Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

Posted on April 14, 2015

Hi Everyone! A miserable, rainy day like today definitely calls for a sweet treat, don’t you think? Instead of making my favorite Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Greek Yogurt (or this Nutella Swirled Banana Bread!) with the very ripe bananas that were sitting on the kitchen counter, I made something a little more special (but just as quick and easy!); This Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting! Sure, you could just make the cream cheese frosting and eat it with a spoon (just kidding!) but it’s even better spread thick on this banana cake, topped with a handful of chopped nuts! The cake itself is so moist and delicious and makes for a great treat to go with your tea or coffee!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
BANANA CAKE WITH CREAM CHEESE FROSTING

*Makes one 8 inch cake*

YOU WILL NEED
BANANA CAKE
2 very ripe bananas, mashed
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup vegetable oil (or unsalted butter)
1 large egg
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp salt
1/8 tsp ground cinnamon
1/3 cup applesauce
1 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tbs baking soda
Optional: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

CREAM CHEESE FROSTING
4oz cream cheese, softened
4 tbs unsalted butter, softened
1/2 cup confectioners’ sugar
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
Topping: 1/4 cup chopped walnuts or pecans

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

DIRECTIONS

1. First, preheat your oven to 350 deg F, and grease an 8 inch square (or round) baking pan. In a large bowl, cream together the sugar and oil (or butter if you’re using butter instead of oil). Next, add in the egg, vanilla extract, applesauce and mashed bananas, and mix until you have a creamy mixture.

2. Next, sift in the rest of the ingredients: all-purpose flour, salt, ground cinnamon and baking soda, and mix until you have a smooth batter (it’ll still have some lumps because of the mashed bananas, which is fine). Using a spatula, fold in the 1/4 cup of chopped walnuts or pecans if you’re using them, then pour the batter into your prepared baking pan, and bake for about a half hour, or until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. (If the cake begins to brown too much on top, you can cover it with a piece of foil to prevent it from burning.)

3. While the banana cake is baking, prepare your cream cheese frosting. This is my favorite cream cheese frosting recipe (it’s a Martha Stewart frosting recipe), and I use half of her original recipe for this cake. To make the frosting, make sure that both the cream cheese and the unsalted butter are at room temperature and completely softened, otherwise you won’t get a smooth frosting out of this! Using the whisk attachment on your mixer, mix together the cream cheese, butter, sugar and vanilla extract until completely smooth.

4. Once the cake is completely cool, (make sure it is COMPLETELY cool, you don’t want your frosting to melt off the cake!) spread the frosting on top using a spatula. I like to make it look very casual and just make frosting swirls using the spatula, but you can make it look as fancy as you like! I don’t go all the way up to the cake edges, but leave about a half inch border or so, because I think it looks pretty when you can see the cake! At the end, simply sprinkle with more chopped walnuts or pecans!

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting

(*Recipe Notes: I tweaked and combined a couple of my favorite recipes to come up with this Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting recipe. You can substitute buttermilk, Greek yogurt, sour cream or plain yogurt for the applesauce that I used here, any of those would work well in a banana cake. You can also substitute butter for the oil that I used here. This cake isn’t overly sweet, which is why the cream cheese frosting works well with it (it’s the same cream cheese frosting I use in these Carrot Cake Cupcakes), but if you prefer a sweeter cake, add in extra granulated sugar, or even brown sugar to the cake batter! And the more ripe the bananas are, the more sweetness they will add to the cake! I make this cake in an 8 inch square baking pan, but you could use a round pan instead, and even double the recipe, and make it into a two layer cake for a special occasion!)

Banana Cake with Cream Cheese Frosting
Happy Baking, Everyone!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival, Washington DC

Posted on April 13, 2015

Hi Everyone! I hope you all had a great weekend! I wanted to show you a little bit of ours with a couple of pictures from this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC! This is one of my favorite times of the year in this area because of all the trees that turn the whole city pink and white as they begin to bloom. We have gone to see the cherry blossoms in the city every year since we’ve lived here, but there is something so enchanting about it, that it just never gets old.

2015 Cherry Blossom Festival

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
This year we went down to see the cherry blossoms on what we found out was the first day of the peak bloom days. It was an absolutely gorgeous day for it; it was so sunny and warm, which after the long winter we’ve had still feels almost unreal! The Cherry Blossom Festival is always pretty packed with people, apparently attracting about 1.5 million people every year, but I’ve never seen it as crowded as it was this year! The peak bloom coincided with spring break for lots of kids, a hockey game in DC and a lockdown around the Capitol building for a couple hours as we found out later on… suffice it to say, it was REALLY crowded downtown!

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
We walked around the Tidal Basin area, which I think has the prettiest views of the cherry blossoms. It’s a beautiful walk any time of the year, but seeing the Jefferson Memorial surrounded by the pink trees, the National Monument towering in the background, and the hundreds of fluffy cherry blossom branches leaning over the water is quite breathtaking!

 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival 2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
How beautiful are all these cherry blossoms?! In one section of the path around the river, the trees get very low, making you almost have to crouch down as you walk through what looks like a cherry blossom tunnel from a fairytale! Yes, the whole place is crowded with tons of people, everyone trying to get the perfect shot of the blossoms and the beautiful DC architecture, but even that can’t take away from the beauty of this!

2015 Cherry Blossom Festival Washington DC

Cherry Blossom Festival
It was the perfect spring day.

2015 National Cherry Blossom Festival
If you’ve never been in DC during this time of the year, it’s definitely worth a visit! You can read more about the National Cherry Blossom Festival here. Thanks so much for stopping by today, I hope you all have a great week!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Posted on April 5, 2015

Hi Everyone! I wanted to quickly stop by and wish you a happy Easter! I hope you’ve all had a wonderful weekend celebrating with friends and family, eating some delicious food and hopefully enjoying some spring weather! We went out for a walk today (to walk off all that Easter ham! And the chocolate. And all the other treats…) and it couldn’t have been a more beautiful day! It was warm and sunny and there were beautiful bright yellow daffodils peeking out of the ground around every corner! I love this time of the year, when everything begins to bloom and come back to life! The cherry blossoms in DC are supposed to be in full bloom next weekend and I can’t wait to go out and see them, it’s one of my favorite things about this area (you can check out some of my pictures from last year’s Cherry Blossom Festival here)! I also wanted to share these Carrot Cake Cupcakes with you today! I made these over the weekend to give away as Easter treats (and maybe kept a couple for us to eat!) and wanted to stop by and tell you how I made them!

 Carrot Cake Cupcakes

CARROT CAKE CUPCAKES

YOU WILL NEED
1 recipe carrot cake cupcakes (this is one of my favorites)
1 recipe cream cheese frosting (I used this one)
Finely chopped walnuts or pecans (about 1 cup or so)
Marzipan carrots to top cupcakes (mine were store-bought)

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

DIRECTIONS
To make these Carrot Cake Cupcakes, first make your cupcakes. I followed this recipe with a couple adjustments: I didn’t add raisins or walnuts into my cupcakes since I was going to add the chopped walnut border around the frosting. I also adjusted the baking temperature and time, I baked the cupcakes at 350 deg F, for about 20 – 25 minutes (you can adjust the baking time to suit your oven, just make sure a toothpick comes out clean once you think they’re done). Whenever I make carrot cake cupcakes, I grate the carrots on the finer side of the grater, because since the cupcakes are smaller than a cake, I want smaller pieces of carrot in them… but you can grate them however you want! This recipe makes a LOT of cupcakes (about 2 dozen), so cut it in half if you want a smaller batch.

For the cream cheese frosting, I used this recipe, which I find makes pretty much the perfect amount of frosting for the amount of cupcakes. To make the frosting, first, make sure that both the cream cheese and the butter are softened and at room temperature before you use them! There’s nothing worse than lumpy frosting! Once I’ve made the frosting, I always press it through a sifter (is that even a culinary phrase?! You know what I mean.) once or twice, just to make sure that there are absolutely no lumps and the frosting is completely smooth.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

Let your carrot cake cupcakes cool completely before frosting them, so the frosting doesn’t melt right off! To frost them, I didn’t even use a piping bag, I just spread the frosting on the top of each cupcake evenly using a knife, going right up to the edges of the cupcake. Then, I smoothed out the top, and rolled the edges in the finely chopped nuts (you could use walnuts or pecans, I used walnuts). Gently shake off the excess nuts off the cupcake, then top each with a marzipan carrot! (Mine were store-bought, but you can definitely make your own homemade!) Store the cupcakes in the fridge, in an airtight container, then take them out about thirty minutes or so before eating them so they have time to come back to room temperature again.

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

If you’re a carrot cake lover, you will LOVE these Carrot Cake Cupcakes! They are super moist and have that great warm, spiced flavor so characteristic for carrot cake! And of course there’s no better classic pairing than carrot cake and cream cheese frosting. The chopped nut border and little marzipan carrots just make the cupcakes a little extra special, perfect for Easter, or any other special occasion!

Carrot Cake Cupcakes

I hope you all had a wonderful Easter! Thank you so much for stopping by today, have a wonderful week!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags

Posted on April 1, 2015

Hi Everyone! Happy April! I hope you survived the day without any crazy pranks being played on you! Are you ready for Easter this weekend? If you’re still busy making your shopping list, finding the perfect ham recipe, decorating your home or putting together Easter baskets, I have a really easy idea for cute little Easter gift bags that you can put together in about five minutes, with craft supplies you may even already have on hand! These Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags are super simple, but make for cute packages for any Easter treats you may be giving to your friends and family. Here’s how you can make them…

Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags
BUNNY EAR EASTER GIFT BAGS

YOU WILL NEED
Plain kraft paper gift bags
Kraft paper
Fuzzy pink or white material
Hot glue gun
Pencil & scissors

Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags

DIRECTIONS
First, draw the bunny ears on a piece of brown kraft paper (draw one first, then cut it out, trace around it to make a second ear and cut that out too). Then, cut the pink part (you could use white too) out of some fuzzy material (you could either re-purpose an old sweater, blanket or other item, or buy some material at the fabric store). Using your hot glue gun, attach the fuzzy pink shapes to the kraft paper ears you cut out. Then, using hot glue again, attach the ears to your kraft paper gift bags, by adding a little bit of hot glue to the bottom of the “ear”, and pressing it onto the back of the front side of the gift bag. Press for a couple of seconds to secure the glue, and you are done!

And if you like these Bunny Ear Easter Gift Bags, check out some of my other Easter ideas!

Easter Egg Place Setting Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece

Left: Easter Egg Place Setting (tutorial here) Right: Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece (tutorial here)

  Mossy Easter Eggs Easter Egg Tree

Left: Mossy Easter Eggs (tutorial here) Right: Easter Egg Tree (tutorial here)

Happy Crafting, Everyone!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

March Favorites

Posted on March 31, 2015

Hey Everybody! I can’t believe how fast another month flew by, and that we are a quarter of the way through 2015 already! March is one of my favorite months, not just because it’s my birthday month, but because it’s the beginning of spring (or it should be, anyway!) when the world begins to wake up from a long, cold winter, and comes alive again. The month started off with a big snow storm (you can see some pictures I shared here) and this past weekend, I was back in my winter coat again… spring will eventually come one of these days! March was a wonderful month, filled with lots of great moments; celebrating my 28th birthday, seeing an old childhood friend, a spontaneous day trip and many answered prayers, just to name a few. Here are a couple of glimpses into my life this month…

Birthday celebrations Mini desserts
Left: I turned 28 at the beginning of March! I’m getting dangerously close to thirty which is slightly scary…! Even though my birthday fell on a super busy Sunday this year, my husband planned so many wonderful things for me and spoiled me too much! We went to one of my favorite places, called Silver Diner, for a quick (and giant!) birthday lunch; I love this diner, all their food is organic and locally grown, and they serve classic diner dishes with a modern twist. I had their fish & chips, and since we live in Maryland, every part of the meal was seasoned with Old Bay! The fish, the chips (fries) AND the tartar sauce. Right: Birthday mini desserts.

J.Crew Statement Necklace The Second Best Exotic Marigold Hotel
Left: One of my favorite birthday gifts this year. How gorgeous is this necklace! I love the fun spring colors, that are so perfect for this time of year. I’ve literally been wearing this pretty much every other day. Necklaces are definitely one of my favorite pieces of jewellery. I have recently been looking at buying a name necklace for my friend. Jewellery makes such a good gift as it is something that you can keep forever. Right: If you’re a fan of Maggie Smith’s and have seen The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, then the sequel is definitely worth seeing! We went to see a late night showing of it on my birthday, and I thought it was so sweet; I loved where the storyline took the different characters, and how beautifully the movie was made!

Hyacinths Hyacinth
What a difference a couple days can make. Hyacinths are one of my favorite spring flowers, and always remind me of my grandfather’s beautiful garden when I was growing up. He grew every kind of flower from beautiful roses that had originally been planted in the house where my grandmother grew up, to tulips, daffodils and hyacinths. I love the strong scent of these flowers and every time I walk through the front door, I can smell them!

Primo Hoagies Starbucks NY Mug
Left: I don’t even have the words to describe this deliciousness. If you follow me on Instagram, you will have already seen some pictures from last week’s spontaneous little trip we took to a town in New Jersey where we used to live a couple of years ago. We had nothing to do one afternoon, and since we had been craving some real New Jersey hoagies lately, we decided to drive up for dinner. It was definitely worth the two hour trip just to get some real hoagies (and a giant pizza)! Sometimes the best days are the spontaneous, unplanned ones filled with little adventures! Right: If you know me, you may know that I love cute mugs, and sort of can’t resist buying one if I see one! This has resulted in a seriously overflowing kitchen cupboard filled with the most random, un-matching assortment of mugs from pretty much all over the world. So whenever my husband is making me a cup of tea and asks me what mug I want, it takes me a while to decide (no joke. I must be crazy)! Anyway, all that said… this is my new favorite!

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece
Two of my favorite posts that I shared with you this month: Nutella Swirled Banana Bread (left) and A Simple Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece (right)

2015 Memory Jar
You may remember this 2015 Memory Jar that I shared with you at the beginning of the year; it’s filling up fast with so many wonderful things and answered prayers already! After a pretty hard year last year, I made the decision at the beginning of this year to appreciate the little things more, and to make this a good year. It’s funny how sometimes we need a physical reminder, like writing something down on a piece of paper and throwing it in a jar like this, to remember all the good things that happened in a day, or a week, and how easy it is to overlook those things!

And if you want to see some of my favorite things from the past two months, you can find them here and here! I hope that March has been a good month for you, with lots of happy memories to look back on! And be careful tomorrow… since it’s April Fools’! Thank you so much for stopping by today, I love sharing little bits of my life with you, and love when you visit! Have a great rest of your week, Everyone! PS. Don’t forget that you still have time to enter to win a $100 gift card with Abreva here!

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Fruit, Nuts & Seeds

Posted on March 28, 2015

Hey Everyone! Are you a big breakfast eater? I never really used to eat breakfast growing up, other than the occasional morning stop at the bakery with my dad on my way to school, but things have definitely changed since then, and I love a good breakfast now! My morning always starts off with a big cup of English Breakfast Tea, but as for my breakfast choices, they are constantly changing because I get bored of eating the same breakfast very quickly. Plus I find that switching things up and making breakfast a little more interesting will make me more likely to eat it, and I won’t end up snacking on random things all morning. Sometimes I make a healthy breakfast at the beginning of the week that can be reheated or will last for a couple days (like this baked oatmeal or this granola) and then on weekends or when I’m craving something sweet, I tend to make something a little more indulgent (like this baked French toast) to have with my morning tea, or even eat for an afternoon treat. Another breakfast that I love and that can easily be prepared the night before and simply assembled in the morning is a big, hearty quinoa bowl. Quinoa is so filling and satisfying which makes it a great breakfast choice, and paired with lots of fresh fruit, nuts, seeds or yogurt, it’s a great healthy breakfast option!

Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Fruit, Nuts & Seeds

QUINOA BREAKFAST BOWL WITH FRUIT, NUTS & SEEDS

YOU WILL NEED
Cooked quinoa (about 1/4 t0 1/2 cup per portion)
Fresh fruit (I like to use bananas and various berries)
Yogurt (Plain or Greek)
Chopped nuts of your choice (I used walnuts & pine nuts)
Seeds of your choice (I used pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds)
Optional: sprinkling of brown sugar/cinnamon or a little bit of maple syrup

 Quinoa Breakfast Bowl with Fruit, Nuts & Seeds

DIRECTIONS
This barely needs explaining, but basically you want to cook your quinoa and let it cool. I use about 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa (it just about doubles in volume once it cooks) per serving, and that makes for a super hearty breakfast! Make sure you rinse the quinoa before cooking it, and simply follow the cooking instructions on the box (usually quinoa cooks in about 15 minutes). Then just throw everything together in the bowl, and your breakfast is ready! This would be a great make ahead breakfast too, you could cook your quinoa the night before, and have all the other ingredients portioned off, washed, chopped and ready to go, and then simply assemble your bowl in the morning! So easy, and such a satisfying, nutritious breakfast!

For other delicious breakfast recipes, check these out:

Homemade Maple Almond Granola Baked Banana Walnut Oatmeal
Left: Homemade Maple Almond Granola (recipe here) Right: Baked Banana Walnut Oatmeal (recipe here)

Sour Cream Pancakes with Blueberries Pecan Praline Baked French Toast
Left: Sour Cream Pancakes with Blueberries (recipe here) Right: Pecan Praline Baked French Toast (recipe here)

Happy Cooking, Everyone! Have a great weekend!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

Easter Egg Place Setting

Posted on March 24, 2015

Hi Everyone! Can you believe that Easter is less than two weeks away now? With as cold as it is outside, it feels more like Christmas is coming rather than Easter! I wanted to stop by and share a cute little DIY Easter table place setting idea with you today. Whether you are hosting a big Easter get-together this year, or having a smaller family meal, simple little personalized touches make any dinner or celebration a little extra special and memorable! These Easter Egg Place Settings couldn’t be easier to make and all you need are a couple of simple craft supplies, some of which you probably already have on hand! You can get as creative and colorful with these as you like, I’m keeping them pretty simple this year with just plain white eggs with a handwritten name on each, sitting in a cute little nest. Here’s how I made them…

Easter Egg Place Setting
EASTER EGG PLACE SETTINGS

YOU WILL NEED
Eggs (real or plastic)
Sharpie
Miniature nests
Crafting moss
Hot Glue Gun

Easter Egg Place Setting

DIRECTIONS
To make these place settings, first write the names on the eggs. Make sure the eggs are clean and that the surface is completely smooth and dry. Then, either outline the name on the egg with a pencil and go over it with a sharpie, or simply write it with a sharpie. You may have to do more than one coat and go over the lettering a couple times. Let the name dry completely, then attach little pieces of the moss into your nest with some hot glue, into which you will then place your egg (you can secure that with hot glue too).

Easter Egg Place Setting  Easter Egg Place Setting

And if you like this Easter Egg Place Setting, check out these other Easter ideas!

Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece Mossy Easter Eggs
Left: Simple Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece (tutorial here) Right: Mossy Easter Eggs (tutorial here)

Thanks so much for stopping by today! Have a great rest of your week!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

Healthy Berry Smoothie Recipe & Tips for Staying Healthy in the Winter & Spring Months

Posted on March 23, 2015

I’m excited to share with you a post today that’s all about staying confident even when you’re battling a cold sore. If you suffer from cold sores like I do, you know it isn’t easy to feel confident when you get one. With the first sign of a cold sore coming on I reach for Abreva® to get rid of it fast. Then I follow the following simple tips to help keep my confidence high until Abreva® works its healing “magic”! And really, these tips aren’t just for battling cold sores, but for generally feeling good and staying healthy in the long, cold winter and spring months that we’re going through right now (since the first day of spring was a very snowy and cold one here!). But first, I have a great healthy berry smoothie recipe to share with you, that’s a perfect way to get some vitamins in your body and help you stay energized! You can add supplements like magnesium glycinate powder to this smoothie too to make sure you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs. Supplements like magnesium glycinate powder are great in smoothies and it will aid digestion, promote bowel movements, and fortify your immune system.

Berry SmoothieHEALTHY BERRY SMOOTHIE

4 ice cubes
1/2 cup low fat vanilla yogurt
3/4 cup fat-free milk
1/2 cup frozen berries
Pinch of ground cinnamon
Dash or two of pure vanilla extract

To make your smoothie, simply add all your ingredients into your blender, and mix until you get the desired consistency. Feel free to change up the amounts of the ingredients to suit your taste or to switch out the berries for other fruit. This recipe makes one giant, hearty portion!

Staying healthy and happy through the winter & spring months…

Load up on Vitamin C. This is one of the best ways to give your immune system a boost and a great way to help you stay healthy in the winter, but it’s also a great way to re-energize your body! According to Abreva®, you’re more likely to get a cold sore when you’re stressed, tired and run down, and your body’s immune system is weakened. So make sure you take care of yourself and get all the Vitamin C you need. The smoothie recipe above is a great way to get some vitamin C in a tasty way, since the fruit is filled with it!

Keep it clean. One of the simplest ways to protect your body and stay healthy is to wash your hands thoroughly and often. After you come home from running errands and being on public transportation, after shaking hands with people, after unloading your groceries, after coughing and sneezing… the list goes on, and you get the gist. While this may be so simple that it’s even silly to mention, this is such an easy way for bacteria to spread and attack your body. And if you’re a nail biter like I used to be, this is especially crucial! And along similar lines, when it comes to cold sores, make sure you switch out your toothbrush regularly! You don’t want old bacteria lingering on there, causing you to get a cold sore when you think you’re getting your teeth sparkly white!

Give yourself a break. Sometimes you don’t realize it, but your body is more exhausted than you think after a busy holiday season. As the new year has begun, give yourself a little bit of a break to regroup and regain your energy. Stress and exhaustion will affect you more than you realize, causing you to be more susceptible to colds and other attacks on your body.

It’s a wonder how much little things like this can help you on an everyday basis, giving you the extra energy you need and helping you feel more like yourself whether you’re fighting a cold sore, a cold, or when you may just be feeling a little run down. And the better and healthier you feel on the inside, the happier and more confident you will feel on the outside! For more information about Abreva® and how it can help you fight a cold sore quickly, check out their website here. You could Knock out your cold sore in 2.5 days*. Only Abreva® can do it, when you treat at the first sign**. Try Abreva® Cream during your next cold sore! Click here to learn more about Abreva® cream. *Median healing time 4.1 days. 25% of users healed in 2.5 days. **Among Over-the-counter products.

And if you could use a little extra boost, I have a chance for you to win a $100 Visa gift card! To enter for a chance to win, simply leave me a comment below answering the following question: What is your favorite way to stay confident?

Entry Instructions: No duplicate comments. You may receive (2) total entries by selecting from the following entry methods: 1. Leave a comment in response to the sweepstakes prompt on this post 2. Tweet (public message) about this promotion; including exactly the following unique term in your tweet message: “#SweepstakesEntry”; and leave the URL to that tweet in a comment on this post 3. Blog about this promotion, including a disclosure that you are receiving a sweepstakes entry in exchange for writing the blog post, and leave the URL to that post in a comment on this post 4. For those with no Twitter or blog, read the official rules to learn about an alternate form of entry. This giveaway is open to US Residents age 18 or older (or nineteen (19) years of age or older in Alabama and Nebraska). Winners will be selected via random draw, and will be notified by e-mail. The notification email will come directly from BlogHer via the sweeps@blogher email address. You will have 2 business days to respond; otherwise a new winner will be selected. The Official Rules are available here. This sweepstakes runs from 3/23/15 – 4/17/15. Be sure to visit Abreva brand page on BlogHer.com where you can read other bloggers’ posts!

Simple Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece

Posted on March 21, 2015

Hi Everyone! Happy weekend and happy spring! We had a rather unusual first day of spring here in Maryland yesterday, waking up to cold, snowy weather yesterday morning! It was the coldest first day of spring that I can ever remember, but now the snow has melted, it’s warmer outside, and on our walk at the park today I saw lots of daffodil leaves coming up out of the ground… looks like spring is fighting it’s way through after all! After this long winter, I wanted to bring a little bit of the coming spring indoors and since pansies are some of my favorite spring flowers, I bought a couple of pre-potted ones, re-planted them into a big white bowl and arranged them on the dining table surrounded by hyacinths (more of my spring favorites!) and lots of pastel colored eggs in egg cups! Here’s how I created this Simple Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece…

Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece
SIMPLE SPRING & EASTER PANSY CENTERPIECE

YOU WILL NEED
3 – 4 pre-potted pansies
Potting soil
Large white bowl

Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece

DIRECTIONS
First select your bowl, which is both wide and deep enough for you to plant the pansies in. I used a medium sized simple white “latte bowl” (similar in style to these Anthropologie bowls, but bigger) for mine. Begin by sprinkling a layer of potting soil into your bowl, then carefully taking the pre-potted pansies out of their little plastic pots, and arranging them into the bowl. Add in extra potting soil to fill in the bowl, making sure the flowers are well planted. Water the pansies whenever the surface of the soil feels dry, and make sure they get plenty of sunlight during the day! Planted in a bowl like this, they’ll last for up to a week!

Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece

Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece  Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece

Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece

For more Easter projects, check these out:

Mossy Easter Eggs Easter Egg Tree
Left: Mossy Easter Eggs (tutorial here) Right: Easter Egg Tree (tutorial here)

And if you liked this Simple Spring & Easter Pansy Centerpiece, check out some of my other flower arrangement ideas here:

Teapot Flower Arrangement  Grocery Store Flower Arrangement
Left: Teapot Flower Arrangement (tutorial here) Right: How to Create a Flower Arrangement using Grocery Store Flowers (tutorial here)

Simple Carnation Flower Arrangement Repurposed Tea Tin Flower Vases
Left: Simple Carnation Flower Arrangement (tutorial here) Right: Repurposed Tea Tin Flower Vases (tutorial here)
I hope you all have a great rest of your weekend, and that this spring is a wonderful one for you! Thanks so much for stopping by today!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

Posted on March 15, 2015

Hi Everyone! I hope you had a good weekend and are ready for the last couple of days of winter before spring officially begins in just five days! But before the week begins, I have a banana bread recipe to share with you. And it’s not just any banana bread recipe, it’s a Nutella Swirled Banana Bread recipe! Because Nutella makes everything better, including banana bread! To tell you the truth, I try not to buy Nutella too often because it inevitably ends with giant late night spoonfuls of it… but every once in a while, I give into the craving and buy a jar! I used my favorite banana bread recipe that uses Greek yogurt for this, added dollops of Nutella on top, and created the swirls using a knife. I love banana bread as it is, but adding the Nutella swirls to it just makes it that extra little bit more delicious!

 Nutella Swirled Banana Bread
NUTELLA SWIRLED BANANA BREAD
*Makes 1 loaf*

YOU WILL NEED
1 recipe banana bread (this is my favorite!)
A couple of spoonfuls of Nutella

Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

DIRECTIONS

1. Follow the directions for making banana bread like you normally would (this Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Greek Yogurt is my absolute favorite recipe for banana bread! It always comes out super moist and stays fresh for days! I use it for this Nutella Swirled Banana Bread too, but I omit the chocolate chips – you can definitely keep them in the recipe for additional sweetness if you like – and I add chopped walnuts).

2. Preheat your oven to 350 deg F and grease your loaf tin (or line it with parchment paper). Pour your banana bread batter into your prepared loaf tin, then add a couple of spoonfuls of Nutella on top, distributing them over the whole loaf. Take a knife and gently create swirls in the batter. (Make sure the Nutella is at room temperature and is nice and spreadable!) Bake for about 50 minutes to an hour, until an inserted toothpick comes out clean. Let cool in the baking tin for a couple of minutes, then transfer to a cooling rack.

  Nutella Swirled Banana Bread

For more Nutella and/or banana recipes, check these out!

Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Greek Yogurt  Chocolate Banana Bread
Left: Chocolate Chip Banana Bread with Greek Yogurt (recipe here) Right: Chocolate Banana Bread (recipe here)

Banana Nutella Crepes Baked Banana Walnut Oatmeal
Left: Banana Nutella Crepes (recipe here) Right: Baked Banana Walnut Oatmeal (recipe here)

  Grilled Nutella, Peanut Butter and Banana Sandwich
Grilled Nutella, Peanut Butter & Banana Sandwich (recipe here)

Happy Baking, Everyone! I hope you all have a great week!
I will be linking to these awesome blogs!

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