Thursday, February 28, 2013

cara box reveal : february

Cara Box

For my first blog swap, I joined Kaitlyn at Wifessionals for the Cara Box swap. Kaitlyn paired bloggers up by state, so that matches could actually meet up if they wanted. I got paired up with another Kaitlyn, over at Put a Bow on It, who lives in Lafayette but commutes to Baton Rouge once a week. We met up downtown for our respective lunch breaks and exchanged boxes.
Let me just say, I definitely got spoiled! Check out what Kaitlyn picked out for me...

So the theme of the swap was ClubSexy. Not gonna lie, I didn't really get it. 
Kaitlyn got me the above set off Ulta nail polishes and those fun stamps (that I'll probably put on all further article reviews... ha) to fit the theme.

The rest of my box was cocktail themed, which is super appropriate for me. She got me a cute rubber wine stopper (which I almost bought for her!), a mini mixer set (so I can try and fail to make my own mojitos, yum), and adorable cocktail napkins with my new motto. 

What, there's more?! She got me a cupcake kit that is cocktail themed (did you even know such a thing existed?!) and even crafted it up (a girl after my own heart, obviously) and added some decorative stitching to this cute heart kitchen towel.

I love my box, thanks Kaitlyn! And thanks, other Kaitlyn, for setting up this swap. It was super fun to pick out a little themed gift for someone! 

x Hilary

almost friday thursday blog hop

Today I'm co-hosting a blog hop for the first time! I'm not even sure what that means, but it seems like a good way to find some new blogs. So will you join me?
x Hilary
P.S. New blog posts coming soon - a spotlight on a new favorite place in Baton Rouge, Olive or Twist, and a nutella hamentashen recipe.

It's Thursday. Which means that it's almost Friday! Why not visit some new blogs, meet some new friends, and go see some folks you haven't seen in a while!

Here's how it works:
  • Follow the host and co-hosts via Good Friend Connect (GFC)
  • Add the Almost Friday Blog Hop button to the bottom of your next post (or sidebar)

  • Add your link below (make sure the link goes directly to your blog!)
  • Smile and have fun! Why? Because it's almost Friday!
Sidenote: Including your e-mail is optional. However, if you do decide to share your e-mail, you'll just get an e-mail next week when the blog hop goes live!

Interested in co-hosting? Click here!

Friday, February 22, 2013

weekend jams : new music edition

This week I wanted to feature some new releases from some older artists that I love(d). It's always interesting to see a band evolve from album to album, sometimes for the good and sometimes definitely for the bad.

First we've got a very old favorite, The Postal Service. I was a little obsessed with this band (same singer as Death Cab for Cutie, in case you weren't aware) in high school. They haven't had a new CD in ten years! I can't believe it -- this makes me feel so old. 
This new song is pretty decent... definitely sounds like classic The Postal Service. They have always been good, so I'm glad they haven't changed their sound much.

Next is Fall Out Boy. Another obsession from high school. This band used to be so different. I'm not sure what they are going for with this song, but I gotta say this is a downgrade in my opinion. Of course, I loooved their first album, Take This To Your Grave, which was kind of pop-punk/"emo," I suppose, and I haven't listened to too much of their other albums because I was always disappointed. Anyway, this kind of sucks, but I thought I'd share it in case there were any FOB fans out there who hadn't gotten wind of their new single. 
P.S. For reference, here's one of my fave songs from their first album:
Grand Theft Autumn/Where Is Your Boy Tonight
Although this isn't quite the sound I like anymore, I will still seriously jam out to this album (and all of the other ones I listened on repeat in high school)... for nostalgia's sake ;).

3. Ra Ra Riot - Binary Mind

Finally there's Ra Ra Riot. I honestly haven't listened to them too much (my freshman year roomie was a big fan), but what I've heard, I've enjoyed. I heard this song and thought it was pretty catchy and enjoyable, so I figured I'd share. They have an entire new album that came out recently, so there's definitely more where this came from if you dig it.

And that's what I've got for you this week! Definitely not my most-listened songs, but worth skipping over that to expose my dear readers to new music, right? Enjoy, my friends!

x Hilary

P.S. Are the Spotify links working for you? Would you prefer a different format? Let me know in the comments!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

a certain state of mind

My heart is divided between two very excellent states, Texas and Louisiana. They are both pretty fantastic for very different reasons. So today, I'd like to pay my respect to my two homes by showcasing a few lovely products I found on Etsy. People sure have a lot of talent these days, no?

Oh Louisiana, where my lovely New Orleans resides. I miss that city like crazy every day. 

But then there's Texas, one heck of a big state with lots of great things in it, 
including my favorite Texan cities, Houston (my hometown!) and Austin

(she makes them in lots of states!)

Did you know the Houston rodeo is starting this weekend? If you've never been, you should check it out -- lots of fun stuff to do, including checking out some sweet animals and concerts. 
And some day I will get to the cook-off! 

 A pair of friends in my program got our other friend this sweet bracelet for her birthday (except with the two states she has lived in) -- you can add states to it as you live in different places, or you can get a pair of states to represent you and your long distance significant other, etc. 
The possibilities are endless!

 Why is Texas great? Well, there's always Tex Mex. And although Louisiana tries, their attempts pale in comparison to my home state's delicious cheese-covered cuisine. I miss the endless delicious Mexican restaurants found in Houston (although Ninfa's in Baton Rouge is a pretty good option if I'm really craving it and can't get home).

But don't get me wrong, Louisiana has great food too! Can't beat some red beans and rice (with cornbread of course) on a Monday, or my newish fave, shrimp and grits.
 Louisiana seafood is pretty spectacular. 
I wouldn't mind some corn and crab bisque right about now 
(yes, it's 10 pm, what of it?). 

 Did you take multiple state history classes throughout your K through 12 education? I didn't think so. Does it take one million hours to get across your state? Okay, good for you. That's freaking annoying.

Then again, do you get off at least two days for Mardi Gras break? And do people ride by on floats and throw free things at you? 
And can you drink on the street (just remember, no glass!) while they do so? 

by 1canoe2

Does your state have multiple catchy songs dedicated to its greatness?  
*clap clap clap clap* Deep in the heart of Texas!

So clearly I remain torn. I could definitely see myself returning to live in Texas one day (I've always wanted to live in Austin, and I love Houston too, so either one would be fine with me!). But I know I would miss Louisiana (okay, let's be real, I'd miss New Orleans. Baton Rouge maybe not). In the meantime, I will go home for the essentials and indulge in almost-as-good alternatives here (Have I told you lately about Ninfas? Yes? What about Kolache Kitchen? YUM.). 

What's great about your state?

x Hilary

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

everywhere else, it's just another tuesday

Why yes, this is another Mardi Gras post. And it's not no silly lil' Baton Rouge post, either. It's the real deal, New Orleans style. And it's all in grainy, horrible cell phone pictures because I suck and I forgot my camera. Womp womp.

I headed down to NOLA after normal, adult person responsibilities on Friday. After a lot of time spent in the car, we finally made it to Hermes and d'Etat. Personally, I love the night parades the best, especially when I can snag some flashy, glowy throws!

The boyfriend and me with one of my fave catches ever, winged light-up headband from Hermes!

On Saturday, some friends from Baton Rouge came down for their first NOLA Mardi Gras! I was excited to play tour guide for them (although the boyfriend does most of that, anyhow, as he lives there still and always knows lots of things). I was decked out in a purple tank dress and gold lamé leggings, plus a fleur de lis and feather hair clip, of course. We went downtown in the afternoon for Endymion, which wouldn't get there until probably 6:30 or so... and luckily caught the end of Tucks! My friend got hit in the head, possibly with a doubloon, and we nursed her back to health by holding a cold beer to her forehead. Welcome to Mardi Gras!

After grabbing dinner at Angeli on Decatur (my go-to cheap eat in the Quarter, def a necessity down there in tourist land) and a frozen Irish coffee at Molly's, we headed back to the route. We finally found a decent spot and eventually wiggled to the front!

Literally all of the parades I went to this year got stuck for 30+ minutes. Lame.
 I did snag the above semi-cool picture of an Endymion float, anyhow.

After about half of Endymion, we fled the scene and attempted (semi-successfully) to escape downtown to get ready for MOM's Ball. Now, the first rule of MOM's is you don't talk about MOM's, soo you're not going to get anything but these gems of pictures. 

Turned my lion tamer costume from Halloween into a pirate costume, thanks to a sash and pirate hat! 
I loved this costume, may need another excuse to wear it ASAP.

K and G went as an 80's rocker couple. 
The costume police took away his pants 
(and texted him today to tell him they found them.. kind of hysterical).

Fun was had by all. Clearly.

On Sunday, I met up with a friend from undergrad who was celebrating her birthday on the route for Thoth. Morning parades are only really good because they are an excuse to drink mimosas. But... I did catch my very favorite throw of Mardi Gras 2013! 

A vintage-style Tulane football player bobble head! Love it. 
It lives on my desk now, in all of its semi-cute, semi-creepy glory.

Oh, you want to see my other swag? Well, okay.

Lots of light ups! Plus a moon pie, Bacchus beads from 2005 which I caught at Thoth, and seriously creepy tiger? jester? jieger? beads.

Two boas and a Payton t-shirt.

Pretty fanswagtastic crown sunglasses and jaeger beads. 
They know me so well. 

So that's that. My seventh Mardi party over and gone. I didn't go to quite as many parades as I usually do this year, partially due to bad weather, partially because I'm getting old. But I had a fab time nonetheless.

Did you celebrate Mardi Gras this year? What'd you do?

Saturday, February 9, 2013

weekend jams : week 1

I decided to start a new weekly feature on my blog, my weekend jams. Because obviously you need to know what I've been dancing in my car listening to this week. Generally I listen to alternative and indie rock, but I may throw in some Top 40 (oh hey, good friend T Swift, I'm looking at you).
Every weekend, I'll tell you my top three fave songs for the week with links to listen to the songs on Spotify (assuming I know how to do such things).
So here are my top three for the week!

I am actually, legitimately obsessed with this song. It makes me want to dance like crazy. However, it is not particularly indie. At all. I guess it's more electronica, so it's a little surprising I like it. But it's catchy, anyhow.
Disclaimer: If you're offended by cursing, 
skip this one because it will offend your sensibilities for sure. 

This is a fun, pretty song. They remind me a tiny bit of Tilly and the Wall. 

This band is from Louisiana (New Orleans/Lafayette), so of course I'm a little partial to them anyway. If you want to download this song for free, go here.

Feel free to tell me if you love em, hate em, or if you have suggestions for music you think I may like!

x Hilary

Friday, February 8, 2013

hilary's kitchen adventures : saving money on food

Being a graduate student, I am constantly attempting to stay on a budget. Believe me, for someone addicted to shopping and eating out, this is no easy feat.
One way I deal with being on a budget is being creative with my meals. For the past few months, I have been alternating between two key meals that share many of the same ingredients. This allows me to save some money, as I'm buying fewer ingredients and using more of them (I frequently have food spoil faster than I can eat it since I'm only feeding myself). Oh, and last of all, if I'm going to be cooking, it has got to be easy because I am NOT skilled in that department.
So here's a few yummy, relatively healthy, easy, and inexpensive meals you can eat for lunches and dinners!

First we have my berry salad. All it is is spinach, chopped strawberries and another seasonal berry (blueberries or blackberries work well), walnuts, and goat cheese. The natural sweetness of the fruit on this salad allow me to eat it without salad dressing, which is a huge plus (well, minus I suppose?) in the calorie department! This salad seriously takes all of five minutes to make, super quick and easy. 

Oh, and that drink? That's a "homemade" coffee drink treat that I'm kind of addicted to as well. (It's just International Delight's iced coffee in mocha over ice, not really homemade, but shhh.)

And here's dinner. A homemade gourmet pizza that takes about 15 minutes to make! You'll be using the spinach and the goat cheese you purchased for your salad. All you do is spread some olive oil on an unbaked mini pizza crust (I like Mama Mary's brand, which come in a four pack and are a little more than a dollar each), then spread on some store bought pesto (or make your own if you're really fancy... personally, I ain't got time for dat), and add your toppings (chopped cherry tomatoes, goat cheese, and spinach -- I happened to have mushrooms as well when I made the one in the picture, but I don't usually add them). Easy as pizza pie.

Finally, you can make a very easy pasta using some of the ingredients you already have as well. I boil some penne and add some pesto, chopped cherry tomatoes, and goat cheese (you could add the spinach as well, around the last minute your pasta needs to boil). 

And that's it! Keep your costs and your time in the kitchen down while enjoying something much more delicious than ramen and PB&J's! 

x Hilary

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

how I feel about : yoga

Dear yoga,
I underestimated you. I didn't think I would burn calories, much less sweat profusely (TMI?), while doing your poses. But there I was last night at my very first class, my glasses hanging from my face (contacts next time, I will not forget), visibly shaking while holding downward dog for a good three minutes. Today I have soreness in muscles that I did not know existed (okay, that's a bit of an exaggeration, but c'mon.. back of leg, underneath my knee muscle, what's your deeeal?). I think in time that I will get better at you, but for now, I pay you due respect.
Love, Hilary
P.S. Most difficult pose for me? Tree. I could not stay balanced for the life of me. Although I think it must've been nerves because I definitely practiced in my kitchen this evening while reheating some Chinese take-out, and I did just fine, thank you very much!

Anyway, yes, I took my first class last night (a basics class) at Yoga Bliss in Baton Rouge. My friend (the same friend who ran my first 5k with me in December) forced convinced me to try yoga. They have a great 10-20-30 deal for first-time students -- that's 10 classes, $20, in 30 days. So I have to take a class every few days, and since I paid money and have someone going with me, I think I'll probably stay motivated. Right after the class, I thought... oh, I don't know about this. Maybe I don't like it. But today, I'm feeling like I might really like it! I'm feeling less tense, muscle-wise and life-wise.

Plus, I got great deals on my yoga stuff at Target!
plain comfy & stretchy yoga pants in black
(but they have other cute colors!)
Gaiam yoga mat
(although mine is purple with a floral pattern --
 check your stores because I couldn't find it online)
about $13.00

Overall, I started yoga on the cheap, and so far I'm pretty happy I took the plunge (sorry, couldn't resist).

x Hilary

Monday, February 4, 2013

pretty in pink : valentine's gift ideas

In draft, this post was entitled "a perfectly reasonable selection of all the things a valentine should buy you." But that was much too long presumptuous. After all, you may have agreed to forgo Valentine's Day gifts because you just spent lots of money on a super fantastic vacation to sunny Mexico. No? Just me? Moving on...

Need something for your lady? Or perhaps your bffjill? Here's a lovely selection of gifties for your favorite person or perhaps for your fancy self. ♫ One is the loneliest numberrr... 


x Hilary

P.S. Have you entered this amazing giveaway at life is aMAYESing

Saturday, February 2, 2013

mardi gras mambo

Rachel, Paige, me, Megan, & Jina
with our drinks & catches

Second year in Baton Rouge, first downtown parade! I went with some Mardi Gras babies, which always makes it a little more exciting -- people who have never been to a parade are especially fun to be around, even at a small parade like this. This was Krewe of Artemis, which is BR's all-women krewe.

By now, I'm kind of a bead snob.. I only want the really good ones! I especially like ones that light up. We also collected a bunch of stuffed animals to use as reinforcers (read: prizes) for the kids we test at our psychological services center (I know, we are so responsible and thoughtful). We didn't think the plastic hurricane cup was quite as appropriate.

I always like to have a bead or two with the krewe's name on it!
(This one has the year on the back, as well.)
Krewe of Artemis' symbol is the high heel, much like Muses, my fave krewe in NOLA.

We finished the night with some drinks, cheese fries, and fun at Lucy's. If you ever find yourself there, you have to get the frozen margarita -- I rarely get "original" lime margs, but this one legitimately tastes like a slice of key lime pie in a glass (complete with plastic pink mermaid hanging from the side).

Being silly in downtown Baton Rouge,
 with the Third Street bars in the background

I'm planning on going to one more parade in BR, Spanishtown (which is flamingo themed!) a week from today, then head to New Orleans for Endymion, day time parades on Sunday, and Bacchus, and that will likely complete my Mardi Gras 2013. We'll see if I remember to bring my camera, so I can post something other than fuzzy phone pics!

x Hilary

favorite frugal find : bright bedspread

favorite frugal find #3

For my birthday slash Christmas slash Hanukkah gift this year, my wonderful boyfriend got me an incredibly generous gift (that is nice for both of us) - my first queen sized bed! Because, although it was quite cozy with the two of us and a cat in a twin sized bed, it was time for an upgrade. Of course, I needed a new bedspread and sheet set. I looked all over and finally found a great one at Macy's.

It's reversible too, so I actually have it on the patterned side instead of the floral side. It's not the fluffiest or softest, but it's adorable and was a great deal. At some point, I'm hoping my room will be clean and organized enough to actually show off, in which case perhaps real pictures can replace this one from Macy's site!

Original Price $100.00
My Price $32.00
That's 68% off!

x Hilary