Friday, December 30, 2016

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Can you believe this is the LAST post of 2016? It's been a great year with lots of ups and downs, but we've also had a lot of fun. Thanks for joining me today as I link-up with Andrea, Erika, and Narci for Friday Favorites. Please say hello in the comments below, and if you're new here, follow along with me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin'.
On Monday, I had a really fun and totally random opportunity to "model." Yes, you read that right! HA! My hairdresser, Astoria, does segments for the local television stations from time to time and invited me to be on the morning news for a segment about holiday mom hairstyles! 

Before picture

Watching and waiting

Getting my hair done by Ms. Astoria

Mom styles from the Great Clips team

Please, no autographs or pictures. I'm just trying to live a normal life after t.v. stardom. Ha!

I've had some bumps in blogging this year. I started out really excited and prepped as much in advance as I could. Then, I went through moments of, "Why am I doing this again?" My husband has always encouraged me to keep writing, and I am always motivated by the encouraging comments of fellow bloggers and readers. 

I am going to start a new series on Tuesdays to share some of my tips for getting in shape called "Tuesday Training". I am by no means the model of perfect health and physique (just a celebrity hair model LOL!), but in 2016 I finally started to feel my best self, and I want to help motivate you to achieve some of those goals. I hope you'll join me on Tuesdays!

And if you're new to blogging like me and sometimes struggle with content or want to grow your traffic, I'm excited to tell you that I'm partnering with Sara and Trina of Moms' Coffee Date to host a monthly link-up. We'll be linking up every 3rd Thursday of the month. Check out the 2017 schedule below - I hope you will join us!

So, since it's the end of the year, I'm going to leave you with some of my favorites of this past year:

Favorite picture of 2016:
So much to love about this picture - I tried my best with the hair, makeup, and costumes and think they turned out pretty awesome, we all happily made a 4 year old girl's dreams come true, and we had a blast being together!

Favorite recipe of 2016:
My family and I love my spinach bacon pasta recipe. It's easy, tasty, and you can add to or take away ingredients very easily. Check it out HERE

Favorite blog post of 2016: 
I had a lot of fun putting together the Show and Tell Tuesday post about worst school pictures. You can check it out HERE

Favorite purchase of 2016:
As I mentioned earlier, I feel like I got into my best shape, and I really feel like I can attribute the right shoes for helping me do that. I purchased THESE sneakers in July and have become a loyal New Balance girl. 
Favorite experience of 2016:
We had such a fun time at the Crocodile Experience this summer! Every person in the family enjoyed themselves immensely, and we followed our visit up with a trip to one of our favorite diners, Steak 'n Shake. You can read about our visit HERE

Thank you for reading my little piece of the internet! I appreciate you taking the time to check in with me each week, and I hope that your 2017 is the best year yet. See you in the new year!

Monday, December 26, 2016

Life With the Lees: Weekend Recap 12.26.16

Happy Monday! Are you sleeping in after yesterday's festivities or out at the stores trying to score some post-Christmas deals? I'm actually doing neither of those today. I'm doing something totally random and hopefully fun which I will share with you on Friday!

I enjoyed a few days of shopping and vegging last week while Robert and the kids went down to the ranch. I put together these napkins for Christmas lunch:

On Friday, we hung out at my mom's house and helped her decorate her sugar cookies and eat homemade marshmallows.

Trip's looks like that famous painting "The Scream."

I've never been a fan of the song "White Christmas." Give me my 85 degree holiday, and I'm a happy camper!

Robert and I took Trip out for some Menchie's froyo and Christmas lights on Friday, and then we enjoyed our annual viewing of Home Alone. 

On Saturday, we got our bake on with some pecan pie bites for Robert. I cooked up a pot roast for Christmas Eve dinner, and it was scrumptious. The kids set out some reindeer food for Santa's reindeer to find our house easily.

After dinner, we went on a Christmas light scavenger hunt in the car.

On Christmas Eve, we opened presents from friends and family.

Christmas morning had me up early with excitement to see the kids' faces! I made monkey bread for Christmas morning, and it didn't cook in the middle, overflowed from the pan, and almost started a fire in my oven! We had Eggo waffles instead. :(

We spent the rest of the day building Lego sets, delivering Puppy Surprise's babies, and putting on magic shows. I hope you had a wonder-filled holiday weekend! I'm going to take the next few days off to enjoy the last part of my break, and I'll be back on Friday with some announcements. See you soon!

Friday, December 23, 2016

Friday Favorites: Gifts for the Greatest Gal

Hello Friday friends! Merry Christmas, Happy Hanukkah, and Happy Everything to you and your family! I'm joining Andrea, Erika, and Narci for Friday Favorites. Please say hello in the comments below, and if you're new here, follow along with me on Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram, and Bloglovin'.
I've been sharing gift guides every Friday for the past month. You can check out my previous guides:

Today, it's all about gifting the greatest gal in your life - YOU! You've spent time, energy, and money taking care of everyone else in your life lately. Now you get to do something for you! Here are my ideas:

Old Navy lace top I picked up some great deals from Old Navy the day after Christmas, and I'm hoping to add some more tops to my wardrobe this year.

Mossimo cardigan I need to replace a gray boyfriend sweater that I lost last year, and this cardigan looks fabulous. Target has been running some great deals on sweaters, so I plan to snag this up soon!

Merona leopard scarf I've never really been a scarf girl, but I think a simple leopard print scarf would be a nice addition to jazz up any jeans and t-shirt outfit. 

Old Navy bootcut jeans I need to replace some of my larger jeans since I've had a lot of success with the My Fitness Pal app. I pretty much only wear bootcut jeans from Old Navy, and I am hoping to score a new pair over Christmas.

Statement necklace If you've been reading my blog lately, then you've seen me share this necklace set A LOT! Still haven't gotten it, so hint, hint, hint! :)

Eye glasses I wear glasses (refuse to put contacts in my eyes!), and one of my students came in with a really cute pair a few years ago. She said she got them from Walmart, so of course I had to check out their eye center. I love my current pair but would love to add this pair to add to the rotation. 

Personalized necklace I have had this necklace for over a year with the kids' nicknames on it, and I always get lots of compliments on it. If you've been looking for something special for yourself, then I definitely recommend designing your own necklace. 

Merona chain crossbody bag I've had my eye on the hot pink version of this bag for a while now. I'm hoping to add it to my bag collection when Target has a sale or Cartwheel deals going on.

Pixi skincare set I absolutely love my Pixi Glow Tonic and Beauty Sleep Cream! This package of cleanser, tonic, and mask would make for a great regimen. 

Maybelline eye shadow palette I have the Maybelline Rock Nudes palette and love it for evenings and special occasions. This blushed set would make for great day looks, and it is much more affordable than the Urban Decay sets. 

C9 running hat Robert and I are planning on running our district's 5K fun run again in February. I've started training again and would love to add this hat from Target to my runs to help keep the sun and my hair out of my face while running. 

C9 braided headband I love these C9 headbands so much that I own three! They do a great job of keeping my hair in place, and I can usually pick one up on clearance for under $5. 

New Balance trainers I bought these trainers back in July and they have made all the difference in my workouts. I'm officially a New Balance loyalist, and you can always find a decent pair at a decent price on Amazon. 

Real Techniques brush set I've heard rave reviews of these brushes, and I already own their makeup sponge. Four brushes for under $10 is also a total steal!

The Wet Brush Trust me when I tell you that you need this hairbrush in your life. Ari and I both have a Wet Brush and can't imagine using anything else. It's great for any type of hair, and I don't have to worry about it getting snagged up in my tangles. 

BCG workout leggings The weather has turned very cold here lately, and shorts or capri workout bottoms just aren't going to cut it anymore. I've purchased exercise clothes from Old Navy before but have found my BCG pieces from Academy are much more comfortable and durable. 

Samsung Gear Fit 2 I have been toying with the idea of purchasing a fitness tracker for a few weeks now, and if I do purchase one, Robert is pushing me towards the Samsung Gear Fit 2 since it it waterproof and has a lot of cool features that a regular Fit Bit doesn't have. 

Timex watch I'm not totally sold on a fitness tracker though because I feel like if it tracks all of my steps and such, I'll figure those into my calorie count and lose sight of my goals. I like to borrow this Iron Man watch from Robert when I go for runs because I can track my run and times. If you're not ready to make a full commitment to a fitness tracker yet, try this watch instead. 

Threshold mirror I'm thinking this mirror would be great as part of a gallery wall or above a side table. I really appreciate that the Threshold brand of Target offers great quality at a competitive price. And with my Cartwheel coupons, I can usually save an extra percentage. Speaking of, have you used your Cartwheel perks? I've received 3 free items from using the app so far - I feel like Target is going to go under soon with how much I save or get for free!

Threshold sheet set I haven't been able to find the exact set that I saw in store last weekend, but this set appears to be the cousin of the chambray vintage wash that I have my eye on. We own two sets of Threshold performance sheet sets and couldn't be happier.

Charger Robert buys me things from Amazon that I always think are stupid and pointless at the time of receipt. HOWEVER, 9 times out of 10 I'll usually concede eventually that it's actually a helpful and appreciated gift! This super fast charger has been helpful to keep at my desk at work and has even come to the rescue of a few co-workers as well.

Ina Garten's latest I just can't get enough Ina in my life! Even though I'm a super picky eater, I'm convinced that Ina could cook up just about anything on the planet and somehow manage to get me to try it and probably like it!

Threshold dessert stand I'm coveting cake and dessert stands right now. I like that this one from Target doesn't have a pedestal, making it a little safer in my often chaotic kitchen.

KitchenAid immersion hand blender Okay, technically I only want this for one dish that I make - crockpot potato soup, but surely if I received it, I could find lots of ways to use it, right?

Pioneer Woman cake stand I don't shop at Walmart often, but I stopped in the other day to pick up some tumblers, and I put this in my cart. I then convinced myself that I don't need a cake stand and put it back. It sure is pretty though and would look fab in my kitchen! (Robert, if you're reading this - feel free to get it for me for Mother's Day!)

Magazine subscription Many of my subscriptions just ran out, so I need to hop on the holiday deals and renew some of my favorites: Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Woman's Day.

Papermate Flair Pens These are my favorite pens. I used them mostly at work, but I bought some to use at home and on my agenda. They're great because they don't bleed through, and if you have to copy something, they are very dark and legible.

Audible membership I mentioned in my What's Up Wednesday post that I currently spend 2 hours a day in the car traveling to and from work. I used Audible a few summers ago to listen to a 600 page book that I knew I wouldn't have enjoyed if I had physically read it. I'm considering buying myself a subscription for the next few months of driving.

Thanks for joining me today! I hope you and your family have a wonderful holiday weekend! Hope to see you soon!

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post contain Target affiliate links, and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. Thank you for supporting my blog!

Thursday, December 22, 2016

Try It Thursday: Pecan Pie Bark

It's already Thursday, and Santa's coming to town! And if he's related to my husband, then he would LOVE for you to make him some pecan pie bark! Thanks for joining me today- grab my graphic above and link-up below to share your favorite recipe of the week.

Pecan pie bark is quick, it's easy, and apparently, delicious! I was planning to make a chocolate pretzel bark on Sunday, but my Pinterest feed recommended THIS recipe from Wishes and Dishes. She used white sugar, but having made pecan pie desserts recently, I opted for brown sugar instead.  

* 12 sheets of graham crackers
* 2 sticks of butter
* 1 cup brown sugar
* 1 1/4 cups pecan pieces

* Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.
* Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper and your graham crackers.

* In a saucepan, heat your butter, sugar, and pecan pieces over medium high heat.
* Boil the mixture for about 3 minutes and stir often. 

* Pour the mixture over your graham crackers and spread with a spoon. 

* Bake in the oven for 8 minutes.
* Let cool on the counter or pop into the fridge to help the hardening process along.

* Break into pieces and store in containers. Enjoy!

Did you check out my peanut butter Ritz cookies last week? You can view that post HERE. I'll be back tomorrow for my last installment of gift guides. See you soon!

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

What's Up Wednesday: December 2016

Hi all! Are you ready for a lovely weekend with family or friends? I get so excited to see how happy and surprised the kids are during Christmas, and I think this is one of the few times in life when it is totally acceptable to live vicariously through your children. Thank you for joining me today for the last 2016 edition of What's Up Wednesday with Mel, Shay, and Sheaffer. Please say hello in the comments below, and if you're new here, follow along with me on Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, and Bloglovin'.

What we're eating this week...
Way too many sweets! I'll be making Mel's BLT Salad for dinner tomorrow night, The Pioneer Woman's Italian Sloppy Joes for dinner Friday night, and a pot roast for Christmas Eve. We're hosting Christmas lunch and don't like to go too traditional. We'll be grilling lime chicken and topping our tacos with my salsa recipe. I'm also going to try out Mel's salted caramel brownies!

What I'm reminiscing about...
This time last year, Robert and I were finishing up building this horse stable for the Roo. We thought we were saving money by making it ourselves...yea. Let's just say, Santa is bringing all pre-packaged gifts this year! :)

What I'm loving...
I've been watching an unhealthy amount of television this week, especially baking and cooking competitions! Thankfully my t.v. isn't a 3D printer, but I am excited to try some new recipes this weekend.

What we've been up to...
Robert and the kids went down south for a few days so I could help Santa's elves prep for the holidays. I have just a few little things left to pick up and wrap, but I feel like we're in good shape to celebrate this weekend. 

What I'm dreading...
I hate putting the decorations away. Can't we just live like it's Christmas every day? Although I wish we did more outdoor decorations, I'm also grateful that we don't so we don't have to worry about the clean-up.

What I'm working on...
I'm putting together a series of posts for the new year. I hope that you'll find them helpful and encouraging!

What I'm excited about...
Two things- seeing the kids' faces on Sunday morning and then hitting up a few post-Christmas sales with Robert to spend some holiday gift cards wisely

What I'm reading...
I bought Andy Cohen's latest, Superficial. I wish I carved out more time to read. I usually only get one hardcore history book in the summer and something trashy like a celebrity autobiography over Christmas break. Currently, I spend 2 hours a day driving back and forth to work and am thinking of gifting myself an Audible subscription

What I'm listening to...
We've had the Pandora Christmas station on a lot lately. The artist Fracesca Battistelli has come on a few times, and I like her voice and version of some traditional Christmas songs. 

What I'm wearing...
I wore this outfit for my birthday dinner a few weeks back and really like this Old Navy top. It looks like the top is no longer available online, but they have a dress made of the same print HERE. I got my puffer coat the day after Christmas last year at Old Navy for under $20! It is so warm and goes with everything. 

What we're doing this weekend...
We'll do a nice dinner with Robert's mom on Saturday night and let the kids open presents from family that evening. Hopefully we'll get to watch a Christmas movie or two! On Sunday, I'm going to try to have a cinnamon roll or french toast casserole ready for breakfast as the kids open up their gifts from Santa. Then, we're hosting my family for lunch where I'll be serving a Mexican feast!

What I'm looking forward to...
I'm excited to see the kids' reactions to their gifts from Santa. We have a strict budget on Santa and definitely don't do lavish or over the top, but I think we found a few things that the kids will like to play with for the next few years. When they're over the moon about something, their excitement is catching! (Except in 2014, somebody did not care who came to town with presents, she just wanted to SLEEP!)

What else is new...
I changed a little bit of the formatting on my blog the other day. I'm hoping it is easier on your eyes!

Question of the month: What is your favorite memory from 2016?  
I really was a proud mom this year. I loved seeing Trip be successful with his passion for art, and it was awesome to see him experience a moment of being a champ in his swim league. I love that he has found activities that he truly enjoys and works hard to excel in them. 

As for Aurelia, this time last year, she was really struggling with some of her speech and became very emotional and hard on herself, which in turn, completely broke my heart. That baby worked every day for 2 months solid to overcome her speech issues, and to see her get so excited by her own progress made me melt. 

The upcoming days are going to be busy, but I hope you will stop by the rest of this week. Tomorrow I'll be sharing a new sweet treat recipe for Try It Thursday, and on Friday, I'll be sharing my final installment of gift guides. I hope to see you again soon! 

Disclosure: Some of the links in this post contain Target affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my link. Thank you for supporting my blog!