Saturday, May 31

my april + may in instagrams

My monogram - "purple" for #fmsphotoaday.  I just don't know
if non-Southerners appreciate a good momogram as much as we do.
The theme for the second photo was "shapes" and this envelope
from the University of Virginia was the best I could do.  I have a similar
 stylized rotunda engraved inside my class ring - it was in our class flag.

After my second Color Run - this year's wasn't quite as much
fun as last year - Mr. Q was out of town, it was a chilly day,
the course was a more challenging walk, and several of the
stations ran out of color because it was so windy.

Some snaps from around the house.

Getting ready to watch Mr. Q's team compete in their 
first relay triathlon at Smith Mountain Lake.  He is doing
another one today in Roanoke -  I think he's hooked!

May 4th (Star Wars Day) and cheering on my students
in their softball game - they dominated!

Honey purchased at the local creamery (I find that my allergies aren't
as bad when I eat local honey daily) and yummy shrimp scampi
(I used this recipe from A Beautiful Mess and fresh basil from my garden).

The first strawberries of the season- a sure sign of summer's
imminent arrival.

Weekend snaps - summer-izing the living room with a new
blanket from West Elm and putting in final grades for the semester.

My sister-in-law's worship band performing
at Festival in the Park in Roanoke.

I had to be out of my classroom by 2:00 on the first teacher 
workday so that the maintenance staff could get to work.  At
my school, EVERYTHING except desks has to be off the floor
and everything must come off the walls.  All of my furniture has
to be moved in the hallways so my floor can be stripped and
 waxed.  Here's what happens after the kids leave!

My best friend at work made me the most decadent
cake for my 29th bithday - the cake is chocolate with
chocolate chips, the frosting is peanut butter with Reese's
Pieces!  I don't know what I did to deserve having
such an amazing friend in my life.  Absolutely love her.

A Harvest of Blessing

Friday, May 30

my spring blog loves

blog loves - spring 2014

Every season here at Beyond the Aisle, I like to share a handful of my "blog-mances" with my readers - delightful blogs that cover all of my favorite subjects - lifestyle, fashion, cooking, organization - and that I think you should add to your reading list ASAP!

My Life as a Teacup - I'm pretty sure Kristin is a blogging soul mate - she's a teacher, reader, and loves Star Wars and Batman.  Regular features include Things I'm Loving Thursday, Link Love, and For the Love of a Linguaphile, which I think is one of the most creative ideas in the blog world.

A Thoughtful Place - Courtney has one of my favorite living rooms, give great decorating advice, shares her favorite shopping finds, and features a really cool idea where fellow bloggers share their fashion and home decor "shapshots."

The Recipe Critic - Mom of two Alyssa's blog promises "tried and true recipes your family will love," and she does not disappoint!  Her recipes feature gorgeous pictures and easy to follow instructions, she features clever round-ups, and she hosts a weekly link party with even more great ideas.

Which blogs always put a smile on your face?  Do you have any recommendations this month?

Thursday, May 29

My birthday in #1 Hits

First of all, I completely stole this idea from Micah, who posted her birthday milestone #1 hits last year.  I filed the idea away in my mental to-blog file and the time has finally come!  Today I am 29 years old, which also makes today my "Golden birthday" or "Champagne birthday."  According to my best friend at work, this should be one of the best years of my life.  Since music is such a big part of my life, it was fun to look back at how much popular music has changed over the past 29 years.  The Birthday #1 tool at This Day in Music is really cool.  I tried to include links to the official videos where VEVO/WMG/Sony/UMG prevented me from embedding them in the post.

The year I was born: May 29, 1985
"Everything She Wants" by Wham
Apparently George Michael still performs this song live from time to time.
I'm fairly certain this is not what my parents were listening to when I was a baby.

My 5th birthday: 1990
"Vogue" by Madonna
Who remembers that this song was actually from the Dick Tracy movie 
soundtrack?  Who remembers the movie Dick Tracy? 
 Definitely one of the most memorable Madonna songs, though.

Do y'all miss pop-up videos?  I know I do.

My 10th birthday: 1995
"Have You Ever Really Loved a Woman?" by Bryan Adams
Another memorable song from the soundtrack of a forgettable movie - 
this one is from Don Juan DeMarco.

My apologies for this monstrosity of a video.

My 12th birthday: 1997
I still remember seeing this video on MTV for the first time at my friend Kendall's 
house... Hanson was already blowing up the radio and it was so exciting to see them 
on TV!  I will never, ever judge my students for liking boy bands - I loved Hanson 
and NSYNC, and as a teacher I've gone from having students who love the Jonas 
Brothers, to those who love One Direction.

My Sweet 16:  2001
I loved Moulin Rouge and thought the singers in the video looked awesome - 
especially Pink's top hat.  I think I was aware that Christina's ginormous hair was unfortunate, but I didn't care.  Because of Romeo + Juliet, I was already a Baz 
Luhrmann fan, and Moulin Rouge did not disappoint me.  I may or may not 
have redecorated my bedroom with a  Moulin Rouge theme and I am pretty
 sure that's when my obsession with Paris began.  

My 21st birthday: 2006
"Ridin'" by Chamillionaire
Seems appropriate.  I turned 21 while working at a summer camp so all in all 
it was pretty wholesome.  I'm okay with that, because I got to celebrate with
my bestie Susie, who was also born on May 29th in 1985, in Seattle!
Oh, Chamillionaire, where are you now?  Apparently, on Twitter.

My 29th birthday: 2014
It was just announced that Iggy Azalea's "Fancy" is the new #1 song on Billboard's 
Hot 100.  I think that's just perfect.

Monday, May 26

clicks of note: now I know the things I didn't know...

get your week off to a colorful start...

Y'all, I'm turning 29 on Thursday and I haven't decided how I feel about it.  It's also the last week of school, and I know exactly how I feel about that, so I guess it all evens out.


  • Ray LaMontagne's new album Supernova has a retro feel, which made more sense when I read that it was produced by the Black Keys' Dan Auerbach.  I'm especially drawn to "Drive-In Movies" since I just finished reading The Outsiders with my students and feel a little bit stuck in the 1960's right now.




Friday, May 23

Calling All Aspiring Designers!

**This post contains affiliate links and I will be compensated if you make a purchase after clicking on my links. 

I've been a ModCloth affiliate for a while now because I absolutely love their collections of vintage-inspired clothing, accessories and home goods.  ModCloth is launching its second Make the Cut Contest of the year! Make the Cut is a fashion design contest that I think some of you could totally rock at!  In this spring's edition, ModCloth is giving contestants the opportunity to design a print pattern for a scarf. The top 10 submissions will be hosted on the Be the Buyer page, where member of ModCloth's devoted community will vote for their favorite print. The lucky winner will have their design produced by and sold on ModCloth (with their name on the tag!), plus they'll receive a $500 prize!  

ModCloth will be accepting contest submissions until 11:59 p.m. PT on 5/30.  Community Members can vote for and comment on those designs from 10 a.m. PT on 6/9 to 11:59 p.m. PT on 6/13 via Be the Buyer. On 6/16, the winner will be announced on Story, the ModCloth blog.

I know that some of you have amazing artistic talents and I love imagining the following situation...

Friend:  "That scarf is so adorable.  Where'd you get it?"
Me:  "Oh, this scarf?  One of my readers designed it for ModCloth."

Official contest rules can be found here. Good luck! 

Thursday, May 22

Book Review: The Nesting Place by Myquillyn Smith

I've been reading Myquillyn Smith's blog, The Nesting Place, for some time now, and I was excited when I found out that she was writing a book, I knew I'd want to give it a read.  The book's tagline is a motto well-known to Myquillyn's blog readers: "it doesn't have to be perfect to be beautiful."  How many home decor books have you read that feature a picture of the author's office in real-life mode, the desk covered with papers, drawers open, and cutesy accessories strewn on the floor, or of the family room actually being used by family members?

"Whether we work too hard or just give up, both tendencies stem from one main issue: we've allowed the myth of perfection to take our minds hostage."

The Nesting Place is not your typical home decor book. There are no traditional tutorials or step-by-step how-tos, just plenty of encouragement to create a home that feels like you.  Rather than being directed solely toward homeowners, Myquillyn offers a wealth of encouragement for renters (she and her husband Chad have moved thirteen times in their marriage's eighteen years).  Whereas most of my favorite shelter magazines feature "get the look" round-ups featuring items from big-name retailers, Myquillyn encourages readers to check out thrift shops, Craigslist, and yard sales, and to break traditional "rules" about where furniture should go.  She encourages readers - even those who are renting - to take risks in order to make our homes more functional: put holes in the wall, paint, change light fixtures, hang things on the wall that aren't even 'art' - like the friend who tells us our hair will grow back after a drastic pixie cut, she reminds us that even the craziest risks we take in our homes can be undone with a little elbow grease.  

"Lower your expectations and realize that as long as we all choose to walk around clothed, the laundry will never really be finished.  If we live fully in a home, there will be messes.  Why does that surprise us and make us feel guilty?  As long as we ear, walk, and need places to sit down, the kitchen sink will have a few dirty dishes in it and the living room will never be clutter-free for long."

Reading Myquillyn's book reminds me of a friend who visited my home on the spur of the moment.  When I started apologizing for our clutter (mail on the counter, magazines on the kitchen table, books on the sofa, et cetera), she said, "Do you live here?  All right then."  She reminds readers that imperfections and clutter are signs that a house is being used for its true purpose - to serve as a home for real, live, messily imperfect people. 

"The thing is having a home you love always starts with making it imperfect.  Ironic, isn't it?  You can't be afraid to paint your walls because you might get paint on your walls."

As a Christian, I sometimes feel torn between my love of design and the Biblical charge to not conform to the world.  This quote from Myquillyn really touched my heart:  "I appreciate fine and lovely things, but they are not my treasures.  I know what is truly important, and I do not aim to 'store my treasures here on earth.'"  She reminds readers who love decorating their homes that our passion for beautiful things comes from "the ultimate master designer." In the book's last chapter, she recounts her trip to Tanzania with Compassion International to meet Topiwo, the child her family sponsors, and what she learned about what it means to have a true home.  Myquillyn's tone is so encouraging - she stresses the importance of letting go of the idea of perfection and finding ways to create meaningful beauty.  As a renter, her reminder to enjoy the home I have now resonated with me - she says, "don't cheat on your current house by dreaming of the life you'll have with your next house."  Looks like it's time for me to put a few more holes in the walls.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookLook Bloggers book review 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.”

Wednesday, May 21

inspiration for a sweet strawberry spring wedding

A few months ago, a fellow blogger reached out to me with a wedding conundrum - my favorite!  One of her friends was planning a May wedding with a rustic theme.  The planning quandry:  both the bride and groom really like red, but were worried that red is too much of a fall color.  I think that red can definitely work for spring - especially with a rustic setting. The first things that came to mind when I thought of spring, red, and rustic were strawberries, geraniums and Coca-Cola in glass bottles.  Here's some inspiration for how I think a red spring wedding could come together:

I love this cheerful save-the-date from Page Stationery - the
bright red and fun font against the gingham sets the tone for
a laid-back wedding packed with springtime sweetness.

This bow tie would be so cute for a ring bearer,
or even the groomsmen in a springtime wedding party!

Tuesday, May 20

Style: Memorial Day Nautical Fashion Inspiration

The unofficial beginning of summer is officially less than a week away. Whether you're hitting the beach or hitting up sales, this season's popular nautical-inspired fashions and accessories are perfect for Memorial Day - patriotic, classic, and picnic-perfect.

Memorial Day 2014

View on Polyvore

1. J. Crew Factory anchor swimsuit  2. Express anchor earrings (similar
3. Old Navy canvas rope tote  4. GAP striped top (similar)
 5. Keds for Kate Spade cork sneakers  6. Merona chino shorts from Target

Linking Up With:
Funday Monday at Still Being Molly
Style Sessions at Style Elixir
Casual Friday at Two Thirty-Five Designs

Monday, May 19

clicks of note: i built my world around you...

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • The concert I attended with my family last week was absolutely amazing - Devil Makes Three, Alison Krauss and Union Station, and Willie Nelson and Family all put on an amazing show.  I'd almost forgotten about this gem from Alison Krauss and Union Station.  Her voice is just perfect and sounds just as sweet live.  Today I'm linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.




Sunday, May 18

sunday social: summer fun!

1. What is your best summer memory as a kid?  

Visiting Disney World with my parents in high school the summer they paid off the mortgage on our house.  I was fifteen and I think I enjoyed the trip more than I would have if they'd taken me as a child because I really appreciated how big of a deal it was.  We stopped in Savannah, Georgia on the way down and stayed there for the night, and I fell in love with that city.  Disney World was great, of course, and one of the best parts was seeing my parents get to enjoy themselves and just totally geeking out together about the movies we loved and how magical everything is there.  

2. What is your favorite summer drink?

Sweet tea is my go-to year round, but it's extra good in the summer.  In the adult beverage category, I really love mojitos in the summertime - a mixed berry version was our wedding cocktail!

3. What is your favorite summer TV show?

So You Think You Can Dance!  I can't wait until it returns on May 28th.  I always have favorite dancers and I call in and vote every week.  A close second is Master Chef - Mr. Q and I both love it and it inspires us to use our kitchen more in the summer.

4. What is the best outdoor summer activity?

Being on the lake - I really love canoeing and kayaking, but I won't pass up a motorboat or pontoon ride if one is offered.  Just no sailboats - they make me seasick.

5. What are your summer vacation essentials?

Sunscreen, bug spray, and comfortable shoes - no matter where I am, if I'm in a new place, I want to see and do ALL THE THINGS.

sunday simplicity.

Friday, May 16

photo an hour: school year edition

I missed the Photo an Hour link-up that a few of the bloggers I follow 
were participating in a few weeks ago, but I still thought taking a photo 
an hour to show off a typical day in my life would be a fun idea.  I decided 
to take pictures on a school day so that you can get a taste of what 
it's like to herd cats wrangle middle-schoolers all day.  It's  not glamorous 
or Pinterest-worthy, but it's my life and I love it.  I can  forsee a weekend
edition and a summer edition coming your way in the future!

6:00 AM - Wake up and head straight for the shower - what actually
wakes me up.  I saw CeraVe cleanser recommended on another blog
and it's been working really well so far on my acne-prone face.

7:00 AM - After breakfast and the morning news,  I'm finishing up 
my morning routine and getting dressed.  I don't wear a lot of makeup 
to work - usually just mineral powder foundation or BB cream, blush, 
and a colored lip balm.  Part of this is just me being low-maintenance, 
but I also want my female students to see that a successful adult
woman does not have to cake on tons of makeup to feel confident.

8:00 AM - Kids start arriving in the building.  I've already filled up my 
jumbo coffee mug (a reminder of college years in Charlottesville) and have 
my homeroom passes ready since most of my kids will need to go on 
various errands.  My first period is an advanced class, and most of the 
students are involved in many extracurricular activities - softball, band, 
choir, debate, and student government.  They are a really great group.
I usually skim the local newspapers online during homeroom in case
something really important is going on in my community that I've missed!

9:00 AM - Class has been in session for half an hour and on this particular 
day we are reviewing author's purpose - to persuade, inform, or entertain.
They call ideas out to me, I write them down on the interactive white board,
and they copy the notes down in their journals.  They're really doing the work.

10:00 AM - Second period students have arrived, gotten their materials
ready, and are supposed to be working on the warm-up activity, which
requires them to identify the irrelevant detail for a given main idea.  My 
second period is an inclusion class, which means there is a combination of
general education and special education students.  A paraprofessional 
helps me during second period and I also have an intern who comes over
from the high school to observe me teaching and work with students.

11:00 AM - Second period is winding down.  Right now I'm reading
The Outsiders with all three of my classes, and it's a great way to
end the period - I try to break it up so that we get to a suspenseful
point in the story right as the bell's about to ring.  I'm mean like that.

12:00 PM - My planning period.  I check e-mails, call parents about 
academic progress and behavior issues, update my homework hotline 
and class blog, work on lesson plans, grade classwork, review and
aggregate assessment data, and tackle paperwork.  I have a few students 
from second period who come during their P.E. class to get some extra 
help from me, work on missing assignments or retake quizzes and tests.  
Occasionally I am asked to read a test aloud for a special education 
student or cover a class for another teacher during this period. One 
tool that I use to be a little more efficient during my planning is 
TweetDeck - it helps me follow posts on interests like education 
reform, project-based learning, and vocabulary instruction, without 
having to comb the Internet myself for the news.

1:00 PM - Lunch time.  I eat with members of my team (the other eighth
grade English teachers) each day.  Sometimes I'm so busy that I forget to 
stop working and go eat lunch, so I've actually had to ask my coworkers 
to come check on me if my classroom door is still closed.  On Tuesdays 
we have our official team  meeting, and on Thursdays I have lunch duty 
in the cafeteria.  I basically rotate two basic lunches - soup and fruit 
or salad and a yogurt.  I pack every day - just because I work in a school
does NOT mean I have to eat school food ever again.

2:00 PM - Fourth period is in full swing.  It's your typical eighth grade
English class - a few kids who would say English is their favorite subject, 
a few who feel like reading and writing are a bore, and everyone in 
between.  Even though they are a very diverse class - athletes, step team 
members, avid hunters, "too cool for school" girls, and English as a Second
Language students, they get along very well as a group and are really
funny.  This picture is a pretty good representation - this is what happens
when I ask a student in that class to write the homework on the board.

3:00 PM - On Mondays, we have either a faculty, department, or team 
meeting.  On Wednesdays, I coach our little debate club.

4:00 PM - One last trip to the workroom to make copies for the next
day's lesson.  I really should use our district's print shop more often, but
I tend to change my lesson plans often based on how my students are
doing each day in class.  Since I have three classes at three different levels,
there's a good chance I'll be teaching three different lessons on a given day.

5:00 PM - If I don't start on chores as soon as I get home, they will
not get done.  Do any of you feel like you are constantly doing laundry?

6:00 PM - Working on my little container garden.  My flowerpots
on the back patio this spring were actually inspired by Kate Spade.
The pink, purple, and yellow flowers reminded me of her bright designs.

7:00 PM - Dinner.  This is a good example of a Mr. Q-cooked meal;
notice that it has meat, cheese, and starch but counts salsa as a vegetable.
On Tuesday nights I have my yoga class and Mr. Q has his bike
ride in Roanoke, so we fend for ourselves, and on Thursday we go out
to eat at our favorite Mexican place with his local cycling club friends.

8:00 PM - A little blogging while watching TV (the season finale of
Parks and Rec on the DVR).

9:00 PM - I'm trying to get into a habit of practicing yoga before bed
on the nights I don't have class; I do think it helps me sleep better.
I also like Traditional Medicinal's "Nighty Night" tea, which has
chamomile and other ingredients to increase relaxation.

10:00 PM - On an ideal night, time for bed.  On a not-so-ideal night,
I might be watching trashy TV, reading, or watching random YouTube videos.