Country Living...Island Dreaming

December 31, 2011

Holiday Week Day Trip

Our week between Christmas and New Year's
has been filled with all kinds of friend and family activities.

My dear friends who moved to South Carolina
were in town for the week.
And we made sure we got together with them as much as possible.

Yesterday, we had a mom and kids' day in the town of Lahaska, Pennsylvania.
There is a wonderful shopping village there called
Peddler's Village.
It was a perfect day - sunny and not too chilly.

We spent a good portion of the day
in Giggleberry Fair
which is an indoor kids area.
One of their favorite parts is the "Mountain".

It's a huge 4 story
climbing, sliding, ball throwing crazy place!

Here are some of the crazy contraptions
that shoot balls in the air.
The kids could have spent all day in there.
Well, they practically did!

There is also an indoor carousel.

And a great arcade area.

After hours of playing and eating in Giggleberry,
we headed over to the toy store.
Then we had to drag the kids out of there
after convincing them they had enough toys from Christmas!
But they were happy again when we stopped for ice cream!

We walked through the village.

And finished our ice cream in line for the gazebo.

Each year they enclose this gazebo
and fill it with a gingerbread house competition/display.

The entries were amazing!

Check out the scene from "A Christmas Story"!

And this adorable Disney World one!
How perfect is that?

Gotta love the beach theme!

And one of the kids' favorites!

And this week, we cannot forget Times Square!

(In fact, all the entries put our gingerbread train attempt to shame!
I don't think we will be entering any contests soon!)

The kids also had a great time running around the complex.

And checking out some of the outdoor animals.

I enjoyed checking out the holiday decorations.
Love the fruit.

And the flower shop always has some great decor!

I would have taken more pictures inside
but the kids were getting a bit rambunctious at that point!

As the sun set, lights were glowing everywhere.

Every building was lit up.

As we drove away,
we wished we had more time
to walk through to see more lights.

But since we had spent close to 9 hours there
playing and shopping and eating,
we decided we would leave on a positive note
before anyone started getting cranky!
(Including the adults!)

We all had a wonderful day
and can't wait to go back again!

Have you been to any charming outdoor shopping villages?

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December 27, 2011

My Favorite Posts for 2011

I had all kinds of grand plans for posting this week. Well, maybe they weren't "grand" plans, but I did plan on being creative.

Instead, I have been creative in different ways while spending some quality time with the family. We have been playing lots of board games, puzzles (anything to keep them from staring at a Wii, DS or TV screen!) and yesterday we put together the gingerbread train my son received for Christmas.

Let me tell you,
the icing always looks so much neater on the box!
We were laughing so hard when we made it because it was so sticky and messy and it kept falling over. My favorite quote of the day, "Mom, you're not very good at this!"

Anyway, I have a few minutes while they build another Lego kit. I thought I would follow along with some other blogs and post some of my favorite projects of 2011.

Are you on the edge of your seat?
Here we go.....

My Favorite Room Transformation of 2011:
Bathroom Transformation and other favorite posts of 2011
My Guest Bathroom Project
which started with changing tiles and snowballed from there!
For details see:

My Favorite Tip Post of 2011:
Beach House Etiquette
Because sometimes we all need a little reminder!

My Favorite Table Setting of 2011:
End of Winter Tablescape
Who would have thought since I am such a summer person!

My Favorite Tabletop of 2011:
Fall Vignette
Because it only stayed this way
for half a day before the boys wrecked it!

My Favorite DIY Project of 2011:
Slipcover Dye Project - my favorite DIY project of 2011
Because I was afraid and I didn't need to be!

My Favorite Paint Project of 2011:
Painting the $20 Chair Navy Blue
Because my son chose the color and we did it together.

My Favorite Recipe of 2011:
Mango Avocado Salsa - Favorite Recipe
Because you can't go wrong with mangoes!

My Favorite Rearranging Project of 2011:
Restyling the Living Room
Because I was pleasantly surprised at how much I loved it.

My Favorite Blast from the Past:
Jersey Shore Nostalgia - Looking back at the Pool Bar and Warren Hotel in Spring Lake
Because to quote Ferris Bueller,
 "Life moves pretty fast,
if you don't stop and look around once in awhile,
you could miss it."

My Favorite New Jersey Town Visited in 2011:
Bay Head New Jersey - Favorite Shore Town
Bayhead, New Jersey

My Favorite Non-New Jersey Town
Visited in 2011:
Woodstock Vermont - Favorite Towns

My Favorite Place I Posted About
but Didn't Visit in 2011,
But Plan to Visit Again Soon Before I Start Suffering From Caribbean Withdrawal:
Jumby Bay, Antigua - Favorite Places

My Favorite Concert of 2011:
Keith Urban - Favorite Concert
For more concert details, read:

And My Favorite Picture from my
"Soaking Up the Sun Saturday" Series:
Seven Mile Beach Grand Cayman
My darlings sitting on Seven Mile Beach in Grand Cayman.
Click below to see all 14 weeks of my series:

As I have said before, I have enjoyed this year of blogging as well as getting to know so many of you.
I am looking forward to more fun in 2012!

What did you enjoy posting about in 2011?
I'd love for you to follow along so you don't miss a post!

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December 22, 2011

Merry Christmas and Our 2011 Tree Story

I hope you all have a wonderful holiday
and get to spend it with people you love.
I have enjoyed getting to know so many of you this year.
I have learned so much from all of your beautiful blogs.
And I have enjoyed sharing my projects with you!

I am looking forward to more blogging adventures in 2012.
I will be around next week so I will try to post as much as I can.
I am sure the kids will give me some free time
while they are caught up playing with their new toys.

For now, I will give you a peak at my Christmas Tree.

We always get a real Christmas Tree.
My husband must have the real tree smell in the house.
And what would Christmas be without weeks of vacuuming up needles afterwards!

Normally, we go to a Christmas Tree nursery
and buy a pre-cut one off the lot.
This year my husband's best friend
recommended a place where you pick a tree
and they cut it down, pack it up and load it onto your car.
In the past we tried doing the cut-your-own-tree thing but
we had to actually cut it ourselves
and tie it on the car ourselves.
I remember driving home with my hand out the window
to make sure it didn't fly off the roof!
(Like I would be strong enough
to hold on to a 6 foot tree traveling at 55 miles per hour!)

Anyway, I liked the idea of a fresh cut tree.
Maybe the needle situation wouldn't be that bad.
Who knows how long the pre-cut ones are sitting there on the lots!

So we took the journey to this new tree place
which was out in the middle of nowhere!

It was cold out so we kind of ran through quickly
and when my almost 8 year old said, "How about this one?"
We said fine and ran to get the guys to cut it.

My son was quite thrilled that he was the one who chose the tree.
Of course, I didn't get a very good look at it.

Now apparently, when you buy a tree off a regular lot,
they are nicely trimmed and ready to take home.
Well, not when you cut one down.

As soon as we got home my husband started in with
"We can just spin it around so the good side shows."
(What good side?)
Of course we had to act all happy with it
so my son's feelings wouldn't be hurt.

But as the tree settled more,
branches seemed to come out of nowhere
and things were sticking in all directions.

We trimmed off some
 but it didn't help the fact that the tree was crooked
 and kind of lumpy looking on top!

Oh and did I mention
that I let my kids decorate it?
Have you ever seen more clusters of decorations before?!!

Check this section out.
This is a branch that should have been cut.
The weight of all the ornaments made it stick out more!

after they go to bed.
I scramble to correct the ornament cluster areas.
But not this year.
They were so proud of their work
so I left everything exactly as they put it.
They even set up a train track below.

In previous years I have tried to put up two trees.
A family tree in the family room
and MY tree in the living room.
There wasn't enough time for my tree this year.

So, we have our family tree.
Even in the dark you can see how crooked it is!

But I must say,
the tree has character.
I am so proud of my boys.
And I wouldn't change a thing!

Who decorated your tree this year?

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