Monday, April 30

spring color: tangerine

According to the color experts at Pantone, the color of the year for 2012 is Tangerine Tango.  That definitely seems to be the case judging from all the fun orange items popping up in stores.  Even though it's one of my University's colors, I've always thought that I couldn't pull off a lot of orange because I am a pale brunette...

And then I saw this pale brunette looking darling in retro citrus fashion in the Telegraph.

I love this versatile geranium denim skirt from UK retailer Boden.

LOFT's ikat print shorts combine two trends: global prints and warm colors.

J. Crew pairs lemon and tangerine with denim, via Wit & Delight

This ombre pink and tangerine manicure from Cult of Pretty looks doable!

Are you feeling brave enough to rock the tangerine trend this spring?

Tuesday, April 24

my big goals for the future

B from With Love From Michigan shared some of her goals and dreams for life this week, and I was inspired to do my own "hey, here are my dreams" post.

My dream home would look like a combination of farmhouse, Craftsman, and Cape Cod styles, with enough white paint to make me happy and enough stonework to make Josh happy (1 | 2).

My personal-life and financial goal is that Josh and I will be able to save enough money to move out of the townhouse, buy some land, and build a modular home within the next few years.  I really like living within a small town, but miss having being out in the country with a big backyard and space to plant a garden.  I want a space that's ours, where we can paint the walls and change things without losing our security deposit.

My family goals are that we can find a small church with a belief statement that matches our values.  I struggle with my faith sometimes, but I know that life felt much more centered when I attended church on a regular basis and had a "family" praying for me and supporting me spiritually.

My health goal is to continue to avoid Type 2 diabetes, which I am at a slightly higher risk for than the general population because I am part Native American.  My paternal grandfather who was 1/2 Cherokee and most of his children had diabetes and I do not want to have to inject myself with insulin like Grandaddy did.  One of my biggest fears is that if I am diagnosed with diabetes I will eventually have to go on dialysis like my dad did when his kidneys failed.  My doctor classes me as "pre-diabetic," which basically means that if I become overweight my body will probably not be able to regulate my blood sugar.  A healthy diet and regular exercise are essential for me, but they're the first things to fall by the wayside when I am stressed out at work or by personal issues. I would like to put more than five pounds between being healthy and having a serious illness.

I have a lot of travel goals.  Several are very doable and fairly close by, I've just never had the time - Nashville, Memphis, New Orleans, Boston, New York City.  My very silly travel goal is wanting very badly to visit the Harry Potter theme park.  I also want to visit as many of our National Parks as possible.  I want to visit England, France, Italy, Kenya, and Australia.

My work goals are fuzzier.  I love teaching, but I am someone who likes to grow and feel like I'm advancing, so I just don't see myself in Room 112 for a whole 30 year career.  I am passionate about getting kids to enjoy and excel at writing to express themselves and hope to participate in the Blue Ridge Writing Project's invitational summer institute next year.  I also want to host a student teaching intern in my classroom and explore whether I might want to be an education professor someday.  My biggest dream throughout my life has been to write a book, but unlike B's goal of writing a professional book, I want to write fiction for young readers.  I want students to walk into their school libraries and see a book with my name on it.

Is it strange that in writing, my goals seem LESS scary and more realistic?

Sunday, April 22

rain, rain, stay awhile

Rain has finally arrived for springtime in Virginia, after the sneak peak of May we got in March.  There was just enough sun this weekend for Josh to shoot the local rec league baseball teams' photos and get himself a nice sunburn, and now the rain is tending to my container garden and hopefully helping the pollen situation calm down.  I need to either go by Tractor Supply to get those boots I've been craving (navy with white polka dots) or get my old ones (pink with apples) from my mama's house.

I have decided to take a cue from Zooey Deschanel and spend the day in my pajamas, listening to music and eating tomato soup.  I might break out some T.S. Eliot poems later.

Then I have to be a grown-up and go to the grocery store and write lesson plans...

but not quite yet.

Sunday Simplicity #66

I love this rustic-meets-elegant handmade Colorado wedding from 100 Layer Cake.

It just wouldn't be April without a cute umbrella photo, and it's certainly appropriate looking out my window today.

I don't even want to imagine the amount of manual labor that went into making a barn look so elegant.

Wednesday, April 18

[not so] extreme couponers

Happy tax day, y'all!  Did that sound sarcastic when you read it in your head?  It should.  We filed our taxes a few weeks ago, and to my surprise, the refund really shrinks when you go from living the single life to filing jointly.  We've started to stress a little about paying the bills during the summer months when I do not receive a paycheck (teacher's salaries here are split among the months we work rather than spread over 12 months the way they are in some other localities).

I really like our credit union, for several reasons.  First of all, there's a branch within walking distance if I ever have an ATM emergency.  Secondly, my husband set up text alerts so that our balance is sent to our cell phones via text each Friday, and I love the convenience there!  Finally, when we log in to our online account, there's a PIE CHART, and being a former third grade teacher, I love charts and graphs.


The pie chart shows what categories we're spending our money in.  For us, the biggest "chunk" besides rent is groceries, and I think we can save money if we get a little less lazy when it comes to grocery shopping.  It's going to be a challenge, trying to eat as healthy and "real" as possible and still save, but we love a challenge.  I spent some time this week researching ways to save money on groceries.

Weekly ritual, upgraded!

Experts recommend using weekly ads to plan meals for the week.  We've been meal-planning for a while now, but usually it was based on, "what are we in the mood for?" not "what's most affordable?"  We don't have a newspaper subscription, but most of the stores in our area have online weekly ads- Wal-Mart, Kroger, and Food Lion- so we can go online to see which of the items we normally eat are on sale each week.  I know a lot of people refuse to shop at Wal-Mart, and believe me, I'd love to be able to shop only at union-friendly stores, but budget is our priority right now rather than making a political statement.

Look at all that vertical space!

Stocking up is another tip I see over and over online.  My husband is being really proactive about this one- I've complained a few times about not having a pantry; so he moved his bass guitar, sound equipment, and all of our Christmas decorations to some "storage space" at his parents' house and installed a shelving unit in the space under our staircase.

My husband always reminds me to check the unit price when I'm trying to decide whether to get a larger or smaller container at the store.  The unit price is the price per ounce and is usually located on the price tag on the shelf below a product; sometimes it's cheaper to buy the larger container, and sometimes multiple small containers are more cost-effective.

Another trick I need to start implementing is cooking multiple servings of "slow foods" on the weekends when I have the time.  I have a Crock Pot and I need to use it!  This blew my mind:  A bag of dried beans that sells for $.89 yields 7 cups of cooked beans at $.13 per cup; a can of beans that sells for $.99 yields 1 and 1/2 cups of cooked beans at $.66 per cup- what looks like a 10 cent difference for the convenience of having beans more quickly is deceiving because the cooked canned beans are five times more expensive than the cooked dried beans (source). Having several meals already in the fridge will also help me resist the urge to call take-out when I've had a terrible teaching day and want comfort food (for me, Chinese- I blame college).

I need to start bringing a calculator to the store because sometimes I get tricked by basic math!  I am wondering whether we should join Sam's Club to be able to buy things in bulk now that our shelving unit is installed - do any of you belong to warehouse clubs, and is it worth the membership fee?

I'm thinking we should subscribe to or start picking up the Sunday paper - according to an article on, 75% of grocery coupons come from the newspaper.  We are going to buy the Sunday paper this week and test whether we save enough money to "pay for" the paper.  Printable online coupons are also an option, and I am loving that Kroger lets us load coupons right onto our plus card!  We're also going to use a tip I saw on Kiplinger's website - to hold onto one week's grocery receipt and highlight the most expensive items, then find lower-cost alternatives to purchase in the future.

I love you, vegetables.

Experts also recommend buying in-season produce to save money.  Many sustainable living and cooking websites offer lists of recipes based on seasonal produce- Rachael Ray is one of my favorite magazines and websites and she always features a "seasonal superfood."  I have been a little obsessed with buying organic foods since researching e. coli levels in organic vs. conventional produce in high school, but experts recommend buying organic only for produce that is most susceptible to pesticide residue, antibiotics and hormones- the Dirty Dozen list is a good starting place for fruits and vegetables; I saved the most recent version to my phone so I can refer to it while shopping.  Buying frozen produce is also a way to save money, although I just can't stand frozen broccoli- why is it all stems?!

Are there any money-saving methods I've left out?  Have you done anything to save money on groceries?

Sources:, Kiplinger's, BlogHer Family Finance

Tuesday, April 17

Titanic Dinner

In our relationship, Josh is definitely the more practical one; I'm the one with the sketchbooks and journals and maybe-never-going-to-be-finished manuscripts.  So when Josh has a silly or whimsical idea, I go with it.  I follow those silly Josh ideas as far as they'll go.  On Saturday, when I invited his sister over to watch the ABC Titanic miniseries with us, he said, "We should find out what they had for dinner on the Titanic and make that tonight."  We found the recipes on the blog Downton Abbey Cooks (Pamela is one of my new favorite people), and our impromptu Titanic Dinner Party was born.  Now, I know some people think Titanic dinner parties are in poor taste, but keep in mind that this was completely on a whim... we didn't have time to think about whether it was tacky.  We also didn't take the time to get out our DSLR camera, so all I have to show for the evening are our Instagram photos:

Our menu for the night, adapted from the 10-course first class 
menu and the second class menu (White Star Line logo from 
Between the Lions).  We could have replicated the steerage 
menu easily, but we believe in "go big or go home" around here.

When James Cameron's Titanic came out in 1997, I was twelve.  My best friends' parents were taking us to Flubber, they were going to the PG-13 movie that, to them (keep in mind I live in a very conservative area!) didn't look appropriate for the under-thirteens.  Well... I'll never know how Flubber ended, because we snuck into the back of Titanic as soon as we thought the coast was clear.  I ended up going a total of seven times in the theater that December and January.  I think the big question here is, why did my parents pay for me to see the same movie in the theater that many times?

Remember Rose's art from Paris?

I think it's save to say that twelve year old me had developed an obsession; and it went beyond "Leonardo DiCaprio is amazing."  I became absorbed in research for the first time I can remember and dragged the local public librarian into my Titanic sphere, requesting books on loan from a lot of other libraries with larger collections.  I studied the work of Robert Ballard and my parents bought me a huge book called Titanic: an Illustrated History which lives in my classroom now.  The book included a lot of photos of artifacts recovered from the shipwreck - maybe those were the beginnings of my interest in archaeology that would lead to me minoring in anthropology in college?  Either way, it was the first time that research was fun for me because I was researching something I had chosen.  As a teacher today, I try to never forget the link between choice and passion.

First course: Barley soup (Pamela's recipe here; alternate recipe at Dragon's Kitchen)

Okay, so I was also totally in love with Leonardo DiCaprio in 1997.  I had my first official celebrity crush; cue the Teen Beat magazines and Scholastic Book Fair paperback "albums."  (They still sell those, but today they're about the Biebs and the casts of Twilight and The Hunger Games).  In case you need a reminder, here is what Leonardo DiCaprio looked like in 1997:

Seriously.  Ugh.  I think the truly ironic thing here is that my mother was constantly reminding me that I was TOO YOUNG for him, and his girlfriends in this decade have all been MY AGE OR YOUNGER.  Anyway.  My best friend and I set out on a mission to see every movie he'd been in before Titanic, and of course that included Romeo + Juliet

Cornish Hen (our "squab") and Parmentier Potatoes
If you decide to cook this meal with a Cornish Game Hen 
instead of a squab, too, extend the cooking time.  Lesson learned.

The Shakespeare dialogue in R+J really, really confused my bestie, and I spent most of the movie interpreting what Leo, Claire Danes et al were saying.  I realized, hey, I'm kind of good at this Shakespeare stuff the high school kids have been complaining about on the school bus.  I got excited about reading the play in ninth grade and all the Shakespeare that would follow after that.  Fast forward a few years, and I was asking college recruiters, "How many Shakespeare courses does your English department offer?"  Yes, I was that much of a nerd, and I was proud of it.

Waldorf Pudding before and after flipping; it's DELICIOUS 
and will probably become a holiday dessert staple in our family.

Is Titanic the reason I'm an English teacher today?  Maybe.  Was this dinner delicious, and a lot of fun to prepare?  Oh yes.  Did the Titanic miniseries have too many characters and a confusing Vantage Point style plot?  I sure thought so.

The second class menu item we couldn't resist trying.

Monday, April 16

clicks of note.


  • I woke up with Jason Mraz's "Life is Wonderful" on my head one morning last week.  Mr. A-Z is one of my favorite CD's.  His new album Love is a Four-Letter Word will be in stores tomorrow!

  • Casey from Elegant Musings created a 1913 dinner dress inspired by Titanic.  Since my sister-in-law and I have Titanic fever right now (you'll find out just how much in tomorrow's post!), I loved following this project from beginning to end on Casey's blog.  Especially because I have no clothing design ability beyond helping Miss Julie bedazzle dance costumes back in the day.
  • Instagram is finally available for Android phones and I'm loving it - there is a wider variety of filters on Instagram than Picplz and I like the square photos.  You can follow me at heatherbquinn.  Leave your Instagram name in the comments - I'd love to follow you!

Sunday, April 15

Sunday Simplicity #65 - Meet Virginia

Sometimes I can tell without looking at the credits that a wedding took place in Virginia.  Such was the case with Cassie and Justin's wedding, featured on Love and Lavender.  That little ridge of mountain and the beautiful vineyard - and the shabby-vintage idea to put a mantel in the middle of a grassy clearing - pure Virginia, heart and soul.

Then there was this wedding featured on Southern Weddings, which actually took place at the Virginia Gold Cup.  A wedding at a horse race?  If it's not in Kentucky, that's got to be in the Old Dominion!  My college roommates and I got all dressed up every April for the horse race in Charlottesville and those are some of my favorite memories.

Friday, April 13

friday the 13th.

Can I blame the sense of dread I felt about getting out of bed this morning on Friday the 13th rather than on my Spring Break being almost over?  I've tried to treat my break like a vacation - bubble baths, dinners out at places in our own town we haven't been before, leisurely Fresh Market shopping- but it hasn't quite been relaxing.  I've been to three different doctors this week (GP, nutritionist and ultrasound) trying to figure out what's going on with my eating (I think I have developed some new food intolerances) and there's a stack of ungraded papers and 4 yet-to-be-written lesson plans looming in my future.  I'm getting ready to put a beef roast in the crock pot for The Country Cook's Au Jus Sandwiches, and making Mug Cakes from The Gracious Pantry tonight, so I can at least get excited about dinner.

Random thought: a luck-themed party or wedding on Friday the 13th would be a lot of fun.

What are you up to this Friday the 13th?

Wednesday, April 11

Home Decor: Porch & Patio

Despite the regular freeze warnings we've had this week, it's starting to feel like spring in Virginia, and that means I want to be outdoors as much as possible.  The problem?  My outdoor spaces are not nice places to be right now.  Due to the location of our townhouse at the end of the lot our complex is on, we kind of got gipped.  The townhouses on the sides have nice wooden decks.  The townhouses on our side have one long, short concrete patio.  Even though the wooden decks aren't "private," there's a division there between YOUR deck and your NEIGHBOR'S deck.  The patios kind of blend together, with only a little crack to show where our space ends and our neighbors' begin.

Consider this a "before" picture.

The mister and I both enjoy a little gardening now and then.  My family has kept some sort of garden for as long as I can remember, my father grew up on farms, my mother loves landscaping with flowers and tress, and I'm certified to teach forestry at 4-H summer camps.  The mister used to work as a groundskeeper at a golf course.  Between us, we can name most plants and love to have growing things around us.  The mister had the bright idea to line our little patio with planters to give it more of a defined border.  We also want a nice patio set with a table and chairs and perhaps even a cute umbrella.

For the front porch, my wish list is a welcoming wreath, a new welcome mat, and- this is the ambitious part - a comfy bench that would also hide our recycling containers.

Basically, we're tired of our outdoor spaces being boring and want to add some life to them!  Here's some of the inspiration I've found for the porch and patio!

Container Gardens:

Strawberry Planters and Herb Gardens:
Bed Bath and Beyond || Crate and Barrel (out of stock, similar here)

DIY Tables and Benches:

Spring Wreaths:

How do you "spring up" your outdoor spaces?