Thursday, March 31

lately in entertainment.

lately in entertainment - february/march 2016


Elton John at John Paul Jones Arena - I think one of the greatest privileges of being an adult is being able to do wonderful things for my mom, since she has basically devoted half of her life to me. I've been on a quest for the past couple of years to make sure that my mom gets to see every single artist and band on her concert "bucket list." When my mom was my age she worked in a bank and she and her best work friend had Elton John posters on the inside of their office, so it was a no-brainer that I had to get tickets when I heard Elton and his band were coming to Roanoke. I knew I wanted to include my cousin who's like a sister to me, too, since she and I had so much fun at the Fleetwood Mac concert we went to last year. Unfortunately I forgot that tickets went on sale until about halfway through my planning period on the day they were released, and Roanoke had sold out really, really fast. Google to the rescue - I knew the next show would probably be close, and it was - it's hard to beat JPJ as a concert venue, and this way we got to have a little family girls' trip! It turned out that Sir Elton had the flu, and he explained when he welcomed the audience that we "might hear some strange notes," but that he didn't want to cancel the show. Despite the fact that there was probably less interaction with the audience than there would have been had he felt better, Elton and the band put on an amazing show. They played all of our favorites: Leslie's = "Funeral for a Friend/Love Lies Bleeding," mine = "Bennie and the Jets," "Tiny Dancer," and "Goodbye Yellow Brick Road" and Mom's = "I'm Still Standing" and "Daniel," as well as some new songs ("Looking Up" and "A Good Heart" are both great).


Crown of Midnight and Heir of Fire by Sarah J. Maas - After Throne of Glass, I had to have more Calaena Sardothien in my life. Crown of Midnight builds on the dark intrigue of the first book - now that Calaena is Champion to an evil king, she has to keep up the premise that she is assassinating his enemies while actually investigating the conspiracy surrounding him. When she is asked to target a former ally, she puts everyone she loves and the happiness she has found in danger as she delays completing her assignment. Meanwhile, Chaol, the Captain of the Guard, tries to protect Celaena by not sharing information that would hurt her. Both of their choices have devastating consequences. In Heir of Fire, Celaena travels away from the glass castle and her friends to seek answers about her past. The focus in point of view shifts much more frequently, and Maas introduces a new main character, Manon, a ruthless witch. I read a lot of the third book out of sequence because I would get caught up in one thread of the story - Celaena's training with a brooding Fae warrior, Dorian falling in love with the castle apothecary, or Manon training a wyvern to be her new mount for flying. Whereas Throne of Glass was mainly historical-flavored adventure with a whisper of magic, Heir of Fire is full-blown high fantasy. I'm looking forward to reading Queen of Shadows soon.

A Girl's Guide to Moving On by Debbie Macomber - All I knew about Debbie Macomber before reading this book, which I received from NetGalley, was that several of her books have been made into Hallmark movies. A Girl's Guide to Moving On follows two "girls" as they take back their lives. Leanne and her daughter-in-law, Nichole, seemed to have picture perfect, country-club lives in Portland - except for the fact that Leanne's husband, Sean, has been unfaithful to her for years and her son Jake followed suit. When Nichole files for divorce, Leanne finds the courage to do the same, and they find apartments in the same building. Serving as each others' support system, they make a list of survival strategies that include getting involved in their community, cultivating new friendships, and letting go in order to receive. They forge such a close and true mother-daughter relationship that I couldn't help being reminded of Naomi and Ruth. Both find themselves opening their hearts again, much to the chagrin of their ex-husbands - Nichole to a down-to-earth tow-truck driver Jake views with contempt, and Leanne with a charming baker from the ESL class she teaches, which of course makes Sean's blood boil. I was rooting for each of these women to find freedom and happiness.

Tell the Wind and Fire by Sarah Rees Brennan - I originally fell in love with Sarah Rees Brennan through her Livejournal years ago (I'm showing my age here), and enjoyed reading her Demon's Lexicon series (back then there was this weird sense of hipster "I liked this author before she was cool" pride when authors you followed on LJ finally got published). Tell the Wind and Fire is a standalone, rather than a series. Tell the Wind and Fire was inspired by A Tale of Two Cities (which I'll admit I haven't read, #Englishmajorfail), and this book's two cities are divided by the light and dark sides of the magic which powers their world. The main character, Lucie, is a folk hero raised in the Dark who "made the decision long ago: better to be safe than good." After her mother's terrible death in the dark city, she and her father were able to find a home with friends in the Light, and Lucie fell in love with a boy who happens to be a son from the most powerful Light family in the city. Her boyfriend, Ethan, has a dark secret of his own, and his family is all too happy to use his connection to Lucie to boost their reputation in the public eye. When her decision to trust a stranger from the Dark puts Ethan's life in danger, Lucie has to rely on her wits to save him, and as revolution takes hold in the Light city, Lucie has to decide where she stands. This was a quick, addicting read filled with beautiful prose, but I'd recommending starting with The Demon's Lexicon if you want a real taste of what Sarah Rees Brennan is capable of writing.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received ARCs of A Girl's Guide to Moving on and Tell The Wind and Fire free from the publisher through NetGalley. 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, March 30

Pinspiration: Let's get away...

One of the shades I'm loving for my spring wardrobe is the perfect tan Pantone calls "iced coffee." Fashion has taken on a 70's vibe this year which lends itself perfectly to my dreams of someday driving alongside the California coast with Joni Mitchell on the stereo... happy Spring Break, y'all!

Tuesday, March 29

literary junkies - march 2016.

Pink Heels Pink Truck

Here are this month's questions:

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

I just finished reading Facing the Lion: Growing Up Maasai on the African Savanna by Joseph Lemasolai Lekuton, which was a new addition to our school library's nonfiction section. I can't stop telling people about it because I learned so much! Joseph's tribe is a minority group in Kenya, where most people live what we would consider modern lives (like my college roommate, Njeri!). The Maasai are nomadic and adhere to traditional gender roles in which the women build houses and take care of children and the men care for livestock, hunt, and train as warriors. When Joseph was six, the Kenyan government passed a law that each Maasai family had to send at least one child to school - Joseph's family couldn't spare their older sons, who were needed to care for the cattle, but he wanted to go to school so badly that he convinced the school officials he was eight, the minimum age. He took to school quickly and found his passion in playing soccer. Being challenged to win a game by the President of Kenya turned out to be the gateway to a college education in America. All the while, Joseph straddled being a child of two worlds - flying to New York on airplanes which confounded his parents and participating in tribal manhood rituals his teachers and classmates didn't understand. Today, he works as a teacher in northern Virginia and works to help preserve tribal traditions in Kenya while improving the quality of life and education for children there.

2. If you could visit any book setting, which would you choose and why?

Could I give any answer but Hogwarts here? It is, after all, my literary second home. I'd love to see the cozy Hufflepuff common room, stroll through the greenhouses, visit the library, and eat a feast in the Great Hall! 

Realistically, I've wanted to take a literary trip to London since college! Not only is it full of Harry Potter locations, I want to visit Notting Hill, tour places associated with Jane Austen's life and books, see a play in Shakespeare's Globe Theater, and pay my respects to Geoffery Chaucer at Westminster Abbey.

3. If you could sit down with any book character, who would it by and what would you ask them?

I'd want to sit down with Alba, Henry and Clare's daughter from The Time Traveler's Wife, and ask her about her experiences in the past and present and how she controls what destinations she'll end up in. Time travel has always been the most fascinating fictional power/ability to me.

4. If you wrote a memoir and it was turned into a movie, what actor or actress would play you?

Since I'm not 100% white it's really hard to see myself in Hollywood actresses. She's older than me, but as a kid people were constantly telling me I looked like Winnie from The Wonder Years (Danica McKellar). The only other actress who I think I look remotely like is Ginnifer Goodwin. She is closer to 30 and would also be awesome, and I'm pretty sure she could sound like me since she's from Tennessee - plus, she's got a built-in younger version, Bailee Madison, who plays young Snow White on Once Upon a Time.

5. What have you recently added to your to-be-read list that you are completely excited to pick up next??

I just picked up Patrick Ness' The Rest of Us Just Live Here from the library - I've heard it's delightful. It's about people like Xander in Buffy - all of the sidekicks and best friends in worlds where magic and superpowers are part of everyday life. The blurb on Goodreads says, "What if you aren’t the Chosen One? The one who’s supposed to fight the zombies, or the soul-eating ghosts, or whatever the heck this new thing is, with the blue lights and the death? What if you’re like Mikey? Who just wants to graduate and go to prom and maybe finally work up the courage to ask Henna out before someone goes and blows up the high school. Again." It's a very clever premise, and I already know Ness is an awesome writer, so I hope it'll live up to my expectations.

What have you been reading lately? Come link up with us at 

Monday, March 28

this week's clicks: Spring Breakin'

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • My favorite part of Spotify is definitely the "Discover Weekly" playlist that generates a list of songs based on what I'm listening to and liking. Aren't algorithms cool? This week, one of my favorites from the list was Firekid's "Lay By Me" - how sweet are these lyrics?




Sunday, March 27

sunday simplicity.

As the deer panteth for the water
So my soul longeth after Thee
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee

You alone are my strength, my shield
To You alone may my spirit yield
You alone are my heart's desire
And I long to worship Thee
- Martin Nystrom

Friday, March 25

#5FandomFriday - Make-Up Friday - Geeky Clothing and Accessories I Need

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week, our prompt is "favorite stores to get geeky wears/wares." My answers to that question were very boring... um, Barnes and Noble? Campus bookstores? Instead, I'm revisiting an early prompt I missed - Geeky Clothing Items I Need Want In My Life.

1. Uhura's earrings - In the new Star Trek movies, Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) accessorizes her Starfleet uniform with Alexis Bittar earrings that look suitably futuristic. I've been obsessed with these for a while now - such a subtle bit of geekery!

2. Sunnydale tee - Another subtle way to participate in fandom - anyone who's a Buffy fan would instantly recognize and appreciate this Sunnydale tee from Redbubble, anyone else will just think it's a high school they've never heard of.

3. Marauder's Map shoes - I'm not sure if I've ever shopped at Hot Topic, and I totally missed the point when it shifted from being a Goth kid store to a haven for geeks! These Harry Potter Marauder's Map sneakers are amazing.

4. Empire Strikes Back tank - Junk Food has a great collection of Star Wars tees, and this tank is so retro and cool. I would wear it to the gym, around town, and probably even try wearing it with a cardigan to school.

5. Raven Boys tee - Emgrav is a Society6 designer who creates quirky art based on Maggie Stiefvater's Raven Cycle books, and this tee is my favorite - each of the sketches represents something significant from the story, and it somehow manages to be creepy and cute at the same time (just like Blue Sargent's life).

What geeky items are on your wish list? What are the
geekiest things in your closet or jewelry box right now?

Wednesday, March 23

[the circle] spring break: loss and reunion.

This month's theme for The Circle link-up hosted by Kiki from In Its Time is Spring Break Plans. As a teacher, I'm part of the minority of lucky adults who still get an official spring break, and mine is next week, so this prompt was very timely.

I haven't written about it on the blog yet, but we suffered a loss in our family earlier this month. Mr. Q's beloved Nana passed away peacefully after developing Altzheimers several years ago. I consider myself very lucky that I had the opportunity to meet and get to know Nana before the disease took hold and even share some time in her favorite place, the Outer Banks of North Carolina, on a family vacation. Due to the nature of Altzheimers we were able to grieve together when she still understood that she was ill, which was a unique experience, and it's so comforting to be certain that she is no longer suffering. She and her husband wrote out specific plans that made her wishes very clear. She did not want a funeral or memorial service; instead, she wanted a celebration of music with wine, music, and dancing - she even specified the songs she wanted us to sing! My Spring Break will begin on Friday evening with a celebration in Nana's honor. Since she loved the beach, we are going to have sand and seashells on the table and give her closest friend lighthouses from her collection. I'm sure that tears will be shed, but I know we'll feel a sense of closure. 

I'll also have the opportunity to reunite with my dearest college friends, my sisters from the Christian fellowship I was a member of (IVCF), over break. My beautiful graphic designer friend will be shaving her head (so bold!) for the St. Baldrick's Foundation, which supports research to find cures for childhood cancers. I can't wait to spend time with those girls - they always lift me up, and visiting Charlottesville will feel like a mini vacation even though it's only a few hours from home!

What are your Spring Break plans? Link up with us!


Tuesday, March 22

Pinspiration: The Dramatic Side of Rose Quartz

Now that everyone has had a little time to adjust to Pantone choosing two Colors of the Year for 2016 (seriously, it was apparently a huge deal in design circles), I'm still finding myself much more drawn to Rose Quartz. I've shared some inspiration featuring the sweet side of Rose Quartz already, so today I'm turning the tables with some Pinspiration that puts a dramatic spin on this color trend that blends mauve, blush, and rose gold. 

Monday, March 21

this week's clicks: Hippity Hoppity

get your week off to a colorful start..
  • The Paper Kites' "Featherstone" is airy, peaceful, calming, and exactly what I need this week - and the video reminds me of Where the Wild Things Are. Things are finally looking up, I think.



Sunday, March 20

sunday simplicity

"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor:
If either of them falls down, one can help the other up.
But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.
Also, if two lie down together, they will keep warm. But how can one keep warm alone?
Though one may be overpowered, two can defend themselves.
A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."

- Ecclesiastes 4:9-12

Friday, March 18

#5FandomFriday: Geeky Tattoos I'd Want to Have*

*If I wasn't terribly afraid of the pain.

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week, I'm rounding up Geeky Tattoos I'd Want to Have. Maybe one day I'll actually be brave enough to make one of these a reality!

1. A quill pen - If I was to get a tattoo, the most likely choice is a feather. My maiden name led to my dad and I having nicknames of "Bird" and "Birdy," my online alias has been "heatherbird" since the 1990's, and since I'm part Native American, feathers are also culturally significant to my family. I love the beach, so a seagull feather would be a nice touch. Since I'm a writer and English teacher, a quill pen gives the feather another dimension and turns it into a Harry Potter reference! Oh, and who has two giant feather tattoos by Kat Von D? Just my spirit animal, Dave Grohl.

2. "I Know My Value." - Agent Peggy Cater is my everything right now (my Halloween costume is STILL my Facebook profile picture) and I'd love to see a tattoo of her most famous line in a pretty script on someone's ribcage or bicep (the temporary version shown here is pretty sweet!).

3. Something Once Upon a Time related - I loved reading Peter Pan when I was young, and I've fallen head over heels in love with Once Upon a Time - it reminds me why I loved stories so much as a child and how important hope is in our lives. I'm also a total Captain Swan shipper, so I love both of these sweet little tattoo ideas.

4. A 4-leaf clover - Not necessarily geeky, but definitely nerdy. This is another symbol that has multiple meanings for me; I've been a 4-H member since I was nine, my birthstone is the emerald, and my first time traveling away from my parents (and first trip on an airplane) was when I spent two weeks in Ireland to study literature. I also have an Irish married name and love my family so very much. I think a tiny emerald green clover tattoo would be lovely.

5. A coffee spoon - It's about to get really nerdy up in here - in high school, the poem "The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock" by T.S. Eliot pretty much blew my mind (modernism can have that effect on a sheltered Southwest Virginia girl). In time, the "coffee spoons" in the poem came to represent the part of me that tends toward being a control freak and not taking chances, so the next logical step was to take that symbolism a step further by getting a coffee spoon tattoo. Until my mom told me people might think I was a heroin addict. True story. Thanks for crushing my youthful rebellion and saving me from potentially awkward situations later in life, Mom.

Do you have any geeky tattoos? I'd love to see them!

Tuesday, March 15

spring reading challenge ideas and recommendations

I've read fifteen books so far in 2016 and feel like my love of reading for pleasure has been re-ignited by reading a wide variety books. Reading challenges really help me mix it up and avoid falling into a reading rut or getting series fatigue! Here are a few books that are on my to-be-read list this spring, and a few spring break reading recommendations for you (titles link to Goodreads), inspired by my favorite challenges.

From The Modern Mrs. Darcy's 2016 Reading ChallengeA book you should have read in school

  • My pick: A Tree Grows in Brooklyn by Betty Smith - As an English major, I often felt like I was the only one who hadn't read this novel in high school; it seems to be part of so many readers' lists of favorites.
  • My recommendation: Antigone by Sophocles - We read this play in tenth grade English and it was A Moment for me. I love that waaaaay back in Ancient Greece, Sophocles was writing about a strong, powerful woman, but the character who really mattered to me in high school was Ismene, Antigone's meek sister who must decide whether to follow tradition, follow her sisters' lead, or forge her own path.

From Popsugar's 2016 Ultimate Reading ChallengeA book set in Europe

  • My pick: All the Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr - This book set during World War II was on all the must-reads last year, was a NYT best seller, and won the Pulitzer Prize. The plot, about a WINNER OF THE PULITZER PRIZE blind French girl and an orphaned German boy working for the Nazis, sounds intriguing. 
  • My recommendation: Between Shades of Gray by Ruta Sepetys - It amazes me that I've studied World War II for years now and there are always stories and aspects of that span of time that I realize I know almost nothing about; this YA historical fiction novel is about a Lithuanian family sent to a work camp in Siberia under Stalin's orders. It is a heartbreaking book and a favorite among librarians, teachers, and students at my school.

From Stxrybooks' 2016 Reading ChallengeA book with a character that is similar to you

  • My pick: The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate by Jacqueline Kelly - I put out a call for books featuring characters like me on Facebook and my friend Marci, a librarian I've known since sixth grade, said Calpurnia's a lot like me when I was younger - a girl who loves nature, learning, and her family. I'm really looking forward to this one.
  • My recommendation: The Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich - I think the reason I'm so addicted to this mystery series is because Stephanie Plum is such a real woman - she'd rather have Twinkies than a salad, her family drives her crazy, she's comfiest in jeans and a t-shirt, and she knows her attraction to bad boys is no good for her. It's so much fun to read about a lady who's kick-ass in her own way, not because she's a superspy but because she trusts her gut.

From Worthington Ave.'s 2016 Reading ListA book that's becoming a movie this year

  • My pick: Me Before You by Jojo Moyes - The trailer for the film based on this book makes it look heartwrenching and amazing.
  • My recommendation: A Monster Calls by Patrick Ness - We added this novel to our eighth grade curriculum after one of my colleagues fell in love with it and realized it would fill a big "magical realism" gap in our collection. Conor's mother has cancer, he's being mercilessly bullied at school, his father is basically absent from his life, and he's been sent to live with his overbearing grandmother. When the yew tree in his backyard comes to life on a nightly basis, Conor doesn't know whether to be terrified or vindicated. Liam Neeson is going to be the voice of the monster in the movie, and I can't wait!
What are you looking forward to reading this spring? You can see 

Monday, March 14

this week's clicks: Sláinte!

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • Happy St. Patrick's Day week! Last week was absolutely awful, so I'm hoping the luck of the Irish will turn things around - my Irish last name counts, right? This weekend (if I survive administering a 2-day standardized test on Wednesday and Thursday), I'm going to see Elton John with my mom and cousin, so music is my lifeline this week. I recently included Lianna La Havas in my roundup of favorite Oscars outfits, and I absolutely love her track "What You Don't Do."




Sunday, March 13

sunday simplicity

“Love is its own eternity. Love is in every 
moment of its being: all time. It is the only 
glimpse we are permitted of what eternity is.”
― Thornton Wilder, The Ides of March

Friday, March 11

#5FandomFriday: Favorite Fictional Foods

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week, I'm rounding up fictional foods I would love to try!

1. Butterbeer from Harry Potter

J.K. Rowling is so, so good at writing about food that reading the dining hall scenes at Hogwarts always made me need to take a kitchen break. Of all the magical things the characters enjoy, the one that seems to inspire the purest elation is butterbeer. I know that Universal Studios serves their own version of the treat, and some people think Starbucks' new butterscotch creations are the closest we Muggles may get to the real thing.

2. November cakes from The Scorpio Races by Maggie Steifvater

One of the many reasons Maggie is my favorite YA author: when she decided to invent a special roll that the denizens of her fictional Celtic island, Thisby, bake to celebrate the annual super-deadly water horse race, she felt like she actually had to bake them , and took it upon herself to create a recipe. That is some next-level universe building right there.

3. Rey's bread from Star Wars: The Force Awakens

Science fiction foods get me every time, especially for their usually instant nature - I was also kind of obsessed with all of the different dehydrated meals Tally had in Scott Westerfeld's Uglies series. In The Force Awakens, Rey's bread was a practical effect accomplished with a balloon, but the folks at Star Wars have come up with a recipe that apparently comes close to instant bread and has an appropriately unappetizing shade of green.

4. Abby's Caf-Pows from NCIS

Sure, a Caf-Pow is just the NCIS universe's version of a Big Gulp from 7-11, but it is also the magical fuel that helps Abby Sciuto solve crimes! Imagine how much I would get done in a day with Caf-Pow running through my veins!

5. Coffee of Doom's specials from Questionable Content

I've been reading this webcomic since college - it's cute and I like the characters - and one of the best running gags Jeph Jacques includes are really strange specials on the chalkboard at the coffee shop. A recent strip featured Earl Grey tea that made Bubbles (who is an AI and can only smell tea) see a unicorn. Totally normal in QC-land.

Thursday, March 10

Pinspiration: Luck of the Irish...

What I'm loving right now...

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username in the comments! You can follow me here.