Wednesday, December 17

inspiration: a beauty and the beast winter wedding

My favorite fairy tale since childhood has been Beauty and the Beast.  I love that Belle (both the Disney version and the original in the French fairy story) is a bookworm, and her nurturing personality and ability to see inner beauty.  Today I'm sharing wedding details from around the web, inspired by a story I cherish.

There was once a very rich merchant, who had three daughters; being a man of sense, he spared no cost for their education, but gave them all kinds of masters. His daughters were extremely handsome, especially the youngest. When she was little everybody admired her, and called her Beauty, which made her sisters very jealous.  The two eldest had a great deal of pride, because they were rich. They gave themselves ridiculous airs, and would not visit other merchants' daughters, nor keep company with any but persons of quality. They went out every day to parties of pleasure, balls, plays, concerts, and so forth, and they laughed at their youngest sister, because she spent the greatest part of her time in reading good books.

The merchant received a letter with an account that a vessel, on board of which he had effects, was safely arrived. This news had liked to have turned the heads of the two eldest daughters, and when they saw their father ready to set out, they begged of him to buy them new gowns, headdresses, ribbons, and all manner of trifles.

"What will you have, Beauty?" said her father.

"Since you have the goodness to think of me," answered she, "be so kind to bring me a rose, for as none grows hereabouts, they are a kind of rarity." 

The good man was within thirty miles of his own house, thinking on the pleasure he should have in seeing his children again, when going through a large forest he lost himself. It rained and snowed terribly; besides, the wind was so high, that it threw him twice off his horse, and night coming on, he began to apprehend being either starved to death with cold and hunger, or else devoured by the wolves, whom he heard howling all round him, when, on a sudden, looking through a long walk of trees, he saw a light at some distance, and going on a little farther perceived it came from a palace illuminated from top to bottom. 

Cameron and Kelly Studio via Style Me Pretty | Heather Bliss Photography via Calie Rose Floral and Event Design

The good man drank his chocolate, and then went to look for his horse, but passing through an arbor of roses he remembered Beauty's request to him, and gathered a branch on which were several; immediately he heard a great noise, and saw such a frightful Beast coming towards him, that he was ready to faint away.

"You are very ungrateful," said the Beast to him, in a terrible voice; "I have saved your life by receiving you into my castle, and, in return, you steal my roses, which I value beyond any thing in the universe, but you shall die for it; I give you but a quarter of an hour to prepare yourself, and say your prayers."

The merchant fell on his knees, and lifted up both his hands, "My lord," said he, "I beseech you to forgive me, indeed I had no intention to offend in gathering a rose for one of my daughters, who desired me to bring her one."

Beauty thought she might as well walk about, and view this fine castle, which she could not help admiring; it was a delightful pleasant place. What chiefly took up her attention, was a large library, a harpsichord, and several music books. 

"Eat then, Beauty," said the monster, "and endeavor to amuse yourself in your palace, for everything here is yours, and I should be very uneasy, if you were not happy."

"You are very obliging," answered Beauty, "I own I am pleased with your kindness, and when I consider that, your deformity scarce appears."

"Yes, yes," said the Beast, "my heart is good, but still I am a monster."

"Among mankind," says Beauty, "there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those, who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart."

"No, dear Beast," said Beauty, "you must not die. Live to be my husband; from this moment I give you my hand, and swear to be none but yours. Alas! I thought I had only a friendship for you, but the grief I now feel convinces me, that I cannot live without you." Beauty scarce had pronounced these words, when she saw the palace sparkle with light; and fireworks, instruments of music, everything seemed to give notice of some great event. But nothing could fix her attention; she turned to her dear Beast, for whom she trembled with fear; but how great was her surprise! Beast was disappeared, and she saw, at her feet, one of the loveliest princes that eye ever beheld; who returned her thanks for having put an end to the charm, under which he had so long resembled a Beast.

Okay, readers:  What's your favorite fairy tale?

Tuesday, December 16

Holiday Inspiration at Festival of Trees

Every city has its holiday traditions and Roanoke is no exception.  One of the centerpieces of Dickens of a Christmas is the Festival of Trees at the Hotel Roanoke, also known as "Fashions for Evergreens."  My best friend Breeze and I brought a few friends along last weekend for what we are turning into an annual tradition.  There are 30 trees throughout the hotel that have been decorated by local businesses, schools, clubs, and charities.  Visitors can stroll through the displays and then vote for their favorites along with a donation to the United Way.  The Hotel Roanoke is beautiful, with its Tudor-style exterior and Victorian-influenced interior, and touring the hotel really feels like going back to a more elegant time.

These two outdoor trees with an icy winter theme and a rustic woodland style were decorated by a local construction company and nursery. When we have a big enough house for multiple Christmas trees, I'll definitely be borrowing some ideas from these two!

Inside, there are two Dr. Seuss inspired trees!  The Grinch tree was decorated by the same company that DJ-ed our wedding and features their signature color-changing lights, and the  super creative Lorax tree is from a local hospital.  Many of the trees in the fashion show had a 3-D element with candy canes, giant lollipops, or, in this case, fuzzy truffula trees sticking out!

These two elegant trees are in a little alcove.  The sheet music tree was decorated by the Roanoke Children's Choir and the gold tree is one of the hotel's holiday decorations.  It's not part of the competition, but I loved the sparkly gold branches and pretty ribbon topper.

My personal favorite is probably this rustic tree from a local wedding photography company. I love that they used cotton and burlap along with pinecones, grapevine, and snowy branches.

These two bright and colorful trees are from Creative Occasions, my favorite local florist, and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company.  Both use deco mesh netting as garland and I think it makes a really big impact.  The ornaments on the Coke tree were adorable - lots of polar bears, sleds, and tiny Coke cans and bottles!

The real showpiece of the event this year is the two-story gingerbread house with a tree inside!  It was built by Virginia 8-1-1 and the attention to detail is amazing... check out the little hot tub of "cocoa" with marshmallows!

Linking Up:

Catch As Catch Can at My Repurposed Life
Flaunt It Friday at Chic on a Shoestring
The Party Bunch at Whipperberry
Saturday Sparks at Pieced Pastimes

Monday, December 15

clicks of note: our finest gifts we bring...

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • For King and Country was a Pandora discovery for me.  "The Little Drummer Boy" has never been one of my favorite Christmas carols, mainly because the drummer boy himself is not Biblical.  However, I find this version really stirring thanks to the electric guitar and isolated vocals.  Their version of "Angels We Have Heard on High" has a creative animated video featuring their album cover art.  I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Sunday, December 14

sunday simplicity.

“Our hearts grow tender with childhood memories and love of kindred, 
and we are better throughout the year for having, in spirit, 
become a child again at Christmas time.”  - Laura Ingalls Wilder

Saturday, December 13

Book Review: Love at Mistletoe Inn by Cindy Kirk

Set in small-town Harmony, Idaho, the Christian romance novella Love at Mistletoe Inn is Hope Prentiss' story.  Hope, an accountant by trade, helps her Aunt Verna run a rustic wedding venue called Harmony Creek.  She's dating a conservative banker with dreams of running for office. Above all things, Hope is methodical, organized, and maybe just a little bit uptight. When Hope's bohemian best friend Amity Carter, who helps brides plan nontraditional weddings (she loves wedding cakes topped with skulls), assures one of her brides that her marriage will be legal even if the forms aren't sent in, Hope's orderly life takes a tailspin. When she was in high school, Hope took one big, out-of-character risk. She eloped with Verna's foster son, John Burke, on prom night, but got cold feet - after saying "I do."  If Amity is right, Hope and John are still married... and guess who just came back to town?
I spend hours every December watching Christmas romance movies on the Hallmark channel, and that's exactly what Love at Mistletoe Inn reminded me of.  Like a Hallmark movie, Hope's story is charming and comforting.  We know John's reappearance in Harmony is going to shake up Hope's supposedly perfect life.  Hope may think she has everything under control, but when Verna tells John and Hope about her plan to turn her house into a wedding chapel called Mistletoe Inn and enlists their help in planning a wedding for a couple who is conveniently out of the country, it's fairly obvious that she's the story's real puppet master.  The story is extremely predictable, but if it was a movie, I'd totally watch it with cocoa in hand.

As a wedding-obsessed blogger, I love the idea of Kirk's Year of Weddings novella series - women who help make others' perfect days happen navigating their own romances.  While I enjoyed this quick, cozy read, I thought the story could have been stronger.  Besides financial stability and a good reputation, it's not clear what Hope sees in her boyfriend Chester, so there's not enough conflict threatening John and Hope's reunion to make things really interesting.  For me, Verna being the parental figure for both Hope and John was also problematic - it was hard to believe that John had come back to town for years of holiday functions and he and Hope had never broached the topic of their wedding before.  I think the story would be more dramatic if Hope and John really hadn't seen each other in a decade, and if each of the book's "catastrophes" wasn't resolved within the span of one chapter. John is described as "hot-blooded" but the most exciting thing he does is ride a motorcycle. Kirk uses third person omniscient point of view, and I wish she'd let readers into John's head a bit more.  My favorite character in the book was Amity, the "wild child" who ends up dating Hope's minister.  I'd like to read a spin off about odd couple Pastor Dan and Amity trying to make things work!

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through BookLook Bloggers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255“Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Wednesday, December 10

Winter Fashion: Dutch Florals

One of my favorite fashion trends this year is floral patterns on unexpected dark backgrounds.  Inspired by still life oil paintings from the Dutch Golden Age, these designs are dramatic, bold, and the perfect addition to a holiday wardrobe!

Winter Fashion: Dutch Florals
Disclaimer:  ModCloth links contain an affiliate code.  Thank you for 
supporting Beyond the Aisle!

1. ASOS dress (midi skirt, similar from Macy's) 2. J. Crew cropped 
sweatshirt (similar from LOFT) 3. Lancome nail varnish in Madame 
Tulipe  4. ModCloth dress  5. ModCloth peacoat  6. Sole Society loafers 
7. Olivia Burton watch from ModCloth   8. Sophia Webster for J. Crew 
pumps (similar from Ted Baker at ASOS) 9. J. Crew pants (similar 
from Oliver Bonas) 10. ModCloth rose necklace

I fell in love with this NY Collection black floral dress from Macy's (it has a body-shaping slip inside!) and wore it to my college roomie's wedding in October.  The other roomies are wearing adorable party dresses from Rent the Runway.  I styled my dress with burgundy pumps, but love it with boots and a sweater for work as well!

Linking Up:
Manic Monday at More Pieces of Me and The Daily Express
Style to Inspire with Rhea Et Cetera
Three-Fer Thursday at Perfectly Coutured

Tuesday, December 9

DIY Cardinal Christmas Wreath

Every winter, one of my favorite projects is decorating our Christmas tree and a wreath to match.  Mr. Q and I decorate on the day after Thanksgiving so we can enjoy our decorations for a long time, and I like to have a theme to work around.  This year I picked my Christmas decorating theme in July - yes, I have become one of those people.  On our vacation in Williamsburg, I decided that our Christmas theme should be Virginia: lots of Colonial-inspired plaid and gingham, gold and pewter decorations inspired by the two ornaments I bought on our trip (sneak peeks here and here), and our beautiful state bird, the cardinal.  I hope that my cardinal Christmas wreath puts a smile on your face today!

I've been using the same wreath form for years - you can see last year's wreath here.  I took everything out but the red poinsettias and pewter berries (which are stuck directly into the wreath using their picks), wrapped my plaid ribbon around the form and clipped on the cute feather cardinals I found at JoAnn Fabrics.  It was a super easy, quick craft that makes a big impact on our front door!

I got a little holiday decorating envy when one of our neighbors added a lit garland around her door.  Mr. Q got his Clark Griswold on with a dollar-store garland, a strand of lights, and some of the new Command hooks, and now I'm as happy as can be!

Linking Up:

Catch As Catch Can at My Repurposed Life
Categorically Crafting at Someday Crafts
Flaunt It Friday at Chic on a Shoestring
The Party Bunch at Whipperberry
Saturday Sparks at Pieced Pastimes