Monday, August 31

clicks of note. everything to me.

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • Song for the week: Odessa Rose's "My Match."





Sunday, August 30

sunday simplicity.

“Summer was our best season: it was sleeping on the back screened porch in cots, or trying to sleep in the treehouse; summer was everything good to eat; it was a thousand colors in a parched landscape...” - Harper Lee

Friday, August 28

5 Fandom Friday: Real Life Geeks Who Inspire Me

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick, and I loved this week's topic, Real Life Geeks Who Inspire Me! The hard part was narrowing down the list. You can see the upcoming prompts here at the Female Geek Bloggers community.

Joss Whedon - This man definitely qualifies as a professional geek, and he's one of my writing idols because his style is just so uniquely Joss no matter what he's working on. Pretty much everything Joss writes, from Buffy to Firefly to the Avengers movies, is about the same thing: how, as we grow up, we create our own families. He's also a Shakespeare nerd who holds readings at his house with his favorite actor friends.

Bill Nye - Here's the thing: it takes a geek to love a subject so much that instead of seeking your own fame/glory/wealth/achievement in that field, you devote your life to teaching others about it. I don't believe I would have been as interested in science as a kid if not for Bill Nye, but thanks to him, science was something that was approachable and fun and all around me - and I ended up exceeding everyone's expectations for me and attending a math and science high school. I once read a letter he wrote in the 1990's about his hopes for our generation and it actually made me cry.

The entire staff of The Mary Sue - In a world where female geeks are accused of being "fake geek girls," a website that is all about the intersection of feminism and geekery is a necessity. Since several of the io9 writers are women as well, it's a good time to be a geeky lady on the Internet.

John and Hank Green - I was late to the vlogbrothers party - I must admit that I did not know what DFTBA stood for until after reading The Fault in our Stars. I love these guys because they are genuine, kind people putting a positive message out into the world every week.

Felicia Day - I feel like I was late to the Felicia Day party too, but I've loved this social media maven since I discovered her funny, sweet, geeky web series The Guild - and I'm not even a gamer. She's adorable and unapologetic about being a girl geek!

Thursday, August 27

Book Review: The Curiosity Keeper by Sarah E. Ladd

A good Regency romance usually has several standard elements: an emphasis on good manners and high society, activities Jane Austen would have been familiar with (carriage rides, dinners, garden walks), and a hint of mystery. Sarah E. Ladd's The Curiosity Keeper features a headstrong heroine and a humble gentleman navigating their class differences and a quest for a stolen ruby which takes them from the gritty, gaslit streets of London to the pastoral countryside. 

Camille Iverness was raised on her grandfather's country estate, but when her mother deserted her family to return to her native Portugal, Camille and her father returned to London, where together they ran a curiosity shop full of mysterious treasures valued by "collectors" - people like explorer and gambler Ian Gilchrist, whose mansion, Kettering Hall, houses a study packed with treasures. When the story opens, Ian has summoned his son, James, in the middle of the night: a precious family heirloom, the large rare ruby known as the Bevoy, is missing. When Ian and a family friend travel to London to investigate, they discover a crime in progress at the curiosity shop - the shop is being ransacked and Camille is being attacked. Concerned for Camille's safety, James finds her a position at a charity boarding school in the countryside town where he prefers working as an apothecary to lording over the estate he stands to inherit - if the ruby is found.

It took a few chapters for me to really get into The Curiosity Keeper, but I did enjoy following along with James and Camille as they searched for the missing ruby and became more and more intrigued by each other. Camille is not a typical Regency heroine - she prefers ancient art to drawing-room drama, and while she is kind, she isn't naive. Ladd creates a foil for Camille in James' sister, Penelope, whose dowry and social standing depend on the Bevoy being found. Rather than being a villain, Penelope's values are very much aligned with the society in which she was raised, in contrast with Camille's purer motives. Despite a few typographical errors, I found The Curiosity Keeper easy to read once I was engrossed in Camille's dilemma - to trust James, or to be loyal to a father who may cast her aside.

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.”

Wednesday, August 26

Transitional Style: Chambray

Chambray has been a huge trend in the fashion world for several seasons now, and I don't think it's going anywhere anytime soon. Denim's softer, gentler cousin (actually, the difference is all in how the fabrics are woven) is perfect for the transitional season as summer sandals and blouses give way to sweatshirts and tights, and chambray pieces can easily go from the workweek to the weekend.

Transitional Style: Chambray
1. J. Crew Factory dotted layered sweatshirt  2. Ruche midi skirt  3. Old Navy embroidered scalloped blouse  4. Sally Hansen XTreme Wear nail polish in "Babe Blue"  5. BC Footwear huarache sandals from Ruche  6. Yankee Candle "Crisp Morning Air"

What's your favorite way to make pieces work for multiple seasons?

Tuesday, August 25

literary junkies: august 2015

Pink Heels Pink Truck

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

I just started reading The Prince of Tides by Pat Conroy. It was available on Kindle Unlimited, and I knew it was set in the Lowcountry, so I snapped it up! All I know so far is that it's about a man who lives with his family on Sullivan's Island (I was just there a few weeks ago!) and is trying to overcome some childhood trauma that left him estranged from his parents.

2. What books have you just picked up lately?

I got I Am Malala on sale at Costco, The Astronaut Wives Club on sale at Barnes and Noble, and The Man Who Mistook His Wife for a HatUp the Down Staircase, and the first Poldark novel from Kindle Unlimited (I try to download at least two books a month on my Kindle to make the subscription worthwhile!)

3. Do you prefer to read one book at a time, or several at once?

I almost always have several books going at once - usually a literary, romance, or historical fiction novel that I'm reading at home, a YA book that I want to recommend to students in my classroom, and a nonfiction book or memoir to carry around and read in waiting rooms and such.

4. What makes you love a book?

For me, it's all about good characters - if I can't find at least one character in the story to love, I can't truly enjoy the book, no matter how well it's written.

5. This one is totally random but Fall is just around the corner and we want to know...what's your favorite cookbook?

If I'm being honest, I use Pinterest as a cookbook more than anything else! My mom got me Paula Deen's Southern Cooking Bible shortly after Mr. Q and I got married and I've used it quite a bit, as well as some well-loved fundraiser cookbooks that were hers in the 1970's and 80's and include some of my favorite recipes. I really want to try the Nom Nom Paleo cookbook because I'm trying to eat more real/whole foods in my quest to get healthy - I love Paula Deen, but she's not going to help me beat diabetes!

Monday, August 24

clicks of note.

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • I hope you all had a great weekend! I spent time with some of my best friends this weekend - one my childhood friend's husband threw her a surprise party with a bonfire on Friday night, and on Saturday Breeze and I had brunch downtown, wandered around the farmers' market, and ended up exploring the science museum. It was time well spent because I feel recharged and ready to take on another week.

  • Mat Kearney's new song "Air I Breathe" is so lovely - hear the whole thing and watch the lyrics video here. I'm linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Wednesday, August 19

travelogue: charleston, south carolina - part 4 - sullivan's island

My #1 criteria for our vacation spot this summer was that it had to have a beach. I needed the ocean. One of the reasons Charleston was so appealing was because it was surrounded by beaches - there's Seabrook Island (private and serene), Kiawah Island (pristine and luxurious), Folly Beach (young and eclectic), Isle of Palms (family friendly), and Sullivan's Island. Since we stayed in Mount Pleasant, we were right between Charleston's historic downtown and Sullivan's Island, and we visited the beach almost every night of our stay in the Lowcountry. From our first drive through the pastel houses Mount Pleasant's historic district and out to the island, we were in love.

My travel outfit: Ann Taylor tank, handmade necklace with 
charms from Michael's, and olive shorts. Love this color combo!

This beautiful coastline was our first taste of Sullivan's Island after arriving in Charleston - quiet, serene perfection. The island is just 3.3 square miles with more homes and rentals than businesses - Middle Street just a few blocks, is home to quirky restaurants like Taco Mamacita (which we loved) and the famous Poe's Tavern (Edgar Allan Poe was stationed at Fort Moultrie during his time in the Army).

Sullivan's Island has a vibe that reminds me of the Outer Banks - laid-back. One of the most interesting things we saw on one of our visits there was a group of volunteers working in shifts to monitor a sea turtle's nest.

Sullivan's Island offers a great view of the Charleston skyline and the Arthur Ravenel Jr. bridge, which connects downtown Charleston and Mount Pleasant.

Most of the beach houses on Sullivan's are quaint and unassuming - I think this one is my dream house! I love the tin roof and double porch but I'm pretty sure the string lights were what really did it for me.

A newer Sullivan's Island beach house - I loved the teal color and the construction is a modern take on traditional Charleston style, including the great plantation-style staircase.

A casual night out: T.J. Maxx lace tank, handmade tassel 
necklace, Jessica Simpson clutch, StitchFix striped skirt, 
and Old Navy flip flops to survive the sand!

On our last night in Charleston, we had dinner at Shem Creek Bar and Grill, which was highly recommended by friends. It's a local favorite and the seafood did not disappoint. Afterward, we headed over to Sullivan's for one last beach walk before saying goodbye to the Lowcountry.

Monday, August 17

clicks of note.

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • Best known for her time on the fourth season of The Voice, Michelle Chamuel released her first pop album this year. I discovered the title track, "Face the Fire" through Spotify and it's been on repeat ever since - let it be your girl-power anthem this week.




Sunday, August 16

sunday simplicity.

Place me like a seal over your heart, like a seal on your arm;
for love is as strong as death, its jealousy unyielding as the grave.
It burns like blazing fire, like a mighty flame.
Many waters cannot quench love; rivers cannot sweep it away.
If one were to give all the wealth of one’s house for love,
it would be utterly scorned.

- Song of Songs 8:6-7

Wednesday, August 12

travelogue: charleston, south carolina - part 3 - boone hall plantation

While planning our Charleston trip, many people recommended that we visit one of the historic plantations around the city. Since Mr. Q and I love learning about history, I started researching the different options. The most visited plantations seem to be Middleton Place,  which boasts 65 acres of landscaped gardens, a house built in 1755, and costumed interpreters, Magnolia Plantation, which features a house tour, America's largest Romantic-style garden, and an Audubon Swamp Garden, Drayton Hall, preserved by the National Trust, and Boone Hall, which is still a working farm. Want to hear my educated, intelligent, sophisticated reason for choosing Boone Hall as our destination?

It was used as Allie's family's summer home in The Notebook.

Not only is Boone Hall still a working farm, the owners, the McRae family, also own and operate a Farm Market and cafe on Route 17 near the plantation. We planned to visit the cafe for brunch before touring the plantation, and were so impressed by how clean and cozy the market and cafe were. I chose the signature sandwich and most Southern thing on the menu, a crab and pimento cheese melt with fried green tomatoes on whole wheat bread served with homemade kettle chips. Mr. Q had the barbecue sandwich, which he said was great, but I don't think you can beat the combo of shredded crab meat, spicy pimento cheese, and a fried green tomato with a glass of sweet tea!

Dressing for the heat at Boone Hall in my LOFT palm print tee (similar), 
basic denim bermudas, my Old Navy bucket bag (similar), BareTraps 
sandals (similar), and Ray-Ban Jackie Ohh sunglasses (similar).

The Avenue of Oaks, planted in 1743 by Major John Boone's son, was the inspiration for the road to Twelve Oaks in Gone With the Wind. Driving down this famous road really was a dreamy experience.

A list of all available activities for the day is posted at the plantation's entrance gate and there is a radio station visitors can tune to. It was nice to hear some introductory information as we drove down the Avenue of Oaks to the parking lot. We visited the Hospitality Center first, where a staff member signed us up for a 12:30 house tour and pointed out that a presentation about African-American Gullah culture, unique to the Lowcountry, begin at 1:15. We headed up to the house for our tour - right through the gate Ryan Gosling crashed his car into as Noah Calhoun! 

We toured the gardens before our house tour, which was led by a very knowledgeable guide in period costume. Although the house is not the original plantation house, it was constructed to help visitors learn about life in a planter family's house in Charleston during the the pre-Civil War period and the McRae family have been hosting tours since the 1950's. Since the house is still a private residence, only the first floor is open to the public and photography is not allowed indoors. The tour included the library, dining room, patio, and gun room, and our guide was a delightful young lady.

After our house tour, we toured the original slave cabins on the property -- there was a brickworks on the grounds so the nine "cabins" are actually brick houses -- and attended the Gullah Culture presentation. I appreciated that Boone Hall does not gloss over the history of slavery and that the slaves' stories are actually told by their descendants.

Afterward, we visited the polo ponies in their paddock, then headed over to the Butterfly Pavilion to see the flowers and butterflies and to board the motorized carriage for a tour of the Plantation and farm. Although at times the carriage tour felt like an extended commercial (Eat Boone Hall Farms produce! Visit the Boone Hall Farms Restaurant! Come in October for the corn maze! Have your wedding here!), we learned quite a bit about South Carolina history and agriculture. 

The property is beautifully maintained, even the farm fields, and the staff is very helpful and friendly. We really enjoyed our visit to Boone Hall Plantation.

Monday, August 10

clicks of note: and we'll all float on okay...

get your week off to a colorful start...


  • It's here - the first day of school in my district. I have 49 new names and teenage faces to learn and to learn to love. On stressful days, I find myself turning to "comfort music" - songs I know by heart and that never fail to make me happy. "Float On" definitely fits the bill because it takes me right back to college and blissful drives through the mountains on Route 29. I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Friday, August 7

5 Fandom Friday - Fictional Pets!

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick, and this topic was pretty irresistible: favorite fictional pets! You can see the upcoming prompts here at the Female Geek Bloggers community.

Woola (John Carter) - Woola is the best because even though he's an alien creature, he's also definitely a puppy.

Enzo (The Art of Racing in the Rain) - Enzo, on the other hand, is a dog who is way past puppyhood but is extremely intelligent and remembers everything about his life and the owner he loves. This book made me weep like a baby because I identified so much with the dog by the end of the story.

Hedwig (Harry Potter) - One of the greatest magical pets of all time.

Salem Saberhagen (Sabrina the Teenage Witch) - One of the other greatest magical pets of all time, even though much like Binx the cat in Hocus Pocus, he used to be a person. I love Binx, but Salem edges him out because of sarcasm. Pretty sure I had a Salem the Cat Tamagotchi in middle school.

Rajah (Aladdin) - A big cat who acts like a pet cat? The best of both worlds! Out of all the Disney animal sidekicks, Rajah is my absolute favorite - I was in third grade when the movie came out and our multi-age team that year was called the Tigers, so Rajah became our instant mascot.

Thursday, August 6

midsummer according to instagram.

Here's what I've been up to lately via IG. I participated in several
Instagram style challenges this month... if you haven't seen them,
they are monthly calendars created by fashion bloggers with prompts
for each day's outfit. My reasoning: having some inspiration would
keep me from staying in my PJ's or gym clothes all summer! It
worked, and I had a lot of fun creating new outfits.

My cousin's college graduation was held at the beautiful
Jefferson Center (which was a high school in its former
life) in Roanoke. / Summer brights and a quirky color combo
(coral, gold, and purple) featuring my fave J. Crew tee

Nautical-inspired with an Old Navy pointelle sweater, Lia
Sophia jewelry and Lily & Laura bracelet / My garden in bloom

World's easiest craft: buy tassels and lobster clasps at Michaels
and add tassels to all your stuff! / Baseball inspired: how about
the NCAA National Champions! Go Wahoos!

In addition to being great practice shooting in macro mode,
I think this teeny tiny grasshopper was a reminder to
stop and appreciate the little things on a day that I was
really suffering with depression / Black and white, mixed
prints and a color pop all in one outfit

Remixing my favorite shorts and a bright Target tee with a
necklace my college roommate brought back from Kenya /
Lunch at Whisk in downtown Charleston aka my dream kitchen

Gorgeous sunset over Charleston as seen from Sullivan's Island /
Blue and teal with my favorite charm necklace from LOFT


Jeans and J. Crew jewels for a dentist's appointment (ugh) /
Neon flowers blooming on the patio make me smile


A Monarch butterfly in the garden at Boone Hall Plantation in
Mount Pleasant, South Carolina / Back from vacation in a new
J. Crew fruit salad tank and DIY tassel necklace (obsessed)

What are you up to this summer? Follow me on Instagram here.