Friday, January 31

my january in entertainment

my january in entertainment

books i read

Bossypants by Tina Fey - I pretty much knew I'd love this book even before I read it, because Tina is one of my heroes, so when I saw that it was on sale on Amazon I snapped it up for my Kindle!  As most of us had probably already guessed, Tina Fey was a somewhat awkward teenager.  She became involved in community theater before majoring in drama at the University of Virginia, which based on her description and compared to my experience, has changed very little socially since she was there - as a non-blonde WASP she felt like she didn't fit in and spent much of her time chasing a boy who wasn't interested in her.  After college, she moved to Chicago where she ended up as the receptionist at a sketchy YMCA before joining The Second City theater troupe and falling in love with improv and her bestie Amy Poehler.  In between essays that tell her life story, she includes tidbits about her dad, her husband, her daughter, and what it's like to be a woman in the entertainment industry who doesn't quite meet the industry beauty standard.

A Year of Biblical Womanhood by Rachel Held Evans - A few of my friends gave me the side-eye when I told them the title of this book while I was reading it.  That's only because they weren't familiar with Rachel Held Evans (I've since fixed that).  The evangelical blogger undertook a year-long project in 2010 based on the mixed messages women in the church receive about their role in their marriages, church, and society.  She decided to take "biblical womanhood" into her own hands by studying what the Bible does say about women and attempting to follow it as literally as possible, focusing on a different virtue each month. This led to a year in which she learned how to cook, sat on the roof as penance for her football-season unruliness, slept in a tent on the lawn during her period, called her husband "Master" and took care of a robot baby - all leading to pretty hilarious anecdotes in her signature sarcastic style.  She also recounts her visits to a finishing school, an Amish community, a Bolivian village, a Benedictine abbey, and a Quaker meeting, and her interviews with a sister wife, an Orthodox Jewish rabbi's wife, and a Quiverfull daughter.  What I love, love, love about Rachel Held Evans is that she does her theological homework - she shares the stories of the Bible's truly diverse standout women and brings in details about the translation of terms used in passages about women, as well as the cultural and historical background.  Here's one of my favorite passages:
"If God is the God of all pots and pans, then He is also the God of all shovels and computers and paints and assembly lines and executive offices and classrooms.  Peace and joy belong not to the woman who finds the right vocation, but to the woman who finds God in any vocation, who looks for the divine around every corner."

Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? by Mindy Kaling - This is probably a controversial statement to make, but I think I liked Mindy's book even more than Tina Fey's.  Tina, to me, is someone who I might get to see give a speech at my alma mater if I'm free that weekend.  Mindy is someone who if I ever found out was in a 120-mile radius I would try to make my new BFF.  With titles like "Chubby for Life," "I Am Not an Athlete," "Karaoke Etiquette," and "Types of Women in Romantic Comedies Who are Not Real," this book had me laughing out loud more than anything else I've read in a long time.  Mindy describes bonding with friends who also loved comedy in high school and college (and not understanding when other people didn't have the same sense of humor), being the worst Late Night intern ever, writing failed scripts and going to horrible auditions before finally putting together the stage show Matt and Ben and being hired as a staff writer for the American version of The Office.  It's a fun, breezy read and at the end I felt like I'd been on the receiving end of e-mails from a really quirky friend.

Legend by Marie Lu - Our school librarian knows I'm a fan of YA dystopias like The Hunger Games, Divergent, and Under the Never Sky, so she's been trying to get me to read Legend forever.  Legend takes place in a post-United States Los Angeles, now part of the Republic.  Day and June are the book's alternating narrators.  They both live in Los Angeles but have very different lives - June has been born into privilege, raised by her military officer brother after their parents died, and is expected to have an illustrious military career herself after being the only person who has ever gotten a perfect score on the Republic's physical, mental, and academic career placement test, known as the Trial.  Day became the Republic's most wanted criminal after failing the Trial and becoming a Robin Hood figure to the people in the poor parts of the city.  When Day's family is quarantined during one of the frequent outbreaks of plagues, his and June's paths cross and she makes it her mission to capture him. In disguise, she convinces him that she is homeless, scrounging for food on the streets, but when she sees his true colors - and how much they have in common - she is less convinced of her mission's virtue.  After reading the book, I saw in the notes that Marie Lu was inspired to write the story after watching Les Miserables and wondering what a modern version of the detective-criminal story could look like.  I'm looking forward to continuing the series and finding out what happens next for Day and June.

television favorites

The Mindy Project - Let's talk about the hot mess that has been Season 2.  I miss Anna Camp as Gwen (having a best friend gave Mindy a sounding board and made her more realistic), I miss Betsy and Jeremy's characters getting screen time, and as much as I like Adam Pally as an actor I don't think his character, Peter, adds anything to the show.  I think writers should develop the characters they have before throwing new ones into the mix.  This show isn't perfect, but I've enjoyed the development this season of Mindy's frendship with her prickly, opinionated coworker Danny Castellano.  She's been loosening him up as a person, and he's been helping her become stronger and more self-assured, and I ship it, y'all  Some of my favorite Danny/Mindy moments of the season have been Christina's art show, Danny thinking Mindy was about to tell him she had a crush on him, Mindy pretending to be Danny's fiancee Chloe Silverado, and Mindy standing up to the midwives when they accused Danny of racism.  But the real highlight, for me, was the episode "Danny Castellano Is My Personal Trainer," which was about body issues and included the amazing quote above.

Sherlock - the world's greatest detective is back on PBS' Masterpiece Mystery.  I've only watched the first episode of Season 3, "The Empty Hearse," and I'm already head-over-heels back in love with this show.  I loved the idea that there was a club devoted to theories about how Sherlock survived falling to his apparent death and that some of the theories were worked into the episode's plot. I enjoyed Sherlock asking Molly Hooper to help him solve crimes as a thank-you for assisting in his escape after Moriarty's suicide.  I loved Amanda Abbington as Mary Morstan and how she just jumped into action with Sherlock when John was in danger.  I also really like the way the show's writers continue to update the character to suit a modern setting while still using deduction and psychology to solve most of the cases rather than the technology that is written into every storyline being a deus ex machina.  I wanted to slap Sherlock by the end of the episode, but I think that's par for the course with Benedict Cumberbatch's version of the character.  He is an ass, but he is a genius, a loyal friend.

Thursday, January 30

Style: My Favorite 2014 Grammys Looks

Two weeks ago, I shared my picks for best dressed from the 2014 Golden Globes, and now that awards season is in full swing, I wanted to give my two cents on who looked amazing at this year's Grammy Awards.

I am really into flowing, romantic styles right now, and Katy Perry's Valentino Spring 2014 gown was my absolute favorite look of the night at this year's Grammys. It looked amazing on her - sheet without being too revealing - and the music note pattern was perfect for the occasion without being tacky.  Taylor Swift rocked a romantic, goddess style flowing dress in gray chiffon by Alberta Feretti for her performance of "All Too Well."  I love the style of Taylor's dress, especially the sparkly embellishments, but I think it would look even prettier in a colored chiffon - maybe a light teal or peach.


The biggest trend of the night fashion-wise was probably metallic and shimmer.  Taylor Swift's gold Gucci dress for the gold carpet was perfect for her statuesque frame.  I also thought Queen Latifah's shimmering black boatneck gown was a great choice - she looked so elegant.


Stars like Tina Fey, Lupita Nyong'o and Taylor Swift were ladies in red at the Golden Globes, and at the Grammys, Pink was one of the best dressed stars on the red carpet in a formfitting Johanna Johnson gown and a surprisingly feminine take on the undercut hairstyle.  I like the geometric panels on her dress.  Her performance, which featured aerial acrobatics, dance, and a duet with Nate Ruess, was one of the highlights of the night.  I'd love to attend one of her concerts.

Ariana Grande and Sarah Hyland both wore looks that were sweet and age appropriate on the red carpet. Ariana wore floral Dolce and Gabbana (are BLACK floral prints going to be a big thing this spring?  Because Tina Fey's Golden Globes red carpet dress was stunning and now this... I'm onboard.)  Sarah Hyland's black and white colorblock Emilio Pucci shift reminded me of the Mod looks of the 1960's, but she accessorized with modern strappy sandals and an Art Deco inspired black and white clutch.

Best Dressed Men

Robin Thicke showed us that he is capable of classy during his performance with Chicago - there was no Beetlejuice suit, life-sized stuffed animal, or twerking to be seen, just a classic tux in luxe velvet.

I like when stars look great on the red carpet while still being true to themselves and their genres, and that's just what Blake Shelton did, pairing a perfectly-cut vest and jacket with jeans and boots.  Blake's performance with some of Country's most well-known Outlaws - Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard, and Kris Kristofferson - was one of my favorite performances of the night, and I also loved Miranda Lambert's duet "When Will I Be Loved" with Green Day's Billie Jo Armstrong (somehow I'd missed the fact that Billie Jo released an Everly Brothers tribute album with Norah Jones last year until recently).

Also in the "be who you are" category, Ryan Lewis and Macklemore color-coordinated, flashy, but still very well-cut tuxes.

What were your favorite looks at the Grammys?  Which performances did you enjoy the most?

Wednesday, January 29

A Classic Winter Blended Family Wedding

I wanted to share a few photos I took at my friend Kendall's wedding last weekend.  She had a very classic winter wedding at a local venue, The Woodland Place, that has a rustic style.  The wedding colors were navy and white.

This wedding was unique because it blended two families, so Lee wasn't just making vows to Kendall but to Bre as well.  Our middle/high school Biology and Government teacher, who is also a minister, performed the ceremony and included a section where Bre sang "You Are My Sunshine" and Lee promised to take care of her.  I teared up and Mr. Q even got goosebumps, it was such an emotional moment.

I loved the pictures I caught of Kendall and Lee's first dance - their facial expressions said it all.  I loved the twinkling branches on the altar and the swags of fabric added a lot of light to a space that can unfortunately be really dark.  I found myself wishing we'd brought our big DSLR camera because of the low light, but I was able to clean up the pictures I took with my point and shoot until I was pretty happy with them.

Lee's best man was his Air Force roommate and Kendall's was her younger sister.  I loved the classically elegant wing tip collar on the groomsmen's shirts and the long navy dresses the bridesmaids wore.  Each bridesmaid's hair was styled in a different way that reflected their personalities.

One of my favorite details at the wedding was the sand ceremony, which Kendall and Lee did after the garter and bouquet tosses and cake cutting.  Their parents had already added their jars of sand before the ceremony, and Kendall, Lee, and Kendall's daughter Bre each added their own touches to the artwork.  I thought it was a very sweet way to represent the blending of two families and loved that it gave Bre a chance to participate and have some fun.  Side note: isn't Bre's hairstyle adorable?  It's a bow made of hair!

Overall, Kendall and Lee's big day was beautiful, sentimental, and fun.  As far as I knew, it went off without a hitch.  I am so happy for these two as they begin their life as a family.

Tuesday, January 28

Spring Color: Dazzling Blue

Pantone confused style bloggers and fashion magazines alike when they announced a Color of Spring before announcing 2014's Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid.  For a few weeks, Dazzling Blue was enjoying full-on Color of the Year status thanks to the misconception.  This year's take on cobalt is bright, saturated, and cheerful, and can look modern, edgy, or completely feminine depending on how it's styled.  Designers are creating Dazzling Blue takes on several of our favorite trend pieces - pencil skirts, studded shoes, envelope clutches, cluster earrings, and of course, florals.  Which of the pieces below is your favorite?

Disclaimer:  ModCloth items contain affiliate links.

Spring 2014 - Dazzling Blue

View this set on Polyvore

1. The Limited pencil skirt  2. Charming Charlie chronograph watch  
3. The Limited envelope wristlet  4. Charming Charlie floral phone case (Similar: 1, 2, 3, 4)
5. ModCloth cluster earrings  6. ModCloth floral dress  7. J. Crew leather ballet flats
8. J. Crew studded flats  9. J. Crew tassel loafers (Similar: 1, 2)

Monday, January 27

clicks of note: my heart's skipping like a stone on the water...

get your week off to a colorful start...


  • I've featured Charlie Worsham in this space before, and I just had to share his new single, "Want Me Too."  The man may have the market cornered on sweet, upbeat Country lyrics.




Sunday, January 26

sunday social: beauty edition

1. How old were you when you started wearing makeup?

I distinctly remember wearing that rubbery peel-off kid's nail polish when I was three or four years old and loving it!  I started having makeup put on for dance recitals in second grade and started playing with eyeshadow for school in fifth grade.  It was probably blue eye shadow because that's what was in my stage makeup kit, and I apologize to anyone who had to see me walking around school looking like a baby drag queen.  I discovered Coty airspun translucent face powder via the dance world and it was my favorite product in middle and high school, along with black eyeliner, which probably made me look kind of goth most of the time.  

2. What are your top 3 favorite beauty products?

The Sally Hansen Simple Spa waxing kit is one of my favorite things in the world - I have my eyebrows down to a science at this point.  I'm currently in love with L'Oreal's Magic BB Cream in Fair - it gives just enough coverage for everyday wear and I do notice fewer blemishes when I use it regularly.  My favorite eyeshadow is Almay's smoky-i for browns palette.

3. What is one makeup product you don't leave home without?

Some kind of lip balm.  Right now my favorite is Neutrogena's MoistureSmooth Color Stick - it feels really soft and the color lasts for a while.

4. What is your daily beauty routine?

I wash my face with St. Ives apricot scrub in the shower, apply acne medication to any spots, moisturize (I used Mary Kay for years but I just switched to Neutrogena Naturals) and then use either L'Oreal BB Cream or their mineral foundation depending on how much coverage I need.  Since I'm naturally so pale and foundation gives me even more of a porcelain-doll appearance, I wear bronzer every day, even in the winter, and the Physicians formula "mood boosting" palette with bronzer and blush all in one is my current favorite.  Lip balm and eyeshadow finish my everyday look - I only use mascara and eyeliner on the weekends if I'm going out because I find them a little too dramatic for the classroom.

5. What is your favorite hair/makeup product you've discovered in the last year?

I'm in love with John Frieda's Full Repair shampoo and conditioner - they've made my hair so soft and shiny.  I recently picked up a bottle of Full Repair Root Lift Foam and used it before I curled my hair for K's wedding, and I really could tell a difference in the amount of volume it created without giving my hair too much of a "goopy" feeling like some other foams.

sunday simplicity: sparkle and shine

Friday, January 24

my january in instagram

my january in instagram

A few December photos first.  I went to the Festival of Trees at the Hotel
Roanoke for the first time ever and Breeze and I basically made it our new
dream in life to become professional Christmas tree designers.  The
tree shown here is from my all time favorite florist in my hometown.

Nothing makes me quite so happy as color coordinating my Christmas 
wrapping paper.  This is probably because I have no pets or children.

Epic Postal Service fail, and what is technically a Christmas mug
but which I use all year round.

Christmas cookies for family members and one of my favorite gifts
(apparently my subliminal messages to Mr. Q were a success!)

Celebrating C's birthday, before and after dying my hair black.

I've been on a little home improvement kick inspired by Apartment
Therapy's January Cure.  I don't think our refrigerator had been
deep-cleaned since our townhouse was built.  And WOO NEW BED!


I've actually managed to keep up with this round of #busygirlnails.
For teal, I layered OPI's Last Friday Night over Essie Turquoise
and Caicos.  For white, I attempted a half-moon manicure using 
reinforcement stickers - Salon Perfect Sugar Cube over OPI
Lucky Lucky Lavender.  The reinforcement stickers worked well
on my fingers but I wasn't sure how to handle my big ol' thumbnails.

Adorable party decorations at the 100th birthday party for one of
Mr. Q's family friends.  Plenty of burlap, lace, Mason jars, and 
vintage China - most of it thrifted.

A few scenes from my recent snow days - I'm trying to keep an orchid
alive and trying to eat healthier foods, like this salad!

Are you on Instagram?  You can follow me here.

Thursday, January 23

home goals for 2014: a more efficient living room

We've lived in the Country Townhouse for two and a half years now and still haven't hit the lottery in an amount equal to a house down payment, so it looks like we'll be here for a while longer.  Even though I often find myself feeling a sense of discontent about the lack of privacy, sound control, yard/garden space, and freedom to paint, our townhouse is cute, safe, and VERY convenient to my school and Mr. Q's office.  In fact, I'm worried that I've gotten spoiled being able to leave the house with only a few minutes to spare in the morning, and able to dash home in an emergency if I've left something important.

We're here, and I need to embrace this townhouse as our home, not think of it constantly as a "temporary home" and treat it like a dormitory in terms of upkeep and decorating.  I've decided to follow along with Apartment Therapy's January Cure, and I'm finding the prompts really helpful.  My #1 goal is to make the spaces in our home more efficient.

When we took the Christmas tree down, it became clearer than ever that our living room is only super-efficient when it is time to put a large tree up.  Hey there, empty corner!

During the rest of the year, this empty corner is not a good thing for the flow of our lives.  It becomes a catch-all space for our gym bags and my school bags, stacks of magazines, and my laptop which just sits awkwardly on the carpet.

One day during the Christmas season, I was reading on the sofa and remarked about how happy the Christmas tree made me because it brightened up "my end" of the couch.  Mr. Q kind-of-snarkily replied, "You know what else would do that?  A lamp."

Obviously, we need some end tables and lamps, and I think the best solution for our living room is to center the couch underneath our large painting.  Here are three potential solutions that I whipped up using Polyvore:

Option 1:

Option 1 - Open shelving and glass lamps

That's our actual art and an approximation of what our couch looks like when slipcovered.  The open shelving is from Pier1 and those adorable Mason jar style lamps and linen shades are from World Market.  Mr. Q was skeptical the completely open shelving because he likes the idea of being able to "hide" some of the clutter we accumulate.  Mr. Q did like these lamps the best, and I like the idea of styling them like bookshelves and using baskets to deal with the clutter situation, so I decided to see what that would look like...

Styled Open Shelves

Option 2:
Option 2 - Storage and iron lamps

I have so many pictures of rooms with storage baskets on my Pinterest that it's kind of ridiculous, so I wanted to see what that would look like in our room.  The end tables (from Pier1) are a very similar wood and style to our entertainment console, so that would bring some continuity to the room.  I like the texture the baskets add to the space, and I chose a lamp from Target (paired with the same World Market shade as the first option) with a really low profile to balance things out.  I think this one is my second favorite because I could always remove the baskets and do something similar to the look above.

Option 3:
Option 3 - Classic style and mercury glass

The most traditional design would be these end tables with drawers paired with mercury glass lamps.  I love mercury glass and the style of these tables is VERY similar to our entertainment console.  However, I'm not sure these tables would be versatile enough to hold our laptops as well as all of the other "stuff" we accumulate during our after-work couch lazytime.  I'm also worried that the drawers would become junk drawers!

Which of these looks is your favorite?  How do you manage clutter in your living area and keep the things you need available?