Country Living...Island Dreaming

May 31, 2013

Friday Food Focus

Are you ready to start eating GMO - free?

Last week I voiced my concerns regarding GMO foods.
If you read my post and you now feel motivated to try eating a GMO free diet,
I'm going to make it easy for you!

As a mom, I try to keep our diet as healthy as possible.
While I try to cook with fresh ingredients most of the time,
let's be realistic - sometimes we eat packaged foods!
At least I try my best to be responsible with the ones I choose!

  Each week I will list a few brands that I recommend
in my GMO-free A to Z list.

Let's start at the beginning of the alphabet...

Amy's Kitchen is a wonderful brand with a huge selection of delicious organic products.  Not only are their products GMO free but they have also stopped using BPA liners in their canned goods.

My son and I love the Cheese Enchilada frozen dinners.  He frequently requests these on nights we have to run off to baseball and we don't have time to cook a huge meal.  Amy's also makes some wonderful frozen pizzas and many other entrees.  Go check out all their products on their website  at   I am sure you will find something you will like.

I just recently discovered Angie's Popcorn.  Now I am very careful about any kind of corn products since corn tops the list for GMO foods.  Luckily Angie's Boom Chicka Pop popcorn is made with Non-GMO corn and is produced with all non-GMO ingredients.  As stated on their website, "All of our products are Non-GMO Project Verified (except for our White Cheddar and Holidrizzle products)"

We love this popcorn and my kids always request it in their lunches or snack bag!  I also think they like to say the name!  It's very cute and is one of those names that get stuck in your head.  Boom Chicka Pop, Boom Chicka Pop...See it's hard to stop saying it!

Another brand I love is Annie's.  We have been buying Annie's products for years.  Originally I started with the Macaroni and Cheese because I was trying to avoid the artificial colorings in the other brands.  My kids couldn't tell the difference so it was a win-win for everyone!  Since I have been anti-GMO, it makes me happy to know that Annie's only uses Non-GMO ingredients!

Not only do my boys love the Macaroni and Cheese but The Penne Pasta with Alfredo is another favorite and the Cheddar Snacks are always a big hit in their snack bags.  Go check out their website, for more products!

I should mention that I am not being compensated
in any way to mention these companies.  
These are truly products I use!

I hope my list helped you become aware of some great products and responsible companies out there!

Have you tried any of the brands listed above?


May 29, 2013

Touring the Jersey Shore - Past and Present

Our family spent last weekend at the Jersey Shore.  
Not because the weather was fabulous or anything...It was NOT.
But after all it was Memorial Day Weekend
and the kick-off to the summer season!

We have family members who own a house there
so the weekend was more of a family get together
and a chance to see the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy.

And what an aftermath!
Funtown Pier
This is the view as you enter the Fun Town Pier end of the boardwalk.

More of Fun Town Pier.

Luckily our family's house was not severely damaged.  During Hurricane Sandy, they had about 6 feet of water in the basement/garage but the living area upstairs was not touched.  Over the past few months they have gutted the basement down to the studs, had the mold professionally removed and then replaced all the drywall and repainted.  It looks as good as new except for the new paint line halfway up the basement stairs that doesn't match the old paint.  They haven't replaced the washer and dryer yet but when they do, the new ones will be located upstairs - far away from any flooding threat!

Since the temperature hovered in the 50s and 60s, lying on the beach was not really an option and swimming in the 52 degree water was not either!  We did stroll down to the beach to survey the damage.

The shoreline has definitely changed.
The beach is not as wide as before.

They are in the process of building the sand dunes back up.  They use to be so high, you could not see over them from the street.  But these sand dunes saved this area from severe damage.  Some towns like Ortley Beach didn't have sand dunes to protect them and those areas were wiped out.

As you saw above, the famous (or maybe infamous) 
Seaside Heights Boardwalk is nearby.

Hurricane Sandy rearranged a few things...
Obviously, they haven't finished cleaning up all the damage.

As you can see, this part of the boardwalk has already been replaced.  
The taffy sign has not.

How sad is this?
Recently I watched a VIDEO of the roller coaster being torn down.
As you see, the cars are still scattered around
on the empty section of boardwalk.

I prefer to remember things like this though!

My kids were sad to see their favorite places torn apart.  Although I have never been much of a fan of Seaside Heights Boardwalk because of the crowd it has attracted over the years, I now feel very protective of the place.  I have definitely gained a new appreciation for the boardwalk and its history.  I have even gained a new appreciation for the MTV Jersey Shore show.  The cast has come through with some fundraisers for the area so I have to credit them with that!

And as you might have guessed - the 'Jersey Shore' house is still attracting visitors...
I hope they are donating the money!

But like I said, my kids were sad to see all the destruction.
We used to enjoy crabbing on this pier.

We also took a ride north on Rt. 35 though
devastated Ortley Beach and on to Mantoloking.
Unbelievable that some areas still look like this 7 months after the storm!


I wonder how much can be saved.

I almost didn't want to post these because
I am sure these vacation homes were filled with memories.
My heart goes out to all those people who lost their beautiful homes.

But all the flags in this picture give some hope!
Staying Jersey Strong!

We didn't spend the whole weekend staring at ruins...
We also made time for fun with family... and the doggies!

The picture above was taken at Charlies Ice Cream, one of the many businesses in the area that are up and running.  Despite the war-zone-like photos I showed you above, the Jersey Shore is on its way back baby!

I was disappointed I didn't get to run into Governor Christie
 wearing his famous fleece sweatshirt though!

How was your Memorial Day Weekend?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Linking to:

May 24, 2013


Doesn't it seem like almost every person you know
has some kind of allergy?  

When I was growing up, we never heard of food allergies.  There was not a peanut free table at lunch - in fact most of the kids brought peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school without a concern.  We didn't see the health issues in kids that we see today.  In my entire grade school, one girl had asthma.  Now it's so common that we don't even think much of it anymore.

Do you ever wonder where all these issues are stemming from?  

Has our food changed so much since I was a kid?
Why are we reacting to things that were never a concern in the past?

I wish I had the answers.
While I am no way an expert by any stretch of the imagination,
I do have my theories...

If you follow me on Pinterest, you might have noticed that I have concerns about GMO's - (Genetically Modified Organisms) in our food supply.  I believe GMO's could possibly play a role in the allergies and health issues we encounter today.

These are just my thoughts and since I never intended for my blog to be too "preachy", I just want to bring your attention to GMO's and let you decide for yourself.  Here are a list of links that might give you a better understanding of why GMOs  have become such a controversial subject. - What is a GMO - Explained in 1-minute
Environment - National
Doctor - GMO Foods - Are They Dangerous?
Best Food - David Versus Monsanto
Celebrities Speak Out---March Against Monsanto-May-25th
NY Daily News - National Stars Align Protest

I do want to give a shout out to some companies who are making changes:

By 2018, Whole Foods will require their supplier partners to label products containing GMO ingredients.
You can read the full story here - Whole Foods Market Blog - GMO Labeling.

Recently, Chipotle Mexican Grill announced a goal to eliminate GMOs from their food.  In the meantime, they have provided a list of ingredients on their website including those menu items that currently contain GMOs.  Now I love Chipotle even more!

And then there are those companies who already provide GMO free foods- See Celestial for a list.

I am happy these companies are responding to the concerns of the public but I also believe there is more that can be done.  After all, many countries have already labeled or banned GMOs...

Why is the US so far behind?  Are we missing something?  Or are the other countries just overacting?

Are you as concerned as I am?  
If so, here are a few things you can do....

1.  Choose organic or GMO free foods - like those listed at  Celestial

2.  Try to avoid the top Genetically Modified foods like corn and soy...although if you look at the list of ingredients on any packaged food, you will see that they can be difficult to avoid!

3.  Educate yourself on GMOs.  Many of you are parents and want to do what is best for your children as well as for your own health.

I am just doing my part to create awareness!  

What are your thoughts on GMOs?


May 21, 2013

In Progress

I have had a crazy week around here.
Unfortunately, I have nothing finished to show you.
(Yeah, that really makes you want to keep reading!)

Anyway we are in the midst of renovating my office!

Here's a peek at what's been going on...

The hardwood floor boxes have arrived!  

As you can see, we ripped out the hideous carpet
and the new floors are sitting in the room to get acclimated.  

The first project in the room was the installation of the crown molding...
I am loving it!

It even looks good with the old wall color - which is Benjamin Moore Philadelphia Cream in case you were interested.  The color was fine when the room was a playroom but it's going away real soon!  Today they are spackling the thousands of holes left by my two rambunctious boys.  

Let me tell you, it was not fun lugging that molding home the other day!  Since the room has a long wall, I thought it would be helpful to get the longest molding possible so there wouldn't have to be many cuts.  I purchased 16 foot molding from Home Depot, had them wrap up all the pieces and when we got to my car the guy was like, "Um, how are you planning to get this home?"  I have an SUV and just assumed I could stick it out the back or something.  Well, I then discovered (after owning my SUV for 6 years) that the back window doesn't even open.  It's a hatch and I never realized the window was not separate.  Ooops!  Plus 16 feet is much longer than I pictured!  Anyway, I then returned all the molding and didn't have time that day to repurchase the right size.  So, the next day I dragged myself back to Home Depot and bought 12 foot molding and STILL this was how far it stuck out the window...

I was so sure I was going to take out someone's mailbox on the ride home!

Let me tell you, it's not easy to drive like this!

But I made it home without knocking into anything
and I didn't get pulled over for hazardous driving so I consider that a success!

Now I am down to the wire on my paint choice.  I am in an absolute panic about the color and have been back and forth to Benjamin Moore too many times to admit over the past few days.  I was so focused on all my projects yesterday that I didn't even notice until I pulled into the parking lot that I had sports talk radio on the whole time.  My husband must have been using my car and I was so caught up thinking about everything that I didn't even hear it!

How pathetic, the top two look the same.
I swear, it's harder to pick a white creamy color
than it is to pick something darker.

You might remember, this is the look I am going for in my room:

For more details, see my post -

I keep fluctuating between choosing a creamy beige color
and choosing a gray color.  
All I know, is I want to keep it light and beachy!
Decisions, decisions!  

Besides all this decorating stuff, I had to deal with my 9 year old coming down with strep throat over the weekend.  My 6 year old had it a few weeks ago and I thought the germ was outta here!  I guess not.  I hope I am not next!

So that's where I am at the moment.
And when I say, at the moment I literally mean at the moment.
It is 9:54 am on Tuesday
and I am heading back to the paint store as soon as I hit "Publish".

Any thoughts on paint colors for the above office plan?

Linking to:


May 14, 2013

Why Would They Cancel This Show?

I was so sad to read that my favorite sitcom Rules of Engagement
has been cancelled.

Now what am I going to watch for entertainment?!!
Honestly, if it is not Bachelor season, I am barely turning on the TV.
Well, except to see Keith Urban on Idol...

I know many of you have gotten hooked on Downton Abbey.
Maybe I will catch up with that.
But I don't think it will cause me to fall off the couch with laughter!
Every character on Rules was hilarious!

Well, I guess it's a good thing that I am not wasting time watching TV.
But I really enjoy a good silly comedy every now and then.
Rules of Engagement could get me laughing so hard
 I would have tears streaming down my face.

Now the tears are real tears because I will miss those goofy characters.
Boo hoo CBS.
What were you thinking?

At least I can always catch a great rerun of Seinfeld late at night!

Have any of your favorites been cancelled recently?


May 8, 2013

Disguising the Uglies - A Simple Way to Hide the Laundry Room Hoses

As you know, I bounce back
to my laundry room project every now and then. 
I came up with a possible solution for a nagging problem...
No, Rosie is not a nagging problem!
(Although she is wet and smelly from all the rain today!)

Lately, I have been trying to figure out how to hide
those hideous tubes and wires behind the machines...
Well, I shouldn't actually say lately, 
since I obsess over this problem every time I am in there!
How awful is that?

I have read that the hoses have to be a certain height above the machine but why is it that I see all these beautiful laundry rooms all over Pinterest that don't have this problem?  And it doesn't help that I have a front loading washing machine which is flat in the back and does not hide anything!  To make it worse, we haven't replaced the dryer to match the washer so it looks even worse!

Just lovely.

So, I was talking to my electrician yesterday about my idea to at least move this outlet further down the wall and out of sight.  He told me as a safety precaution, it has to be reachable in case of emergency.  He is scheduled to do some other electrical work next week so I will have him take a look and give me some ideas.  This area is such an eyesore!

Usually, I just keep a basket sitting on top to hide those awful hoses.
This helps but it's not perfect.

Since I love the look of hanging pictures on a string,
I decided to give it a try in here...
Not bad, but you can STILL see all the uglies behind them!

So I added back the basket to help with the hiding.
I am not sure if the pictures bring your attention to the wires and hoses
or if they distract from them.

I am going to leave it like this for a few days to see how I feel.

What do you think?
Are the uglies being disguised?
Any other solutions?


Linking to:

May 6, 2013

A Ballard Vignette

I have shown you bits and pieces of our conservatory
where we keep our pool table.

The room is not finished
but I can show you a few more bits and pieces....

This is the angle from across the pool table.
The family room and kitchen are on the left 
and the living room is on the right.

These are the windows across the room.

This spot used to be empty
 but I always wanted a slim console table there.
Then I found Ballard's Newport Demilune!
A demilune was perfect for the spot.
  Since there are doorways on either side,
I didn't want any sharp edges in case someone ran into it.

The clock has been there for several years,
just waiting for something to sit below it.

Here is a view from the back corner
where another Ballard piece sits...
(just doing my best to keep them in business! - lol!)

 You might remember my Sonoma Bookcase.
I still need to add some spring accessories to liven it up.

And here we are back at the demilune.
The whole reason I used that fake orchid on top 
was to hide the light fixture.
Why would anyone place a light fixture right in the middle of that wall?

This will give you an idea of what I am hiding!

Slowly this room is coming together.
The walls have been Benjamin Moore's Providence Olive
for about 10 years.
I am thinking about changing them.
But that is a low priority at this time.
I can't add any more projects to my list!

Have you filled up any empty spaces lately?

Linking to:

May 3, 2013

Mommy Guilt and a Nice Compliment

As parents, I think we second guess ourselves...a lot.
Well at least I do.

Are they eating healthy enough?
Are they getting enough sleep?
Are they over scheduled?
Are they spending too much time on video games?
Am I being too overprotective?
Am I letting them get away with too much?
Am I being the best mom I can be?

The list could go on and on.

This week I had some of those situations.  My 6 year old came down with a fever Monday morning and I kept him home from school.  The fever continued, but since kids get fevers, I just kept taking care of him.  Then he mentioned his throat hurt.  I started thinking it could be strep since his fever wouldn't go down without Advil.  So, before he woke up Wednesday morning, I made a doctor's appointment for later than morning.  When he came downstairs that morning his fever was finally gone but I wanted to get a throat culture anyway.  Yes, he ended up having strep throat!  Ugh.  We started him on antibiotics and he was back to school the next day.

I felt guilty for letting him suffer for that time period without getting him checked right away.  I talked to a friend who told me that she brings her kids to the doctor as soon as they come down with a fever.  Then I really felt guilty!  But I guess what is done is done.  As least he is better now!  I just wish my mommy instinct had clicked in a little earlier so he didn't have to miss 3 days of school!  Sometimes it is so hard to know the right thing to do.  Now of course I feel like the rest of the family members are ticking time bombs waiting for strep to strike one of us!

I hate when that mommy guilt
makes me feel like I am not going a good job!

I even had more mommy guilt when I lost my temper with the two of them for acting up that night when they should have been doing their homework.  My older son had been bringing homework home for my strep-infected 6 year old so he could keep up with his schoolwork.  I guess it was a combination of the little one feeling better and the 9 year old feeling jealous for all the attention the little sickie was getting.  The two of them were fighting almost constantly and not listening to a word I was saying.  I started yelling and threatening to take away just about everything they owned.  They didn't care, they just kept at each other.  It was even more upsetting for me because my husband was away traveling and I was sleep deprived from waking up each night to control the fever.  So I yelled and then I felt mad at myself afterwards for not handling them in a calmer way.

Yes, more mommy guilt...

But I am proud to say, the mommy guilt was almost erased yesterday!  

My friend called me to tell me that she volunteered to help out at an assembly at school.  They invited a  beekeeper to come in and teach the kids about bees and honey etc.  My friend was one of the moms in charge of giving each child a taste of honey.  She wanted me to know that out of the entire 3rd grade, MY SON was the only one who said thank you when she passed out the sample of honey!  She was so impressed that she expressed to the group how nice it was that he said thank you!  Of course a few behind him followed with a "thank you" but she figured it was only because of the fuss she made.  I was so proud of him and so grateful that she called to tell me that sweet story.  It made me feel like I was at least doing something right in the parenting department!

Do you second guess yourself or have mommy guilt from time to time?


May 2, 2013

Go Keith!

You might know from reading my blog 
that I am a huge Keith Urban fan!

As you can see, we are very close...
Such a great guitar player...

So, you would guess that I was thrilled to read - Keith Urban Voted Best "Idol" Judge Ever  according to Country Weekly!  Then I came across an article  TV Guide wrote 8 Reasons Why Keith Urban is our Favorite American Idol Judge".

I must admit that I had never been a big American Idol fan before.  Sure, I watched the first season with Kelly Clarkson and a few seasons on and off in between, but this season THE reason I watched was to see Keith Urban!  If you tuned in yourself, I am sure you would agree that he didn't disappoint.  He brought a whole new level of class to the show and was respectful to the contestants.  Not only is the guy adorable with an amazing voice, but being a true musician allowed him to give constructive criticism and honest advice to the Idol competitors.  It was also obvious he was really enjoying his job as a judge by the way he joked around and acted silly at times.  He was truly a pleasure to watch!

Seriously, how can anyone not love him?  He seems like a genuine person and all around fabulous guy...and judge...and I am sure husband and father!  Nicole you are one lucky woman!

Congratulations Keith!  
Can't wait to see you in concert again this summer!

Did you watch Keith on Idol this season?
Are you now a huge fan too?

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