Mother’s Day Gift Guide

Mother’s Day is right around the corner – Sunday, May 12 – so if your in need of help on ideas to spoil mom this year, you’re in luck! I created this gift guide with a variety of ideas that can stand alone or be paired together to wow-mom.  From self care to home decor, to just because – you’ll be pampering and spoiling mom with these simple and personalized, yet easy gifts!
Mother's Day Gift Guide - the bee life
Self-Care: Gardening season is here, which means extra hand washing and dirt! Gear mom up with these fashionable floral gardening gloves from Williams Sonoma under $20 (on sale!)  And whether it’s self care after gardening or excessive hand-washing from home projects, Aveda’s hand relief cream is a must-have for anyone you love (and yourself!) it’s so luxurious – not to mention it’s the best hand healer, which is why it’s one of my daily essentials!  Lastly, spoil mom with a new robe, because you know the one she has was around when you still lived at home (eek!) – Anthro has a ton of beautiful options that’ll make mom feel like a million bucks and make her want to donate that old robe, ASAP. <Shoppable links below>

Home Decor: Joanna Gaines’ Hearth & Hand line at Target has THE perfect mug for mom, it’s simple and the perfect reminder to mom that you love her (because it says ‘Love You, Mom’) – especially if you can’t see or talk to her everyday!  Stay on the Chip & Jojo train and get mom Joanna’s newest book Homebody is the perfect guide for anyone who loves decorating or looking for design inspiration for their home!

Just Because. The Anthro Block Letter Monogram necklace is so simple and so elegant, whether it’s a first or last name initial, mom will absolutely love this – it’s an easy and thoughtful gift that can work for anyone on your list! You can’t forget a card for mom! Go homemade or local for a personalized touch.  This card from Boundary & Thorn is the perfect mix of florals and watercolors – mom will want to frame it!

Shop the Gift Guide: Williams Sonoma Gardening Gloves | Target Glass Jar Candle | Homebody Book by Joanna Gaines | Anthropologie Block Letter Monogram Necklace | Aveda Hand Relief Cream | Love You, Mom Mug from Target | Anthropologie Flora Robe | Boundary & Thorn Mother’s Day Car

The best part is you can even pair a few of these items together as little gift sets, or with other different pieces: like the Anthro Robe with a spa gift card or bottle of mom’s favorite wine.  The coffee mug could be paired with mom’s favorite coffee beans or k-cups, and the gardening gloves and hand cream would go great with a flower pot and fun flower for mom to plant!  But remember, beyond just spoiling your mom – make sure you tell her you love her. xox

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Latest Obsessions 04.19 – Outdoor Dinnerware

Guys, guess what! Spring is practically here which means summer is right around the corner, which means patio season is coming soon!  And with all the daydreaming about warm days – which we’re probably all doing – I can’t help but dream about those nights hosting dinners on the patio or even just enjoy a light weekend brunch with B.  It’s truly one of my favorite things! So, I went hunting for some more fun pieces to incorporate into patio season for dining and entertaining that can stand alone or mix in with other fun patterns and prints of existing pieces. Here are a few different looks and styles for you to shop for this summer! Spoiler: I may just be shopping all of these.

Bright & Modern: Can you say Hello Don Draper? These pops of color are so fun especially in the summer and these modern twists on vintage looks are so fun to incorporate into your outdoor serve ware this summer!  I’m also a firm believer that having super cute acrylic and plastic cups for fun cocktails or lemonade especially from a safety perspective on patios!
Latest Obsessions - Outdoor - the bee life (1)Shop the West Elm Diamond Colored Acrylic | Crate & Barrel Dua Yellow Melamine Plate

All American: From Memorial Day – to the 4th of July – to Labor Day these can be a staple all summer long! I have lemon patterned enamel plates from Pottery Barn from a previous season – and I absolutely love them, they’re durable and fairly heavy duty for an outdoor set and not just flimsy plastic that’ll blow away! Plus they have blue with white stars cork placemats – yay!
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Shop these enamel plates from Pottery Barn

Classic & Colorful: I’m slightly obsessed with these Modern Melamine Dinnerware plates especially the grapefruit, silver pine and citrus yellow – they’re in my shopping chart and they’re currently on sale! I like these too because they can be a grounding element while being able to pull in some fun printed plates and patterns.  The sleek design are definitely functional and the glasses look fancy while still being outdoor friendly!
Latest Obsessions - Outdoor - the bee life (3)Shop West Elm Fluted Acrylic Glassware | West Elm Modern Melamine Dinnerware 

Honorable Mentions: Last year I was completely obsessed with all of the Opalhouse dinnerware, and I’ve been admittedly keeping an eye out for this seasons prints and patterns – which are finally out! They also have some vintage plastic glassware in a variety of colors that are perfect for all seasons. Another outdoor dining essential is having a flatware caddy that is easy to back-up inside and portable outside – I bought a metal one last year and it’s been clutch even for indoor entertaining, now I just need a few more styles!
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Shop the Honorable Mentions: West Elm Summertime Plates | Target Floral Salad Plate | Macrame Table Runner | West Elm Rattan Flatware Caddy  | Target Floral Embossed Plastic Tumbler

The fun part about entertaining outdoors is that you can mix a variety of textures, styles and materials (like glass and plastics) to pull in a warm and organic look for your guests… without looking like you spent the true number of hours you did working on your tablescape! I’m ready for you summer – but don’t go away too soon once you get here.

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Overnight French Coast Casserole – The Recipe

For Easter brunch this year I made a new dish, that I’ve had at my aunts but this was new to my immediate family and for me! So it was a perfect time to make it for them.  Plus, it’s an overnight casserole, so all your prep is the night before and all you have to do morning of is pop it in the oven – SO EASY! Not to mention, this is SOOOO good, especially if you love some breakfast sweets.
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Prep Time: 20-minutes
Cook Time:
45-minutes

What You’ll Need:
– 10-12 slices of white bread (I used 10)
– 5-6 eggs (I used 6)
– 1/2 cup of margarine aka 1-stick
– 1.5 cups of brown sugar
– 1-teaspoon of cinnamon
– 1.5 cups of milk (I used almond milk)
– 9×13 baking pan
– Maple Syrup for serving
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Step-by-Step:
1. Items to prep ahead: (a) Melt your stick butter (b) Beat your 6-eggs into a bowl, add your milk and stir well (c) Mix your brown sugar and cinnamon into a smaller bowl.
2. Now that you have all the main fixings prepped, take your 9×13 baking pan and pour your melted butter across the bottom – from there fill the pan with your first layer of bread.  Only 4-full pieces fit in my pan, so I cut one in half to fill in the little spot left.
3. Sprinkle about half of your cinnamon and brown sugar mix overtop the first layer.
4. Add your second layer of bread, I adjusted where my smaller pieces were from the bottom, just because!
5. Pour your egg and milk mixture over all of the bread.
6. Sprinkle the rest of your cinnamon and brown sugar mixture overtop.
7. Cover and refrigerate over night!
8. Good morning! Pre-heat your oven to 350 and bake covered for 30-minutes.
9. After 30-minutes, uncover and bake for 15-minutes or until set and toppings are browned.
10. Serve with maple syrup & enjoy! French Toast (6) - the bee life
The next time I make this dish, I have a few other ideas on how to step this up to the next level, adding in apples in between the layers for an apple french toast, or even having a strawberry drizzle to put on top before serving and eating. Doesn’t that sound even more delish?!  But seriously, if you love a good sweet in the morning – this is so easy and so delicious!

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3 Unique Wedding Gifts to Give

Guess what! Wedding season is all year round – so if the Save the Dates are starting to fill up your fridge, here are a few ideas to stash away, or better yet – order ahead of time to give as the perfect shower or wedding gift this season.  Trust me, I’m not one to promote veering away from the wedding registry but after receiving a few of these ourselves I was shocked and taken aback by the thoughtfulness!
Unique Wedding Gifts - the bee life
Okay – let’s get to the good stuff!

  1. Custom Family Cross Stitch – We got this as a wedding gift, and I nearly cried when I opened it and saw our little family stitched into a beautiful frame.  Yes, it even included MOZ! which I think is what made me the most happy – upon further viewing behind my tears I noticed that the outfits B and I wore were the same from our engagement pictures! It was seriously one of the most thoughtful gifts and we have it hanging it a prominent spot to swoon over it.  Here is a similar one on Etsy. This could also be done as a custom painting or portrait of the couples new/first home or engagement picture! Better yet, if you’re crafty enough you could make this yourself!
  2. Monthly Wine Club Subscription – This could even be a food box service for a few months (while they’re adjusting to married life) or some other beverage/cocktail service that the couple can enjoy and experience together.  Giving them a few months free is a great way for the couple to get excited about something new and make a new married tradition.  Check out Winc, Clubbubbly or Home Chef.
  3. Honeymoon Help – A lot of registries, like Zola allow couples to add a Honeymoon Fund to their registry.  This is something to keep an eye out on! Another way to help a couple on their honeymoon is with a gift certificate to a restaurant for a dinner date on their honeymoon!  We greatly appreciated this as it helped us plan a special night out and around the rest of our trip. Does this couple love traveling? This 50 States Photo Map on Etsy is also another great gift and keepsake to help traveling couples document their travels!

The important thing when giving a gift is knowing the couple! And if you’re just not sure, but want to give something a little different talk to a closer family member or friend to gut check or figure out where they’re honeymooning.  Cheers to wedding season!

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Create Your Own Bloody Mary Bar

One meal that is just as important and often shared with our loved ones is BRUNCH! We love brunch, and even more than going out to brunch, we love hosting brunch with friends and family.  From easy breakfast casseroles prepped the night before, to french toast and egg skillets – the only other thing you need is a yummy Bloody Mary to go alongside it! I have an easy way to make an awesome statement for your brunch-goer guests with an awesome Build Your Own Bloody Mary Bar.
Bloody Mary Bar - the bee life (1)
What You’ll Need:
– Cube Cheese; Sharp Cheddar, Colby, Swiss – all your faves!
– Beef Sticks
– Celery & Carrot Sticks
– Pickles
– Thick Cut Bacon
– Stuffed Olives; 3x (garlic, blue cheese, feta)
– Horseradish Sauce/Hot Sauce – extra spice
– Bloody Mary Mix: Zing Zang
– Vodka!
– Extras: Sport peppers, whole banana peppers

For Serving:
– A round or square tray to hold all your toppings & keep you bar area contained
– Glass containers; I used 5-square votive holders (washed) and 4-taller sphere candle holders (washed) to hold the various toppings, you can find these at the dollar store!
– Write with a marker on the glassware to help distinguish cheeses, stuffed olives, etc.
– Fun Paper Straws, skewers & cocktail napkins!

Step-by-Step:
– Cook your bacon; this might be the item you’ll want to prep most ahead of time in order to make sure you account for that bake time appropriately in the oven, the goal here is for the bacon to be nice & stiff.
– If you don’t buy your cheese pre-cubed, you’ll want to cut up your various cheeses and separate into glassware and label accordingly – Next prep, wash, and cut your celery and carrots. For your celery it’s OK to keep the leaves on, it’s a fun garnish for your bloody! I also bought pre-cut beef sticks, so it was easier for platting.
– When your ready to create your Bloody masterpiece fill your pilsner glass with ice; add your shot of vodka, or more, fill the rest of your glass with your Bloody Mary mix! This is when you can add any additional hot sauces or horseradish to mix in.
– Garnish your bloody to your liking & last, but not least – cheers with your crew!
Bloody Mary Bar - the bee life (2)
I was inspired by one of our favorite brunch spots who has an impressive Bloody Mary Bar – the options are seriously endless of what you could have for garnishes for your bar, but the most important factor is knowing what your guests like and having enough of a variety!  This is a fun way for guests to create something they love with all their favorite toppings, in addition to a delicious brunch!

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Local Love: Valentine’s Edition

Hello, Cleveland lovers! Guess what – Valentine’s Day is a little over a week away… eeek!  Are you ready? If not,  I have some of my favorite local spots that would be perfect for a coffee date, heart-felt card or a romantic date night.
Local Love - Valentines Edition - the bee life
Brewella’s: Decorated to the tee for the day of love, you might just fall in love with someone here.  Whether it’s a gift card, a coffee date for one of their seasonal latte’s (with homemade strawberry whip cream) or a breakfast date for crepes – Brewella’s will not only deliver in delicious drinks and eats, they’re festive pink and red decor will make you melt! Explore the coffee shop from their instagam.

Kelsey Elizabeth Cakes: KEC just dropped their Valentine menu, the key for this is ordering ahead to make sure your sweet treats are secure for your sweetie for the big day!  Not feeling all the kitchy V-day sweets?  KEC has a collection of customizable cakes for any occasion and other delicious treats stocked daily! Check out the Valentine menu here or tease your sweet tooth with KEC’s insta feed.

Boundary & Thorn:  The kitchen punny line of prints are so cute, and not to mention a little frisky!  This would be a fun little gift to give to a gal pal or sig-o, one of my personal favorites from the Coffee Punnies by B&T is “Wanna French” with a french press – it especially makes me think of B since we always make a french press on the weekends!  Boundary & Thorn also specializes in custom projects (dog portraits, wedding invites, holiday cards!) beyond her shop items! Shop B&T’s instagram feed.

Lovely Paperie & Gifts: Hey guys, listen up for this one! This would be a great place to bring your gal pal on a little shopping spree, to let her pick out a Lillie Pultzer piece, a monogram bracelet, or maybe some Kate Spade? If a shopping spree sounds a little too extravagant, they also have an assortment of stunning Valentine cards that would make anyone’s heart melt.  Ladies, they also have gifts for your guys too! Shop Lovely virtually here.

Distill Table: If you head to Distill you have to order one of their handcrafted cocktails, made with all locally sourced ingredients that will not only make your tastebuds giggle but the presentation will turn you to a heart eye-emoji.  The red velvet booths will make you want to cozy up with your Valentine while you enjoy all delicious and local food!
Local Love - Valentines Edition - the bee life (2)
So if you haven’t even thought of Valentine’s Day yet, maybe some of these local spots will inspire you – even if you’re not reading from CLE.   These are a lot of my favorite local shops that I like to frequent as often as I can especially for special occasions, looking for one of a kind gifts or for just some delicious local eats (or coffee, LBH)!

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Image Sources: Group image sourced from shops instagram feeds and linked within content.  

Last Minute Holiday Fashion Guide

Last year I fell in love with furs – mainly because of my winter wedding and then pulling those fur wedding vibes into my holiday looks. Fur is still my go-to piece for all my holiday looks this season!  Here is some inspiration for last minute holiday looks from my closet – plus I sourced some current pieces in case you want to shop any of the pieces (and a few of them are on sale!!)
Holiday Fashion Fur - bee life (1)Formal Christmas Party.  Burgundy is a great warm and sultry color to introduce into your wardrobe especially around the holidays.  Now pair burgundy with some floral prints and a classic capelet fur and you’re holiday ready! I love this look as it’s a bit more formal for a party without feeling overly Christmasy – not to mention it’s a little sexy too!

Classic & Comfy Plaid with Fur. Okay, total disclaimer this might be my favorite outfit – it’s so stinkin’ cute plus it screams Christmas! My plaid tights were any early season purchase from Old Navy, I can no longer find them on their website, but I found some for $13 at Walmart (linked below!) My awesome shoes (which are basically a shoe version of an ugly sweater) are from Katy Perry and appear to no longer be available – but she has new festive ones for this season to shop!Holiday Fashion Fur - bee life (2)
Fur Meet Metallic.  For a happy medium between dressing up and casual – I love mixing this classic blush scoop tee with a fun metallic skirt, throw that fur capelet on and you have a wintery look ready for a holiday party or evening mass.  This look is the right amount of festive without going over the top!

The Ultimate NYE look. When I think NYE, I think gold, glitter, sequins and sparkle… so what better look that a sequin dress and a fun fur vest!  When I was looking for a similar piece (my gold sequin dress is from Target last year) I found this adorable black large sequin dress from H&M that is on sale <linked below> and I might like it better than my gold dress! Anyways, this outfit is party and champagne ready.  Holiday Fashion Fur - bee life (3)

Shop the pieces: Faux Fur Capelet – Nordstrom $83 [on sale!] | Lace Shift Dress – Nordstrom $59 | Burgundy Floral Sheath Dress – Old Navy $26 [on sale!] | Red Plaid Leggings – Walmart $13.95 | Faux Fur Vest – Target $39.99 | Sequin Sleeve Shirt – Target $16.99 | Metallic Animal Print Wrap Skirt – Express $29.95 [on sale!] Black Sequin Dress – H&M $34.99

One of my favorite fashion times of the year is the holidays – it’s an excuse to dress up and be as sparkly as you want!  I’ll definitely be rocking a few of these looks in the next couple weeks for coming office parties, family festivities, Christmas Eve mass and of course NYE!  What’re some pieces you’ll be incorporating into your holiday looks this year?

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Bee Holiday Hacks – My Go-To Gift

I’m going to fill you in on another little secret of mine, it’s the gift I give every year… and sometimes even to the same people! But trust me, it’s anything from lazy, unoriginal or impersonal.  My go-to gift is ornaments! Growing up, every year we would get an ornament before the holiday – my brother collected the Puppy Love series from Hallmark, and I was usually a mix-match but usually went for the Barbie series from Hallmark.  Regardless, every year unboxing the ornaments and carefully finding a place for them on the tree is one of my favorite parts of the holidays, so I like giving that gift to others as well.
Holiday Hack - Ornaments - bee life blogOrnaments hold special memories, can mark significant moments or important dates, places traveled or a moment in time.  From an engagement, wedding, anniversary, to a lost pet or a new house our lives are captured into sweet little keepsakes to trim our Christmas tree year after year.

How I Make My Ornaments: I like to switch up my base for my ornaments whether it’s a large clear glass globe, wooden circular ornament (I used real wood we cut), shaped wooden ornament, or a round plaster ornament.  From there I like to search my nearest and dearest friends social accounts and find a few perfect pictures from the year that could easily be translated onto an ornament and make copies at a print-in-seconds Kodak machine.  Mod Podge is my best friend when it comes to putting these photos onto the wooden ornaments or ceramic.   I’ll add gold glitter around the edges so you can’t see where the picture doesn’t overlap – most important part is adding the year!   With my wooden ornaments I drill a whole so the ribbon can string through to be hung.  For glass globes, I’ll fill with glitter or sequins, or even ribbon or string and write on the outside – from fun hashtags, to new homes addresses, these are classic ornaments that are so simple and fun and make a big statement.
Holiday Hack - Ornaments - bee life blog (1)
Creating special ornaments of friends kids or dogs, special events, or anniversaries – I use stickers, gold markers and fun ribbon to add the finishing touches to these unique ornaments year after year, and my favorite part of all of it all is seeing these ornaments on our friends trees each year.   On top of making ornaments I do love shopping Hallmark’s ornaments each year and finding fun keepsakes for my family or even for B and I to hang on our tree.

What’s your favorite ornament?

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My Hubby’s Surprise Party & Tips for Planning One

For the last 6-months or so I’ve been planning a surprise party for my hubby, B — this quickly turned into a bit feat as we got closer to the actual surprise date!  You see, I get really excited about presents I pick out, gifts, or surprises – I like to bait people and often can’t wait, just wanting to spill the beans.  Planning this party was definitely a test of that (that I passed!) but was also a bit stressful, yet very exciting!
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So here are a few tips and areas to focus on when planning a surprise party!

Plan a Date.  Since B’s birthday is a few days after Christmas, it often gets looped in with the holiday and overlooked – so I wanted to make sure we avoided the holiday but also wanted it to be close.  Since December tends to be a busy month for everyone I planned over the summer and sent out my digital Save the Dates.  I also picked a Friday night, thinking it’d be easier for me to sneak away on a work day than a regular Saturday.

Location.  This one can be tricky! I initially had the perfect place picked out with an ideal party room – then they closed over the summer.  The options got smaller and I got picker, so the fall back was our house, that way I could control the food, decorations, alcohol, etc.  I just needed to keep the hubby away long enough to get the house decorated and sneak 30-people inside.

Plan the Diversion.  I wracked my brain on this for months, until I finally reached out to MW to help with the diversion – he was all over it and a HUGE help to this all working out!  This started getting planned just a few weeks before, and then initiated with B the week of the party – drinks after work, and then getting back to the house in time for the surprise!

Pick a Theme & Decorate.  To keep a somewhat complex event, simple – I wanted to stick with a classic color scheme of gold, black and white! I kept decorations easy too,  with lots of balloons, big gold number balloons, fun themed thirty banners, some ‘Vintage 1988’ plastic cups, pictures of the birthday boy and a photo booth with polaroids.  Pro-tip: Buy a mini-helium tank, it’s easier and cheaper! 

Food & Drink Favorites.  Since I was hosting, I could pretty much pick whatever for the food and I wanted to make sure to incorporate some of B’s favorite things. To do this, I ordered chips and salsa from his favorite spot picked up dark chocolate pretzels, another favorite!  From a beverage perspective, I made sure there was plenty of B’s favorite Christmas beer – and our friends/families brought plenty of beer options for him too!
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My goal was to plan a surprise party for B to celebrate his upcoming 30th, while keeping it simple and intimate – which isn’t easy to do with big families and lots of friends, but somehow I think I pulled it off! B was DEFINITELY surprised and had no idea, I kept the charade up all day – even though I took a half day and had planning for months.  Another plus of planning so early is I slowly ordered decorations and party supplies throughout the months so I really only needed to worry about the food the week of!

It was fun, but I don’t think I’ll be planning another surprise party anytime soon!

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