April 23, 2017

Why Do Vacations Have to End? - Beautiful Grand Cayman

Besides dealing with laundry and school routines, I have spent the week reminiscing about our wonderful time spent on the island of Grand Cayman the previous week!  Sometimes it's so hard to get back to reality, isn't it?

This was our 6th time back to the island (5th time with the kids) and each time I find it harder and harder to leave.  I literally had tears in my eyes while driving back to the airport.
Grand Cayman Pool and Beach

What keeps bringing us back to Grand Cayman year after year?  There are just so many things but I would say the beaches are the number one reason we keep returning!

Grand Cayman Seven Mile Beach

Seriously, how amazing is that water?

Beach Umbrella on Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman

And on this trip, even more than previous years, it was all about the water!

Stingray City Grand Cayman

We spent our first full day on a sailboat trip to the famous "Stingray City"!  

Snorkeling Rum Point

After playing with the stingrays, we had a few hours to spend at the lovely Rum Point.  The shallow water at that beach was a perfect area for the boys to snorkel.  We were pleasantly surprised with the number of fish we spotted!

Red Sail Sports Rum Point

We had lunch, rented kayaks and spent the day in the sun.

Kayaking Rum Point

We rented a double kayak to share with my 10 year old and a single for my 13 year old.  He picked it up right away and even had a race with my husband.  Seriously, how do I have a teenager?!!...

Rum Point Sign

And a trip to Rum Point isn't complete without taking our traditional photo on the pier...

Rum Point Pier

As you can see, my boys were much more cooperative in the early years...How sweet they were when they were little.  Now...not as much!

Cayman Sunset

A couple days later we headed back to the Rum Point side of the island for dinner at the Kaibo Beach Barbeque.  Taking the ferry to dinner was a new adventure for us and being able to watch the sunset while on a boat made it extra special!

Kaibo Beach Barbecue Grand Cayman

We spent the evening enjoying a barbecue buffet with live Caribbean music and dancing under the stars.

Full Moon over water

The full moon shining on the water that night made the trip back feel magical!

The next day we were back on a boat for a snorkeling trip.  Instead of traveling all the way to Rum Point this time, we only had to head over to the Westin a few doors down for sailing and snorkeling.  The trip was called "Swimmin, Chillin and Grillin" and ended up being my favorite excursion for the week!  A great time with a fun international crew who made us feel so welcome.  There is just something so charming about an Australian bartender who asks, "What can I get you, love?"...Ahhh vacations...

Red Sail Sports

We sailed south on Seven Mile Beach and snorkeled off the coast of Georgetown.  This was the first snorkeling trip for my boys (besides the shallow water snorkeling they did on the beaches.) I will never forget how fascinated my 10 year old looked when we got into the water and told him to look down.  If you have ever snorkeled you can understand.  Putting your face mask in the water for the first time and seeing a whole other world below you is just amazing!

Red Sail Sports Catamaran

After the snorkeling portion of the trip, we sailed back up the coast, lunched on a delicious barbecue buffet and listened to live reggae music performed by the crew.  Yes, all this while stretching out in the sun drinking a rum punch.  I seriously did not want the afternoon to end!

In fact, we all loved the snorkeling trip so much that we booked another trip the very next day.  No lunch or live music on that trip but we did get to visit two different snorkeling sights.  The first stop was the USS Kittiwake Wreck which you could imagine, was so exciting for the boys!  This submarine rescue ship was sunk off the coast of Seven Mile Beach just a few years ago as a planned snorkeling/diving site.  You can read more about the fascinating history of the wreck - HERE.  After exploring the exciting shipwreck we sailed over to another beautiful reef and swam with even more fish.  Another memorable afternoon for us all!

When we weren't off on sailing excursions, we spent most of our time swimming at the beach in front of the condo.  
Cayman Beach

These cheap $5.00 rafts kept the boys busy horsing around for hours!

Condo Pool Grand Cayman

We would just walk back and forth from the beach to the pool all day.  Definitely a relaxing week for us all!

Beach Reading

I also had plenty of time to read on vacation.  I can't think of a better place to finish a wonderful novel! 

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.

I will write a full review on Kristy Woodson Harvey's 3rd book, Slightly South of Simple this week but I can tell you now that you need to add this one to your summer reading list!  The release date is this Tuesday, April 25th but you can pre-order the book now!

Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman

The nine days we spent in Grand Cayman blew by but were were left with lasting memories of a wonderful family vacation!

Grand Cayman Sunset on Seven Mile Beach

Of course, we were jolted back into reality as we lined up in the tiny, Cayman terminal to board our return flight. The cramped room was filled with not one, but two plane loads of people heading back to the New York area.  We were booked on the United flight to Newark, NJ and the other group was heading to New York on Jet Blue.  In a flash, I went from having Australian guys calling me, "Love" to having the loud New Yorker behind me yelling, "If everybody would just stay in line, we could get outta here!"

Yeah, the vacation was over...I guess all good things must come to an end!

I will need to write a whole other post just for restaurant recommendations because we ate in some fabulous places!

In the meantime, if you would like to see some previous Grand Cayman trip reports, feel free to click on any of the links below...

Grand Cayman 2013
Grand Cayman Restaurants
Island Shopping
Grand Cayman with Kids

What vacation was your most memorable?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Grand Cayman Family Activities

Joining these parties:

April 6, 2017

Take Me Away Link Party - April 2017

Hello Travelers!  It's time for another Take Me Away Travel Link Party!  We can't wait to see where you have been...

Take Me Away Travel Link Party

Let's get started with this month's party!

  • Please link up to 3 travel posts 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 do my blog.
  • Please don't link 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!

April 4, 2017

Take Me Away - March Recap

Here in the northeast, March went out like a lion this year!  We ended the month with flooding rains and cold temperatures.  But now it's April - hooray!  With the flip of the calendar, the weather has made a change in New Jersey as well!  I am sure many of you are planning spring and summer vacations.  I know I cannot wait to hit the beach this summer!

Martha's Vineyard

As I mentioned recently, my friends and I are heading to Martha's Vineyard in May.  I couldn't be more excited!  Once again, if you have any Martha's Vineyard tips, please feel free to share!

In the meantime, here is a recap of the travel posts you linked up for March...

Carole from - From My Carolina Home took us along to the "Designed for Drama Event" at the Biltmore Mansion...
Biltmore House - From My Carolina Home

What a beautiful collection of costumes worn in movies based on George Vanderbilt's favorite books!  I think you will love the selection she shared with us and if you want to see more, the exhibit continues into July.  Be sure to check out the links she provided for more information.

Carole always manages to find the most interesting exhibits...
Quilt Garden - From My Carolina Home

Apparently, if you are visiting the NC Arboretum, you must see the Quilt Garden!  This grid of planting squares surrounded by concrete strips changes every year.  As you can see above, the flowers were planted to look like butterflies!  Swing by her blog to see more of these beautiful gardens!

Tanya from The Other Side of the Road shared details of her fabulous trip to Florence, Italy...
Florence, Italy - The Other Side of the Road

The afternoon golden glow she mentions is so beautifully captured in the photo above.  Truly a magical place!

While we are talking about Italy, let's pop over to Venice with Bonnie from Living with Thanksgiving...
Venice Italy - Living with Thanksgiving

A canal cruise followed by a Bellini, while listening to a live orchestra in St. Mark's Square...yes, that sounds like the perfect anniversary present to me!  Be sure to also visit the rest of Bonnie's Italy tour.  You won't be disappointed!

Now, if you have never thought about traveling to Croatia, Pam from Everyday Living will introduce you to a region of the world that you will want to put on your list...
Croatia - Everyday Living

What a stunning place with a rich history and I can't get over the beautiful water!  No wonder Dubrovnik is called the "Pearl of the Adriatic"!

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, April 7th 
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!)
Take Me Away Travel Link Party on the 1st Friday of the month

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

March 30, 2017

Ways I Have Decorated With Tulips In My Home

Tulips...I just can't get enough of them!  I know they don't last long but I just can't stop myself from buying them this time of year!  They are a simple and inexpensive way to update a room for spring...

Tulips for Easter Decor

Since I don't overdecorate for holidays, I love the way these white tulips contribute to the little bits of Easter decor around my house.

White Tulips on Rattan Tray

And I really do mean "little bits" when it comes to Easter decor!  You can see my three little ceramic bunnies up on the mantel in the background.  Yeah, those and the kitchen bunny are almost all I use...simplicity.

White Tulips in the Kitchen

White Tulips in Crystal Vase - Decorating for Spring
Just a simple vase of flowers is all I need to brighten up the kitchen island for spring.  This towel I bought at Homegoods pretty much says it all!

White Tulips on Front Door for Spring

And what better way to welcome guests to our "home sweet home" than with tulips hanging on the front door.  Obviously, these are faux ones but they still provide a warm spring welcome!

Although the white tulips are probably my favorites, I have used more colorful ones on occasion...

Pink Tulips with Navy Table Setting

I have always loved using pink tulips with navy...such a cheerful color combination.

The pink tulips really stand out against my white cabinets too...

Pink Tulips in the Kitchen - Tulips in Decor
I use my crystal vases all the time.  They are probably my most used wedding gifts!

Although, I do fill my white pitchers with flowers almost as often as the crystal vases!  The white pitchers have more of a casual farmhouse look than the crystal.  I usually buy them in Homegoods whenever I see them.  You can never have enough of those!...

Red Tulips and Spring Mantel - Tulip Decorating Ideas

That year, I went bold with the tulips and added some red ones to the mantel...

Red Tulips in White Pitcher

The red ones worked well during the Valentine's to spring transition.  Their vibrant color really brightened up those dreary late winter days!

My foyer is another place I like to put a vase of tulips.  Once again, I bought white ones but those tulips were starting to droop down a bit by the time I took the picture.

White Tulips - Decorating with Tulips in My Home

I just got a tip from someone on Instagram who said to put a penny in the water.  I tried that with my most recent tulip purchase and so far, so good!  I will do anything to keep them fresh longer!  The shape of the vase seems to help too.  The top is wider on this vase than on my other crystal vase so I think they tend to fill out a little faster.

Here is another shot of the other crystal vase,,,

Tulips in the Kitchen for Spring - Tulip Decorating Ideas

As you can see by last year's spring counter setting, my spring decor hasn't changed much!  Either way, I never get tired of tulips in the spring!

What flowers do you like to buy
 in the spring?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Ways to Decorate with Tulips for Spring

Joining these parties:
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
From Gardners to Bergers - The Handmade Hangout
Craftberry Bush - Inspiration Gallery
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
The SITS Girls - Saturday Sharefest
DIY Showoff - That DIY Party
Finding Silver Pennies - Silver Pennies Sunday
Marilyn's Treats - Over the Moon Party
Little Farmstead - Sundays at Home
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Domestically Speaking - Inspire Me Monday
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
Cedar Hill Farmhouse - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday
DIY by Design - Swing into Spring
Love My Simple Home - Talk of the Town
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Seeking Lavender Lane - The Creative Circle
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday

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 planning...no 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?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!