Country Living...Island Dreaming

July 30, 2011

Soaking Up the Sun Saturday #9

"When the sun goes down we'll be groovin'
When the sun goes down we'll be feelin alright
When the sun goes down over the water
Everything is hotter when the sun goes down"
                                 -Kenny Chesney

This week's photo is the view from
Caneel Bay
on the island of St. John in the US Virgin Islands.
I would love to run into Kenny Chesney on St. John.
He has a house somewhere on the island.

Have you run into any celebrities on the beach?

By the way, I apologize if I haven't gotten back to you this week,
I have been a bit under the weather.
Maybe I just need a little more sun...

Have a great weekend!


July 25, 2011


Just a quick
"public service announcement"
 to remind everyone to use any
Borders gift cards they might have laying around.
  As you probably know,
Borders is going out of business,
 but supposedly they are only accepting gift cards up
 until July 31st. 

 I am off to go use mine now!

 Of course I gave the gift cards
 as teacher thank you gifts at Christmas and at the end of the year.
  I hope everyone remembers to use theirs!

Have a nice Monday!'

July 23, 2011

Soaking Up the Sun Saturday #8

The Northeast is in the middle of a major heatwave.
If I must be outside,
the only place you will find me is:

"Knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze blowin' wind thru my hair
Only worry in the world
Is the tide gonna reach my chair."

  - from "Knee Deep" by Zac Brown Band

This week's photo is
Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman
(I am sure it is cooler there than in New Jersey!)

Are you "knee deep in the water somewhere?"

Have a great weekend!


July 21, 2011

Dreams for the Dull and Dated

One of these days, I would like to tackle my foyer.
It's not really on the top of my list right now.
Mainly because my husband sees absolutely nothing wrong with it. 
But to me, it is just a little boring,

and I am quite tired of the oak staircase!

Here is what I am thinking for the staircase:
(Photo courtesy of
This was in the Wegmans flyer a year or two ago.
Of course the extra moldings add a lot to it
but I am focusing on how my stairs would look
with white risers and spindles.
I think just that change would make a huge difference.
(This Christmas tree helps too!)

My foyer gets some wonderful afternoon light,
especially this time of year.

(Probably why the staircase has faded so much
and taken on a yellowish tinge.)
The paint in the foyer is Benjamin Moore's Bone White
with Decorators White for the trim.

So that's basically it.
I am in the planning stage
so you won't see any changes for a while.
I have to keep the tile
because it continues thru the kitchen and back hall
but paint, accessories, etc can all be changed.

Hey, would that new chalk paint work on the stairs?
Everyone seems to love it!

I might darken the stain a little too...
I guess I would have to replace/remove the carpet...
Oh, and convince my husband...
That's the hard part!

July 19, 2011

Tourist in Savannah

Every now and then
when I go on vacation,
I tend to act like a tourist...

A few years ago...
actually maybe about 8 or 9 years ago,
we took a trip down to Savannah, GA.

Owens-Thomas House

With stayed with friends
who owned a house on a golf course
 on Skidaway Island
(just outside the city).

Right before our trip,
I read the book, Midnight in the Garden of Good and Evil
by John Berendt.
I felt like I really knew the city after reading that book.
I don't know why I don't have a picture
 of Mercer House though!  (The house from the book.)

I had to do all the touristy things...
Sit in some of the town squares.

Take a guided tour to all the historical homes...
Gingerbread House

Davenport House

Pose in front of the candy store on River St.

Eat at The Cotton Exchange overlooking the river.

And dinner at a fabulous restaurant called
Elizabeth on 37th - (no picture of that)

And eat lunch at Paula Deen's restaurant,
(This was their old location.  They have moved since then.)

And of course I had to meet Paula,
ham it up for a picture and have her sign a cookbook!

And then I ended the weekend
 embarrassing my friends
 while I took pictures of statues!

And that is how I acted like a tourist in Savannah!

Have you visited this lovely city?


July 16, 2011

Soaking Up the Sun Saturday #7

Back by popular demand...(well, not really..) it is time for
Soaking Up the Sun Saturday!

Each week from June through August,
I am posting a beachy image.

This week's picture is Bottom's Bay
on the east coast of Barbados.
How amazing is that water?

Have a great weekend!


July 15, 2011

Country in the City

Last night was one of those
live in the moment
 kind of nights!
My husband and I met up with some friends
to see Keith Urban in concert!
(I know, I look like an idiot!)

He played at the Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey.
You probably heard of Newark...
The home to the lovely
Newark Airport...
The place everyone sees when they fly in to New Jersey
and then assumes the whole state looks like that...
Not true.

But enough about Newark.
The main thing is, we weren't killed in a drive-by shooting,
(Yes, I did ask my husband if his windows were bulletproof! LOL)
We also weren't robbed or assaulted.
Everyone was very nice.

Jake Owen opened for Keith Urban and was amazing!
Check out his new video:
Barefoot Blue Jean Night
How incredible is he?!!!
Love that guy - watch out Keith...
(more on Jake later!)

Back to Keith...
Let me set the scene.
Our seats were on the floor, dead center, row 19.
As we were evaluating our seats,
we noticed a round platform right behind our seats.
We assumed it was for a camera but
we joked that Keith was going to do a song there.
Well get this - HE DID!
Three songs as a matter of fact!
About halfway thru the concert he made his way thru the crowd.

I stood on my seat and literally was 3 feet from him!
Yes, I felt like a giddy little teenager but
who cares!
On top of that, he slapped my hand!
I don't even think I zoomed in to take this!

Keith played all of his hits,
some great new songs
and the crowd was going wild.

During "Kiss a Girl" he asked for volunteers.
Needless to say I was standing on my seat.
I didn't get picked though :(
He brought 3 audience members up to "audition"
and then let the crowd pick the winner.
The guy got to sing the song with Keith
and the 2 "runners up" got to sing back up.
I would have died for that chance!
But the hand slap and
having him right next to me for 3 songs was almost as good!

I pretty much lost my voice.
I am now partially deaf too.
Oh, but it was SO worth it!

Wait there's more...

So after the fabulous concert,
my husband and his friend suggested
 we go to the bar down the street.
Why would I want to risk my life
 in downtown Newark at midnight?
 I don't know,
but I agreed and was I glad I did!

Jake Owen (the opening act)
was in the bar!
We introduced ourselves and took a couple pictures.
He was the nicest guy (and adorable).

He noticed the golf shirt my husband was wearing and started asking him about golf and they got into this whole long conversation about how Jake played Augusta with his dad and how he has this great picture of him there with his arm around him.  My husband plays a lot of father/son tournaments with his own dad so once they got talking I was like - hello?!!  It was so sweet though because Jake really seemed to enjoy talking to my husband and my husband was just thrilled.  How cute that he was star-struck too!

Anyway, we're pals now
 so look for me in the audience at the CMT awards.  LOL!

What a great night to remember!

Do you have any special concert memories?

Linking to:


July 14, 2011

Casual Beach Table Setting

After spending a week at the beach,
I am suffering from withdrawal.
So it seemed like a good time to do a
 beachy table setting!
I have had those cute margarita glasses forever.
I think they were from Pier One or Crate and Barrel.
(They are actually plastic.)

You know, a plain seagrass rug
 would look much better with this setting...
(I'm just thinking..)
I picked up this runner recently from
Christmas Tree Shoppe.
It was very cheap.

When I look at the blue on the table,
 I really wish I had more blue in my house!

Yes, this is the candle/hurricane from one of my bathrooms.

Those starfish move around my house a lot too!

As you can see,
I can't wait to leave for the next beach trip!

Don't you think the summer is just flying by?

Linking to the party at:


July 12, 2011

Unscientific Towel Review

Every now and then, I go on a search for the perfect bath towel. It usually takes awhile, because I think you need to break in a towel a little to know how it will perform!
Towel Review and My Favorite Towels
My requirements are as follows:

White - Not just because Nate Berkus says so, but because that's what goes best in my master bathroom.

Absorbent - I like the towel to start doing its job right away.

Not too fluffy - Sometimes when they are too fluffy, they feel like a blanket just sitting on you and I find that they don't absorb very well.

Light to Medium Weight - I like to wrap the towel around me comfortably.  When they are too heavy, they get bulky and fall off.

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which means if you click on my links and make a purchase, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.  Thanks for your support!

I have tried many different brands.  I thought for sure that the Pottery Barn towels would be perfect because hey - it's Pottery Barn.!  Everything is perfect in that store!  But I am sorry to say, that their towels were not perfect for me.  They are very well made but heavier than I like.  They did wash well and didn't seem to have that adjustment period where all the fuzz comes off in the dryer for a few washes.  But my search continued.  Sorry Pottery Barn...I still love you!

My Favorite Towels
I actually found two favorites in my search.

(which I found at Bed, Bath and Beyond)

Both brands are soft but not too fluffy, absorbent and not too heavy.  They are very reasonably priced too. The only flaw is they have a little of that "fuzzies in the dryer adjustment period". But hey, I can live with that!

What is your favorite towel?
Please follow along so you don't miss a post!

Linking to:


July 11, 2011

Beach House Etiquette - How to Be a Fabulous House Guest

I think most of us know how to be a great host.

We love to freshen up our guest room, lay out the fluffy towels and fun toiletries, make the creative breakfast...and basically pretend to be the bed and breakfast owner.

But do we know how to be a great house guest?

Beach House Etiquette - How to Be a Fabulous House Guest

I thought about this question during my week at the shore this summer.  Sure we were staying with family, but there is never a reason to slack off when you are staying as a guest.

Here are my guidelines
 for staying as a guest
 at a beach house - or any house for that matter!

Bring a gift when you arrive.  It is just a thoughtful gesture and sets the tone for a positive visit.  Since we stay with family, I usually bring some kind of baked good or something fun to munch on when everyone arrives.

Make your bed!  Sure this sounds like common sense, but sometimes when staying in a house full of people the messiness of a group can become contagious!  Even if you notice the host leaving the bed unmade, just make yours anyway.  Believe me, no one will complain!  The guestroom we usually sleep in is right off the main living area and it would look horrible to see a messy bed when you walk by.  Even if your room is tucked away somewhere, you never know when the host has to get something from a closet or drop off some towels.

House Guest Tips

Keep your room neat!  Yes, this goes with the make your bed suggestion but really, this is someone else's house, keep things in order! 

Don't leave your stuff all over the house!  We have a big family and at any given time, there are aunts, cousins, friends etc staying at the beach house at once.  That means sunglasses, flip flops, keys, cell phones and towels are everywhere you look!  Try to keep your things in your room or in one designated area.

If you are up early, (and if you have young kids, you probably are!), then please stay quiet.  Make yourself useful by emptying the dishwasher or making some coffee.

Blend into the routine.  Sure, the owner of the house probably enjoys having people there but at least try to keep things flowing in the house.  If in the late afternoon, everyone is sitting around reading and relaxing, don't just turn on the TV or start talking on the phone in the middle of everything.  Pay attention to the host's cues.

Don't help yourself to everything.  If you know you will be drinking ten bottles of Diet Coke, go out and buy your own supply for the fridge.  If you use something up, replace it!

Return things you borrowed!  Common sense, right?  Well, in New Jersey, adults are required to purchase beach badges to gain access to the beach.  Our family keeps a limited number of badges at the house so we are all very careful not to lose them.  We are so careful with them that we always announce, (while making sure we have witnesses),  "I am returning my beach badge!" as we place them back in the precious box each day.  It is very funny because we all do it!

Help out as much as possible.  Most people remember to ask, "Is there anything I can do?", but instead just do something!  Start setting the table, chop some vegetables, run to the store to pick up some extra milk... In our family, we also like to take turns cooking a dinner.  I always bring some recipes with me so I can at least whip up a quick appetizer for our late afternoon happy hours on the deck!

Be conscious of the wet bathing suit!  Seriously, no one likes to see a big wet butt mark on their sofa or cushioned chair!  Change or sit out on the deck until you are dry!

Remember the sand!  Pay attention to how much sand you have dragged back from the beach.  Shake your things off outside, towel down your feet and legs and rinse off as much as possible.  It is so annoying to walk around the house in bare feet getting all the sand stuck to you that has dropped off someone else! 

Don't hog the shower!  First of all, you never know when the hot water may run out and second, you need to consider all the other people waiting to get cleaned up.  If you need to dry your hair, do it in the bedroom instead of the bathroom.  I always bring a little stand up mirror with me so I can sit on the bed and dry my hair.  Sometimes I just air dry - hey it's the beach!

Clean up before going home!  Strip the bed, empty your garbage can, wipe down the bathroom, (we also have to squeegie the shower after each use), sweep or vacuum up any sand, bring the towels to the laundry room (we actually bring our own so we wash them at home) and basically make the place look great!  Don't leave the place looking like a hurricane blew through or you may never be invited back!

Remember to send a thank you!  Flowers or a fruit basket are great ideas, but at the very LEAST send a HANDWRITTEN note!  Take the extra few minutes to write out a nice thank you to let them know how much you appreciated your stay.

These "beach house guidelines" may seem like common sense, but believe me, we all could brush up on a few!  I have been a guest at beach houses my whole life so I like to think of myself as an expert.  And one day if we ever have our own beach house, I would love it if my guests remembered just a few things from my list!

And remember, no one will complain that you have been too neat, too polite or too helpful!

Are there any guidelines
you would add to my list?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

I am linking to the party at:

July 9, 2011

Soaking Up the Sun Saturday #6

This week, I really did soak up the sun!
I have been away since last Saturday at the Jersey Shore
 spending time with my family on the beach.

I brought my computer with me since I planned on posting
 a couple times while we were away but then discovered
 there was NO INTERNET there!
I was quite stressed over this at first
 but then just enjoyed being unplugged for a while...
I do feel quite refreshed now!
  I must say though,
 I am looking forward to catching up on all the blog reading
 I missed over the past week! 

So, to keep up with my Saturday ritual, here is this week's sunny/beach image:

This is Horseshoe Bay beach in Bermuda.
Yes, the sand really is pink there!
And as you can see by all the people,
it is quite the popular spot!

Hope you enjoy your weekend everyone!

How long can YOU stay away from the internet?

July 2, 2011

Soaking Up the Sun Saturday #5

Since it is the
4th of July Weekend
 in the United States,
I decided to highlight a place
in this great country of ours!

This week's image is the Na Pali Coast on the
Hawaiian Island of Kauai.

I took this photo from a helicopter.
Yes, the person who gets nervous in planes
actually flew in a helicopter!
This was before I had kids though...
I have become much more fearful
 of life threatening situations since my children came along!

Have a wonderful 4th of July weekend everyone!

Have you ever flown in a helicopter?
If so, would you do it again?


July 1, 2011

Not So Lazy Days of Summer

Keeping the darlings busy during summer vacation is not very hard.
Keeping them from whining and fighting with each other can be!
Camp doesn't start for a couple of weeks so this in-between period
can be wonderful
as well as stressful.

We've been to
the beach,
the pool,
the library
friends houses
the bowling alley...
and that was just before lunch - LOL!

But seriously,
the first few days they want to do EVERYTHING!
My boys are best friends...
most of the time.

But like most kids,
they need some distractions to keep them from fighting.

Luckily, they each have separate things they like to do.

 my little darling is always looking for ways to get on the Wii!

My big darling is a little more mature and actually likes to do chores.
(Well he does want to be paid though..)

One recent chore was to clean out
 and change the gravel in the hermet crab's cage.

Another was to help me hang the flag.

And another was to fill the bird feeder.

Of course,
 he decided it would be "nice" for the birds to
have a little extra.

And those who missed the feeder
AND the railing,
could just eat right off the deck!

I may have been annoyed with the mess...
but the birds sure were happy this morning!

Meanwhile in the basement....
I have a love/hate relationship with the Wii.
Sometimes I love it when I am making dinner
and the boys are getting along while playing together.

But I hate the Wii
when I can't get them away from it...
and I am yelling for them to go take baths or just

Ironically, this morning
I came across the cutest post from Laura at
She has an adorable solution for controlling the Wii!
Go check it out!

The most important thing I have to remember is
they are only kids for such a short period of time!
I have to cherish every moment
because before I know it,
they will be asking for keys to the car!

Well, we are off to the library...

What are you doing
with your kids this summer?
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