Thursday, July 30

travelogue: charleston, south carolina - part 1

When planning our vacation this summer, Mr. Q and I had several criteria: we wanted to visit a city we hadn't been to together before, I wanted to enjoy time at the beach, and Mr. Q needed it to be within a half day's drive. Charleston, South Carolina was the perfect spot to meet all of our criteria, and after reading several online travel guides (this one from Cosmos Mariners was probably the most helpful) and becoming a TripAdvisor addict, I couldn't wait for our trip to begin. Even though we live in the South, there's a huge cultural difference between the Blue Ridge Mountains and the Lowcountry!

We opted to stay in the town of Mount Pleasant, which is just over the beautiful Arthur Ravenel Jr. Bridge from Charleston - and by staying out of the city we saved about $100 per night! Mount Pleasant is a suburban area with plenty of grocery stores and restaurants, and it's right between Charleston and Sullivan's Island.

On our first full day in Charleston, we decided to explore the city. After a visit to the South Carolina Aquarium (more on that destination next week!), we headed down Calhoun Street to pay our respects at the Emanuel A.M.E. Church, which was the site of the tragic shooting last month. There were many church groups visiting as well as individuals and families leaving flowers (both real and woven from sweetgrass, a Gullah tradition) and signing the banner and wooden sign in front of the church. We had already begun planning our trip when the shooting occurred, and it was important to us to show the church some love while we were in Charleston.

We reached the historic Charleston City Market and walked through the many shops and kiosks that line the halls in the main building and several brick outbuildings, with vendors selling everything from pottery and sweetgrass baskets to Vera Bradley purses and Stetson hats. The market was much less crowded than, say, the Pike Place Market in Seattle, but much busier than our farmer's market stalls in Roanoke!

After lunch at a health-food and smoothie bar called Whisk, we kept walking south to the Four Corners of Law at the intersection of Meeting and Broad Streets, so named because the buildings on each corner represent federal, state, local and ecclesiastical law. Behind the Charleston County Courthouse is a beautiful garden that we had to check out!

The walk down Meeting Street from the City Market to the Battery and White Point Gardens took us into the French Quarter neighborhood and past some of the most beautiful Georgian buildings I've ever seen, dating back to the Colonial period and many painted bright candy colors.

In the French Quarter, many of the houses don't face the street! Instead, they face beautiful gardens and the porches have doors onto the street. We learned that this style of home is known as a "single house" because they are one room wide, and that when families left their porch door open it meant they were ready to welcome visitors.

We reached the Battery and White Point Gardens, and spent some much-needed time relaxing on a park bench beside a Union Army cannon and looking out into Charleston Harbor, where the Ashley and Cooper Rivers empty into the Atlantic Ocean. We could see Fort Sumter and Castle Pinckney in the distance and watched some folks who were having a sailboat race.

Walking back along the waterfront on East Bay Street, we passed The Old Exchange and Provost Dungeon and the most photographed buildings in Charleston, Rainbow Row.

It's a good thing Mr. Q enjoys photography because I demanded an outfit 
picture in front of this fountain! I paired my Papermoon blouse from Stitchfix 
with khaki shorts, my Old Navy bucket bag (similarand BareTraps sandals 
(similar) and it was the perfect travel outfit for the hot, humid day.

Our final stop on our tour of Charleston was the Waterfront Park, which is beautifully landscaped with plenty of palmetto trees and includes two fountains - one for kids to play in and this lovely pineapple! We found a swing to relax in while we watched stormclouds roll over the harbor. We had definitely fallen in love with the Holy City and were already planning our next visit.

Linking Up With:

Tuesday, July 28

literary junkies!

Pink Heels Pink Truck

1. What are you reading right now? Tell us about it. 

Despite having several Iranian-American friends in high school and college, I knew basically nothing about the Islamic Revolution until reading Marjane Satrapi's Persepolis in college. When I spotted Reading Lolita in Tehran by Azar Nafisi at a secondhand book sale, I recognized it from lots of recommended title lists. It's a memoir written by a literature teacher who attended college in America and returned to her home in Iran just as the revolution was beginning. After she took her first teaching job at the University of Tehran, Iran's laws became increasingly restrictive and eventually abusive toward women, and she was eventually forced to resign for refusing to wear a veil in the classroom. After the war with Iraq, an acquaintance convinces her to return to teaching, which she has missed terribly, although her more conservative students frequently challenge her choice of "decadent" novels like The Great Gatsby and Daisy Miller. She and a few of her most passionate female students decide to start their own book club, meeting on Thursday morning to discuss everything from Lolita to Pride and Prejudice, and along the way her "girls" become like daughters to her. The book really forced me to think about how dangerous fundamentalism can be when the lines of church and state are blurred and corrupted, and about how our perceptions of literature are shaped by our own backgrounds and experiences. I've added Professor Nafisi's syllabus to my TBR pile.

2. What book reminds you of summertime as a kid?

The Last Battle by C.S. Lewis - I finished my first reading of the Narnia books in the back of my parents' car while being taken to summer camp. When I got to the book's ending and realized, in a way my 11-year-old brain really couldn't put into words, that the whole series had been an allegory for God's kingdom, I started crying. My parents thought I was upset about going to camp and were ready to turn the car around until I explained as best I could that I was crying because my book made me so happy. They probably talked about what a weird kid they had after that.

3. What book did you have on your summer reading list that truly nailed it as a summer reading favorite?

I was surprised by how much I enjoyed The Madman's Daughter by Megan Shepherd - a really creepy novel inspired by H.G. Wells' The Island of Doctor Moreau, but then I remembered how much I loved Rebecca last summer. I'd downloaded it because it was a Kindle deal and had a cool name, and got completely sucked in to the main character's desire to find her father and her inherited obsession with scientific discovery, the isolated island and the two men she feels torn between. For some reason, I guess I need to counterbalance hot, sunny summer days with suspenseful Gothic mysteries?

4. Who is your favorite author and why? Give us your top recommendation by them. 

As an English major and teacher, there is no way I can choose one favorite author, so I'll narrow it down to one genre. My favorite YA author is Maggie Stiefvater - not just because of her books but because she has a great online presence and I got to meet her at a reading conference for teachers! Her Raven Cycle series is really popular right now and has developed a fandom, but my favorite Stiefvater book is the stand-alone The Scorpio Races, in which she takes the myth of the water horse and builds a whole world. It's full of action, romance, and amazing description (I use it as a mentor text in my class!), and has a very timeless quality that I think will make it a YA fantasy classic.

5. Fall Book Reading lists are starting to make their appearances. What are you excited to read that's being released this fall?

Never Always Sometimes by Adi Alsaid (August 4th)Best friends Dave and Julia were determined to never be cliché high school kids. They even wrote their own Never List of everything they vowed they'd never, ever do in high school.  Julia is beautiful, wild and impetuous. So when she suggests they do every Never on the list, Dave is happy to play along. 

This sounds like such a perfect back-to-school read - I love books about male/female best friendships and how complicated the can be, and the "Never List" is a fun concept.

Dream Things True by Marie Marquardt (September 1st) A modern-day Romeo and Juliet story in which a wealthy Southern boy falls in love with an undocumented Mexican girl and together they face perils when ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) begins raids on their town. 

I cannot resist a Shakespeare retelling, particularly Romeo and Juliet which is the play that started it all for me. This sounds like a really unique, creative twist on the familiar story.

Why Not Me? by Mindy Kaling (September 15th)Kaling shares her ongoing journey to find contentment and excitement in her adult life, whether it’s falling in love at work, seeking new friendships in lonely places, attempting to be the first person in history to lose weight without any behavior modification whatsoever, or most important, believing that you have a place in Hollywood when you’re constantly reminded that no one looks like you.

I love Mindy and I adored Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, so I'm sure her second collection of essays will be equally awesome.

Winter (The Lunar Chronicles #4) by Marissa Meyer (November 10th) - Princess Winter is admired by the Lunar people for her grace and kindness, despite the scars that mar her face, and despises her stepmother, Queen Levana. Together with the cyborg mechanic, Cinder, and her allies, Winter might even have the power to launch a revolution and find their happily ever afters.

The Lunar Chronicles is one of my favorite recent MG/YA series, so I'm very anxiously looking forward to the conclusion. I hope Meyer can tie up all the lose ends in a way that is satisfying but not too perfect or cheesy.

Monday, July 27

clicks of note: i believe we can...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • Thanks to Spotify, I'm in love with In the Valley Below's song "Dove Season." It's so unique I don't really know how to explain it... almost like what would happen if The xx teamed up with the Civil Wars. I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Friday, July 24

5 Fandom Friday - Fictional Vehicles!

5 Fandom Friday is a link-up hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. You can see the upcoming prompts here at the master post. This week's topic is Five Fictional Vehicles I'd Love To Travel In

Serenity (Firefly) - Like any good sci-fi cast, the crew of the Serenity becomes a family (that's basically the theme of the show and movie), and I absolutely love them. Plus, they get to have Western-style adventures like train heists on terraformed planets. 

Millenium Falcon (Star Wars) - As long as Han Solo is in the captain's seat and Chewie is at his side, I would feel safe going anywhere on the most recognizable spaceship in sci-fi. Added bonus: Batman might visit.

The Jolly Roger (Once Upon a Time) - Captain Hook is my favorite Once character, and the ship is a home, a status symbol, and his most precious possession - when he finally admitted that he sold it to get to Emma, it was basically his way of saying he loved her. The Jolly Roger is great for going through portals, avoiding dragons, and catching mermaids.

The Flying Ford Anglia (Harry Potter) - When the Weasleys show up at your window to rescue you in a flying car, you go with them. End of story, even if the car's flying abilities are questionable.

The Rampion (Lunar Chronicles) - Can a spaceship be cute? I think that in this case it can - it's described as a little round cargo ship with a scandalous lady painted on the side by Captain Thorne à la the Memphis Belle, its model name is a Rapunzel shout-out, and it's temporarily controlled by sassy android Iko. Really, I just want to hang out with Cinder, Kai, Thorne, Cress, Scarlet, and Wolf as they plan a revolution.

Coincidentally, last week Sploid posted an infographic comparing the traveling speeds of real and fictional spaceships. Which of these vehicles would you want to travel in? Are there any great ones I left out?

Thursday, July 23

who to follow on instagram: july 2015

One of my favorite things about Instagram is that as I scroll through my feed I can spot people and places all over the world - I love how connected we can all be thanks to technology and Instagram makes that connection feel very tangible. I may not be able to afford to travel to all seven continents, but I can get a taste of local color whenever I want, and knowing what's out there helps me build my dreams for future journeys. Here are a few accounts that have really been inspiring my wanderlust this summer.

humansofny - New York City's diverse population is precisely what makes photographer Brandon Stanton's project, which he describes as "daily glimpses into the lives of strangers" so interesting. His blog has over twelve million followers and has spawned two books, raised 1.4 million dollars for a Brooklyn school, and gotten the attention of Hilary Clinton. The corresponding Instagram feed is packed with stories of wisdom, sweetness, and heartbreak that remind us we're all human.

nellahelskini - Finnish blogger Nella's feed is full of beautiful pictures from her hikes in the Finnish countryside and travels around the world.

mattcrump - The self-proclaimed candy-colored minimalist photographer describes his signature style elements as "candy-colored negative space, surreal compositions, offbeat and Americana subjects, and an endless-summer vibe," so it's the perfect feed to check into when the actual weather is less than bright and sunny. His minimal shots of Disneyland and vintage signage are my favorite.

tinyatlasquarterly - Tiny Atlas Quarterly is a travel and lifestyle magazine and website dedicated to escapism and beautiful photography.

quiteheatherly - Heather Purdy Mobley is American photographer living in Madrid with her husband, who is a naval officer, and their cute poodle. Her Instagram feed is full of her gorgeous photography subjects and to die for road trips around Europe.

thelandmarkproject - This relatively new brand based in Greenville, South Carolina creates apparel and accessories inspired by classic American outdoor destinations (I love their Appalachian Trail and Blue Ridge Parkway designs!) and an adventurous lifestyle and helps sponsor under-resourced youth to discover life in the natural world through excursions. Their feed proves that they actually live the lifestyle they promote!

Are you on Instagram?  I'd love to follow you - 
maybe your feed will end up featured in a future post!
Leave your username in a comment to this post -
(you can follow me here). 

Wednesday, July 22

wedding wednesday: inspiration for a preppy navy wedding

I'm stuck on daydreams of preppy weddings this summer - not sure what's gotten into me. This week, I rounded up inspiration for a timeless, elegant navy blue wedding with fun modern patterns on the stationery (how cool would ikat programs be for summer?), the groomsmen's ties, the linens, and the cake table!

Isn't this embossed calligraphy gorgeous? I love that it's at an 
angle, so it's not too stuffy, while still maintaining a formal style.

Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography via Southern Weddings

Callie Davis of Nancy Ray Photography via Southern Weddings

Let's talk about these perfectly preppy navy bridesmaids dresses
and how I always swoon over groomsmen in gray suits.