Country Living...Island Dreaming

August 25, 2015

3 Great Books to Read this Summer

There is nothing like reading a great book on the beach!

Here are a few can't-put-down books I recommend for your summer (or vacation) reading...

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.

Three Great Books to Read this Summer

If you are a blogger or read blogs on a regular basis, I am sure you have come across this heartwarming novel, Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey.  You will recognize her name from her fabulous blog, Design Chic she co-writes with her mother.  If you love her blog, you will love her book as well.  

A Summer Reading Must Read!  Dear Carolina by Kristy Woodson Harvey

Here is a description via Amazon:

One baby girl.
Two strong Southern women.
And the most difficult decision they’ll ever make.

Frances “Khaki” Mason has it all: a thriving interior design career, a loving husband and son, homes in North Carolina and Manhattan—everything except the second child she has always wanted. Jodi, her husband’s nineteen-year-old cousin, is fresh out of rehab, pregnant, and alone. Although the two women couldn’t seem more different, they forge a lifelong connection as Khaki reaches out to Jodi, encouraging her to have her baby. But as Jodi struggles to be the mother she knows her daughter deserves, she will ask Khaki the ultimate favor…

Written to baby Carolina, by both her birth mother and her adoptive one, this is a story that proves that life circumstances shape us but don’t define us—and that families aren’t born, they’re made…

I always enjoy reading the perspective from two different characters.  Loved this book and trust me, you'll love it too!

A friend recommended 
A Fall of Marigolds by Susan Meissner and I am so glad she did!  
A Fall of Marigolds - Great Summer Reading!
A Fall of Marigolds

Here is a description via Amazon:

A beautiful scarf, passed down through the generations, connects two women who learn that the weight of the world is made bearable by the love we give away....

September 1911. On Ellis Island in New York Harbor, nurse Clara Wood cannot face returning to Manhattan, where the man she loved fell to his death in the Triangle Shirtwaist Fire. Then, while caring for a fevered immigrant whose own loss mirrors hers, she becomes intrigued by a name embroidered onto the scarf he carries…and finds herself caught in a dilemma that compels her to confront the truth about the assumptions she’s made. Will what she learns devastate her or free her? 

September 2011. On Manhattan’s Upper West Side, widow Taryn Michaels has convinced herself that she is living fully, working in a charming specialty fabric store and raising her daughter alone. Then a long-lost photograph appears in a national magazine, and she is forced to relive the terrible day her husband died in the collapse of the World Trade Towers…the same day a stranger reached out and saved her. Will a chance reconnection and a century-old scarf open Taryn’s eyes to the larger forces at work in her life?

Living so close to New York with memories still fresh in my mind from September 11th, this was the perfect book for me to get caught up in.  I always enjoy novels that bounce back between two different moments in time so I thoroughly enjoyed reading this one!

I just finished What Alice Forgot by Liane Moriarty.
Another one of those books I couldn't put down.
In fact, I just picked up another one of her books,
The Husband's Secret to start this weekend.
What Alice Forgot - A great book to read on the beach!
What Alice Forgot

Here is a description via Amazon *Kirkus Reviews:

A “cheerfully engaging”* novel for anyone who’s ever asked herself, “How did I get here?”
Alice Love is twenty-nine, crazy about her husband, and pregnant with her first child.
So imagine Alice’s surprise when she comes to on the floor of a gym (a gym! She HATES the gym) and is whisked off to the hospital where she discovers the honeymoon is truly over — she’s getting divorced, she has three kids, and she’s actually 39 years old. Alice must reconstruct the events of a lost decade, and find out whether it’s possible to reconstruct her life at the same time. She has to figure out why her sister hardly talks to her, and how is it that she’s become one of those super skinny moms with really expensive clothes. Ultimately, Alice must discover whether forgetting is a blessing or a curse, and whether it’s possible to start over…

So entertaining and had me wondering how I would react to my current life if I managed to forget the past ten years....2 Boys?...A Dog?...What?  I write a blog...what's that?  LOL...

I highly recommend all three books.  So engaging, entertaining and each one fulfills my "requirements for a good beach read" listed on one of my previous posts, Beach Reading Tips.

What books do you plan to read this summer?

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August 20, 2015

Subway Tile

Finally, we are getting to the end of this renovation!  The guys came to install the subway tiles this week.  You might remember, I was undecided about which subway tile to use...

I loved the beveled subway tiles
but liked the way the flat ones went with my raised panel cabinets.

I also went back and forth between a cream color and white.
My cabinets are White Dove so I had a hard time with that decision.
I decided on the white tiles since they looked better with the granite.

But then there were more decisions...
Jessica from my favorite tile store, Charles Tiles suggested I do a herringbone pattern with a border over the stove area.  She emailed me a drawing for the contractor to follow but at the last minute I panicked and wasn't sure if we should make the boxed in area that big.  I was worried you wouldn't see the top border from a distance because of the range hood.

As you can see in the photo above, my two options for the top border are marked by the arrows.  These were the only two options if we wanted to avoid cutting the border tiles which would look weird.  I was leaning towards the original plan but I called and emailed the tile store just to make sure it made sense.  They agreed that going with the top line would look better so we went with it.

I was happy with the decision and how when you are in front of the stove or sitting at the island, you see the whole box.  When you are standing across the room, the top is a little hidden behind the range hood, but it's not disastrous!  If we had lowered the top border, it may have looked a little squished.

When the guys left for the evening I stared at the non-grouted tile for awhile.  I kind of fell in love with the idea of maybe doing a more noticeable grout.  Maybe I was just getting used to looking at the tile this way but wow, it was definitely an option!

Here is the room from a distance before they applied the grout.
I could have definitely gone with this look...

But in the end, I went with my original plan...
Here is the finished tile with white grout.
I couldn't be happier!

I cannot wait to set up a fun little cocktail area over here!
(I could use a cocktail after this renovation!)

Here is the kitchen last night.
Only a few more small details and we will be done!!

I guess it's time for a dinner party!

You also might notice in the photo above that we switched the handle on that door in the left corner.  Thank you for all of your advice on that.  You were all so right!

Any big decisions for you this week?

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August 13, 2015

Design Dilemma of the Week

As I get closer to the end of this crazy kitchen renovation, I seem to be second guessing myself more and more.  I think I have lost the ability to make good design decisions.  That's why I am asking for your help today...

I obsessed for awhile over kitchen pendant lighting for the area above my new island.  I almost decided to just add two more recessed lights and focus on the chandelier over the table.  But then a little voice inside of me said, "Go for it, take a chance, do something bold..."

I ended up having the electrician install these two Darlana Lanterns from Visual Comfort.

I ordered the lights through Circa Lighting who has a strict return policy.  Returns must be packaged exactly like they were shipped and if you return a light, you pay a 15% restocking fee.  I ordered them anyway because every time I would see these lanterns in a picture, I loved them!  I considered a few other options as mentioned HERE but felt that the lantern look was what I always wanted.

What I did not consider was how difficult it would be to find lighting to go over my kitchen table that coordinates but does not compete with the lanterns!

In the picture above, you can see the iron chandelier which is currently hung over the table.  (Sorry, I didn't straighten up the kitchen for a photo that day.  I was rushing around before the workers arrived.)

Anyway, here is a close up of the iron chandelier over the table.  As you can see, the gray tone does not match the black iron in the lanterns.  Plus, the chandelier is curvy and the lanterns are much straighter and angular.  Although, I hate to say it but the chandelier probably matches the style of my kitchen a little better than the lanterns...but I just can't go there right now...

So, like I said, I have been trying to find something that will work with these lights.  I don't know why I assumed I would miraculously come up with the perfect fit.  My brain is fried from too many decisions.

So the other day, I ended up ordering this Remington Pendant from Ballard Designs.

It looks great in this picture but when it arrived today, it just seemed HUGE!  I measured beforehand but in person it is too overpowering for the space.  I have to take another look at it tomorrow but I just don't know.

Another possibility is the Collins Chandelier from Pottery Barn.  

I would probably order the white shades with it.  Plus this one was recommended to me by Pottery Barn when I wrote to them for their free design service.  Of course, they suggested different pendant lights...maybe I should have listened... Anyway, I will fill you in on their design advice in another post.

So for my dilemma of the week..
What light would look best?
One of these or something totally different?


Thanks again!

UPDATE - If you want to see which light I chose, please click the following link... My New White Kitchen Reveal

Joining these lovely parties


August 5, 2015

Cabinet Hardware and the Latest Dilemma

The new cabinet hardware was installed recently.  Yay, no more grabbing a piece of blue painters tape to open a cabinet!

These are the Voss pulls in brushed nickel from Top Knobs.  I chose to use pulls on all the drawers and solid doors.  I chose knobs for the glass cabinets, the corner lazy-susan and the cabinets under the sink.

We still need to add a drawer pull to the empty drawer on the right.  I debated on putting two but settled on one.  That will probably get done today.

Top Knobs

I love the way the brushed nickel looks with the stainless steel and the granite.

And the island, although I like the brushed nickel against the white better.

Overall, everything worked out except for one little dilemma...

See these three cabinets above?  At the moment, the center door without the hardware opens from the corner out towards the right.  Originally, it was designed to open in the opposite direction toward the left but it arrived wrong.  

It's no problem for my contractor to switch the hinges so it opens to the left but I can't decide whether I should do it or not.  If it opens to the left, we will have to add a door stopper to the hinge so the door doesn't smash into the cabinet on the left.  Plus the door will not be able quite as wide as it does now.  The way the door hangs now, it could potentially hit the door on the right but only if both of them were open at the same time.  Not very likely that would happen.  

So basically, I have to decide between which would look better...Does it make more sense having the door handle on the left (leaving the door to open to the right) or having the door handle on the right (switching the door so it opens left)?

Here is another shot so you can see the rest of the upper cabinets in that area.

So what do you think?
Door handle on the left 
or door handle on the right?

As always, I value your opinions!  
You can guess that my brain is fried by now...
Thank you!

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