Tuesday, July 31

summer/fall color: driftwood, french roast and titanium

It's common knowledge to those who follow home decor and fashion blogs and magazines that gray is having a moment right now.  This most versatile neutral can adapt to any other color and style as an accent or stand on its own in a great print or texture.  Gray works for everything from workout wear to a bridesmaid's dress.  Pantone has identified Driftwood, French Roast, and Titanium as this year's most popular gray-toned neutrals.  Here are some of my favorite ways to work gray into my wardrobe as we transition from summer to fall.

1. American Eagle Ikat tank 2. LOFT Metallic scarf 3. GAP Open-knit sweater 
4. La Posh Style Floral dress 5. Ruche Beaded earrings 6. American Eagle Sporty watch 
7. LOFT Animal print jeans 8. La Posh Style Striped hoodie 
9. American Eagle Colorblock sweater 
10. SAKS Fifth Avenue Striped slippers 11. Old Navy Woven wedges

4. Scotch Naturals Charmer nail polish 5. Tartan and lace inspiration from Peter Som via Fashionologie 
6. American Eagle Solid hoodie 7. Target Dot print shell 8. The Outnet Wrap style dress - Similar Items 
9. Land's End Canvas Floral print dress 10. Makeup inspiration from NARS for Philip Lim via Zimbio 
11. Frock Candy Embellished flats 12. LOFT Flowy peplum blouse 13. J. Crew Factory Pleated skirt 
14. Makeup inspiration from Bobbi Brown via Makeup 4 All

Which of the following summer and autumn items are your favorite?

Monday, July 30

clicks of note: london calling...

listen & watch.
  • My friend Grace's Coptic wedding was featured on Style Me Pretty!  So excited for her.  Fun fact:  Grace accurately diagnosed me with pneumonia in college prior to becoming an actual med student.

make & shop.
  • Trophy bottle tops would be so cute at an Olympics get together, or to add a little masculinity and retro charm to the bar area.
  • My friend Debbie's letterpress studio, StudioTEN15, is now on Etsy!

Sunday, July 29

Sunday Simplicity #79

"More precisely, the very idea of where home was had changed 
in our minds. What had begun as an affiliation of friends of 
friends - a stopgap measure to support us during our time 
living outside of family -- had become the central social 
structure in our big city lives." - Ethan Watters

Friday, July 27

when the president came to town...

Two weeks ago, I was listening to the radio on the way home from the chiropractor's office when I heard, "President Obama is going to be in Roanoke on Friday.  For information on how to get tickets, stay tuned to this station."  I stayed tuned.  When I didn't hear anything on that station, I tried a few others.  It seemed like the President's visit was coming out of the blue - Virginia is a "battleground state" and Mitt Romney visited Salem recently, though, so it made sense.  President Obama would be the first sitting president to visit our city in thirty years, and I felt like it was important that I go- as an educator, as a woman, as an American citizen.  The evening news had the information:  tickets would be available at the historic firehouse downtown on a first-come, first-served basis starting at 5 p.m. the next day.  I had a teacher conference downtown that day, so it seemed perfect.  I'll explain what attending a grassroots political event was like in this post, and my personal political opinions will be under the cut for those of you who wish to avoid them :)

I went to check out the scene at the firehouse as soon as I was dismissed from my conference.  At 3:30, the line already wrapped around the block!  I stood in line with some other young people and we were able to pass the time without getting too freaked out about not knowing how many tickets were available.  One of the young men in line with me (an undecided voter who was hoping the event would be town hall style and have a Q&A) works in the emergency room at the hospital and told us that an entourage had visited and requested that a trauma bay and a cardiac O.R. be kept open on Friday.  We had our photos taken by a Washington Post photographer, but I'm not sure if they ever appeared in the newspaper.  At 5:00 the line began to move fairly quickly, and people passed us grinning and holding up green tickets.  The volunteers handing out the ticket were college-aged and collected our names, addresses, phone numbers and e-mails.  The slip of paper we got with our tickets said that we would have to pass through security, that cameras and cell phones would be allowed, to limit personal belongings, and NOT to bring bags, liquids, umbrellas, or sharp objects.

Friday I arrived downtown a little later than I'd planned- around 2:00- and the line already crossed the street!  I got a little worried because my ticket said "Tickets are required but do not guarantee admission."  And because the man in front of me let SIX people cut in front of him.  One of the volunteers who was registering voters in line told us that the Secret Service could cut the line off when the President arrived whether the people waiting had tickets or not, and that people had been at the firehouse at 7 A.M. that morning to start lining up.  I'd decided not to carry a purse at all because of the "no bags" rule; instead, I opted to just carry my wallet with my I.D., debit card, insurance card, and some money, and my cell phone.  When the line finally started to move, we had to go through airport-style security.  Liquids including hand sanitizers were confiscated, wallets and keys had to be placed in a bin, any electronics had to be turned ON, and we had to walk through a metal detector.  One of the first things I noticed when I got to the street in front of the firehouse were the men in black clothing with binoculars on top of the firehouse and surrounding buildings.

The areas in front of the podium were filled in, and I could choose between a seat on the bleachers or near a barrier beside the podium.  I decided to get as close as I could even if it meant standing for hours.  There was music playing - when I arrived it was Al Green's "Let's Stay Together" - and that made it feel a bit like waiting for a concert to begin rather than waiting to see an elected official!  As I waited, I talked to the other people in the crowd and texted Mr. Q and my sister-in-law- both of them had wanted to come but had to work when tickets were distributed, so I was the Q family reporter.  I gave Mr. Q updates on the playlist, which included James Taylor, Darius Rucler, ELO, Zac Brown Band, Dierks Bentley, Sugarland, Florence and the Machine, and our wedding song, "You Are the Best Thing" by Ray La Montagne.  Yes, I did squeal a little bit when that one started playing, and yes, I had to explain to the people around me why I was so excited.

This photo from Roanoke Times intern Erica Yoon shows my section of the crowd.

A local bluegrass band performed and my SIL texted me that the president had arrived at the airport.  Then a woman who is a neighborhood organizer from Blacksburg spoke about why she supports President Obama, followed by Senator Mark Warner and former Governor Tim Kaine, who is currently running for the Senate.  Several people in the crowd fainted from heat exhaustion - there was water available, but it was in cups and going to get a cup meant having to push through the crowd and get back to your "spot."  When my back and feet started to ache I compared myself to the people in the crowd who were much older than me and felt like a big wimp.  Finally, Governor Kaine introduced the President.  

Thursday, July 26

looking forward to: the london olympics

I've been an Olympics nerd since second grade, when my local library's summer reading program was Olympics-themed and we could earn medals for reading books.  In third grade, the teachers in my multi-age classroom had us keep a scrapbook about the winter Olympics in Norway.  My scrapbook was all about figure skating- I loved to put on my roller skates and pretend to be Nancy Kerrigan in my living room.

Nancy Kerrigan via Lucky Magazine

While I am not an athlete by any stretch of my imagination (at least until Michael Jackson Experience for the Wii becomes an Olympic event), something about the world coming together to celebrate excellence goes right to my heart.  I'm really looking forward to watching the Opening Ceremonies with my family tomorrow when I get home from camp.

My playlist for the day will include tracks from the (possibly) leaked opening ceremonies playlist - people who know me can probably guess how excited I am that Paul McCartney is going to "close the opening."  Paul McCartney is one of my favorite people in the world - seeing him perform live is on my wish list for life.

Beatles music, check.  What's the other British thing I love most in the world?  Shakespeare.  If I was in charge of the London Olympics, the stadium would be a larger-than-life model of the Globe Theater.  The stadium is going to be turned into an English meadow, and Shakespeare's not going to be left out:  a 27-ton bell inscribed with a line from The Tempest will ring to begin the opening ceremonies.

The Tempest is my favorite, y'all.  Nice choice, Danny Boyle.  When I asked Mr. Q if we could turn our home into an English meadow for the opening ceremonies, he said no to live sheep and chickens and yes to Astro-turf.  I love Tinyme's Opening Ceremonies bingo printables and will probably make my family play along!

Ralph Lauren's U.S. Olympic uniforms via Lucky Magazine

We've already gotten a peek at the Ralph Lauren-designed outfits our athletes will be wearing into the opening ceremonies, and there's been some controversy because said uniforms were made in China rather than here in the U.S.  The company has promised that the uniforms for the 2014 games will be American-made.  If you don't have upwards of $500 to shell out on an official blazer, Old Navy and Gap both have some affordable t-shirts with vintage-inspired Olympics graphics that are much more stylish than the Team USA sweatshirt I wore during my awkward phase in middle school- but check those tags if you're concerned about what country they're made in.

Wednesday, July 25

christmas in july?

I can't remember why Mr. Q and I were talking about "Christmas in July" the other day, but it got me wondering... where did that idea even originate?

According to Wikipedia, the 1892 opera Werther includes a scene with children rehearsing Christmas songs in July... so perhaps the current-day trend of Christmas decorations appearing in stores when we're still wearing short sleeves isn't terribly new after all.  In 1933, a girls' camp in North Carolina held a Christmas in July celebration.  The bottom line today seems to be that there are no major holidays between Independence Day and Labor Day and stores want a theme for their sales.

Epsom Salt snow from Simply Klassic Home

My friend Mary is doing a Christmas in July series on her blog, exploring the different characteristics of God that are named in the Bible.  I love her idea and I'm enjoying reading the posts and finding encouragement.

Reindeer cookies from Bakergirl

For me, "Christmas in July" when I'm at home seems like a good excuse to watch The Holiday and bombard you with our-of-season Christmas inspiration.  Since I'm at camp this week, it seems like a good day to create some sweet little surprises for my friends.

Have you ever celebrated "Christmas in July"?

Tuesday, July 24

Dresser Project: Guest Post from Micah of Unabashedly Me

Today I have a guest post for you from one of my longtime online friends: Micah from Unabashedly Me!  We originally bonded over our mutual loves of singer-songwriters and writing, and she is one of the sweetest and most thoughtful people I know.  I was excited when Micah offered to write a guest post while I'm at camp, and even more excited when I saw the dresser she customized with a creative paint job and fabric!  - Heather

I’m so happy to be writing a guest post for Heather. It gave me a good excuse to do a much-needed DIY project. 

I bought my first house (all by myself, thank you very much) in April 2011, and I’m still working to make it feel like a grown-up home.  I spent so many years renting that almost all of my furniture is hand-me-downs or garage sale finds.  And since I have two cats that are not declawed, that is probably the best option.  But that doesn’t mean I don’t want it to look nice and put together. 

My bedroom is probably the biggest mix and match room.  My oak headboard and night stand came from a consignment store. I got the white bench at the foot of my bed and a small white wicker cabinet from a family friend.  My dark finish cabinet, which I got at a garage sale a few years ago for $7 looked completely out of place.  I wanted to change that.

Here’s what I started with:

And here’s the finished product:

Monday, July 23

clicks of note: snap out of it!

  • Yellowcard's "Ocean Avenue" - because it will always remind me of my first summer working at camp.  We would sing this one at the top of our lungs.  I'm so happy to be spending this week at the place where I became my true self, and I'm excited about Micah's guest post that will run tomorrow!
  • I always look forward to the "Living in..." series at Design*Sponge, and Living in Moonstruck might just be my favorite one yet.
  • The Sweetest Occasion features the perfect summer road trip outfit.
  • Felt & Wire's interview with Stephen Exels has me inspired to ask if I can keep the menu next time I eat at a fancy restaurant while traveling - I hadn't even considered that you could do that!
  • Looking forward to Rosie Molinary's Shine series (every day in August!).

  • When was the last time you backed up your hard drive?  I wasn't around for the end of last week because I downloaded a virus onto my computer: it was malware that masqueraded as an antivirus program (clever, right?) and even used the Windows shield.  I have removed the link to the site where the virus apparently originated from my blog's sidebar, but I'm going to take on the role of your friendly tech services girl for a minute here and remind you that external hard drives and flash/pen/thumb drives exist for a reason.  Back up your data, or you too may find yourself paying someone else to recover it. 

Wednesday, July 18

wedding wednesday: braided bridal hairstyles six ways

I was obsessed with side braids back in January, and the trend doesn't seem to be going anywhere.  I feel like every time I leave my house this summer, I see a cute girl rocking some kind of braid!  Call it the Katniss Everdeen Effect.  Braids of all kinds can make for show-stopping bridal hairstyles, but they also look cute at a summer music festival or a quick trip to the farmer's market.  Keep reading for six ways to rock a braid as a bride, bridesmaid, or for any special (or everyday!) occasion... and yes, you can pair a braided hairstyle with a veil- I've found photographic evidence.

Please note:  If you'd like to add any of the images from this post to your Pinterest boards, please click the link beneath the picture to visit the original source - that way the creator gets the credit!

Tuesday, July 17

summer/fall color trends: cabaret and pink flambe

I don't wear a lot of pink; especially hot pink.  I think I grew up associating it with blonde Barbie types.  However, every girl on this inspiration board is a brunette, so maybe it's time I rethink that aversion.  I would be happy to add the zebra top, bar necklace, or braided cross-back tank to my wardrobe!  Raspberry pink will stay strong for fall - Pantone calls the latest version Pink Flambe and it's just a bit more muted than summer's Cabaret - think the J. Crew patent leather belt below as opposed to the Tippi sweater.
1. Wide brim floppy hat from Frock Candy  2. Neon hoop earrings from Asos  
3. Striped tee from Gap  4. Zebra Girl tee from LOFT  5. Bubble necklace from J. Crew  
6.  "Paisley Martini" nail polish from Scotch Naturals 7.  Shorts from J. Crew  
8. Skyline bar necklace from Minoux  9. Braided cross-back tank from Old Navy  
10.  Tippi Sweater from J. Crew  11. Patent leather belt from J. Crew  
12. "Off the Shoulder" nail polish from Essie  13. Classic wide bangle from J. Crew  
14. Runway makeup inspiration from Pinterest via Fre-Ya

Are you on Polyvore?  I'd love to follow you - leave your username in the comments!

What color scares you the most, wardrobe wise?

Monday, July 16

clicks of note: odes to summer

  • If you're only familiar with Aaron Lewis from Staind, "Endless Summer" will surprise you - he's gone country!  I thought it was Darius Rucker singing the first time I heard it.  I love that it's about a dad riding around in the summer with his daughters singing along to the radio.
  • Brainbow Inc. created a video for John Mayer's song "Queen of California" using only the Draw Something app- love it, and apparently so does John!
  • Kinfolk Magazine's "Ode to Summer" video by Sea Chant Productions (via Creature Comforts) is breathtaking in its truth and might make you wish you were 16 again.
  • This is the last week that the Post Road Vintage shop will be open until Heather's baby arrives, and this post explaining why she decided to take time away made me proud of her.  It's so important to follow your instincts and to value family and real life over anything happening online.
  • Southern Weddings features a sweet Alabama wedding that will touch your heart; it truly feels like a reflection of families being joined together - the bride's mother chose her dress before she passed away, the groom's mother did the flowers, the bride's father brewed the beer served at the reception, and the groom's father made the bottle openers.  Also, those colorful bridesmaids' dresses and necklaces are amazing.
  • Elizabeth Anne Designs features a spotlight on hydrangeas.
guest blog.

From July 23-27 I'll be serving as an adult volunteer at my childhood summer camp (I'm all trained and everything now).  I am looking for a few more guest bloggers for that week.

I would love to feature your:
  • Wedding/party planning advice (especially what you learned or things you wish you had done differently!)
  • Inspiration for a particular wedding or party theme
  • Favorite memory from the day of your wedding or other event
  • Home tours (especially apartments, condos, townhouses and other small spaces!)
  • Favorite thing in or about your home
  • Hair/makeup tutorials
  • Favorite recipes/your twist on a classic recipe
If you're interested in guest blogging for me, please send a message to heatherbird at gmail dot com explaining what you'd like to post about and including a link to your own blog if you have one.  I would prefer that guest posts be NEW, ORIGINAL content, not a re-post of something that has already appeared on your blog or another website.

Saturday, July 14

the mystery marriage book...

Aside from chatty "do you and your husband have big plans for your anniversary?" questions at the dentist, I expected our first wedding anniversary to pass relatively unnoticed by our community.  Then a mysterious package from something called Family Business Services with a Gastonia, NC address arrived on our doorstep (it wouldn't fit in the mail slot) and inside was a book entitled "To Have and To Hold: A Newlywed Keepsake."

Inside was a letter with several local businesses listed in the margin - an insurance agency, a funeral service, a flower shop, and the local Holiday Inn.  None of which we've ever had any dealings with.  The letter began "congratulations from your hometown friends," said some things about "the institution of marriage" and ended "we send our prayers and best wishes for a strong and ever renewed married life!"  Mr. Q and I were confused:  if this was a wedding gift, it was very late.  If it was an anniversary gift, that was kind of strange - how did these businesses know it was our anniversary.

The first few pages are things like a marriage announcement and family tree followed by various definitions of committed love.  We were still confused about what the point of it all was...

A-ha!  Hello there, Jesus!  The next pages of the book are a summary of the Gospels with pretty illustrations that remind me of the condensed New Testament my mother used to teach me about Jesus when I was a small child.  Apparently Family Business Services and those local businesses want us to know about Jesus.  Mr. Q put a photo of the book and a "what is this?" status on Facebook and some local friends said they also received one close to their first wedding anniversary.  According to the Family Business Services website, "in our sponsorship marketing method we offer to newlyweds and anniversary couples, whose names we have retrieved from the local newspaper, a beautiful hardbound book reflective of the Judeo Christian values upon which our nation was built."  The mystery of the marriage book is solved.  It's kind of strange, but I kind of like it.

Friday, July 13

summer blog love.

Once upon a time in the blogosphere, Literally Inspired asked bloggers to share our "blog romances."  Here are the blogs that I can't stay away from this summer.

I love that the Internet is a way to travel the world without leaving Virginia, and The Swenglish Home is one of my favorite travel agents.  Helena is a Swedish interior stylist living in the UK and her blog includes photos of her beautiful, simply decorated home (she describes her style as "Swedish-Danish-French country... mixed with New England and a hint of the Orient") and the gorgeous landscapes she visits in England.

- One of my monthly rituals is switching my desktop wallpaper to one of Geninne's calendars.  I love her blog, which is full of little peeks into a creative life that celebrates nature and simplicity.

- I can't believe I haven't featured Matchbook Magazine's blog, The Daily Spark, here before.  It's a daily dose of preppy, classy, smart-girl goodness that reflects the same great design found on the pages of the digital monthly read.  Regular features include color palettes"Monday Musing" quote-inspired posts, alphabet-inspired posts defining the Matchbook girl, and news about new product lines.

- An invitation to one of Jenny Steffens Hobick's parties is on my bucket list since I've become a fan of her entertaining blog, Everyday Occasions.  I love her philosophy - that we shouldn't wait for "special occasions" to enjoy living.  I've pinned many of her recipes and love that each one is accompanied with great step-by-step photographs.  Her July 4th Party was particularly amazing and I can't wait to see what she comes up for come Labor Day, Halloween and beyond.

What blogs are you in love with right now?  Let me know in the comments! 

Today is a very exciting day for me... if you follow me on Twitter you may already know why.  I can't wait to tell you all about it.

Thursday, July 12

summer color trends: inspiration for a violet and blue wedding

Since our own wedding colors were a variation of purple and blue, I wanted to envision something very different for this imaginary event.  You will not see hydrangeas or ballrooms in this post, and I was drawn to a more watercolor-influenced palette.  Here's my inspiration for a nature-inspired violet and chambray blue wedding.

"Vintage Wreath" Save-the-Date from Minted

Paper flags from Wedding Etc.

Succulent escort cards from The Sweetest Occasion

If you would like to add any of the images in this post to your Pinterest or blog please visit the original source by clicking on the link below the image and pin/save from there so the creators get the credit.  Enjoy!

Wednesday, July 11

summer color trends: bellflower & chambray

Today I'll be attending a conference for English/Language Arts teachers presented by the state Department of Education- our standards are being enhanced and there will be breakout sessions addressing each content area (reading, writing, media literacy, and research).  I hope to learn some new ways to pack a lot of concepts into a semester!  I was most anxious this morning about what to wear... the blogger in me won't shut up.  Do you all ever find blogger brain interfering with real life practicality?  

On to today's real content - I'm going to try to get my Pantone series back on track and realized that I can use Polyvore to make one inspiration board rather than a post full of images.  Two colors that are very trendy for fashion and home design right now are versatile enough to last well into the fall - bellflower, which is a muted, blue-toned purple from Pantone's Spring 2012 color report, and chambray, which is a light denim color that seems to be EVERYWHERE this summer, if fashion blogs are any indication.  Here's some inspiration for incorporating this summer's version of my two favorite colors into your wardrobe and home.

1. Dip-dyed dolman shirt from Old Navy (sold out, similar here and here, let's DIY these like Sweet Paul!)
  2. Embroidered chambray tank from Old Navy  3. Inspiration from the Gary Pepper Girl (outfit source)
4. Morning Glory Fizz nail polish from Scotch Naturals  5. Sheer lilac blouse from Modcloth  
6. Bikini So Teeny nail polish from Essie  7. Flip-flops from Old Navy  8. Floral shorts from Delia's  
9. Inspiration from  The Style of a Guy - you could do this to a chambray shirt with gingham ribbon!
10.  I Don't Give a Rotterdam nail polish by OPI  11. Primrose Hill tea dress from Boden

1. Pier1 velvet chair  2. Urban Outfitters chevron rug  3. World Market bhuti shower curtain
4.  World Market denim stripe rug  5. Burke Decor's Thomas Paul reversible pillow

If you use Polyvore, I'd love to follow you!  Share your username in the comments.

Tuesday, July 10

paper & clocks: how we celebrated our first wedding anniversary

1st Wedding Anniversary - Beyond the Aisle

Mr. Q and I celebrated our one year wedding anniversary yesterday.  The first Monday after the 4th of July holiday is always a really tough one for him at work, so I wanted our house to be really cheerful when he came home - and to remind him of our wedding!  I am an equal-opportunity flower buyer; I picked up some purple chrysanthemums at Fresh Market and put them in an assortment of milk glass pieces from our wedding and glass jars decorated with washi tape (inspired by A Creative Mintand pinwheels from our wedding (book page pinwheels by aubabi78 on Etsy).  I was feeling crafty and it was time to turn some of those ideas I've been saving on Pinterest into reality!

Washi Tape Vase - Beyond the Aisle

The traditional gift for the first wedding anniversary is paper; common gifts include artwork, books, memory albums, gift certificates, maps to special destinations, and concert or movie tickets.  The modern gift is a clock, watch, or sundial.  We chose to treat ourselves to... none of the above.

Giant Bikes - Beyond the Aisle

They have gears like clocks?  I also presented Mr. Q with a gift I shamelessly copied from the Internet...

Date Jar - Beyond the Aisle

I had seen Jennifer's date jar idea on Pinterest a while back and thought it would be perfect for those days when we want to have some sort of adventure but are tired of doing dinner and a movie or window shopping at the antique mall.  Instead of dying my craft sticks I used star stickers to denote dates that require money and planning (college basketball game, play at a local theater), money but no planning (wine tasting at a local vineyard, dinner and a movie), planning but no money (free Saturday at the art museum, hiking trip), and staying at home (homemade pizza, Firefly marathon!).  I came up with 45 dates in all for no other reason than that's all that would fit in my jar.

Sharpie dishes inspired by Brooklyn Limestone - Beyond the Aisle

Another Pinterest idea (inspired by Brooklyn Limestone's Raven dishes) was to make cake plates with verses from our first dance songs and lines from our ceremony readings.  I used the Sharpie method from A Beautiful Mess and plates from the dollar store.  Mr. Q really loves them because they are one of a kind and in my handwriting.

In case any planning brides out there are wondering about the sanity of keeping a layer of wedding cake in the freezer for a year- our cake was edible.  It was wrapped in two layers of plastic wrap and in a box and we put it in the refrigerator to thaw last week.  The chocolate cake part was pretty good; the vanilla buttercream frosting had turned to something more like pure sugar.  We had saved a bottle of wedding champagne and had a toast with the flutes I won from Weddingbee (planning brides, the best advice I can get you is to enter those blog giveaways like it's your job!).  It was a simple and sweet first wedding anniversary celebration put together with love.

Linking up to the Summer Pinterest Challenge at Centsational Girl, Young House Love, Bower Power and Ten June!