New Mom Gift Basket with #McCafeMyWay

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 Do you know anyone having a little one soon? If not, now you do…ME! I seriously thought Sprout was coming into the world this week; first because of high blood pressure (luckily it went down) and then because of crazy contractions that turned out to just need a little taming with a whole lot of water! Chickadee broke my water to let me know she was ready, so these contractions are a whole new ballgame this pregnancy. At least I am not alone. It seems to be baby season around here. Besides myself I have five friends due in April and May. So with new moms on my mind I thought I would share some ideas for creating a “NEW MOM” gift basket for those expecting in your life. Filled with all the must haves, plus a delicious pick me up from McCafé.

So here is the low down on what is in the kit, and why? 

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1. McCafé Hazelnut Coffee: Hello, every new mom (and DAD!) need to have coffee on hand. Adrenaline will take you so far, but then you are going to need a little more since you’ll probably be up every 2-3 hours around the clock for the new few months. I wasn’t sure what flavor to buy at first, but you can never go wrong with hazelnutty goodness. We tried some for breakfast this morning, & it is absolute perfection.  The Hazelnut has a rich flavor and a very smooth taste that lingers for a few minutes. Yum! And if Hazelnut isn’t your flavor, it’s ok since McCafé has 8 flavors to choose from. There is the perfect taste for everyone. They also have coffee pods if you want to go the single serve route!

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2. Magazine: A magazine is perfect for those late night feeding sessions or during the day when she just needs a break. 

3. Snacks: Snacks are important to keep mom’s energy up. If she is nursing filling snacks are definitely necessary since she is burning around 500 calories a day just feeding her new little one! I included a granola bar, peanut butter cookies, and chocolate sticks. A little bit of heathly and a little bit of delicious!

4. Candle: Let’s face it, with a new little one there is little time left in the day to clean. A candle will help keep the house smelling nice and fresh and help mom to feel like she can relax in her few moments of down time.

5. Slippers: Plain and simple…slipper are comfortable! And comfort is key right now.

6. Gum: Similar to cleaning, finding time to brush your teeth and shower even feels like a challenge in those first few weeks. At least mom can now have fresh breath!

7. Hand Sanitizer: EVERYTHING has germs when you are a new mom. And everyone who comes through your door wanting to hold your new bundle of joy is covered in those germs. Sanitize first!

8. Thank You Notes: We received so many wonderful meals and gift when Chickadee was born, so having thank you notes on hand was a must!

9. Finger Nail Polish: We all like to feel pretty & it’s amazing what a little nail polish will do.

10. A note of encouragement: Labor is tough. A c-section is tough. Those first few weeks/months are tough. A note from you encouraging your friend that they can do it, that we’ve all been there and you will make it through will go a LONG way. So add a note to your basket.

I picked everything up in the gift basket at my local WalMart the other day while I was grabbing a few groceries. 

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 Is there anything else you would add? Maybe a bottle of wine or a stack of take out menus? 

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Banana Pudding Trifle Recipe

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So trifles have been quite the hit around here lately, both on Pinterest and at get togethers with friends. I shared this Carrot Cake Trifle a few weeks ago and the Peanut Butter Fudge one is always a hit! And I have to mention the OREO Brownie trifle if you are a huge chocolate fan :)

So, today, I am keeping the trifle dessert trend going. However, I almost didn’t.

This is how it went. III decided to stop by the store on his way home from The Home Depot and asked what I needed.

**Sidebar…have I mentioned we moved the last weekend in March and life has been crazy, because we have also hit the 34 week mark with Sprout…so new house and new baby in a month! Plus a sweet 17 month old who is having a little sleep trouble lately :/ Hope that explains my MIAness.

Back to my story: we were headed to some friends house for Easter, and I had offered to bring dessert. I asked III what he thought I should bring and he said cookies. I wasn’t feeling it, then he mentioned Pineapple Upside Down Cake. Delicious, but I wasn’t quite up for the task. I suggested banana pudding and he asked why I even asked if I already knew what I wanted to make….sound familiar? Luckily, he is a big fan so it all worked out in the end! In hopes to “fancy up” the banana pudding I presented it trifle style.

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There is a sneak peak of the new house in the background (except the countertops and backsplash are about to undergo a change!). Also have a new table and chair project to share with you!

On to the recipe!

Banana Pudding Trifle

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 10-12 people

Ingredients

  • 1 loaf of pound cake (box or homemade)
  • 2-3 bananas
  • 2 3.4oz boxes of instant banana creme JELLO pudding (4 cups of milk)
  • 16oz of cool whip
  • about 30 Nilla Wafers

Instructions

  1. Prepare pound cake according to instructions.
  2. While the pound cake is cooking, follow the pudding directions and mix the banana creme pudding. Set aside to chill in the fridge.
  3. After the pound cake has cooled and pudding has set, it's time to layer the trifle.
  4. Crumble part of the pound cake to fill the bottom of the trifle bowl.
  5. Next, pour in half the pudding mixture.
  6. Slice on banana an slide around the edge of the pudding. Throw any extra on top of the pudding layer.
  7. The next layer is half of the cool whip. Then crushed Nilla Wafers.
  8. Repeat the pound cake and pudding layers.
  9. Next, add the Nilla Wafers around the edge and fill in with the other half of the Cool Whip.
  10. Top with a few crushed wafers & refrigerate until you are ready to serve.
  11. Enjoy!
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I really loved this dessert. It was delicious, but not too sweet! If you want to make it a little more “homemade” you can whip your own cream & bake the pound cake from scratch! 

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Saving for a SUNNY Day

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So often when I think of saving, it’s with the intent of being prepared for the “what if’s,” for a rainy day when things just don’t turn out like you think they are going to. You know the ones, like the day you move into a new house and a week later the HVAC system bites the dust (that is a current worry with our new house and definitely a rainy day we are saving for by making sure that $$ is always in savings). And while it is important to be prepared for those “what if’s,” SunTrust is inspiring us to also save for a goal, to think a little differently about your savings….to look at putting the Benjamins away, and LIVE for a SUNNY day too. 

People’s ideas of a sunny day are different. For a friend of mine, they are always saving for travel, for my brother and sister, a mission trip to the Philippines. Other’s sunny day funds include a new purse/shoes or season tickets to watch your favorite team!

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My Dream Kitchen 

We are currently saving for our Sunny Day! And like most things right now, it revolves around the new house (we close on it today!!!). When we moved into our current house we did A LOT of updates at once. This house is a step up in our world and the renovations/updates are part of a long term game plan. III has even whipped up a Capital Improvement Plan in Excel that includes future updates, approximate costs, and the year we would like to accomplish the projects. It’s been great to see it all laid out. Our first Sunny Day fund went to new appliances in the kitchen and will also cover granite, back splash and new cabinet pulls. Then we will start contributing to our next Sunny Day, when we replace the downstairs hardwoods/carpet with new, darker hardwoods. Saving for a sunny day is exciting and theses particular sunny days are really going to make our house feel like a home!

Looking for your own Sunny Day inspiration and motivation to reach your savings goal? I want to encourage you to sign up for SunTrust’s bimonthly Shine Newsletter. If you want even more financial tools and tips check out their amazing Resource Center.

At SunTrust Bank their purpose is lighting the way to financial well-being. When you feel confident about your money, you can save for your goals and spend knowingly on what matters most to you.  They know we all live for the sunny days and want to you help you live yours.

Subscribe to the Shine newsletter and receive inspiration and advice twice a month to help you live for a sunny day.  Subscribe here

Want to get your sunny day started now?  Visit the SunTrust resource center anytime for help achieving your financial goals. 

This is a sponsored conversation written by me on behalf of SunTrust. The opinions and text are all mine.

 

Carrot Cake Trifle Recipe

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If you are a peanut butter lover, you have to try my Peanut Butter Chocolate Trifle and those who are OREO obsessed like my husband, then this OREO Brownie Trifle is to die for. But if you aren’t a chocolate lover (hey mom!) then this Carrot Cake trifle is about to rise to the top of your favorite dessert list! Promise.

As you might can tell I LOVE a good trifle. However, I don’t always have a great reason to make such a huge dessert, so when the opportunity does present itself I always jump. Last week my Sunday school class got together and each of us brought different parts of the meal. I brought dessert!

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This trifle turned out absolutely fantastic, and I couldn’t wait to share it with you! Let me explain a little more about the goodness that is a trifle. They are like cake, but not exactly….it doesn’t come out in a nice clean slice, more of a glob so grab a spoon. The cake stays super moist since it’s surrounded by other creamy goodness. AND you get the perfect cake/icing combination in EVERY bite. It won’t last long at any party! So let’s get to it!

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Carrot Cake Trifle Recipe

Cook Time: 30 minutes

Total Time: 45 minutes

Serving Size: 10-12 people

Ingredients

  • 1 box of Carrot Cake Mix & required ingredients
  • 1 Carrot
  • 8oz of softened cream cheese
  • 1.5 sticks of softened butter
  • 3.5 cups of powdered sugar
  • 1 tbsp vanilla
  • 16 oz Cool Whip (two regular tubs or one big one)
  • Chopped walnuts of pecans

Instructions

  1. Prepare the carrot cake recipe as instructed (I like to add shredded carrots to the mix to make it feel a little more authentic) in a 9x13 pyrex baking dish. Allow to cool when finished then cut into cubes.
  2. For the whipped mixture: Using an electric mixer on medium/high speed cream together the softened cream cheese and butter until it becomes light and fluffy. This will take 3-5 minutes and you will need to scrape down the sides. Turn the mixer down to a low speed and add the powdered sugar 1/2 cup at a time until combined. Pour in vanilla and mix for another 2-3 minutes as it continues to fluff. With the mixer still on low add the Cool Whip a little at a time until everything is combined.
  3. In a trifle bowl or deep glass bowl, place in one layer of carrot cake pieces/crumbles. Then add a layer of your whipped cream cheese mixture. Repeat ending with the whipped cream cheese on top. Add the crushed walnuts or pecans to the top and refrigerate until it's time to serve.
  4. Enjoy!
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Chickadee LOVED licking the whipped cream cheese spoon after all was said and done! And I even felt okay letting her have a little bit after dinner because after all it’s a “veggie dessert” right?

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If you are feeling really adventurous, and have the time, this dessert would look really cute layered in individual mason jars. A perfect Easter dessert/gift too if you ask me!

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Cool Whip Dyed Easter Eggs

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Yall I’ve discovered the most amazing Easter egg dying technique ever, and I am soooo glad I have each and every one of your to share it with!!

Last year Chickadee was about six months old for Easter, and I must say she wasn’t quite up for dying Easter eggs. And do you know what I found out this year….1.5 year olds aren’t up for dying them either, because well, it’s boring to drop eggs in vinegar dye and wait. So we went a different route. 

When you dye eggs with Cool Whip (or you can used Shaving Cream) the little ones and big ones too can get right in there and have FUN! It becomes an involved activity and you can really get your hands dirty. I found with Chickadee Cool Whip was better in case she stuck her fingers in her mouth. Also if you plan on eating the eggs and are worried about the cream getting into any cracks, Cool Whip is the solution.

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So here is the how to:

You’ll need Cool Whip (or Shaving Cream), food coloring, and hard boiled eggs (here is the a recipe for hard boiled eggs in the oven

Using a shallow, glass baking dish fill the bottom with Cool Whip. Then choose your colors and put in LOTS of drops. Some of the food coloring boxes have directions about mixing colors too if you are feeling adventurous. Swirl around and then place in your egg. At this point you it’s time to go to town. You want to make sure EVER part of the egg is covered in dyed Cool Whip.

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Now let me explain how fun this is for a 1.5 year old in a few pictures. First, a picture of Chickadee while dying the eggs.

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And now a picture when I had to tell her we were finished….

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It’s obviously overexposed but you get the point. She wanted egg dying to continue FOREVER and trying to convince her we would do it again another day was not working. She came around eventually, thank goodness. I think this picture proves my point, though. It’s fun!

Once the egg is nice and covered, pick it up gently and place it on newspaper or cardboard. 

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The longer you leave on the dyed cool whip, the more intense the colors will be. I actually ended up sticking them in the fridge overnight to get the brightest ones. The next morning we used a paper towel to wipe them clean & the most beautiful Easter eggs were left behind.

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I’m pretty sure we will dye Easter eggs like this from now on. And when you are done looking at how pretty they are…you can make egg salad!