Friday, March 30

Spring Style Wish List #1 - A ladylike jacket

This spring finds me wishing for a ladylike jacket.  Tweed and bouclé jackets look so nice with spring dresses or with cropped pants, and I find that my students always take me just a bit more seriously when I wear a blazer or jacket.

Photo via PopSugar, outfit spotted in People Style Watch

Celebrity take:  I love this photo of Katie Holmes - piped boucle jacket, a bow blouse (one of the items Tiny Twig calls a "finisher"), jeans, and slightly pointy-toed shoes make a surprisingly stylish outfit.

This LOFT jacket is the quintessential spring tweed with piping.  It's also the priciest in today's round-up, at $98 - it's a new arrival.  Options:  consider it an investment piece and get it while it's available in your size, or take the chance that it will be on sale in late spring and get it for next year.

My personal favorite is this marled sweater jacket from LOFT - I like the cropped style.  It's $79, which is still steep for what is basically a cardigan.

For ladylike style on a budget, this Dorothy Perkins tipped cardigan mimics the style of a tweed jacket for the SWEET price of $27.  I think I will add this one to my wish list and scout out the local thrift stores for an affordable tweed piece.

Thursday, March 29

march blog love

Last month, Literally Inspired asked bloggers to share our "blog romances."  Since my post last month got so much positive feedback (I love comments like they are made of chocolate and sunshine), I decided to compile a list for March.  Here are the blogs that are currently rocking my Internet world.
- I recently discovered Bright Bazaar, and already, I am so inspired.  The author, Will, lives in the UK and is in love with color, as the name of his blog suggests.  Each post is like a page in a magazine or a scrapbook; I love the way he seamlessly incorporates photos and text to make every post coherent and immediately recognizable as a Bright Bazaar post.  Regular features include home tours, DIYs (like this colorful door mat that I plan on making this summer), "Tablescape 101," "Sunday's Bright Links," a weekly round-up of Will's posts on his own blog and around the web, and "10 Things I Learned and Loved This Weekend."  Now that it's spring, our townhouse needs more color and this blog is full of inspiration.

- Every fall, the teaching communities I'm a member of online blow up with posts from students teachers and first year teachers asking the all-important question, "WHAT DO I WEAR?"  In the quest to be conservative while still being stylish, I rely on Old Navy, LOFT, and style bloggers.  My new favorite fashion blog is written by a teacher - it's called Between the Lines.  I like Whitney's new feature, Women Who Work, which will feature different takes on dress code appropriate style.

- I make a lot of recipes from Skinny Taste and my Pinterest cooking boards are full of photos from Gina's blog.  Skinny Taste is all about healthier takes on fattening foods like chicken parmesan.  I think these coconut cupcakes look amazing.

- Australia seems like a magical fantasy wonderland of a world to me, so I love reading the posts at A Beach Cottage.  Sarah is a Brit turned Aussie mom who works hard to make her family's cottage a dream home by the sea.  I love her decorating style!  She also gives great advice for "real girl" bloggers and has a fun "Saturday Club" feature.

Remember when I featured Dear Lillie as one of my blog-mances last month?  Since then, Jennifer was featured on the Nate Berkus show!  How amazing is that?  I was inspired to do a little branch-gathering walk to update our home for spring after watching the segment, and loved seeing how Jennifer creates the gorgeous pillows she uses to decorate her home and sells in her shop.  I don't think I would be able to keep my composure around Nate, but Jennifer is just as calm and collected on television as she seems on her blog.

My other blog-mances last month were Bleubird, A Beautiful Mess, The Pioneer Woman, Centsational Girl, Dear Lillie, and Tiny Twig.

What blogs are you in love with right now?  Let me know in the comments!  Care to offer me some guidance on this one?  I'm still flailing for help in this post.  As for my blog-mances, do you like them piled into one post, or would it be better to feature one favorite blog every week or two?

Tuesday, March 27

In Search of Direction...

This is not a post about weddings, or crafts, or fashion.

This is a post about me.

in case you forgot who that is...

Friday was a "snow day" for teachers and students in my district.  You see, many rural school systems in southwest Virginia plan school years that are longer than the number of days mandated by the state Department of Education because we usually miss several days due to snow.  This winter was unusually mild, so we did not use all of the snow days we had built into the schedule.  I suppose the district doesn't have the money to pay us to work that many days, so we get several days off this spring.  It is a rare situation for me to be at home while my husband is not; I spent most of Friday alone with my own thoughts.  I did a little workout video and sat on the patio with a book and a neighbor's cat after lunch, but most of the day was spent online looking at blogs and thinking about what I want my blogging identity to be.

my cat friend

I realized some time ago that, post-wedding, I did not really want to pursue the fleeting dream of being a freelance wedding planner, but still enjoy posting wedding inspiration to this blog.  However, I also enjoy rounding up inspiration for the wardrobe and the home, so I've expanded the focus from wedding planning to "Beyond the Aisle," the new title, which I think is still in keeping with the spirit of the original title "Not Just Brides," which I gave this blog when I was a bridesmaid falling in love with wedding planning and wanting to express the idea that a wedding is not just the bride's experience.  I guess "Beyond the Aisle" expresses the idea that a wedding blogger can have a voice after her own day as a bride has come and gone.  I didn't just change the name, but the colors, fonts, and template - a facelift for spring, if you will.

But something still doesn't sit right with me.  The topics of weddings, wardrobe, and home decor just seem so superficial sometimes, and they probably aren't what come to mind when people who know me in real life think of me.  I want my blog to be a place where I can do what I spend most of the day doing - helping others find their voices- but I'm not sure how.  I'm thinking of starting over from scratch.  That's why I need a little help from those of you reading this post.

I'm a daughter and an only child from a family full of cousins and stories and music.  I'm a wife to my best friend who is also a photographer and musician.  I'm a friend to a close-knit local group and a far-flung group of college friends.  I'm a renter who lives in a small town and loves to decorate antiques.  I'm on a budget and trying to spend less on clothes.  I'm trying to eat healthier and reach a healthy weight for my age and height.  I'm a middle school English teacher who tries to teach teenagers to be understanding of each other and to use their voices to change the world.  I'm a messy cook.  I'm a nerd who loves anything set in space, anything with multiple dimensions, comic book movies and YA books about magic and the future.  I'm a traveler who loves the water, art galleries, concerts, and color.

What do you want to read about here?  What posts of mine do you enjoy?  What could you do without?

Thank you, thank you, thank you to those of you willing to help me out and lend your voices here.

Monday, March 26

clicks of note.


  • Are you into the Hunger Games?  As a middle school English teacher it was impossible not to get swept up in the phenomenon, and I've seen the movie twice now - once with one of my awesome colleagues and many students in the theater, and once with my family and friends.  It's been about a year now since I read the books, so I wasn't as nit-picky as some of my friends who just finished the series or are currently reading.  I thought the movie was a great adaptation and over time adaptations that aren't perfectly true to a book can seem like great works in and of themselves - the Harry Potter movie Prisoner of Azkaban is very different from the book, but it's now my favorite of the movies.  The Hunger Games soundtrack is awesome, although I still don't really understand the trend of having a "score" of music from the actual film and a "soundtrack" of songs inspired by the film.  Anyway, this Taylor Swift and the Civil Wars song has been stuck in my head for quite a while now.
  • While we're on the topic of young adult literature, I highly recommend Out of My Mind by Sharon Draper.  Mrs. Draper is a former middle school teacher who knows how to write for young people.  The premise of Out of My Mind is "what if you were a genius but no one knew?"  The main character and narrator, Melody, is in fifth grade and has never spoken a word.  I think this is a must-read for any adults who work with people with disabilities; it really made me think about and appreciate basic skills like being able to hold a spoon.
    Fruit Fool via Treats
    • What dessert could be more appropriate for April Fool's Day this Sunday than a berry fool?  A fool is a traditional British dessert dating back to the 15th century!  The traditional ingredient is gooseberries, but those of us cooking stateside can use strawberries, blueberries, or whatever's in season.  Add berries, gelatin, heavy cream, sour cream, mint leaves, and graham crackers to your grocery list and check out the recipe adapted from Cook's Illustrated at Treats.

      Tuesday, March 20

      clicks of note.


      • I love this White House Black Market commercial with model Coco Rocha tap dancing... because tap (and any percussive dance, really) makes me happy.
      • Vera Bradley summer colors are arriving in stores, and you can dress your computer up with a new desktop wallpaper from the VB blog, Inside Stitch.  My favorite new pattern is Lime's Up, shown above.



      Monday, March 19

      Pantone Winter 2012: Orchid Hush and Quarry Wedding Inspiration

      Searching for orchid hush and quarry wedding and event inspiration led me to some great images that lend themselves to a vision of a country wedding, complete with bridesmaids in soft, flowy dresses in a muted palette.  I fell in love with paper, florals and fabrics in gray-washed colors with a watercolor feel.  After putting together an equestrian-inspired home decor post, I couldn't resist the idea of adding some equestrian touches to the event inspiration post as well!

      Banner and Branches Invitation, Minted

      ** If you want to add any images from this post to Pinterest, please click the link and pin from the source! **

      Style Me Pretty:  1   2

      Style Me Pretty:  1   2

      Style Me Pretty:  1   2

      Tomorrow's the first day of Spring, so this post officially concludes my series on the Fall/Winter Pantone colors.  But it's not the end of the color posts - I have been rounding up the Spring colors on Pinterest and can't wait to share some new inspiration with y'all!

      Sunday, March 18

      Sunday Simplicity #61

      I hope that all of you had a lovely St. Patrick's Day.  This picture from 100 Layer Cake reminds me of all the little pubs and shops I passed through on my trip to Galway and Dublin.  Ireland is a colorful, magical, lively place.

      ** If you want to add the image from this post to Pinterest, please click the link and pin from the source! **

      Monday, March 12

      clicks of note.


      • Blake Shelton performs his The Voice co-star Cee-Lo Green's song "Forget You" on his Well Lit and Amplified Tour, after telling the story of how he was the first Voice judge to arrive at the business meeting and was basically floored to find out who the other hosts were.  Thank goodness for people who bring their phones to concerts and sit closer than the nosebleed section, and thank goodness for arenas that allow it!
      • Heather Anderson of Post Road Vintage writes in "My Snowed In, A-HA Moment:"If I am enjoying the MOMENT, if I am loving the RIDE. If I am truly HAPPY then I CAN take anything in the world on. I can handle being BUSY BUSY. I can handle insanely hard work. I can handle juggling mom and wife and friend and creative biz. I can even handle messing up and then re-adjusting and just y’know, NOT GIVING UP!"  The whole post is worth a read for anyone who is dealing with finding the balance between "real life" and chasing your dreams.

      Monday, March 5

      Pantone Winter 2012 - Orchid Hush & Quarry for the home

      Our home has some touches of gray and teal here and there, but these finds from around the web make me want to add more!  These colors are so versatile.

      Allen and Roth lattice wallpaper from Lowe's - if you are a fan of this pattern, 
      check out this kitchen on Flickr, too || Ballard Designs "Bold Faith" giclee, $349 

      ** If you want to add any images from this post to Pinterest, please click the link and pin from the source! **

      I feel like the horse giclee above deserves to be paired with other subtle equestrian touches, like these trophies from Antique Farm House via Miss Mustard Seed.

      For similar style to the Ballard giclee on a budget, many Etsy sellers offer horse artwork.  I like this photo print from MadeByMoonGirl.

      I love the wall color, Benjamin Moore Stonington Gray, and most of all
       the stone fireplace in this living room via Your Nest Design

      Brown leather and bronze accessories really pop against gray, as do dark 
      woods, as seen in this curated vignette featured in Country Living.

      This kitchen from The Handmade Home is wonderful: the wooden flooring, the rag rug, the 
      green canisters, the pendant lights... think I'll add a rag rug to our kitchen this summer.

      I can see this cute little West Elm bowl (now on sale for $13) being right at home in the kitchen above.

      A totally different kitchen and dining area with a similar color scheme via Image Spark.  Those marble countertops  and the stone fireplace are so sophisticated, but the wire basket and plants give the space a farmhouse feel.

      This laundry room from DecorPad via The Borrowed Abode is one of my favorite decor photos ever! 
       That rug, the wall color, and the schoolhouse light fixture make it so homey and fresh.

      Using fonts as art is so creative.  The wall color is Nightingale by Benjamin Moore - via Your Nest Design

      Pillows from West Elm, $34 and dedeetsystop on Etsy, $40

      Love this chevron quilt from Honey Bear Lane

      Thursday, March 1

      #FebPhotoADay Final Round-Up

      FebPhotoADay recap!  I don't think I will be officially participating in MarchPhotoADay but it was interesting, and had me looking at things I rarely notice in my own life.

      Day 17: time (love this clock, it gives the minutes to help kids out!) || Day 18: drink (I'm on a smoothie kick)

      Day 19: something I hate to do (entering grades... wish there was some way to quickly yet effectively score student writing, but I think the only solution would be to teach fewer kids).

      Day 20: handwriting (from my art journal)

      Day 21: a fave photo of me (my parents and I in 2003)

      Day 22: where I work... yeah, 1970's institutional architecture

      Day 23: my shoes (wish I could wear these to work but my feet would kill me)

      || Day 24: inside my bathroom drawer (I finally got organized)

      Day 25: green (Montano's has an extensive beer selection which I did not take advantage of) || Day 26: night (my glittered cupcakes for the Oscars)

      Day 27: something I ate (my nutritionist says if you're going to eat chips, eat REALLY GOOD chips and detox afterward.  These are REALLY GOOD chips!)

      Day 28: money (the inside of my purse, mismatched Vera Bradley and bits and pieces)

      Day 29: something I'm listening to (John Mayer's new song)