At Home Teeth Whitening: Does it Work?

This product was gifted to me to review by Smile Brilliant. As always, the experience, opinion review are completely my own.


Coffee Coffee Coffee!


There are few people on this planet I relate to more than Lorelei Gilmore. Her love for coffee, need to prove herself on her own, and quirky personality spoke to me once a week for years. And then again on Netflix on repeat for years.

But this post isn’t about my love for Lorelei. It’s about our shared love of coffee. The delicious black tar of the Gods. And while my heart, soul, and mental capacity to tolerate other humans all depend on it’s beautiful role in my life, my teeth do not appreciate it.

I still remember being a kid and on vacation with my dad and him asking me if I wanted a cup of coffee with my orange juice (like him). It was more creamer than coffee and I only took a few sips but the foundation had been laid. I’ve had a lifetime of coffee drinking for my teeth to combat with and whiting toothpastes just don’t cut it.

So, if you’ve ever been curious about teeth whitening, I hope you’ll take a few minutes to read through this post. It’s for you. I’ve tried it many times over the years and never had successful results. Whether it be from the dentist or OTC options, I hated them all. The ones from the dentist we super expensive and really uncomfortable. The over the counter ones have very minimal results, and there’s no way for them to be comfortable when they are a one size fits all. I also have sensitive teeth so both options ended up hurting. I was resigned to believe that teeth whitening was not for me.

That’s why when the crazy sweet and helpful team at Smile Brilliant reached out to me, I didn’t jump to try it out for quite a while. After a lot of questions and answers, I agreed to try the Sensitive Teeth Whitening System. The whole process was so easy thanks to their seamless process and because I did have such a great experience, I wanted to share it with you here.


Picking Your System

The first thing you need to do is go to the Smile Brilliant website and decide which package is right for you. They have two primary choices: The System for Non-Sensitive Teeth or The System for Sensitive Teeth. Pretty simple. Pick your door. From there you’ll be able to determine the level of program right for your specific needs.

If you have light staining, but don’t drink coffee or wine and have done whitening before then you’re good for the T3 System. However, since most people have staining from a lifetime of build-up from coffee, tea, wine, ect, I would recommend the T6-T9 systems. They are all the same product and all will use a custom molded tray, the difference will come in with amount of applications you will use.

The System for Sensitive Teeth that I used is the same basic concept, but typically is better for those with teeth sensitive to cold/hot, have had “aching” when doing teeth whitening in the past, had a history of childhood medication or smoking, ect. It allows for shorter application times and comes with a second type of application you’ll do after whitening to desensitize your teeth. I can attest to the fact that it really works. I was VERY skeptical because I have very sensitive teeth due to genetics and childhood meds combined with (as previously mentioned) an undying love for coffee.

What You Get

Each system will provide everything you need to complete the process:
Professional Lab Service
Professional dental lab will receive your impressions, create an exact model of your teeth, and fashion a truly custom-fitted tray

Custom-fitted Teeth Whitening Trays
Exactly like your dentist would make. Finished trays include 1 upper and 1 lower tray.

2 Impression Trays
Used in combination with impression material to create mold

3 Sets of Impression Material
To make your own dental impressions (1 extra set of material in case you mess up)

3-Way Postage 
All postage between you and the lab is covered (2-way for orders outside of United States)

Professional Teeth Whitening Gel & Desensitizing Gel (If Applicable)
Dentist-strength 22% Carbamide Peroxide in 3ml syringes (you choose quantity). Desensitizing gel included with “sensitive” packages.

Amazing Customer Service

I really can’t say enough good things about the team that works for Smile Brilliant. If you have any questions or concerns throughout the process they want to help so don’t hesitate to reach out.

First Things First (I’m the Realest)


Ignore the way my brain works. Before continuing this blog post I had to stop and do a Iggy Azalea mini dance party just because I thought of the lyrics. But I mean, come on people! Have you seen that music video? Summer 1995 Leslie came back in full swing.

Anyway, I digress. The real first things first, will be a package that arrives with your kit to make your impressions. I was a little nervous about messing this step up but it was really easy and they provide you one extra in event it doesn’t go right the first time. Just make sure that before your start the process of making the molds, you can see it all the way through.

It doesn’t take long but set aside 20-30 minutes with no distractions just to be safe. One you start, the activator in putty starts and you need to create your molds immediately after forming the dough. I’ve created a handy dandy photo guide of the process and you’ll get a comprehensive instruction sheet with your order as well.


After you’ve created your molds, you’ll use their return packaging to ship it back off to the company. They have a handy form to show you what your molds should like when done, so try to get it as close as possible to that. The company will examine them when they receive them to ensure they were done properly, and if they were, they will create your trays for you and mail them back.

The Whitening


This picture makes me laugh. Hello, Vanna White here, look at my trays. Full disclosure, I took these photos after I went through the majority of my applications, my teeth did not start out this white. I also usually use filters on my photos, but I opted not to edit these like I normally would so you could see the real results.

During the first fifteen minutes of my first application, I was like NOPE, don’t like this. I can feel it. I didn’t feel pain, but I just felt weird having something sitting in my mouth and not being able to talk. However, very quickly I almost completely forgot about it. And it was a really nice excuse to not get asked 10,000 a minutes by my kids. Oh no, sorry guys, mama can’t talk for the next hour. Come back later. Hello, mom win.

I did a few days with just desensitizing gel before starting the actual whitening at the recommendation of customer service since I have pretty bad sensitivity. If this is you too, you might want to get a couple extra syringes of the desensitizing gel just in case. After my first real session, and then quick session with the desensitizing gel, I was told I could put coconut oil on my gums to help sooth it but I wanted to see if would need it first. Turns out, I didn’t. My teeth were fine throughout the entire process and my results were amazing.



And guess what, because I loved this whitening system SO much, Smile Brilliant has agreed to do a giveway with me so one of you can try the system for yourself at home!

To Enter:

Simply go to and enter your email address! You can also add your IG handle for an extra entry! I won’t see these entries, Smile Brilliant will be doing a random drawing so enter away! This stuff is truly amazing, I wish you all could win! For those who don’t though, please use my code leslielately15 to get 15% off store wide!

savingPNG (1).jpg


I would absolutely, 100% recommend this whitening company to everyone I know. And I really love that if you want to keep up the results you don’t have to keep buying the whole system. You have the option to buy the applications by themselves as well. I’ll be doing touch ups every few months just to ensure I keep them this white, because we all know I won’t be giving up my coffee. Ever.

*Disclosure - you HAVE to have the trays for this system to work, so the first time you purchase you’ll need to buy the whole system.

Have you ever done a whitening system before? I’d love to hear about your experience in the comments below!

xx, Leslie

Happy Birthday, Amelia + Atticus!


To say the last year has flown by would be a massive understatement. People always say kids grow up too fast - and they do - but this year seemed extra fast for us. I didn’t even blink, you guys! They just magically turned a year older.

This blog post is going to go against all blog post rules for blog growth. I’m not going to help you learn something new or have catchy headlines. Today is about my babies and putting down these memories while they are still fresh enough for me to remember them.

I don’t know how I lived this tired, beautiful life before these babies were mine but I know that life is infinitely better with them in the world.



Atticus William Balbontin. You are two weeks a one year old and sweeter by the day. In this last year you have brought so much joy to our lives that some times I don’t think I can contain it - it’s too much. You are love. You are my most cuddly baby and are always laying your head on my shoulder. You love your sisters and crawling really fast after them where ever they go. You haven’t walked yet, but you want to kick a soccer ball like sissy so badly that I’m sure it’s coming soon. Take your time, we don’t need to rush it.

Speaking of a ball, that was your first word and your favorite toy. You get so excited any time you see one. I can see you being obsessed with sports already, and I’ll have to learn to love them too so I can keep up. Your second word was dada, and yours lights up any time you say it. And finally, last night you said mama and it made my rough day so much better. You love pasta and apple sauce but only have 4 teeth so eating is still a challenge for you. You’ve been cutting new teeth for the last week so I see a lot of new foods coming your way soon.

There aren’t enough sentences to contain our love for you, so I’ll just leave it at that. We love you sweet boy.



Amelia June Balbontin. You are a firecracker if I’ve ever seen one. You challenge everything. You are as stubborn as your dada and as vocal about it as mama. You are also the most loving and giving little girl. You will share anything of yours and help anyone at a moments notice. You want to help your brother learn everything and sing to him when he’s sad. You want to copy what your sister does and love watching Pokemon with her any chance you get.

You would be happy if you could only eat chicken nuggets, dairy free yogurt, and z-bars for every meal, but we are working on expanding your plate. You love to help mama in the kitchen and paint beautiful pictures for your room. You have such a big imagination and are always playing make-believe. You will turn anything into a character if you don’t have toys with you. A salt and pepper shaker is as good as a shopkin when you are playing.

You have played soccer for two seasons now and you get better with every practice. You make friends anywhere you go and are so kind and respectful to everyone you meet. You let people know when you are upset though. I never have to worry about you standing up for yourself and I love that about you. You’re strong and loving, and honestly one of the funniest kids I’ve ever met in my life.

Mama and Dada were so lucky to “birth” you, as you would say. You’ve made the last five years something incredibly special, and we love you oh so much, our girl.

Happy Wednesday, friends! Today I will be celebrating my girl and taking her out for picnic. I hope you all have an amazing day and take a second to remember the things that bring you joy.

xx, Leslie

Crack Chicken Casserole in the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker

Crack Chicken Casserole.png

This post was created in partnership with Ninja and I received a complimentary product but all opinions within are my own.

You know those nights that you walk into the kitchen and suddenly realize that you forgot to defrost the meat for dinner. Yeah, sometimes those nights are great because hello take out pizza but 99% of the time I really want what I had in mind to cook. And with three kids, a business I run from home with said kids, soccer practice schedules, homework, rebuilding, and everything else on my plate, forgetting to take out the meat to defrost happens way more often than I’d like.

I’ve been dying to get a pressure cooker for awhile. At first I didn’t really know what the big difference was between a crock pot and a pressure cooker, so when I went to replace my crock pot after Harvey I looked at the price difference and just went for what I knew. Amateur move.

I quickly realized that I should have done my research before I went to Target. So, learn from my mistake people.

Here is the quick and dirty rundown of why you want a

pressure cooker vs a crock pot!

Crock Pot:

Only effective if you want to cook low and slow or keep something warm. While you can set it and forget it, you also have to plan ahead because they take so much time to cook.

If you want your meal to be crisp or seared on the outside, you have do that on the stove before putting it in the crock pot.

Pressure Cooker:

These are fantastic when you don’t have 10 hours to wait for your food to be done, and if you don’t want a bunch of extra steps involved. With the Ninja Foodi Pressure Cooker, there is a TenderCrisp™ Cooking Technology that others don’t have. It allows your food to be tender and juicy, while crispy on the outside - all in one appliance without extra hassle! (A busy mom’s dream!)

While you could slum it and get a different pressure cooker, I highly recommend the Ninja Foodi because of all of the extra features it includes making it truly stand apart. If you’re looking to stay healthy, you can use the Air Fryer air crisp, bake/roast, broil, dehydrate - and using up to 75% less fat than other traditional frying methods. This is a deal maker for me - I’m trying to live healthier and this helps me be able to still enjoy some of my favorites!

You also have the option to sear and saute items, create one dish casseroles, bake cakes, hard boil eggs, make rice, and about 500 other things. When you get your pressure cooker there is an awesome recipe book that’s included, but in the mean time I’ve created a recipe to get your ideas flowing!

Opps, Crack Chicken Casserole

Okay so remember how a few paragraphs back I mentioned that I tend to forget to defrost the meat. Yeah, well, that’s how this recipe came to be. Except instead of forgetting to defrost the meat, I forgot to buy bread. I wanted to test out my pressure cookers features before reviewing it for you, and I figured why not try a spin on the internet sensation - Crack Chicken. That baby is all over Pinterest. Normally, it’s some variation of shredded chicken, cream cheese, and hot sauce - give or take a few ingredients - and then you put the mixture in some delicious bread and have a happy sandwich.

Since I can’t eat anything spicy, I was going to go with a bacon and tomato version. And then I forgot the bread. Not one to be deterred easily (jk, I’m deterred way too easily I just didn’t know what else to make), I decided to wing it. Crack Chicken Casserole it is! I also decided to nix the bacon this time around to ensure the recipe could all be one pot and no additional dishes.

Like with most first experiments, there are a few things I would tweak. Like I could have gotten away with a little less water for the rice, so I’ve adjusted the recipe for you. This isn’t the prettiest dinner I’ve ever made, but I can tell you my extremely picky teenager had three bowls of it and asked for more the next day. So I’m landing on a mom win for this dish.


The Recipe

Serves approx. 4


3-4 Chicken Breasts

1 block of Philadelphia Cream Cheese

1 cup Cherry tomatoes

1/2 tablespoon Minced Garlic (can be adjusted to personal taste)

1 teaspoon salt

1/3 onion chopped

3 cups of water

2 cups of jasmine rice

Optional: green onions for topping + arugula salad as a side



  1. Pour 3 cups of water, 2 cups of rice, tomatoes, onion, garlic, and salt into cooking pot of the Ninja Foodi. Place wire rack into cooking pot.

  2. Season chicken and place on top of wire rack.

  3. Close pressure lid, turn on Ninja Foodi, and set to pressure. Make sure the pressure valve is set to sealed. Then set to high for 9 minutes.

  4. Once the timer goes off, release the pressure valve and let steam slowly release. Once it is ready to open, take out chicken and the wire rack. Add cream cheese ( I like to cut it in six pieces so it melts easier). Shut lid to keep warm.

  5. While that sits, shred the chicken and then add back to cooking pot. Mix everything together and serve.

  6. Optional: Top with chopped up green onions and a side salad.

I’d love to hear how you like the recipe! Leave me feedback in the comments below!

xx, Leslie

Best 2019 Mother's Day Gifts for Under $30

Hey Friends!

It’s been so busy over here with my surgery and trying to plan two birthday parties in May, register Amelia for Kindergarten and planning our trip for Germany next month. If you’re schedule is as packed as mine you might have forgotten that Mother’s Day is this weekend! I got my mom a gift a few weeks ago just by chance when I saw something I just knew she had to have. However, I like to get stuff for my girlfriends and my sister too - and I totally dropped the ball this year.

It’s not too late though! I know we all say Target is bae, and I mean it is, but if I had shopping sister wives, Amazon Prime would be signed, sealed, delivered, I’m yours. I’ve created a quick list for the lovely ladies in your life so that you don’t even have to leave your living room.

Bonus: All options are under $30!

For the Mom Who Needs to Relax


Face Mask

Better yet, a dead sea mud mask.


Bath Bombs


Bath Tray

For holding so much wine.

For the Mom Who Works Out


Yoga Pants



Fitness tracker

For tracking fitness.


Water Bottles

With positive messages and goal tracking!

For the Mom Who Likes to Read



A love letter.



One of my favorite series ever written. It’s YA but this author has more genres as well and they are all amazing.


Gift Card

Better yet, let her pick!

For the Mom Who LOVES Being a Mom



Let her bar necklace say it for her.



Say it over and over.



For all the coffee it takes to mother.

If the perfect gift for the awesome women in your life aren’t on this list, don’t worry, Amazon Prime literally has about a million other options! Go get your gifts before it’s too late!

xx, Leslie

The Best of Easter 2019: Target Version

44 Easter Items You 2019 - 10.png

Full disclosure, while this is not a sponsored post, I have included affiliate links for the items I truly love. Thank you for helping me support my family.

Hey friends!

As per usual, I was walking around the aisles of Target with no real purpose other than to stress out my husband and buy chocolate to hide from my children. And with all this useless energy, I decided to make a list of all of the best Easter things that Target came out with this season.

Side note, if you didn’t already know, Target has a curbside option now and if you’re tight on time you or heavy on kids, you can place an order online and it will be ready within two hours. I’ve never actually used this service… because Target… but you know, it’s there. (It’s also pretty convenient in this circumstance to be able to get Easter Basket things without the kids seeing what you’re buying.)

So anyway, here are my Easter faves… now go shop, and be hoppy.

Home Decor

POM POMS! All of the pompoms! Don’t question it. Just do it. Pom poms for every season because they make everything a million times more festive and fun. Snatch up this one! Also a really great alternative (OR ADDITION!!) to this one, is this also super cute Decorative Egg Garland. Okay, this is my last garland related item, but these LED String lights are a must have! Add them to your kids room to make their space a little more festive and special for the occasion.

JK - this Wooden Garland is my last LAST garland related item.

In my option, one of the easiest ways to transform your space for new seasons and/or holidays, is by adding throw pillows, wreathes, and little decor accents. They have absolutely no prep time, and can be thrown into a storage bin after the holiday to be saved for next year. No muss, no fuss. Here a few of my favorites from this season: Easter Egg Wreath, Faux Daffodil Wreath, Easter Bunny in Glass Cloche, Vintage Easter Blue Truck, Bunny Lumbar Pillow, Bunny Square Pillow, and this tiny little bunny figurine.

Let’s get one thing clear RIGHT MEOW, there are few things I love more in this world than pink milk glass and believe wholeheartedly that it can AND SHOULD be enjoyed all year around. However I also acknowledge that not everyone lives in a vintage dream world but you should at least enjoy it in the spring because it’s perfect for it. Hearth & Hand has a couple really cute pieces right now: 2pk Milk Glass Cupcake Stands, Milk Glass Scalloped Bowl, and my fave, a Milk Glass Scalloped Cake Stand.

Some other really great transitional pieces from Hearth & Hand this Easter are their Egg Tray and Faux Eucalyptus Stems (think center pieces y’all!)!

Easter Basket Goodies

I have a full Easter Basket blog post coming soon, and I’ll link it here when I finish, but in the meantime, here are some great ideas from Target.

So when it comes to things like Easter baskets, I like to pack them away and save them to use again next year. It seems so wasteful not to and as much as I like shopping, I don’t like wasting money. Because of this, I like to buy semi-neutral baskets that can grow with your kids and have things added to it (if that’s your thing) for each stage.

I like this white Spritz one because it’s sturdy and only $8 for the medium sized option. It also comes in several colors. I’ve also linked this cheaper but also cute Herringbone Easter Basket, and this Wire Basket with Wooden Handle.

Don’t forget about the Easter grass! I always do. Here is a natural looking option and a fun festive option.

I’m not huge on filling their baskets with candy. I’d rather get them one or two really yummy treats (because is it really an Easter basket without a Easter Bunny chocolate), and then get fun stuff they will enjoy longer than a few seconds. I usually get them these Lindt Bunnies. This year I’ll be getting Amelia this dairy-free alternative because her minimal dairy diet has now become no-dairy diet. For those who have other dietary restrictions, these bunnies are also gluten free, nut free, and soy free.

You can never go wrong with putting books in Easter Baskets. I got two little ones for Atticus’ basket already and I’ll be getting some for the girls as well.

Here are some of my favorites: The Very Hungry Caterpillar, We Are The Gardeners, The Tale of Peter Rabbit, and Little Joe Chickapea.

For your favorite teen or pre-teen, it can be a little more challenging to fill their baskets with things you used to, so don’t try. Instead, get them things that they actually want. I don’t know about you, but I say ‘no’ a lot during the year, so holidays I like to get them things they would really like.

Here are some of the best teen-preteen Easter basket Target has to offer: Conair Colorful Bobby Pins, Fujifilm Instax Mini, Cake Bath Bomb, The Hate U Give, and a Floral Toiletries Bag.

For your preschool and elementary school aged babes, this is such a fun age! Everything is so dang exciting and still so magical. It’s such a fun age to buy for because they just light up with joy. Amelia loves art and being outside, as do most kids I think, so here are some great picks for that.

Here are some of my favorite preschool and elementary school aged favorites: Colorful sidewalk chalk, Hatchimals, Colorful headbands, Glitter crayons, and a Gardening Set (perfect to go with the We are the Gardners book)!

The last age group I’m hunting for the best of the best for, is for your littlest babes. They don’t quite know what’s going on yet so it’s a great time to mix their basket with both fun items and items that they need, obviously adjusting more or less for their current development level.

Here are my picks for your littlest ones: Bath tub toys, the softest bunny rabbit, Egg Shakers, Baby’s First Baby doll, Some super cute body suits, a sippy cup, and a teether.

I’d love to hear what all of your favorites are! Do you have any Easter must-haves? As Amelia would say after watching way more than the appropriate amount of YouTube: Let me know in the comments below!

Xx- Leslie