Country Living...Island Dreaming

March 31, 2014

Trial and Error - Lamp Shopping

The other day when I was in Target...
(How many times have I started a sentence with that?)

I picked up a new lamp for my office.
After all, can one possibly leave Target
without buying something?

Anyway, I thought I wanted a gourd lamp for my office to replace the kind of boring black one I have on my shelf.
Current black lamp.

So, I purchased the large double gourd lamp base from the Threshold collection.  I didn't see a medium one (as mentioned on the website) or maybe I would have gone with that.  Anyway, after setting the lamp on my shelf, it felt a little large for me.

Maybe if I actually got around to hanging the photo,
the scale of the lamp wouldn't feel so off.

I don't know, it just felt too big for the shelf.
But I like the look - and the price!

 But you walk in the room and all you think is...

So I returned the gourd lamp for now while I ponder what to place in that spot.

I hate when I have to return things!

Do you find yourself "auditioning" lamps
or are you successful on the first try?


March 28, 2014

My Kitchen Past and Present

We are making some plans to update our kitchen...
This is how it looks in 5 minutes ago...

My cabinets are old and worn, I have always been frustrated with having a peninsula versus an island...

And my windows are way too high!
Seriously, is this supposed to be a basement or something?!!!

I found a picture from 2003...
How new and fresh it was then!

This was before we even painted the walls from the builders white to Monroe Bisque, before we added window treatments, before we upgraded our stove top and faucet, before we replaced the Corian with granite...and even before we had kids or a dog!!!

Wait a minute - that's why it looked so clean!!!

I would never be able to keep that adorable jute rug with my kids and dog now!  That's why we have the all-over patterned indoor-outdoor rug these days, which I love by the way but still...

Looking back at the way the kitchen used to look, it made me realize I want a cleaner, fresher look.  I like the uncluttered windows, heck - I like the uncluttered everything!  Of course, I don't know what I was thinking with those fake plants up there on the cabinets...dust collectors!  Oh, come on, we all did it at one time or another!  Admit it!  

Sometimes I find it helpful to look back at the past to help plan for the future.  I am excited and nervous about making changes in here.  My husband is finally on board so I have to do something with the space before he comes to his senses!

I will keep you posted on the progress as soon as we make some decisions...

Oh, and if it sounds like we have been talking about this renovation for awhile...well, we have!  Read Island Possibilities from last year when I first started discussing this.  I tend to take awhile when planning big projects...

Do you find it helpful to revisit the past
in order to make future decisions in your home?

Do you jump into big projects
 or plan forever like me?

March 25, 2014

Vermont Ski Weekend

What do you do
when you are sick of the all the snow we have had all season?

You drive to Vermont and ski, of course!
That is just what we did this past weekend.

We dragged ourselves out of bed Friday morning and were on the road by 6:30 am.  Luckily we didn't hit any traffic and were able to make the trip from New Jersey to Killington, VT in 4 hours and 15 minutes.
Rosie even got caught up watching a movie
in the car with the kids!

I wasn't sure how I would deal with snow again after the winter we have had in the northeast but as we approached the mountains, I began to feel excited!
We arrived in time to drop off the dog and our bags at the townhouse and then enroll the boys in an afternoon ski lesson.  After getting them settled, my husband and hopped on the nearest lift.  I hadn't skied in 11 or 12 years and wondered how confident I would feel.  Luckily, skiing is like riding a bike and after a few minutes I was feeling comfortable swishing along.  And to add to my comfort, not only did I use my usual hand warmers in my gloves but I stuck some foot warmers in my boots.  Let me tell you, I will never ski without those things again!  Those babies are a game changer for me!  My feet never got cold -which is a first for me.  We skied all afternoon and met up with our friends and their 3 girls afterwards back at the townhouse.

We decided Friday night would be the best night to enjoy or favorite place for dinner, the iconic Wobbly Barn.  On Saturdays, the place can get crazy.  We were lucky enough to secure a table for 9 of us around 6:15 pm.  After a day of skiing, we all devoured their famous soup and salad bar and were still hungry enough for dinner and dessert.  Never a bad meal in that place!

The next morning we were back to the mountain for another round of lessons for the kids and ski trails for the adults.  The temperature hovered in the 30's but those winds sure were whipping it up at the top of the mountain!  I thought "spring skiing" was supposed to be a little warmer!  

The boys enjoyed their second day of ski school.  In fact, my older son enjoyed it so much that he skied a little with my husband after the lesson was over.

My younger one and I had lunch instead!  Luckily he finally felt positive about skiing by that point.  When we had dropped him in the lesson that morning, I didn't think he would stick it out!  He began the day very upset and frustrated and it broke my heart to leave him there all distraught.  Thankfully it was the best thing I could have done because he pushed himself and loved it in the end!

After everyone relaxed a bit, my husband took the boys to the Killington Tubing Park.  I was exhausted so I took a little nap with my darling doggie, Rosie.  Apparently, the boys had a blast, just like they did last year - and they didn't have me there yelling for them to slow down!

(last year's picture)

That night we inhaled another dinner - this time at The Garlic.  The kids got along beautifully and the adults had a wonderful time visiting with each other.  We headed back to the townhouse and sipped on wine while the kids were absorbed watching Frozen.  We all slept well after our long day outdoors.

After a big breakfast on Sunday, we all packed up and headed home.  My muscles are sore and I still have to conquer a huge pile of laundry but I must say, I had a wonderful time, with my husband, kids and good friends!  But as much as I loved it, I am definitely ready for spring now!  Unfortunately we are expecting snow in New Jersey again tonight!  Will it ever end?...

If you need more snowy Vermont  stories, you can read about last year's winter trip to Vermont here - Vermont Vacation.

Have you taken any ski vacations this year?

Linking to:


March 20, 2014

Happy Spring!

Happy Spring Everyone!!!

It will be some time before my lavender looks like this again...
but at least we are heading in the right direction!

This is one winter I am not sad to see end...
Who am I kidding - I like to see every winter end!

And what am I doing on this glorious first day of spring you ask?
Well, besides seeing if an egg will balance on end...
I am spending the morning in the car service waiting room
while I get new tires on my car.

It doesn't get more exciting than that!

How are you spending your first day of spring?


March 19, 2014

Deciding on Bar Stools for the Game Room

A while ago, I purchased a Pier One pub table
for our game room/conservatory.

You don't see much of this room on the blog,
but you might recognize the shelves in the background.
I like to change the decor on them each season.

Anyway, after purchasing the pub table,
I stalled on choosing the bar stools.

At first, I thought I wanted the Pottery Barn Seagrass chairs,
but couldn't commit to them because I kind of wanted something softer.

Then I found these cute ones from World Market.
But they don't have a store in NJ and I need to see them in person.
World Market couldn't send a fabric sample so I am a little nervous
although they did say the fabric is a grayish tan.

The walls in the room are Benjamin Moore - Providence Olive.
The pool table has a burgundy colored felt on top
which may or may not change.

I also have a couple of tan zebra striped chairs on the other side of the room.
I just don't want the bar stools to clash with these.

I have been scanning every store on the internet
for something reasonably priced...and comfortable.

So for now, this table just sits in the lonely corner
waiting for some bar stools.

Any suggestions?
Should I take a chance
 on the World Market stools?

March 15, 2014

An Irish Afternoon - A Fun Craft Idea for St. Patrick's Day!

Last weekend, my kids spent an afternoon at my mom and stepfather's house.  Each time the boys visit, my mom usually has some kind of craft planned. This time was no different...

In anticipation of St. Patrick's Day, my mom, ("Mimi" to them) taught them about Ireland.  She began by pulling out one of her books about Ireland's thatched-roof cottages.  Then she helped them build one from a box.

St. Patrick's Day Craft - Irish Cottage
They used a broom for the roof and glued on windows and a door.  My older son worked very hard to give the effect of a shadow on the red door by coloring the top black.  Overall, they were happy with the results but my detail-oriented mom wished she had provided a shorter box to match the one story cottage.  She thought the cottage was a little tall.  The boys didn't care.  They loved working on it anyway.

While the boys created the cottage, my mom explained the meaning of St. Patrick's Day and played Irish music in the background for some ambiance.  She shared her travel experiences in Ireland and how she and my stepfather visited his Irish family there.  She even gave the boys some Irish coins but they left them over her house.  They keep reminding me that we have to go back and get them "as soon as possible"!

And during this Ireland-immersion afternoon, Mimi was sure to provide a snack!

Irish Soda Bread
Irish soda bread was a huge hit with my older son!  We had to take the rest home.  My younger son was not as thrilled for some reason.  I think he was expecting it to be more like cake!

I would share the recipe with you but Mimi cheated and bought this at the grocery store.  I have to tell you though, I tried it and it was delicious!  No reason to waste time baking!

It was a wonderful afternoon for the boys...and for Mimi!  Thanks Mom!

How are you celebrating St. Patrick's Day?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Fun Craft Idea for St. Patrick's Day

Linking to:

March 13, 2014

A Great Find - A Very Talented Home Designer

While browsing on Pinterest this morning,
I stumbled upon some beautiful kitchens...

And some breathtaking rooms...

When I popped over to check out the website, I found the most impressive architectural firm and proceeded to page through every single photo in their portfolio.  And when I was done, I went through most of them again, pinning away.... I love it when that pin button is all set up on a website!

Seriously, you have to check out their site - Brooks and Falotico Architects.  This extremely talented firm designs new homes, renovations, vacation homes, accessory buildings and commercial.  I don't think I have ever enjoyed flipping through a portfolio as much as I have with this one.

We have been in our home 15 years now and I think I am getting a little eager to make some changes.  I find myself looking at new homes and renovations a lot more lately.  Some people go through a mid life crisis at my age...but I am going through a mid-life-house-crisis!  I guess it's better than having an affair - lol!

If you haven't checked out this website, I suggest that you head over now!
You won't be sorry!

Have you come across any architects
 that take your breath away?

Linking to:


March 12, 2014

House Dreaming

I love to browse through real estate listings just for fun...
Don't we all?

This past weekend I came across a house that I just can't get out of my head...

I am seriously in love.

I have already pictured myself sipping a glass of wine
on this gorgeous back patio.
Seriously, wouldn't you be out there all day?

I can also see myself upper balcony
sipping my morning tea.
(I think I must be thirsty)

I would probably be wearing this
because you must wear a pretty monogrammed robe
if you are going to be on that upper balcony.

The inside of the house is equally gorgeous!
I could live in just the master bathroom!

All the rooms have so much light
and the whole back of the house opens up to that patio.
Oh, that patio...

I know it's not realistic.
The price alone is out of the question...
But I want this house.

It would mean uprooting my family to a totally different area.
But that area is just outside of Princeton
and how wonderful would that be...
I could go shopping downtown in beautiful Palmer Square.

Or speaking of shopping,
Market Fair Mall would be close by.
How great to be near Pottery Barn, West Elm, Anthropologie..

The University and all of the Princeton culture is right there,
fun new restaurants...oh to dream...

The website says "pending".
Someone beat me to the house
and my new lifestyle living outside of Princeton.

I guess it wasn't meant to be..

Before the listing disappears,
go check out the rest of the rooms for yourself.
I probably should pin more before it goes away!

Have you ever wanted to change your whole life around
just because you fell in love with a house?


March 11, 2014

St. Lucia Hotel

So, for the train wreck finale of the Bachelor last night,
Juan Pablo stayed at the gorgeous Cap Maison in St. Lucia.

I swear that island must have had a burst of new hotel development over the years.  I never remember St. Lucia having so many stunning places to stay when I was planning my last vacation!  Then again, our last several Caribbean vacations included the kids so a condo in Grand Cayman seemed more family friendly!

Anyway, I really have to investigate St. Lucia a little more.  Not only was I impressed with all the luxury accommodations but I just fell in love with the scenery!  With the winter we have endured in the northeast, I loved having a beautiful Caribbean island to drool over these past few weeks.

After all, the traveling is the real reason I watch The Bachelor, you know...

Check out the Cap Maison website for more details on this breathtaking resort!  Love, love love it!  (At least someone is feeling love since Juan Pablo sure wasn't!)

If you want to see the other hotels seen on The Bachelor this season, check out my previous post, St. Lucia on the Bachelor.

I can't wait to see where they travel on The Bachelorette this season!  So happy to see Andi as the new Bachelorette too!

**For some fun Bachelor chat - head over to Office Stace to read Stacey's latest recap on the show.  She is a huge Bachelor fan and to top it off, she just gave birth to a beautiful girl - right on Bachelor Finale Monday!  Congratulations Stacey!

Did you watch this season?
Did you fall in love with St. Lucia too?


March 6, 2014

Easy Banana Muffin Recipe

My boys love to bring banana muffins
to school for lunch or snacks.
Easy Banana Muffin Recipe

And since my mother in law makes a delicious banana bread (and muffins),
I thought I would share her easy recipe with you!

We usually make the muffins because they are easy to grab and go!

Easy Banana Muffins/Bread


1/2 cup butter
1 1/2 cup sugar
2 large eggs
4 ripe bananas
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp baking soda
1/3 cup buttermilk
1 1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup walnuts or pecans (optional)

Cream together the 1/2 cup butter and 1 1/2 cup sugar.  Add 2 large eggs and mix.  Mash 4 ripe bananas and add 1 tsp vanilla.  Add that mixture to the butter/sugar mixture and beat.  Mix together 1 tsp of baking soda and 1/3 cup of buttermilk and add to batter.  Slowly add 1 1/4 cup of flour and stir in the nuts.

Fill muffin cups 3/4 full and bake for 20-25 minutes.
(Makes about 2 dozen)

For bread:
Fill a standard loaf pan and bake for 1 hour

Sometimes I add a cream cheese frosting.  The muffins are nice and moist on their own but the frosting makes them more cupcake-like!

Cream Cheese Frosting

8 oz cream cheese (at room temperature)
1 cup of confectioner's sugar
1 tsp vanilla extra
Beat all ingredients until fluffy

Note:  You can add more sugar to make it sweeter but this is the combination that seems to work for us.

Do you have any recipes that you pass around your family?
I'd love for you to follow along so you don't miss a post!

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