Monday, June 29

clicks of note: I am a universe wrapped in skin..

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • Here's a sneak peek from my friend Mandi's sweet rustic wedding in a reconstructed 1880's church on the Blue Ridge Parkway this weekend... full recap coming on Wednesday!

  • Joy Williams hasn't slowed down since the breakup of the Civil Wars - her new album Venus comes out today and I am so excited for it. Can we all declare "Woman (Oh Mama)" our new anthem? I'm linking up today with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Friday, June 26

5 Fandom Friday: Character Wardrobes!

5 Fandom Friday is a link-up hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick that I want to get more involved in now that I've decided to jump right in and embrace my geeky side here on the blog - I always love seeing my friends' cute posts. I missed last week's perfect topic, so I'm just gonna go for it this week - Characters with my favorite fictional fashion. You can see the upcoming prompts here at the master post (this week's is actually fandom guilty pleasures if you don't want to be a rebel with me).

Mary Margaret Blanchard/Snow White, Once Upon a Time

Mary Margaret was the first character I really fell in love with on Once Upon a Time. I've loved Ginnifer Goodwin since she was in Mona Lisa Smile (speaking of great wardrobes), and without Mary Margaret giving Henry the storybook, Emma would still be bounty hunting in Boston. Mary Margaret's teacher wardrobe full of modest dresses, lace blouses, and cardigans is perfect - it basically looks like she bought stock in ModCloth and it's how I would dress for work every day if I had an unlimited budget! The costume department also puts her in adorable outerwear for all the winter scenes the cast films in fictional Storybrooke, Maine.  In Snow White mode, she's definitely the best dressed bandit in the Enchanted Forest.

Scarlett O'Connor, Nashville

One of the main reasons I watch Nashville is to see what Music City's resident Bohemian songbird will be wearing. Some of Scarlett's outfits verge on hobo, but they suit her singer-songwriter persona and Clare Bowen always looks adorable in them - come on, there is no way a real person could pull off those huge sweaters and flowy dresses!

Jemma Simmons, Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.

Besides being adorable, Agent Simmons demonstrates perfect practical workplace style. She pairs her pants and sneakers with pretty printed and colorblocked tops and makes more casual pieces work-appropriate by layering them with Peter Pan collared shirts and blazers. Is it just me, or did her style get a little sassier after she became a double agent for Hydra?

Rose DeWitt-Bukater, Titanic

Kate Winslet's costumes in Titanic are practically a character on their own - after all, we see her hat before we see her face, and we instantly know that she's high-class (it's one of my all-time favorite character introductions). I was already obsessed with the Victorian period when I saw Titanic as a middle schooler (thanks, Samantha Parkington!) There's a reason all of my high school Homecoming dresses had some sort of mesh overlay going on. There's a reason I wanted to get pointe shoes. There's a reason I got so excited to see several of the costumes from the movie at the Titanic Museum. And the reason is Rose, my seventh grade feminist icon.

Claire Beauchamp Fraser, Outlander

Oh Sassenach, you know that true love sometimes means wearing really uncomfortable clothing. Diana Gabaldon does a great job describing Claire's clothes in the novels and the costuming department for the television series has done an amazing job creating pieces that are not necessarily identical to Claire's outfits in the book, but perfect for the time period and atmosphere of the show (even her smart 1940's outfits match the show's earthy color palette). I can't wait until the show gets to the events of Dragonfly in Amber so we can see the dresses she wears in Paris!

Which fictional characters' closets would you love to raid?

Thursday, June 25

Book Review: The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest: A Medieval Fairy Tale by Melanie Dickerson

So y'all know I'm a little bit of a medievalist and that I love a good fairy tale retelling (even if it's set in space!). With Once Upon a Time on summer hiatus, I needed something to fill my longing for castles, balls, and horseback rides through forests, and The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was the perfect fit. I was intrigued when I saw the gorgous cover art and the description of the book as "Swan Lake meets Robin Hood," and this charming story really is the best of both fictional worlds.

As a former dancer, I was really excited to read a book that was not a retelling of one of the Grimms' fairy tales, but instead a retelling of a famous ballet! The plot of Swan Lake was derived from German and Russian folktales,  and Dickerson places her Odette in a fourteenth century German village that was devastated by the Black Death. Odette has been taken in her uncle, a wealthy merchant, who provides her with a tutor and books to read, but she remembers what it was like to be a hungry orphan and spends her nights poaching on royal forest land to feed the village's starving children.  When she finds out that Jorgen Hartman (perfect naming), the handsome man she dances with on Midsummer's Eve, is the forest's groundskeeper, she knows she should stay away from him - his adoptive father was killed by a poacher and he will stop at nothing to punish whoever is stealing game from the forest. Although the mayor's son is courting her and seems to offer her the life she dreams of, her thoughts keep coming back to Jorgen.

The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest was an easy, quick read, and Odette's German village was a nice change of scenery - I think I was picturing the Oktoberfest area at Busch Gardens while I read, and Dickerson includes a few German terms and phrases that make sense in the context of the story without being distracting. The only historical anachronism that stood out to me was the characters' concern about a wound becoming septic - based on other books I've read, I don't think 14th century villagers had that level of understanding of germs and infection. 

One of Swan Lake's major themes is the desire of young people to marry for love, and that thread runs through The Huntress of Thornbeck Forest as well, with Odette and Jorgen trying to balance their strong affection for one another with their concern for each other's best interest. Even Jorgen's romantic rival, Mathis, though certainly no hero, is patient and considerate of Odette's feelings, unlike the mustache-twirling villains one encounters in a lot of historical romances! The ballerina in me was delighted that there was a little nod to the character of Odile (better known as the Black Swan) as well. One of Dickerson's strengths as a writer is giving each character, including the secondary figures, a distinct personality. This is a Christian novel, and I found the characters' desire to apply scripture to their struggles very realistic - Odette, for example, knows that stealing is a sin but justifies her actions through verses that exhort Christians to care for the poor. Overall, Dickerson presents a lovely fairytale love story that makes for a great summer escape appropriate for readers of all ages.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”

Tuesday, June 23

Retro Summer Style: Aquamarine and Gingham

In the virtual wasteland that is this summer's network television schedule, I have been really excited about The Astronaut Wives Club - I love learning more about the 1960's, and I was excited to see Yvonne Strahovski (Sarah from Chuck) and JoAnna Garcia Swisher (Ariel from Once Upon a Time) among the stars. When I found out the series is based on a book I knew I had to add it to my summer reading list. This week, I'm channeling 60's summer style - aquamarine, shirtwaist dresses, and classic feminine details like gingham prints and scalloped edges.

Disclaimer: Amazon and ModCloth links contain an affiliate code. Thank you for supporting Beyond the Aisle!

Aquamarine and Gingham
1. Vivienne Westwood dress (similar from ModCloth)  2. J. Crew bikini top and bottom  3. The Astronaut Wives Club from Amazon  4. Gingham skirt from ModCloth (similar in black)  5. Formula X nail polish in "Provocative" from Sephora 6. China Glaze nail polish in "Dashboard Dreamer" from Amazon  7. Stripe weekend shorts from GAP  8. Old Navy scallop-edge blouse  9. Cat eye sunglasses from Zero UV (similar from ModCloth)  10. Rotary telephone from Chairish (similar from Amazon)  11. Bait Footwear wedges from ModCloth

What television shoes, movies or books have inspired your style lately?

Linking Up:
Manic Monday at More Pieces of Me and The Daily Express

Monday, June 22

clicks of note: then we were new

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • There's no doubt in my mind that this will be my favorite week of this summer. After consulting my packing list, I'm headed to my childhood summer camp this morning for my annual volunteering gig, but I'll be leaving tomorrow afternoon for a little day trip with my mama - to see SIR PAUL FREAKIN' MCCARTNEY. There's a 99% chance I will weep uncontrollably throughout the concert. On Friday after camp, we have a rehearsal dinner for Breeze's sister's wedding, which is on Saturday (I'm serving as the day-of coordinator). Whew!


  • Of course this week's song has to be Paul. I think "New" is such a sweet song. I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Sunday, June 21

sunday simplicity.

“Dwell on the beauty of life. Watch the stars, 
and see yourself running with them.”

― Marcus Aurelius

Saturday, June 20


I'm at the point where I feel like to be silent about the church shooting in Charleston this week, here at my online home, is not possible. I went back and forth - my blog is about color and style, right? I couldn't quite wrap my brain around how to fit the raw emotions I was feeling in alongside weddings and parties and fashion. Wouldn't writing about something so tragic and heartbreaking go against the tone I've worked so hard to set?

But here's the thing: I have to be real, here of all places. I have to process this and the way I process is by talking. So when I saw the image above, of the Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge, a bridge my own uncle helped build, I knew I had to create a space here for my heartbreak.

My heart breaks because I expected this to be a case of mental illness gone unchecked, because that's the narrative we are used to, but it's a case of depravity and hatred. On television this morning, I heard the Governor of South Carolina, Nikki Hailey, say, "there is one person to blame here." There's not. There's a culture to blame. Young people don't grow up believing people who look different are somehow "less than" on their own. Hate is learned behavior. It would be easier if hate always wore a jacket covered with identifying patches, but it doesn't. It sits beside us on the bus, in the classroom, and in church. The culture of racism is insidious and it's a current that runs underneath life in the South so subtly that it's almost forgotten, that it's written off as a joke made when someone has had a little too much to drink or "the way he was raised." From Jon Stewart's monologue yesterday: "The confederate flag flies over South Carolina. And the roads are named for confederate generals. And the white guy is the one who feels like his country is being taken away from him."

My heart breaks because in our churches, our schools, our homes, the streets of our country, we should feel safe. Our elders should be safe. Our children. Ourselves. In his speech delivered in a press room named for a victim of gun violence, President Obama said that "At some point, we as a country will have to reckon with the fact that this type of mass violence does not happen in other advanced countries."

I can't help but think of the 1963 Birmingham church bombing, an event I've taught about in my classroom but, until now, never really understood. How much uglier death is when it violates a place of worship, a sanctuary. Emanuel, God with us. The grace that the victim's families have shown has been amazing. 

Charleston is important to my family - it's where my dad's brother made his home and raised his family. It's where my husband and I have been planning to take our summer vacation and I've been gradually falling in love via photographs and history. One of the victims, Sharonda Singleton, worked and coached at the school where my cousin works, and was known for her positive attitude and encouraging smile. We are all connected. We are all brothers. How have we lost that thread?

Tomorrow, Charleston communities will come together at dusk to walk from both sides of the Ravenel Bridge and stand together hand in hand. I wish I could be there to stand and pray with them.

Thursday, June 18

who to follow on instagram: june 2015

It's no secret that I love Instagram - for me, it's an endless source of inspiration and joy. I get ideas for decorating my home, cooking, getting dressed, and constantly add places to my dream travel list based on these little snaps of goodness. I especially love visiting new feeds in the summer when people are taking amazing vacations - it's fun to live vicariously through their wanderings. Here are a few accounts I'm loving lately.

Kirsten Alana - this New York-based photographer shares beautiful, color-saturated shots from her travels around the world (most recently, Iceland).

Audrey Leighton Rogers - The blogger behind Frassy shares gorgeous travel photos, an adorable Pomeranian pup, and flawless fashion. Love her carefree, fun attitude.

heatherbullard | housesevenblog

Heather Bullard - of course a Country Living and HGTV Magazine contributing editorial prop stylist has a perfectly-styled Instagram feed. Lots of inspiration for simple, pretty ways to update every room in the house and decorate for holidays.

Anissa Zajac - Interior stylist and blogger Anissa's house is lovely, but what really keeps me coming back to her feed are her cute kiddos' constant photobombs.

La Belle Mel - D.C. fashion and beauty blogger Melanie shares shots of fun with friends, bold styled outfits, and perfect manicures.

Moody Girl in Style - Florida fashion and lifestyle blogger Natasha is the queen of "flat lay" fashion posts. I love her colorful take on style, which includes lots of pattern mixing!

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 17

inspiration for a coral prep wedding

Since my post a couple of weeks ago on how popular Pantone's Strawberry Ice color has become this summer, I haven't been able to stop dreaming of cool coral pinks. Today, I'm imagining a preppy Southern summer wedding with garden-fresh florals, champagne, calligraphy, and plenty of bow ties!

Floral Bloom wedding invitation by Artsy Design Co. on Etsy

How beautiful is this driveway? I love the pop of blue from the hydrangeas.

Does it get more preppy than a dog in a polka dot bow tie?

Nicole Ryan Photography via Fab Mood

Equestrian-inspired details get me every time.

What's your favorite color for summer weddings?

Tuesday, June 16

Summer Style: Off the Map

One of this summer's biggest trend is a tropical spin on safari-inspired colors: olive green and toasted almond paired with fun pops of magenta and tribal-style prints. It's a great place to start a warm-weather capsule wardrobe or vacation packing list!

Disclaimer: Amazon and ModCloth links contain an affiliate code. Thank you for supporting Beyond the Aisle!

Off the Map
1. Old Navy crossbody purse 2. LOFT henley shell 3. Essie nail polish in "Flowerista" and "Picked Perfect" from Amazon  4. The North Face linen shorts from Moosejaw 
5. Chanel nail color in "Alchimie"  6. ModCloth wedge sandals  7. Ruche heel-strap sandals  8. Old Navy canvas tote

Need some outfit inspiration? Here are a few models and fashion bloggers rocking these summer shades (along with staples you probably have in your closet already!)

Have you ever experimented with a capsule wardrobe?

Linking Up:
Manic Monday at More Pieces of Me and The Daily Express

Monday, June 15

clicks of note: hold me up to the light

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • Vance Joy, aka James Keogh, is getting a lot of well-deserved attention this summer for "Riptide," but I am loving the songs from his newer album, Dream Your Life Away. My favorite song right now is "Who Am I," which is just so sweet (and contains a sly W.B. Yeats reference). I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.





Friday, June 12

my early summer in entertainment.


Ashley Monroe at Dr. Pepper Pavillion - Breeze and I jumped at the chance to see one of the Pistol Annies perform live for an affordable price in a venue that is brand new. Ashley took the stage with just a guitar player backing her up and performed a lot of songs from Like a Rose as well as some songs she has written that have been recorded by artists like Miranda Lambert and Jason Aldean. She manages to be cute as a button and sassy at the same time. The new venue (located at the Bridges in Roanoke) was really cute and included cornhole boards, local food trucks, local breweries, and free Dr. Pepper.


Voyager by Diana Gabaldon - I recently finished the third book in the Outlander series and really preferred it to the second book, Dragonfly in Amber. For me, Voyager was faster-paced and held my attention better. In the "present" of 1968, time traveler Claire and her daughter Brianna are researching what happened to Bree's father, Jamie Fraser, after the Battle of Culloden. Alternately, we find out what Jamie has been up to in the twenty years since Claire left 18th century Scotland - hiding from the Redcoats, imprisoned and in servitude, and finally finding work as a printer - and traitor - in Edinburgh. Of course Claire goes back, but life with Jamie is never calm and happy for long, and soon they are bound for the West Indies, encountering pirates, magic rituals, and people they each thought they'd never see again. I can't wait to read Drums of Autumn, but I try to pace myself through this series because it's ruining my progress toward my 2015 reading goal (870 pages should really count as multiple books!).


Avengers: Age of Ultron 3D - As you know, I'm a total geek when it comes to comic book movies, so I was literally counting down the days to Age of Ultron. The movie tied in nicely to the preceding Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D episode, opening with the Avengers raiding a HYDRA base in Eastern Europe. In very quick succession they take out a lot of HYDRA operatives, show off some crazy motorcycle tricks, fight the Maximoff twins Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver, and retrieve Loki's staff. Back at Avengers tower, Tony Stark and Bruce Banner are keeping a secret from the rest of the team - an A.I. called Ultron that they can use Loki's scepter to bring to life. If you haven't been under a rock, you know that doesn't go well. While some of the film's beats are very similar to the first Avengers (a character we've just met falling victim to mind control, Steve Rogers' mistrust of the Science Bros) there's also some new ground (Hawkeye's secret family, Paul Bettany as Vision), plus Black Widow subverting the Damsel in Distress trope all over the place AND a Peggy Carter dream sequence. Ultron failed to be a really scary villain, in my opinion, but the idea of the Avengers creating their own enemies is an interesting one that hearkens back to the theme the first Iron Man movie.

Pitch Perfect 2 - Another movie that I've been looking forward to since the first trailer was released, since I've practically got the first one memorized. While I enjoyed the sequel from beginning to end, I didn't like it quite as much as the first movie - maybe my expectations were just too high.  I liked the introduction of Hailee Steinfeld as a legacy Bella and Benji's cute crush on her, Keegan-Michael Key as Beca's record-industry internship boss, Beca's rivalry with/girl crush on a scary German a capella lady, Fat Amy's courtship by Bumper, and Aubrey's post-college job running a team building camp (of course!). Some of the negatives for me were Chloe's ridiculous storyline (purposefully not graduating so she could stay a Bella - wouldn't she have been kicked out of school for failing three times?), no real development in Beca and Jesse's relationship, and all of the other returning Bellas getting the shaft, story-wise. Pitch Perfect 3 is already on deck, and I will definitely be watching.


Orange is the New Black - So I'm super lame and just started watching this bonkers show. The third season came out last night and I am so excited to continue my journey into the twisty world of Litchfield Penitentiary. I thought the Season 2 finale was perfect (Rosa!) and I'm going to try my best not to watch all of Season 3 at once! I want to read the book, as well, but y'all know my to-be-read pile is already about a mile long so it may be a while.

So You Think You Can Dance - Mary Murphy is gone, so no more Hot Tamale Train, but Paula Abdul and Jason Derulo (who I guess had no summer plans/wanted to make heart eyes at all the female contestants) have joined Nigel on the judging panel and this season there will be two teams: Travis Wall's Stage team and Twitch's Street team. Last week's tap-heavy auditions gave me hope. I'm not sure what I think of the "Stage vs. Street" setup (personally, if I was a good enough dancer to consider trying out, I would take EVERY DANCE CLASS IN TOWN to get ready), but I'm watching because it's SYTYCD.

MasterChef - The friendlier side of Gordon Ramsay is back, along with Graham Elliot and new judge Christina Tosi. I love following along with this show every summer and it inspires me to do more cooking. I don't have a favorite contestant yet but I did totally predict that this week's mystery ingredient was corn.

What Jean Likes