Friday, April 28, 2017

Friday Favorites

Aloha everyone! Raise your hand if you need a vacation! Me! Me! Pick me!

Today, I'm sharing some of my top picks for the spring-almost-summer season. Here goes!

1) Glasses

A few years ago, I just went to Target Optical and picked out some random glasses. They cost me an arm and a leg, and I didn't love them. I wore them for a while, but when my prescription changed, I looked for something new. One of my students came in with the cutest glasses, and she told me she got them at Walmart! So off I went! I got a pair of their store brand, DNA and have loved them! A few months ago, I decided that I wanted to add a pair to my repertoire and decided that navy blue was the way to go. I headed back to Walmart and picked out a pair from Hard Candy. I can't find the exact pair online, but Walmart glasses are pretty high quality at an exceptional price. If you're in the market for a new pair of glasses, stop by Wallie World and see if there's something that strikes your fancy!

2) Nail Polish

I haven't been as adventurous in painting my nails this spring as I was in the fall, but my toes have gotten lots of love since it's sandal season here in Houston! My absolute favorite nail polish is the Sally Hansen Insta-Dri line because I am the most impatient person and hate to wait for my nails to dry. I love her Insta-Dri Top Coat for any color that I wear- it keeps my polish on longer and lets me get on with my life quicker than other brands. My "signature" nail color is "Petal Pusher." It's basically a ballet slipper pink and looks great on any skin tone! 

3) Go Blonder

I started coloring my hair after my freshman year of high school and had to color every month! About 3 years ago, I decided to stop coloring forever and started using John Frieda's Go Blonder Spray a few times a week. This has been a game changer for me- no more money and time spent coloring my hair EVERY month. If you're a bottle blonde, give this a shot this summer and see if it works for you!

4) Shampoo & Conditioner

I have fine, frizzy hair. I'm still on the hunt for the ultimate product to turn my mess into gorgeousness. Until that time comes, I'm hooked on everything by Garnier! I especially love the Full & Plush line. I use the shampoo and conditioner, and I've noticed a difference in my volume. It also smells great (pomegranate) and costs a lot less than salon brands. I hadn't seen some of these other products pictured above in my stores, so I may check them out online to see if the whole system turns out to be my winning combination! 

5) Astringent

I used to use astringent on my face because I had horrible cystic acne. After discovering my favorite skincare products in THIS blog post, I said goodbye to astringent on my face. However, I've kept a bottle of Clean & Clear Deep Cleaning Astringent around for other areas. I often break out on the backs of my legs, and I've found that using this has helped diminish the spots. I also use this on the bikini line to help prevent red bumps and irritation. It works wonders for me! 

What are some of your go-tos for spring and summer? Share in the comments below!

In case you missed any of this week's posts:

Follow along with me on Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin', and Pinterest!

Linking up with Erika, Narci, Andrea, Della, Katie, Tif, and Amanda

We've got a weekend full of baseball, swim team, and birthday parties ahead! I'm going to be one tired mama, but I hope to see you back here on Monday for our recap! Have a fabulous weekend, and if I haven't told you lately, thank you so much for stopping by to read my little piece of the internet! 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, April 27, 2017

Try It Thursday: Breakfast Bake

Hi! I'm about to do something really bad. I'm going to share yet another delicious but terrible for you recipe! I first heard about this recipe from Megan at Honey We're Home who got it from Kristyn at Lil' Luna. I didn't alter any of Kristyn's recipe, so this is just a straight up share. The buttery crumble on top is so yummy!

I've totally failed at making monkey bread and have pretty much accepted the fact that I'm never going to get it just right. That's where a breakfast casserole like this one comes in to save me when I'm feeling down! This French toast bake will feed an entire crowd and reminds me of the one that I made from Pioneer Woman last year. If you want to make this for just your family one weekend morning, I'd suggest halving the ingredients and baking it in a square dish instead. 

Scroll down for the ingredients and directions!

* 1 loaf sourdough bread 
* 8 eggs
* 2 cups milk
* 1/2 cup heavy cream
* 3/4 cup sugar
* 2 Tablespoons vanilla

* 1/2 cup flour
* 1/2 cup brown sugar
* 1 teaspoon cinnamon
* 1/4 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 cup cold butter

* Grease a 9" x 13" pan.
* Dice the bread loaf into cubes. Place the bread cubes in the pan.
* Combine the eggs, milk, cream, sugar, and vanilla in a bowl. Pour the mixture over the bread.
* Cover the pan with cling wrap. Refrigerate the pan overnight.
* In another bowl, combine the flour, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. 
* Add the butter to the mixture in small chunks and cut the butter in until the mixture is crumbly. Keep the topping mixture in a bag or storage container in the fridge overnight.
* The next day, spread the topping mixture over your bread mixture while you preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
* Bake uncovered for 45 to 60 minutes.

The next time I make this for my family, I'm going to make the sugar mixture for the bread portion with some brown sugar and white sugar, and I'm going to add some orange zest. We love sweet and citrusy over here. I'm also thinking of trying this with challah bread because it's so yummy! What do you do to jazz up a French toast bake? 

Thanks for joining me today! Make sure you link-up to share your favorite recipe of the week, and don't forget that all of my Try It Thursday recipes can be found on one Pinterest page! Stop by the other blogs to say hello, and I'll see you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites!

Wednesday, April 26, 2017

What's Up Wednesday: April 2017

Happy Wednesday! Thanks for joining me today as I link-up with Mel, Sheaffer, and Shay to wrap-up April! Can you believe it's almost May?! Make sure you link-up and share what's been going on in your world!

What we're eating this week...
Last weekend, Robert and I tried out Hello Fresh for free. You can read my review HERE. We've got a packed week of practices and performances, so on Sunday, I made a chicken and rice/noodle casserole to make Monday night easier. Robert requested meat and cheese roll-ups for his school lunches. I made some pretty similar to THIS recipe and have had no complaints.

What I'm reminiscing about...
Last week marked one year since the terrible flood that hit Houston. It demolished our pool system, and we basically had a swamp in our backyard until our system could be repaired. I'm not fondly reminiscing about this time, but these pictures make me laugh because it's not very often that you can get a family photo from inside your swimming pool!

What I'm loving...
I try to write emails each Friday to parents about students who have done a great job that week in class. I make a list and try to get to each kid during the semester. Last week, I wrote an email about a student who doesn't always seem that interested in class but had been doing a better job participating. His mom wrote me back to tell me that he went home and told her the story verbatim of how my Popo proposed to my Nana while stationed in Alaska during the Korean War and some other stories I had shared with the class. I was floored that this kid was A) paying attention and B) cared enough to share the story with his parents! I love when I get to make good calls instead of the sad calls about lunch detention!

What we've been up to...
This shirt sums up my life. Baseball on Mondays and Saturdays, swim practice Tuesday-Friday, swim meets on Saturdays, birthday parties, wedding showers, teacher appreciation days, etc. Nothing super exciting around here. If they installed a camera in my house for a live feed like the giraffe, you'd see me watching reality television, cooking, cleaning, and chauffeuring children to various activities!

What I'm dreading...
Swim meet season! I know I'm supposed to be a good mom and support my kids in their endeavors, but I also am not so secretly hoping that they decide that this is the year they don't want to swim again! Ugh- why can't swim team be like it was when I was a kid? Sure we had practice 4 times a week, but our practices and meets were actually during THE SUMMER! The meets were also in the evening and only lasted a few hours. My kids have to check-in at 6:45 a.m. and it goes well into the afternoon. Top it off with dance class and baseball, and I'm DONE! Can we go ahead and skip to mid-June when all activities are over please?

What I'm working on...
I'm working on getting back into shape. I did really well and lost 17 pounds from October to February. After I stopped running and relaxed my diet for spring break and Ari's birthday coupled with going back on steroids, I gained 7 pounds back. No bueno! I'm off of my steroids now and am trying to be good. I've started running again in hopes of shedding the pounds a little faster. If you want to work out with me, check out my most recent Tuesday Training post and follow my Tuesday Training Pinterest board.

What I'm excited about...
Depending on Robert's summer work schedule, we are planning on road-tripping to St. Louis to visit my aunts, uncles, and cousins! I can't wait to eat toasted raviolis and go to the zoo! (Ari also is planning to go to the new restaurant owned by Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley!)

What I'm reading...
Ummm magazines from several months ago? I've been bad and haven't stuck with my 20 minutes of reading each night. After I finished Laura Bush's autobiography, I think I needed a brain break. I feel like I'm constantly trying to catch up, and I have a stack of magazines from the past 6 months that need to be read and recycled. My favorites are Redbook, Good Housekeeping, and Woman's Day.

What I've been listening to...
Robert and I have been cracking up a lot lately because we'll hear Ari in the next room singing the song, "Belle," from Beauty and the Beast. She doesn't really know how to say, "this provincial life," and kind of makes it up. She also acts out the part where the villager stops her and she tells him she's on her way to the bookstore. It's pretty funny to listen to, but it's also a little maddening as she is stuck on loop!

What I'm wearing...
In the spring and summer, my mom uniform basically consists of the following:

What we're doing this weekend...
Baseball, swim team time trials (mock-meet), and a birthday party! Anybody want to swap lives just for the weekend? :)

What I'm looking forward to...
A friend of mine recommended a travel agent here in Houston that is a superstar Disney concierge. I know people are going to hate on me and tell me to not pay someone to plan my trip, but we're doing Disney and Universal next summer, and the park has changed tremendously since I went in third grade. We've saved up and want to do it big, so I'm going to have Dani plan everything out for us so I don't have to stress about anything. I've gotten to the point in my life where I definitely weigh the DIY vs. saving my sanity options, and for this, I'm going with staying sane! Do you have any Disney recommendations that I need to think about? Please share!

What else is new...
I'm waiting to hear on some big news in the next few weeks- nothing scary or life-threatening but something exciting for me personally. I'm not the most patient person in the world and would love to have everything signed, sealed, and delivered ASAP, but I'm trying my best to calmly wait for an answer. I'm hoping I have exciting (to me) news to share with you in the next few weeks. (And no, I'm not becoming a mom again!)

Question of the month: What's your favorite spring/summer shoe? 
I probably wear THESE sandals from Merona at Target at least 4 times a week in the spring and summer. I own them in black, brown, and silver, and they go on sale often for less than $12!

In case you missed my previous What's Up Wednesday posts:
January 2017
February 2017
March 2017

Follow along with me on Instagram, Facebook, Bloglovin', and Pinterest!

Link-up with me tomorrow to share your favorite recipe of the week for my Try It Thursday link-up party! 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!

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

Show & Tell Tuesday: Grown-up Parties

Hello party people! Thanks for joining me today as I link up with Andrea at Momfessionals to share about the grown-up parties I've thrown. To see my previous Show & Tell Tuesday posts, check them out here:
Steal and Splurge
My Loves
Most Embarrassing Moments
Top 5 Pictures

I've shared about the kid parties I've thrown in THIS post, and I talked all about Ari's 5th birthday HERE, and Trip's 7th birthday HERE. I love to plan a party and enjoy hosting friends and family in my home, but as much as I love to make things perfect, I sometimes go a little nuts and can't wait for it to be over. Here are some of my tips for hosting parties big and small:

1) Invitations

If I'm having a casual brunch, lunch, or dinner, I like to use Paperless Post to email out invites. In this day in age, I've found that a lot of people from my generation are incapable of responding to a paper invite which is very unfortunate. If I need a super easy invite, I create an event in Facebook because it'll bug the invitees about the party to get a response! Ha! 

When I want a beautiful paper invitation but don't want to pay a lot of money, I use PowerPoint, Pinterest, Google Images, and free font websites like 1001 Fonts. I print the invites on cardstock and use colored or specialty envelopes from Hobby Lobby. I appreciate a physical invitation- it's definitely a lost art that I want to see make a comeback!

2) Theme Parties

Pick a theme and go with it! For a casual party, I don't pick a theme, but for a wedding or baby shower, I usually like to pick a theme that I think the lady being honored would appreciate. I threw a baby shower last year for a friend who loves all things superheroes, so I ran with that. I also get inspiration for a shower theme from completely random things like a t-shirt! Pinterest has countless ideas if you're stumped! Check out the ideas I've pinned on my Showers & Parties Board! Pins about flowers are also a good jumping off point to get ideas for color themes.

3) DIY vs. Sanity

If you hate planning and hosting, outsourcing decorations and food may be a good call for you! If you love to plan but your wallet doesn't appreciate your love to party, then DIY-ing might be a good fit for you. I like to do some custom decorations that can be gifted to the lady of honor so what I have in my head might not be something I can search and find online to buy. Also, half the time, something I want to have at the party is cheaper for me to make than to buy online. For example, a burlap banner will run you $16+ on Etsy, but you can make and customize your own banner for about $5. 

Stores like Dollar Tree, Five Below, and Target have tissue poms, paper garlands, and felt decorations quite cheap. I've made a bunch of poms by hand, but the older I get and the less time I have on my hands, the more I'm willing to purchase pre-made decorations and mix and match it to my liking. 

4) Re-purpose Decorations

I have a holiday closet where I store holiday and party decorations. Once I've taken the time to either make decorations by hand or spend money to purchase pre-made decor, I want to use the decorations again. When I've had a pink party, I re-use the decorations for Valentine's Day. My friend's superhero shower left me with decorations that I was able to re-purpose for Trip's Olympic birthday party. So, unless your decorations are super specific, hang on to them- you'll probably be able to use them again soon!

5) Map It Out 

To save money, I usually cook and bake everything, so I spend a LOT of time planning the menu. I scour my Pinterest boards and hit up friends at school for ideas and recipes to develop a menu. Once I have my menu planned, I make a grocery list with every ingredient needed. I also plan out what platters, bowls, and plates will be used for each food.

Then, I make a timeline. I list out everything that needs to be accomplished starting a few days before the party. For the day of, I have a list with to-dos by time so I can ensure that each dish gets cooked and warmed as close to guests' arrival as possible. Lately, I've come to the conclusion that I do best when we clean the house and set the tables the night before. Then, we head out to dinner so we don't have to do any extra dishes or extra clean-up. 

Did you notice that I didn't have any pictures during the parties? That is one of my biggest regrets! I usually get so wrapped up in hosting and hanging out with friends that I forget to take pictures! Maybe I'll make that next year's New Year's resolution! What are your top party hosting tips? Tell me in the comments below, and make sure you stop by my Tuesday Training post from this morning! I'll see you back here tomorrow for the What's Up Wednesday link-up. See you soon!

Tuesday Training: Week 17

Hi there! Thanks for stopping by to get in shape with me! Swimsuit season is just around the corner, and I definitely need to work on my core. I had sworn off running until Thanksgiving when I start training for next February's 5K, but I think I was in my best shape when I was running, so I've picked it up again.

While searching for ab challenges, I came across this one on Pinterest. The link doesn't actually take you to the correct website, so I took a screenshot of the picture and kept my phone by me to reference while working out. I got through day 16 of the challenge and then quit because I was exhausted from work and mom life. I'm off of my steroids but still not in remission, so it's time to get back in the game!

To see more of my favorite exercises, visit my Tuesday Training Pinterest page!

Later this morning, I'm linking up for Show and Tell Tuesday to share some of my party planning tips. Check it out HERE!

Tell me what some of your favorite core exercises are in the comments below! See you soon!

Monday, April 24, 2017

Life With the Lees: Weekend Recap 4.24.17

Good morning! We've got 6 weeks to go at school until summer break, and everyone in our house is super pumped! Even though we did a lot this weekend, it was mostly housework and yard work, so today's going to be short and sweet!

At the end of the week, one of my students stayed after class to tell me that I needed to read this book and consider it for future student book clubs. I think it is so sweet that my kids like to read non-fiction and historical fiction and then that they share their recommendations with me.

The book club that I'm in each summer with other social studies teachers has picked this book for our summer reading:

Our weekend wasn't as packed as it usually is, and all we had on the agenda was Ari's baseball game on Saturday morning. She missed a practice due to her swim lessons and then her 2nd game and another practice got rained out, so it's been a few weeks since she's been out on the field.

Just like her first game, Ari got a hit off the tee the first time up to bat and then got a hit off the coach's pitch during her second time up to bat. We're still working on the whole drop the bat and RUN thing!

The kids spent the rest of Saturday hanging with Sue-Sue and Grandpa. When they got home, we watched some Animal Planet shows after dinner. Speaking of which, Robert and I tried out 3 free meals from Hello Fresh this weekend. 

I'm glad that we had the opportunity to try it for free, but we won't be subscribing to the service. If you like to cook and want to impress people with your plating, then you might enjoy it. Here are my pros:
* The dishes are fancier than what I'm used to cooking, but I felt confident cooking them with the instructions. 
* The plating made me look more professional.
* Every meal was boxed together separately so you don't have to divide up the ingredients.

My cons:
* The food was okay. None of the meals made me feel like I needed to rush out and register for the program full time.
* Each meal will run about $15. In my book, that's too much money to spend on 2 adults. 
* The meals were very high in calories.
* The meals required a large amount of olive oil.
* I didn't feel like the produce was as fresh as it could be.
* The seasoning for one meal was definitely off. The label claimed it was one teaspoon, but it was very clearly more than a teaspoon. 
* The packaging was quite excessive and wasteful. Please recycle what you can!
* The only thing I feel Hello Fresh saved me was time at the grocery store which wouldn't have actually bothered me much as it wouldn't have taken a planner like me long to do. The meals took about 30-45 minutes to cook, so if you're a busy person on weeknights, this program will probably stress you out!

The type of cooking that doesn't stress me out? Baking! On Sunday I baked for hours on end for this week's secretary day and to apologize to my librarians for missing last week's library week! I made chocolate peanut butter cookies, slutty brownies, hummingbird cupcakes, and lemon crinkle cookies. Shout out to my awesome friend Betsy for gifting me lots of bakery boxes to transport everything in!

Ari has baseball tonight, and then both kids have swim practice the rest of the week. I'm back tomorrow for a double post with Tuesday Training and Show and Tell Tuesday. See you soon!