:
2 (3.4 oz) boxes white chocolate instant pudding
2 cups heavy cream
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup milk
1/2 cup confectioner's sugar


  1. Preheat oven to 225 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Set aside.
  2. In top of a double boiler, whisk together egg whites and sugar. Place over simmering water. Whisk constantly until sugar is dissolved and egg whites are warm to the touch, about 3 to 3 1/2 minutes. 
  3. Pour egg mixture into a large mixng bow, and beat at high speed until stiff peaks for, about 8 to 10 minutes. 
  4. Stir in food coloring. Spoon or pipe meringue into 3 inch bowl shapes. Bake 20 minutes,turn oven off and leave in oven overnight. Spoon White Chocolate Mousse into meringue "bowls". Top with fresh raspberries, and mint (optional) if desired.  Serve immediately
  5. reheat oven to 225°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.

White Chocolate Mousse

  1. In a large bowl, combine pudding mix, cream, sour cream, milk, and confectioners’ sugar. Beat at medium speed with an electric mixer until stiff peaks form; cover and chill.

One Bowl Chocolate-Strawberry Cake
Another Kraft Foods recipe... I love all the wonderful recipes that they offer.  I don't think I have ever not used one of their recipes that I was disappointed in... this one is definitely easy and a keeper!

5 squares Baker's Semi-Sweet Chocolate, divided
6 T. butter or margarine
3/4 cup sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
2 eggs
1 1/4 cups flour, divided
1/2 ts. baking soda
3/4 cup water
1 1/2 cups thawed Cool Whip Dips
         (Strawberry Creme)
1 cup sliced strawberries


PREHEAT oven to 350°F. Place 3 of the chocolate squares and the butter in large microwaveable bowl. Microwave on HIGH 2 min. or until butter is melted. Stir until chocolate is completely melted.
STIR in sugar and vanilla until well blended. Add eggs, 1 at a time, beating with electric mixer on low speed after each addition until well blended. Add 1/4 cup of the flour and the baking soda; mix well. Add remaining 1 cup flour alternately with the water, beating until well blended after each addition. Pour evenly into 9-inch round cake pan sprayed with cooking spray.
BAKE 30 min. or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 min.; remove from pan to wire rack. Cool completely. Top with the COOL WHIP DIPS and strawberries just before serving. Melt remaining 2 chocolate squares as directed on package; drizzle over cake. Let stand until chocolate is set. Store in refrigerator.

I sure enjoyed writing this post...all my favorite desserts with my favorite color "Yummy in Pink"!

"Life's dessert first!"...