Thursday, February 27

my winter blog loves.

blog loves - winter 2014

Every season here at BTA, I feature a handful of my "blog-mances" - some that I just stumbled upon, some that I've been reading for ages.  This winter's featured blog loves cover a broad array of subjects - lifestyle, fashion, cooking, organization - and are definitely worth a look!

Oh Joy! - Joy Cho is a graphic designer and author whose blog is always full of colorful, creative ideas for home decor, fashion, food, entertaining, and travel.  Her daughter is also one of the cutest human beings on this planet.  I love the posts where she takes readers on trips to her favorite restaurants in Los Angeles.  And Joy recently shared some big news: Oh Joy! for Target will introduce four seasonal collections this year, starting March 16th with the Garden Party collection.

City Farmhouse - I describe my home and decorating style as "Country Townhouse," so is it any surprise that I love a blog that combines the same ideas?  Jen's blog is bursting with cozy, creative, family-friendly ideas for country modern style - DIY ideas (including Ikea and Anthropologie hacks), affordable decorating, recipes, seasonal entertaining, and the weekly Inspiration Exchange linky party.

Teal and Lime - Jackie's home decorating style is very colorful, cheerful, and modern, but most of the projects she shares could be adapted to fit any setting.  I've learned a lot from her about how to add dimension to my home decor.  She also shares useful ideas like how to store your craft supplies in plain sight and strategies to avoid spending money unnecessarily at home stores.

Shutterbean - Tracy's tagline is "food, photography & pretty things" and her blog fits the bill.  Regular features include mouthwatering recipes (I know I'm not alone in being way more likely to attempt to cook something if the picture looks awesome), organizing advice, a Friday links round-up, and peeks at everyday life.

Previously featured blog loves I'm still loving:  Cardigan JunkieCorilynnSouthern Curls and PearlsA Cup of JoDandeeThe Fresh ExchangeSacramento StreetGeninne's Art BlogRosie MolinaryThe EverygirlHip Hip Gin GinFabulous KNote to SelfBright BazaarClean and ScentsibleEveryday OccasionsThe Fancy ShackHome Stories A to ZThe Vintage HousewifeTidy MomA Farmgirl's DabblesThe Gracious PantrySkinny TasteHow Sweet It Is.

What are your favorite blogs - the ones you can't miss reading
without serious signs of withdrawl?

Monday, February 24

clicks of note: like a whisper...

get your week off to a colorful start...




Saturday, February 22

Style: Go Team USA!

Team USA's Opening Ceremony uniforms by Ralph Lauren received a lot of media attention, most of it negative.  Somehow, our athletes' busy American flag printed sweaters looked much better en masse during the Parade of Nations than they had on the models on our morning talk shows!  If you're looking for something that's patriotic but a little less grandma for your Closing Ceremonies festivities, here are a few suggestions:

Disclaimer:  ModCloth links contain an affiliate code.

Go Team USA!

View this set on Polyvore

1. ModCloth scarf  2. The North Face jacket from Macy's  
3. Polo Ralph Lauren Team USA Go For Gold mittens  
4. GAP snowboarding tee (worth going over to the men's department)  
5. Weathercast quilted jacket from Kohl's
6. The Hut fur-trimmed vest  7. ModCloth sneakers 
8. Essie nail polish in "Russian Roulette" from Target (couldn't resist!)
9. Lucky Brand loafers from Lord and Taylor

Friday, February 21

Snowflakes - Sochi Inspired

Today I'm taking a very subtle approach to Sochi-inspired fashion. Remember those snowflakes from the Opening Ceremony?  You know, the ones that almost-successfully turned into the Olympic Rings?

They were very pretty as snowflakes.  

All things gray, glittery, and clustered with jewels are in right now. The snow on the East Coast may be melting, but the snow on your sweater is appropriate until mid-March.  Let's get to the inspiration, shall we?

Snowflakes - Sochi Inspired
View this set on Polyvore

1. Monsoon gray sweater  2. Dorothy Perkins ivory sweater  
3. Kohl's moisture wicking long-sleeved knit top
4. Juicy Couture charm from Nordstrom  5. LOFT rhinestone cardigan
6. Emi Jay sparkle hair ties from Nordstrom  7. ASOS ankle socks

Opening Ceremony photo from The Baltimore Sun

Thursday, February 20

Snow and Gold: Sochi Inspired

I think I'm drawn to the Opening and Closing Ceremonies of the Olympic Games because I love show business in general - theater, music, and dance.  What bigger show is there than one the whole world can watch together?  The pageantry of the Sochi Opening Games included beautiful white and gold costumes suggesting traditional Russian clothing.  I think that a white and gold ensemble would be a very classy choice for a Closing Ceremonies party - or for work today while supporting Team USA's drive for gold medals in sports like curling, ladies' figure skaring, men's ski cross, ladies' ski halfpipe, women's ice hockey, and team Nordic combined cross-country.

Disclaimer:  ModCloth links contain an affilitate code.

Snow and Gold

View this set on Polyvore

1. How cute are these nesting doll measuring cups from ModCloth?  
2. ModCloth knot earrings  3. ModCloth cluster earrings  
4. Betsey Johnson statement bracelet  
5. ModCloth deer necklace  6. ModCloth filigree necklace
7. Old Navy crepe blouse  8. Old Navy fold-over clutch  9. Old Navy scrunch flats
10. Myrtlewood embroidered blouse from ModCloth  11. ModCloth boots

Opening Ceremony images from The Baltimore Sun

Wednesday, February 19

Rainbow and Floral: Sochi and Team Germany Inspired

Audiences and commentators had a lot to say about the uniforms Team Germany wore for the Parade of Nations at the Sochi Olympics Opening Ceremony.  German athletes sported red beanies, yellow, green, and robin's-egg blue striped ski jackets, and red pants with a floral pattern.  The overall impression was that of a rainbow; German officials were quick to stress that their wardrobe was not a statement about gay rights in Russia.  Which makes me think (or at least hope) that it totally was.  Either way, I was left wondering: could rainbow and floral ever work, or is it just too much?  The verdict: for the daring, it's totally do-able; just keep the rainbows within a muted palette, make sure the florals keep to the same color scheme, and carry a cute purse.

Disclaimer:  ModCloth links contain an affiliate code.

Rainbow and Floral

View this set on Polyvore

Outfit 1: ModCloth sweater, Danielle Nicole clutch (similar), Full Tilt leggings from Tilly's
Outfit 2: ModCloth sweater, ModCloth shoulder bag, Charlotte Russe leggings

Team Germany photo from The Baltimore Sun.

Tuesday, February 18

Carnival Style: Sochi Inspired

How would y'all feel if the rest of this week was all fashion all the time here on Beyond the Aisle?  I started playing around with Polyvore during my little snowcation while watching the Olympics and I couldn't stop.  Here's the first of my Sochi Inspired style boards, sparked by one of my favorite parts of the opening ceremonies: the inflatable-dome tribute to St. Basil's cathedral and Russian street festivals.  Adding carnival colors and whimsical patterns to my wardrobe puts me in a festive mood and makes me feel more confident that spring is on the way!

Disclaimer:  ModCloth links include an affiliate code.

Carnival Style: Sochi Inspired

View on Polyvore

1. Old Navy crewneck sweater  2. ModCloth polka dot cardigan
3. Jonathan Adler honeycomb umbrella  4. Jonathan Adler zip wallet
5. Old Navy cap toe ballet flats  6. Old Navy striped 3/4 sleeve tee  
7. Old Navy colorblock sweater  8. ModCloth chevron dress

Opening Ceremony image from The New Yorker

And in case you haven't experienced it yet, here's your new favorite song:

Monday, February 17

clicks of note: got a song and a smile so bright...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • Eric Hutchinson's "Tell The World" is my new feel-good jam.  Linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Saturday, February 15

olympics: history of the dove of peace

the dove of peace

During the Opening Ceremony of the Sochi Olympics, one of the many standout moments was the Dove of Peace performance, which featured ballerina Diana Vishneva and other dancers performing to music from Swan Lake with glowing, spinning, jellyfish-like props meant to represent doves in flight.  I was intrigued by the unique performance, and did some research on the history of the symbolic Dove of Peace at the Olympics Opening Ceremonies.

The lighting of the Olympic Flame has been accompanied by the release of doves, symbolizing peace, since the post-World War I 1920 Summer games.  Since the Lillehammer, Norway Winter Olympics in 1994, symbolic doves rather than live doves have accompanied the lighting of the Olympic Flame.

In the most recent Winter Olympics, held in Vancouver, Canada in 2010, the Dove of Peace was represented by a projection on the stadium floor during k.d. lang's performance of "Hallelujah."

Turin, Italy's Opening Ceremonies in 2006 featured 28 acrobats creating the Dove of Peace with their bodies.

When the U.S. last hosted the Olympics in Salt Lake City in 2002, the Opening Ceremonies included ice skaters flying theatrical dove-shaped kites as Sting and Yo-Yo Ma performed "Fragile."

In Nagano in 1998, biodegradable dove-shaped balloons were released following the lighting of the Olympic Flame.

In Lillehammer, the first symbolic doves were balloons as well, with a larger dove emerging from a large egg shape.

The Summer Olympics have also featured symbolic Dove of Peace in their Opening Ceremonies.  In 2012's Summer games in London, 75 Dove Bikes featuring LED-lit wings entered the stadium in honor of Bradley Wiggins, the British cyclist who'd won the Tour de France just days before, as the Arctic Monkeys played "Come Together."

Watch the Beijing Opening Ceremonies artistic section on YouTube

At Beijing's lavish Opening Ceremonies in 2008, fireworks were used to portray a dove in flight, along with brightly lit dancers arranging themselves in the shape of the Dove of Peace and forming the bird's nest shape of the Beijing National Stadium during the performance by pianist Lang Lang and five-year-old Li Muzi during the artistic section's modern segment.

At the Athens Summer Olympics in 2004, runner George Sabanis carried an olive branch flag symbolizing peace and the city of Athens itself around the stadium, crossing tape dedicated to the previous 27 Olympic Games as he ran.  Doves appeared on three LCD rings representing a globe, which then displayed names of the cities through which the Olympic Flame had journeyed on its way to Athens.  A spectacular fireworks presentation followed the lighting of the Olympic Torch.

Sydney's Opening Ceremony in 2000 included a section which featured the projection of Olympic heroes, a Dove of Peace holding an olive branch, and the Olympic rings on an enormous piece of white cloth that was brought over the crowd in flowing waves, then held by the athletes as Australian singer-songwriter Vanessa Amorosi performed "Heroes Live Forever."

In the last U.S. Summer games, Atlanta 1996, the Dove of Peace was represented in several ways:  while film composer John Williams led the orchestra in "Summon the Heroes," performers formed the shape of the Olympic Rings and a flying Dove of Peace with their bodies.  Later, the Dove of Peace arrived again in the form of 100 theatrical dove-shaped paper kites flown by children across the track.

Wednesday, February 12

paper chase: sporty save-the-date ideas

As we approach the second most popular date for couples to get engaged (Christmas Eve is first), I'm thinking about all of the anticipation that charactertized that season in my life and the excitement of finding a venue and setting a date.  While we decided not to send Save the Dates (our guests were primarily local and we sent invitations in advance), they are a fantastic way to add some character to wedding correspondence.  While traditional Save the Dates abound, complete with florals, calligraphy, and gold foil, I love it when couples have some fun with this first "peek" at what the tone of the wedding will be like.  Today, I've rounded up a few Save the Date ideas perfect for couples who are athletes and sports fans.

This race bib save the date would be perfect for a couple who does 5Ks or marathons together, or who met in a running club.  I love the way the date stands out!

This ticket-inspired invitation is perfect for a couple who are major fans of the same team, and a great way to incorporate an engagement photo.

While definitely a more expensive option, this golf tee invitation is absolutely memorable and a great tip of the cap to a couple's favorite shared hobby or a country club wedding venue.

These pennant banner Save the Dates from Super Runaway are my favorites of the bunch - a fantastic way to incorporate the wedding's color scheme and have fun with typography and vintage-inspired design.

Which of these Save the Date ideas is your favorite?

Tuesday, February 11

Treat Yo Self!

It's officially Valentine's Day week, and that means it's the perfect time to...

Treat Yourself

View this set on Polyvore

1. LOFT cable knit sweater  2. Zoya nail polish in "Rue"
3. Priti NYC nail polish in "Paper Birch"  4. Olivine lotion
5. Charming Charlie colorblock dress  6. Kiel Mead Studio knot ring
7. Lanvin crossbody (lookalike from Forever21)
8. TOMS crochet espadrilles  9. J. Crew ballet flats
10. Raspberry rose macarons from Splendid Sweet Shoppe on Etsy

Bonus points if you got the Parks and Rec reference in the title!  Have a great week and stay warm, lovelies.

Linking Up With:
Style Sessions at Style Elixir
Wednesday Style Connection at Unpredictable and Chic
What I'm Loving Fridays at Simply Lulu Style

Perfectly Coutured

Monday, February 10

clicks of note: dancing on our own...

get your week off to a colorful start...






Sunday, February 9

sunday simplicity: trust

"Trust is... the beginning place, 
the foundation upon which more 
can be built. Where trust is, 
love can flourish."

- Barbara Smith

Friday, February 7

My February Favorites

February Favorites

1. Simple Truth Dark Chocolate Covered Almonds from Kroger - My favorite snack in the whole world.  When I hit the dreaded 4:00 energy slump, I munch on a handful of these.  Almonds are a good source of protein, dark chocolate contains antioxidants, and these things are like a healthier, classier version of peanut M&Ms.

2. Green smoothies - I've finally hopped on board the green smoothie train and learned to use my blender properly to make them (liquid and greens, THEN frozen fruit).  My favorite recipe so far is Minimalist Baker's 5 Ingredient Detox Smoothie.

3. Lia Sophia Sugar Dusted earrings - They're modern, they're sparkly, and they go with everything.

4. Mossimo lace front sweater from Target - This sweater is super soft and comfy, the lace makes it feminine while still maintaining the "fancy sweatshirt" style, and it's pretty enough to wear to work.  THE PERFECT SWEATER.

5. Threshold pleated comforter set - When we upgraded to our king sized bed, I wanted to find bedding with a similar color scheme to what we already have so that we wouldn't have to redecorate our whole bedroom.  This set from Target reminded me of more expensive sets from West Elm and I love the deep plum color.

6. Thomas O'Brien sheet set - We found some of these super-soft sheets in a fun tribal print that looked really cool with our plum comforter.  I kind of feel like I live in a design magazine now.

7. Memoirs - I've finally caught the nonfiction bug.  Funny, essay-style memoirs of living people are a lot more fun than the stuffy biographies we had to read in school.  You can read my reviews of Bossypants, A Year of Biblical Womanhood, and Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me in my January entertainment post.

8. O.P.I. "Lucky Lucky Lavender" nail polish - I love anything purple, and this shade is a slightly muted version of 2014's Pantone Color of the Year, Radiant Orchid.  I will be rocking this lavender in every season of the year.

What are you loving this month?

Lip Gloss & Lunges

Style Elixir

Thursday, February 6

goal setting: what i learned from 2013

If you've been following along with my goal setting posts this year, you know that I've been really grateful for Lara Casey's helpful series and questions.  Recently, Lara encouraged readers following along with her series to reflect on what worked and what didn't work in 2013 and to draw some lessons from those experiences.  Here's what I've realized:

What I learned from what worked:

  • My coworkers might as well be family at this point, and I am so blessed to be part of a supportive team.  I am respected and loved at work and my co-workers know my strengths and weaknesses.  The eighth grade team worked hard this year to welcome a group that had a reputation for being difficult students, and they've become one of our favorite groups ever.
  • My 4-H friends (former camp coworkers, current staff members, fellow adult volunteers, and teen leaders) inspire me with their energy and compassion for youth. The people I was on camp staff with know me so well - they were there for me through one of the most difficult periods in my life.  When you think someone has changed, they may have just grown.

What I learned from what didn't work:

  • Even though I don't always feel it, the administrators at my school do have a lot of confidence me as a teacher.  I can make suggestions and ask questions without feeling like they are going to judge me or get irritated.
  • I need to consciously make time for the things that matter to me - writing, exercise, cooking real food, spending time with friends and family.
  • I need to stop comparing my life to other people's - bloggers with beautiful wardrobes and houses, friends with babies, college classmates with more glamorous careers.  Mr. Q and I are in a really awesome phase of our lives right now and I need to just stop and appreciate being one half of a happy, young married couple.  And my goals, be they small (cleaning the guest room) or large (buying a house), are always going to be a lot more achievable when I share them with the other member of this team.

What did you learn from 2013?

Wednesday, February 5

Valentine's Day Party Ideas

To celebrate my freshly cleaned and organized townhouse (a result of following along with Apartment Therapy's January Cure), I hosted a little get together with some of my favorite girlfriends last weekend .  I figured it was close enough to Valentine's Day to make that my theme.  It was a fairly low maintenance gathering, so I wanted to share some of the simple ways I decorated and the recipes I used (all from amazing blogs)!

This "Believe in Love" print from Target was a gift at my bridal shower and I've always loved its color scheme.  The metal easel was part of our wedding decor.

I kept decor really stress-free by picking up cute plates, napkins and cups at a big box store.  I'm sure I could have spent time rubber-stamping kraft paper cutlery or something, but honestly?  It's a paper plate.  It's going to end up in the trash can.

I have decided that striped straws are an entertaining essential from here on out.  They put a smile on everyone's face, especially when paired with my other favorite party trick, the old faithful Mason jar.  I found these straws in the $1 bin at Michael's.

Here's a peek at the spread - I went for kind of a sweet shop theme since the best part of Valentine's Day is the CHOCOLATE!  Not pictured: veggies and fruit (they were there, I promise!).

True lazy party planning confessions: I had a Rubbermaid container full of the frozen base for the punch I made for Breeze's bridal shower.  All I had to add was a bottle of Sprite and the pink punch looked pretty adorable and Valentine's-appropriate.

Oh, these cookies.  I made these using a recipe from Averie Cooks.  The secret is using pudding instead of cornstarch - soft, chewy, soft-baked goodness.  I doubled the M&M's instead of adding chocolate chips.

The other dessert I made were these marshmallow-topped brownie bites from A Pumpkin and a Princess.  I had a little bit of trouble getting the brownies out of the mini muffin pan, so if I make these again I will use cupcake liners.  Because it took me so long to get the dang things out of the pan, my marshmallows did not magically melt onto the brownies.

But guess what?  Melted white chocolate chips make EXCELLENT glue for marshmallows.

The heart shaped marshmallows also look pretty adorable in your
hot chocolate when the party's over.  Just FYI.

What are you up to this week?  How will you celebrate 
Valentine's Day this year?

Linking Up With: