Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Summer Reading

Now that summer is in full swing, I am sure you are looking for some great books to read.  Whether you are on the beach or lounging poolside, here is a stack to get you started!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links.
Great Books to Read on the Beach

I will start with a book I highly recommend and was lucky enough to receive an advanced copy to review.  You can see more details about this one here -  Book Review - Lies and Other Acts of Love.
Lies and Other Acts of Love - A MUST-READ for Summer!
Lies and Other Acts of Love

I think I may have loved this book even more than her first one.  Such a great story with characters that just cracked me up.  This book is definitely a must-read for the beach this summer!

I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved this autobiography by Rob Lowe!  
Rob Lowe Autobiography - So entertaining a great to read on the beach!

I have followed Rob Lowe's career from the beginning and have always enjoyed his acting.  Who knew he was such a wonderful writer as well?!  He kept me engaged throughout with fun stories of his career and personal life.  I loved discovering how various actors and famous people came into his life over the years.  He writes with a certain vulnerability that made me like him even more and I could definitely relate to his "pleasure to have in class" comments about his school years...Such a fun read!

Need some creative motivation?..
Big Magic - An inspiring look at creativity

Elizabeth Gilbert does it again!  This time it's with her no-nonsense approach to the creative process.  She is practical, yet encouraging and gives the kick in the butt you need to push yourself to move forward!   I finished this book feeling inspired with a new found sense of freedom about putting myself out there.  

If it's historical fiction you are into, I have an excellent one for you!...
Lady in Waiting - another amazing novel by Susan Meissner

Susan Meissner continues to amaze me with her engaging stories and memorable characters.  You might recall how I gushed over her amazing book- Secrets of a Charmed Life a few months ago.  Well, in this earlier novel, she cleverly blends past and present again.  This time she chronicles the lives of two women named Jane who are both faced with making life changing choices.  The stories are woven together beautifully and I came away with a new curiosity about the 16th century.  I had a hard time putting this one down.

How many times do you wish you could have a do-over?
The Year We Turned Forty - a fun trip back in time.  Great beach read to make you think about your own life!

This thoroughly entertaining novel takes you on a journey back in time 10 years.  Three best friends have the opportunity to travel back to the year they turned 40.  At the end of that year they will have to decide which life they will keep.  They all thought they could 'get it right' this time with the knowledge that comes with life experience but they are reminded how each choice effects those around us.  Not only did I enjoy the relationships in this novel but left it wondering what I would do if given the chance for a do-over!  I blew through this book in only a few days and loved every minute of it!

And I am probably the last one on earth to read this one...

I actually started reading this one poolside and was glad I didn't sob my eyes out until the end.  Yes, a real tear-fest as you probably know, but so worth it!  I needed to just sit and think for a bit after finishing the last page.  I couldn't even go on and read the first chapter they provided of After You because I just wasn't ready.  I do look forward to reading it sooner or later though and will probably see the movie as well.  Such an emotional ride.

In case these aren't enough to keep you going all summer, my last year's summer reading recommendations will surely inspire you! - 3 Great Books to Read this Summer.

Beach Reading - great summer reading recommendations

What are you reading this summer?

Summer Reading List - Great books to take to the beach or pool!


Linking to:


Wednesday, June 22, 2016

Gardening is Like Getting a Haircut

I swear this happens to me all the time.  My hair gets to the point where it's a bit unruly and overgrown so I call and make a hair appointment.  Like magic, the day before my haircut is scheduled, my hair starts to look fabulous!  Then I go in, get it cut...and then hate it until it grows in a little...It's a vicious cycle.

Ironically, the same thing has happened with my landscaping.  If you regularly read my blog, you probably know that I am not exactly known for having a green thumb!  I kill every house plant I get - even the hard to kill ones.  I over water, under water, forget the things exist for a few months...I am just not a natural when it comes to plants.  If I do manage to keep something alive, you definitely hear about it because I am bragging all over the place!
Pink Petunias

Well, I guess it's time to brag because somehow I have managed to do a fabulous job with my outdoor potted plants this year...if I do say so myself!

Potted petunias

Look at these babies on the deck...and it's mid June!  (A record for me!)

Pink Petunias - Container gardening success!

Pink petunias everywhere...

But not only are the deck flowers doing well...
Potted Plants

Even though the plants by the garage need tons of water, I have managed to remember each day and they are flourishing!

And the container plants on the front porch!...
Potted plants in black urn for front porch

Dare I say,  I have developed a green thumb?

Ok, enough with the bragging...I got a little side tracked with all the thriving container plants.  I meant to tell you about my landscaping in the yard...
Landscaping beds

About a month ago, I had a landscaper give us some ideas and write up an estimate to replace a few things.  Last year we lost a few plants in this bed above so I wanted to fill it in with some new plants. At the time the landscaper was here, the plants were just starting to come back up for the season.  As you can see, the plants have filled in much better than we anticipated and now we won't need as many as we thought.  Figures, as soon as I call someone, the plants decide to do well...

Besides that, some of our other bushes have died in front of the house.  I know we will have to replace them.  We also have a ton of weeds that we just cannot keep up with (basically because I am against those weed killing poisons so I try to pull them myself!)  Lately, the front of my house has become an embarrassment.  Even my once beautiful lavender got all woody and messy looking.  We decided we will have them pull most of it out and start again with some smaller lavender plants.

Well, wouldn't you know it...the lavender must have heard their days were numbered because suddenly in the last few days, the plants have been blooming like crazy!  Seriously, they haven't looked this beautiful in years!

Blooming Lavender
The landscaper is calling me back with a start date and just like when I make my haircut appointment, now I am second guessing ripping these out!  Ugh!  At least I know we will be getting rid of the weeds soon.  I just have to make sure they don't douse my beds with those nasty pesticides.

Shady spot for a golden retriever
I have to think about my little girl who loves sleeping under the box woods.  At least most of those are doing well.  I don't know what Rosie would do without her sleeping spot in the shade!

What does your landscaping look like this year?

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

The Take Me Away Recap

Thank you to everyone who participated in the June - Take Me Away Link Party!  I loved reading about all your amazing trips.  Just in case you missed any, here is a recap of all the wonderful travel posts in the order they appeared in the link party.  Click on the link below each photo to read more and please remember to pin from the original sources.  Enjoy...

Sandy from You May Be Wandering started us off with a collection of gorgeous dream locations in Europe.  In the spirit of the party, she even included a fun survey where we could choose our favorite destination.  Believe me, it wasn't easy!  Click over to see which dream trip received the most votes!
Dream Trip to Europe - You May Be Wandering blog

Then Sandy took us on a colorful hotel tour of the Faena - Miami Beach...
Hotel Eye Candy - You May Be Wandering blog

As a travel advisor, Sandy knows her beaches...how fitting that her name is Sandy!  Speaking of sand, how about some pink sand on the breathtaking island of Bermuda!
Just Back from Bermuda - You May Be Wandering Blog

Let's swing back to the U.S., where Carole from the blog, From My Carolina Home took us on a sentimental journey in search of a childhood home on Lake Greenwood, SC.  Do you ever think about visiting places where you spent time growing up?
Memories from Childhood - From My Carolina Home

And since we are talking about stepping back in time, let's go even further back and visit the historic palaces of Edinburgh, Scotland with Butch and Pam from Everyday Living!
Exploring Edinburgh - Everyday Living Blog

These globetrotters, Butch and Pam then took us away to Greece with them!  I would never get tired of those magnificent views!
Greece - Everyday Living blog

But these two know that's it's not always necessary to leave the country to explore beautiful places.  Next, they shared some California Dreamin with us...Just remember, when you explore the California Coast, you must rent a convertible!
California Dreamin - Everyday Living Blog

Now let's fly from California to the Caribbean where Ms B in the Bay Area took us away to the amazing beaches of the Dominican Republic!  You know I am a Caribbean lover but somehow I haven't made it to this one...yet!  Ahh those beaches...
Dominican Republic - Ms B in the Bay Area blog

Need some suggestions on what you should pack for an island trip?  Well, Ms B in the Bay Area helps us out with that too while showing us the beautiful beaches of Cabo!
Cabo - Ms B in the Bay Area

Hawaii always holds a special place in my heart because we honeymooned there 18 years ago!  Marty from A Stroll Thru Life took us away with her on her trip to the paradise otherwise known as Maui.
Maui - A Stroll Thru Life blog

From the beaches of the Pacific Ocean, let's wrap up this month's party with a trip back to the mainland with Life in My Empty Nest to a family gathering on the lovely shores of Lake Huron.
Lake Huron - Life in My Empty Nest


Thank you to everyone who shared your fabulous travel posts!  

I can't wait to see
 what you link up at the next 
Take Me Away Link Party on July 1st!

Where is your next trip?

Friday, June 10, 2016

Patriotic Table Setting in the Kitchen

The other day, I set my kitchen table in a Summer Inspired Setting.  Before I put everything away, I decided to add some red for a Patriotic look...

Summer Table Settings - 2 ways
I loved the fresh simplicity of the blue and white but adding the red really punched it up for the 4th of July...or Flag Day which is coming up too!  Although, I don't think many people are having big Flag Day dinners!

Patriotic Table Setting - Adding a few red pieces to update a table from summer to 4th of July
 I replaced the white napkins with bright red ones.

Red, White and Blue Table for 4th of July
I just happened to have the roses since we just celebrated our 18th wedding anniversary!

Patriotic Table Setting with Star Plate
The melamine star plates are from Michael's several years ago.  I used them in another place setting a while back - Patriotic Table Setting.

Flags for 4th of July with a Patriotic Table Setting
I stuck a flag in the roses to make them more festive!

Red, White and Blue in the Kitchen
Here is a view of the full kitchen.  The red really stands out against all the white!

Summer Table with Red, White and Blue for the 4th

Flags in the Kitchen for the 4th of July
A few more flags on the island for some more red, white and blue!

Decorating the Kitchen for the 4th of July
And we are all set for the 4th of July!  Too bad my roses won't be around by then...I guess someone will have to buy me more!

Have you made plans for the 4th of July yet?
Patriotic Table Setting - Adding simple touches to a summer table to decorate for the 4th of July or even Flag Day!  Calypso in the Country blog

Linking to:
Tatertots and Jello - Link Party Palooza
Shabbyfufu - Share it One More Time
My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies - Snickerdoodle Sunday
Virginia Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Sand and Sisal - Inspire Me Monday
Cedar Hill - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Peeking Thru the Sunflowers - Share Your Style
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursday
Poofing the Pillows - Thoughts of Home on Thursday
In the New House - Inspiration Thursday
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
From Gardners 2 Bergers- The Handmade Hangout
Craftberry Bush - Inspiration Gallery
Domestic Charm - The Creative Circle Link Party
That DIY Party - DIY Showoff
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday
Life and Linda - Dishing It and Digging It Link Party
Intelligent Domestications - Merry Monday Link Party
The Newlywed Pilgrimage - Moonlight and Mason Jars Link Party - 4th of July DIY
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase






Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Summer Inspired Kitchen Table Setting

With this beautiful summer weather we are having, I thought it was time for a summer inspired table setting!

Summer Inspired Blue and White Table

Ever since I decorated the kitchen in Blue and White for Mother's Day, I have been wanting more blue in here.

Summer Table

After all, it does feel summery and gives that coastal inspired feel!

Coastal Inspired

Recently, I was fortunate to win a $100 gift card to TJMaxx/Homegoods from the blog, In My Own Style.  I used it to purchase these blue and white Ralph Lauren place mats...among other things!

Blue and White Place Setting

Yes, I have been quite lucky with giveaways lately!  I mentioned the other day that I also won the ebook, The Bloggers Guide to Copyright and Trademark Law - How to Protect Yourself and Enforce Your Rights written by Breighanne Eggert...which is a must read!  I highly recommend it!  With all this luck, maybe I should play the lottery!

Summer Table

Then I could buy more blue and white...lots of it.... 

White Kitchen decorated with blue and white for summer

Until recently, I hadn't been buying too many things - since we splurged on our kitchen remodel last year.  My husband is still recovering from that...financially and mentally...lol.

Coastal Inspired Table

Besides the place mats, I already owned the other pieces on the table.  The starfish add some coastal touches and always appear around the house this time of year.  Plain white napkins mixed with the textured napkin rings keep things casual.

Summer Table Setting Ideas

One of these days, I will get around to buying a new table and chairs.  These work for now.  Don't even get me started on the bar stools though.  Yes, I am still shopping for those!

Blue and White Place Setting

I use these rattan chargers from Pier One all the time...one of my smartest purchases.  They are so versatile and mix with almost any style.

Kitchen Views and Summer Decorating Ideas

I haven't grown tired of this view from the table yet.  This time last year, things were a bit torn apart!

Decorating for Summer


Coastal Decor and a Summer Kitchen Tour

I threw a little more blue and white on the counter with this tray from Homegoods...another one of my gift card purchases!

White Kitchen with Blue and White Accents for Summer

I hope you enjoyed my summer inspired kitchen table setting.  Expect to see more blue and white in my kitchen from now on and stop by tomorrow to see how I updated this look for the 4th of July!  You know it's practically around the corner!  You can now see that post - HERE.

What are your ideas for a summer inspired table?
Summer Table Setting - Ideas to decorate with blue and white for a coastal summer look.

Linking to:
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wednesday Blog Hop
The NY Melrose Family - Whimsy Wednesdays
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase
DIY by Design - Swing into Spring Party
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursday
Peeking Thru the Sunflowers - Share Your Style
In the New House - Inspiration Thursday
Poofing the Pillows - Thoughts of Home Thursday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
The Dedicated House - Anything Blue Friday
Shabbyfufu - Share it One More Time Inspiration
My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies - Snickerdoodle Sunday
Virginia Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Sand and Sisal - Inspire Me Monday
Cedar Hill - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
From Gardners 2 Bergers - The Handmade Hangout
Craftberry Bush - Inspiration Gallery
Domestic Charm - The Creative Circle
That DIY Party - DIY Showoff