March 26, 2017

Help Me Plan My Trip to Martha's Vineyard!

We just returned from our last ski trip of the season in Vermont.  So bittersweet.  Even though I love spring and warmer weather, I am sad to know we won't be spending many weekends up north for awhile.  The ski conditions were fabulous this year and the boys are becoming amazing skiers.  My 13 year old can out-ski us all now and is enjoying every minute of it.  He truly loves the sport!

While I unpack the winter clothes one last time, I am beginning to think about my girls weekend scheduled for May.  A group of us are heading to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts and I cannot wait!  I have never been there but I seemed to have taken over the trip surprise there.

Edgartown Lighthouse - Martha's Vineyard

So far, we know we are staying at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown but that's all we have planned.  I have been reading up on restaurants and things to do but I would love to hear from those of you who have been to Martha's Vineyard.

What are your favorite restaurants?

What are the must see/must do activities?

Any other tips or suggestions are appreciated!

If you missed my post, Girl Getaways of My Past and Future, you can pop over there to see where we have taken trips in the past.  In that post, I also asked for help with the Martha's Vineyard planning but I figured I would dedicate a whole post to it now.  Thank you to everyone who gave advice there.  I am taking tons of notes!

Thanks for your help!
I can't wait to hear what advice you have to give!
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

March 18, 2017

Reading, Shopping and Catching Up On Life

It's been a crazy busy couple of weeks around here.  Seriously, where does the time go?  I just wrapped up co-chairing an annual event at my son's school.  This was my 4th and final year so it felt a little bittersweet.  Next year is middle school, which doesn't have as many opportunities for parents to get involved.  Why do they have to grow up so fast?

Even though we just had a snowstorm this week, I am getting in the mood to start decorating for spring!  Now that St. Patrick's Day is over, I feel comfortable bringing out the bunnies for Easter!

Bunny decor on stove mantel
So far, I have only brought out a few things like this cute bunny from last year.  I believe I purchased it at Homegoods.  I am not sure if I will add anything more to the mantel over my stove but for now, this is how it looks.  I like the way he stands out against the white.

Please note this post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links (at no additional cost to you!)

Speaking of white, am I the last person to try this?
Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder
Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder

Apparently, it's all the rage.  One of the mom's I have been working with on the school project came over the other morning.  I noticed how white her teeth looked and she told me this is what she has been using.  She only used it a couple times and her teeth already look amazing.  The next day, she brought it over and I took a picture of it so I would remember which one she ordered.  Needless to say, I just ordered it from Amazon and plan to start using it the second it arrives.  I drink tea all the time so my teeth could use some whitening.  I will keep you posted with how it works!  Have you tried it yet?

Now that I am finished with the school event, I can get back to my reading...
Slightly South of Simple - the latest novel by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The darling, Kristy Woodson Harvey from the blog, Design Chic was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of her latest novel,  Slightly South of Simple and I am loving it so far!  The book is due to be released April 25, 2017 but you can pre-order now!  It's a good time to start planning your summer reading list!

I adored her first two novels, Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love so I have high expectations for this one.  Feel free to read my review on the latter - Book Review - Lies and Other Acts of Love.  I just love her writing style and can never seem to get enough southern fiction!

Speaking of southern novels, for the past several months, I have been engrossed in this classic...
Gone with the Wind - THE classic southern novel
Gone with the Wind

Wow, how did I go through life without reading that one?  There is no question why this is considered "The Great American Novel".  It took me a few months of bedtime reading to finish but I looked forward to my nightly installments.  Needless to say I will be watching the movie in the near future.  I have to check to see what is available on DVR but I might just order the Gone with the Wind DVD to have it as part of my collection.  

Ironically, I decided to read, Gone with the Wind because of another book I fell in love with...

Starts Over Sunset Boulevard - Historical Fiction about the filming of Gone with the Wind

Susan Meissner does historical fiction like no other!  In this one, she takes us back to Hollywood's Golden Age and to the friendship that developed around the filming of Gone with the Wind.  LOVED it!  After finishing her novel, it only made sense to read Gone with the Wind next!

It's interesting how one thing will lead you to another.  That's why I guess it's always a good idea to keep an open mind and pay attention where clues take you!

And I really need an open mind to benefit from this other book that I am also reading right now.  (Yes, I frequently read a couple books simultaneously.  I am always reading something non-fiction)...

Healing Back Pain by John Sarno - the guy Howard Stern recommends
Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection

The reason I picked up this book is because I have been dealing with a neck problem for the past few months.  I have gone for an MRI, have been doing physical therapy which includes stretching, yoga, massage, ultrasound and dry needling.  I have also started taking supplements that supposedly help with inflammation, joint and arthritis problems.  So far, I haven't shown much improvement.  It is extremely frustrating and I just don't know what to do next.  

My husband remembered Howard Stern discussing how Dr. John Sarno healed his back pain.  My husband suggested that I might want to try reading one of Dr. Sarno's books.  Hey, I will do anything at this point.  If you told me my neck would be cured if I ate a whole jar of mayonnaise, I would do that...and if you know how much I hate mayonnaise, you would understand...

Anyway, I am about halfway through reading this book and I am trying to be optimistic so we will see.  If you have any suggestions for neck pain, please let me know.  Just don't mention surgery because I am a big baby and not ready to go there yet.  I will eat the jar of icky mayonnaise first...

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.  You know, Monday at 6:28 a.m. it becomes spring!  I am so excited!  Now, if only all this snow would melt!
Snow in March

What have you been up to lately?
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March 5, 2017

White Chocolate Silk Pie (aka Ski Bum Pie)

It's always a pleasant surprise when a recipe comes out even better than you had imagined...

White Chocolate Silk Pie Recipe

Since some of you have mentioned you find my husband's stories amusing, I thought I would share another one with you.  This time, it involves a pie recipe...

Let me start by saying that this guy is not the easiest person to buy gifts for.  He really doesn't ask for much so every Christmas and birthday I am searching like a lunatic to come up with something creative.  This past birthday, he only requested one thing...

He wanted me to create a white chocolate version of his family's chocolate silk pie recipe.

Easy enough, right?  Well, he wanted it to be very specific.  In fact, one night while we were out to dinner in Vermont, he decided to draw his instructions on a napkin for me...

Pie Planning

In place of the chocolate mousse, he wanted a white chocolate mousse.  (He called it mousse but the family recipe is more of a custard).  He also wanted only half of the pie crust to be Oreo and the other half to be a vanilla wafer pie crust.  Since this was the only gift he actually asked for, I really had to attempt his idea.

I texted my niece the drawing and she sent me her recipe with suggestions to use for his revisions.  We decided to use Vienna Fingers cookies instead of the Vanilla Wafers because we thought the whole thing might end up being too sweet.

Here is the recipe we used:

For the Crust:
8 Oreo Cookies, broken into rough pieces
8 Vienna Fingers Cookies, broken into rough pieces
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling:
2 1/2 cups of half and half
1/3 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
7 ounces white chocolate, chopped fine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions for Crust:
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Pulse the Oreo cookies in a food processor until ground coarsely.  Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse again to mix together (about 5 pulses).  Repeat using the Vienna Fingers.  Please note that you are using the whole cookie for these mixtures, not just the outside cookie part.  That's why it's important to use regular Oreos and not Double or Triple Stuff types where the filling would be too much.

Sprinkle the two mixtures evenly into a 9 inch pie dish.  Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crumbs into an even layer on bottom and sides of the dish.  Bake 10-15 minutes until set. Transfer the pie dish to a wire rack and cool completely.

Pie Crust using Oreo Cookies - White Chocolate Silk Pie (with a twist)

Instructions for Filling:
Bring half and half, 3 Tablespoons of sugar, and salt to simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally.

As half and half mixture begins to simmer, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar together in a medium bowl until smooth.  Slowly whisk 1 cup of the simmering half and half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper, then slowly whisk the tempered yolk mixture back into the remaining half and half mixture.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, while whisking, until the mixture is thickened and bubbly on the surface.  (about 30 seconds).  Remove from heat, whisk in butter and white chocolate until completely smooth and melted.  Then stir in vanilla.

Pour the warm filling into the cooled pie crust.  Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the filling and refrigerate the pie until the filling is chilled and set.  (About 4 hours).

Instructions for Topping:
Once the pie is chilled, use a mixer to whip the cream, sugar and vanilla on medium-low speed until foamy.  Increase speed until soft peaks form.  (2-3 minutes).  Spread the whipped cream over the pie and serve.

White Chocolate Silk Pie

It only made sense to call the pie, "Ski Bum Pie"!  After all, it is white and was created on a ski trip to Vermont!

The pie ended up being a huge hit at the family birthday dinner for my husband.  I think everyone wanted to try it so they could compare it to the original version.  They may have even loved it more!  I am a chocolate person and even I thought the white chocolate version was amazing!  All I know, is that we didn't have a crumb left over and we may or may not have licked the pie dish!

*If you want to try the original version, just make the whole crust with Oreos and substitute the white chocolate for 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate.  By the way, I just discovered that March 6th is National Oreo Cookie Day!  Too funny - they have a day for EVERYTHING, don't they?

If your husband is also difficult to shop for, you could always try getting creative with a recipe!  Or you might want to try doing something like I did for his Christmas presents last year...Getting Creative with the Husband Gifts.  This idea could work for birthdays too!  

Have you revised any family recipes?
Did you know March 6th is 
National Oreo Cookie Day?

I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Joining these parties:
Domestically Speaking - Inspire Me Monday
Homestories A to Z - Tutorials and Tips
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Ducks n a Row - Wonderful Wednesday
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Ducks n a Row - Recipe Sharing Party
The SITS Girls - Recipe and DIY Linky
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
DIY Show Off - DIY Party Time
Two Chicks and a Mom - Snickerdoodle Sunday
Finding Silver Pennies - Silver Pennies Sunday
Inspiration for Moms - Inspiration Monday
Little Miss Dexterous - Meet Up Monday
Life and Linda - Dishing It and Digging It Party
Celebrating Everyday Life - Sundays at Home
Modern Pilgrim - Moonlight and Mason Jars
Imparting Grace - Grace at Home
The Chronicles of Home - The Inspiration Party

March 2, 2017

Take Me Away Link Party - March 2017

With all this crazy weather we've been having, I don't know if I should wear boots or a pair of flip flops!  Well, since I am dreaming of the beach, I think I will choose flip I did just get a pedicure...
Welcome to the March Take Me Away Link Party!  

Once again, we had some wonderful travel posts last month.  Thank you to everyone who linked up.   If you missed the highlights, be sure to stop by and read the Take Me Away - February Recap.

Let's get started with this month's party!
  • Please link up to 3 travel post you have written (new or old - as long as you haven't shared them at the Take Me Away Party before)
  • Please include a link back to my blog.
  • Please don't link any ads or giveaways.
  • By joining the party, you give me permission to feature your photo/post on any of my social media networks and this blog.
  • Please Pin from the source of the photo, not from this page.
  • Please visit and comment on as many links as you can..after all, it's a party!
Once again, we are off!  Take Me Away!

March 1, 2017

Happiness at the Uptown Acorn

Happy March 1st everyone!  March is definitely coming "in like a lion" here in New Jersey!  In fact, a thunderstorm is rolling in at this very moment.  Let's hope this means the month will "go out like a lamb"!

Enough about the I am talking about happy things over at the The Uptown Acorn.  I would love for you to stop over and read about What Makes Me Happy in Ron's fabulous new series!  I am a longtime reader of Ron's blog and if you aren't already following him, be sure to browse through his lovely blog.  His gorgeous New Orleans home is always decorated to perfection and he knows how to entertain like no other!  Enjoy!

What makes you happy?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!
Uptown Acorn

See you over there!

Thanks again, Ron!

February 28, 2017

Take Me Away - February Recap

Well, I guess that wraps up February!  Wow, you'd never know it was February with all the crazy-warm weather we've had in the Northeast!  With spring just around the corner, it's a great time to start planning some warm weather getaways!  Maybe you will be inspired by a few of these!...

Let's take a look at the highlights from February's party!

Come experience spring in France with Susan from Our French Oasis.

Susan shared her beautiful early spring blooms and a heartwarming story that is sure to bring tears to your eyes.  

Mollie's Mom joined us this month with a recap of her Honduras trip!

Aren't those baskets amazing?  So wonderful how she has donated her time to help improve the living conditions for children in the villages.  Very inspiring!

Carole from the blog, From My Carolina Home took us on a lovely Holiday Tour of Inns.

Several beautiful homes with gorgeous porches all decked out for the holidays!  Be sure to click on the bottom of her post to continue with Parts 2 and 3 of these Holiday House tours!

Bonnie from Living With Thanksgiving took us away to the enchanting Isle of Capri, Italy.
Living With Thanksgiving - Isle of Capri, Italy

I have a feeling you will be adding this one to your bucket list if you haven't already!  Gorgeous scenery, delicious food and plenty of people watching to keep you entertained.

Sandy from You May Be Wandering took us away to the luxurious Acqualina Resort and Spa.

A stunning 5 star property just north of Miami Beach with all the amenities you could wish for.  From the pools to the magnificent accommodations - wow, just wow! 

Everyday Living - Romantic Rosecliff Mansion

You can't visit Newport, Rhode Island without touring the elegant mansions.  Pam shared the most romantic one with us - Rosecliff!  Join her on the tour to view this exquisite property and learn a little bit of history as well.  Just beautiful, inside and out.  No wonder several movies have been filmed there!

50 Days of No Grey took us away to the city of  Munich, Germany.
50 Days of No Grey - Guten Tag Munich!

This city might be known for Oktoberfest but you will see, there is so much more!  Stop by her blog for a fun visit and don't miss the interesting castle trivia!

If you want to see more of the links shared this month, stop over at - Take Me Away - February.

Thank you to everyone who stops by each month!  Whether you are here to link up your own posts or to read others, we always enjoy having you!

Please remember to stop by 
this Friday, March 3rd 
for the next Take Me Away Link Party!
(The party officially opens Thursday at 7:00 p.m. EST 
so get your travel posts ready!)

Looking forward to seeing you then!
I'd love for you to follow along so you don't miss a post!

February 25, 2017

Customer Service - The Good and the Bad!

Do you remember the times you received good customer service?  What about the times you received bad customer service?...

We still talk about our wonderful customer service from almost nineteen years ago!  We were on our honeymoon and staying at the Four Seasons in Maui.  The day we wanted to drive the road to Hana (an all day event) happened to be the last day of the U.S. Open Golf tournament on TV.  My husband is a huge golf fan and didn't want to miss the finals.  I am dating myself but yes, back in those days, the only way to record a show was with a VCR - Video Cassette Recorder for those young people who have no idea of what I am talking about!  Anyway, there was a VCR in our room so we asked the front desk if we could get a cassette tape to record the tournament.  Instead, they insisted that they tape it for us!  We were thrilled at the offer and were able to spend the day enjoying our drive to Hana.  We returned later that day with the recorded tournament (and a bottle of champagne) waiting for us in our room!

 The way they handled it made us love the Four Seasons even more!  A simple gesture, but definitely appreciated - and like I said, we still talk about it!

Just this morning, I was food shopping in Wegman's and I couldn't find the croutons.  A store employee unloading vegetables in the produce section was nearby, so I asked him.  He directed me to the bread section in the back.  But when I reached that department, I didn't see any croutons.  I stood there for a minute or so, scanning the shelves figuring I was just brain dead and wasn't noticing them.  The next thing I knew, that same employee was rushing over to me apologizing for his mistake.  He then told me the croutons were now located in aisle 13B.  Was it necessary for him to drop what he was doing to find me across the store?  Of course not, but he did and I appreciated it!  It's not the first time a Wegman's employee has gone out of his way to help me.  No wonder the store is known for great service!

I remember last year, I found a necklace I liked on the Talbots website and decided to stop by the local store to buy it in person.  I mentioned to the sales woman that I was happy they had one left since it was on sale.  As she was wrapping it up, she said she would wipe it down for me since I guess it was a little dull from being on display.  (I hadn't even noticed.)  Anyway, after wiping it, she thought it still looked a little dull so she went out of her way to search in the back for another one.  She must have pulled out six or seven little black bags holding different necklaces to search for the one I wanted.  Finally, she found it and we compared the necklaces.  Sure enough, the one in the bag was much shinier than the one on display and I purchased it.

Like I said, I hadn't even noticed the first necklace wasn't as shiny but it made me happy that someone put in such effort to help me!

Sometimes it really is the little things that will set a company apart from others.  Things like having a repair person be overly nice to the dog when they come in or the landscaper who brought in my newspaper when it was raining.  Totally, unnecessary, but appreciated!

In contrast to those helpful gestures, I recently had a not so pleasant service experience.  We were attending a fund raising event which was being held in the ballroom of a restaurant.  During the evening while standing near a high top table, I felt a huge splash down the back of me.  As I turned around, I realized someone had knocked over an entire glass of red wine, splattering the back of my dress, my legs and shoes.  Luckily, I was wearing a navy dress and not a white one!  

Everyone around me scrambled to grab cocktail napkins and anything they could find to wipe me off.  Then I looked down and realized my cute little silver handbag was almost completely covered in wine.  I held it up to the show the waiter who was heading over with some more napkins.  I figured he would run over to the nearby bar to grab me some club soda or something to try to clean it off.  

But no.  He proceeded to assess blame instead!  "None of our employees are responsible for the spill", he quickly informed me.  "One of the volunteers knocked over the wine", he told me.  (Did I even accuse anyone?!!)

I think I said something like, "I just need something to clean this off!"  (Seriously, who even cares who knocked it over!)  He actually acted annoyed with me and all he seemed to care about was not being held responsible.  It's not like I said, "You have to pay for a new purse!"  I mean, I probably only spent $39 for it ten years ago but that wasn't the point.  The point was that he could have handled it so much better.  

Within minutes, the waiter was no where to be found.  I motioned to the "blamed volunteer" that I was fine and then headed to the rest room to continue cleaning up.  Luckily, I think she was oblivious to the whole incident.  She probably wasn't even the one who knocked it over!

As I headed over to the rest room, I thought how this "gem" of a waiter could have handled it better.  For instance, he could have brought me some club soda to clean off my handbag, he could have made sure I had enough napkins to wipe off or he could have just said, "I am so sorry this happened" without blaming this poor girl who was volunteering her time to sell raffle tickets!  It would have also been nice if he checked back with me later to see if I needed anything.  Even a simple gesture like offering to pay my dry cleaning bill would have been nice, even if it wasn't specifically the restaurant's fault.  I mean, how much does it really cost to dry clean a dress?  I would have declined that anyway but would have felt like I was given good service.  As it turns out, I didn't even see him the rest of the night!

So now I will be telling this story every time someone mentions the place or the event.  Partly because it's kind of a funny story and partly because of the disappointment of receiving bad service there!  I would much rather give my business to a place that makes their customers a priority over one that could care less!

What kind of memorable 
customer service experiences have you had?

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