Thursday, January 31

review: our BLURB book!

Y'all, I have a confession to make:  I am a wedding photo slacker.  Those of you who've been following this blog since my wedding may remember that our photographer shot our wedding in RAW so that Mr. Q and I could edit the images ourselves.  It saved money, and let us be the perfectionists that we are.  However, once I'd edited all of the images I liked (with help from the mister) and uploaded them to Facebook and this blog... I kind of got tired of looking at them.  Too much time spent adjusting the brightness and contrast, perhaps?

They just sat there on Mr. Q's hard drive.  We didn't get any prints made.  We didn't make an album, although I had in the back of my mind that I wanted to make albums for our parents.

Finally, this Christmas rolled around, our SECOND newlywed Christmas, and it seemed ridiculous that we hadn't given our parents any wedding photos yet!  I remembered reading several brides' reviews of different album-making services on Weddingbee, so I hopped on over there for some comparison research.  My search led me to Jason Dunn's "Great Photo Book Round-Up Review," and based on what I read there and on Weddingbee, I chose Blurb to create our book.

We used Blurb's BookSmart software to create our album.  It's a 32-page 10 x 8 inch landscape format hardcover with Imagewrap, which means the front and back cover pictures are printed directly onto the book rather than a dust jacket.  The spine is printed with the title and date.

BookSmart is really easy to use - it reminded me of the software we used in high school for our newspaper and yearbook because we were able to choose from a variety of templates and then drag the images into the boxes.  We chose not to add any text in our parent albums because our parents already know what's happening and who is in every picture!  We chose the standard papers and the quality is nice for books that might be getting flipped through quite a bit.

Wednesday, January 30

wedding trend: full skirts

The ballgown never really goes out of style in the world of wedding fashion, but it's definitely having a moment right now.  Full skirts, tulle, and ruffles give a bride a feminine, classic look that's a little bit ballerina and a little bit fairy tale princess.

Jessica and Nate - Jen and Chris Creed Photographers || Lara and Oliver - Snippet and Ink

Nothing is as classic and as on-trend as a bride in a sweetheart-neckline ballgown and a groom in a fitted black tuxedo.

Tuesday, January 29

fashion: must-haves for classic style

In high school, I once described my personal fashion sense as "gypsy cowgirl ballerina."  That's right, I said in high school, not when I was three.  These days, I'm trying to streamline my wardrobe a bit.  My style these days is best described as "classic."  Maybe I'm just getting older, but I'm starting to value a good fit over a trendy look, and my style icons are women like Audrey Hepburn, Michelle Obama, and the Middleton sisters- women who exude class and always look put together.

My Must-Have Items for Classic Style:

1.  Shells - Something fancier than a t-shirt to wear alone in warm weather and under a cardigan in cool weather, I like silky shells in solid colors, with classic patterns like polka dots, stripes, and florals, and with great details like bows and ruffles.

2.  Breton tops - I love French style and a striped sailor top is its simplest iteration.

Michelle Obama via Nitrolicious

3.  Cardigans - My favorites are Target's Mossimo line - they are affordable, available in a wide range of colors, and hold up in the washing machine.

Monday, January 28

clicks of note: let's get lost...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • Last year I shared round-ups featuring inspiration for adding warm neutral coffee and nougat shades to your wardrobehome decor, and to a wedding (with pops of pastel pink!).

Sunday, January 27

sunday social: getting deep...

Sunday Social

What is your ideal way to relax?

In my fleece pajamas and slippers, with a good book and a cup of tea.

Where is your favorite place to be?

I can't pick just one!  In terms of everyday places, my classroom.  That probably sounds really cheesy, but I spend more time there than in my actual house and I've made it my happy place.  I feel a burst of energy when I come in every morning and see student work on the walls, bright colors, and shelves covered with books, and I feel like it's showtime every day when students start to fill the hallways.  I am a big nerd and absolutely love my job.

Another place I love to be is the summer camp where I volunteer, where I worked for three summers and attended as a camper and teen counselor since the age of nine.  I have met a lot of my best friends in the world there, realized that I wanted to work with kids for the rest of my life, and found my confidence to try a lot of new things and be more outgoing.  On top of that, it's on a beautiful lake where I would be happy to spend all day floating in a kayak!  It's my happy place and my home away from home.

In terms of anywhere-in-the-world places, no place makes me feel quite so calm and relaxed as the Outer Banks of North Carolina - there's a reason Nicholas Sparks sets almost all his books there!

Who do you consider your biggest role model?

My mother.  I've written here a lot about how much she means to me.

What does your life look like in 3 years?

I would like for Mr. Q and I to own our own home (there's a picture of my dream house at that link - can you find it?) - close enough to still have easy commutes to work, but with a little bit of land and space to breathe.  Health-wise, I hope to have a regular exercise routine of some sort and be less prone to stress eating.  I want to have kicked my PCOS to the curb by then so that I can work on starting a family!  At work I'd like to be serving in a mentoring role either for new teachers or student teachers.  I'd also like to have a few different manuscripts for young adult novels ready to shop around to literary agents!

If you could go back and change one decision what would it be?

Sometimes, I wish I'd taken the elementary teaching job offer I got from New York City Department of Education, and had that adventure, but usually I'm glad I got a job in a small-town southwest Virginia middle school and started my adult life here instead.  I try to live my life without regrets as much as possible.

What is your biggest accomplishment in life thus far?

Earning my Master's of Teaching Degree in Education from the University of Virginia.  I was the first person in my family to go to a four-year college, so earning an advanced degree was an extra big deal.  Being a teacher was my dream since first grade and I never stopped working for it.

sunday simplicity #105: just for tonight, darling...

Saturday, January 26

january in entertainment.

entertainment favorites - january 2013

Concerts I Attended

Lee Brice, Dierks Bentley and Miranda Lambert was a blast.  My two favorite country singers Dierks and Miranda happen to be best friends who put on a great show together.  Both headliners stuck mainly to radio hits for their set lists, even though they both have new albums to promote.  It was an interesting choice and I think it was a smart one - country fans really want to dance and sing along at concerts and that's hard to do when you haven't learned all the words yet.  Dierks' band busted out the bluegrass for "Up on the Ridge," my favorite song of his.  Miranda opened her set with a video montage of powerful women from Dolly Parton to Oprah set to Beyonce's "Who Run the World," and if I hadn't already been convinced that she is my musical soul mate that would have done it.  She covered the Beatles' "Get Back" to introduce her band, and she and Dierks teamed up for a cover of AC/DC's "It's a Long Way to the Top" (the song from School of Rock) and their song "Bad Angel."  There was just enough interaction with the crowd to make us feel like these big Nashville stars really enjoyed being in Roanoke.

Movies I Saw

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey was not really for me, but Mr. Q, who is more of a LOTR fan, enjoyed it.

Spider-Man: as much as I like Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone, the tone of this movie was kind of disappointing after the huge, action and humor packed superhero romps of 2012, X-Men: First Class and The Avengers.  Super-Man was more serious and smaller in scope, like Chris Nolan's Batman films.

Books I Read

Beautiful Chaos and Beautiful Redemption by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl (YA paranormal romance) - I'm sad this series is over and looking forward to the Beautiful Creatures movie.  The last book was totally different from all the others and fit the Hero's Journey archetype very closely.  As the series has gone on I've ended up liking the minor characters, Ridley and Link, more than the main characters, Lena and Ethan.

Escape:  Children of the Holocaust and We Fought Back: Teen Resisters of the Holocaust by Allan Zullo (middle grade nonfiction) - these are Scholastic paperbacks that I probably got from the school book fair.  Both are collections of short, high-interest biographical sketches about young Jewish people in Europe who either escaped or fought the Nazis.

The False Prince by Jennifer A. Nielsen (MG adventure) - even though it's set in a fictional kingdom, there's no magic involved so I can't really classify this book as fantasy.  Four orphans, including the clever and defiant pickpocket Sage, are rounded up by one of the king's regents, who will train them in swordfighting, horseback riding, and other courtly behavior, then choose one to impersonate the kingdom's missing prince and assume the throne.  Sage is horrified by the premise of being involved in treason, but fears for his life if he does not cooperate with the regent's plan.  This book was slow to get started and could have had more action, but included a twist that made it worth reading for me.

Television Favorites

The first five minutes of this week's episode of "The Mindy Project" (with Mindy wearing a weird mask to dissuade potential murderers) made me laugh so hard I cried.  Enough said.

"The Carrie Diaries" has premiered on the CW and it might be my new guilty pleasure.  Carrie Bradshaw's high school years include her taking on an internship in Manhattan, befriending an editor for Interview magazine, and flirting with a rich boy named Sebastian.  AnnaSophia Robb is actually a perfect Carrie and I like the show's use of voiceovers, similar to Sarah Jessica Parker's on Sex and the City, because it gives it a sense of continuity with Carrie's grown-up life.

"Bunheads" is back and this season features one of my favorite SYTYCD alums, Jeanine Mason, as a mysterious new student in Paradise.  Not a lot has happened yet this season but the show is still funny.

"Restaurant Impossible"
is a new addiction for Mr. Q and I.  Robert Irvine is like Gordon Ramsay meets Dr. Phil meets Ty Pennington - he visits failing restaurants and transforms them on small budgets and time frames.

What are you loving this month?

Friday, January 25

creating home: favorite white sale bedding finds.

January marks the beginning of white sale season, a marketing strategy going back to the 1870's!  It's also a time that many of us are looking for little ways to update our homes, whether that means getting organized, trying out new colors and patterns, or creating more of an oasis in our personal space.  I love our bedding set, but I also enjoy mixing it up with different colored and patterned sheets, blankets, and pillows.  Here are some of my favorite white sale bedding items from around the web:

for MODERN style...

West Elm Duvet Cover

Pottery Barn ticking stripe shams || West Elm stripe sheet set

Wednesday, January 23

inspiration for a garnet-red amaryllis wedding

Red is one of my favorite colors for winter weddings - it instantly warms up a venue and can make the simplest details seem extravagant.  For today, I started out thinking about January's birthstone, the garnet, and ended up finding inspiration for using one of my favorite winter flowers, the amaryllis, with its rich garnet red color and shape evocative of tropical flowers, to create a winter celebration with exotic touches.

This is the perfect scheme for a winter wedding at a winery with rustic touches, in a museum full of curious artifacts, or in a grand ballroom with antique details.

A tall arrangement of red amaryllis flanked by hurricane lanterns creates a romantic atmosphere on an escort card table.

Tuesday, January 22

who to follow on instagram: winter edition

Instagram is by far the most-used app on my phone.  Even when I'm not taking pictures myself, I like to check my feed to see what my favorite Instagrammers are up to.  If you're just getting started with the popular photography app, Instagram gives you the option of automatically following your Facebook friends.  If you want to go beyond photos of your college roommate's cat or what your coworker ate for dinner, here are a few accounts that post consistently awesome content:

  • elsiecake - one of the authors of A Beautiful Mess shares cute DIY and lifestyle shots, including previews of what she's planning on featuring on her blog.
  • KissMySpatula - beautifully composed images from a foodie photographer and blogger.
  • thepinkdiary - what sets this account apart from millions of other fashion Instagrammers is how perfectly each picture is composed.
  • witanddelight_ - blogger Kate Arends has an eye for modern design and shares colorful slice of life images on her IG feed.

Are you on Instagram?  I'd love to follow you - leave your username in a comment to this post (you can follow me here).

Monday, January 21

clicks of note: inauguration day

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • So, I am the genius who scheduled a dentist appointment during today's inauguration ceremonies.  I will be DVR-ing President Obama's second inauguration to watch later and meeting my mama (who also scheduled a dentist appointment for today!) for some Goodwill shopping between our respective teeth cleanings.

  • Blair McLeod's post, "When Blogging Hurts" at the Influence Network, was a good reminder for me:
  • "I don’t live my life for my blog, and I don’t blog for my life."
  • Only a handful of my students had heard Martin Luther King, Jr.'s speech at the March on Washington in August 1963 (the "I Have a Dream" speech) in its entirety.  Have you?
  • A colorful art project celebrating creative women and their words.

Saturday, January 19

blog loves: january.

Every month I like to spotlight a few of my current blog addictions.  Here are the blogs I can't stay away from this January... full of style and inspiration for everyday life and special occasions!

  • Henry Happened - I love Stephanie's real-girl style and cute, colorful DIY ideas.  She seems like a very down-to-earth person and all of her DIY and craft ideas look approachable - they don't require crazy supplies that no one actually has or a lot of special equipment.

Friday, January 18

snow day

Yesterday ended up being the unexpected end of first semester - the weather forecast called for six inches of snow and we were on a two hour early dismissal schedule.  I had hugs to give and final projects to return and not a lot of academic work was accomplished, but sometimes that's okay.  Today's snow day would be much more productive if I wasn't dealing with some sort of respiratory infection (I refuse to consider the possibility that I may have the flu) and general end-of-term burnout.  My snow day so far has consisted of pajamas, daytime cold medicine, Breathe Easy tea, Nutella, and the stack of books on my nightstand.

Tuesday, January 15

style: favorite 2013 golden globes looks

I love award shows.  They give me an excuse to stay up late on a school night, which I'm prone to doing anyway, and I love hanging out on Twitter and seeing what my favorite celebrities and non-celebrities have to say about what's going on.  This year I was extra psyched because Amy Poehler and Tina Fey were hosting, and I love them and their epic friendship.  Since I've gotten more into following fashion trends for this blog, I'm quicker to pick up on things like Pantone colors or everyone having dresses with similar hemlines!  There were a few stars whose looks at the Golden Globes really stood out to me as being timeless and elegant.

Jessica's outfit and styling are very classic Hollywood with a little twist - her nectarine dress was a great pop of color against all of the black and nude dresses at the Golden Globes, and I loved her tangerine lipstick and simple overall makeup.  Her ombre hair looks great in a sideswept curled style and her necklace is amazing! Her mermaid/fishtail hem is really on-trend right now; I'm wondering if we'll see this shape trickle down into the world of wedding fashion design as well.  I'm ignoring her weird feather-covered bag.

Monday, January 14

clicks of note: anything can happen.

get your week off to a colorful start...


  • A little obsessed with Ellie Goulding right now.

Sunday, January 13

sunday social: all about my blog

Sunday Social

1. What is the name of your blog? How long have you been blogging?
My blog is currently called Beyond the Aisle.  I have been blogging in some form since I was in eighth grade, when I started an e-mail zine with my AOL account that was eventually called Loudspeaker.  In high school I had an online journal on the Diaryland website.  In college, I moved to Livejournal, and when my best friend asked me to be her bridesmaid, I started this Blogger site which was originally all about wedding planning and how bridesmaids and friends can help with that process.  When I got engaged, the focus shifted to my own wedding planning, and now that I've been married for over a year I am transitioning into more of a lifestyle blog.

2. Why do you blog?
Writing is my first love!  If I wasn't a teacher, I would want to be employed as a journalist.  I also really loved the world of wedding blogs when I first discovered them, and want to help currently-planning brides plan events that are full of personality without ending up in the poorhouse!  It is possible to plan a beautiful, uniquely "you" event on a budget - Mr. Q and I did!  I am also falling in love with photography and the blog is a great way to experiment with new techniques and stay in practice.  I hope to take a photography class this year.

3. What is the first blog you ever followed?
Since I've been blogging for so long I actually have no idea.  Within the world of wedding blogs, it was Weddingbee, for sure!

4. What is your favorite post you wrote in 2012?
My post about attending a rally for President Obama.  Things like that don't usually happen in Roanoke - we aren't a big city and it seems like the media pretty much forgets we exist.  It felt awesome that President Obama's campaign clearly felt we were a city that could affect the fate of the 2012 election.  This fall, I've gotten more involved with the local education association ("teacher's unions" are illegal in Virginia) and I was really passionate about President Obama being re-elected, not least of all because his stimulus package saved my job and kept class sizes from getting even more ridiculous in my district (a class of 32 students is not unheard of).

5. What are your blogging goals for 2013?
I am not sure what it's going to look like, but I want to write about my faith more on the blog.  I want to be able to do that without alienating any of my readers who are from different faith traditions or who aren't religious.

6. Top 3 favorite blogs to follow:
Right now I'm loving Yes and Yes, Rachel Held Evans' blog, and A Cup of Jo.

sunday simplicity #103: wild light

If the wild light of this January day is true
I pledge me to be truthful unto you
Whom I cannot ever stop remembering.

- From "A Blessing in Disguise" by John Ashbery

Friday, January 11

wedding blog spotlight: Southern Weddings

Over winter break, my best friend (and maid of honor from my wedding), Breeze, got engaged!  My Christmas present for her this year was my two absolute favorite wedding planning magazines:  Real Simple Weddings and Southern Weddings.  I like that Real Simple Weddings breaks every step of wedding planning into a step-by-step timeline and section, and I love that Southern Weddings is full of eye candy!

Southern Weddings is one of my favorite wedding planning magazines and blogs because it delivers on its title.  Every issue (and blog post) includes more cowgirl boots, Mason jars, monograms, cornhole boards, peaches, and biscuits than you can shake a stick at.

Lara Casey, the editor-in-chief of Southern Weddings, is a whirlwind who wears many hats.  In addition to being an editor she works with wedding professionals to grow their brands, started the Making Things Happen movement, and is a mama!  On her SW About Us page, she says she started Southern Weddings because, "I always wanted a place to showcase what fired me up... and to show Southern brides that there was more to telling their unique love story than tulle and stuffed chicken." 

Thursday, January 10

winter color: cool and cozy grays for the home

If you take a peek into my closet (or last week's fashion round-up), it's obvious that gray is my favorite neutral for winter.  It's also a great color for decorating because it's a chameleon color - depending on whether it has brown or blue undertones, gray can be completely cozy and warm, or cool and peaceful.  Here are a few inspirational rooms from around the web that demonstrate how versatile gray can be in creating just the right atmosphere.



The blue undertones in the gray bookcases, ikat pillows, and furry pouf give this room a peaceful feeling.  It's traditional with a lot of modern touches to keep it fun.  I especially love the simple leaves in glass vases on each side of the mantel.


The gold wall color and rug in this room keep the gray sofa from seeming too modern or cool.  There's a nice mix of patterns and I like the assymetrical grouping of frames above the desk.  What a great space for living and working!