Archive | November, 2011

DIY Holiday Gifts

29 Nov

It’s that time of the season when holiday gift guides are starting to pop up around the blogosphere. As much fun as it is to run around the store picking out gifts (trust me, I can relate) sometimes it feels just as good to go the old-fashioned route and craft it up for the holiday season. Below is a little round up of previous posts I’ve done on some things I regularly make for everyone on my list! Hopefully you’ll find something perfect! I’m not very crafty or artistic, so you have my guarantee that they’re all easy as pumpkin pie! Just click the links for my simple directions :)

There’s the No Sew Fleece Throw, which could be customized not only to match decor, but also for a favorite school or sports team’s colors for guys.

A holiday classic is always Embellished Picture Frames. These are especially great if your artistic ability is limited to stickers (aka me, lol.)

Decorative Wall Letters are also simple and extremely personalized. You could pick greek letters, someone’s monogrammed initials, or even a word such as “love” or “dream.”

If you’re feeling especially crafty, one of my favorite things I’ve ever made is a Personalized Cork and Magnet Combo Bulletin Board. This took a little more work than the others, but it truly is a wonderful gift and extremely useful. I think these also turned out pretty darn professional looking if I do say so myself.


What are your favorite things to make? Are you more of a crafter or a buyer? What’s the best handmade gift you’ve ever received?
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Shop Local Saturday Haul!

28 Nov

The other day I told you about my Black Friday Haul. Though I love the deals and everything I purchased, it’s important to remember that where you choose to spend your money matters. Aside from large national chains, you can choose to purchase your gifts locally, to support the economy and help people in your own areas hang on to their jobs and livelihoods. For this reason, a grass roots initiative called Shop Local Saturday has sprung up to counter the mall madness of Black Friday and the multi-national corporation aspect of Cyber Monday.  To do our part in supporting local artists and “jump-starting the economy” (as my dad says,) my mom and I, along with bestie Cass and her mama, headed to the first annual Renegade Craft Fair in Austin to celebrate shop local Saturday. There were some really neat crafts and beautiful gifts. Here were some of my favorite finds and new discoveries!

I'm mildly obsessed with feathers, especially of the peacock variety. Bonus: These are 100% cruelty free! $24

Heart felt by Aviva features the cutest head-wear I think I’ve ever seen! Browse the handmade headbands, fascinators, and clips, and you’re sure to find something delightful. I especially loved the feather headbands, but there were also some gorgeous ones with sequins that I think would be perfect for NYE!

This print has a darling Coco Chanel quote and eye catching design! 11" x 17", $20

I love the colors and the quote is wonderful! 8" x 10", $14

Little Things Studio has possibly the most adorable art prints I’ve ever seen in my entire life. She uses the most delectable color palette and selects the most meaningful quotes. Extremely affordable and easy to frame, I think these would make terrific gifts this holiday season without a doubt.

Gorgeous handmade Texas necklaces!

Broken Ear Productions makes gorgeous hand-sawed jewelry. What caught my eye right off the bat was the unique Texas pendant. States seem to be very “in” right now, and I would love a piece like that to remind me of my roots while I’m off at school. Kim’s pieces were being shown at the the Wonder Craft booth, (technically more of a decked-out airstream trailer really,) which served as proxy for a local store that operates as a physical location for a regional craft collective– awesome stuff! I can’t remember how much these necklaces were being sold for (website doesn’t say) but I know they were under $40!

Did you take part in shop local Saturday? What were your best finds? What do you think about this initiative?

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Black Friday Haul

26 Nov

Boy did I do a number this year. I got some awesome deals and I can’t wait to tell you about them. I started my Black Friday technically on Thanksgiving Thursday, when 2 of my best girl friends and I headed to the outlet mall in Round Rock (the enormous one in San Marcos gets a little too cray cray for us) at 10pm for some deals. Here’s what I scored: (P.S. click the photos to purchase!)

First stop, Ralph Lauren. Ended up getting a blue and white striped classic oxford. Regular price $89.50, on sale at the outlet for $54.50, black friday price down to $38.50. Second place I lucked out was Eddie Bauer. I’ve never really bought anything from there before, but I was in the market for a puffer vest and the ones in the window caught my eye. I was really impressed by the quality and customer service at the store, and walked out with a hunter green 100% goose down puffer vest with beautiful brown toggle closures that’s good to 20°F, so I think that’ll take care of me (ha.) The original price was $129.99, the outlet price was $89.99, and my final cost with special sales was $48.

Then we get to American Apparel. A few weeks ago, I bought the $50 for $100 Groupon that went out knowing that I needed to stock up on a few basics, specifically the “winter leggings” that will keep your legs cozy in the arctic and which seem to have become my daily staple when the Doppler dips below 70°. (Hey, I’m southern born and bred, what can I say.) Not only was I going to maximize my groupon savings by getting AA outlet prices on the leggings, but it turns out that they surprisingly had buy one, get one half off everything in the store. The total regular retail value of the 3 pairs of leggings and one long sleeved tunic-y shirt I purchased was $140. What did I pay? Exactly my groupon to the dime, so, $50. Can you say steal?

Fast forward about 2 hours and J. Crew finally opens, where I snagged a light wash denim button down half off, from $62.50 to $31.25 after sales and my student discount. Next up the outlet mall was starting to get ugly hectic so we maneuvered our way out of the parking lot (nearly witnessing an accident and possibly a marriage end on the way) and booked it to Target. I bought a door-buster flannel button-down for $10 and a camera tripod for $24. It wasn’t on sale… but, it’s what I wanted. So expect to see a bunch of outfit posts and vlogs in the future… speaking of, I have an extra special surprise to announce in a few weeks related to vlogging so get excited!

 

So just in case you haven’t been keeping up with the math, here’s a summary of the specifics. Total retail value of all goods purchased: $461.99 Total amount paid: $191.75 Savings: 59.5%…. NOT TOO SHABBY! (Note: calculations done without tax for simplification purposes.) So basically, by being willing to fight the crowds in the cold for 4 hours (okay it was in the 50s it was manageable I’m just a baby) I saved almost 60% of my money to do something more important with. (AKA, buy presents for my sorority sisters- but more on that later :)

Well I think that’s about it for now… are you a black Friday shopper? What about Cyber Monday? What deals did you find??

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Let’s Play Catch Up

25 Nov

Short post today, I’m still in a food coma from yesterday. The coma might also be from going shopping from 10pm – 2am last night. Or waking up early this morning to go back out again. Oopsies :) Aside from family, good food, and shopping, expect to see lots of exciting posts after finals end 2 weeks from tomorrow. And then I’ll be home for an entire month. Well, except for the week or so when I’ll be in Aruba =D Can’t wait to share all of my awesome new purchases, travel and holiday plans, and a couple of other exciting surprises coming up soon!! I hope you all had a restful Thanksgiving and I wish you all a wonderful beginning to the holiday season!

Bisous,

Rachel

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Making Your Own Sushi

21 Nov

A few nights ago one of my roommates and I attended a make-your-own sushi party. I absolutely love seafood (and the more raw, the better) so this was a really fun experience…. even if I don’t think I have a successful career as a sushi chef ahead of me. I’m definitely going to be looking for a local market in my area where I will be able to buy sushi-grade fish to attempt making a few things on my own! Here’s how it went down:

Step 1: Lay seawood shiny side up on your rolling bamboo. Wet hands and then mash a thin layer of rice all around.

Lay out all your ingredients. I put cucumber, avocado, and crab in mine :)

Roll, slice, and you're done!

I had such a fun time doing this with my friends, I can’t wait to try it again sometime. I’m quite the seafood and sushi addict… have you ever tried to make your own rolls? What’s your favorite kind of sushi? I’m rather partial to tootsie rolls and crunchy spicy tuna… mmm yummo!

Bisous,

Rachel

Currently loving: leather cuff bracelets

17 Nov

So this is a post I’ve had “in storage” for a while and kind of forgot about, but thing about being in Austin and returning to my old stomping grounds of South Congress made me remember that I hadn’t shared this with y’all yet! Ye olde Cream Vintage on SoCo was purchased by Leighelena a a while back, and in addition to their fabulous vintage, the store now features exclusive pieces from Leighelena’s South Austin jewelry studio. This of course includes her jigsaw cuff bracelets, which have been seen on celebs and in fashion mags ever since the arm candy trend began. The best part about picking one out from the store (as opposed to online) is that the shop staff will help you trade out prints and clasp colors, as well as cut one of the leather bracelets specifically for your wrist size. I picked one out for my birthday when I was here for spring break, and my experience was fantastic!

One of the many display cases of beautiful Leighelena cuff bracelets

The nice sales lady switching out a clasp for me

I have extremely small wrists so they were even willing to cut the leather (scary!!) and trim it down to fit snugly on my arm

Putting the final pieces together

The final product! Picture taken outside of the crepe trailer on SoCo (obvi.)

What do you think of cuff bracelets? You can check out Leighelena’s website for even more of her stuff, be forewarned though… you’re going to want it all. Continue reading

Easy Breezy Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Brownies!

14 Nov

I haven’t done a recipe post in a while so I thought I’d share one of my all time favorite fall desserts that I made the other day! These  brownies are the perfect combination of pumpkin and chocolate, and are a breeze to whip up, enjoy!

Finished chocolate chip pumpkin brownies.... mmmm :)

Ingredients:

  • 2/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup canned pumpkin
  • 1 whole egg
  • 2 egg whites
  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup semisweet chocolate pieces

Directions: 

  1. Mix all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (except chocolate chips.)
  2. Add liquid ingredients, eggs, and pumpkin to mixing bowl.
  3. Mix in an electric mixer on medium until smooth.
  4. Add chocolate chips slowly while beating on low.
  5. Spray an 11″ x 7″  x 1.5″ pan with non-stick spray and pour in batter.
  6. Bake at 350° F for 15-20 minutes.

Step 1

Step 3

Step 4

Step 6

And you’re done! This recipe yields about 15 servings (one pan) and has approximately 82 calories per brownie- not too shabby! I was baking for a large group so I tripled the recipe and used a small dish and a large dish, in case you were wondering. What are your favorite fall desserts? Have you ever had these? Help me decide what I should bake next!

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Sometimes… I Get a Good Feeling*

10 Nov

Over the weekend I loved getting to celebrate football, good food, tailgating, and seeing old friends at the annual homecoming game. Although it wasn’t great sports-wise, I still had a fun time, and it was a welcome distraction from the stacks of homework that have been getting in the way of blogging lately. Exactly 2 weeks from today I’ll be headed to Austin for Thanksgiving and a much needed break. This has by far been my most difficult semester yet, and I can’t wait for it to be over…. but for now, I’ll try to hang in there. Adventures waiting for me in Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao over winter break are the only thing getting me through these next few weeks. (Well, aside from friends and football, of course.)

Hanging out with old alumni friends

One of my roommates and I in our Arizona gear

Old friends from home :)

Tailgating craziness

How was your weekend? Any big plans coming up for Vets weekend? I’m definitely going to take the time to get a few posts I’ve been conjuring in my mind up (finally!) Continue reading

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