A BLOG ABOUT A LITTLE BIT OF EVERYTHING

Friday, December 2, 2016

Beginning to Look a Lot Like Christmas

Greetings, faithful blog readers.

Another week has come and gone: only one more week of classes remain before finals, and we're taking an opportunity to rest up a bit this weekend before the real grading marathon begins.

Last Friday, when my parents were here, we decorated our home for the holidays so we'd have a full 3.5 weeks to enjoy our decor before traveling.

My dad and Brendan did the outside lights. It was much faster than doing a roof line, but I think it has a nice effect.


The cold fronts this week gave me plenty of excuses to start up the fireplace, light a balsam fir candle, and get cozy. 


This is the first Christmas since we lost Mimi, and it made me happy and sad to add this ornament we gave her last year to our tree. 


This time of year goes too fast. In two weeks, my classes will be over; in three weeks, it will be Christmas Eve. I'm trying to take in the magic I love about the season one cozy evening at a time. 


Happy weekend everyone! Hope it's a cuddly one and time slows down a bit for us all. 

<3 

Thursday, November 24, 2016

Oh Oh Oh, It's Thanksgiving

Greetings faithful blog readers! I hope you all are having a fabulous turkey day. 2016 has been a mixed bag of high highs and low lows, but today, I'm reflecting on all there is to be thankful for and there is so very much.

I'm thankful for my family, my students, my home, and my health.


I'm thankful for turkey.

And I'm thankful for the best chef and husband a girl could ask for.


I'm thankful for many great memories that we made this year.


I'm thankful that, no matter what happens, the love and happiness outweighs everything else. It's more than I deserve, and I try not to take it for granted.

Happy Thanksgiving All.
Love to you and yours.
<3


Sunday, November 20, 2016

Three Months of IPSY (A Review)

Greetings faithful blog readers!

For the past three months, I've enjoyed my subscription to Ipsy. Ipsy is a subscription service like Birchbox: they send you five makeup samples per month in a cute cosmetics bag for $10. Here's a look at my September, October, and November bags. If you decide to sign up for Ipsy, please use my personal referral link. I am not being paid or given freebies to promote Ipsy. Below are my honest reviews.

September 2016:

My first Ipsy arrived with Eyeko: Eye Do eyeliner in black, Rodial Hyaluronic Tonic, It Cosmetics Superhero mascara in super black, Christie Brinkley Daily Face Exfoliating Polish, and Be A Bombshell Cosmetics nail polish in Va Voom. My favorite product was the tonic: you spray it on your face to refresh your skin. I love that I can use it post workout to keep sweat from staying trapped in my pores. The face wash was nice: I used it when we traveled to Dallas, and I love getting minis of products you need while traveling. I was not impressed with the mascara (super smudgy). The eyeliner works nicely, though I rarely use eyeliner, and I haven't used the nail polish (first I'd have to get rid of my shellac manicure).

I was able to fill out reviews and give my preferences for products I liked/didn't like.

October 2016:

The October bag could not have been cuter. It arrived filled with Beaute Basics eye shadow in Satin Taupe, theBalm Cosmetics blush in Hot Mama, NUDESTIX concealer pencil in light 2, Lottie London eyeshadow brush, and pur-lisse Daily Lip Nourisher. I was most crazy about theBalm Hot Mama blush. It's a really nice color, and it can also be used as an eyeshadow too. The concealer pencil was my second favorite find: it covers blemishes and red spots nicely and stays put all day. The eyeshadow and brush were nice, but not something I really needed. The lip nourisher feels nice under lipstick, but it is not something I'd go out of my way to purchase. 

November 2016

My November bag arrived on Friday with the following: Delectable by Cake Beauty hand cream in Sweet Mint & Cream, Luxie Beauty blush brush, Two Faced "better than sex" mascara, Japonesque finishing powder, Adesse New York brightening base coat. The hand cream from Cake Beauty is absolutely amazing. It smells like a junior mint and the same was a generous full size. I also really like the mascara (which I'd used before) and the blush brush. I have yet to try the other two products. 

Overall, I feel like IPSY sends products that definitely give me my money's worth. It's fun to see what will be in the bag, and I love that they include a little cosmetics case with each month (they're perfect for travel or just throwing in your purse or gym bag). I also enjoy that I get points for reviewing products. So far, I have 280 points and can use 250 to add a reward to my next box (you get to pick from their list of samples).  I've received larger samples with IPSY than I did with Birchbox. Both subscription services have that "hit or miss" effect. Sometimes, a product is great and really a nice asset in my make-up routine, but some of the products I feel are less useful. I look forward to my bag each month, and it's a fairly inexpensive way to pamper yourself and find new products that you wouldn't have discovered otherwise. 

This would make a fun and cute gift for anyone in your life that loves makeup. 

In other news, after pantry and refrigerator organizing and grocery shopping, Brendan and I are fully prepped for Thanksgiving 2016. It doesn't seem real that it's already here. It seems like not that long ago that we were hosting his parents for our first holiday in our home. The years are getting faster! We're looking forward to having my parents this year for another Thanksgiving for four. These years are special: small groups but big love, and I'm cherishing them. 

Hope you are looking forward to the holiday as well. 

<3 

Friday, November 18, 2016

Minutes to Dinner: Gourmet Grilled Cheese

Greetings faithful blog readers!

Thanks for hanging with me. I know my blog hasn't been very active these past few months. I've had a lot going on, and I started to focus some more on my writing. Don't worry, I'm still blogging!

I'm planning to start a new series called "Minutes to Dinner." These posts are not going to be recipes, but rather things that Brendan and I do to throw together weeknight dinners that are fast and affordable. While these may not be as healthy as our average dinners (we incorporate lots of fresh veggies into our cooking), we promise they will be a healthier alternative than picking up fast food. This series is for everyone out there that is busy and budgeting but still wants tasty dinners.

My first minutes to dinner post includes two things I love: tomato basil soup and grilled cheese. We buy La Madeline's Reduced Fat Tomato Basil Soup at the grocery store (HEB), but if you can't find it, here is a link to purchase online. Note: the shipping price is the same price as the three jars of soup. Texans, check your HEB for a better deal. If you haven't had La Madeline's Tomato Basil Soup, it is simply amazing, and this reduced fat version tastes identical to the real deal (pinkie promise). I'm sure you could find another soup in the grocery store that is also tasty if this isn't an option.

To make the gourmet grilled cheeses, we simply sliced three types of cheeses that we had on hand and put them on English Muffin halves in the toaster oven. Then we chopped up toppings: peppers, jalapenos, pears, purple onion, tomatoes, and also had basil, spinach, and carrots on hand.


The result were these adorable open faced gourmet grilled cheese halves:


My favorite combo was: basil, spinach, Jalapenos, pears, and purple onion (yum!)

We each ate three muffin halves and one serving of soup (still have two servings of soup leftover). You can buy the light English muffins to make this dinner a little lighter.

Grocery List:
La Madeline Reduced Fat Tomato Basil Soup (or other soup)
(Light) English Muffins
Spinach
Basil
Carrots
Bell Pepper
Purple Onion
Cherry Tomatoes
Jalapeno
Pear

Total time spent heating soup and sandwiches and chopping veggies (about 10 minutes)
You can't beat the low maintenance clean up either!

Have ideas for minutes to dinner? Email them to us at LolaAndZoeBlog at Gmail Dot Com!

Have a great weekend friends! We are planning to spend ours prepping for Thanksgiving. It basically snuck up on us this year. We're looking forward to actually having time to cook!

<3

Saturday, November 12, 2016

SCMLA With People We Love

Greetings faithful blog readers,

It's been a tough week for me. As a teacher, I want to instill the future generation with tolerance, empathy for fellow men and women, and beliefs in our American values like equality, freedom of speech and religion, and love for fellow Americans. The country is divided, many, including myself, are heartbroken, and I'm left trying to stay strong and continue to practice what I believe in. One quote that is getting me through these hours is Martin Luther King Jr.'s: "Darkness cannot drive out darkness; only light can do that; hate cannot drive out hate; only love can do that." May Americans continue to love and shine light. I pledge to be active in doing my part to protect freedoms for all and to continue to fight for everyone's best interest: our country is a collection of people, and I hope we can find common understanding. I, too, will work to do that.

Last week, Brendan and I were participating in SCMLA, our favorite conference, with some of our favorite people. This was my seventh year presenting at the conference and Brendan's fifth year. McNeese had a HUGE group of attendees this year from multiple generations of the program, and it was amazing, to say the least, to meet new people and be among some of our best friends. This group has supported us through some of our best and worst times, and we couldn't love them more: May we all have friends that we can say that of.


Dallas was a fun city, and we especially loved hanging out in the Deep Ellum area. Here were some of the highlights:

Drinks at double wide (pictured above): this bar had indoor and outdoor seating with a trailer park theme.
Sushi at Deep Sushi: quite good and hit the spot for my craving!
Drinks at Black Swan Saloon: recommended by three friends in Midland, this place did not disappoint. The cocktails were so fancy; I don't know what exactly I drank, but it was delicious!



Dinner at the Woolworth near the eye sculpture. The food was absolutely outstanding (fancy comfort food), and my favorite of the trip. Don't miss the Mac and Cheese appetizer, the truffle fries, and the grilled cheese and tomato bisque.


The conference kept us too busy to explore Dallas too much, but I did get a chance to go shopping at Buffalo Exchange and have lunch at a nearby cafe. I picked up two pairs of jeans and two dresses for $100, so it was a shopping trip success. 

Of course, we couldn't leave Dallas without seeing our friends that have relocated to Frisco, the Lellis family. We met up in Addison at Ida Claire's for a delicious brunch (the Bloody Mary's and vegetarian frittata were the best). 

Miss these girls! 
We headed home last Saturday and had a day to catch up on work before diving into another busy week. This past week was so crazy that a relaxing weekend at home is just what I need. I cannot believe we only have one more full week of school before our shortened Thanksgiving week arrives. I feel behind, but I'll make it work. 

In the happiest news of this week, this happened. I am honored to be a finalist in PANK Magazine's Fiction Chapbook contest; it means so much coming from a publication that means so much to me. Roxane Gay published my first short story, and I'll always love and enjoy reading PANK. 

Happy weekend everyone. May we all find rest and restoration this weekend. 
<3 

Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Stitch Fix Review November 2016

Greetings faithful blog readers. I can't wait to tell you about last week in Dallas, but first, it's time to show you what was in my 10th Stitch Fix. If you don't know what Stitch Fix is, please read my first ever review, which explains how it works. Should you decide to get a fix, please use my referral link; I'd greatly appreciate the referral credit. This post is in no way sponsored; I pay for my own fixes and all opinions are my own.

Okay, first off, I haven't ordered a fix in some time: and by that, I mean since February; Stitch Fix can't be beat when it comes to convenience, and this month is too busy to shop, so I put a stylist on the job! I told my stylist that I wanted some dresses to wear to work and family holiday parties and jeans and comfy sweaters for the upcoming chilly weather. My stylist this time was Meagan, and I hope that she can style me again because I really felt like her picks were "spot on."

Up first was the Bodie Cable Front Pullover:


How I loved this sweater, let me count the ways: I like the color, I love the style, and it was comfy as could be. Unfortunately, the medium was too big in the arms (the sleeves hung past my wrists). I remembered that Stitch Fix has finally added exchanges, so I was planning to buy this in a small instead; sadly, when I hit exchange, it only gave me options for M-XXL. I guess it wasn't meant to be Bodie. This was a return but a reluctant one!

Moving on, it was time for the Bianca Slim Straight Leg Jean and the Katrine Striped Pullover.



These jeans legitimately were an awesome fit. It takes me forever to find jeans, and I'm amazed that a perfect stranger can send me one pair that fits perfectly (almost every time!) However, this past week in Dallas, I ended up at a thrift store where I purchased a pair of Michael Kors jeans in the same wash for less than half the price of these. I couldn't justify also keeping these, but it feels horrible to have to send them back when they fit so great! I liked the pullover, but I wasn't crazy about it. Both of these were a return.

Time for the dresses! Up first was the Jace Embroidered Lace Dress.


I gotta say, I was thrilled with this pick. It's exactly the kind of thing I'd wear to a work or family holiday party. I love the color and the fit. This was a definite keeper!

Last, but not least, was the Sariya Jersey Dress:


Stitch Fix overpriced this one for sure, but it's a winner in my book for several reasons: it's work appropriate, I'd also wear it outside of work, and it's extremely comfortable. In fact, I think I'll wear it tomorrow. Kept!

Overall, even though I only kept two items, I think this may have been my favorite fix yet. Everything fit nicely and was exactly the kind of thing I would wear. This stylist really listened to me and personalized the fix. I'll definitely be scheduling again and asking for Meagan (has anyone had luck with keeping a Stitch Fix stylist?) I love trying on clothes in the comfort of my own home and seeing how things match with everything I already own. Stitch Fix is a treat for me!

Did you get a fix this month? How was it?
Happy Tuesday!
<3

Saturday, October 29, 2016

The Ends of October

Greetings faithful readers and friends,

October has been tough, but we're nearing the end now, and November will be the start of a new month. If you've been reading for awhile, you know that new months are always particularly inspiring to me, but I can especially say this of November as it is a month where we focus on thankfulness and reflection.

Despite not having a chance to blog the last two weeks, I wanted to capture some of the happy moments from them.

The biggest news is that, on October 15th, I traded in Goldie and got a new car!


I choose a Honda CR-V EXL, and I couldn't be happier with it. I was ready for something with more room, but I still wanted a car that would fit in my garage. This is the perfect car for me. We also looked at Ford Escape and Mazda CX5, but the Honda stole my affections. After driving Goldie for 100,000 miles, it was hard to say goodbye. A few tears were shed, but the dealership seemed confident that Goldie would find a new home.


My CRV is a fancier car than I'm used to. I love that it connects with my phone via bluetooth, so I can make and receive calls without physically holding the phone. I love the backup camera and the right turn lane camera. I even have a three month subscription to Sirius Satellite Radio, which is also really fun! 


Last weekend, my mom came to town, and it was amazing to see her. We went furniture shopping while Brendan caught up on some work. On our agenda: finding a new couch. Mine was purchased from Craigslist for $200.00 in 2008 and is on its last leg. Our big requirement was that the couch had to be a sleeper sofa (not easy to find), and we also wanted something very comfortable and fairly attractive. We found the perfect couch (it's not this one; I just like that picture of my mom). Brendan approved, and we placed our order on Tuesday. It should be delivered in 8-10 weeks. I can't wait! Pictures to come. 


While my mom was here, we played Yahtzee, saw Girl on the Train (the book was better; the movie is far too serious with no fun moments; so disappointing if you were expecting anything like Gone Girl), and we ate at the Red Oak Kitchen, a restaurant we had never tried before. We highly recommend the Red Oak Kitchen; we all shared cornbread, pizza, tacos, and salad, and we had plenty of leftovers for everyone to have lunch the next day.

I got my hair done on Thursday with Max at Maximus Salon. I snapped this photo to send to Brendan at work. He loved it, and my mother in law called it "wicked cute."


Speaking of wicked...

We had a "wicked fun" time last night catching our friend Jenni in Midland Community Theater's production of Southern Hospitality. There's still a chance to see it tomorrow and next weekend, so we highly recommend that you go, especially if you need a good laugh.

And, we spent today readying ourselves for Halloween.

There was pumpkin carving and pumpkin seed roasting. Here's my pumpkin:


Brendan's pumpkin seeds (cinnamon, sugar, and all things delicious). In other cooking adventures, I made lemon poppy seed pancakes with lemon glaze and eggs for breakfast and mac and cheese for dinner. Sometimes a cozy day at home is just what you need.


My pumpkin at night:


Brendan's pumpkin. Isn't it great?


In the past week, I've embarked on a Harry Potter movie marathon. We decided to transform the tutoring center at work into Harry Potter world for Halloween. All the tutors and staff took the official JK Rowling quiz to be sorted into a house. I'm a Ravenclaw, and Brendan is a Gryffindor (no surprises there). We'll be wearing our "house uniforms" on Monday :)

In other work news:
We took the honor society members bowling two weekends ago and participated in the Halloween carnival this Thursday. We have fifty active members: easily the most we've had in a fall semester.
91% of my flex students moved into 1301 with me, which makes me happy in a way nothing else could.
The fall creative writing contest closed to submissions last night with more entries than Brendan has seen since he started running the contest four years ago.
I was extremely honored to be nominated for the Teaching Excellence Award.

Our friends and family have given us much to be thankful for, and November hasn't even begun. I'm ready to welcome the season of giving and being thankful, but first, I can't wait to pass out candy and celebrate Halloween in our house for the first time.

Happy End of October, all. We hope the month is wrapping up nicely for you with a relaxing and cozy weekend.

<3

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