Country Living...Island Dreaming

December 31, 2013

My Times Square Experience

This morning as I sat at the car dealer waiting for my brakes to get repaired, I couldn't ignore the television in the waiting room.  The news was blaring various updates of the people congregating in Times Square on this cold winter day.  The fools were all bundled up, securing the spots they will stand in for the next 12 or so hours.  How on earth are they able to go to the bathroom?  I really don't want to know.

That's the way Times Square is done these days.  You show up hours and hours before the ball drops and stand in sectioned off corral type of areas until midnight.  Due to heightened security everywhere, Times Square is equipped with security cameras and patrolled by tons of police.  Even garbage cans are moved away from the crowded areas.  Alcohol and backpacks are not allowed.  Yet people still flock there by the thousands to fulfill their dream of being there to see the ball drop and to cross one more thing off their bucket list.

I crossed this adventure off my bucket list many years ago...and it wasn't even on purpose....

The year was 1991.

A group of friends and I were invited to a New Year's Eve party in West New York, NJ.  If you are not familiar with the area, West New York is a city right across the Hudson River from New York City.  I got dressed up in a black dress like I usually did on New Year's Eve in those days.  I assumed we would spend the evening ringing in the New Year from the apartment with a view of the city.  Not the case.  Instead the plan was to go to the city.  In a whirlwind of a few minutes, all the party guests piled into a couple vans and through the Lincoln Tunnel we drove!  It all happened so fast that I didn't even have time to think.  A few of my best friends were with me and we just laughed and couldn't believe we were suddenly on this unexpected adventure.  As our van pulled to the curb for us to unload, I turned to my friend, Scott and said "Hold my hand this whole time.  I don't want to get separated!"  We climbed out of the van and into the chaos of New York on New Year's Eve.

I don't remember what time it was when we arrived.  I am thinking it was maybe 10:00 p.m. or so.  It took us a little while to walk right into the heart of Times Square from where the van dropped us.  Mind you, there was never any talk of where we would meet this van to get back home.  It was one of those "just go with it" type of nights.

We did really well staying together in the beginning.  Our group of friends stuck right next to each other and I held onto Scott's hand the entire time.  But as the crowd got thicker, we lost some people.  My girlfriends were nowhere to be seen.  In those days, I couldn't exactly call them on a cell phone!  There had been talk of meeting up at a certain bar later so I hoped everyone would remember and make it there!  The Times Square crowd was so tight that you really had to be holding on to someone or you would lose them.  It was one big party in the street and was both exciting and scary at the same time!  Oh and did I mention - freezing in my silly black dress and heels!  Luckily I had on a warm long coat!

Then out of nowhere, a man with long hair came barreling through the crowd and fell into us.  I think at first Scott and I both assumed it was some stumbling drunk guy so it was surprising to both of us that instead of letting go of our hands, we held on and pulled him up before he hit the ground.  In this very deep, sophisticated voice he looked at us and said, "Oh, pardon me!" and then he disappeared back into the mass of people.  We kind of stood there dumbfounded for half a second and Scott says to me, "That guy looked just like Jesus."  So it was then the joke of the night that we were "blessed" by Jesus.

We finally made our way to a somewhat less crowded spot with our now smaller group of about six people.  Someone was smart enough to remember the champagne so there we stood at the stroke of midnight, watching the ball drop while passing around a bottle of champagne.  I will always remember that was how I began the year 1992.

We were fortunate enough to meet up with the rest of our friends at a nearby bar later that evening.  We all filled each other in on the details of what happened after we were separated.  Then we just spent the evening enjoying each other's company and laughing about the night.

Needless to say, our party van was not coming back to get us.  Venturing back to New Jersey that night was a serious of subways and trains and somehow we made it back to my car so I could drive everyone home.  By that time, we were tired and cranky and couldn't appreciate the experience we had just lived though.

I have been back to New York on New Year's Eve once or twice since then for parties.  But that New Year's Eve was the only one I spent in Times Square...and the last one I spent with Scott.

My dear friend unexpectedly passed away in April of 1994.

New Year's has always been my reminder to embrace the moment and enjoy the people I am with.  You never know how long you will get to be with them.

I had no intention of writing today.  In fact, I am supposed to be getting ready to spend the evening with our kids and friends but somehow I got caught up in thinking about Times Square and I wanted to remember that night again.  Thanks for listening.

I hope you get to begin the New Year with loved ones.  
Happy New Year everyone!

Have you ever been to Times Square
 on New Year's Eve?

For more inspiration, follow along so you don't miss a post!


December 29, 2013

My 10 Favorites of 2013

Instead of sharing my most viewed posts of the year,
I like to do a recap of my favorite posts.

(You can click the sidebar to the right
if you would like to see some of my popular posts.)

So, here are 10 of my favorites for 2013:
(in no particular order)

1.  My Favorite Room Transformation:
One Room Challenge - Office Reveal
Not only was my office the only room I completely transformed this year,
but it was by far my biggest decorating accomplishment of the year!

But there was a close second in the area of accomplishments...

2.  My Favorite Project Accomplishment:
The Bookcases Are Painted!
After buying brand new bookcases, I decided I was not happy with the cream color so I repainted them Decorator's White.  It was a ton of work, but SO worth it to me!

3.  My Favorite Table Setting:
Fall Table Setting
I had so much fun decorating with these mini pumpkins this year!

4.  My Favorite Vignette:

Spring Vignette with a Target Lamp
I am always thrilled when an inexpensive purchase
mixed with things I already own, can create a whole new look!

5.  My Favorite Furniture Purchase:
Christmas Bedroom
Let's face it, I did a lot of shopping this year...
(My husband will definitely agree with that statement!)
And although I love my office furniture and various other things around the house,
I was happiest to give my son a new bigger bed!

6.  My Favorite Accessory Purchase:

The Ballard Carriage Chandelier
One Room Challenge Office - Week 3
I still love this light just as much as I did the day it arrived!

7.  My Favorite Mantel:

Simple Spring Mantel
This reminded me how much I really love black and white!

8.  My Favorite Celebrity Encounter:
Shore Events
Sure, I may have met the Travel Channel crew and even appeared in a whole two seconds of Hotel Impossible, but I was most excited to meet New Jersey's Governor Chris Christie!

9.  My Favorite Recipe:
Simple Summer Salads - Arugula 3 Ways
Or in this case...3 recipes!
I still can't get enough arugula in my life!

10.  My Favorite Place Visited:

Grand Cayman 2013
Although we had an amazing time on our family trip to Washington, D.C.,
this blog's name wouldn't make any sense if I didn't choose the Caribbean!

What fun I had looking back over my posts for 2013!

Not only have I enjoyed writing this blog, but I have loved the interaction with all of you!  I have learned so much from visiting those of you who write blogs.  You have inspired me, made me laugh, made me cry, reminded me what is important, showed me new ways of doing things, made me remember to live in the moment, gave me great ideas, helped me get more organized, reminded me I don't have to be perfect and allowed me into your beautiful homes and lives!

Thank you so much for your support, 
your friendship
 and for visiting my blog this year!  
I look forward to sharing more with you all in 2014!

Click below if you would like to see my favorites from previous years:


December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!

Wishing you peace and happiness this holiday season!

Cheers my friends!



December 21, 2013

One Minute Escape

With all the last minute Christmas craziness,
I thought you might like a little escape...
You're welcome...

Now go get back to that wrapping!

Oh yeah - and happy first day of winter...

Enjoy your weekend!


December 19, 2013

Christmas Bedroom

We've had a busy week around here.

Not only did I add a little holiday cheer to my son's room,
but we also bought him a new queen sized bed! 
This is the Beadboard Basic Bed from Pottery Barn teen.

The twin sized bed was not working for him anymore...
This is how the room looked just the other day.

I loved this little bed and I actually cried when my husband took it apart!  I get so attached to their childhood  things and I get sentimental every time I make a change in one of my boys's rooms!  My son will be turning 10 (gasp!) in a few weeks and has been asking for a bigger bed.  (Plus - our dog, Rosie needs more space when she sleeps with him!)

Well this bed is definitely bigger!

I reused the gray Restoration Hardware quilt for now.  It barely covers the bed so I will have to reorder a larger one.  I recently bought the red and white Christmas throw from Crate and Barrel.  I love the way the red pops against the gray quilt and the blue walls.  The walls in the room are Benjamin Moore - Amsterdam, in case you were wondering.

Luckily I happened to have two of the navy striped pillow shams.  
The red and gray Christmas pillow was from Target last year.

Yeah, I will miss the little bed.
Originally, I was worried 
that a queen bed would be too large for the room.

So we moved the bed
 a little closer to the window to leave more floor space.
Ironically, the room actually seems bigger now!

And he loves having a bigger bed!

Now that I have gotten over my sentimental crying,
I love the new bed too!

Do you get attached to any furniture?

Christmas Decorating Ideas for a Kid's Bedroom

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December 14, 2013

Wreaths and Bows for Christmas

Every year I buy a fresh wreath for my front door.  I love welcoming guests with real greens but I don't love cleaning up the needles on the front porch and the foyer.

I usually spend about $30.00 or $40.00 on the wreath but this year, I went artificial!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links which means if you click on the product links and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Wreath with Plaid Bow on Black Front Door
I found this 30 inch one at Home Depot and now I will have it for years to come!  I had the ribbon already so I made the bow and I figure I can change it each year for a new look.  (This exact wreath is now discontinued but I found a similar wreath and even a pretty pre-lit wreath.)

Don't ask me for a bow tutorial though!  I kind of just wing it and basically they come out different every time!  The ribbon I used is 2 1/2 inches and has a wire edge if that helps any.  You might like this bow and or this pretty bow.

Christmas Wreath with plaid bow
Anyway, like I said the wreath is 30" so it fits perfectly on my door.  And honestly, you really can't tell it's artificial  unless you sniff it...and I don't have any wreath sniffing friends so I think I am okay!

We did buy a "real" Christmas tree today though.  I would never convince my husband to go artificial with that!
Real Christmas tree on car
We went out to buy it first thing this morning.  The snow had just started at that point.  It's been snowing all day so it's been a great day to decorate the tree!

Anyway, back to the wreaths and bows...
Wreath in window
The other day, I showed you my kitchen window.  I bought a bunch of these plain wreaths on sale at Michael's for like $3.99 each!

You might have seen a couple of the wreaths hanging on the french doors in my living room in a recent post.
Christmas Foyer with lights
See them back there?

Here's a closer shot.
Wreath on french door

I thought about hanging three down the doors but you really don't see them once the room has been rearranged for the Christmas tree!

Christmas Living Room
(Excuse the bad lighting and photography.)

This one is on my laundry room door.
Wreath with black and white
I just wrapped around some black and white ribbon to match the room.

And I recently hung this one on the dining room mirror.
Wreath hung on mirror in dining room
I used the same ribbon as the front door wreath.  

Did you buy many wreaths this year?

December 10, 2013

Christmas Kitchen

We are getting our first significant snow of the season today.
Since it's really putting me in the Christmas spirit,
I thought I would share some of my decorated kitchen with you.

 This year I went with a single wreath in the window.
In the past, I have hung ornaments.

My new towel from Crate and Barrel
gives a great pop of color in here!

As you can see,
the snow is piling up outside!

And we are ready for Santa!

 I have had this rug forever.
I actually think I bought it at Talbots years ago.

The sink area will not stay this clean with the kids home today!

Some greens to warm up the breakfast area.

As always, I hung my Johnson Bros Christmas plates.

And to the outside... 
 Here is the view from my front porch.

And two boys enjoying a snow day...
I better get the hot chocolate ready!


December 8, 2013

Friday Food Focus


If you follow my Friday Food Focus, you know that each week I travel down the alphabet and recommend a Non-GMO food for you to try.  Some weeks it's easy because I can tell you about a brand that I already use.  Some weeks, I try something new and give you a review of that food.

Now, I have reached those letters of the alphabet (XYZ)
where I cannot find any GMO free brands in the stores.

I know they are out there.
I just haven't found them.

But I do have an app on my phone
that lists the Non-GMO foods
to help me out.

these are a few GMO free brands that begin with X,Y and Z:

Like I said, I haven't tried any of them yet
but once I come across them,
I will be sure to let you know how they tasted!

If you are interested in getting a full list of your own,
check out the Non-GMO iphone app listed above.

And if you want to read my recommendations,
click on any of the links below:


*Once again, I am not being compensated in any way to mention any of these brands.

Have you tried any GMO free brands you can recommend?


December 4, 2013

Staircase with Lights

For the past couple of years 
I have thought about adding lights to my stair garlands
but then I get all caught up in the holiday craziness 
and never buy the lights.

This year, the lights went up!
I can't believe what a difference it makes in the foyer!
My house suddenly feels a hundred times more festive!

I like to keep the foyer dimly lit
so all you see are these sparkly white lights
along with the glow from the nearby rooms.

My house just seems more welcoming!
Now I feel like having some guests over!

It will be nice to see the lights as we come down the stairs Christmas morning.
Let's just hope the kids let us sleep and it won't be this dark outside then!

Have you added any lights to your Christmas decor?

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