Country Living...Island Dreaming

May 28, 2014

Recent Happenings

We've been busy these past few days...

We spent Memorial Day Weekend at the Jersey Shore with family.
And family of course includes dogs...
 I think they wanted to come to the beach with us!
(That's Rosie on the right - I haven't shown her little face in awhile!)

We had a beautiful weekend!
Sunday was the perfect beach day.
The water was a bit chilly...58 degrees to be exact!  
But that didn't keep my crazy 10 year old from jumping waves!

But the boys spent most of their time playing in the sand
 and enjoying the lovely weather!

Later that day, we swung by Bum Rogers Crabhouse to meet my blogger friend, Traci.  What fun it was to chat with her in person after trading comments and emails all these years!  Great meeting you Traci!  Check out her blog - Coastalpines and say hello!  You will love the room makeovers she completed for the "One Room Challenge" along with her great wardrobe!

 That night the kids needed their Seaside Heights "boardwalk fix"
so we headed up to Casino Pier.
(Yes, the pier famous for the roller coaster in the ocean
 during Hurricane Sandy.)
They went straight for the "Pirate's Hideaway" roller coaster.
(Luckily this coaster survived!)

After many more rides and the obligatory trip to the fudge shop,
we were done for the night!

We all enjoyed kicking off the summer at the Jersey Shore!  Of course summer doesn't really start for us until mid-June when the kids get out of school, but it was a nice escape!

Then it was back to business yesterday with the demolition of our driveway!
 What a mess...

It only took a few hours - and a lot of noise
until the entire driveway was ripped up!

I had to take plenty of pictures and videos
since the boys were at school for most of it!
And now we have a new, smooth driveway!
We even extended it four feet to make room for extra parking.

So, those are my most recent happenings...


May 23, 2014

Beach Reading

Looking for a good book to read on the beach this summer?

It's never too early to start making your summer reading list!

Please note that this post contains affiliate links, which means if you click over and buy something, I will receive a small commission with no change in price for you.

Summer Reading List - Some great books to add to your list!
Here are a few books I read recently.
I recommend all of them 
for some light summer reading.

The Life List (by Lori Nelson Spielman)  - I loved this book and not just because I love making lists!  It's a wonderful story about Brett, a woman who is given one year to accomplish a list of her childhood goals in order to receive her mother's inheritance.  During this year, Brett faces her fears, reexamines her childhood dreams and makes crucial decisions about the direction of her life.  A great "beach read" and a great reminder to revisit your own goals throughout your life...and to always trust your mother's instincts!

Safe Haven ( by Nicholas Sparks) - Originally, I picked up this book because every June we spend a long weekend in Southport, NC where this story takes place.  I thought it would be entertaining to read a story set in a  familiar town but the book ended up being so much more.  I enjoyed the plot, loved the characters and I didn't want the journey to end.  Now I want to see the movie!

The Traveler's Gift (by Andy Andrews) - This inspiring book is a guide for successful living told through a fictional story.  It's appealing because the author doesn't just give a "how to" list but weaves the lessons through an engaging story that I didn't want to end.

The Noticer - (by Andy Andrews) - Since I found The Traveler's Gift so inspiring, I read a second book by Andy Andrews because I enjoyed how he is able to incorporate lessons into a likable story line.  One person can have an impact on so many lives and as stated in the book, "Sometimes, all a person needs is a little perspective."

This weekend I am going for a third Andy Andrews book!
The Noticer Returns by Andy Andrews - Another great book in a series!
I will let you know if I enjoy this one as much as the other two!

Click over to  Beach Reading Tips to read more of my "beach reading requirements".

Books to Read this Summer


May 21, 2014

Good Luck Bad Luck Weekend

So here I am on Wednesday, writing about the previous weekend.  
I guess I am a little behind on things this week!  

My weekend was a series of good luck/bad luck events.

Bad Luck - Saturday morning my 7 year old's baseball game was cancelled because the fields were still wet.  (Well, I guess that's not really a terrible thing but he was disappointed).

Good Luck- The kids and I were able to plow through a ton of weeding and then went for a bike ride around the neighborhood.  Oh and yes, I bought my new bike!  You can read about the events leading up to that here - The Frankenbike Story.  My older son still had his afternoon game because by then the field was dry...and his team won!

Bad Luck - Sunday morning one of my best friends and I headed over to the Mansion in May Designer Showhouse.  We figured if we arrived when it opened at 10:00 am, most people would still be in church and we could leisurely browse through the 62,000 square foot mansion.

Not the case...
The shuttle bus from the parking lot dropped us off to this!

I was dressed in a springy outfit with no jacket so I wasn't thrilled about waiting outside in the shade.  I guess I overestimated how warm it would be that day.  It took us about a half hour to get to those stairs you see on the right.  

By this point, a few people got impatient and left.  During our wait, a tour guide tried to keep us all occupied by giving a talk about the history of the Mansion.  She commented on the long line but assured us that the wait is usually about 40 minutes from that staircase on the right.  After 40 minutes, we hadn't moved much and decided to bail for the day.  Both of us had additional plans for the afternoon and knew we could always come back another day in May.  (The tickets are good for the whole month.)  We scurried over to the arriving shuttle bus and hopped on while laughing about the ridiculous amount of time we just wasted.  

Good Luck - After the line-waiting-morning, I drove down to meet my family at the Somerset Patriots baseball game and won the 50/50 raffle ticket!  $312.00!  The funny thing was, I knew I was going to win.  I have this sixth sense about those type of things.  As soon as I looked at my tickets, I just knew.  Weird.  Anyway, we all enjoyed a nice afternoon of baseball!

Bad Luck - My 10 year old son's allergies were acting up Sunday night and he was up half the night coughing.  He was running a slight fever 99.2 so I kept him home Monday.  

Good Luck - After resting in the morning, my son was feeling a little better so we spent the whole day together talking, watching TV, having lunch and just enjoying some quality time.  

As I type this post, I realize that none of these events could even be considered bad luck.  I mean really, what am I complaining about?!!  Even waiting in line and leaving wasn't that bad - plus we will have a funny story to tell and something else to laugh about!  And I did get to spend a few hours catching up with my friend.  Perspective...

So maybe, I should just change this post to the Good Luck/Good Luck Weekend!  Life is too short to complain about the little things!

How has your luck been?


May 17, 2014

Saturday Gardening

You might remember what my lavender looked like last year...

Well, I am hoping it will end up just as pretty and full this season...
So today between baseball games, 
I will be out here weeding and cutting back the dead ends from last year.

It looks like quite a project
but really needs to be done.

And I think I will also be weeding the other beds too.
These things just pop up out of nowhere don't they?
We've had a lot of rain these past few days.

At least today is sunny and warm!

Are you planning any outdoor activities
 this weekend?


May 14, 2014

Spring Front Porch

I recently added a few spring touches to my front porch.

Spring Front Door Decor - Door Hanging with Tulips
This look was originally meant for Easter but I think it works for the whole spring season.

Potted Plants for Spring
I bought two black urns from Home Depot and filled them with impatiens.  The spot seems to work well for them because they only get direct sunlight late in the day.  If you are looking for similar urns, mine is 15 inches wide by 21 inches high.  

Black Urn on front porch
I have wanted urns for the porch for awhile and I figure I can use them each season. (With my "green" thumb, plants don't last longer than that anyway!)

Impatiens for spring
 They have been blooming like crazy!

Spring Front Porch with Black UrnsSo that's my simple spring front porch. I might switch out the tulip door hanging for something a little bigger eventually but I think it works for now!

If you want to see more outdoor excitement around here,
check out the flowers on my back deck - Flowers on the Deck.

Have you freshened up your front door
for spring?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

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May 12, 2014

The "Frankenbike" Story

So, I have mentioned before that my husband is very practical.
Hold that thought...

A few weeks ago my 10 year old son decided to clean up Mommy and Daddy's old bikes that have been collecting dust in the garage for the past 15 years.  Yes, 15 years...pathetic.  I know it has been that long because we just celebrated the 15 year anniversary of living in our house.  During that time, we have not taken those bikes out for a ride.  Not once.  I think my husband bought the bikes even before we were married so I am guessing the bikes are between 18-20 years old.  We actually used them when he first purchased them but then I guess the novelty wore off.

My son worked hard cleaning up the bikes one Saturday.  He enlisted Daddy for some help with blowing up the tires and was so excited that now we could go on family bike rides together.  I was actually pretty excited too.  I took mine out for a test drive and although the gears seemed to jump a bit, it seemed to work ok.  Although, after a couple back and forth runs down our street, the chain fell off so I figured it was a sign I should get a "real" tune-up at the local bike store.  

A few days later, I took the bike in and left the repair shop with high hopes that the tune up would be pretty simple.  They estimated that the repairs would cost around $70.00 and that even included a new seat I picked out.  (Mine wasn't very comfortable.)

The next day I got the phone call.

"I am sorry but we are unable to repair your bike."

I was so disappointed.  The guy rambled on about how it needed a new chain and a whole new piece for the gear shift, blah blah, blah...I don't even remember all the things he mentioned.  He said the repair would cost at least $150.00 and that was if he was able to find the parts.  He said bikes have been updated so much over the years and didn't know if he could find anything compatible to make the bike work.  He told me I could come pick it up or he could try to donate it somewhere.

I figured, rather than pay at least $150.00 and hope that they could find the parts, I would just buy a new bike.  It only made sense.

Well, when I mentioned this to my husband I made the mistake of suggesting that maybe he and the boys could buy me a new bike for Mother's Day.  I didn't think I was being too extravagant with that request.  After all, a few years ago for Mother's Day, he did buy me tickets to see Keith Urban in concert!

"Mother's Day?", he said, "That's more like a birthday gift!...Wait a minute!  What do you mean we can't find compatible parts?  I have the same bike!  Maybe you can have them use parts from my bike to make one good bike!  I don't need a bike since you are the one who wants to ride with the kids anyway!  Ask them if they could do that!"

Oh just wonderful...

Although this may sound like a good idea, I had visions of myself pedaling along on this jalopy of a bike while trying to keep up with my kids.  People would be pointing at me and laughing.  It was not the happy-family-riding-bikes-scene I had imagined.

That week at the bus stop, I told my sad bike story to my neighbors.  My one neighbor said, "How funny!  It will be like a Frankenbike!"  Oh yes, that is just what I wanted!  The laughing-stock of the neighborhood here.

I continued to tell my story to other friends during the week.  I wasn't sure if I was looking for sympathy, a good laugh or maybe just some reassurance that this wasn't such a bad idea.   I mostly received laughs and comments like, "Why don't you just buy a new bike!"

So this past Friday, I grudgingly loaded up my car with my husband's bike and arrived at the bike shop with my embarrassing request to combine the two bikes.  Right away the guy says to me, "We have a new policy.  We no longer repair bikes older than 14 years old."  

Hooray!  What a break for me!  But since I dragged that thing down there, I insisted that he look it over so I could tell my husband that I did indeed do all that I could to salvage at least one of the bikes.  The bike guy compared the two bikes but seemed like he wanted nothing to do with them.  He told me that their bike shop doesn't want the responsibility of fixing a bike with old parts and having someone get injured because of it.  I was more than satisfied with his answers so we loaded both bikes back in my car and I headed home.  

I informed my husband of the results, (without trying to sound too happy about it) but the conversation didn't go much further.  We were running the kids around with baseball and had so much going on that evening.  I also had this slight fear that my husband would come up with the bright idea to send me around the state of New Jersey in search of another bike repair shop to build this "Frankenbike"!

Then yesterday I opened my Mother's Day card...

This lovely sheet of paper was inside.  Apparently the whole bike-combining idea was a plan to throw me off from guessing that he and the boys were buying me a new bike for Mother's Day!

My husband told me he called the bike shop on Thursday and told them NOT to repair my bike because he would be buying me a new one.  No wonder the repair guy was acting so uncomfortable on Friday when I insisted he look over my husband's bike as I continued to ask him questions!

After all these years of marriage, my husband still continues to surprise me and make me laugh!  He really got me this time!

So, this week, I will be heading back to the bike shop to pick out my shiny new bike!  I will also be "back-peddling" all my silly comments I made to my friends about my husband's crazy bike building scheme.  I should have given him more credit!

And my husband?  Well, he says he is still going to try to get his bike repaired.  You know, he is the practical one.  Who knows, maybe he'll be the one who ends up with a Frankenbike after all!

Did you have any surprises for Mother's Day?
I'd love for you to follow along so you don't miss a post!

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May 8, 2014

Flowers on the Deck

As soon as the calendar switches to May
I feel like we are finally safe from overnight frost around here.

Time to start filling those pots!

I went on a flower shopping spree the other day
to freshen up my back deck!
I can't add many flowers to my actual yard
since the deer eat almost everything!

As you can see, the deck was a bit sad looking...
Actually it is sad looking in more ways in one.  Normally, we would be power washing the deck and then re-staining it once it starts to look like this.  But this year we are leaving it.  We plan to tear off the deck and replace it with an addition and patio...well that plan goes along with my kitchen remodel and I am so overwhelmed with the decisions that we have done nothing so far.  So I am living with the sad looking deck this year.

But I am not living with
 the sad-looking remains of last year's plants anymore!
 So once the weather warmed up, I started freshening things up.

I started with the flowers
 but I plan on buying some throw pillows to liven up these cushions.
You can read about that HERE.

I pulled out this plant stand from the garage,
cleaned it up and bought some geraniums.

I filled the pots with coffee filters.
This helps keep the wet soil from dripping through the bottom.
Last time I used these pots, I remember wishing I had done this.

Geraniums love the sun
and my deck gets full sun - all day!

 So nice to have the plant stand filled up again.

I also replaced last year's climbing plant with a new one.
This is a "Mandevilla" and I buy one at Home Depot every spring.
They are annuals but they bloom the entire season.
Even I can take care of this one without much trouble!

And to add more pink...

I have had this urn for years and I love the way it looks all filled up!
I just bought a hanging petunia plant and stuck it in.

A few easy additions can make a huge difference!

And now I can sit and enjoy a glass of wine out here in the evenings.

But probably not tonight...
or the next night...
We are having some rain for the next few days.

At least I don't have to remember to water the new flowers!

Have you bought any spring flowers?

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May 5, 2014

Cinco de Mayo Recipe

Today, in honor of Cinco de Mayo, I am doing a "recipe re-run"...
(Since I didn't have many readers in 2011,
you probably never saw it anyway!)

And If you LOVE mangoes like I do,
you really can't go wrong with this delicious salsa!

Mango Avocado Salsa


1 ripe mango
1 avocado
2 Tbs fresh lime juice
2 Tbs chopped cilantro
Dash of salt
Tortilla Chips or "scoops"
 (Lately I prefer a GMO-free alternative tortilla chip though!)

Chop up all the ingredients.

Make sure the mango is pretty ripe, 
otherwise the salsa won't be sweet enough.

Try it with about 2 Tablespoons of lime first
but I usually add extra to make it more tart.

Mix all the ingredients together.

And there you have it!

It is so easy to make and everyone always seems to love it.
Even my kids eat it
and they don't even realize it is healthy!

I have also mixed this salsa with some lettuce and chicken
 to make wraps!

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Do you have any good salsa recipes?
Mango Avocado Salsa Recipe - Great for Cinco de Mayo!

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