Friday, May 26, 2017

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday! Trip celebrated his last day of 2nd grade yesterday, and I have 5 more days 'til summer and my new gig! 


Robert and I are coming up on our 9th wedding anniversary soon, and we still use a lot of the gifts we received. I thought it would be fun to share my top 5 picks to either add to your wedding registry or to purchase for any upcoming weddings.

1) Everyday dishes


I've never been one to pine after fancy china or teacups. When we registered, we opted to ask for Fiesta four piece place settings in turquoise. I absolutely love my Fiestaware! We have several extra serving pieces to go with our dishes, but I love that I can dress these dishes up or keep them super casual. If you're in the market for some new dishes, check out the entire Fiesta line at Macy's HERE.

2) Knife block


We have used our J.A. Henckels knife block every day for nearly a decade! This isn't our exact same block, but we definitely plan to stick with the brand when we need to upgrade in a few years. Any couple will find these super useful for dining on steaks, prepping for dinner, or putting the finishing touches on a dish.

3) Pyrex glassware


We received some Corningware dishes when we got married, but they arrived broken, and I never replaced them after returning them. A few weeks ago, Target had a sale on Pyrex dish sets, and I decided to scoop one up. I freaking love them! I use all of the dishes every week to help store leftovers, cut up fruits, or pre-made dinners from my Instant Pot. I have the 18 piece set now, and I'm thinking of getting the mixing bowl set soon, too!

4) Bedding


I absolutely love the sheets I received from Target for our wedding, and although I've tried out a few other brands, I keep coming back to Threshold sheets. They're a great value but also super comfortable and durable. Trip recently redid his bedding, and we picked out Threshold sheets for him, too! 

5) Pots & pans


I accidentally burned onions in a stock pot over the Christmas holiday and was devastated to have to replace the pot as we've had it for almost a decade! When out searching for a replacement, I was super frustrated by the prices! I so appreciated receiving this investment piece as it really did last, and we've loved the Calphalon brand.

What was one of your favorite gifts to receive when you got married or what is one of your favorite gifts to give? Tell me in the comments below!

In case you missed any of this week's posts:
Life With the Lees: Weekend Recap 
Tuesday Training: Week 21
Show & Tell Tuesday: Best and Worst Trips
What I Wore Wednesday: Sephora Play! April Box Review
Try It Thursday: Lemon Neiman Marcus Bars

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

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



We've got a big swim meet tomorrow, and I'm planning on taking advantage of our pool to catch up on my magazine subscriptions this weekend! Have a wonderful weekend, and I hope to see you back here on Monday for our weekend recap! 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!

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Try It Thursday: Lemon Neiman Marcus Bars repost


Hi everyone! Thanks for joining me for another week of Try It Thursday! I'm having a super crazy end of the year, so I need to slack off on this post today, but before I got busy, I had actually planned for today to be a repost because the recipe gets gobbled up everywhere it's taken.

I'm talking about the Lemon Neiman Marcus Bars!  You can view the original post HERE, but I decided to write it up again in the format I've been using lately. These are perfect for spring and summer baby/wedding showers or even an outdoor BBQ. Besides being delicious, they're super simple to make. Scroll on down for the directions!


Ingredients:
* 1 box lemon cake mix
* 4 eggs
* 1 stick melted butter
* 4 cups powdered sugar
* 8 oz. cream cheese, softened
* 1 tablespoon lemon zest
* 2 tablespoons lemon juice

Directions: 
* Preheat your oven to 350 degrees and spray your 9 x 13 pan.
* Combine the lemon cake mix, 2 eggs, and melted butter. It will be thick!
* Spread the mixture into the pan. I try to keep the mixture away from the very edges as it will spread and rise over the topping.
* Then, beat the powdered sugar, 2 eggs, cream cheese, lemon zest, and lemon juice. You can add food coloring at this point, but I like to keep it natural.
* Spread the cream cheese mixture on top of the cake mix layer.
* Bake 35-40 minutes until the center is set. 
* Let the pan cool on the counter for 30 minutes and then refrigerate for at least 2 hours. I recommend waiting at least 8 hours to cut the bars. You can store the bars in your fridge for up to 2 days. (Just know, they're so delicious, there won't be any bars to store up to 2 days!) 
* Slice and enjoy!

Do you have a favorite lemon dessert? I'm hoping to make a lemon bundt soon! Don't forget to link-up to share your favorite recipe of the week, and make sure to stop by the other blogs to say hello! I'll see you back here tomorrow for Friday Favorites!

Wednesday, May 24, 2017

What I Wore Wednesday: Sephora Play! April 2017 Box

Hi! Thanks for stopping by as I link up with The Pleated Poppy and Andrea at Living On Cloud Nine for today's What I Wore Wednesday. Last month, I shared my experience with my first Sephora Play! subscription box. You can read that post HERE. Today, I wanted to give you a quick review of my April Play! box.

Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil in Black



What Sephora says: A pro artist favorite, Aqua XL Eye Pencil Waterproof Liner's superior, long-lasting formula will not smudge, crease, or fade until you remove it. Its innovative formula blends intense, rich color with a super-gliding texture. This versatile liner’s smooth texture effortlessly glides onto lids without skipping or tugging while delivering intense, one-swipe color that lasts all day. Ideally applied with light pressure, this pencil is perfect for creating a tight line or smudging for a shadow effect. Available in 20 shades, it features shades that range from everyday neutrals to bright pastel pops. 

My verdict: I used it twice and then gave it away. I'm not an eyeliner pro, and although Sephora claims it can be smudged, it didn't budge on me. (I like to smudge my eyeliner.) If you've got great skills and you want your liner to stay in place for hours on end, then you'd enjoy this. At $21 a pencil and my lack of eyeliner expertise, I'm going to pass.

Sephora Collection Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover


What Sephora says: This do-it-all formula removes waterproof makeup and contains a lash-strengthening complex that's rich in flavonoids and olive wood extracts.

My verdict: I gave this one away after two uses as well. My eye makeup comes off better with soap and water in the shower than this, and if I have a lot on, I felt my makeup remover towelettes did a much better job than this remover. This 4.2 ounce bottle will run you $11.

Philosophy Purity Made Simple


What Sephora says: Begin with the most basic step of all. Purity Made Simple one-step facial cleanser is an award-winning cleanser that melts away dirt, oil, and makeup. It tones and lightly hydrates in one simple step for skin that feels perfectly clean and comfortably balanced. Formulated for all skin types and gentle enough for the sensitive eye area, it deep cleans pores while natural oil extracts help condition skin.

My verdict: You know I'm super loyal to my Pixi cleanser, but I have heard nothing but amazing reviews of Philosophy's products for years now, so I was excited to try out this cleanser. An 8 ounce bottle costs $24. Another disappointment! I used it for over a week and had several pimples pop up after beginning to use it. The formula is gentle, but it also left a film on my face. I've got another cleanser in this month's box that is doing more harm than good, so I'm getting back on my Pixi routine tomorrow!

Smashbox Photo Finish Foundation Primer


What Sephora says: Instantly reduce the appearance and fine lines and pores while locking in your makeup looks with the Iconic Photo Finish Foundation Primer. Lightweight and oil-free, it glides on to give you a flawless finish, while antioxidants vitamins A and E and peptides help protect your skin from environmental pollutants, damage, and stress.

My verdict: Finally a winner! This is a makeup artist must have, so I was super thrilled to try this out. One ounce will set you back $36, but a little goes a long way, so the bottle will last you quite a while. This is a product I am actually considering purchasing when my trial size runs out. My pores are HUGE, and this primer does an excellent job of blurring everything and making my skin soft enough to apply makeup without looking caked on. If you're the type of blogger who appears in a lot of your site's photos, definitely give this product a try!

Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream


What Sephora says: Three molecular sizes of hyaluronic acid—a potent hydrator that constantly attracts and retains up to 1,000 times its weight in water from moisture in the atmosphere—helps replenish skin to make it appear more supple, full, and smooth. Ceramides help lock in moisture, ProHyal+® helps improve hydration for healthier-looking skin, and antioxidant-rich elderberry helps defy the look of aging. The appearance of fine lines and wrinkles is visibly reduced, leaving a silky, hydrated, and more youthful-looking complexion.

My verdict: This moisturizer is okay. It feels like a gel going on, and it only requires a little dab to cover your whole face. I didn't feel like this product was life-changing, and at $52 for 1.6 ounces, I don't have plans to buy it in the future. 

Miu Miu L'Eau Bleue


What Sephora says: Youthful, colorful, sophisticated, and unique, the MIU MIU L'eau Bleue fragrance offers a contemporary vision of the lily of the valley twisted with akigalawood—it’s a fragrance that’s all about freshness and joy.

My verdict: Sorry, y'all! I didn't even spray the bottle to test it out since fragrances make me sick. Isn't $90 for 1.7 ounces a lot though?

Overall, I wasn't in love with last month's box. As much as I love skincare, I'm starting to get sick of skin products and want more actual makeup in my boxes. I'm testing out the products in my May box now and will let you know how they work out in a few weeks. Have you had any experience with the products I showcased today? Have you found any must-have makeup products recently? Tell me about them in the comments below!

Link up with me tomorrow to share your favorite recipe of the week! See you soon!

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Show & Tell Tuesday: Best and Worst Trips

Happy Tuesday, friends! Thanks for joining me today as I link up with Andrea at Momfessionals to share about my best and worst trips. I really sat and thought about the worst trip I ever went on, and honestly, I couldn't think of much. If I really had to choose, I would say the one when I was a kid on a 14 hour drive home from St. Louis and had a stomach bug or car sickness the whole time was my least favorite! Ugh- that's my nightmare come true!

I recently linked up with Shay and Erika for their Workin' It Wednesday post where I wrote all about how I plan for a trip. You can read that post HERE!

When I surveyed my family a few months back for a blog post, I asked them what their favorite vacation was. The consensus was our family trip to Dallas in 2015! It's just a four hour drive from Houston, and we love museums, food, and shopping, so the Big D was right up our alley!

We stayed close to the Perot Museum and Dallas World Aquarium. The hotel was fine, but this part of town was set up for people on business trips. We walked a few blocks and ate lunch at the Corner Bakery and took advantage of some fun photo ops in and around some shops and restaurants. 





After lunch, we headed to the Dallas World Aquarium which was just across from our hotel. The tickets are pricey, but they were 100% worth it! Everyone in our family loved it. You start at the top of the aquarium and work your way down through different environments.


We got to feed toucans!



It was super kid-friendly and again, we had lots of great photo opportunities!




There's a neat walk-through tank with sharks!


We don't have penguins at the Houston Zoo, so we were so excited to see some up close and personal. Random fact: My favorite Spanish word is ping├╝inito or "little penguin!"



We'd had a long day of traveling and walking, so we took a siesta at our hotel and then walked a few blocks to a Dallas staple for dinner- El Fenix.


The sun was still up and we had some new energy to burn, so we stopped outside of The Perot Museum and played leap frog and the xylophone. 



The next day, we met up with some old friends at The Perot. This is a really neat science museum for kids of all ages!

 

They've got everything from dinosaurs to robots to Texas wildlife!


Our favorite part was an area where you could choose to race against a dinosaur, a football player, a track athlete, and more!


I even got in on the action and had my booty handed to me!


Later that afternoon, we went window shopping at Northpark Mall and then had dinner at one of Robert and my favorite restaurants, Campisi's. We went to the Egyptian Lounge location on Mockingbird which is super fun if you're into the old-school Italian mafia vibe. 


On our way out of town the next day, we went to the George W. Bush Presidential Library & Museum. As a history teacher, you know I eat this all up, and as much as I love Georgie boy, I was actually fairly disappointed in the museum. First off, it is expensive! My other major complaint was that it really focuses more on his time in office and didn't do much to showcase his life prior to the office. His dad's museum in College Station does a much better job balancing the two, and as much as I respect the office, I think it's important to see what that person did before he or she came to that position of power. I also think it humanizes them a lot more, too.

That being said, the Oval Office was very cool!



This last picture is quite fitting for today as I'm currently at my new school district signing my contract for next year! I know this is not very exciting news for you, but it is life-changing for me and my family. I will be working in our home district where the kids will both be in school next year and also where Robert works. We will be on the same schedule, I'm finally getting a raise, and my hour commute will now be cut down to 20 minutes which gives me a lot more time with my kids! I'm very excited and also very nervous as I haven't taught 8th grade American history in 4 years! Change is good, but it is also hard to say goodbye to friends and move out of your comfort zone. 


Now, while Dallas has been our favorite trip thus far, I have high hopes that our Disney World vacation next summer will beat out Dallas. I'm talking with my travel agent, Dani, in a few weeks, and I'd like to give her a better idea of what we do and don't want. So, I have some questions for you and would love your input:

1) What restaurants do you recommend both in the parks and at places like Downtown Disney and the Board Walk? We are thinking we'll do the food plan that gives us 2 big meals and use those for a big lunch in the parks and then a big dinner either in the park or outside.

2) As of right now, we're building in 2 days for Universal Studios. A lot of the rides look like they're going to have a too tall height requirement for Ari. Also, I'm looking at the site, and I can't see why I would need 2 days there. Do we really need 2 days there? OR if you think we need 2 days, do you think the boys would like 2 days there and the girls do the second day back at Magic Kingdom? 

3) If you tell me we really need 2 days at Universal, I was thinking we'd do 1 day at Epcot, 1 day at Magic Kingdom, 1 day at Hollywood Studios, 2 days at Universal, and 1 last day at Magic Kingdom again. We're going to skip Animal Kingdom as we have had a ton of animal exposures. How does this schedule sound? What do you think I should change? 

Please, please, please give me your insight! 

To read more of my Show & Tell Tuesday posts:
Steal & Splurge
My Loves
Kids' Parties
Most Embarrassing Moments
Top 5 Pictures
Prom(s)
Grown-Up Parties
Memory Lane

Thanks for stopping by! Did you check in for this morning's Tuesday Training post? I'll see you back here tomorrow to share a little bit about my 2nd box from Sephora Play! Ciao!

Tuesday Training: Week 21


Hi there! Last week, I told you about my plan to take the last few weeks of school off from working out. I actually got to a point a few days ago where I am starting to miss my workouts! 


Our pool is finally warm enough that I'm looking forward to getting in super soon, but I'm also going to need to get back into swimsuit shape soon! If you're in the same boat as me, then push play on this 10 minute workout: The Ultimate Bikini Bottom Workout

You can view ALL of the Tuesday Training workout videos on just ONE Pinterest page HERE!

Thanks for stopping by today! I'm linking up with Andrea from Momfessionals later today to share about favorite vacations. Check it out HERE! I'll see you back here tomorrow- see you soon!  

Monday, May 22, 2017

Life With the Lees: Weekend Recap 5.22.17

Happy Monday! Do you have just a few days left like my boys, or are you in for another 2 weeks of school like me?

A quick question for you: When I click on my link on Facebook and on link-up parties, my website looks SO old school and basic. The logo is blurry, the font is basic Times New Roman, the pictures are small, etc. Does it look like this when you come to my site? If so, do you have suggestions of what I can do? My site actually looks like this:


BUT... when you click on my link on link-up parties or from Facebook, it looks like this:



I usually link up through my phone, so I think that could be the problem, so make sure you check back later this week so that you can see my ACTUAL website! Ugh!

Last Thursday, we celebrated Robert's birthday. I made one of his favorite desserts: Paula Deen's Not Yo Mama's Banana Pudding!


My aunt texted me the night before that Guns 'N Roses were going to be in St. Louis over the summer, so I surprised Robert with a ticket to see them in a historic concert while we're there over the summer! I made him work for his gift with the following clues: 


On Saturday, we were up super early to send the boys off to a swim meet, and I took Ari to her double header of baseball games. After the games, we met up with the boys to watch Trip swim his last few events and then went to lunch with Robert's mom at Freddy's. 


We tried to catch some shut-eye before heading out to Ari's dance recital. She was pretty cute to watch, and I think she had a lot of fun being up on the stage!


You think she has enough people that love her with all of those flowers? 


This boy made me a very proud mom on Saturday. He was very kind to another boy on his swim team, and I appreciate that he chooses to be that way, even when he thinks nobody is watching.


On Sunday, I finally mustered up the courage to try out my Instant Pot! I made not one but TWO dishes in an hour and a half that will feed us 3 meals! I'm now officially an IP fan girl! If your slow cooker is giving you trouble, I would definitely recommend that you switch over to the Instant Pot!


Tomorrow is a big day for me! I've been waiting on this since January, so I'm excited to share my news soon! See you back here tomorrow for the Momfessionals' link-up and week 21 of my Tuesday Training! See you soon!

Disclosure: One 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!