Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Top 10 Albums of 2013

2013 is coming to an end, folks. It's time to put on your party hats and think of resolutions to "be a better you". But, before we do all that, let's recap 2013 for what it was: a good year for music. (Obvz, it was much more than that, but I like to stick to the real, important issues here on Rags and Roses.)
1. Bubblegum by Kevin Devine and the Goddamn Band-Kevin Devine accomplished a lot this year. A tour with his side project, Bad Books, a really successful Kickstarter launch, the recording and completion of two albums, and another round of touring with Now, Now. Yeah, kind of makes anything you did this year seem pretty small, huh? Out of all these major events, I have to rank his album Bubblegum the most influential. The album describes the state of our country from a young person's point of view. It speaks of love, financial stress, political injustices, and just not caring about someone's band; all familiar things these days. Do yourself a favor, and check this one out.
2. Talon of the Hawk by The Front Bottoms- It's no secret that I love this band. I saw them four times in 2013, and already have plans to roadtrip to one of their shows in January; ya know, just starting the new year off right. I was afraid to hear what Talon of the Hawk might have in store after falling so hard over their debut album. I just didn't want to be let down. But, I was worried over nothing. Sure, this album has a different sound. It's louder and much more fast-paced than any earlier songs done by the band, but it also seems so familiar; with themes anyone could connect with and Brian Sella's "talking" vocals still pronouncing the word "comfortable" wrong. This album was played at volume in my car for weeks at a time almost every month after it was released. It's just that good.
3. Girl Talk by Kate Nash- "Well, I'm just a girl. But, it's good enough for me...", lyrics from the track "Conventional Girl" pretty much explain the theme of the entire album. Girl Talk was so much different from anything else I've ever heard from Kate Nash, who just so happens to be one of my most respected role models and inspirations. It was raw and direct and fun and empowering and so much more. It introduced Kate as a full on rock star (instead of a Brit-pop act), and a force to be reckoned with. Girl Talk is essentially a Riot Grrrl revival, with a lot of Hole, Kathleen Hanna, and Blondie vibes. Trust me, it will make you want to pick up an instrument and scream about stupid boys. Perfect.
4.Dear Miss Lonely Hearts by Cold War Kids- I was in the 7th grade when I heard Cold War Kids for the first time, and was immediately a fan. I loved the raspy vocals, blues influence, and lyrics about misunderstood criminals. But, I will admit that I fell off the band wagon after that first CD because I had built it up in such a way that nothing could compare. That was until Dear Miss Lonelyhearts came out. It was so resonant of the songs that made me love the band in the first place. Dear Miss Lonelyhearts is so lyrically beautiful, with heavy metaphors and emotion, and is arranged in a way that breathes a believable storyline into the album; as if you could think of scenarios in which the songs would be playing over or the people who lent inspo to the words being belted out by the ever-talented Nathan Willett. I had the pleasure and privilege of seeing the band live this summer, and it made me swoon even more. The members of this band are the types of musicians that we need more of today; real ones.
5. Feast of Love by Pity Sex- After an EP like 2012's Dark World, it was pretty obvious that anything this band put out would be worth listening to. The contrast of pretty/dirty vocals by members Britty Drake and Brennan Greaves, along with the perfect amount of "fuzz" and 90's emo vibes, make this band not only something worth listening to, but something to love. All the lyrics on Feast of Love are honest and sung at the perfect volume, sometimes whispered and cloudy; making it easy to put yourself in a smoky room at some dude's party you don't even know, bored and preoccupied with a breakup or general angst over trivial crap. Pity Sex has quickly become one of my favorites, and I'm stoked to see what they come up with next.
6. Modern Vampires of the City by Vampire Weekend- I always felt like there was a lot of hype behind Vampire Weekend. Like, so much that I was turned off from ever checking them out. I'm sure that sounds like a really "hipstery, douchey" thing to admit, but I just felt like there was no way this band was THAT good. Sure, I indulged in the singles that were made available by my Pandora station, but I never searched beyond that. But, when I saw Modern Vampires of the City on sale at Target after it's debut, I took the bait. And, I have to say the hype was valid. This album was the soundtrack of my summer; with clever lyrics speaking of reckless abandon and an evident 1960's inspiration. My favorite things about this album were the sporadic voice-overs and use of unexpected instruments; the way they all came together is nothing short of perfection. I think this one will be a hard one for the band to follow, but I'm eager to see what else they have in store.
7. Wildewoman by Lucius- This folk duo really broke out this year with the unexpected sound of Wildewoman. It is a stretch from the twangy guitars they began their careers with, but the result is an indie-pop gem. With harmonies reminiscent of 60's girl groups and powerful drums beating between very organized lyrics, it is safe to say that Lucius found the sound they were always meant to have. Vocalists Jess Wolfe and Holly Laessig compliment each other so well, and cover a range that brings so much power to their music. Wildewoman is catchy, relatable, and just plain good.
8. Beyonce by Beyonce- This one may seem a little out of place amongst the other albums on this list, but I don't care; it's Beyonce, people. She pulled the biggest and most successful stunt in pop music this year, ignoring all the media, hype, and promotion behind so many other pop "artists'" albums dropping, and just made music she was proud of. Not only did she complete a secret album, but she made seventeen videos to go along with it. Can you believe you have just as many hours in your day as Queen B? This album and it's accompanying videos give fans a look into the inspiration behind the songs, as well as a look into the singer's life. My personal favorite track is "Flawless" in which a voice over from Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, who is an award-winning author and feminist. Adichie speaks of the ways in which we set girls up for failure from the start by putting them second to men. I have so much respect and admiration for Beyonce putting something like this in her album, while most other people in the same genre submit to the over sexualiztion and discrimination of young females. I saw somewhere online where a person said "Sasha Fierce died so that Yonce could live", and let me just tell you that Yonce is a goddess.
9. Whenever, If Ever by The World is a Beautiful Place and I'm No Longer Afraid to Die- Along with earning a place on my countdown, I'm sure these guys also hold the title for longest band name ever. But, it's all good. Because THEY are really good. Whenever, If Ever has a lot of all-instrumental breaks and a general sense of being young adult. Like, this album is what I'd give someone if they asked me how I've been since I moved back from college. SO. MUCH. ANGST. But, in all seriousness, TWIABP is genuinely a great band, whose lyrics could hit home with just about anyone with a heart. Lyrics like, “You ran away/ You were afraid to make mistakes/ but that's the biggest one you made." from the track "Gig-life" and the scattered arrangement of Whenever, If Ever as a whole, set the tone of the band's unique sound and presence; reminding me personally of favorites like American Football and Cap'n Jazz. I have plans to see this band live for the first time in early 2014. and I really, REALLY can't wait.
10. Small Reveal by Aidan Knight- I can't think of another musician like Aidan Knight, and I'm happy with the possibility that there may not be. I've never heard the kind of complexity used in Knight's music by anyone else in the modern indie genre, be it in his lyrics, orchestral arrangements, or the direction that his sound has gone. I'm always eager to listen to anything by him because you don't just hear it, you feel it. Is that cheesy? Maybe. But, it's also true. There is texture and scenery and story and characters intertwined in Knight's words and his various instruments. There is regret and longing and subtlety and realness, that's presence makes this album something a bit more than music. Small Reveal is beautiful, like everything that Aidan Knight has released. And, it belongs on this list for reasons all of it's own. 
So, there you have it! My favorite albums of 2013. I hope you give these all a listen before bringing in 2014. What were some of your faves? I'd love to hear any that I missed, or upcoming releases that you're stoked for. Happy New Years!
With love,

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Playlist: A Very Rags and Roses Christmas

    Everyone likes Christmas music at least a little bit. EVERYONE. Even me, who has been forced to hear it for the last month and a half at work; although I much prefer to hear it on my own terms. I'm all about the classics ( Paul McCartney's "Wonderful Christmastime" or Wham's "Last Christmas", anyone?), but I decided to share some of my favorite/unconventional Christmas songs and covers. These songs will make even the Scrooge-iest dood get into the holiday spirit.

A Very Rags and Roses Christmas by Heather Brocklesby on Grooveshark

                                                          Happy Holidays, you guys!
                                                                   Until next time,

Monday, December 23, 2013

Recipe: 8-Layer Cookie Bars

     I'm all about trying new foods in the kitchen, and I love sharing recipes with all of you. But, I will admit that the meals and desserts in my repertoire are absolutely fool-proof. Cooking, for me, has to be easy and hassle-free because I don't have an ounce of patience in me; my mother would gladly confirm this for any of you with doubts. So, I'm here today to share an ultra-satisfying and super simple cookie bar recipe that all you procrastinators can make just in time for Christmas. Here we go!
Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. In an 13x9 inch baking dish, spread a 1/2 cup (one stick) of melted butter evenly.
Next, add 1 and 1/2 cup of graham cracker crumbs to the pan and distribute evenly, making a crust. You can buy graham crumbs or just crush up your own like we did. 
After your crust is formed, layer 1 cup each of semi-sweet chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and chopped walnuts.
We decided to make these "8-layer bars" by adding marshmallows that we had on hand. You can add as much as a cup, or just a handful as shown above.
Drizzle a 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed-milk all over the top.
Then add your last layer: 1 and 1/3 cup of shredded coconut. Bake for 25-30 minutes, or until golden brown. Let cool (overnight is best), cut into bars, and enjoy!
These things are so freaking good, you guys. And, since there's no flour, eggs, mixing, etc., they are the perfect option for baking beginners or anyone looking for a quick treat to bring to a family Christmas or office holiday party. That is, if you don't eat them all right out of the oven. Merry eating!
With love,

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide For Boys Who Are Hard To Shop For

Gift Guide For Boys Who Are Hard To Shop For

Gift Guide For Boys Who Are Hard To Shop For by heatherrrnicole featuring wall art
As promised, I am back today to bring you some suggestions on what to get the dood in your life. I would just like to first state that boys are super hard to shop for. And, if you've tried to pick out the perfect gift, but found yourself eyeing cat mugs for yourself instead, I just want you to know you're not alone. But, it is time to get serious about finding something, folks. So, I've comprised my go-to list for boys. I hope this helps at least a little. But, if it doesn't, my advise is just to give up and buy that darn cat mug instead.
1.Clothes/accessories. It's the perfect amount of "personal", and will also give you the chance to dress your man in something YOU really like. (Just kidding, of course.) Stick with beanies, socks, and maybe a shirt, since they are easier to judge the sizes. 2. Music. Whether it's in the form of vinyl or an iTunes gift card, music is a wonderful gift to give someone. 3. Cologne. Because it's a universal gift to give, no matter who or what age. 4. Posters/wall art. I especially like to go for ones from their favorite show/movie. 5. Gift cards. For when you're really stumped, and need something quick. I know Andy would really enjoy one for Gamestop or Micro Center. 6. Books! Give him your most favorite book ever, or just one that will help him decode rap music. Any ol' book will do. 7. A bag. It could be for school, trips, or (like my main squeeze would use it for) camera equipment. It's a practical gift for just about anyone. 8. Electronic accessories. A phone case or camera strap. It can be a cool addition to something they already use everyday!
Good luck in you shopping endeavors, readers
Until next time,

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Early Christmas Present

I didn't take nearly as many pictures as I should have, but I just had to share a bit of mine and Ashley's Christmas gift exchange. We gabbed and opened gifts over tea and shortbread cookies. She knows me all too well, you guys; she got me a coffee mug with Kate Nash lyrics on it ("When I say two sugars, I mean three"), wrapped in the cutest "A Christmas Story" paper. And, I am pleased to report that she loved her feminist-inspired mystery package and bulldog mug. We both found each other's gifts on Etsy, which is by far my favorite way to shop for the holidays. Handmade gifts bring a lot of charm and quirk to the table-even if they were made by someone else-and I love the idea of supporting small businesses and fellow crafters.
     I have another gift exchange with my dear, dear Andy and a Secret Santa at work to finish out before we have our family Christmases. All of my loved ones and I mutually agreed to keep things as simple as possible, with just a few small gifts, and I'm really happy about it. I feel like this is the least stressed out I've ever been about the holidays, and I'm more happy over being able to hang out with everyone rather than worrying over how much I've spent.  What we lack in presents, we plan to make up with in food. Which is totes alright by me.
Happy Holidays,

Monday, December 16, 2013

Outfit:Um, How Do You Dress For Snow?

Okay, doods. Snow is officially here to stay, and I have a real problem with it. Mainly because my wardrobe isn't fit for trudging around in the stuff. All of my pants are ankle-cut and my shoes are either loafers or heeled booties with zero traction. I realized what a problem this actually is when I advertised my extreme poise to the world by falling, then slipping my through the parking lot at my job over the weekend. So, in attempts to be more practical, I've begun the hunt for the perfect (and warm and durable) Winter boots. I even bought fleece-lined tights to wear with dresses and skirts. Isn't this what being an adult is all about? I still haven't had much luck with the search, but in the meantime, the look above will have to do; a cozy flannel and cardi-combo with FLAT boots. We'll just ignore my exposed ankles for now.
Until next time,

Outfit Details:
Coat- Gabriel Brothers
Cardigan-Forever 21 (thrifted)
Flannel- T.J. Maxx
Jeans-Urban Outfitters
Boots- Gabriel Brothers

Friday, December 13, 2013

Holiday Gift Guide For Girls Who Are Hard To Shop For

Gift Guide For Girls Who Are Hard To Shop For

(Gift Guide For Girls Who Are Hard To Shop For by heatherrrnicole)
You all already know how much I love Halloween, but Christmas is the next best. I'm all about watching snow fall (as long as I don't have to drive in it), putting up cute decorations, watching old holiday specials, and sipping hot chocolate; who isn't? However, the gift-giving aspect of Christmas has gotten a bit trying over the years. Don't get me wrong, I love picking out things for the people I love. But, this year, a serious case of shopper's block came over me-it's a confusing and stressful condition to deal with, and I appreciate all your support- leaving me without a clue about what to buy people. After a lot of online browsing and trips to several stores, I am proud to say my Christmas shopping is officially dunzo. But, if you're still struggling with what to get your loved one this year, take a note from the collection above: go-to gifts for (almost) any lady in your life. Don't worry, ladies. I'll be back with gift-inspo for your dood soon. 
1. Tea and a cute mug to put it in. 2. You can never go wrong with a gift card, especially from iTunes and especially since Beyonce just released a new album. 3. Cozy pajamas. 4. Wall-art and prints from her favorite movie. Nan Lawson has some very cute ones like this Margot and Richie illustration on her Etsy page. 5. Journals and pens. 6. Books! I like going for coffee table reads and DIY/creative books. 7. Perfume sets never go out of style, and you always have plenty variety to chose from. I suggest going to department stores, like Macy's, who have samples laid out to pick the scents you like, then going to outlet shops like TJ Maxx and Marshalls to score the gift set. Tricky, tricky. 8. Make-up brushes. E.L.F. has beautiful and affordable holiday collections this time of year
I hope this post helps you all cope with shopper's block. Happy gift-giving!
With love,

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Recipe: Vegetarian Tortilla Soup

     If you are anything like me,soup is considered it's own food group. Creamy, cheesy, brothy, tomato, potato; whatever! I love 'em all. As a vegetarian, I often find my soup choices are limited when I dine out-especially with tortilla soup- which is sucky. So, I'm here today with a recipe to cure your vegetarian soup blues! And, trust me, even you meat-eaters will love this one.
2 tablespoons olive oil
1/2 green bell pepper, chopped
1/2 red onion, chopped
2 cloves of garlic
3 tablespoons cumin
10 ounces canned crushed tomatoes
10 ounces canned diced tomatoes with green chiles
14-20 ounces of vegetable broth (I suggest low sodium )
1 can whole kernel corn
1 can of black beans
 To Garnish/Serve:
Tortilla chips
Shredded cheese
1/2 diced avocado
Dice your pepper and onion into small pieces, and put into a soup pot with the olive oil over medium heat. Add minced garlic cloves and cumin, and heat until the veggies are tender.
Next, add in your canned ingredients. Stir until the contents are combined, and bring to a boil.
     After your tomato and veggie mixture is boiling, add 14 ounces (or a can full) of vegetable broth to the pot. Season with salt and pepper to taste, and continue to simmer for 30 minutes. If the soup gets too thick, simply add more broth and adjust your seasonings.
When you are ready to serve, crush some tortilla chips into your bowl and ladle soup over it.
I like to finish mine off with cilantro, avocado, and cheese. Sour cream and hot sauce would also be acceptable fixings. 
Well, I'm off to eat all twelve servings of my soup. I hope you all enjoy this one.
Until next time,

(Recipe adapted from here.)

Friday, December 6, 2013

Outfit: Lemonworld

     Hey, guys! Remember me? Ugh, this is the most inconsistent I have ever been with this poor blog of mine. Unfortunately, my life as of late has been extremely lame. It's been far too cold to do anything outdoors, my best friend/fellow blogger abandoned me to spend a few days with her husband (can you believe it?), and work is just kind of sucking the life out of me. Some pretty reeling stuff, huh? Alas, all these things were made alright due to some unexpected changes in the weather and much needed day with my boyfriend/photographer. Andy and I spent what felt like an Autumn day in Columbus, celebrating my getting a new job. We made our rounds to our favorite thrift stores, ate too many fries at Five Guys, and (finally) saw the new Hunger Games movie. Can we talk about how amazing that one was for a second? I was a little late to the party, deciding to read the books after watching the first movie (criminal, right?), but I am HOOKED. The books are so full of detail and suspense, and, although missing a few things here and there, the movies are very well executed to bring the words to life visually. Plus, Jennifer Lawrence. Need I say more?This little mid-week trip was just what I needed to stop stressing out over almost every aspect of my life for a moment. Things have a funny way of working out, folks.
     Jeez. I forgive me for rambling. I nearly forgot this was an "Outfit" post. This may be my favorite outfit combo ever, and I'm totally not ashamed about the number of times I've been caught wearing it during these last few weeks. The daisy-print dress is one of my best thrifts to date, although this comfy yellow jumper is certainly giving it a run for it's money. It's the perfect baggy fit and length; making it super easy to layer over dresses, collared blouses, or even just a white t-shirt. I love having staples in my wardrobe that are totally versatile because it's really like having multiple pieces in one. 
     Ahh, okay. That about brings you up to date with me (and my outfit).
With love,

Outfit Details:
Hat- H&M
Jumper- thrifted
Dress- thrifted
Tights and Boots- TJ Maxx

Monday, December 2, 2013

Thanksgiving Snapshots

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I love food. Oh, and family. Family is good, too. We always celebrate with a small gathering of immediate family over at my Nanny's (my grandmother) house and I eat ALL of the carbs. This year we were without my sister, Shandi, which was pretty lame. However, we all still managed to put together an awesome meal, and enjoy the rest of the evening lounging off the casserole overload. I watched every holiday episode of How I Met Your Mother and had way more pie than I'd like to admit. I am eagerly awaiting  Christmas, when we do this all over again with my sister present. Yeah, I really miss her, okay!? 
I hope you all had an enjoyable, food-filled holiday. Happy (late) Thanksgiving!
With love,

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