Monday, July 28

clicks of note: i'm making a beautiful day...

get your week off to a colorful start...
LISTEN. something new for your playlist
  • One of my best friends from college came to visit us at the townhouse this weekend, and we packed so much fun into one weekend it was ridiculous - brewery visiting, tater tot eating, live music listening, puppy dog playing, and even the musical episode of Buffy.  This is my last week of summer break, and it feels like it has been all too short. Joshua Radin's "Beautiful Day" sounds exactly how I want this week to feel.  I'm linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos - check it out if you'd like to discover some new tunes :)

SWOON. my favorite pretty links this week
"When we spoke to each other, he held my hands so tightly my fingers ached. His arms shook. My knees trembled, invisible under ivory tulle. I listened to his voice—my husband’s voice!—an ancient hillside on which I lay, finally rested, soaking up joy."

SMILE. all things funny, cute, and quirky

FLASHBACK.  where was I again?

Sunday, July 27

sunday social: favorite 3's

Social Sunday

1. 3 favorite songs right now

Get More: 

  • "Alone Together," Fall Out Boy - specifically, this performance with The Band Perry from CMT Crossroads.  Who knew punk rock and country could sound so good together?  Kimberly's innocent-sounding voice just takes the song's lyrics to another level for me.
  • "Somethin' Bad," Miranda Lambert and Carrie Underwood - my SIL and I are in love with this song.  Our poor family had to listen to us sing this one in the car a lot on vacation.
  • "The Devil Takes Care of His Own," Band of Skulls - this one reminds me of the White Stripes circa White Blood Cells.  Part of my writing playlist right now, gets played on our local indie station a lot, and is also in the background of at least one TV commercial!

2. 3 favorite movies that remind you of summer

  • Dirty Dancing - filmed right here in Southwest Virginia!
  • Now and Then - probably the reason we had so many seances growing up?
  • Moonrise Kingdom - summer camp gets the Wes Anderson treatment.

3. 3 favorite articles of clothing you own
  • My LOFT skinny jeans - I wear them pretty much every weekend.
  • White pointelle sweater from Old Navy - perfect summer layer!
  • YOGA PANTS, let's be honest here.

4. 3 items on your wish list
  • A nice camera bag - Mr. Q bought a nice backpack for our DSLR but I'd love to have one that looks like a purse for when I'm the photographer on duty ;)
  • Black strappy sandals I can wear to work - either these or these.
  • This Fossil watch - I only like watches if they look more like jewelry.

5. 3 books you would recommend to someone
  • The Girls' Guide to Hunting and Fishing by Melissa Bank - not actually about hunting or fishing; instead it's a coming-of-age tale told in a series of short stories.  I would especially recommend it to fans of Sex and the City and The Devil Wears Prada.
  • Wild by Cheryl Strayed - I loved this moving true story of a woman's journey on the Pacific Coast Trail; read my full review here.
  • The Book Thief by Markus Zusak - a haunting, heartbreaking genre-bending YA novel about a German girl whose foster family hides a Jewish man in their basement during World War II.  

sunday simplicity

"The seeds of love first by thy eyes were thrown
Into a ground untilled, a heart unknown
To bear such fruit, till by thy hands 'twas sown."
- Michael Dratton

Friday, July 25

midsummer in entertainment

books i read
Gone Girl by Gillian Flynn (Psychological Thriller) Gillian Flynn is a very creative author - the twists and turns in this book pretty much blew my mind.  In case you haven't gotten your hands on this bestseller yet, it's the story of a married couple, Nick and Amy, and what happens when Nick returns home from work one morning to find Amy missing and their home in disarray.  As the authorities investigate Amy's disappearance, it becomes obvious that their once perfect seeming marriage was imploding, and Nick becomes the prime suspect. The first part of the book alternates between Nick's narration and excerpts from Amy's diary, found in the crime scene.  Nick finds himself the beleaguered object of a media frenzy, and his appearances on press conferences and a television show that is obviously based on Nancy Grace leave him stunned and shaken; meanwhile, Amy's journal entries present her as a woman who was doing her best to be a loving wife to a volatile man.  It was hard to tell whose side of the story was the trustworthy one.  Flynn was definitely able to surprise me, and the story built suspense so well that I felt like I had to keep reading, but by the end, I didn't like any of the characters and I was absolutely mortified by the ending. 

Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman (Fantasy/Parody) - This book has been on my to-read list for ages; although it was published in 1990, for some reason a few years ago it became very popular in the Harry Potter fandom and I thought it was actually a new book when it fact it had simply been re-released in hardcover.  Neil Gaiman is one of my all-time favorite authors, but I've never read anything by Terry Pratchett; Good Omens reads like it is written in one voice, full of equal parts whimsy and sarcasm.  The book's two main characters, Aziraphale and Crowley, are an angel and a demon, respectively, and have become friends since the whole Garden of Eden thing, learning to like humanity and help each other out with their respective duties when it's convenient.  The central plot is a parody of The Omen: Satan's spawn is going to be born on Earth, ushering in the apocalypse.  Aziraphale and Crowley decide to work together to prevent the world's end, setting a comedy of errors in motion.  The hilarious footnotes alone make reading the book worthwhile.

Rebecca by Daphne Du Maurier (Gothic Romance) - This is my mom's favorite book and she's been encouraging me to read it for years. I am so glad I finally did! Rebecca is set in the 20th century, but reads like a classic Gothic mystery.  The narrator, a young woman traveling in Monte Carlo as a companion to a wealthy, society-obsessed lady, begins an awkward friendship with the widower Maxim de Winter.  She believes he has befriended her out of pity or a sense of chivalry, so she is shocked when he proposes.  After their honeymoon, Maxim takes her to his family estate, Manderley, where they will live.  At Manderley, the narrator begins to collect details about Maxim's wife, Rebecca, whose influence still reigns over the home, its staff, and, seemingly, Maxim himself.  Daphne du Maurier's skillful worldbuilding pulled me in and the atmosphere of the story kept me reading although there is little actual action. I did NOT see the story's major twist coming. As a fan of classic Gothic novels like Jane Eyre, I could see where du Maurier probably drew her inspiration, but I think fans of modern psychological thrillers like Gone Girl would enjoy Rebecca as well.

movies i saw

Belle - I can't say enough good things about this beautiful period film directed by Amma Asante.  It is based on a real historical person, Dido Elizabeth Belle, pictured in a 1779 painting alongside her cousin, Lady Elizabeth Murray.  The painting is exceptional because it presents a black woman and a white woman on the same eye level.  The girls' great-uncle, Lord Mansfield,was the Chief Justice of the British Court, and the film centers on one of his most important rulings.  In Asante's story, Dido Belle's father comes to retrieve her when her mother dies.  A Royal Navy officer, he takes her to live in the family home before heading back to sea, asking his uncle and aunt to love her as if she is their own.  They do their best to raise Dido as a proper English lady alongside her cousin Bette, while acknowledging societal norms that prevent her from ever feeling like a full-fledged family member.  When Dido learns, via her uncle's handsome young apprentice, about the case he is working on, in which slaves were thrown overboard from a ship, she becomes more interested than her uncle would like her to be.  While Bette's focus is on love and marriage, Dido's is on social justice. It is essential to her that her uncle rule against the ship's owner, that the slaves be regarded as human beings rather than cargo.  Gugu Mbatha-Raw is absolutely wonderful as Dido, and I think any fan of period pieces, love stories, and strong female characters will love this movie.  See if your local indie theater is playing this one, and if so, go see it!

Pacific Rim - When this movie came out, the previews made it look like a cross between Battleship and Transformers, which completely turned me off.  That's a shame, because when I finally got around to watching it I fell in love with the characters.  In the movie, Earth has been attacked by alien monsters who come through a breach in the bottom of the Pacific Ocean.  The only way to fight the monsters, apparently, is through giant robots that are so difficult to operate that they require two pilots linked in some kind of mind-meld.  Charlie Hunnam plays Raleigh, a pilot who has been re-recruited following his brother's death. When he arrives in Hong Kong, he takes an interest in Mako, the Japanese director of the program who dreams of becoming a pilot.  Even though Raleigh and Mako's emotions make them slightly unstable as pilots, they become a team.  I love Guillermo del Toro for making Mako a really strong, capable female character who is also very emotional.  I also love him for casting Charlie Day as a crazy scientist with tattoo sleeves who has been studying the aliens for so long he kind of loves them.  It's not the greatest written movie ever, but it is fun to watch and word on the web has it del Toro is working on a sequel.

Ender's Game - Apparently I'm on a sci-fi kick when it comes to movies?  The Orson Scott Card novel this movie is based on is a science fiction classic, and one I frequently recommend to my students.  The story focuses on Ender Wiggin, a child enrolled in Battle School, a program that trains gifted children to fight the alien species that attacked Earth and may return at any time. Pegged as a potential leader, Ender is constantly being watched by the school's superior officer, Colonel Graff (Harrison Ford doing a perfect job) and psychologist, Major Anderson (Viola Davis, flawless as always), even as he is subjected to horrible bullying and aggression at the hands of the other students.  I haven't read the book in years, but this adaptation seemed very faithful to the spirit of the book, and as I watched, I started to remember the scenes and characters.  I would really enjoy sharing this movie, and the book it's based on, with the right group of students.

television favorites

The Night Shift - I've mentioned this show, set in a San Antonio hospital's emergency department, a few other times here on the blog, and it keeps getting better as the characters get more fleshed out.  I think my favorite character is Krista the intern: find out your love interest is gay?  Become his best friend, drop truth bombs on him as needed, and keep being an awesome doctor.  The season finale had a cliffhanger ending that was absolutely insane. Come back soon, Night Shift!

So You Think You Can Dance - Things have finally started to get interesting on SYTYCD!  The top 20 dancers have performed in their own styles, with partners from a different style, and, this week, with the partners they'll be sticking with for a while.  There have already been some amazing dances that will probably be performed again when we get into the finale shows!

What's been keeping you entertained lately?  Do 
you have any recommendations for me to check out?

Linking Up:
Little Friday at The Grits Blog

Thursday, July 24

home envy: colonial houses

Last year, on our trip to Tennessee, I fell in love with log cabins.  On this year's vacation, I couldn't help but pay attention to all of the gorgeous Colonial homes in and around Williamsburg.  Having grown up in Virginia and lived here all my life, Georgian and Federal architectural elements look very normal to me, and of course I spent five years completely surrounded by Jeffersonian architecture at UVa!  Even though I'm not a historian or an architect by any means, I wanted to round up some examples of some of my favorite design elements common to Colonial homes.  Please note:  If you'd like to add any of these images to your Pinterest boards, please click on the link below the image and pin from the source so the creator gets credit!

  • Front doors with pediments

  • Porticoes | JFA Architecture via PRWeb

  • Transom windows and sidelights
Thornton Design via DecorPadIn My Own Style

Are any of these traditional Colonial design elements popular in your area?

Wednesday, July 23

7 Ways to Survive Traveling with Family

Our vacation to Williamsburg, Virginia was the third vacation I've taken with Mr. Q and his family.  My first experience traveling with his family was a trip to Oak Island, North Carolina with Mr. Q and his parents, sister, aunt and uncle, cousins, and grandparents when we were dating.  Having grown up an only child and used to vacationing with just my mom and dad, staying in a beach house with a large group of family members took some adjusting on my part!  Traveling with family members is so different than traveling with just your significant others, or even with a group of friends.  It can be so rewarding to share experiences and make memories with family.  Today I wanted to share seven survival strategies I've developed on our family vacations.

1. Be flexible.  Traveling with family means going with the flow - it's not solely your vacation, and you've got more than one person to compromise with.  Sometimes that means you'll eat lunch at a restaurant that isn't necessarily your first choice.  Sometimes it means you won't get to go on your planned kayaking trip because of thunderstorms.  If the restaurant your family member chooses isn't your favorite, there's still probably something on the menu that will be delicious to you (my mother in law is the queen of ordering chicken at seafood restaurants).  Having a sense of humor goes a long way - pouting because you didn't get your way doesn't make you feel any better, AND it makes the rest of the family miserable!  

2. Know your personal vacation style.  I know, I just got done reminding you that it's not all about you, but knowing where your personal comfort zone begins and ends, and whether you're an introvert or an extrovert can be really helpful when traveling with a group.  As an introvert, I need at least a little bit of alone time each day, so I might go down to the gym solo, go for a walk, do some yoga in my room, or read my book on the balcony.  I need that time to recharge and my family understands that I still love hanging out with them - just not 24/7.  It's also okay to pass on activities you know you definitely won't enjoy.

3.  Acknowledge different vacation styles.  I'm an only child, so growing up I pretty much ran the show on family vacations, and my family's trips were pretty packed with activities.  Now that I travel with Mr. Q's family, I've realized that some people value relaxing over sightseeing, especially since unlike me the other members of my family don't get summers off from their jobs!  I've learned that watching television and taking naps are totally valid vacation activities, AND that the world won't end if I go for a swim, check out a cute boutique, or visit a museum by myself while the family gets their nap on.

4. Visit the "touristy" attractions...  Popular places are popular for a reason - they might be a little bit quirky or tacky, but chances are they appeal to a wide range of ages.  It's great to find activities that appeal to everyone in your group, but when that's not possible, let go of your inhibitions and enjoy the Sesame Street themed part of the amusement park with your little cousin, or the Christmas store with your mother-in-law.

5.  But don't forget to get off the beaten path.  Some of the most fun things we did on our trip to Tennessee last year were actually Plan B - things we ended up doing because it poured down rain all week!  Most hotels and resorts have plenty of brochures about local attractions in their lobbies or activity centers, local travel magazines (with discounts!) can be found at the grocery store, and online resources like Yelp make it even easier to find something to do.  Do a little research, find one thing that you know you'll enjoy, and get your family on board.  Or, if you're feeling really adventurous, pick a quirky neighborhood or cute street to explore without expectations.

6.  Divide and conquer.  On our family trips, we spend plenty of time as a big group, but we also spend time in smaller groups.  We might do mother/daughters time and go get pedicures while the guys watch a movie, or let the parents have a date night while the young folks go explore the city.  It's also important to me that Mr. Q and I have at least a little bit of couple time for a date night or daytime excursion.

7.  Do your part.  Mr. Q and I know we are lucky that his parents actually want us to come along on their vacations!  We make sure to chip in on groceries and help with chores.  Whether someone else is footing the majority of the vacation or you're splitting the costs, everyone will appreciate it if you do your dishes, keep your space clean, and don't leave your belongings lying around in communal areas.  Maybe even volunteer to cook breakfast or make lunch for everyone - you'll be the vacation hero!

I hope that these trips will be helpful to those of you who will be traveling with your families this summer.  It is possible to travel with in-laws and not only survive but have an awesome time!  Have you traveled with family members?  Would you consider a family vacation?

Linking Up:

Travel Tuesday

Tuesday, July 22

my fitness style

I'm sure you've heard the common idea that it takes 21 days to form a new habit.  The truth is, it depends on the habit!  For me, summer presents a time to re-focus on my health, hobbies and well-being.  I've been making some gradual lifestyle changes, like cutting down on soda and processed foods and adding some strength training to my routine.   It might sound silly, but brightly-colored workout gear is part of my arsenal and sometimes I sleep in a gym outfit because that gives me one less way to procrastinate in the morning.  I want to get down to a healthy BMI and keep my blood sugar regulated so that I can drop the "pre-diabetic" label next time I get a checkup!  Here are some pieces that would definitely make great rewards for meeting my fitness, health and weight loss goals.

No Excuses!

1. Old Navy tank top  2. Essie polish in "Serial Shopper" + "Too Taboo"
3. Printable wall art from The Lion and the Lark on Etsy
4. Athleta capri pants  5. Carpe Diem pillow from Bright July on Etsy  6. Nike "Roshe Run" sneakers  7. Lifefactory water bottle from Athleta

Linking Up:
Manic Monday at More Pieces of Me and The Daily Express
Stylish Tuesday with Life's a Party, Dress Like It and Audrey Salutes