Country Living...Island Dreaming

January 29, 2014

GE Reveal Light Bulb Makeover (with Coupons!)

Disclosure: GE Lighting sent me a 4-pack of GE reveal® 75W halogen light bulbs free of charge but I was not compensated in any other way.  All opinions are 100% my own.

Recently, I was asked to do a lighting makeover using the new GE reveal® light bulbs.  I must say I was a little nervous since this was my first "real" review on the blog.  Sure, I give my opinion about products all the time but they have always been products that I regularly use.  So, before I received the bulbs, I researched the GE Lighting website and was excited to learn that the new GE reveal® light bulbs use 28% less energy verses their incandescent counter parts.  That was an important feature for me but I was really interested to see how the new bulbs would look in my house.

I will let you be the judge!...

Lighting Before and After
Ta da!  You can definitely see the difference between the yellow light from the old bulb on the left and the clean white light from the GE reveal® light bulb on the right!  These photos were not altered (except to add the blog watermark and "Before" and "After") and very clearly show the difference between the two bulbs.  Seriously, don't you just love how the new bulb looks?!!  It actually brings new life to the lamp I bought from Target last spring!

The walls in my room are Bone White but in the picture with the old bulb (on left), the walls look very yellow.  The GE reveal® bulb (on right) makes the room seem so fresh, crisp and even brighter!  It actually gives my room more of a daylight feel compared to the tired yellow light from before.  With the dreary winter we have been having, it's like a breath of fresh air to have some bright, cheerful lighting in my home!

Anyway, the bulbs I received for review provide lighting which is equivalent to a 75 watt incandescent bulb, but they only use 53 watts per bulb.

Here are some more quick facts (via the GE Lighting website) about the GE Reveal Light Bulbs :
  • These bulbs bring out the colors and patterns that may normally go unnoticed under standard incandescent light.
  • They bring the true beauty of your home to life by filtering out the dingy yellow tones unlike standard incandescent bulbs.
  • The color-enhanced full spectrum light bulbs make your whites appear whiter, reds redder, and allow patterns throughout your home to “pop”.
  • These light bulbs are designed to use 28% less energy than standard incandescent bulbs.
  • Up to 80% energy savings compared to incandescent bulbs.

I would definitely recommend GE reveal® bulbs to anyone who wants a more naturally lit home.  Now that I have tried one in my Target lamp, I am ready to start switching the rest of my bulbs around the house!

And speaking of Target...
Check out Target’s Cartwheel app for 25% off GE reveal light bulbs. Just search “GE reveal” to find it. Offer expires 2/28.

You can also print the following coupon:
$2 off GE reveal at Target -  Expires 2/8
Now you have no excuse not to check out these awesome light bulbs yourself!  You can read even more about them at
Have you tried the new GE reveal® bulbs?  


January 24, 2014

Organization in My Office

One of my goals for 2014
was to purchase some baskets to organize my office shelves.
The shelves weren't very functional before.

But after a quick trip to Pottery Barn...
I now have tons of storage!
(These are the Pottery Barn Havana Utility Baskets)

 Rosie was close by to supervise.
 I think she approves!

Once I decide what I need to store the most, I will add some kind of tags or labels to them.  Right now I am just using them to sort school work and mail.

Have you added any storage 
to your home for the new year?

Linking to:

January 22, 2014

What is Missing in My Office?

I knew it was only a matter of time...
 Notice anything missing?...

Here is a hint for you...

And another...
 Yeah, I used to have plants in there...

When I made my list of Goals for 2014,
I didn't bother saying I wanted to take better care of my plants.
I knew better than to set myself up for an epic fail...
(This picture was taken when on of the palms was new.)

For the past few weeks, the palms in my office weren't doing very well.  Not surprising, because I basically kill every plant I own.  I tried cutting back the dying leaves a few times and then yesterday morning I took a closer look.

Spider mites.

Have you ever had to deal with those nasty things?

Not fun.

I had them on a palm many years ago and went through weeks of spraying and wiping leaves until one day I just threw in the towel and threw out the plant.

This time I knew better.  These palms cost me $7.00 a piece on sale at Lowe's so I wasn't about to invest any time in de-miting them....
Goodbye pretty palms.
Thanks for making my office look tropical for a short time.

And it really doesn't feel tropical with this outside!
Here is the view this morning.
In fact, this view is becoming common around here.
I think we got about a foot of snow yesterday.

I guess we should have covered the deck furniture...

 Well, someone is having fun today!
But even Rosie didn't want to stay out too long
 in the 3 degree temperatures!

So back to the office...
Now I just have to figure out what to put in these empty spaces.
Any suggestions?
My office feels naked now.

Have you ever dealt with spider mites?
Can you keep plants alive?
Will this winter ever be over?...


January 20, 2014

Winter Baker's Rack

January can be a hard time to decorate.
The holidays are over yet spring is still a couple months away.
Winter Baker's Rack
Since we walk past my baker's rack all day, I like to keep it updated for the season.  Black and white seems to work for me during the transition from winter until spring.

Preserved Boxwood from Homegoods
Adding a little bit of green helps me look forward to warmer weather!  This is a preserved boxwood from Homegoods.  It's cute and virtually impossible for me to kill!

Lantern from Target
And adding black accessories give me a good excuse to buy a couple Target lanterns!

Baker's Rack

Black and White Royal Doulton China
I always look for a reason to display my Royal Doulton toile plates.  I never collected a full set since they were discontinued.  I still keep my eyes open for them online never know!

Houseplant in white pot
And I am always thrilled when I manage to keep a plant alive.  This one has been really easy!

Wrought Iron Baker's Rack side view
I still love the side view of the shelves.

Baker's Rack decorated for winter
So this is how the shelves will look for the rest of the winter.

Kitchen Baker's Rack
I think we are expecting snow again tomorrow.  Looks like it's going to be a long winter.  I better refill that wine rack!

What are you decorating this time of year?

Winter Baker's Rack - Calypso in the Country blog


January 17, 2014

Birth Order Thoughts

A few years ago, I was hosting an event at my house.  During a conversation about birth order, one of my new friends assumed I was the second child in my family.  I wasn't sure if I should feel insulted or flattered.

I should start by telling you that I have a younger sister and have always thought of myself as having the typical first-born personality traits.  But I must say, part of me envies the carefree stereotypical traits of a younger child.

This was why I couldn't decide if I was flattered or insulted.  I wasn't sure which way I preferred to be viewed.  The first-born (insulted) part of me immediately felt defensive and thought - maybe I am not being that attentive of a hostess, maybe this breakfast doesn't seem very well planned or put together, maybe I don't seem organized...

And then a flattered feeling came over me and thought - Wow I am pulling this off so well that I actually seem relaxed and carefree.  I actually appear to be the second born.  I must be amazing - lol!

I just came across this article about birth order - Huffington Post - How Birth Order Affects Personality and I started thinking how my two boys fit into the birth order stereotypes...

My older son is the organized, planner.  He is a rule follower and even a little bossy at times.  He wakes up early almost every day; even on weekends.  He needs to know everything and likes to be in control.  He is sweet and polite and likes to do things the right way.
 (My older son - getting the kite ready to fly.)

My younger son is the party kid.  He could probably be considered the "class clown" and sometimes fools around a little too much.  He is the late sleeper and doesn't worry about anything.  He makes me laugh every single day and loves "performing" for a crowd.  He is smart but doesn't get stressed out about school or anything for that matter.
(My younger son - running around after the kite)

A couple summers ago, both of my boys were taking a week of golf lessons.  I remember dropping them off one day and as I walked back to my car, I noticed their group heading out to the driving range.  Walking first in line, in fact way ahead of the group (and way ahead of the golf instructor), was my older son.  He marched out there like he meant business.  He was there to learn golf and he was ready to get started.  Behind him followed the instructor, then one or two kids.  And behind them paraded a cluster of kids bouncing along without any urgency.  You could tell they were laughing and having a great time.  Yes, that was my younger son's group.  I stood there observing and thought to myself how this little display completely summed up the personalities of both of my boys.

That is just one example of the many times both boys have demonstrated their birth order.

I know deep down inside that I have a first-born personality even though I may be able to fool some people some of the time.  First of all, the fact that I had to analyze the whole conversation from years ago speaks volumes!  And since that day, I have managed to pull off some pretty involved school events, proving my first born status to my friend - LOL.   Seriously though, I know if I don't have a plan for almost everything I do, I get pretty stressed out.  For example, it took months for me to decide to get a dog.  I researched breeds, interviewed breeders, got recommendations from many friends and didn't proceed until I had every question answered and every supply purchased.  My younger sister on the other hand, announced one day that she might get a dog and a couple days later - she had one.

I am not saying that I don't envy the relaxed attitude of a second born child, I just know where I fit in.  Yet now that I am in the midst of working on another school event scheduled for the spring, I am hoping I can channel just a little bit of of my younger sister's second child mellow attitude and not be so stressed out!

Does your personality reflect your birth order?
What about your kids?


January 14, 2014

Dogs and Photos

Last night I recorded The Bachelor
and then watched it after the kids went to sleep.
I really can't stay up the way I used to...
I barely accomplished anything today!

On one of the dates, Juan Pablo (the current Bachelor for all you non-Bachelor watching people out there), took the girls on a photo shoot date.  They posed with dogs to promote the Best Friends Animal Society.  I love when shows use their popularity to raise awareness for charities and good causes.

Anyway, even though my Rosie wouldn't have qualified for the photo shoot since she was not a shelter dog, I thought I would share a picture of our own photo shoot.  This was one of the pictures my long time friend and photographer took this past fall.  As soon as I get her approval, I will share more of her work with you.  I guess, I should have actually put her "watermark" on the photo since I didn't take the picture...I hope she doesn't mind...there goes 40 years of friendship - lol.

So tell me, are you watching The Bachelor this season?
That Juan Pablo is one cutie!


January 11, 2014

Media Stand Shopping

Recently we upgraded our TV in the basement playroom to a 51".

Now, as you can see,
we need to upgrade that wimpy little media stand
to something a little larger.

I don't want to spend a lot although I want something that will work better size-wise.  I also need some serious storage for all the Skylanders, Wii, XBox paraphernalia.

The playroom is nothing fancy yet I want a more furniture look than TV stand like the one we currently have.  I don't want to continue the trend of this space being the "land of misfit furniture".

Here are a few I am considering:

I would love something like this...

Huge - and imagine how great this would be at hiding all the mess!

This one is actually what I picture to be perfect in the room.
It just needs to go on sale!

Something like this could also work in there...

Threshold Carson Media Stand

The only problem is, this one isn't wide enough.  They have a similar one in black and I guess if I wanted it to match the TV (like the old stand), then it will work...

Wood TV Stand

So, I am still looking around.  It is only for a playroom, but I do want the piece to be functional as well as look nice!

Are you doing any shopping for your home this weekend?


January 8, 2014

Donating and Recycling in the New Year

I mentioned in my 2014 Goal List 
how I will be getting rid of things
that have been piling up in my basement over the years.

So far, I have scheduled a pick up from the Lupus Foundation for tomorrow.  They accept a wide variety of used clothing and household goods.  They also make it so easy with their online scheduling.  You just leave a pile outside the garage or front porch and they haul it all away!

If you have kids, you are probably like me and have a bunch of old ripped jeans accumulating in your closets!  Half the time my boys get a hole in the knee even before they outgrow a pair.  I just can't allow myself to throw the jeans in the garbage and add to all the landfills and I don't want to donate ripped clothing.  But I have to do something with these ripped things.

Awhile back, I got on the email list for Blue Jeans Go Green which is a company that recycles denim into insulation.  Whenever a retailer sponsors a denim collection drive, I get an email.  Unfortunately, there hasn't been a retailer close by so my denim has just been piling up.

I just received another email today informing me that a store called Fresh Produce is collecting denim through the end of January.  They are also offering 15% off a new denim purchase when you bring in old denim to be recycled.  If you have one of these stores near you, you might want to pull out some old jeans and bring them in!  Since those stores are nowhere near me, I just have to wait for the next collection or mail the jeans in myself.  With my huge pile, I can't even imagine what the shipping costs would be though.  I am hoping a major retailer decides to sponsor a collection drive in their stores!  Hey GAP or Target - how about you?!!

This week we are also bringing our Christmas tree to the recycling center to be cut up into mulch.  It's so funny to see the huge pile of trees when you go to drop one off.  The kids love coming with us...oh the little things that make them happy!

Anyway, that's what I am getting rid of this week.  So far, so good on the execution of these goals!

Have you donated anything this week?

I would also like to state that I am not being compensated in any way to mention the above companies.  I just wanted to share the information with you!


January 6, 2014

2014 Goals

Now that the kids are back to school for the full week,
I can concentrate on what I would like to accomplish for 2014.

I usually have a running list of goals for my home.  I feel it is important to keep a list, not only to stay on track with my goals but the process of just crossing off each item as I accomplish it can be so satisfying!

Here we go:

Home Improvement/Decorating Goals:

The Kitchen - Either make a decision about getting the cabinets painted or go all out and do a full renovation.  So far, we have gotten estimates for painting along with some minor carpentry work.  Our next step (gulp) is to bring in an architect to get an estimate to completely redo the space.  I have always wanted an island instead of the peninsula so I am really leaning towards a full renovation.  I am very nervous about this but I have put it off long enough!

The Kids' Bathroom - I have never shown pictures of the "lovely little room" before but I will tell you right now, it will be getting painted and redecorated this year.  This is not a major renovation.  The fixtures will stay the same so basically I will be refreshing it for the boys.  The yellow walls and bright fish shower curtain will be going away...far away.

The Laundry Room - That room is so close to being finished!  I had it repainted a few months ago and all I really need to do is add some more storage and make a skirt for the utility sink since this is where my husband likes to keep his running shoes.  I can't sew so I have put off this project for a looooong time now.  It will get done though.

My Office - Yes, I know - I did transform the room for the One Room Challenge but I am waiting for the plantation shutters to get installed and I still have to hang some artwork.  I am also going to work on making the space more practical for working.  I am getting some storage baskets for the shelf in front of my desk, keeping my eyes open for a different lamp and also working on storage ideas for the closet.  I have found that I now do everything in the office.  I blog in here, I wrote out Christmas cards and thank you cards in here this year, wrapped presents and now I will be using the space to organize a school event that I will co-chair this spring.  I now will be co-chairing two school events during the year so organization is SO important now!

Get Rid of Stuff - Last week, my husband and I went through boxes in the basement and piled up all the things we no longer want or need.  The pile was HUGE!  We are still going through things but we found it quite funny that we still had items boxed up from our old condo.  We have been in this house 15 years!  I think it is time we let go of some stuff!  Most of the pile will be donated and I already have a pickup scheduled for later this week.  I think we may try to sell some things...but that of course means learning how to use Ebay or Craigslist.  I will let you know how that goes...

(Maybe this is worth something!)

Ok, that's enough for the home goals for now.  I don't want to go too crazy with that list!

Overall Blog Goals:

Social Media - At the end of 2013, I really jumped into the social media scene with Instagram, Facebook and Twitter.  They are kind of a novelty for me right now but I have to figure out if they are really worth the time for me.  I really just enjoy the actual blogging so we will see how those things work out.  I will reevaluate those later in the year.

Giveaways - I would like to do a few giveaways on the blog...hey, why not?  I have been blogging for a little over 3 years now so I would like to try some new things.

Comments - I tend to slack off with comments sometimes.  I will make an effort this year to respond to comments the same day I receive them.  Otherwise, I end up waiting and taking forever to get back to people!

Frequency - I tend to blog about 3 times a week.  I plan to increase that to 4 times a week in 2014.

Photography - I hate to admit this, but I still haven't learned how to use the DSLR camera I bought last spring.  I will be working on that goal...

Personal Goals:

Exercise - Ugh...even typing that makes me cringe.  I make such an effort to eat right but I know I really need to exercise at least a little.  In the warmer weather I do walk but that's really about it.  Being middle aged makes you realize you have to take better care of yourself.  Luckily, I have always been thin so it's not the weight loss I am after, it's the overall good health.  I want to be around for my kids for a long time!

Computer - I am embarrassed to admit this, but my husband bought me a new computer for my birthday in November and I have yet to start using it on a regular basis.  Why, you ask? - Because it runs on Windows 8 and I have had the WORST time trying to learn it!  It has made me miserable - tears and all.  My old computer is over 3 years old and has some issues but it's easy...and comfortable...and MAKES SENSE!  I try a little bit each day but I have come very close to throwing the thing across the room.  Meanwhile, it sits on my desk next the my old computer reminding me I really need to get moving on it.
There it is, just sitting there - mocking me...

Family - I can honestly say I put most of my effort into my family.  I would like to plan more one on one time with each family member though.  My husband and I need to go out more and I want to spend time with each of my sons alone doing just what they want instead of what all of us want.  

Organization - Like I said above in the blog goal section, I need to add more storage options.  I also want to keep ahead of things so they don't pile up.  I need to delete emails on a more regular basis, catch up with photo organization, make photo books, transfer movie files onto DVDs...oh this list could go on forever!

Travel - I almost forgot this one!  Each year we plan at least one family trip.  Last year we were fortunate enough to take the kids to Grand Cayman  and Washington D.C. and in 2014 we want to try someplace new!  I will keep you posted when we decide on this one.  Fun, fun fun!

Ok, that's enough...These are my main goals for the year.  I am sure I will add more and/or revise these a bit but this is at least my starting point.  I don't pressure myself or feel bad if I don't accomplish everything each year.  I just use the list as a guide to keep me focused and then I just do as much as I can.  

I hope to get started on these as soon as possible but at the moment, I am running to the store before the roads get icy.  It's pouring down rain and in the 40's right now but the temperature is dropping and is supposed to be a low of 3 degrees tonight!  Winter...such fun.

Have you made a list of goals for 2014?

Linking to:


January 2, 2014

New Year Ramblings

I spent yesterday lounging around with the kids.  I think I was still in my pajamas until about 3:00 p.m, which is unheard of for me!  It was so nice to be lazy and watch HGTV all day.  And that is no exaggeration!  I snuggled in my bed with the kids to catch some of the Rose Parade and returned later to catch the new shows like Caribbean Life (my new favorite) and Island Hunters.  Island Hunters just blew my mind thinking that there are people out there who can actually afford to buy an island!  Oh to dream...  And speaking of dreaming, did you catch the HGTV Dream Home?  Yes, it was an exciting day of television for me!

Usually on New Year's Day, we take down the Christmas tree.  
I didn't even remove one ornament yesterday.  

Oh, but today is a different story!  
I have already dismantled the garland and lights from the stairs, 

cleared off the mantle 

and started piling all of the decorations from the house into the dining room.
Later I will haul in those storage bins and start packing it all away!

Today is bittersweet for me.  I love the idea of starting a new year and getting all fresh and organized but moving on from another Christmas makes me kind of sad.  The kids went back to school today so the house is quiet - and cleaner already I must add!  It's just a reminder that time moves so fast.

And to once again quote from one of my favorite movies:

"I've said it before, and I'll say it again.  Life moves pretty fast.  If you don't stop and look around once in awhile you could miss it."  - Ferris Bueller

So true, Ferris, so true...

This year I would really like to embrace the Ferris Bueller philosophy and live in the moment even more than I have before...

"The question isn't what are we going to do.  The question is, what aren't we going to do?" - Ferris Bueller

So if you happen to be watching a parade in downtown Chicago and someone is singing "Twist and Shout" from the top of one of the floats...don't be surprised if it is me...

Once I get my Christmas decor put away I will be making my real list of goals for the year.  Until then, it's cleaning time for me!  Oh and I have to run to the store and fill up the fridge.  We are expecting another major snowstorm tonight!  Looks like I will have more time to snuggle the boys tomorrow!

Have you cleared out your holiday decor yet?

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