Sunday, January 31, 2010

Book Love: Philippa Gregory

This Book Love is not so much about a particular book, but a particular author. I've been reading Philippa Gregory books for years. And I love them.

If you are into historical fiction, and want to get into a series I highly recommend her. She has six books about the Henry Tudor (16th century) reign (one was made into a movie, but as usual the book is soooo much better.) What's not intriguing about a guy who had more wives than he could count?

The Constant Princess
The Other Boleyn Girl
The Boleyn Inheritance
The Queens Fool
The Virgins Lover
The Other Queen

So why do I like Philippa Gregory? Well, for example, in one of the above books, I was so jealous about a certain situation between a man and a woman and so seriously made at the guy, that I had to stop reading the book for a few days. When an author can make you feel like that... now that's talent.

And, she started a new series about the Plantaganet reign (15th century.) I just finished The White Queen and can't wait for more!

What's your favorite historical fiction novel?
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Thursday, January 28, 2010

Like a Kid in a Candy Store

Rambo walked in the door this afternoon with a huge smile on his face and asked me, "Guess what came in the mail today?"

And I'll tell you, I wasn't expecting anything in the mail, but from Mark's apparent excitement, I couldn't wait to see what it was.

Me- "I don't know, what?"
Mark- "The 2010 Bass Pro Catalog"
Me (excitement draining from my face)- "Oh. How lovely."
Mark- (apparently missing my sarcasm)- "I know, isn't it great? There's more than 700 pages!"

700 pages of manly goodness. Oh joy I can hardly contain myself. Please, please let me read it.
Mark will have his nose in that thing non-stop for the next few days, and then will continue to re-read and re-read it until the next catalog comes out. Which won't be for another year. It seems to be such a page-turner that I'm thinking of recommending it at our next book club meeting.

I shouldn't be making fun, at least Rambo is easy to please, right?

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Quote It

"But what is so headstrong as youth-- what so blind as inexperience?"
-Jane Eyre

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Naughty Novelists: February Reads

I'm part of a book club here in Indy (the Naughty Novelists, if you are interested in joining please let me know!) It's a lot of fun to get together and talk about the books we read and just gossip in general.

We had one of our meetings last night and it dawned on me... why can't you be a part of our book club too? It doesn't matter where you are... you can read the books as we do, and before our book club meets I can do a post on the books from that month and see what my readers have to say. Sort of like Oprah's book club, though I think it's obvious that this one will be far more successful.

So this month we chose to read two books: The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold and The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephan Chbosky. Usually we each just put a book or two we are interested in reading into a bowl and then we pull two out. That way if you think one of them isn't for you, or you've already read one, there's sure to be at least one book you'd be interested in.

The Lovely Bones made it into the bowl, because of the movie (and for our next meeting, we are field tripping it to a theatre) and The Perks of Being a Wallflower was one of my suggestions. I read it about five years ago and loved it... though can't for the life of me remember what it's about. Plus it's super-short, so I figured it'd be an easy read for those of us who attempt to read both the chosen books.

So those are the two books for the month. Our next meeting is March 2nd... so get reading!

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Sunday, January 24, 2010

Around Town: Beef & Boards

Tonight, while the Colts were winning the AFC Championship (thank goodness, because even though I'm a Bears fan I didn't want to be in this town if they lost... everyone gets so grumpy) Mark and I, and his Mom and Bod went to Beef & Boards... a dinner theatre here in Indy. It was our Christmas present to them, and also a chance to me to further my goal of seeing more of what Indy has to offer.

Anyways-- it was a lot of fun. I am really into plays and musicals and any kind of performance in general... so naturally I liked it. Included with tickets is dinner and a show. Currently showing is The Foreigner, a comical play about a man who pretends he can't speak English because he doesn't want to have to talk to anyone. It was pretty cute, and the main character, Charlie was very entertaining. It even had Mark laughing a lot.
I do think I will go again. The Foreigner is playing until February 7th, and other productions for the year include: Footloose, Hello Dolly!, Always... Patsy Cline, High School Musical, Church Basement Ladies, Camelot and White Christmas. Prices range from $35 to $58 depending on the day and showtime. I encourage you to check it out!

And as always if you have any suggestions for Around Town in Indy... please let me know!

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Saturday, January 23, 2010

To Be Or Not To Be?

That is the question.

I gave my blog another mini-makeover to be more simple and more Valentine's Day-esque. And as I was trying to find a good quote to put with my header, "to be or not to be" somehow swam into my head.

I thought "Perfect!" Why did I think it was perfect? Because my initial thought was that it was from Romeo & Juliet-- the epitome of love stories. Only after I completed my blog redesign did I actually stop and think.

To be or not to be is Hamlet. Hamlet, Lauren NOT Romeo & Juliet. Nice.

But I really like it. So I'm not changing it. And I need you to go along with it. I'm also now accepting classic literature lessons.

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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

Shanty Creek

This past holiday weekend, Mark and I along with our other half... Kim and Zac headed up to the Shanty Creek Resort in Michigan for our 2nd annual ski trip.

We left ridiculously early (I believe it was 5:30) so that we could have plenty of time to ski that afternoon. I wasn't happy about the early wake-up call, but I was excited about the trip so I put on a happy face. Kim and I sat in the backseat, basically packed in as if we were just another piece of equipment for the trip. We managed to both fall asleep and woke up a little over an hour later at a gas station. And wouldn't you know it after we fell asleep the boys took a wrong turn and put as an hour out of our way.

In addition to skiing, we also did some more snowtubing and Mark and I attempted snowboarding. This was a huge fail and I haven't been this sore in a long time... even three days later. Mark and I both took some major spills, and I don't think I'll be trying that again. Zac and Kim, on the other hand, seemed to have a good grasp on skiing after our equipment trade.

It was another good trip! And I highly recommend Shanty Creek if you are skiing in Michigan. They have really great deals... even on holiday weekends and two different mountains to ski on. And the rooms have a fireplace and kitchenette which is convenient. A couple more years and I think I'll be ready for Colorado.







While we were away we left King with my parents... and my mom found out that she is allergic to him... which turned into a ride in an ambulance to the hospital--yikes! Basically, with King in your life there's never a dull moment. Fortunately after some steroids and an inhaler my mom's alright!


I have a busy few weeks ahead of me with trips to: Toronto, Nashville, Madison, California and Houston for Jennifer's wedding! So I apologize in advance if Laurealism is a little light in the coming weeks... but I'll be here as much as I can!

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Friday, January 15, 2010

Book Love Makeover: The Help

So I'm changing my Book Love format. I feel like I've been feeding you all the information you could find on any bookstore website. Time to change it up. If you want to know how much it costs, how many pages their are, etc. I'm confident you can maneuver to the Borders or Amazon website. If you want MY opinion... well... keep reading.

The Help was one of the Naughty Novelists' (that's the book club I'm in here in Indy... find us on facebook!) books for the month. And I'm woman enough to admit it, I totally cried at the end. I think that if a book is good enough to move your emotions and make you cry, then it's worth reading. It's not every day letters on a page can move you to tears.

"I always order the banned books from a black market dealer in California, figuring if the State of Mississippi banned them, they must be good."

The Help takes place in the Jackson, Mississippi in the 1960's. And as the title describes, it's about the black help and the white women they work for. All of the main characters are female and The Help illustrates how women can be cruel and clever when they want to be, especially white women from the South. It gave me a sort of personal insight into the civil rights movement. Especially since, though I am familiar with basic history, I have never seen or experienced firsthand the type of interactions this book describes. Maybe these situations illustrated in the book weren't the best moments, or the worst, the happiest, or the most honorable, but I certainly gained perspective.

"You is kind. You is smart. You is important."

At times the book made me sick to my stomach-- reading how a white mother rarely hugged her own 2-year old daughter. And how it was "The Help," Aibileene who told the little girl, every single day, that she was beautiful and good. Who knows what kind of self-esteem the child would have grown up with without Aibileen in her life. In fact, we wouldn't have "The Help" to read if it wasn't for Aibileen, because it was her real-life counterpart Demetrie who was Stockett's inspiration. So although the book is fiction, it makes you wonder how honest it really is.

"We are just two people. Not that much separates us. Not nearly as much as I'd thought"

I just want to reiterate that I only write Book Love posts for books I think my readers would enjoy. And readers, you may have noticed that I like fiction books about books. Which is part of the story in "The Help." The white Miss Skeeter, is collecting stories from the maids in town. One of the stories is the "Terrible Awful," where Minny, a loveably outspoken character, does something unspeakable to the white woman who fired her. The book goes on to illustrate exactly what the Terrible Awful thing is that Minny did (unbelievable) and it sort of makes me wonder... though I don't at all doubt Stockett's imagination, what if the Terrible Awful part really is true? Some things are just hard to make up.

"And I know she ain't saying what she want a say either and it's a strange thing happening here cause nobody saying nothing and we still managing to have us a conversation."

Another admirable quality of this book is that the author is white, yet for most of the book she is writing from a black perspective. This is brave in my opinion-- probably because I'm white myself. I would love to get the opinion of others on this (part of the reason I'm in a book club!)

So sure there's a little bit of Love in The Help:
"No one tells us, girls who don't go on dates, that remembering can be almost as good as what actually happens."

And sure there's a little bit of Crazy:
"I always thought insanity would be a dark, bitter feeling, but it is drenching and delicious if you really roll around in it."

But I think there's a lot we can learn, too:
"....we ain't doing civil rights here. We just telling stories like they really happen."

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P.S. All the italicized quotes are straight from the book :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

DIY: Holiday Card Collage

Okay the Holiday Season has been officially over for weeks now. But I finally got around to doing this little craft this week so I might as well share.

I love ALL the holiday cards I get from friends and relatives around the holidays, it is so fun and I usually hang them all in our kitchen and then throw them away when the holidays are over. But it's so sad to just throw all the cards and pictures away especially when I know how much work goes in to getting the cards, addressing them, licking envelopes, stamps etc. (I know life is tough, huh?) And if you don't throw them away you just put them all in a pile and add them to a box of stuff you likely will never look at again.

OR you can use all the cards to make a FRAMED CARD COLLAGE. Now I am not taking credit for this idea because I totally stole it from Mark's cousin's wife. But it is such a great idea, I couldn't NOT share it with you!

1. Buy a frame. You can usually luck out and get one for half-price and Hobby Lobby or Michaels. That way you can get a BIG frame for a little bit of money. The frame I bought is about 32x20 inches.

2. Cut up all your cards and arrange them in a collage. AND THAT'S IT! I made sure to get at least a little piece of every single card into the collage. And next year, I have a really great Christmas decoration! Okay so it's a little more time consuming than the number of steps, but it's definitely worth it.
Think of what my future house will look like after 10 years of this little project!

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Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Without the yellow snow, the white snow wouldn't look so pretty

Rambo and I went up to my parents' last weekend so he and my Dad could go check out a big Musky show in Chicago, and so they could do a little ice fishing (how I manage to have two of the biggest fishing maniacs in my life, I'll never know.)

While we were up there we did a little sledding. My parents live on this GREAT hill that was so much fun growing up and I thought I'd show Mark a little of the action.

We had a great time, and I remembered how hard sledding actually is. Sled down. Trudge up. Repeat x 65. King went with us too and had a lot of fun chasing imaginary snowballs down the hill.

At one point I laid down to make a snow angel, and I was immediately brought back to my childhood. There was the feeling of warmth with all those layers mixed with cold where some snow snuck in. Breathing heavy from walking up the hill, and hearing the faint tinkle, tinkle sound of the snow coming down. And feeling those cool little snowflakes hit my face, and cool air in my lungs. I LOVED doing that as a kid. So peaceful! I was always a snow angel perfectionist, too. You know you have to jump back a little so the bottom of your snow angel is covered in boot tracks, then you have to be really careful standing up so you don't mess it up. So as I was in the process of carefully getting up, so as not to ruin my snow angel or the precious nostalgic moment I just had...

King came and jumped on me. And ruined the precious snow angel. And then he peed next to it in the snow. Then he ran off and I could just tell by his flappy ears and wagging tail how happy he was.

So yeah, sometimes you've gotta take time for those perfect snow angels, and other times you just gotta pee in the snow.

Puppies are always good for a little perspective.

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Thursday, January 7, 2010

Around Town: Korea with Jennifer

A friend of mine, Jennifer (who you'll meet soon) is in Korea right now for a couple of weeks, and then she will be back there again for a couple of months after she gets married in March. She's out there because her fiancé, Blake, splits some of his work time between Korea and the States.

Anyways she sent me an e-mail the other day and it was so funny I want to share some of it with you all.
Hi Nicole and Lauren,
Well I definitely stick out like a sore thumb here in Korea. Not only am I the ONLY blonde haired girl, but my chopstick skills need some work! Today is the first day that Blake will be at work all day so I have to find ways to entertain myself. Currently I am watching the Cowboys game online and figuring out Korean food words. Blake bought me a note pad so I can write down words and we can bring it when we go out to eat or to the grocery store. Speaking of which, the store is pretty cool. The shopping carts are magnetic so you ride up flat escalators to get to the next level It has 5 levels:
1. The food (a slight guessing game)
2. Cleaning supplies and housewares
3. Clothes and electronics
4. Restaurants
5. A health club.
The shopping carts are magnetic so you ride up flat escalators to get to the next level.

After the fun adventure at the store, we went on a neat walk. Not only did I see one of the coolest bridges ever, but I got some pretty cool pictures of the ship yard and the beach we live on. The bridge was really cool. I am not too sure on the significance of it (the historical signs were in Korean) but I do know that it is a travel destination for the Koreans and Japanese (they were everywhere!).


The place we live is pretty nice. They have a TON of high rise apartment buildings because they do not have a ton of land. Everyone in our apartment complex are Westerners and every time I see a person I want to give them a hugh because they speak English.

Funny story, I made it though 3 airports (Houston, Tokyo, and Korea) WITH MY PEPPER SPRAY so not only do I feel invincible against the extremely nice Korean people, but anyone who attacks me is going to get a surprise.

Tidbit of information: Korea doesn't have stop signs or street signs. You basically risk your life driving, exactly why I will be walking everywhere!

Okay I will stop boring you with my life. I will email you again soon with an adventure. Love you and miss you!

Jennifer

Doesn't Korea sound intriguing? I'm trying to convince her to start a blog of her Korean adventures.
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Book Love: The Host

Santa brought me a kindle (ahem thanks Mom & Dad.) And this was the first book that I read on it. I love my Kindle. I was worried because there is something sort of romantic about curling up with a good book, and I love dog-earing the pages with quotes that I love. The Kindle does offer a way to highlight and "clip" anything you want. Which is perfect! And it just seems so much more convenient than lugging a bunch of books around (not to mention cheaper!) For example, The Host costs anywhere from $20 to $26 at bookstores, $14.97 on Amazon, but for the Kindle version (which is wirelessly delivered to your Kindle- so nice!) it only cost $9.99. No more waiting for the paperback version to come out! There are also a lot of free and discounted book prices all the time-- especially the classics!

The one thing that I don't like so far is that you can't tell what page you are on (this is so you can change the font size of the words-which is a plus!) instead the Kindle gives you a percentage of how far you are in the book. I guess it's just a different way of doing it! Anyways on to the Book Love:

Book Name: The Host
Author: Stephanie Meyer
Category: Fiction, Science/Fiction
Pages: 619

Brief Description (borrowed from Borders) The author of the bestselling Twilight series, delivers her brilliant first novel for adults that's also suitable for teen readers: a gripping story of love and betrayal with the fate of humanity at stake, featuring what may be the first love triangle involving only two bodies.

Why I bought it: This was one of this month's books for the book club I'm a part of!

Book Love: So I usually steer away from the science fiction, but I figured I may as well try and read this book because I did love the Twilight series, and it was our book club book after all. AND I LOVED IT! Even though it could never actually happen, the emotions of the characters seemed very accurate. Just the imagination alone involved in creating such a story line was intriguing. There was a lot of internal dialogue and conflict, much like the Twilight series, but it wasn't an overwhelming thing. Anyways I couldn't put it down.

Quotable: "The expression felt out of place on a mouth more often given to smiling."

"...never saw an exposed soul without being struck by the beauty of it."

"A collection of sense, all but touch, concentrated in one place." (I never though about that!)

Bottom Line: If you liked Twilight, you'll like this. Sure it's science-fiction but it isn't crazy-science fiction- it's more about human emotions!

Availability: Available in hardback and all your normal bookstores, and of course available on Amazon if you have a Kindle!

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Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ski Trip to Seven Springs

So this past weekend we took a little trip to Seven Springs Mountain Resort, a skiing resort in western Pennsylvania. According to Google Maps, this place should be less than 7 hours away from Indianapolis (which is pretty close in terms of finding a good mountain to ski.) It ended up taking us a little over nine I think... which included SIX stops. Which is way too many in my opinion but whatever... at least we made it.

At soon we got off the interstate and started driving up the mountain we immediately ran into a ton of snow... and it literally didn't stop snowing the entire time we were there, which was both beautiful and awesome for skiing.

The resort had a REALLY great deal going on. For $427 we got lift tickets for 3 days, a 2-night stay at their hotel, breakfast for two days (which was an amazing buffet by the way,) a family-sized pizza and drinks, a game of bowling, a game of mini-golf, and a 2-hour snow-tubing session. We also got to bring King along as well! Oh and for you families out there, you can get the above deal (same price and activities) for a family of four! Talk about a great deal. Check out this link if you are interested in more information.

Now this was only my third ski experience. Ever. And though I think that I am speeding down the mountain and looking like a pro, in reality I basically snow-plow my way down the mountain. Mark on the other hand is really good, and can manage to ski around me and take video of my amazing skills:

When we want to get video of Mark, he waits at the top of the mountain for me to get to the bottom, and from there in a non-moving position I can get video of him.

As I mentioned earlier, we also went snow tubing which was really, really fun. And the session that was included was 2-hours. Enough time to go down the hill about 20 times. They had 9 lanes, and 2 different run types. I could have done it for 5 hours!

At one point King escaped the room, and he didn't have his collar on which makes him a little tricky to catch. Mark and I chased him around for awhile until he ran into one of the offices for the resort. Thanks to the ladies who entertained him until we caught up. And thanks for smiling and understanding, and not saying things like "Your dog is loose," like the lady in the lobby did. Thanks lady, I didn't notice.

The only other little dilemma we had was we found this little fellow on our last day:
In the hotel's defense, it was a pet-friendly room and it had two doors- one to the interior, and one straight outside, which was great for King. We are guessing the little guy got in that way.
Overall it was a great trip, and the resort had some great runs! Here's a few more pictures from the trip:

The snow was collecting on Mark's facial hair. So sexy.
Nervous to go down a blue. Rightly so because I totally fell on it.
Ready to snow tube.
Excited!
Some of the condos at the resort.
Dirty look because Mark took me a way I DID NOT want to go.
New skis!
Couple shot!

In a couple of weeks we will be going back to Shanty Creek in Michigan with Kim and Zac, so we'll be nice and warmed up for that! Can't wait!
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Preview to Our Trip

Yesterday we got back from out mini-ski vacation at the 7 Springs Resort in Pennsylvania. While I plan on updating you on the whole thing very soon... here's a preview:

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Saturday, January 2, 2010

Around Town: IMA and New India

So, even though it's not on my official New Year's Resolution list, one of my goals for the year is to get out to more places. I've lived in Indy for over a year now and before today I still hadn't checked out any of the museums or tried very many new restaurants around to
wn. Which is really too bad because Indy has A LOT to offer.

So I'm going to try to do something new once a week. Whether its a restaurant, a little shop, a museum, etc., I'll be reporting back to you on how it was. These posts will be the Around Town series... so I hope you enjoy.

Today I did two new things around town: visited the IMA and went to dinner at New India.

THE IMA
I've been meaning to get to the Indianapolis Museum of Art forever, but Rambo isn't really into art so it never actually happened. Until today, because Rambo was helping a friend move, and I had a little "me time." So off to the IMA it was.

Did you know there is free parking, free admission and free wi-fi at the IMA? Well I didn't so this made my day that much better. Not to mention I was pleasantly surprised by the collection... they had so many of my favorite artists: Rembrant, Caravaggio, Reubens, Cuyp, Lorrain, Watteau (I love Baroque and Rococo styles, especially 17th century Dutch painting!) It happened to be the last day of the Sacred Spain exhibit so it was packed, but that exhibit was pretty cool to see as well, even though I'm not really into that type of thing. I just did a quick walk through today, but I will definitely be going back. Soon. Armed with a camera, notebook and pen. So stay tuned.

Here is a Watteau painting found at the IMA (I just found these images on google-images)
And here is a BEAUTIFUL Carravaggio (I love this artist!) that is found at the IMA, it's called "Sleeping Cupid." The funny story about this is while I was looking at it a mom was dragging her son down the hall, quickly passed all the paintings. The boy was probably about five or six, but unlike his mother he actually wanted to stop and look at the paintings (because HELLO that is what you are supposed to do at a museum.) Well he stopped her in front of this one, gasped and said "Mom is that angel DEAD?!" You could hear the curiosity and fear in his voice. "I don't know," his Mom answered. "Looks like it." And started to drag him away while a sad little look crossed his face.

I was so shocked and mad because 1. The title of the painting is SLEEPING Cupid, which was clearly displayed next to the painting on the wall. 2. Even if she thought he was dead she should have took some time to explain something as complicated as death to the child or make something more pleasant up. So, as she dragged the kid away I followed a little and told him that the angel here was Cupid, who makes people fall in love, and that he was just sleeping because the holidays are a busy time for love. Let's just say his Mom gave me a look that Cupid would not approve of at all. But the kid looked happy enough with my answer and that's all that mattered to me.

Also the grounds and gardens of the IMA are beautiful. I would have enjoyed them more if it weren't 7 degrees out, but I definitely want to walk around more when it's above freezing. I also want to check out the Lilly house which I didn't know is completely decked out around Christmastime. So yea, I will definitely be going back.

I also went to dinner with a couple of friends to New Indian (in the strip mall on the corner of 96th and Allisonville.) It was very good, and very reasonably priced. The dinner buffet was just $9.99 It was my first time trying Indian cuisine, so I can't tell you how it compared to any other Indian, but I can tell you it was very good. And I left very full. Also one of the waiters there sort of looked like Jacob Black from Twilight, so you may want to check it out. I'm just saying.

That concludes this episode of Around Town :) I would LOVE any suggestions on what/where to check out around Indy!
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Friday, January 1, 2010

Strawberry Banana Trifle

As my New Year's present to you I'm giving you a dessert recipe that is quick, easy, feeds a lot of people and is not too bad for you. Just in case your New Year Resolution was to lose weight... which is totally unoriginal, but totally your choice :)

Strawberry Banana Trifle

What you'll need:
16 oz bag of frozen strawberries (thawed)
3-4 bananas
1 tub of Cool Whip (thawed)
1 package of instant vanilla pudding (and 2 cups of milk to make it!)
1 Angel Food cake

How to make it:
  1. Cut the Angel Food cake up into 1-inch cubes.
  2. Slice the bananas and cut all the strawberries in half.
  3. Make the instant vanilla pudding according to directions.
  4. Use a tall glass bowl, or if you don't have one, really any glass or ceramic baking dish would do, but glass is nice because you can see all the pretty layers.
  5. Place half of the angel food cake cubes into the bottom of the dish. Then add half of the pudding to cover completely. Then layer half the strawberries and half the sliced bananas. Top with half the Cool Whip. Repeat layers angel food cake, pudding, strawberries, bananas and Cool Whip with remaining halves of ingredients.
  6. Refrigerate for a few hours. 3-4 hours is best so all the flavors soak up into the angel food cake.
Enjoy!

Easy Stawberry Banana Trifle on Foodista

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