Monday, April 25

this week's clicks: all we need is a roof and a warm place...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • The sun has finally come out in southwest Virginia, so I'm filling my playlist with upbeat, springy music perfect for warm days, like Little Brutes' "Make Our Own Way."




Sunday, April 17

Wednesday, April 13

wedding wednesday: spring table number ideas.

Since my last post on creative table number ideas was posted two years ago, I wanted to take a look at current trends that savvy brides and party planners are drawing on to help their guests find a spot to sit! While I know not everyone is a fan of numbered tables at events, as a person with anxiety, I personally love knowing exactly where to go and being able to avoid that middle school lunchroom feeling. Table numbers (or names) can also be a great way to tie in the theme of the event or add a subtle nod to the couples' or hosts' interests.

Garden-inspired elements will always be popular for spring events, and this mock table setting from Pressed Cotton (via Snippet + Ink) cleverly uses a twisted fork (perhaps from a flea market or thrift shop) to hold a simple printed card that complements the fresh white linens and greenery of the centerpieces. If this style is too simple, a printed bee or floral design would be a nice element, but with an embroidered tablecloth and textured elements already on the table I think the simple number is breath of fresh air.

Some simple but creative takes on a garden theme: a metal marker and a painted lantern. These ideas could be easily adapted for a smaller event by using plant markers with a fun quote, or using gold Sharpie to write a favorite song lyric or birthday year on lantern glass.

A vinyl number on a sparkling-clean carafe adds a modern touch to a traditional tablescape from Life in Bloom.

Hand-painted table numbers go from romantic to bohemian depending on how they're paired with other design features.

A vinyl number on a vintage lightbulb lends an industrial touch to a rustic wedding - this is an idea I'd never have had in a million years, but I love it.

Another industrial-inspired touch paired with a classic centerpiece: this stenciled number on wood lends a rustic look.

Finally, I adore this whimsical carved table number paired with mercury glass and pink roses.

What's your take on table numbers - are they
the mark of a pushy host, or a punch of personality?

Tuesday, April 12

Pinspiration: The Sweet Side of Serenity

My main color inspiration so far this season has been Rose Quartz, but let's not forget that Pantone named TWO Colors of the Year for 2016, both perfect for spring. This year's most popular shade of blue, Serenity, is romantic, soft, and cool.

Saturday, April 9

#5FandomFriday: Make-Up Friday - 5 Songs that Changed My Life

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week, I'm revisiting another early prompt I missed - 5 Songs that Changed My Life. Music is the one thing I've truly been a geek about since childhood - my parents were teenagers in the 1950's and I was raised on their rock music. My dad had been a drummer and my mom was a total fangirl. I grew up in the dance studio, where instead of making music myself I interpreted it and used it to tell stories. Some of my very best friendships have been forged because of music, and in college I made a promise to myself to see as much live music as possible - I budget around concerts instead of the other way around! When I met Mr. Q, one of the first things we connected about was music, and his family is very musical as well. 

My mama loves, she loves me
She gets down on her knees and hugs me
She loves me like a rock
She rocks me like the rock of ages
And she loves me

Paul Simon, "Loves Me Like a Rock" - I don't even remember falling in love with this song, but my mom was constantly playing her Here Comes Rhymin' Simon album on our record player and little toddler me learned all the words, so it became my parents' party trick to trot me out and get me to sing the song to their friends. My mom really is my best friend and to this day she signs cards and letter to me "love you like a rock."

The Beatles, "I Am the Walrus" - I was in fifth grade when The Beatles Anthology aired on television, and my Beatle-loving mama watched every installment. I'd always heard the Beatles in the background of my life, but never put two and two together and realized that all those amazing songs were the same band until watching Anthology. I distinctly remember seeing the clip from the "Walrus" video and thinking how cool it was that the Beatles could be so weird, creative, and beloved at the same time. I became a little hippie kid, which got me bullied throughout middle school, and never looked back. When I finally got to see Paul McCartney this past summer, it was an almost religious experience for me and I found myself weeping with happiness.

NSYNC, "I Want You Back" - Until middle school, with the exception of Mariah Carey, I didn't really listen to pop music - it was oldies and country all the way. When NSYNC came along, I think I truly became a teenager - Teen Beat posters on my bedroom wall, calling the radio station from sleepovers to request a song, standing in line to get the new CDs as they came out, and even wearing a "Justin" charm bracelet. I felt like my mom's Beatlemania finally made sense to me when I went to my first NSYNC concert and felt completely ecstatic, screaming from the back rows and truly believing they could hear me from the stage.

My daddy turned his face up towards the sky
And I knew that there was nothing to lose
I felt the crowd breathe in and I closed my eyes
And we disappeared into the groove

Marc Broussard, "Home" - When I was a first-year college student we had a "coffee house" that brought up-and-coming musical artists to perform in the first year dorms. The head of the council that chose the acts was from Louisiana and her personal victory was bringing Marc Broussard to the lounge. It was love at first listen and meeting, and I got to see him live again a few years later in a local club. I also met one of my best online friends, Micah from Unabashedly Me, through our mutual Marc fandom!

So tell me what you want to hear
Something that will light those ears
Sick of all the insincere
So I'm gonna give all my secrets away

OneRepublic, "Secrets" - Okay, this song didn't really change my life, but was the background music for a life-changing moment. Right after we got engaged, Mr. Q and I went out to dinner to celebrate and this song was playing in the restaurant. I remember listening to the lyrics and thinking, yes, this is right.

Thursday, April 7

lately in instagram.

It's been a while since I recapped my life's happenings and
wanderings through the lens of Instagram! Here's what
I've been up to since the winter holidays...

Fun around Roanoke: the annual "Guns and Hoses" hockey
game between local law enforcement and firemen, and
ice skating on the new outdoor rink in Elmwood Park.

Happy mail from Germany and fun with friends

Snow day opportunities to find peace and take things slow
(and make this colorful, healthy salad from Not Without Salt)

Valentine's Day sweets - Voting in the Virginia primary

Busy teacher - In March I had the opportunity to visit a local
magnet school with co-taught classes and a working barn!

Best necklace ever, a gift from my coworker - My family

Easter selfie in the church parking lot + VIP seating

Spring break lunch date with Mr. Q + visiting Grounds 
with my favorite girls (totally stole this picture!)

Are you on Instagram? Let's be friends - you can follow me here.
{Linking Up with Weekend Snapshots at Her Heartland Soul}

Tuesday, April 5

Book Reviews: For the Love and Breaking Busy

I often paraphrase one of my YA literature heroes, Sharon Draper, in saying that my job as a teacher is to get "the right book into the hands of the right kid at the right time." I'm not sure if BookLook Bloggers sees their goal as getting the right book into my hands at the right time, but they have definitely done just that lately. The end of 2015 was rough for me, mentally, physically, emotionally, and spiritually. This year, I've been making my own well-being a priority - I can't teach or serve others in any capacity if I'm broken by own perfectionism and business. Since this mission is at the center of my heart these days, I was drawn to read For the Love and Breaking Busy, and as I read these two books, I felt like Jen Hatmaker and Alli Worthington were writing them for me.

For the Love: Fighting for Grace in a World of Impossible Standards by Jen Hatmaker

Jen Hatmaker's For the Love is a collection of essays about how Jen, and Christian women in general relate to themselves, their families, and their communities. As Jen points out in the first chapter, a lot of us feel like we're coming up short: bombarded with images of perfect birthday parties and dinners and outfits and workout routines, "We no longer assess our lives with any accuracy. We have lost the ability to declare a job well-done. We measure our performance against an invented standard and come up wanting, and it is destroying our joy." I was reminded of Amy Poehler's "Good for her! Not for me" mantra when Jen compares finding balance in her life to her daughter's gymnastics balance beam: things that give her life, like cooking (she includes recipes in the book!), sit down dinners, and writing, are "on the beam." Things that would drain her dry, like web management, being classroom mom, or scheduling every appointment she's invited to, get to be "off the beam." While the chapters about parenting weren't 100% relevant to my current season in life, I absolutely loved the essay in which Jen addresses each of her children one by one, exhorting their strengths and outlining her dreams for them.

Early in the book, Jen addresses "the difference between the gospel and the American evangelical version of the gospel." As she puts it, "sometimes my portrayal of God's ways sounds suspiciously like the American Dream and I had better check myself." Her new benchmark is, "If it isn't also true for a poor single Christian mom in Haiti, it isn't true." By applying this standard to familiar American evangelical topics like the prosperity gospel, complementarianism, and our focus on finding a "calling" in life, Jen shows how our focus needs to shift to living a worthy life - "loving as loved folks do, sharing the ridiculous mercy God spoiled us with first." As these essays, by turns serious and laugh-out-loud hilarious (leggings-as-pants and Netflix find their way to Jen's crosshairs), show, we are often so focused on a false ideal of perfection that we forget the importance of simply showing up.

Breaking Busy: How to Find Peace & Purpose in a World of Crazy by Alli Worthington

In the first chapter of Breaking Busy, Alli Worthington describes her breaking point - convinced she'd lost her iPhone in a taxi after a 2 a.m. wakeup call, she borrowed another person's phone in a busy airport only to be answered by her ringing bra. For Alli, that moment was a clear sign that she'd met her capacity in our crazy busy world. As she explains, many of us are serving at the altar of "busy" without really knowing why, all the while sacrificing our emotional control, self-care, mental, physical, and spiritual health, and important relationships. To begin "breaking busy," Alli encourages us to identify our season of life (something Jen Hatmaker also recommended in For the Love), our stress points, and why we're so driven to exceed our capacities - pride, guilt, perfectionism, or the drive to "get ahead."

Through her own experiences, Alli explains how to edit one's time and responsibilities and overcome the pressure to be "all things to all people." When God called on her to quit the conference she'd built through years of hard work, she resisted at first, then became angry when her next opportunity wasn't immediately clear. Her worries about the future and the pressure to be perfect kept her from enjoying the opportunities her obedience opened up. The book is full of practical action steps to help readers make decisions that will free us from the "altar of busy."

This year, I've been focused on slowing down and focusing on routines that make my life healthier and more peaceful. I think that's why I was drawn to For the Love and Breaking Busy. I've highlighted and starred this quote from Alli Worthington: "Just because we live in a world of seemingly endless expectations doesn't mean we have to live up to them." I think that quote perfectly sums up the message I took away from both of these books.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received these books free from the publishers 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.”

Monday, April 4

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • If I get stressed out while back at work this week, I'm going to watch this video from artist Thomas Blanchard - so colorful and calming (via This Is Colossal).



Friday, April 1

style: my fifth stitch fix [march 2016]

My third and fourth StitchFix shipments last year were great and the process of defining my style for my stylist helped me pare down my cluttered closet and be a smarter shopper. This past fall and this winter, I purchased just a few new pieces to fill "gaps" in my wardrobe and finally knew what it was like to have no "I have nothing to wear" mornings! However, with spring just around the corner, I was feeling a little blah about all of my sweaters and pants and decided it was time to take the plunge again! I requested Heather as my stylist once again since she is so good at her job, and included a few general trends I was loving, like gray, gold, and this year's Pantone colors along with my style catch phrase "Preppy Bohemian." I organized my Stitch Fix Pinterest Board so that similar photos were close together - lots of rose quartz, gray, gold, and florals!

This fix was mostly a miss, but it wasn't for lack of trying on Stylist Heather's part - I was really excited when I opened my box and saw pretty floral print, gold and pink, and gray jeans. I appreciate that she really takes the time to read my notes to her and browse my Pinterest board. 

Unfortunately between my Fix arriving late and having to contact Customer Service (more on that below), I totally flaked out on photographing any of the items separately and threw away the invoice with the prices listed. So sorry, y'all. I did, however, remember to get Mr. Q to snap a cell phone picture of me in an outfit that included three of the items. I'm pretty sure I look like a Hobbit in this picture, but here you go (obviously a cute Hobbit).

The items included in this Fix were:
  • Pixley Martina Slub Knit Open Cardigan - In my experience "slub" usually refers to a sheer t-shirt fabric, but this cardigan is actually a thicker jersey. It has a cocoon effect going on, which unfortunately meant a lot of fabric gathering around the widest part of my body. Since it wasn't a petite item, the sleeves were too long. While I could see this being part of a teacher's work wardrobe, it made me look frumpy - I've actually lost weight since my last Fix and I don't think you can tell that at all in this picture! Finally, I already have a blazer in the same material from Old Navy that is much more flattering. Status: Returned.
  • Daniel Rainn Ginnie Lace Trim Knit Top - Another piece made of flowy jersey material, the floral print of this top was very pretty. However, it wasn't petite, so the lace (which I suppose was the "boho" part of this fix) ended up being a little too revealing and the arm holes went down to my ribs on the sides. I felt like people would think I was wearing a maternity top. Status: Returned.
  • Collective Concepts Lily Multi Strap Blouse - From too big to too small. This top would not come down over my chest, hence the lack of photo. While Stitch Fix will definitely do size exchanges, this tank wasn't an item I saw myself wearing. It was made of a really nice chiffon-like fabric and I loved the gold dots, and early-20's Heather would have lived in this top for nights out. Maybe when I said "girls' weekend" my stylist was picturing a bunch of Woo GirlsStatus: Returned.
  • Just Black Faye Skinny Jean - I've wanted to find a pair of "Goldilocks" (not too skinny, not too boyfriend) gray jeans for a while now, and these Just Black jeans fit like a dream. The fabric is a very thin denim that feels as comfortable as wearing a pair of leggings. I thought they were very flattering and looked cute with booties, will definitely be wearing with sandals this summer, and can't wait to pair them with tall boots next fall. Status: Kept!
  • Urban Expressions Adelade Woven Fold-Over Clutch - I'd never gotten a bag from Stitch Fix, so I was pretty excited to see this item on my style card, especially when I saw on the invoice that it was purple (my favorite!). Then I started digging around my box. Four items of clothing, style card, postcard announcing that Stitch Fix now offers shoes nationwide, return bag... no clutch. When I e-mailed Customer Service, it was after 5:00 on a Friday, so I didn't expect to hear back until Monday. I received a reply from Stitch Fix Client Support  by 3:00 on Saturday. To help make up for the oversight, Stitch Fix added $20 of credit to my account and modified my online checkout to reflect that I only received four items. They still offered the 25% discount for keeping the entire shipment. Stitch Fix is a company that truly does go above and beyond to make customers happy - but I'm sad I didn't get to see that purple clutch. With my styling fee and the extra credit, my Just Black jeans ended up being just $44, which was too good of a deal to pass up for jeans I loved.
Here's how Stitch Fix works, in case you're wondering: when you sign up, you pay a $20 styling fee and fill out a profile with your sizes and style preferences (including what you definitely DON'T like or want). The styling fee then goes toward the cost of any items you decide to keep from your shipment, and you receive a 25% discount if you decide to keep all five items. Everything you don't keep goes back to Stitch Fix in a prepaid Priority Mail envelope. I think $20 is definitely worth it to avoid crowded malls and gross fitting rooms, and so far I've liked at least one item from each Fix enough to keep. I definitely recommend giving this service a chance if you feel like you're in a style rut, or just want to try something new... and did I mention shoes?

Want to try Stitch Fix? If you follow this referral link to sign up, I'll receive credit toward my account when you receive your first shipment!