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Israel Diaries: Laila Lavan

1 Aug

Celebrating Laila Lavan

Last month, I celebrated my very first Laila Lavan on the streets of Tel Aviv. Laila Lavan literally translates to White Night, and is a huge 24-hour celebration in the city of Tel Aviv, commemorating when the city was finally named a UNESCO World Heritage Sight. It is truly a unique holiday and like nothing I’ve ever seen before. On a Thursday evening/night/morning, every single thing in the city remains open. Museums, restaurants, theatres, concert halls, and anything else you can imagine host special events and parties until long after the sun rises. To celebrate Laila Lavan like true Israelis, a few friends and I started the evening by walking to Rabin Square where there were big concerts and cool multimedia art shows all night.

image  After that we walked down Ibn Gibarol Street where tons of different groups were playing lots of live music and having crazy dance parties in the streets. We stopped every so often to listen to the different sounds and people watch.

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As we approached Rothschild Street, where the really wild stuff was happening, we stopped at several of the carts selling yummy snacks and cheap libations and made new friends.

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After a fun dance party in the street with several hundred other people that we stumbled onto, we finally headed into a bar/club called Polaroid around 3am. Inside they were playing American hiphop, and they had opened up the back patio/yard area into a massive open space with experimental house DJs and some cool art installations.

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Around 6am we finally decided to start heading back towards our apartment building (trust me this is still considered very early to go home on Laila Lavan) and we watched the sunrise as we walked down Allenby and stopped at an amazing 12 shekel glatt kosher pizza place. (Seriously the best pizza I have ever had. And it wasn’t just because I was inebreated at 6am and had just walked 4 miles. It was honestly delicious!)

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Some of my friends headed to the beach to stay up longer and watch the sunrise, but as for me, it was time for bed, but this has definitely been my most memorable experience in Israel so far.

Have you had any fun adventures this summer? What has your most fun experience abroad been?

 

Spending Mardi Gras in New Orleans!

12 Feb

To celebrate Mardi Gras this year, three of my friends and I traveled to New Orleans for 5 days for an amazingly fun girls’ weekend! I hadn’t been to New Orleans since I was little, and I loved exploring the delicious food and unique culture of the city all while celebrating Mardi Gras. Here’s a little recap/rundown of the whirlwind trip:

We arrived Thursday afternoon and immediately dug into the wonderful food of New Orleans by enjoying a King Cake and some friend shrimp and oyster po’ boys.

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After we checked into the hotel, we went out to the parade route. We enjoyed some hurricanes and watched a few parades, ending in the MUSES parade, which is known as the all women’s parade. It was so much fun and we made lots of new friends :)

 

Mardi GrasI made friends with this adorable french bulldog en route to a little parade snack

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During the parades, the people on the floats throw out beads, cups, stuffed animals, flasks, light up toys, and even more expensive items. We caught quite a few awesome things.
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If you’re planning a trip to Mardi Gras, it’s definitely not the week to go on a diet. Although we were definitely eating a lot, we also stayed at the Double Tree on Canal, which was the perfect location for walking to all of the best parade spots, Bourbon Street, Canal, The Flea Market, and many others.

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On Friday we walked through the French Market and square and saw tons of artists displaying their work and crafts. We had an amazing meal at The French Market Restaurant where we chowed down on fried crawfish tails, fried oysters, seafoodgumbo, and etouffe!

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Once I had my fill of sweet tea and crawdaddies, we took a private tour of M.S. Rau Antiques and wandered around the touristy sites on Bourbon Street.

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Friday night we had VIP tickets to sit in the stands for the Hermes parade. Stand tickets are a splurge but definitely worth it to avoid some of the more raucous crowds. We also had our fill of yummy pina coladas and daquiris at this parade.
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Saturday we spent the day exploring the Flea Market where there were some amazing finds, and we stopped for beignets at Cafe Du Monde. We had VIP tickets for the stands again for the Endymion Parade, which is pretty much the most amazing. It has twice as many floats as the rest, costs over $2 million, featured one whole float longer than a football field, and was presided over by Kelly Clarkson! After the parade we had VIP access to 2 balcony bars on Bourbon Street, and later met up with old friends at Pat O’Brien’s. Sunday was spent eating and recovering and packing up to leave early yesterday morning. We also took a drive through the 9th ward to see some of the remaining effects of Hurricane Katrina, as well as a new area there called the Musician’s Village. Overall it was an amazing trip and I can’t wait to go back and explore all the things I didn’t have a chance to do this time. If you’re planning to visit New Orleans, these sites are a must and you won’t be disappointed!

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Today I’m Thankful For…

22 Nov

Unfortunately I don’t know the original source of this, but I’ve seen it floating around Pinterest recently and I couldn’t think of anything more indicative of how much I have in my life to be thankful for this holiday season (and all of the time, really.) I’m so happy to have a life where I am able to come home from college (and GO to college) and spend time with my family (who love me and support me 100% of the time.) And now before I get too sentimental and mushy, here are nine (more) things to be thankful for on this national day of Thanksgiving :)

I am thankful for…

  • The taxes I pay because it means I have income.
  • The clothes that are a little too tight because it means I have food to eat.
  • My shadow who follows me because it means I am outside in the sunshine.
  • A lawn that needs to be mowed, windows that need to be washed, and gutters that need to be cleaned because it means there is a roof over my head.
  • The spot I find on the farthest end of the parking lot because it means I am able to walk.
  • All of the different opinions I hear regarding our government because it means we have freedom of speech.
  • The person around me who sings off-key, because it means I have ears that can hear.
  • The various piles of things around the living room because it means my loved ones are near me.
  • The alarm that wakes me up in the morning because it means that I am alive.

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Top Picks: Neiman Marcus for Target Holiday Collection

15 Nov

By now I’m sure you’ve all heard that a ton of fabulous designers have collaborated with Target and Neiman Marcus for a special holiday collection that will be available for sale online and in stores beginning on December 1st! The complete lookbook is officially out and here are a few of my top picks from some amazing designers!

These cute metallic pouches from Marc Jacobs are $69.99 and would be great for storing special jewelry!

Maybe I just can’t wait to see Anna Karenina when it comes out, but there’s just something wonderful about this cape. It seems so… classy? This is the perfect thing for special occassions. Prabal Gurung, $79.99.

I need another dress like a hole in my head but there is something so elegant and timeless about this Robert Rodriguez piece. I especially love the scalloped neckline and the sweet lace. $99.99.

At only $24.99, this Tory Burch thermos is the perfect gift for your girlfriends who can’t get enough of their holiday Starbucks drinks!

What are your favorite items from the collection? Will you be hitting Target as the store opens to get your hands on these goods?

Bisous,

Rachel

NYE Weekend: Eli Young Band and Esther’s Follies!

3 Jan

How a fashion blogger packs for a 36 hour trip: Marc Jacobs, "The Total Pillow," Sweet Leaf Tea, and only about 6 different outfit options.

I had a fabulous NYE weekend and I hope you did too! I started the festivities Friday morning by driving up to Ft.Worth with my best friend (since kindergarten!) Cassie and her boyfriend Zach. We spent the afternoon hanging out and helping Cass organize her apartment, then went to Riscky’s barbeque downtown.

Things I miss when I'm not in the south: sweet tea, and dead animals as acceptable restaurant decor.

After filling up on ribs, we headed to Billy Bob’s famous honky tonk (the largest in Texas) to the sold-out Eli Young Band Concert. I first saw them a few years ago at Austin City Limits Music Festival, and they’ve only gotten better since! I tried to snap a few photos of the band but it was pretty dark and they didn’t come out too well unfortunately :( They played the song which first got me addicted to them, “Guinevere,” but I also loved the covers they did of “American Girl” and “Come Together.”

Best friend Cass and I dancing to the tunes

The next morning, we had a delicious brunch at Yogi’s in FW before heading back to Austin to get ready for NYE!

Pancakes, bacon, eggs, chocolate chip waffle :)

After a little r & r in the afternoon, my best girl friends and I (and super trooper bestie’s bf Zach) went out to a nice dinner and then to a hilarious comedy show downtown on 6th Street at Esther’s Follies.

Besties for almost 10 years!

After we counted down the new year downtown, we headed back to my house for a good old fashioned slumber party with baked brie, chocolate fondue, and a few celebratory libations. It was decidedly low-key which was absolutely perfect.

What did you do for new years? Are you an Eli Young Band fan? What are you looking forward to about 2012?

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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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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.

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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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Cheap and Easy Halloween Costumes

5 Oct

It seems like I start every post with an apology recently, but I feel so guilty and neglectful whenever I fail to update my blog in a timely manner. School really is kicking my butt this semester. But all of a sudden I looked around and realized it was October. And that means Halloween! And costumes, and candy!! So the great debate, of course, is what am I going to be….. I’m not trying to spend a gazillion dollars this month, so here are some ideas I’m considering from shopping my own closet:

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All you need to be a fabulous kitten is a pair of black leggings, black top, black ballet flats, and some ears! I think black fingerless gloves would give this idea some extra meow!

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I’m thinking a pretty turquoise t-shirt dress from american apparel and some strategically crafted peacock feathers would make for one cute bird.

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Just add red lipstick and a black tank top, lace skirt, pearls, fishnets, and feathers are all you need to dance away the night at a speakeasy. Jazz and bootleggers optional.

What other costumes are easy to create with existing pieces? What are you going to be for Halloween? I’m always on the lookout for more ideas!

Bisous,

Rachel

Happy Birthday America! (and an outfit set)

4 Jul

Hello all, I hope you are enjoying a fabulous long weekend and celebrating the birth of America in style. Here is a cute little patriotic/nautical set I recently put together on polyvore for The College Prepster‘s Vineyard Vines give-a-way competition. Click here to like my photo so I can win the adorable Vineyard Vines tote featured in the outfit below! Thanks loves :) What are you wearing for today’s holiday? Continue reading

Weekend in Review

18 Apr

This weekend my mom, my aunt, a family friend, and my boyfriend’s mom were in town to catch the opening weekend of the play I’ve been rehearsing for all semester, DOG SEES GOD, by Bert Royal. We actually sold out 3 of our 4 performances this weekend and got amazing reviews! I especially had a great time hanging out and preparing my house for Passover with everyone. So instead of posting something writing intensive, here are a few snapshots from my weekend.

Impromptu (aka non-professional) cast photo

Me and my boyfriend after a show.

My mom and me after a performance.

Flowers given to me after several performances. We only have one vase in the house so I…. improvised. I actually think the different colored glass bottles are really neat looking and I think I want to take the labels off and actually decorate them somehow. Any ideas?

There are more photos on various other people’s cameras so hopefully I’ll be able to share those with you soon, but this gives you a pretty good idea of what my weekend was like. Happy Passover to everyone out there celebrating, wish me luck on 8 days without grains. Or beans. Or anything leaven. Oy, it’s going to be a journey.

Bisous,

Rachel

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