Friday, July 29, 2011

Thursday, July 28, 2011

Baked Tilapia with Marinara

Here's an easy and quick little dinner I prepared last week. It's one of the few recipes I've come up recently with that I've already made more than once.

First, start with a colorful salad:
Spring mix
Grape tomatoes
Green olives
Feta cheese
Dressing of choice


 **Fun note: If you make the individual salads first, you can stick them in the fridge and serve them in the chilled bowls right before the tilapia comes out of the oven. Fancy-shmancy.**

Now, onto the main event...
Ingredients:
Tilapia fillets (thawed)
1 egg (per about 3 fillets)
Flour
Cooking oil
Marinara Sauce (I used
Feta cheese
Seasoning: salt, pepper, garlic salt, parley flakes (optional)
Non-stick cooking spray (optional)

First, dip thawed tilapia fillets in bowl containing a whipped up egg. Coat thoroughly. Then dip in a bowl containing flour, salt, pepper. Make sure the fillets are completely covered in flour.
Place fillets in a already heated skillet (medium high), with enough cooking oil to fully coat the bottom. The idea here is to brown the fish on the outside and give it sort of a crispy texture (for a crispier texture, you could coat your fillets in breadcrumbs, but I only had flour on hand at the time). Once this is achieved (cook on each side until they are as dark as you like, the fish does not have to be cooked through yet), place fish into a baking pan (I used a metal one, covered with aluminum foil - saves you some time when cleaning up later!). You can either spray the foil with a non-stick cooking spray, or use some marinara sauce as a barrier to put the fish on.
Top the fish with as much marinara sauce as you like, crumbled feta cheese, and parsley flakes (optional). You might also add some garlic salt, or just more salt and pepper at this time, depending on how much flavor you like.

Bake in the oven at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes, or until fish is fully cooked (it will easily flake with a fork when it's cooked).

 I wish the photo would capture the yummy bubbling and sizzling!

Serve on top of cooked spaghetti (or your pasta of choice). I also like to have a bowl of heated marinara sauce available, so some extra can be added to the pasta, if needed. I suggest serving this dish with a side of cooked spinach or steamed broccoli, if you're wanting to add a few more veggies to the meal (aside from the salad).

Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A Touch of Reflection

So between the tennis playing and apartment reorganizing over the last couple days, I am officially sore! My bedroom is starting to feel like new. No drawer has been un-sorted through, no surface not de-cluttered! Or at least...it wont be after I finish the rest of it up today. It's still a work in progress, decorating-wise, but I might go ahead and post some pics soon of the changes I've made. It already feels so much better in there, and much more spacious.

I am also in love with my new IKEA mirror, which I got for the dining room on Sunday. So for now, here are some photos of that:


 Did I mention it's perfect for one last vanity-check as you're walking out the door?

We sort of have a wine/vineyard/Italy theme going on in the dining room, and a Cafe' theme in the kitchen, which I think is pretty cool. The two rooms are separated by a half wall/counter, so I think they kind of go together, but still feel like separate rooms, which helps the place feel bigger.

If you haven't seen some of the more elaborate recent decorating endeavors at my apartment, check out Home, Sweet Home.

Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Nostalgic Notes

Yesterday turned out to be a bit of a walk down memory lane.
Nickelodeon is doing a "The 90s are All That" block of shows on their Teen Nick channel and airing some of their most popular shows from the 1990s. Last night I tuned in to see "All That" (still funnier than just about any SNL show I've seen), "Kenan and Kel", and two of my absolute favorite shows from my childhood: "Clarissa Explains It All" and "Doug"!

I knew it would be nostalgic, but I didn't anticipate just how nice it would be to see them again. It really took me back. I kind of freaked out in squeals when the "Clarissa" theme song started. Wow, it's been a long time since I heard it! Yet, it was all so familiar.
During the commercial breaks, they showed clips from other popular Nick shows (such as "Legends of the Hidden Temple" or "Are You Afraid of the Dark") as well as some of their little in-between-show jingles and short cartoons (Remember "Inside Out Boy", Stick Stickley the popsicle stick, or the large opera singer with large hair belting out, "Nickelodeooonnnnnn!!!" before a show started? Great stuff!).

Apparently, Teen Nick will be doing this every weeknight at Midnight (11pm central). I am really hoping that after they go through all the episodes of the four shows they are currently showing, that they will start showing some of my other favorites like "Hey Dude"! They showed some very quick clips from that last night, and it was such a tease! It was definitely one of my favorites growing up.

Watching these shows really helped me to remember the simple, everyday stuff I miss about living back then and being that age. At the same time, it unexpectedly made me feel like I'm really not that far away from those days. It was a really, really comforting feeling.
So, don't forget to set your DVR for these shows, especially if you're not a night owl! I fully intend to sometimes save episodes until the mornings so I can wake up, pour a bowl of cereal, and sit crossed legged in front of the TV to watch them. Just like old times. :)



We haven't changed that much...have we?


The funny thing is, I had spent the whole day beforehand cleaning out my closet (it's actually a walk-in again. Meaning, you can see the floor), where I found some nostalgic items such as my old piano music books, photo albums, and one of my favorite book series from when I was about 12 years old. I swear, most of what takes up room in my closet is boxes and boxes of mementos, but I refuse to throw them out. It's so fun to go through them every now and then. I just need to attempt to keep it all organized and everything IN its proper box, and then it shouldn't be a problem. I was also able to transfer certain everyday things over to the spare room closet (vacuum cleaner, folded up air mattress, Christmas decorations...) that I really just don't have room for in there. It's not perfect, but it looks a lot better. Soon, I'd like to get some of those pretty storage boxes to really take it to the next level. Today, I tackle the actual bedroom; decluttering my dresser, desk, and nightstand...inside and out. Wish me luck.

Steve and I also decided to break in our new tennis gear after he got home from work yesterday evening. I used to play tennis a lot when I was younger, with my mom, and even took tennis classes at summer camp when I was about 8 years old. It felt great to be playing again and definitely brought back some memories.




Maybe it's just about keeping a happy medium between being a kid and being an adult. :) What do you think?

Photo credits: All photos from the amazing http://favim.com/

Monday, July 25, 2011

Weekend Treats


 I am now the proud owner of red wine glasses and martini glasses from IKEA. I don't mind drinking cheap alcohol, but for some reason, I'm picky about the type of glass it's served in (I hate when I order a martini at a bar and they say "we're out of martini glasses" as they hand you your Appletini in a rocks glass, or worse, a plastic cup. Ack!! Half of the fun of drinking martinis is holding the snazzy glass! Am I right?). So, now I have a variety of glasses to add to the regular wine glasses, champagne flutes, and one martini glass I already had. Makes me wanna have a little dinner party!


 Love the frosted design on the martini glasses.

It was another fun weekend for the record books. Friday night, Steve and I stayed in with Chinese delivery, a bottle of wine, and a homemade dessert, which I picked up ingredients for earlier that day: a scoop of still-frozen Cool Whip (the taste and texture when it's frozen is similar to ice cream, but each serving is only 25 calories!) topped with fresh raspberries, drizzled with honey.

Saturday afternoon, we went to a cookout/potluck some friends were hosting. Their house was super cute, and I couldn't help picking up some decorating ideas! I sipped on Mike's Hard Limeade (Steve brought a bottle of the new Southern Comfort pre-mixed "sweet tea" - not bad!), snacked on spinach dip and pita chips and delicious cranberry walnut cookies before we all dug into the giant grilled hamburgers and fresh pasta salad. I think I ate enough for the whole week! All in all, it was a really nice afternoon. It was fun to get to socialize with some friends who we only tend to see at the flag football or soccer games.
We had to drag ourselves away to make it downtown for a live music gig that evening. I'm a big fan of Language Room, a band based here in Austin, so I try to see them whenever they play. We arrived at Threadgill's restaurant and bar (Steve told me this is a place that Janis Joplin used to play at a lot) just before Language Room took the stage. They have a nice outdoor area with its own bar, a stage, and places to sit. It was a really nice atmosphere (like a summer garden party), and the music was great, as always! Not quite ready to go home yet, we stopped off at our favorite karaoke bar afterward, so we could sing a few songs ourselves!

I groggily stumbled out of bed Sunday morning, took the dog out and did a little straightening up around the apartment before getting bored and deciding to pounce on Steve and wake him up. We made some much need coffee, and Steve decided we should go to the outlet malls, and maybe pick up a little something special (dream boyfriend? I think so.).
It was a super hot afternoon, so Frappuccinos from Starbucks made walking around the outdoor mall a lot more bearable. Steve bought me a cute black corset-like top from the Charlotte Russe outlet, before we headed to nearby IKEA. Starving by this time, we grabbed a late lunch at their cafe' and had a look around, which led to the purchase of the glasses above and a beautiful, large mirror for the dining room, which I've been wanting to get for a while (photos to come this week).
But we weren't done yet! We stopped at Target on the way home, and had fun browsing around there, too. We had been talking about picking up tennis, since our apartment complex has courts (I haven't played in years, but used to be pretty decent as a kid), so we picked up rackets for the both of us and plenty of tennis balls. I'm excited about playing! I figure it will be a fun way to stay and shape, and something we can do together (and with friends!).
I also found a perfect black blazer (Mossimo brand), which I'd been on the lookout for. The Isaac Mizrahi one I had (also from Target) is finally starting to look worn out (after 3 years!). I love having a great blazer in the fall to put over a casual t-shirt, with jeans and heels. It's also perfect to wear for auditions or interviews with something a bit more sophisticated, like a pencil skirt, over a colorful tank top.
We picked up a few other fun items and headed home to veg out for the remainder of the weekend. I think we got home at about 9pm!

 Key lime cupcakes from Target's bakery. Oh so good...and adorable!

Me in my new robe and matching shorts from Target (and a cupcake!) on what I like to call, my "girl throne".

Kinda love the fact that this is my view most nights while blogging or surfing the internet before bed. What can I say? He's a pretty good foot rest. :)


How was your weekend??

Friday, July 22, 2011

Weekend Wear


 Unless I'm going out for the day or need to dress up for something special, I tend to stay pretty low-key on the weekends when it comes to what I wear. Usually a pair of boyshorts and a t-shirt will suffice. I also like throwing on my new comfy pants from Forever 21 (seen here) and a tank top, because it's perfectly comfortable, but also appropriate for taking the dog out in the morning or running to the store for some milk. And if something more fun comes up, such as going to hang out with a girlfriend, I really like being able to simply add on some random accessories to make me feel a bit more human.
I try not to edit myself, and if a spur-of-the-moment idea comes to mind for something I can use (like a scarf or shoes I haven't worn in a while), I put it on and see how it looks before I think "Nah...that would probably look weird". 9 out of 10 times, it looks awesome. Or it looks awesome-weird, which I'm definitely a fan of.

Here's a look I came up with last weekend. I had been lounging around in the sweats and tank top beforehand. I simply added the scarf around my neck (Old Navy), tied up my shirt in the front, rolled the band of my pants down, and slipped on a pair of blue heels before heading out to pick up a friend and do some shopping.









Ok, so what's your weekend uniform? And what quirky accessories do you use to go immediately from frumpy to fun?

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Thoughts

 Wish I had this nice a fireplace to mope by.

I guess it's normal to slip into a bit of a rut after a vacation, but I think I've actually been in one for quite some time now, and the periods of time when I have vacations or an abundance of activities going on, really just becomes sort of a diversion. Not that I'm complaining. Diversions of that sort are pretty awesome. However, as soon as things die down again (even for a few days), I'm reminded of where I'm at and where I'd like to be. I'll be honest...sometimes it's a harsh wake up call.
This mostly revolves around career woes, as my steady job with an educational web site is slow most of the month (at least until this Fall when I will most likely be taking on some more responsibilities there), and as you can imagine, pursuing a career in show business can be very sporadic (not to mention, often discouraging) at times. I find myself caught between wanting to find an additional job and wanting to keep my life as flexible as it is now (which is pretty essential for acting auditions, and certainly convenient for all the traveling I love to do). The freedom is nice, but the periods of down time are enough to make me go stir crazy sometimes. And I feel like it's far too easy for me to get lazy with things like eating right and exercising when I don't feel like I have a true purpose and like I am actually making some sort of difference to people each and every day (aside from writing to you lovely people, of course!).
Do you ever feel like you spend half your day just envying other people and what you imagine their lives to be like? When I'm keeping busy and active, I don't have time for that ridiculousness. It's always better when I don't have too much time to think. Haha.

Anyway, I've been brainstorming and weighing some ideas of what to do. It's a little frustrating and nerve wracking to think about implementing some changes, but it's also exciting and liberating to feel like I have options and to know that I can take control of the situation and make a choice. My life just needs a shot of adrenaline right now. I am better when I'm keeping busy and hopefully, being creative and social.

I definitely do not want this to sound like a giant pity party, and in the midst of wanting to make some changes, I've been even more aware of the things in my life that are just where they need to be. Big or small,  trivial or serious, it's nice to take note of these things! :)

I am currently thankful for:

- That winding-down time at night, a few hours before bed, where I get cozy with my laptop to browse blogs or do some random light reading on different web sites. My boyfriend sits next to me, watching TV. We're together, but doing our own thing to decompress for the night. Every now and then one of us will reach over to squeeze the other's hand.

- The better place I am in now (financially, emotionally, mentally), compared to when I first moved to Austin 2 years ago. I'm proud of the life I've created here. And I know I can still go much, much further. 

- The fact that my ankle is almost 100% recovered and I can wear heels again... and that my hair is finally long enough to throw up into a seriously legit ponytail or bun on the top of my head. Woo!

- A domestic side that I never knew existed (I cook and come up with recipes now? What? And I enjoy it? Whaaaat?).

- Coffee in the morning and cocktails at night.

- My supportive boyfriend who I know will support me in whatever crazy endeavors I decide to go for.


Hopefully I will have some updates on this whole situation soon! Stay tuned...

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Green grass and gold

I can't tell you how happy I am to be able to wear heels again (see the ordeal here). I wore these gold wedges to my boyfriend's flag football playoffs this week. Once his team was eliminated, we stayed with some of the team to have a few beers and watch some of the other games. It was a fun evening, and we even had some unexpectedly mild weather.

Ok, maybe not the most practical shoes for a sporting event (although wedges are better than heels on grass or dirt), but everywhere's a fashion opportunity to me! You just have to know when to slip them off and let your feet feel the grass. (Plus, I quieted those boys who were mocking me for being a heel-wearing Yankee in Texas. Ha. I joked that I'd show up in a cocktail dress and heels with a martini for the opening day of next season. Hmm.......)

I hope you're making it through your week relatively unscathed. Happy hump day!

Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Munchies

 Bringing in a big load of groceries always inspires me to get my kitchen in better shape, too. I cleaned out the fridge and organized the counters a bit. I recently hung a little Cafe Du Monde postcard on the side of the fridge. 
Now I have a perfect little coffee corner!


Don't you love it when you finally get around to completing a much-needed grocery shopping trip? I finally dragged myself to the store after being home with a mostly empty kitchen, post-New Orleans. Once I was actually began shopping though, it was actually nice to spend time going through my list (oh, you know I had a list) and picking things out.

I've decided to let myself off the strict diet I had mostly been on for the last couple months (with some splurging days/weekends here and there; I didn't "kill" myself over the diet, but I was very conscious of it and what my body goals were. I had been avoiding carbs quite a bit and sticking to mostly fish, vegetables, and salads.). I wanted to kick my body back into gear for bikini weather and my vacations, and I feel now like I've met many of those goals. Now that I feel more back-on-track, I'd like to fill my kitchen with fresh, healthy, but more "fun foods" (at least for right now).
I haven't kept cereal in my house in forever (and hadn't even considered it, because I've also been cutting down on my dairy use), but yesterday I bought some gluten-free rice Chex and some Raisin Bran. I feel like a kid again, having a bowl of regular 'ol cold cereal in the morning!

I feel like I've been in a real snacking mood lately, so I picked up some things that will help me create more of an hor d'ourves-type lunch, and stuff that's healthy to munch on when I need a pick-me-up snack. I recently had mangos at a film shoot and was totally hooked. I've had them before in smoothies, drinks, or desserts, but I don't know that I've ever just snacked on plain slices, and I've definitely never bought them for myself. I think this will be a really nice "new" healthy snack to keep me from getting bored.
I also got some blueberries (a GREAT snack to keep you occupied when you have the munchies), low fat string cheese, fresh hummus (to use as dip for baby carrots, grape tomatoes, or some whole wheat pita bread slices), and a trail mix of sunflower nuts, pumpkin seeds, cashews, almonds, and raisins.

This was after I'd sliced one mango up for breakfast.....annnnd forgot to take a photo of it before eating it. There's something really inviting about having bright, fresh fruit on the kitchen counter, don't you think?

Not a bad little lunch!

Most of what I picked up at the store. Happiness!! Some other things not previously mentioned: frozen tilapia (I also got salmon) in individual bags (so easy to just take out what you need and thaw before dinner) and feta cheese (I add it to practically everything. It's great in salads, sprinkled into a bowl of sliced strawberries, and as a topping for pasta, chicken, or fish dishes. Honestly, sometimes I just eat the larger crumbles right out of the package!).


We'll see how some of these foods suit me, and whether I can stay on a relatively balanced and healthy diet from here. I think keeping in shape is a lot about trial and error, so you might as well make it as enjoyable as possible and use it to broaden your food horizons a bit, right?

Stories? Thoughts? Leave a comment!
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Monday, July 18, 2011

Chats + Coffee + Cuddles

My weekend had just the right mix of lazy time and fun activities. Ok, mostly lazy time, but after a week of traveling, it was just what I needed!
I always consider the beginning of the weekend to be Friday night. I picked up my best girlfriend, who has just come back from a few months in Australia, and we headed to the store for junk food (frozen pizzas + brownie mix) and some wine. I also picked up some Smirnoff Blueberry Lemonade, because it looked delicious and thought it would really hit the spot on a hot night. It did!


We headed back to my place for movies and just general catching up. Steve was working late, so we didn't have to worry about overloading him with girl talk and gossip, even though, I think he enjoys laughing at us when we do.
He got home just as the pizzas were ready; we popped the brownies in the oven, and decided to watch "Ferris Bueler's Day Off" (one of my favorites!). Steve had recently just seen it for the very first time (gasp), but I was shocked to find out that my girlfriend had also never seen it! Luckily, they both liked it, so I can continue speaking to them. Ha.

 People make fun of me for my "pizza cutters", but I am telling you, nothing works better than a pair of scissors! Just try it!

Saturday morning, I made some Cafe Au Lait with the Cafe Du Monde ground coffee we brought back from New Orleans. I read that "New Orleans" style Cafe Au lait (a.k.a. "coffee with milk") is simply coffee with hot milk (just short of boiling), rather than cold milk, as people commonly add to coffee (known as "white coffee"). Typical American Cafe Au Lait uses steamed milk with coffee, but I definitely wanted to make the New Orleans style, so I just heated up a little milk in the microwave. Ok, I may have done an excess of research on this, but I actually found it pretty interesting. Long story short, the coffee came out really well, and I am really enjoying having that taste of my vacation to wake up to each morning! I paired it with a fried egg and a whole wheat bagel thin for breakfast.
My girlfriend slept over and got to experience our newly set-up guest room (which we didn't have when she was last here). I can't blame her for sleeping in, as she tried to get rid of some of the jet lag from her Australia-Taiwan layover-Los Angeles layover-Texas trip (Whew) before heading to a job interview.




Steve and I spent the rest of the weekend being total hermits, watching movies, and eating way too much junk food. It was great.
On Saturday night, I made a New Orleans inspired dinner with some of the Cajun seasonings and Tobasco sauce we brought back from our vacation. It turned out quite well. We also watched one of my favorite musicals "1776", since we never got around to it on Independence Day weekend (it's a tradition of mine and my family's).

 Pan seared tilapia with Cajun seasonings over brown rice, cooked with Cajun seasoning and Tobasco sauce, paired with okra coated in flour, salt, and pepper, and pan fried in a little vegetable oil.

Think this will be enough? Steve loves his food spicy and picked out this giant bottle
at the Tobasco brand store in New Orleans. Behind it, to the right, you can see the container of Black and Gold brand "Cajun seasoning" (AndyRoos.com) he bought there, too. The ingredients are listed as: salt, paprika, onion, garlic, black pepper, red pepper, and "other spices". The full recipe must be a secret....


Steve headed to bed around midnight (he'd been working until about 10:00pm everyday since coming home from vacation, and I know he was beat!), and I got to spend some quality alone time with a Guiliana and Bill marathon (I'm a little hooked on reality TV) with Guiliana Rancic from E! News and her husband. (Quick plug: They are a super sweet and down to earth couple, so if you like those kind of shows, check it out! It's on Style network.)

Sunday morning brought more Cafe Au Lait and fried eggs (I love breakfast!) and Women's World Cup soccer. It was a disappointing end for USA, but a good game, never-the-less. Steve did his best to not let his disappointment last too long. We spent most of Sunday watching movies again (Fools Rush In, Iron Man...) and I also caught the series, "Avonlea" on TV, which I probably haven't seen since I was about 10 years old! It was really nice to watch it again. All the faces looked so familiar!
For dinner, we ventured out of the apartment to Subway. Later, we pulled the roll-up guest room mattress out to the living room so we could get comfy on the floor in front of the TV. We even decided to invite the dog to cuddle. All in all, it was a really nice night and I just loved feeling so close to my boyfriend in our little place.

Hope you have a good weekend, as well! Any stories to share?

Friday, July 15, 2011

Homebody


 I'm actually beginning to feel a bit excited about the idea of not having anywhere to go for a few months (vacation-wise, that is). I'm really loving spending quality time at my apartment, especially since it's been fixed up to look so much nicer recently. I'm feeling eager to enjoy some cooking, movie nights, having friends over, and maybe planning some summer-themed gatherings.
I love that hour or so before my boyfriend gets home from work, and I know we don't have any real plans for the night but to stay in, and I can spend that time casually getting dinner ready while sipping some wine. Sometimes I'll put on a chill Pandora station (I love David Gray) or some Sex and the City episodes to cook by. It's so therapeutic!

I'm liking the idea of doing a uniquely-themed potluck at some point, such as "bring your favorite fruit or cheese, and a bottle of wine" or "bring your favorite summer beer" for a little tasting party. A while back, I had the idea to do a brunch potluck, where everyone brings their favorite breakfast foods. I can't even imagine the variety of delicious things everyone would get to try. One person's breakfast staple might be something indulgent or brand new to someone else. Plus, potlucks can really take the stress out of throwing a party and having to plan and prepare (and buy!) all the "menu" items.

Now I just have to get around to actually scheduling one of these and inviting people! Sometimes I just get lazy. Do you have any good ideas for summer potluck parties? I'd love to hear them!

Thursday, July 14, 2011

The Big Easy


 Good morning!
I'm feeling a bit nostalgic about my vacation this morning. I felt happy to be back in Austin last night, but waking up alone in my own bed this morning was a little harsh. It's hard to believe it's already over. I really enjoyed getting to spend some time with my family, and it's funny how even after just spending a few days in a city like New Orleans, you feel sort of attached. It always feels strange to leave a place just as you feel like you're getting to know it.

I'm coping by brewing some of the Cafe Du Monde coffee I brought home with me. The 24 hour outdoor coffee shop is one of my favorite things about New Orleans, and we made sure to make a late night trip there for beignets (french donuts with powdered sugar) and cafe au lait (coffee with hot milk) every single night. If you ever go to New Orleans, be sure to put this on your list. It's a wonderful place to wind down after a night on Bourbon Street. I have yet to make it there for breakfast, but I'm sure it's a lovely way to wake up, too! Look for the inviting, classic white and green awnings!

Alright, so let me share some of the memories and photos I took over the course of my trip. I'll be happy to go through them myself.

Starving in New Orleans, with all its amazing food, would be a real travesty, so be on your best behavior (a sign from Coop's Place, the first restaurant we went to for dinner)!

Some of Louisiana's own Abita beers. I particularly liked the Strawberry, which I've never see anywhere else, but I also enjoyed the Purple Haze (raspberry beer), which is a little more common in other states. (Sorry this photo's so dark!)

 Alligator Sausage at K-Paul's. This was quite a sophisticated place with lots of interesting menu items. A great place for a quiet dinner and a glass of wine.


"Mother's" was one of the most casual and simple places we went to, but I think this was the best meal we had! We tried the works: shrimp po boys (the bread was so soft!), seafood gumbo, crawfish etouffee', and bread pudding (I actually had bread pudding two different times that day. Ha!). I'm tempted to make the drive back right now for lunch! Ha. This place almost constantly has a line of people out the door, and once you try the food, it's no surprise why.

An amazing little swing/jazz band at "The Spotted Cat" on Frenchman's Street, which seemed to have a whole strip of small, retro-like clubs. We felt like we'd been transported to the 1940s while watching this band, who's name unfortunately escapes me now! When the girl in the red dress wasn't singing, she was swing dancing with a male partner. She was very good at both! The woman playing the trumpet would sing some of the time, and I thought she had even a better voice, which is really saying something! Both women could just wail, with no microphone over the loud band (impressive!). The whole group was extremely talented and fun to watch. They had wonderful chemistry and looked like they were having such a fun time performing.
Many of the people at the club and around Frenchman's Street had the "rockabilly" look going, and I couldn't help but get some retro fashion ideas.

Steve and me by the Mississippi River

I think my mom and her husband had more energy than me, Steve, and my brother and sister combined! They were always up for another trip to Bourbon St. or one more set at one more jazz club. We were able to fit a lot of activities into two and a half days. Shopping on Royal and Decatur Street was also really fun, with all their souvenir shops and art galleries (carrying along a frozen banana daiquiri adds to the experience, I have to say). I think one of my fondest memories was of my whole family, tromping down Bourbon Street (after a few rounds of drinks, of course), our first night in town, singing show tunes at the top of our lungs (three part harmonies with my siblings - not bad!). We always have a good time together, and I miss them already!

After New Orleans, we drove straight up to Arkansas so I could see some old friends before heading back to Austin. We only had one night in town, but it was a great time. We followed some of our old traditions, including dinner at our favorite kinda-crappy-but-so-delicious Chinese buffet, drinks at U.S. Pizza Company (a Little Rock staple), and Fox and Hound Pub for karaoke.

 My sister and I outside Fox and Hound

 Steve and I getting ready to rock the mic at karaoke. I finally debuted my white dress from Bebe (which I got in Vegas in May). Love it!!

I don't have any trips coming up for quite a while. As much as I'll miss the traveling adventures, I am sort of looking forward to settling in to Austin again and enjoying the rest of the summer here. There's lot to do and  friends I'm excited about spending more time with. I also miss those simple nights with Steve and just a movie and a bottle of wine, whenever we don't have one for too long.

What are you looking forward to for the rest of the summer? Do you have any vacations planned, or are you staying close to home?

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

I have returned


Ok, so yes, I was a total blog-slacker over my vacation to New Orleans and Arkansas. But I must say, it felt liberating to have not even turned my laptop on for the entire trip.
We just got in from Arkansas. We've done a lot of driving over the past few days (and we did a TON of walking around New Orleans; my feet have the blisters to prove it, even from my most comfortable shoes!), and it was quite a whirlwind, but definitely worth it. It was a blast! For now though, I am ready to camp in front of the TV with a pint of Rocky Road ice cream that I picked up at the gas station a couple blocks from our apartment. Our air conditioning is struggling to catch up to 74 degrees, after being shut off all week, so a cool snack is in order. Plus, I've been SO body/diet-conscious for the past couple weeks, knowing I wanted to wear a hides-nothing white dress last night to go out with my Arkansas friends, so just for now, I'm letting all that go and relaxing! 

I hope you've had a wonderful week while I've been gone. I'll be back tomorrow with more of an update on my trip!

Friday, July 8, 2011

Road Trip



Road tripping to New Orleans today! Here are some of the things I am really looking forward to:

- Beignets and cafe au lait at Cafe' Du Monde

- A street car ride through some of the beautiful neighborhoods, full of Antebellum mansions (I want one.)

- Browsing art galleries on Royal St. (I might even breakdown and finally buy something this time, since we're getting the apartment all decorated lately.)

- A mecca of live music on Bourbon St. (I'm not a huge jazz or blues fan normally, but it's just such a part of the experience in New Orleans.)

- A charming and delicious little oyster bar that we came across the last time I was there (Let's hope we can find it again!)

- Morning Bloody Marys (to-go!)


Have a wonderful weekend! See you next week!

Thursday, July 7, 2011

Travel Tips

My boyfriend and I leave for New Orleans tomorrow morning for a weekend with my family, followed by a quick additional trip up to Arkansas (where my family lives) afterward, to visit with some old friends. I'm super excited. I love road trips, and my last vacation to New Orleans a year and a half ago (also with my mom and her husband) was a wonderful experience. I am happy to be sharing this trip with Steve, as well as my two siblings this time! I think it's going to be a blast. I will try to blog Monday and Tuesday from Arkansas, but no promises. We'll see how packed my visiting schedule gets...and how much I'm recovering from Bourbon St. Tee hee.

I thought this would be a perfect time to share some of my prepare-to-travel tips. These are some of the routine things I do before leaving town:


Wash the sheets!
You'll probably be doing some laundry before your trip anyway, so be sure to throw your bed sheets into a load as well. Put them back on and make the bed before you leave. It is so nice to come back home to a fresh, clean bed, especially after being spoiled with comfy hotel or guest beds (is it just me, or do other people's beds always seem like the most comfortable EVER?).

Clean out the fridge and take out all trash!
Not a pleasant task, but it's a perfect time to do a chore that probably needed to be done anyway. It's no fun coming home to a smelly kitchen, or a fridge full of old food. Get it done now. You'll be glad you did.
If you have extra time, give your place a quick de-cluttering job and even vacuum the carpets. Once again, it makes that coming home experience much more inviting.

Make a list!
As I've mentioned before, I'm notorious for making hand-written to-do lists. A week or so before I go on a trip, I have a pad and pen handy at all times to jot down any little, easily-forgettable items whenever they come to mind. Certain things (such as phone chargers or nail polish for manicure touch ups) are super easy to forget when you're running around throwing everything into a suitcase the night before you leave. Having a list that you've been compiling all week really takes some stress out of it, and you can drive (or fly) away in confidence that you haven't forgotten anything (although, I pretty much still always still get that nervous twinge that I've left something behind. But I'm just neurotic that way).

Be your own stylist!
I usually put a decent amount of time deciding what I want to wear on my trip, which ensemble I want to where for each day, and whether I'll be changing into evening wear, etc. Of course, that's because I fully enjoy playing "stylist" to myself. The good thing is, doing this keeps me organized and prepared when packing. If you're not that into fashion, you probably don't need (or want) to put much effort into this kind of thing, but then again, you're also probably not reading this blog.
Once again, if you start doing this type of planning in advance, certain things may occur to you such as, "Oh, wait, that's the day we'll be doing a lot of walking, so I should probably wear my most comfy flats that day". Then you can change up your planned outfit accordingly and wear something that looks great with those super-comfy black flats you have, for example. This keeps me from packing WAY more than I actually need, because I know I have an appropriate outfit ready for each day or night. It also saves a lot of time on your actual trip when you're getting ready, because you already know what you need to put on and what look you're creating. I'd rather spend my time experiencing the vacation, not primping in the bathroom! I honestly have some make-up and hair ideas already in the back of my mind for each outfit, too.
Don't get me wrong though, I do like having some freedom in what I'm going to wear. You never know what mood may strike you when you're getting ready in the morning. So I try to bring generally versatile items that are easy to mix up a bit, if I feel the need. I'll also throw in a few wardrobe staples that are nice to have, just in case (a pair of regular sneakers, simple tank tops, a good pair of jeans, etc.).

What tips do you live by when getting ready for a vacation? Any advice for me?

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Some inspiration

Quick, early post for the day, as I'm headed off to a film shoot. Take some of this inspiration with you today.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Holiday


Hope you had a great holiday weekend! I must say, 4th of July here just wasn't quite the same without any fireworks. We currently have a total burn ban going, because it's been so hot and dry here. Even the large fireworks displays downtown were canceled. What a shame!  I spent a lot of time with friends throughout the entire weekend, though, so that was nice.


I thought I'd share some of my "Patriotic" ensembles from the past few days:


I wore this out to the river on Monday. I thought the scarf would help keep me cool and protect my head from the sun, while also giving me a little bit of a 1940s vibe. Since I wasn't planning spending a lot of time in the water anyway, I indulged myself with some red lipstick, too.


 I wore this out for dinner and drinks with friends one evening, hoping the red, white, and blue combination wouldn't look too cheesy. I think it worked! I'd wear this again sometime, too. And, I decided it was finally time to attempt wearing heels since severely spraining my ankle 4 months ago! It's been a very long wait, and I was so happy that I had no problems, even after wearing them for hours and doing a lot of standing. I felt great in them! I was surprised how much I missed it.
The white lace top is my newest purchase from Forever 21 ($15), and I absolutely love it! It's really soft and comfortable, too. I'm simply wearing a black bra underneath.

This was my somewhat-lazy-Sunday ensemble. I think this was taken right before we headed out for our Starbucks fix in the morning. I've had this bandanna-looking top since college, and I'm pretty sure I bought it at a thrift store for about $3. I decided 4th of July weekend was a good time to bring it back out. The pants are my newest obsession  from Forever 21 (on sale for $7.99). I got them instead of the more typical harem pants I was looking for. The ones I tried on didn't look quite right, and as soon as I put these on, I knew they were the ones! They are SO comfortable, I never want to take them off. They are great for just lounging around the house and doing nothing, but I am really loving finding different ways of contrasting them with more stylish items when going out. They still have a touch of that baggy harem look, too.

What do you think??
Tell me about your weekend! Did you find some cute red, white, and blue ensembles you never knew you had? Hope you have a great week!