Thursday, February 28

my winter in instagram.

We've had quite a few snow days so far this winter, but the snowfalls
have been small enough that I haven't had to do any scary driving.

A peek at my jewelry storage and a close-up of my favorite necklace.

Scenes from my kitchen: healthy color and a considerably less 
healthy lemon poppyseed bundt cake.

Our friend B moved into his own home and we celebrated the Super
Bowl there with a potluck party and Big Game Bingo.

Two of my guilty pleasures: nail polish and the world of wedding 
planning.  My best friend Breeze found a dress for her September
wedding and I can't wait to help her plan her big day!

If it's classic, I'll take it: some recent buys from Old Navy and LOFT 
and my all-time favorite C.O. Bigelow perfume.

I am happiest when my kitchen contains fresh flowers and baked
goods.  Right now, I'm pretty happy!

Wednesday, February 27

inspiration for a city hall wedding

True story: both my best friend and I considered city hall weddings - so Carrie and Mr. Big, so little fuss- but conceded to the fact that we have huge families and groups of friends who love weddings.  And, party planners at heart, both of us have gone the "let's have a quick ceremony and focus on the reception!" route.  However, I think one of the real draws of a city hall wedding is that the whole focus is on the ceremony - the vows, the promise, the marriage.  

There's something so romantic about a wedding just for two, or a small, intimate gathering of loved ones.

It doesn't hurt if you live in a big city (like San Francisco) where the City Hall is as gorgeous as any wedding venue.  We don't have those here in rural Virginia - our town halls are about as exciting as the DMV!

Tuesday, February 26

Cooking: "Gold Rush" inspired Pay Dirt Cupcakes

My husband and his friends have been pretty much obsessed with Gold Rush: Alaska since the first season, and for the first two seasons I basically mocked them for it.  I was pretty sure they were just watching a grown-up version of Bob the Builder to see bulldozers at work.  I could not see the allure of a show about gold miners fighting the elements, time, and each other for what would amount to a few glass jars of shiny flakes.  Somehow, this season, I've gotten sucked in.  It's already on my television every Friday night, so I might as well give it a try, I thought.  What I learned this season is that Gold Rush is really a show about relationships:  the relationship between 19-year-old Parker and his mentor and grandpa, John; the tension-filled relationship between Dustin Hurt and his dad, Dakota Fred; and the relationship between the Turin/Hoffman crews who had to work together to meet their goal.

"Gold Rush" inspired Pay Dirt Cupcakes - Beyond the Aisle

So when Mr. Q sent me a text last Friday afternoon (a snow day off work for me) that said, "Gold Rush finale party tonight?"  I decided to make it a real party.  Which, for me, means cupcakes.  And guests.  And food.  But mostly cupcakes.

"Gold Rush" inspired Pay Dirt Cupcakes - Beyond the Aisle

I was pretty lazy with these because I already knew exactly how I wanted to decorate them.  I used a boxed mix for the cupcakes themselves, then crushed a row of Oreos and stirred 2/3 of the crumbs into a container of Betty Crocker Whipped chocolate frosting.  After spreading the frosting, I added the big Oreo chunks and GOLD SPRINKLES!  We've hit the motherlode!

"Gold Rush" inspired Pay Dirt Cupcakes - Beyond the Aisle

For dinner, we served seasoned turkey burgers and rosemary sweet potatoes.  We had a few friends over, including my friend C who had never even heard of Gold Rush yet caught on immediately that it is less about the bulldozers and more about the DRAMA, and we all had a great night.

Linking Up!

Monday, February 25

style: my favorite 2013 Oscar looks...

As an ordinary girl who loves fashion and entertainment, awards season is one of my favorite things about winter.  I love having a good excuse to stay up late on Sunday nights!  Here are a few of the dresses I loved the most from last night's Oscars, and a few overall trends I observed.

Jennifer Garner and Ben Affleck via Huffington Post || Jennifer Aniston in Valentino via Perez Hilton

Jennifer Garner's dress was my absolute favorite of the night - she knows what looks good on her, and though her sheath dress/collar necklace/loose updo ensemble wasn't surprising in the least, it was elegant and perfect for a night when her job is to support her husband!  More purple on the Red Carpet, please, Hollywood!  Jennifer Aniston's poppy red ballgown was similar to the dresses Zooey Deschanel and Jennifer Lawrence wore to the Golden Globes, but still looked amazing on her - she said it felt "princessy" and it looked even better on the television screen than it does in still photos.

Ruffles and Lace
Amy Adams in Oscar De La Renta via Tom + Lorenzo || Sandra Bullock in Elie Saab via Perez Hilton

Ruffles, scallops, and lace are all very popular in fashion design right now, and Amy Adams and Sandra Bullock wore my favorite embellished dresses.  Amy's dove grey dress featured a sweetheart neckline and layers of ruffles, while Sandra Bullock's dress combined a conservative fit with a sheer lace design- I expect black and nude lace designs to trickle down into everyday fashion after being so prevalent this awards season (see Julia Louis-Dreyfuss at the Golden Globes).

Black and White

Adele in Jenny Packham via Just Jared and performing "Skyfall" via Huffington Post

While white or black dresses are always classic (see Renee Zellweger in 2004, Nicole Kidman in 2006, Jennifer Garner in 2008, and Gwyneth Paltrow last year), 2013's awards season has seen a lot of dresses that feature black and white designs.  Adele has been sticking to black dresses with a high neckline and 3/4 sleeves a lot this awards season, but the look works for her, and she chose a shorter, sparklier version of the same thing for her "Skyfall" performance.  This is a dress I would wear!

Metallics and Retro Beauty
Jennifer Hudson via Huffington Post

Metallics are a perennial red carpet favorite, whether it's Hilary Swank's bronze ballgown at the 2000 OscarsKeri Russell's champagne dress in 2008Cameron Diaz's gold-dusted gown in 2010, or the plethora of gold dresses earlier this year.  At this year's Oscars, Jennifer Hudson rocked a sparkly gunmetal-silver dress for her Dreamgirls performance.  I also loved Jessica Chastain's dress, which made for such an Old Hollywood look with her retro side-parted curls and red lipstick that I thought of Jessica Rabbit!

Reese Witherspoon paired a similar retro-inspired hairstyle with a modern trend - her dress featured a mermaid hemline and a black-and-blue colorblocked bodice.  I wish she had gone with a more dramatic lipstick, but her hair is so gorgeous that I will forgive her :)

What did you think of this year's Oscars?  Who was on your best-dressed list?

clicks of note: city love

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • I was happy to see the Disney short film, Paperman, won an Oscar last night for best animated short.  I love its retro style and adorably magical storyline.
Mr. Mitchell said he and his colleagues do their best to accommodate special requests, and try to follow the maxim “Don’t interfere with anyone else’s happiness.”
  • Milan Fashion Week is drawing to a close today, with Paris Fashion Week starting tomorrow.
  • The next time one of my students breaks an arm/leg (teenagers get broken quite often), I'm going to ask if she'll let me bedazzle her cast, a la Demi Lovato.
  • Aspiring fashion bloggers, check out Sincerely Amanda's tips on taking self-portraits.
  • We're on a salted caramel kick here, and I want to try these salted caramel puddings from Portuguese Girl Cooks - there are more sweet ideas at my Pinterest board, For Dessert!

Sunday, February 24

sunday simplicity #109: seeing gold

Still need ideas for tonight's Academy Awards celebration?
- Print out I Gotta Create's Oscar bingo boards (including one with blanks to add your favorites)
- Whip up some Shirley Temples with this recipe from
- Follow Chris Nease's directions for setting up a yummy popcorn bar!

Will you be watching the Oscars tonight?

Saturday, February 23

winter color: navy and pink home decor

After Wednesday's blue and pink wedding inspiration, I wanted to share one of the most fun and unique combinations for home decor (that I could never get away with in real life!) - navy blue and hot pink!  Please Note:  If you'd like to add any images from this post to your Pinterest boards, please click on the link below the image and PIN FROM THE SOURCE!

I like this midcentury modern-inspired living room with a navy sofa and pops of pink brought in via throw pillows.

Windsor Smith via Caitlin Wilson Design

Formal details in a kitchen are unexpected and fun - I love the navy blue trim on the French doors.

Friday, February 22

february blog loves: a year of love!

Here are the blogs I'm loving this month.  It's hard to believe that I've been compiling these posts for a year now after participating in Literally Inspired's Blog Romance link party!

  • Note to Self - Sarah's blog is elegant, classy, and one of the closest things to a glossy magazine in the blog world.  Her design skills constantly impress me.  My favorite features are the monthly PlaylistHers/Mine, and Words for the Week.
  • The Vintage Housewife has a really fun premise:  the author, Christine, stumbled upon vintage home ec textbooks, and, having always been drawn the June Cleaver era, decided to take on the challenge of becoming the perfect 1950's housewife.  So far, that's included dressing up to go grocery shopping, having flatware engraved, and skinning a tomato.  I think she could totally get a book deal out of this project.
What are your current blog addictions?

Featured in the first year of Blog Loves: 

just for fun: oscar party ideas & play the academy...

Oscar party ideas from Glitter Guide

Oscar night appetizer:  Coconut shrimp from Skinny Taste

Oscar party wine bottle stopper from Curb Alert!

Coco and Kelley's mylar fringe banner - don't forget to roll out a red carpet, too!

Wednesday, February 20

pink and blue wedding inspiration for my cinderella

In college, I was lucky to live with one of my good high school friends in the dorm our first year and in off-campus housing for two years after that!  I still consider K one of my dearest friends.  K is a romantic at heart and loves fairytales, especially Cinderella, and hot pink.  She and her boyfriend are super cute together, and every time I see a fairytale-inspired wedding or a blue and pink color scheme, I think about how much fun we're going to have when it's time to plan their big day.

Note:  If you'd like to add any of the images in this post to your
Pinterest boards, please click on the link below the picture and
pin from the source so the creators get credit for their work!

I loved the ruffled collars on the bridesmaids' dresses featured in both of these weddings, and I adore the bridesmaids' hot pink shoes in the picture from Jen Huang Photography!

Monday, February 18

clicks of note: that's what's up.

get your week off to a colorful start...





Sunday, February 17

sunday simplicity #108: today was a fairytale

Megan and James - Snippet and Ink

"Can you feel this magic in the air?
It must have been the way you kissed me.
Fell in love when I saw you standing there.
It must have been the way
Today was a fairytale"
- Taylor Swift

Samantha and Christopher - Phoenix Bride and Groom

Saturday, February 16

my CUPID SWAP swag!

I was excited to participate in Micah's Cupid Swap this Valentine's Day - I thought it was such a cute idea to  have bloggers matched with a mystery "cupid" and shower one another with gifts!  My cupid was Laura from Simply Me The Way I See It.

Two of the "likes" I'd listed in my survey were Paris and leopard print and I'd say Laura did a great job with this little metal art plaque and leopard print picture frame.  I think the plaque is going over my vanity.

The cutest little Eiffel Tower (which now lives in our living room) and a glittery box!

The best part... have you tried the strawberry swirl Dove milk chocolate yet?  If not, you really need to because it is amazing.  I think Mr. Q and I went through the whole bag in two days.

Thanks to Laura for being such a great "Cupid" and to Micah for hosting this fun gift exchange!  I played Cupid for Tiffany from My Smile Saga and I hoped she loved her gifts, too.