Monday, July 18, 2016

Monday Mini Makeover

If you are like me, looking at the endless list of house projects can feel overwhelming.  Sometimes, I have so much to do that I get discouraged and end up accomplishing nothing.

I decided instead of stressing out over everything, I would start tackling my list one small step at a time.  This morning, I looked at my very neglected dresser and decided if I just did a few things, I could freshen it up a bit. 

This is how my dresser has been looking these days...

Mini Makeover Before

Yes, stale, uncoordinated, boring...

Mini-Makeover issues to address - Before and After

I have always been frustrated with the cable box sitting there right in the middle.  It really needs to be there for the remote to work properly and I can't cover it up because I don't want it to overheat.  Instead, I decided to just work around it.

I like having the plant on the end because the leaves hanging over the edge block the view of the wires behind the dresser when you walk in the room.  

None of the picture frames go together and just look like a thrown together mess.

So, I decided to shop my house, because that's the thing to do if you write a blog.  

Shopping the house for a mini-makeover of my dresser
  • First, I changed all my frames to all black ones.  I even swapped out a couple old photos and removed a few to freshen things up a bit.
  • I added an artificial orchid for some height (because I kill real ones anyway) and brought in my faux coral for some texture.  The coral is from Pottery Barn and you might recognize it from my recent mantel redo - Island Dreaming Mantel.

Perfume Tray - part of my mini makeover of my dresser
  • Since my perfumes normally stay hidden under my sink in the bathroom, I displayed them all together on an old neglected tray.  I bought the tray from Southern Living at Home years ago.  
Dresser Mini-Makeover - Before and After
  • I left the plant in place to disguise the wires in the back.
  • In my attempt to hide the cable box, I added a candle in a holder on top.  I think it's small enough so it shouldn't block the ventilation too much.  There's not much I can do with that thing.
Mini-Makeover - Before and After using items from around my house

And the mini makeover is done!  Just by moving a few things, it feels fresher and a little more pulled together.

Get this, my husband (who never even notices if I get my hair cut), just says to me, "Oh, I see you've changed around some pictures."  I just laughed.  It's not like I did something major in there.  In fact, it's about as mini of a Mini-Makeover you can get!

At least I didn't spend anything this time so he couldn't say his usual line to me, "You're spending money like a drunken sailor!"  Let's hope when I actually spend some money on a makeover, he doesn't notice!

Have you done any Mini-Makeovers lately?
Ways to Save Money on a Mini Makeover - Shop Your House

Linking to:
Between Naps on the Porch - Metamorphosis Monday
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Cedar Hill - The Scoop
Sand and Sisal - Inspire Me Monday
Homestories A to Z - Tutorials and Tips Party
The Kim Six Fix - You're Gonna Love It
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday
VMG206 - Brag About It
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase
Love My Simple Life - Talk of the Town
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursday
Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson - Share Your Cup Thursday
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Seeking Lavender Lane - Creative Circle Party
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
The Chronicles of Home - Inspiration Gallery
Easy Peasy Pleasy - Funtastic Friday

Sunday, July 17, 2016

A Few Random Thoughts and Happenings

We've had some VERY hot and humid days here in New Jersey this summer but every now and then we get a cool morning.  Last week it was so beautiful that I opened every window in the house for a couple hours.
It was so refreshing to feel and smell the crisp breeze.

Rosie was also enjoying the change in temperature.

Although, it was also a nice day to lay in the sun!

But don't think I am complaining at all about the heat.  I love summer and we are trying to enjoy every single second of it.  I do not need to be reminded that fall is only a couple months away and I am NOT ready to see all the fall clothes creeping into the stores and magazines.

Wow - big news...I finally updated my blog photo.  Yes, I have retired this old, out-of-focus picture...

I replaced it with something a bit more current.  Now I am out from behind the sunglasses and have included my dog, Rosie...

At least this is my picture for now.  I realized that I don't have many pictures of myself since I am always the one taking the photos.  I guess that's the typical mom-dilemma, right?  My goal now is to be in more pictures.  Plus, since I will be attending the Haven Conference in a few weeks, I thought I would allow myself be a little more recognizable.  

I have been shopping around for new white everyday dishes.  Even though I love the look of my Mikasa Italian Countryside ones, I don't love the way they have chipped over the years.  I have already replaced a few pieces but now almost every one of the cereal bowls are chipped.  I think I want to switch to a porcelain.
I have been eyeing up a few styles from Williams Sonoma.

I let you know which ones I choose.  They will definitely be white though because I love the look of plain white dishes.

So that's about all the excitement around here.  My boys have been keeping me busy with activities, pool visits and beach trips.  I also spend a significant amount of time trying to keep them off their screens!  That's why I was thrilled to come downstairs to see them working hard on some creative projects.
Of course, an ipad was close by, but hey, it's progress!

What have you been up to lately?
Have you been able to open your windows?

Linking to:

Saturday, July 9, 2016

Another Great Book and Our Week at the Beach

I am on a roll with my summer reading.  Recently, I provided you with some book recommendations and now I have another to add to the list.  (Especially for all you Gone With the Wind fans!)

Please note this post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.

I just finished reading this enchanting novel - Stars Over Sunset Boulevard ...
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner - a great book for the beach!

I just knew I would enjoy it after already reading a few of Susan Meissner's novels.  She has such a talent for writing historical fiction and I find myself emerging from each book with additional knowledge about a specific era.  This time, she takes us back to Hollywood's Golden Age and to the filming of the epic, Gone With the Wind.

Here is the excerpt from Amazon:

In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind  ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie… 

Los Angeles, 1938.  Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her  dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.  What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future. 

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?   Get this...I have an embarrassing confession to make...I have never read Gone With the Wind!  I know, I know - how did  this classic American novel get past me?  I just don't know, but I have seen the movie so I basically know the story.  Of course, now Susan Meissner's story has gotten me interested so, guess what I just ordered from Amazon?!   Yup!...It should be here any day now but since I recently purchased Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, I plan to read that one first.  It looks like a quick one and it's already sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read.  I will let you know how I like both books when I am finished...

Oh, and speaking of Amazon, July 12th is Amazon Prime Day when they will be offering more than 100,000 deals exclusively for Prime Members.  If you are not already an Amazon Prime Member, why not try the Free 30-Day Trial!  

We had plenty of time for reading this past week while we spent time at my in-law's Jersey Shore house!  We drove down a few days before the 4th of July and enjoyed a week of fun in the sun!

Boardwalk at the Jersey Shore

The weather was perfect all week.  The first couple of days were a bit chilly on the beach due to the ocean breeze but overall, the weather was wonderful!

Jersey Shore beach

Crabbing at the Jersey Shore

The boys enjoyed one of the afternoons crabbing with my husband.  Here they are showing off their catch.  Most of them weren't large enough to keep so after counting them up, we released them back into the bay.  We just crab for fun anyway.  We gave the larger ones to the people next to us who were crabbing for their dinner.

Theresa's South - great restaurant in Bayhead, NJ

Speaking of dinner, one of the nights we headed up to Bayhead and had dinner at Theresa's South.  We hadn't been there in years but the food was just as delicious as I remembered!  I wrote a post about the town a few years ago - Charming Beach Town where you can read more.  Last time, we ate outside on the patio but we were inside this time...good thing because that night was a scorcher!

Lilly Pulitzer Store in Bayhead, NJ

I never noticed the Lilly Pulitzer store next door.  The jeep caught my eye when we were walking back to the car.  I will have to head back for some shopping...without the boys.

Jersey Shore beach at sunset

We spent some gorgeous sunsets down on the beach where the boys shot off these little light up sling-shot things.  That kept them busy for awhile...

Baby shark at the Jersey Shore

Until a fisherman caught a baby shark!  That may have been the highlight of that evening!

Jersey Shore Sunset on the beach

Another wonderful week spending time with family at the shore.  I couldn't ask for anything more!

What have you been up to this week?

Thursday, June 30, 2016

Take Me Away Link Party - July

Welcome to the July - Take Me Away Party!  Seriously, what happened to June?!!

Each month, I invite you to link up to 3 travel posts (new or old).

As a reminder, when I say "travel", it doesn't mean it has to be some far away location.  If you want to highlight a beautiful town or tell us about your weekend at the beach, go for it!  Really, anything travel related is welcome.  We just want to inspire others and get ideas for wonderful places to visit!

If you don't have a blog but still want to join in and share a trip photo, please follow me on Instagram and tag your photo #calypsotakemeaway.

Last month you took us away to some fabulous places!  You can read the recap if you missed them - The Take Me Away Recap.  I am so excited to read where you've been so let's get started...

Here are a few party rules:
  • Please link up to 3 vacation/travel posts - new or old!  (Just not from previous Take Me Away Parties).
  • Please include a link back to my blog in your post in order to be featured.
  • Please do not link ads or giveaways.
  • By joining the party, you give me permission to feature your post on any of my social media networks including my blog.
  • Please pin from the source of the photo - not from this page!
  • I would love it if you would follow my blog using any of the social media buttons above.  Please also visit as many links as you can below!  It's a party after all!
Take Me Away!

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?

Linking to:
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursdays
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Shabbyfufu - Share it One More Time
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
My Husband Has Too Many Hobbies - Snickerdoodle Sunday
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Creatively Living - Monday Funday
Sand and Sisal - Inspire Me Monday
Cedar Hill - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday Blog Hop
VMG206 - Brag About It Link Party
DIY by Design - Sizzle into Summer Party
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase
The Blissful Bee - Work it Wednesday
Domestic Charm - Creative Circle
Poofing the Pillows - Thoughts of Home on Thursday
Imparting Grace - Grace at Home
Tatertots and Jello - Link Party Palooza
Virginia Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday

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 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?