Wednesday, December 31

year in review: favorite posts of 2014

Yesterday, I shared some of the most popular posts on Beyond the Aisle from 2014.  Today, I'm celebrating the end of a great year with a little hat-tip to my personal favorite posts.

My January in Entertainment - I really started the year strong with my media choices - I read Tina Fey and Mindy Kaling's books, my all-time favorite memoir about Christianity, and started a YA series that I loved.

Valentine's Day Party Ideas - Even though none of my party ideas were that innovative or fancy, I really had fun throwing a Valentine's Day party for my girlfriends.

If My Blog Was an Outfit - This was just fun.  I love ideas that circulate the blogosphere and help me be more creative.

Goal Setting: What Fires Me Up! - I come back to this list when I need a reminder.

On Wednesdays We Wear Pink - I love my weird posts, and my idea to create Polyvore outfits for each of the main characters in Mean Girls was definitely weird.

Photo an Hour - I think that when I've been teaching for 10, 15, or 20 years it will really be interesting to come back to this post to remember what a day of teaching eighth grade in 2014 was like.  Four 84-minute class periods of up to 30 kiddos each, interactive white boards, journals, and bulky metal laptop carts are all so normal to me now, but who knows what's to come in my teaching career.

My Early Summer in Entertainment - I can't believe I got to see Delta Rae, Willie Nelson, and Alison Krauss this summer.  Still not over it.

Our Williamsburg, Virginia Vacation Part 1 - A.K.A. the vacation I thought would be lame that ended up being totally fun.

My Late Summer in Instagram - Instagram round-up posts really remind me how special and beautiful my life really is.

Letting My Geek Flag Fly! [Geek Girl Tag] - Since no one chased me with a pitchfork after I posted this one, expect things to get even more geeky around here in the future.

My Fall in Instagram - In which I was a pony for Halloween.  NEVER FORGET.

DIY Cardinal Christmas Wreath - Probably my favorite craft project of the year; I really do love making wreaths.

Happy New Year's Eve!

Tuesday, December 30

year in review: most popular posts of 2014

We've come to the last few days of 2014, and it's time to reflect.  Google Analytics, Blogger, and Pinterest are handy tools to use to see what posts were popular this year and where visitors to Beyond the Aisle were coming from.

Here's a peek at my stats from 2014:
Visitors - 16,991 (up over 1,000 from last year!)
Unique Visitors - 15,351 (up over 3,000 from last year!)
Pageviews - 23,260 (up over 2,000 from last year!)

Visitors from these countries visited Beyond the Aisle in 2014:
1. United States
2. Canada
3. United Kingdom
4. Australia
5. Germany
6. France
7. South Africa 
8. Philippines
9. Brazil
10. Mexico

These cities are home to Beyond the Aisle readers:
1. Charlottesville
2. New York
3. Chicago (up from #7 last year!)
4. London
5. Washington
6. Baltimore
7. Hialeah
8. Toronto
9. Los Angeles
10. Houston

Most popular posts:

10. Sunday Social: Beauty Edition - I really miss the Sunday Social link-ups - the questions often got me thinking.  While beauty doesn't seem like a really in-depth topic, I think we all know that women are actually very interested in each other's routines.

9. Patriotic Washi Tape Decor for Independence Day - let's be honest, this was the easiest DIY ever!  I still wanted to share my little burst of creativity with the blog world for one of my favorite holidays, and I'm glad people liked it!  My candleholders and vases made a few appearances on Pinterest as well - easy crafts for the win.

8. My May Favorites - Another now-defunct link-up, but I'm still posting my favorites each month - and I still love everything I've posted in these!  A bit of sad news for 2015, though, is that my favorite jewelry company, Lia Sophia, is going out of business.

7. Light It Up Blue for Autism Awareness - We did a big Light It Up Blue week at school and I enjoyed bringing that over to the blog.

6. eShakti Dress Review - One of my favorite posts of the year because Mr. Q helped me with all of the photos and we had fun.  It also brought one of my real-life friends to the blog through eShakti!

5. Winter Style: Classy in Cranberry - You're going to be seeing a lot of burgundy and maroon shades this year since Marsala was chosen as Pantone's Color of the Year for 2015.

4. Inspiration for a Dreamy Mint and Baby's Breath Spring Wedding - Dream wedding round-ups are still one of my favorite things to do here on the blog.

3. Series: My Favorite 2014 Golden Globes LooksMy Favorite 2014 Golden Globes Hair and MakeupOscars Style: My Favorite Hair, Makeup, and Accessories - Clearly, you all are award show junkies just like I am!

2. The Boy Behind the Blog: Mr. Q's Turn to Post! - His answers were short, sweet, and to the point.  AND YOU OBVIOUSLY LOVED IT.

1. Rock and Roll 50th Birthday Party Ideas - My best work friend worked so hard on her husband's birthday party and Mr. Q and I were happy to help out by lending our photography and DIY skills.  I'm still really proud of my chalkboard project and it has become popular on Pinterest as well!

Monday, December 29

clicks of note: i believe you when you say we're never gonna fall...

get your week off to a colorful start...

  • I hope that all of you had a lovely time celebrating the holidays and that you're looking forward to New Year's Eve, even though it falls awkwardly on a Wednesday this year. Instead of doing any wild and crazy partying, we will be dog-sitting our fave little Shih Tzu, and I will be finishing a course of antibiotics since I've been dealing with a sinus infection pretty much since the day school got out... lots of PJs, tea, and Audrey Hepburn movies around here this week.

  • Ingrid Michaelson can pretty much do no wrong in my book, and I'm currently loving "Parachute."  It's one of those before-you-know-it-it's-over songs, so be ready to hit the repeat button.  I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.



Wednesday, December 24

Christmas Eve Holiday Home Tour

Last year I didn't share our Christmas decor until after Christmas, so I guess I'm doing a little bit better!  This year, I was inspired by our summer vacation to Colonial Williamsburg and decided to do a classic Virginia theme for our Christmas decorations.  I was especially inspired by our state bird, the Cardinal, bright Christmas poinsettias, and plaid and gingham fabrics and trim.

Come on in!  You can see more shots of my cardinal and plaid wreath here.  I was inspired by some of my favorite bloggers' home tours to add a little flair to our banisters this year - Dollar Tree garland looks pretty great paired with plaid ribbon and poinsettias!

Here's our tree!   In addition to cardinals and plaid, I tried to stick to a gold and red color scheme with a few bits of pewter.  The Santa blanket is a little cheesy, but it was a gift from Mr. Q's grandparents when we started dating so I bring it out every year.

I really love it when my gift wrap matches my theme - it's the Type A side of me coming out, I guess.  The plaid gift wrap was a Big Lots find, and the plaid tissue is from the Dollar Tree!  It doesn't take a lot of money to have a really pulled-together Christmas look, but you do have to be willing to shop at several stores for all of your pieces.

Here's my little tribute to the holiday decorations at Colonial Williamsburg, which use a lot of beautiful fruit - mandarin oranges, apples, and pomegranates make a cheerful centerpiece.  Did you notice that my table runner and throw pillows match?  That's because they're all made from the same Big Lots tablecloth!  I used The Happy Housie's envelope pillow tutorial.

I have a little snack station set up on the counter for today's guests.  I've got Christmas plates and napkins (thanks again to Big Lots!) along with Chex Mix, cocoa, and some other munchies.  I made the wee little votive holder by rolling a glass jar in a mixture of Epsom salts and white and gold glitter - I used the same "snowglobe mix" in some Mason jars filled with pinecones that I've scattered around the house for a little extra cheer that will last all winter.

Merry Christmas, friends!  May your holidays be full of peace and joy.

Linking Up:

Monday, December 22

clicks of note: swept completely off my feet...

get your week off to a colorful start...
  • I didn't pay much to attention to Kelly Clarkson's Christmas album, Wrapped in Red, when it was released last year, because I thought it was all covers!  Thanks to Pandora and YouTube I've discovered the original tracks like "Winter Dreams," a sweet and cheerful Christmas love song Kelly wrote for her now-husband Brandon.  I'll be linking up with Musical Mondays at My So-Called Chaos.





Saturday, December 20

current blog loves

Every now and again here at Beyond the Aisle, I feel inspired to round up my "blog-mances" - a variety of awesome blogs that cover all of my favorite subjects - art, lifestyle, home decor, cooking, DIY, reading - and that I think you should add to your reading list ASAP!  Here are five blogs I'm loving this December...

Oana Befort - Oana is a talented illustrator whose blog includes design freebies like pretty desktop wallpapers and printable holiday gift tags, along with her ongoing project to take photos of her (adorable) children every week for a year, lovely photos of life in Bucharest, Romania, and the occasional inspiration post.

Yes and Yes - Sarah Von is a world traveler who lives life on purpose, and I think that she has one of the most unique voices on the web.  It's like she scours the four corners of the Internet for the most unusual, but interesting content aimed toward a primarily young female audience.  The "Mornings In" series shows how women around the world greet the day and Mini Travel Guides give readers the inside scoop on destinations that are off the beaten path.  Her True Story features (like this interview with a professional ballerina), which cover all sorts of controversial, interesting, and quirky choices and lifestyles, are probably my favorite, but I also love the Network of Nice and Web Time Wasters.  Sarah has an app coming out in January - I really hope it will be available for Android because it looks awesome!

House of Earnest

House of Earnest - Erin Souder's lifestyle blog encompasses home decor, DIY (how pretty is this pillow inspired by Moroccan wedding blankets?), recipes, and party inspiration.  She also shares behind-the-scenes peeks as she runs her own business, Grandiflora.  My favorite feature is her Friday Favorites series- the posts always include something modern and stylish that will catch my eye!

Trash is for Tossers - I discovered this blog one day when I saw that several of my Facebook friends had shared a link to an article called something like, "She hasn't made any trash in two years.  Here's what her life is like."  Total clickbait, but I was really intrigued.  I spent the rest of that evening reading every single post on Lauren Singer's blog.  Her goal is to live a sustainable, Zero Waste life, and she chronicles that journey on TIFT.  Her posts include zero-waste alternatives to everyday itemssupplies and recipes for cleaning and skincare, spotlights on companies that take a waste-free approach to producing their goods, and strategies for traveling waste-free.  I am so inspired by how Lauren lives in a way that truly reflects her values, and her blog has made me more likely to stop and think before buying plastic.  She's even launching her own company!

The Perpetual Page-Turner - a haven for YA and adult book nerds, I discovered Jamie's blog through her post on being married to a non-reader.  Her reviews have a conversational tone and she often reflects on how the books she's reading relate to her own life.  I really enjoy her monthly round-up posts, which go beyond books to include recent obsessions, favorite blog posts from around the web, and great music.

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

Wednesday, December 17

inspiration: a beauty and the beast winter wedding

My favorite fairy tale since childhood has been Beauty and the Beast.  I love that Belle (both the Disney version and the original in the French fairy story) is a bookworm, and her nurturing personality and ability to see inner beauty.  Today I'm sharing wedding details from around the web, inspired by a story I cherish.

There was once a very rich merchant, who had three daughters; being a man of sense, he spared no cost for their education, but gave them all kinds of masters. His daughters were extremely handsome, especially the youngest. When she was little everybody admired her, and called her Beauty, which made her sisters very jealous.  The two eldest had a great deal of pride, because they were rich. They gave themselves ridiculous airs, and would not visit other merchants' daughters, nor keep company with any but persons of quality. They went out every day to parties of pleasure, balls, plays, concerts, and so forth, and they laughed at their youngest sister, because she spent the greatest part of her time in reading good books.

The merchant received a letter with an account that a vessel, on board of which he had effects, was safely arrived. This news had liked to have turned the heads of the two eldest daughters, and when they saw their father ready to set out, they begged of him to buy them new gowns, headdresses, ribbons, and all manner of trifles.

"What will you have, Beauty?" said her father.

"Since you have the goodness to think of me," answered she, "be so kind to bring me a rose, for as none grows hereabouts, they are a kind of rarity." 

The good man was within thirty miles of his own house, thinking on the pleasure he should have in seeing his children again, when going through a large forest he lost himself. It rained and snowed terribly; besides, the wind was so high, that it threw him twice off his horse, and night coming on, he began to apprehend being either starved to death with cold and hunger, or else devoured by the wolves, whom he heard howling all round him, when, on a sudden, looking through a long walk of trees, he saw a light at some distance, and going on a little farther perceived it came from a palace illuminated from top to bottom. 

Cameron and Kelly Studio via Style Me Pretty | Heather Bliss Photography via Calie Rose Floral and Event Design

The good man drank his chocolate, and then went to look for his horse, but passing through an arbor of roses he remembered Beauty's request to him, and gathered a branch on which were several; immediately he heard a great noise, and saw such a frightful Beast coming towards him, that he was ready to faint away.

"You are very ungrateful," said the Beast to him, in a terrible voice; "I have saved your life by receiving you into my castle, and, in return, you steal my roses, which I value beyond any thing in the universe, but you shall die for it; I give you but a quarter of an hour to prepare yourself, and say your prayers."

The merchant fell on his knees, and lifted up both his hands, "My lord," said he, "I beseech you to forgive me, indeed I had no intention to offend in gathering a rose for one of my daughters, who desired me to bring her one."

Beauty thought she might as well walk about, and view this fine castle, which she could not help admiring; it was a delightful pleasant place. What chiefly took up her attention, was a large library, a harpsichord, and several music books. 

"Eat then, Beauty," said the monster, "and endeavor to amuse yourself in your palace, for everything here is yours, and I should be very uneasy, if you were not happy."

"You are very obliging," answered Beauty, "I own I am pleased with your kindness, and when I consider that, your deformity scarce appears."

"Yes, yes," said the Beast, "my heart is good, but still I am a monster."

"Among mankind," says Beauty, "there are many that deserve that name more than you, and I prefer you, just as you are, to those, who, under a human form, hide a treacherous, corrupt, and ungrateful heart."

"No, dear Beast," said Beauty, "you must not die. Live to be my husband; from this moment I give you my hand, and swear to be none but yours. Alas! I thought I had only a friendship for you, but the grief I now feel convinces me, that I cannot live without you." Beauty scarce had pronounced these words, when she saw the palace sparkle with light; and fireworks, instruments of music, everything seemed to give notice of some great event. But nothing could fix her attention; she turned to her dear Beast, for whom she trembled with fear; but how great was her surprise! Beast was disappeared, and she saw, at her feet, one of the loveliest princes that eye ever beheld; who returned her thanks for having put an end to the charm, under which he had so long resembled a Beast.

Okay, readers:  What's your favorite fairy tale?