Monday, June 30

clicks of note: you've got my heart racing...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • Brett Eldredge's "Beat of the Music" is one of my favorite country songs this summer... country always ends up being my default musical genre for summer, after a spring of pop music and a fall and winter of mostly rock and indie stuff.  Do any of you go through similar phases?  I'm linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.





Sunday, June 29

sunday social: randoms

Social Sunday

1. What was your college major? Did you ever change majors?

My major for my undergraduate studies was English Literature and my graduate major was Elementary Education.  I actually declared my graduate major first since I was accepted to the five-year Master's degree program at the end of my first year of college.  I considered minoring in Anthropology, but I wasn't able to fit the required linguistics courses into my schedule.

2. What is the best purchase you’ve made lately?

CeraVe facial cleanser - my skin is the clearest it's been in years!

3. What is something silly we don’t know about you?

The movie Thelma and Louise makes me cry.

4. What is your favorite holiday?

It used to definitely be Christmas, but as the years have gone by I have really started to love Halloween more and more - not so much the creepy aspect but the imaginative side.

5. What is the first thing you do when you wake up?

Take a shower - otherwise I will be grumpy/groggy until I do.

sunday simplicity: we could be a whole parade


So many reasons
On the 4th of July I like you because it’s the 4th of July
On the fifth of July, I like you too
If you and I had some drums and some horns and some horses
If we had some hats and some flags and some fire engines
We could be a HOLIDAY
We could be a CELEBRATION
We could be a WHOLE PARADE

See what I mean?
Even if it was the 999th of July
Even if it was August
Even if it was way down at the bottom of November
Even if it was no place particular in January
I would go on choosing you
And you would go on choosing me
Over and over again

- from “I Like You” by Sandol Stoddard Warburg

Friday, June 27

DIY: Patriotic Washi Tape Decor for Independence Day

Since our family's annual vacation always coincides with Independence Day (thanks, furniture industry), I don't really go all out in decorating for what's actually one of my favorite holidays.  This year, I wanted to add just a little quick patriotic flair to our home decor without spending any money.  I ended up creating three little vignettes based around two of my favorite things - words and crafting!  I started out by "shopping" around the house for red, white, and blue craft supplies, books, and other decorative items.

I grabbed some washi tapes I'd purchased for former projects, some cute twine and straws from the dollar bin at Target and was starting to get inspired.  Throw in the chipboard letters I've had hanging around the craft shelf since I used them to make the pennant banner for our wedding's cake table, and I had my theme.

I tend to both clean and decorate rooms in a clockwise order, so I started in one corner and worked my way around the living room and kitchen.  Since we don't have a mantel, I always like to keep some decorative items on the ends of our entertainment console.  In this corner, I started with a vintage Roget's Thesaurus and milk glass vase from our wedding centerpieces.  The flowers are Sweet William and Statice from the grocery store - very budget friendly, and they look like fireworks!  I love the tabs in the thesaurus.

On the other end of the console, more wedding books and milk glass along with leftover pinwheel favors from Aubrey's Etsy shop to tie in with my wordy theme.  The candleholders were such an easy craft - I grabbed blue and white candles in glass containers from my stash, peeled off their original labels, and got creative with my washi tape while watching television one night.  Keep in mind that more cylindrical or square containers are easier to tape stripes on than ones with a tapered shape.

In the kitchen, I used a Pier1 cake stand from our wedding to hold three jars of goodness - I chose three glass jars of different heights to create a visual triangle.  The taller two are real Mason jars, but the shortest one was holding artichoke hearts just a few days ago!  My white teapot, a gift from my mama, is also from Pier1 and holds some flowers from my container garden.

Instead of actually making any words with my chipboard letters, I decided to display the letters themselves.  The daisy Mason jar lid is from one of my favorite affiliates, the Plaid Barn, and a leftover from Breeze's bridal shower.

I just love the farmhouse style a cake stand stacked with Mason jars adds to my kitchen, and the pop of red, white, and blue makes me smile every time I walk by!

Happy Independence Day!  Do you have anything special planned?

Linking Up With:


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Monday, June 23

clicks of note: hold your breath, jump with me

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • Phillip Phillips manages to pack his songs with so much emotions - he gets me every time.  You can listen to the full version of this one on YouTube.  I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.





Sunday, June 22

sunday social: weird favorites

Social Sunday

1. What’s your favorite scary movie?

I do NOT like any gory scary movies because I have a very visual memory and those images never leave my brain - so I haven't seen most of the popular scary movies like the Saw franchise - The Ring scares the bejeezus out of me first year of college and after that I've just said no to horror.  I do usually enjoy movies that rely on psychological scares, and my favorite is probably Silence of the Lambs.  I remember seeing the VHS on the shelf at my house for years growing up and my parents always telling me I couldn't watch it because it would scare me too much, then finally letting me watch it in high school.  I felt very grown up.

2. What is your favorite weird TV show you think no one else watches?

Here at the country townhouse, we will watch basically any reality program about Alaska. My favorite is Bering Sea Gold - it's like Gold Rush but way, way more soap opera-ish.

3. What is the song you can sing all the words to without any music?

Wonderwall by Oasis.  It used to be a popular closing campfire song at the summer camp where I volunteer, but it became very obvious last summer that only me and one of the staff members who I grew up with actually knew the verses.

4. What is your favorite book to re-read?

The Time Traveler's Wife.  I like that because of the nature of the story, I can turn to any random page and get pulled right back into the characters' lives.  And I like that it's sneaky science fiction masquerading as romance.

5. The one website you visit more times a day than others?

Facebook.  I log on in the morning while I'm waking up and usually check several more times throughout the day.

sunday simplicity

"In the grey summer garden I shall find you   
With day-break and the morning hills behind you.   
There will be rain-wet roses; stir of wings;   
And down the wood a thrush that wakes and sings."

- from "Idyll" by Siegfried Sassoon

Friday, June 20

my early summer in entertainment

concerts i attended

Clay vs. Levi - One of the very first shows in our town's new performance center was Clay Cook and Levi Lowrey.  Clay is a songwriter and Zac Brown Band musician (guitar, keys, etc.) who used to write and perform with John Mayer, and Levi is a songwriter and primarily a fiddle player. The guys have worked together a lot and have a great friendship, and on this tour they basically come up with the set list as they go (I think rock, paper, scissors was involved at one point).  It was great to hear some familiar songs and some of their new music as well.

Willie Nelson with Allison Krauss and Devil Makes Three - When my mom heard this concert was coming to Roanoke, her exact words were, "I don't care how much the tickets are; we're going."  It was truly one of the best concerts I've ever been to.  Devil Makes Three was a totally new band for me and I really enjoyed their bluegrass sound. It was very cool to see Allison Krauss live, along with the rest of Union Station - Jerry Douglas and Dan Tyminski each had their own time in the spotlight, with Dan performing his recent hit with Avicii, "Hey Brother," as a bluegrass song.  When Willie Nelson came out, he launched into one hit song after another - "Whiskey River," "Crazy," "Beer for My Horses," “Mammas, Don’t Let Your Babies Grow Up to Be Cowboys,” "Good Hearted Woman," and "City of New Orleans" were just a few highlights - and didn't slow down all night.  He basically just says the lyrics to his songs now rather than actually singing them, but you know what?  Willie Nelson can do whatever he wants. The show closed with Willie bringing Allison and Union Station back out for a medley of gospel songs like "I Saw the Light."

Delta Rae with Gabe Dixon - Out of all the shows I've attended lately (it's been a great spring!) this is the one I was most excited about - I've been watching Delta Rae videos obsessively on YouTube since the first time I heard "Bottom of the River."  The six-piece band is difficult to categorize when people ask what genre they are, so instead I compare them to other acts - a little Grace Potter, a little Fleetwood Mac (not only do they have four vocalists, they've actually worked with Lindsay Buckingham).  They put on a super high energy, really fun show, and most of the audience members were on their feet dancing and clapping for the two hour performance, which included a perfect cover of Patti Smith's "Because the Night".  Opening act Gabe Dixon is a singer-songwriter who plays keyboard and guitar and was featured on the soundtrack of the movie The Proposal - his music reminded me of Gavin DeGraw, Jason Mraz and Paul Simon and I hope he gets a big break soon.

books i read

Cress (MG/YA Science Fiction) - I am loving Marissa Meyer's Lunar Chronicles series - I wrote about Cinder and Scarlet in my last entertainment post.  Cress takes the Rapunzel fairytale and places it in Meyer's futuristic world through her most fascinating heroine so far - Cress, a Lunar who is equal parts genius and naive, has been kept captive on a sattelite since she was a little girl, and has fallen in love with Earth. She is heartbroken to see the fallout of the events in Scarlet and feels partially responsible due to her work as a hacker for the moon's sinister Queen Levana.   Cinder, Captain Thorne (who reminds me of a younger version of Malcolm Reynolds from Firefly), Scarlet, and Wolf are on the run and determined to protect Earth from Levana's planned takeover.  When Cress reaches out to them, they plan to rescue her - and their plan goes terribly wrong: Cress and Thorne are stranded in the desert, Cinder and an injured Wolf are forced to work with a Lunar guard, and Scarlet is being held hostage by Lunars.  Cinder is full of action, secrets, and wry humor.  The only downside is that the next book, Winter, won't be out until 2015!

Moon Over Manifest (MG Historical Fiction) - This 2011 Newberry winner took me to two historical time periods I don't know much about: World War I and the Great Depression. Abilene Tucker's daddy, Gideon, sends her to live in Manifest, Kansas, his childhood home, when he decides that she is getting to be a young lady and the railroad life is no longer appropriate. Abilene's not quite sure she's a lady yet - she's too old for jump rope, but not too old for a tree house, and not old enough to be interested in boys yet - and all she knows of Manifest comes from the newspapers folded around Gideon's old compass, her prized possession. In Manifest, Abilene's primary caretakers are Baptist minister Shady, who lives in what Abilene is pretty sure is a speakeasy, and local newspaper writer Hattie Mae. When Shady makes her attend the last day of school, she makes two good friends, Lettie and Ruthanne, and is given an assignment by stern Sister Redempta: to write a story over the summer. Instead, she and her new friends get wrapped up in an old story, woven together from the old letters Abilene found at Shady's house and the memories of the mysterious Miss Sadie, who styles herself a diviner. Abilene's story becomes entwines with the stories about Ned and Jinx, two boys whose adventures were cut short by war in Europe. Abilene hopes to learn more about her daddy's childhood, and where exactly she fits in.

movies i saw

X-Men: Days of Future Past - I have a soft spot in my heart for the X-Men movies since the 2000's trilogy was what really got me into comic book heroes.  The major challenge as a viewer of the movies now is that the Wolverine movies and the new retro movies have come along, the series is full of contradictions.  With each new movie, writers make choices that just don't line up with what we've already seen.  In the world of comic books, that's actually pretty typical - you gotta just go with it.  So in Days of Future Past, we have to accept that Professor Charles Xavier is alive and in his own body again, because it's way more important that evil robot Sentinels are about to destroy the remainders of the X-Men - Xavier, Magneto, Kitty Pryde, Iceman, Colossus, Storm, Wolverine, and a few new mutants with interesting powers, who are hiding somewhere in Asia.  If you've seen the previews, you know the premise - Kitty sends Wolverine's consciousness back into his younger body so that he can get young Charles and Magneto to cooperate and stop Mystique from killing the Sentinels' creator.  Days of Future Past has everything fans have come to expect from the X-Men movies - lots of action and ironic tweaks to historical events.  The  ending is surprisingly optimistic and reveals that Wolverine meddling with history caused some changes to the X-Men timeline that should make the next movie very interesting.

The Fault in Our Stars - I went to see TFiOS with three other middle school teachers who'd also read, loved, and wept over the book.  Since I am in love with John Green's YouTube channel, I already knew that he was happy with the film adaptation, and I understand why - the movie is incredibly faithful to the book, and Shailene Woodley and Ansel Elgort are Hazel Grace Lancaster and Augustus Waters.  I loved seeing some of my favorite scenes from the book, like the picnic at the Funky Bones sculpture and dinner at Oranjee.  There were some scenes that were changed from the book for no apparent reason - Gus' important argument with his parents before the trip to Amsterdam is absent, and his dialogue in the egg-throwing scene is more over-the-top in the film than in the novel.  Laura Dern and Sam Trammell are wonderful as Hazel's parents, and I wish Gus' quirky family had been better developed in the movie.  My coworkers now think I have no heart because the movie didn't make me cry, but I think that has more to do with having lived through cancer treatment with my dad than anything else.  I definitely recommend seeing the movie if you loved the novel.

Won't Back Down - I'd wanted to see this 2012 movie about a mother and teacher who decide to be the change they want to see in their Pittsburgh neighborhood's failing school when it was in theaters, and then I guess I kind of forgot about it.  Maggie Gyllenhaal plays Jamie, a single mom, bartender and car dealership secretary who is infuriated when she visits her daughter's classroom and sees the teacher sitting at her desk texting while the other kids bully her daughter, who has dyslexia.  She tries to get her daughter moved into the other third grade class, where Nona, played by Viola Davis, is at least trying to teach. When her request is denied due to classroom overcrowding and a lazy principal, Jamie learns about parent-trigger laws and recruits Nona and other parents and teachers to turn Adams Elementary into a charter school (there's a montage of the two women going door to door in a housing project to explain their cause).  Nona's coworkers get upset because if the school becomes a charter, they will lose their union membership and tenure - and that's where the movie lost me.  Union teachers are portrayed as lazy and ineffective, and the only truly "good teacher" in the movie is a Teach for America graduate.  There's a little dimensionality in that the TFA guy IS a union member, but overall the union is portrayed as corrupt and not interested in students - the clear antagonist.

Wreck-It Ralph - Why wasn't this movie better advertised when it was released in 2012? Why didn't I know that the voices included Sarah Silverman, Jack McBrayer, Jane Lynch, Alan Tudyk, and Mindy Kaling?  Wreck-It Ralph takes place in an arcade where Ralph, tired of being the bad guy in his 16-bit world, leaves his game in an attempt to become a hero.  The movie is full of funny references to games like Mario Bros., Halo, Call of Duty, and Mario Kart, and having grown up playing video games I thought the idea of characters being able to move back and forth between those worlds was really creative.  I think this one ranks right up there with Lego Movie in terms of how much fun I had watching.

Monsters University - Monsters, Inc. is still my all-time favorite animated movie, and it was fun to see how Mike and Sully went from being rivals to becoming partners, as well as a Disney-fied take on college life, including Helen Mirren as a very intimidating dean - almost like a G-rated Pitch Perfect.  Unfortunately, without Boo, this story lacked the heart of the original.

television favorites

Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. - Did you hear that S.H.I.E.L.D. finally got good?  I'd watched from the first episode out of a love of the Marvel universe, Joss Whedon, and Clark Gregg's Agent Coulson, as well as the promise of tie-ins to the big-screen releases.  I also love a good "team that fights bad guys" story.  The first several episodes were okay - Skye was a likable audience identification character,and  mysteries like "what is Project Centipede" and "did Agent Coulson really go to Tahiti after Avengers?" were interesting enough to keep me watching.  After Captain America: The Winter Soldier came out, though, it was like a flip got switched and suddenly - I can't think of a better way to put this - shit got real.

Nashville - I am so late to the party on this one, but I finally understand what the fuss is all about.  I didn't watch the first season because the previews made it look like the show was all adultery, all the time, but I started watching about halfway through this season when the commercials piqued my interest and the "On the Record" concert special from the Ryman Auditorium got me on board.  I love Hayden Panettiere as Juliette Barnes, and the music is so good!

Late Shift - I wrote about this show already in my June Favorite Things post, so let me just reiterate, CRAZY medical DRAMA DRAMA DRAMA.

CMT Crossroads - I feel like Crossroads used to feature weird pairings, but this season has been awesome so far - Fall Out Boy and The Band Perry, OneRepublic and Dierks Bentley, and Katy Perry and Kacey Musgraves.  The episodes are online, which is good because I've watched them all multiple times!

What's been keeping you entertained lately?  Do 
you have any recommendations for me to check out?

Linking Up:
Let Your Light Shine Thursday at I'm Perfectly Human
Little Friday at Rhyme and Ribbons

Thursday, June 19

who to follow on instagram: spring/summer 2014

I just plain love Instagram; it's basically become my daily journal.  There's always something funny, beautiful, or inspiring on my feed, and today I wanted to share a few of my favorite Instagrammers with you. 

thislittlestreet - Audrey, from the blog of the same name, shares pretty shots of her colorful, creative life and beautiful little girls.

tifforelie - Tiffany blogs at Offbeat and Inspired; her Instagram feed captures her cool foodie aesthetic.


jane_lilly - Jane Lilly Warren cofounded preppy online favorite Matchbook Magazine and shares stylish slices of her life in New York City and travels in the Northeast.

sugarandcloth - Houston DIY blogger Ashley's feed is so well curated - her images are clean, bright, and pretty.

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

Wednesday, June 18

Style: What to Pack for Summer Camp

One childhood memory I don't think I'll ever forget comes from my very first summer at 4-H camp.  One morning during the daily flag ceremony, our group's counselors were walking up and down the line of kids, trying to get them to stand still and be quiet, which is a lot to ask of 9-12 year olds at 7:30 A.M.  Rule follower that I was, I was standing in line between my bunkmates, hand over my heart and ready for the pledge.  I heard my counselor, Kate, tell her best friend, "She's, like, the perfect little camper."

The truth that first summer was, I didn't feel like the perfect little camper.  I was homesick - I'd never been away from my mom for more than a night - and I didn't see what the big fuss was about all of the outdoor activities and competitions.  I would have been happy to find a shady spot under a tree and read a book or draw pictures for a week, but instead, we had to be somewhere and do something all the time.  As the week went on, the horse barn started to call my name, the cold water in the pool felt better each afternoon, campfire seemed like a magical and otherworldly experience, and the older girls in my cabin (they were sixth graders, and therefore had an air of sophistication) started to feel like big sisters (they taught me to use mascara!).  I'd caught the camp bug.

Fast forward to today, and I'm still camping - this time as an adult volunteer.  I'll probably be in a kayak when this post goes live.  I hope the little girls in my lodge aren't perfect campers, because how boring would that be?  I may not be a Girl Scout, but I pride myself on always being prepared for camp - the perfect camper is all grown up.  This post is for anyone packing for camp as a counselor, staff member, or adult volunteer this summer!

Packing For Camp - Basics

The basics:
  • Comfortable, casual tops for summer weather.  Most organized summer camps have a dress code similar to what local middle and high schools have, so tank tops should have thick straps.  If your camp provides t-shirts, woohoo!  One less thing to worry about.
  • Bottoms appropriate for what activities you'll be involved in.  Keep that dress code in mind - shorts should probably have at least a 5 inch inseam.  If you'll be doing any climbing or zip-lining, bring soft, Bermuda-length shorts - regular jean shorts can be really uncomfortable with a harness!  If you'll be riding a horse, jeans or capris are a must to prevent saddle sores. 
  • Twice as many undergarments as you think you'll need - you'll thank me later when a midday change of clothes gives you a more cheerful outlook on life.  Cotton is best because it's breathable.  Don't forget socks if you'll be wearing sneakers or boots!
  • A light hoodie or flannel shirt for chilly mornings and evenings.
  • A light raincoat with a hood.   No one wants to deal with an umbrella at camp.
  • A backpack or drawstring bag so you don't have to run back to your cabin.

Footwear appropriate to your program area or activities:
  • If you'll be around horses: closed toes are a must for riding, boots are good if you'll be leading the horse in any capacity (horses just don't understand that our feet are tiny and fragile).
  • At my camp, all shoes must have a heel strap - this has drastically reduced the number of injuries!  Tevas might not be the most attractive shoes in the world, but they get the job done, and Keen's closed-toe sandals are ideal for aquatic activities like canoeing and kayaking.

Beat-the-heat essentials: 
  • A water bottle that will clip onto your backpack
  • Sunglasses
  • Sunscreen
  • Lip balm with SPF
  • Several bandanas, headbands, and hair ties
Toiletries:  soap, shampoo and conditioner (I avoid floral and sweet-smelling products to decrease the risk of insect stings and bites), toothbrush and toothpaste, razor (I love the Venus + Olay razor so I don't have to pack shave gel), strong deodorant, hairbrush, towels and washcloths (that you wouldn't mind losing)

Medications:  Some camps require counselors and volunteers to check all meds - even the OTC stuff - with the camp EMT or nurse.  Be sure to follow the rules!
  • Allergy medication
  • Allergy cream (bugs WILL bite you)
  • Benzocaine swabs to treat bee stings
  • Triple antibiotic ointment
  • Something for sore muscles (BioFreeze is amazing!)
  • Assorted bandages
  • Insect repellent (check your camp's policies - DEET products may be banned)
  • Aloe vera for treating sunburn
  • Eye drops (sitting around a campfire can cause irritation!)

Pool/lake gear:
  • A one-piece bathing suit or tankini.  My camp has banned bathing suits that tie, which should make sense to anyone who has jumped into a body of water while wearing one and experienced a wardrobe malfunction.  I avoid wearing brightly colored or floral print bathing suits because stinging insects can be attracted to them, and I don't wear red because I don't want to be confused with the lifeguard.
  • Multiple beach towels (so that one can be hanging out to dry while one is in use).

Good to have:
  • A water resistant sports watch with an alarm (don't rely on your phone).
  • Waterproof disposable camera.
  • A plastic/mesh bag to take wet bathing suits and towels home in (I skip this because I throw everything into the washing machine as soon as I get home anyway).
Linking Up:

Tuesday, June 17

literary junkies - june update

Pink Heels Pink Truck

1. What are you reading? Tell us about it!

I just started Part 2 of Gillian Flynn's Gone Girl, and let me just say, this book is insane.  I can't exactly say that I like it - the main characters are not good people - but it's written in such an interesting way that I feel like I owe it to myself to read the whole thing.

2. Library or bookstore?

My mom taught me to love the library at an early age, signing me up for the summer reading program at our local branch every year and taking me to get new books every week since the school library didn't let me get as many as I wanted!  In my childhood hometown, our library has gone through three different buildings in my lifetime, getting bigger and bigger with each upgrade.  In my new town, we have a really nice downtown library that Mr. Q and I both belong to, but I'm super spoiled to be a YA lover who works in a middle school - my classroom is right beside the library and the secretary lets me know when a new book I'll like has arrived!

3. What book(s) have you read and re-read several times?

I've read all of the Harry Potter books and all of Jane Austen's novels several times, I read Romeo and Juliet, Hamlet, and Macbeth in both high school and college, and I've read The Outsiders about 46 times now since I teach it as a class novel!

4. What is the first book that made you fall in love with reading?

Oddly enough I can still remember the first book I was able to decode as a toddler - it was a Little Golden Book about Donald Duck and his nephews.  I don't remember why I liked it so much, but my parents had read it to me so many times that I memorized the text, then started to match the words I knew to the letters on the page.  I was super proud of myself and wanted to "read" the book to everyone I saw.  The first books I remember loving in elementary school were the Henry and Mudge series - I used to pretend that I was Henry and my dog was Mudge, and I'd reenact their adventures.

5. Who's your favorite author? Tell us so we can binge-read!

This is a crazy hard question!  If it's binge-reading you're in the mood for, I consider Janet Evanovich's Stephanie Plum series the literary equivalent of Pringles.  In terms of an author who I actually want to be real life friends with, YA fantasy author Maggie Stiefvater has an amazing way with words (I use her book The Scorpio Races to teach my students about figurative language) and is very kind in person - I met her at an English teacher's conference. My favorite book of hers is The Raven Boys.

Monday, June 16

clicks of note: light me up like a bottle rocket...

get your week off to a colorful start...