Tuesday, June 28

A Day with Norman Rockwell at the Taubman Museum of Art

One of the greatest things about living in the Blue Ridge Mountains is that people in this area love and support the arts. Recently my mom took me to spend a day in Roanoke at the Taubman Museum of Art to celebrate my 31st birthday.  We love the museum - we were there on opening day in 2008 and try to visit as often as possible so we don't miss any new exhibits. On this visit, I took some personal photos to share with you all and show you why I love this jewel of a place. Currently, there's a large and colorful installation by Rachel B. Hayes in the atrium called Not Fade Away that I'm totally in love with - Hayes' work is inspired by quilt making and this fabric sculpture was created using multi-colored nylon and light gels. When the sun is shining the floor of the atrium and information desk are bathed in rainbow colors!

What drew my mom and I to the Taubman for my birthday was the featured exhibit American Chronicles: The Art of Norman Rockwell, which was at the museum through June 12th and featured works from the collection of the Norman Rockwell Museum in Stockbridge, Massachusetts. My mom has been a fan of Normal Rockwell since childhood and we almost always had a Norman Rockwell calendar in the kitchen when I was young, so many of the pieces in the exhibit were like old friends.

Since most of Rockwell's images are familiar as illustrations in magazines, art books, or calendars, it was wonderful to see how large they are in real life, particularly works like the Four Freedoms series. The exhibit featured printed text guides as well as adult and family guided tours that could be accessed with a cell phone. The audio tours featured Rockwell's son explaining some lesser-known information about each painting. Most of Rockwell's models were neighbors and friends, and different paintings can feature very different characters, like Abraham Lincoln and Ichabod Crane, that Rockwell actually based on the same real model. My mom was especially drawn to Rockwell's portrait of a coal miner because it reminded her of her dad.

Another aspect of Rockwell's work that surprised me was how tactile many of his paintings are, as you can see from the actual globs of paint on the artist's palette above. If there's a stucco wall in a Rockwell painting, you can bet he gave it the actual texture of stucco. I think it's interesting that he put so much attention to detail to paintings that were reproduced mainly as flat magazine covers. His attention to detail also came into play in his dedication to visiting history museums and collecting antiques to ensure that the props he painted in historical scenes were accurate. I also learned a lot about Rockwell's character - while I mainly associated him with his cute, nostalgic images of children and dogs from the 1940's and 50's, one of the main reasons he left The Saturday Evening Post to work for Look magazine in the 1960's was so he could paint images of the civil rights movement. One of his most famous  civil rights paintings, The Problem We All Live With, was included in the exhibit, as were his notes and studies for his 1965 work Southern Justice (Murder in Mississippi). Seeing how Rockwell's career matured and transformed from his early works for Boy's Life in the 1910's to portraits of American presidents was really educational and inspiring.

After spending two hours just in the Rockwell exhibit, Mom and I headed to one of our favorite galleries in the Taubman - Contemporary Redux. This gallery rotates contemporary pieces from the museum's permanent collections. Two of my favorite new additions were Russell U. Richards' 2009 Inaccurate Map of Roanoke (the kind of thing that makes me wish I was an art teacher) and Yoko Ono's A Box of Smile (because how John and Yoko is a plastic box with a mirror in the bottom?).

In addition to Not Fade Away, there are currently two more site-specific installations upstairs in the Taubman. The first room features Amanda McCavour's Neon Clouds and Ice Crystals. Magical to look at, Neon Clouds was frustratingly difficult to photograph because it's made of very thin orange, yellow, green, and blue embroidery thread. In the gallery, it has an ephemeral quality that's impossible to capture. It was begging me to walk around, walk underneath, and look at it from every angle.

On a quick fashion note, I felt very art museum appropriate in my new Stitch Fix split-back blouse and Yogi Surprise mala necklace. I tried not to ask my mom for too many museum portraits, but it was my birthday, and, you know, she gave birth to me, so I didn't feel too bad!

The museum's other temporary installation is The Stir City Piece by Jonathan Brilliant. Sure enough, it's constructed with coffee stir sticks and sleeves, and I was convinced that the brown paint on the walls was actually coffee until I was close enough to touch it (I didn't - I'm a good museum guest). I LOVE huge art pieces, so the twisting organic shapes filling the gallery and the creative materials made me want to spend my time living in this exhibit.

Check out the scale! The shapes are as big as trees and I loved seeing the simple materials up close.

On our way out, we snapped a few more photos of Not Fade Away, then visited the adorable Rockwell-themed photo area set up by local business Black Dog Salvage (have you seen their television show, Salvage Dawgs, on the DIY network?). They had several Rockwell-inspired scenes, including a Thanksgiving dinner, a lunch counter, a living room, and the artist's studio, along with props. After a quick photo session, we met Mr. Q for dinner at our favorite Cajun restaurant, The Quarter, then strolled around the City Market to burn a few calories before heading home. I love the days that my mom and I spend together soaking up the culture and friendly vibe of Roanoke, and I'm always a little happier that I live here afterward.

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Disclaimer: I was not compensated in any way by the Taubman Museum of Art, Stitch Fix, or Yogi Surprise for this post - I just love sharing my favorite things here on the blog and my reviews are always honest. This post contains referral links for Stitch Fix and Yogi Surprise.

Monday, June 27

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...



Sunday, June 26

Saturday, June 25

#5FandomFriday: Make-Up Friday - My Comfort Films

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge for female geek bloggers hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. You can learn more about the Female Geek Bloggers group here, join in on our Instagram photo challenge for July, or write your own posts for Harry Potter MonthThis week, I'm sharing yet another make-up topic for #5FandomFriday: my "comfort films." I don't re-watch movies often, but when I do it's usually one of these all-time favorites, which are my go-tos when I'm stressed, lonely, sick, or feeling down. I know them all by heart.

Clueless - Is there a more 90's movie than Clueless? This movie reminds me of elementary and middle school slumber parties and my eternal hope that colorful plaid will have a style renaissance. Cher Horowitz may make mistakes, but she's got a heart of gold (despite an occasional head of air). Plus, very young Paul Rudd!

The Breakfast Club - I watched The Breakfast Club my senior year of high school, which was such perfect timing! When my mom was in the hospital that year, I came home from school every day and watched the movie - I think having that routine gave the days a sense of normalcy and made me feel less alone. The dance scene in the library never fails to boost my mood.

Mean Girls - Mean Girls came out when I was in college and thankfully over high school drama. Y'all, Tina Fey is a genius who took a sociology text and turned it into a pop culture masterpiece. This movie is the perfect film for when I'm starting to get burnt out on teaching middle school - it reminds me that my students are still trying to figure things out. It's endlessly quotable, and I sometimes forget that everyone hasn't seen it so I might have to explain why I've just yelled "YOU CAN'T SIT WITH US!"

Breakfast at Tiffany's - I didn't actually see Breakfast at Tiffany's until college, and was surprised to find that the glamorous-looking Audrey Hepburn character Holly Golightly is actually a hot mess. This is my go-to movie for when I have what Holly calls "the mean reds" and need to remember that even the most broken souls can be loved.

Silver Linings Playbook - Mr. Q and I saw Silver Linings Playbook in the theater and I fell in love when Pat had his violent nervous breakdown at home with his parents. I remember thinking it was the first movie I've seen that really conveyed what it feels like for someone with depression and anxiety, rather than just showing what it looks like from the outside. Plus it has one of the most fun movie dance scenes of all time, and it's about the best season of the year - the time between Halloween and Christmas. The more I think about it, the more I realize that Silver Linings Playbook probably is my generation's Breakfast at Tiffany's.

Tuesday, June 21

my late spring in instagram.

As y'all know, Instagram is my favorite form of social media. Lately, I've been striving for a balance of "styled" shots that help me practice my photography skills and real, un-posed memories of small town life that I know will serve as a diary for years to come. I'm really happy with the result! Here's what I've been up to since spring break.

Spring break photography practice with some blossoms from
the trees around our townhouse and a few of my favorite
antiques - this espresso cup is from my parents' time spent
living in Germany and I can't pass up a blue Ball Mason jar!

My jewelry organization situation was reaching crisis mode, 
so I ordered this cute arrow hook from Urban Outfitters and
I'm in love with it. It's the little things! Spring break = real 
lunch without having to supervise 150 kids or rush to eat!

One of my town's gems - the Grainery, which is home to an
art gallery/store and glass blowing school/studio. I love the
Van Gogh inspired mural outside. | Someone got my yoga
teacher this fantastic gnome as a gift at the end of term.

My mom is from the Kentucky and watches the Derby religiously
every year. This year we celebrated at my house with virgin
mint juleps - the colorful paper straws reminded me of the 
jockeys' racing silks. | This spring I taught three boys I referred
to as my Musketeers on their best days and my Stooges all the
others - all three were on the baseball team and I loved going
to their last middle school game, where they shone like stars.


My Bestie and her husband came in from Seattle to visit their 
families and their trip just happened to coincide with our 31st 
birthday (we were both born on May 29th!). We celebrated in 
true Roanoke fashion with a very indulgent brunch at Thelma's 
Chicken & Waffles, visiting a downtown event for a photo op with 
a mini horse, an adult big wheel ride on the Greenway with my tribe, 
homemade ice cream from Hits, and dinner at Beamer's 25 in honor 
of Bestie's love for Virginia Tech (as a Wahoo, this is true friendship).

Bestie and I both bought each other whale gifts for our birthday
in reference to an old inside joke from when we worked at
4-H camp together and our resulting catchphrase, "Whale please!"
Great minds think alike even when living on opposite coasts.
Finally, here's my chubby adorable cat, Scout, responding to being 
called "pretty boy." He is 100% awake in this picture.

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

Monday, June 20

this week's clicks.

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • Though this has become a surprisingly busy summer, I hope to spend as much spare time as possible in the next few weeks working on my writing - if you follow me on Pinterest, you may have put together the clues that I'm working on something inspired by the medieval period. I've been listening to a lot of soundtracks, instrumentals, and dreamy tracks like this one from Lawrence Greenwood, also known as Whitley.




Sunday, June 19

sunday simplicity.

"I believe everyone is free to make choices, bad and good; I 
believe everyone is noble and full of potential; I believe in 
hope and the possibilities for happy endings." - Shannon Hale

Friday, June 17

#5FandomFriday: Make-Up Friday - 5 Broadway Roles I'd Love to Play

5 Fandom Friday is a weekly prompt challenge hosted by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick. This week, I'm joining in with a make-up topic I missed the first time around that seems timely following the Tony Awards: 5 Broadway Roles I'd Love to Play. One fact about me that I haven't written about too much on this blog is that I studied dance from second grade through college - by high school, I was spending hours each week in ballet, pointe, lyrical, modern dance, liturgical dance, and clogging classes, with the occasional jazz or hip-hop workshop thrown in for good measure. I often wish I'd pursued drama classes but they didn't fit into my very academically driven schedule in high school and were almost impossible to get into in college. While I appreciate serious theater (I did take every Shakespeare course offered at UVa!), I'm a huge geek when it comes to musicals. Give me song and dance every day of the week (and twice on Saturdays!). Here are the 5 roles I'd really love to play in the alternate universe where I took voice and drama lessons along with dance classes...

1. Velma Kelly in Chicago - Chicago is my absolute favorite musical and my favorite character is definitely Velma - Roxie may be the protagonist, but Velma knows exactly what she wants and how to get it, and her fire burns hot from "All That Jazz" through "Hot Honey Rag." I probably first learned about Chicago when the 1996 revival was getting publicity on TV and Bebe Neuwirth was making the rounds on talk shows as Velma. The combination of 1920's style and Bob Fosse choreography is pretty irresistible for me. Plus, I'd love to have a good excuse to get that flapper haircut and blunt bangs.

2. Penny Pingleton in Hairspray - Going from a bad girl to total naïveté with a rebellious edge, Penny Pingleton is Tracy Turnblad's loyal best friend in Hairspray. I thought Penny was a cute character as played by Amanda Bynes in the 2007 film version (my introduction to Hairspray), but loved the nerdier/more awkward way the character was played in the 2009 traveling production of the play. Bonus: the verse "If they try to stop us, Seaweed, I'll call the NAACP" is one of the best lines in the whole play.

3. The Girl in the Yellow Dress - A Broadway role where I wouldn't have to sing? Yes, please. I was in high school when I saw this performance from Contact on the Tony Awards and I wanted to be the Girl in the Yellow Dress so badly. At the time, the choreography didn't look nearly as intimidating to me as it does now.

4. Annie Oakley in Annie Get Your Gun - Clearly, watching the Tony Awards as a high school student had an effect on my life because I still sing "Old Fashioned Wedding" all the time. I want to be Bernadette Peters.

5. Éponine Thénardier in Les Miserables - Éponine is such a complex character - after being spoiled as a young child by her terrible parents, she is brought low by poverty and falls in love with the equally poor boy next door. Even though she now understands that her parents are the worst, she still tries to help her family while also mostly doing right by Marius. Éponine breaks my heart.

Thursday, June 16

pinspiration: rose quartz + palm leaves

I've noticed two of the biggest trends for this summer coming together in a beautiful way lately, especially on Instagram and Pinterest. Social media seems to be loving the combo of green palm leaves and Rose Quartz, one of Pantone's Colors of the Year for 2016. It's a combination that feels classic and fresh at the same time, perfect for summer!

Tuesday, June 14

Style: My May 2016 Stitch Fix (#6)

You may recall from my last Stitch Fix review that while that shipment was mostly a miss in terms of fit, my stylist (who also happens to be named Heather) did an amazing job of choosing pieces that were inspired by my Stitch Fix Pinterest Board and personal style. In my sixth shipment, Heather's picks were almost perfect - in terms of style and fit. Read on to find out why this Fix was a 4/5. This post contains affiliate links, and I apologize for the quality of the pictures - it rained for a week straight when my Fix arrived so we had to improvise!

I was so excited to open my May box and see the beautiful, bright colors, variety of patterns, and a few pieces that seemed to match. My Pinterest board had included a lot of tribal prints, florals, and tops with interesting backs, and Heather's note showed that, as usual, she'd done her detective work, scouring my Pinterest board and reading my note - I'd requested light fabrics because our school building basically turns into a sauna at the end of the school year. I'd also noted that I'd like budget-friendly pieces because Mr. Q and I are currently house hunting - and while the prices of Stitch Fix items are a little more expensive than I'd usually pay for clothing, I always take into account the time I'm saving and my stylist's expertise in following trends and ability to identify pieces that will fit my petite hourglass shape perfectly! Stitch Fix made it easy for me to add a few special new items to my work wardrobe without having to spend the end of the school year in a fitting room.

Here's the style card that was included with this box. I like that the style suggestions included a lot of items I already have, like boyfriend jeans, pencil skirts, and colored cardigans.

Pixley Annette Printed Tulip Hem Maxi Skirt

I've received Pixley items in several of my previous fixes and one thing I've noticed about the brand is the items always seem to be very high quality. The Annette maxi skirt was made out of a flowy, comfortable fabric and had a waistband similar to a pair of yoga pants. The bohemian-inspired print was very bright and pretty, and the tulip hem was a unique touch I'd never seen on a maxi skirt before. However, this skirt was just a smidge too loose around the waist and hips, and too long to be worn with flats. I knew my BFF Breeze would love the print, and she's taller than me, so I gifted it to her as an early birthday gift. Status: Kept for friend.

Papermoon Tary Woven Back Knit Top 

Papermoon is my absolute favorite brand from Stitch Fix, and I loved that Heather found a top that incorporated my love of interesting back details but was shirt sleeved for spring and summer. She suggested pairing it with the skirt, and the shades of blue were indeed a perfect match, but the top was very loose and flowy on me so I decided it would look best with skinny jeans, like the gray Just Black Faye Skinny Jeans I kept from my last fix, along with flat sandals and my new Yogi Surprise bracelet. I liked the sky blue color and sweater-like fabric, the back has just the right touch of fanciness for a night out. Status: Kept!

I like that even though the white fabric in the back is sheer, the decorative button is placed perfectly to keep things modest and cover undergarments. I'd wear a tank top underneath to make this top appropriate for work in a school environment. I look forward to styling this top with boyfriend jeans or my olive chinos for a more casual look.

I loved how the fabric was a blend of blue and white threads, resulting in a beautiful sky blue color, and I think it looks great with gray accessories. Can I go ahead and make blue, gray, and white my official summer color palette?

Liverpool Kaiden Cuffed Denim Short 

When I saw these shorts on the style card, and even when I took them out of the box, I loved the coral color but assumed I would end up sending the shorts back due to the price point being much more than I've ever paid for shorts. However, these shorts? So soft, so stretchy, so comfortable. In a world of three-inch inseams, the longer length of these shorts is perfect for summer activities working with children - while still being cute! Status: Kept.

Market & Spruce Chesly Button Back Textured Knit Top 

I pinned this top after seeing it on the Stitch Fix blog - I loved the fun black and white print that reminded me of a tribal pattern. The woven knit of the top is thicker than a t-shirt and I thought the shape was really slimming on me. I could picture styling this top in lots of ways for work outfits, but since it was in the box beside the coral Liverpool shorts, I decided to try them on together and loved that look, too. Then I tried them with my gray skinny jeans and Target ballet flats - also perfect! The only thing I didn't like about the top was that the neckline did not lay flat against my collarbone - but the cool button back and practically endless outfit options made it impossible to pass up. Also, how much do I love you guys that I posted a picture of my backside on the Internet so you can see the back of a shirt? I love you a lot. Status: Kept.

Crescent Nicolas Lace Detail Blouse 

One of the first "rules" of Stitch Fix is to try on EVERYTHING. In the case of the Crescent Nicolas blouse, I'm so glad I did - I thought it was kind of "meh" in the box, but it ended up being my favorite piece from this Fix. I wasn't sure about the color (kind of an eggshell), but the teal and purple (my favorite colors) in the floral print really popped when I paired the top with my gray jeans and a favorite turquoise beaded bracelet. Status: Kept!

I appreciated that the neckline wasn't a deep V - with a cardigan and pencil skirt, this top will be perfect for going from the classroom to a night out. The lace in the back of the top was a great way for a modest girl like me to try this summer's cutout trend. Overall, I am thrilled with how versatile the items in this fix are, and can't wait to mix and match them with my other clothes.

Here's how Stitch Fix works, in case you're wondering: when you sign up for this amazing subscription service, you pay a $20 styling fee and fill out a profile with your size, style, and price preferences. The styling fee can then be applied 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. Simply send anything you don't keep back to Stitch Fix in a prepaid Priority Mail envelope. I definitely recommend giving this service a chance if you're trying to find your personal style, simplify your life, or get on board with this summer's trends.

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!