Tuesday, August 25, 2015

3 Great Books to Read this Summer

I know, summer is almost over...

But there is still time to lose yourself in a few can't-put-down books while you are savoring those last few moments of beach time!  Here are 3 of my recommendations...


If you are a blogger or read blogs on a regular basis, I am sure you have come across this heartwarming novel, Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey.  You will recognize her name from her fabulous blog, Design Chic she co-writes with her mother.  If you love her blog, you will love her book as well.  

Summer Reading

Here is a description via Amazon:

One baby girl.
Two strong Southern women.
And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.

Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made…

I always enjoy reading the perspective from two different characters.  Loved this book and trust me, you'll love it too!

A friend recommended 
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner and I am so glad she did!  

Here is a description via Amazon:

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

Living so close to New York with memories still fresh in my mind from September 11th, this was the perfect book for me to get caught up in.  I always enjoy novels that bounce back between two different moments in time so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one!

I just finished What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.
Another one of those books I couldn't put down.
In fact, I just picked up another one of her books,
The Husband's Secret to start this weekend.


Here is a description via Amazon *Kirkus Reviews:

A “cheerfully engaging”* novel for anyone who’s ever asked herself, “How did I get here?”
  
Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.
So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…

So entertaining and had me wondering how I would react to my current life if I managed to forget the past ten years....2 Boys?...A Dog?...What?  I write a blog...what's that?  LOL...

I highly recommend all three books.  So engaging, entertaining and each one fulfills my "requirements for a good beach read" listed on one of my previous posts, Beach Reading Tips.

I can't believe how fast this summer is blowing by!  My kids don't go back until after Labor Day so I still have a little bit of beach time left!  I hope to squeeze in some more reading before the crazy school, sports and activity schedules kick in to high gear!

What books have you read this summer?

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Thursday, August 20, 2015

Subway Tile

Finally, we are getting to the end of this renovation!  The guys came to install the subway tiles this week.  You might remember, I was undecided about which subway tile to use...

I loved the beveled subway tiles
but liked the way the flat ones went with my raised panel cabinets.

I also went back and forth between a cream color and white.
My cabinets are White Dove so I had a hard time with that decision.
I decided on the white tiles since they looked better with the granite.

But then there were more decisions...
Jessica from my favorite tile store, Charles Tiles suggested I do a herringbone pattern with a border over the stove area.  She emailed me a drawing for the contractor to follow but at the last minute I panicked and wasn't sure if we should make the boxed in area that big.  I was worried you wouldn't see the top border from a distance because of the range hood.

As you can see in the photo above, my two options for the top border are marked by the arrows.  These were the only two options if we wanted to avoid cutting the border tiles which would look weird.  I was leaning towards the original plan but I called and emailed the tile store just to make sure it made sense.  They agreed that going with the top line would look better so we went with it.

I was happy with the decision and how when you are in front of the stove or sitting at the island, you see the whole box.  When you are standing across the room, the top is a little hidden behind the range hood, but it's not disastrous!  If we had lowered the top border, it may have looked a little squished.

When the guys left for the evening I stared at the non-grouted tile for awhile.  I kind of fell in love with the idea of maybe doing a more noticeable grout.  Maybe I was just getting used to looking at the tile this way but wow, it was definitely an option!

Here is the room from a distance before they applied the grout.
I could have definitely gone with this look...

But in the end, I went with my original plan...
Here is the finished tile with white grout.
I couldn't be happier!

I cannot wait to set up a fun little cocktail area over here!
(I could use a cocktail after this renovation!)

Here is the kitchen last night.
Only a few more small details and we will be done!!


I guess it's time for a dinner party!

You also might notice in the photo above that we switched the handle on that door in the left corner.  Thank you for all of your advice on that.  You were all so right!

Any big decisions for you this week?

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Thursday, August 13, 2015

Design Dilemma of the Week

As I get closer to the end of this crazy kitchen renovation, I seem to be second guessing myself more and more.  I think I have lost the ability to make good design decisions.  That's why I am asking for your help today...

I obsessed for awhile over kitchen pendant lighting for the area above my new island.  I almost decided to just add two more recessed lights and focus on the chandelier over the table.  But then a little voice inside of me said, "Go for it, take a chance, do something bold..."

I ended up having the electrician install these two Darlana Lanterns from Visual Comfort.


I ordered the lights through Circa Lighting who has a strict return policy.  Returns must be packaged exactly like they were shipped and if you return a light, you pay a 15% restocking fee.  I ordered them anyway because every time I would see these lanterns in a picture, I loved them!  I considered a few other options as mentioned HERE but felt that the lantern look was what I always wanted.


What I did not consider was how difficult it would be to find lighting to go over my kitchen table that coordinates but does not compete with the lanterns!


In the picture above, you can see the iron chandelier which is currently hung over the table.  (Sorry, I didn't straighten up the kitchen for a photo that day.  I was rushing around before the workers arrived.)


Anyway, here is a close up of the iron chandelier over the table.  As you can see, the gray tone does not match the black iron in the lanterns.  Plus, the chandelier is curvy and the lanterns are much straighter and angular.  Although, I hate to say it but the chandelier probably matches the style of my kitchen a little better than the lanterns...but I just can't go there right now...


So, like I said, I have been trying to find something that will work with these lights.  I don't know why I assumed I would miraculously come up with the perfect fit.  My brain is fried from too many decisions.

So the other day, I ended up ordering this Remington Pendant from Ballard Designs.


It looks great in this picture but when it arrived today, it just seemed HUGE!  I measured beforehand but in person it is too overpowering for the space.  I have to take another look at it tomorrow but I just don't know.

Another possibility is the Collins Chandelier from Pottery Barn.  


I would probably order the white shades with it.  Plus this one was recommended to me by Pottery Barn when I wrote to them for their free design service.  Of course, they suggested different pendant lights...maybe I should have listened... Anyway, I will fill you in on their design advice in another post.

So for my dilemma of the week..
What light would look best?
One of these or something totally different?

Help!

Thanks again!

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Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Cabinet Hardware and the Latest Dilemma

The new cabinet hardware was installed recently.  Yay, no more grabbing a piece of blue painters tape to open a cabinet!


These are the Voss pulls in brushed nickel from Top Knobs.  I chose to use pulls on all the drawers and solid doors.  I chose knobs for the glass cabinets, the corner lazy-susan and the cabinets under the sink.


We still need to add a drawer pull to the empty drawer on the right.  I debated on putting two but settled on one.  That will probably get done today.

Top Knobs

I love the way the brushed nickel looks with the stainless steel and the granite.


And the island, although I like the brushed nickel against the white better.

Overall, everything worked out except for one little dilemma...

See these three cabinets above?  At the moment, the center door without the hardware opens from the corner out towards the right.  Originally, it was designed to open in the opposite direction toward the left but it arrived wrong.  

It's no problem for my contractor to switch the hinges so it opens to the left but I can't decide whether I should do it or not.  If it opens to the left, we will have to add a door stopper to the hinge so the door doesn't smash into the cabinet on the left.  Plus the door will not be able quite as wide as it does now.  The way the door hangs now, it could potentially hit the door on the right but only if both of them were open at the same time.  Not very likely that would happen.  

So basically, I have to decide between which would look better...Does it make more sense having the door handle on the left (leaving the door to open to the right) or having the door handle on the right (switching the door so it opens left)?


Here is another shot so you can see the rest of the upper cabinets in that area.

So what do you think?
Door handle on the left 
or door handle on the right?

As always, I value your opinions!  
You can guess that my brain is fried by now...
Thank you!

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Friday, July 31, 2015

Kitchen Updates of the Week

We are heading toward the homestretch 
of this renovation...yay!


This past week, I agonized for days over my tile selection...


I fell in love with the beveled subway tile (above on the left) but since my cabinets are raised panel, I felt the beveled tile would be too much.  Plus my husband wasn't crazy about that look...Boo hoo...


I also went back and forth between an off-white and white-white for the subway tile.  My cabinets are Benjamin Moore White Dove which is a creamy white but the granite looked better with the whiter white.  I went with the white-white.  I hope I made the right decision because the tiles are ordered!

I have also been obsessing over island pendant lighting!

This is the Circa Lighting Darlana lantern.  Obviously, it's just the outside without the lighting part but you get the idea.  I had to be super-careful unpacking the pieces because if I have to return them and didn't repackage them exactly the way they came, no refund for me!  Not to mention, I would still be charged a restocking fee!  The cost of indecisiveness!


I also picked up this Kichler pendant on the above left.  It's also a great glass-less option but I think I wanted to go more open and airy.  Plus I have been obsessing over the Darlana lantern for awhile now...we'll see.  I also like the Pottery Barn Rustic Large Pendant.  I ordered two of these two but the more I think about it, the black lanterns are what I always pictured in here!


So many decisions in that area!  I have even considered not doing any pendant lighting in the kitchen!  I have gotten so used to the open airy feel in there that I kind of think I should just install two more recessed lights over the island and be done with it!  

I can't wait to get to the fun decorating part, where I can buy non-permanent pieces that can be switched out on a whim!   

What are you decorating this week?

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Friday, July 24, 2015

Perfect Linens Sheets and a Coupon Code!

Perfect Linens  provided my with a sheet set in exchange for an honest review.  All opinions are my own.

With this crazy kitchen renovation going on, I have been escaping to my bedroom to get away from the chaos on the main floor.  It couldn't have been better timing for Perfect Linens to send me a sheet set to review!


They offered me a set of their "Second Skin" 400 thread count Egyptian cotton sheets and asked me to choose between three embroidered options.  I chose the Blue Stripe.  You can see how perfectly  they coordinate with the rest of my bedding.


Included with the sheet set was a bottle of this beautifully scented linen wash with laundering instructions.  Apparently, you should take the sheets out of the dryer while they are still damp to help minimize wrinkles.  How did I not know that all these years?...It's like I live in a cave...


The first thing I noticed while making my bed, was the over-sized top sheet.  Finally, someone was smart enough to make a top sheet that you can actually tuck in!  They were already scoring some points with me!

But we all know the real test for sheets is comfort!  I have been looking for a great set of sheets for  some time now and couldn't wait to dive into bed the first night.  It was so encouraging to learn that Perfect Linens is the only retailer that tests how sheets feel after they have been washed.  Seriously, how many times have you felt sheets in the store but were disappointed once you washed them?  I have a whole pile of those in my linen closet...

Well, I can honestly say, I love the sheets.  They are soft and light but didn't have that weird waxy feel that you sometimes get with a sateen sheet.  They also got the seal of approval from my husband.  When he climbed into bed that night, the first thing he said was "Great sheets!"  This coming from the guy who doesn't even notice when I get a haircut!..


Like I said, the timing was perfect to try these new sheets.  Perfect Linens must have known I needed a good nights sleep!

And because I am sure you are dying to try a set of your own,
Perfect Linens is offering my readers a $50 discount!
Just use the code Calypso50 when checking out.

They offer a simple selection so you won't have to go through hundreds of products to figure out what works best for you.  

Like they say on their website,
"Life's too short for bad sheets!"

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Friday, July 17, 2015

Rustic Stone Fireplace

As I mentioned previously - HERE, I had all kinds of ideas for my new fireplace.  I compromised with my husband and ended up going more rustic than I had planned.  I was happy with the results but did feel the stone wound up a little darker than I would have wanted.


But as I started adding a few accessories and bringing the furniture back into the family room...


The fireplace felt more welcoming and grounded the space.


Obviously, the room is nowhere being done!  We will be adding an area rug, replacing several pieces of furniture and will be doing something different with the windows.  But as you can see, the fireplace gives some weight to that side of the room.


And I am loving the rustic look of it even more!


Most of my accessories are still packed away somewhere under construction dust but just pulling out this photo of my kids and adding a couple Homegoods plants or wait... maybe I bought them at Wegman's Supermarket...anyway they made the room feel more like home again.


I will probably add a decorative screen on the hearth one of these days...


Not that I am looking forward to winter, but what fun it will be to add Christmas decor up here!


Although I have always loved this picture of my kids!  That will stay up there for awhile.  I actually have a similar one (but in color) in my office.  They were so little then...sigh...


I would have added some live plants but let's be realistic here...they wouldn't last long under my care!



So, things are getting put back into place as the smell of the stained floors slowly disappears.  And I do mean SLOWLY... Seriously, will it ever go away?  Luckily we've had a few days where we can open windows but these hot, humid days are killers.  We spend as much time as possible outside or at our family's beach house so I guess I can't complain too much!

Just to remind you what the fireplace looked like before, hop over to that post - HERE!

I hope you are enjoying your summer!
How is the weather where you are?

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