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Who has time for the Gingerbread house?

I thought I’d share a nice activity I learned yesterday when my 5 year old came home from school. I had sent her to school with a cleaned out milk carton, cut in half, width-wise. She took the top half and along with her classmates who had their own cartons, smeared the entire thing with frosting and then decorated the frosting with bits of tiny pretzels (the windows!), marshmallows, peppermint candies, licorice, gum drops and all of the other little candies that you would normally use to decorate a gingerbread house. I thought this was a creative trick because I personally have always struggled with making gingerbread houses. Forget about baking the gingerbread itself, even with a kit, my house always seemed to collapse and never turned out quite as well as I would hope. But this milk carton thing-it’s cute and it was really easy for a little kid to do, unlike some activities where mom winds up really doing all the work and the kid stands by and eats the candy. My daughter still ate the candy but at least she got to make the house too.

The store near my home was out of canned vanilla frosting (I know, can you believe it?), so here’s her version with chocolate frosting. I guess instead of regular snow that year, it snowed mud!

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Rachael Ray