Country Living...Island Dreaming

July 30, 2016

Take Me Away - July Recap

As you may know, on the first of each month, I host a travel related link party called Take Me Away!   In July, we had another round of fantastic trip reports.  I have highlighted each one below with a link to the full post.

Please visit as many as you can and please remember to Pin from the original sources...

Life in My Empty Nest took us away with her daughters on a trip to the pretty river city of Pittsburgh...
Pittsburgh - travel report from Life in my Empty Nest

She showed us some lovely sights and recommended a few nice bars and restaurants.  Such a pleasant weekend spent with family!

Off we go to the south with From My Carolina Home...
Wilmington NC - trip report from - From My Carolina Home

Carole took us on a tour of Wilmington and the historic Bellamy House.  If you love architecture, be sure to stop by her blog to read the full post.

Carole also took us on a tour of the Blue Ridge Parkway...
Blue Ridge Parkway - Trip report from - From My Carolina Home

Such gorgeous scenery and I loved seeing all these tunnels through the mountains.

Tanya from The Other Side of the Road took us on a far away adventure to the other side of the world...
Dubai - trip report from The Other Side of the Road blog

She described Dubai as the "Las Vegas of the Middle East" and I can see why!  Over the top luxury yet fun for the kids!  

Her kids certainly had a blast when they headed up to the Pacific Northwest...
Pacific Northwest - travel report from The Other Side of the Road blog

If you think Seattle is only about the Space Needle and throwing fish, you need to check out her post which includes a visit to a pop culture museum - the EMP.  My kids would love to go there...and so would I!

And while in the area, Tanya also took us away with her to the Pacific Northwest - Olympic National Park Beaches...
Pacific Nw - Olympic Beaches - The Other Side of the Road blog

Not only are the beaches and the whole area beautiful, but you have to stop over to check out their family beach picture...priceless!

What a coincidence I mentioned the fish in Seattle above because Pam from Everyday Living took us away to Seattle's Pike Place Market...

Seattle - Pike Place Market - by Everyday Living blog

What a fun tour of the most visited place in Seattle! Not only were the seafood photos enticing but the flowers were stunning!  Like Pam said, Pike Place Market has something to satisfy all your senses!

From Seattle,  Pam from Everyday Living then took us down south to a small town in Alabama...
Small Town America - by Everyday Living blog

A canopy of oak trees and the sweet scent of magnolias - just what you would imagine for this charming area.  I almost felt like I should be swaying in a hammock with a glass of sweet tea as I read her post.  What an enchanting place!

Let's hop on a plane to Ireland with Pam from Everyday Living as she takes us on a tour of Dublin...
Dublin - by Everyday Living blog

Yes, the architecture is just as stunning as you would imagine!  Not only is it a beautiful place but the people were as friendly as you would imagine.  

And speaking of stunning...Sandy from You May Be Wandering gave us a glimpse of what luxurious vacations are all about as we  Celebrate the Re-Opening of the Ritz Paris...
Celebrating the Re-opening of the Ritz Paris - You May Be Wandering blog

Take a peak at this iconic hotel and I guarantee you will be saving your pennies for a dream trip to Paris!

To complete your dream trip while you are in Paris, why not hop over to the heart of Provence and stay at the La Bastide de Marie...
Provence - You May Be Wandering blog

Sandy shared some incredible photos of the region and took us around the charming hotel.  I dare you to not imagine yourself sipping wine at one of the outdoor tables on the property.  Seriously, if I could jump through my computer into those photos, I would!

And back to the U.S. where Julie from Julie's Creative Lifestyle spent the day at a get together in the Union Square section of New York City...
Union Square NYC - Julie's Creative Lifestyle blog

This area of the city is known for an abundance of shopping and restaurants.  How nice to be that close that she gets to enjoy it once a month with her group.  

Grantham Lynn from The Journey Back gave us a taste of her hometown, Fort Worth, Texas...
Forth Worth - The Journey Back blog
The Journey Back - Fort Worth Attractions

She captured some wonderful shots of the animals in the Fort Worth Zoo and her photos of her precious grandson will warm your heart.

Once again, thank you to all who joined in this month.  Your travels and stories are so inspiring and I am sure you motivate many readers to book their next vacations!

Remember to join us next Friday, August 5th 
for the next Take Me Away party!


July 26, 2016

Thinking Organization

We've been back and forth to the beach all summer so I haven't had the time to get any decorating projects done in my house.  I feel like the laundry is the only thing I have accomplished lately!

Well, that and maybe cleaning some closets and junk areas of the basement...hardly blog worthy!  The closet in my office is one area that has really gotten out of control.
Closet in Home Office
It's actually at the point where I fear for my life every time I slide open that door!

So, today I thought I would do a round-up of some organization projects of the past.  (Please click the title below each photo to take you to the full story.)  Who knows, maybe I will motivate myself to tackle that office closet before I get a head injury!

While we are on the subject of closets...
Master Closet Organization

One thing I learned from cleaning my master closet was how important it is to clear out everything first!  That's not what you wanted to hear, is it?  Believe me, it really makes a huge difference!

And although my master closet organization took forever, the small closet in the back hall wasn't too much of a challenge....
Simple Closet Organization

The garage was another quick project...
Garage Organization

Although, I don't think it still looks this neat.  Guess I have to add that one back on my list!

But my kitchen cabinets and pantry have stayed very organized since the day I arranged them!
Storage Bins in the Kitchen

I guess it helps that I am in the kitchen practically all day!

Sometimes just conquering one space at a time can motivate you to do more.  I hope this little round-up helped you to tackle an area you have been neglecting!

Okay, so that was enough stalling -  I better get back to my projects.  It's not like I will be spending much time outside with these sizzling temperatures anyway!  Not that I am complaining...I love summer!

What are you organizing these days?
Organizing One Space at a Time - Sometimes conquering a small project can get you motivated to do more!

Linking to:


July 18, 2016

Monday Mini Makeover

If you are like me, looking at the endless list of house projects can feel overwhelming.  Sometimes, I have so much to do that I get discouraged and end up accomplishing nothing.

I decided instead of stressing out over everything, I would start tackling my list one small step at a time.  This morning, I looked at my very neglected dresser and decided if I just did a few things, I could freshen it up a bit. 

This is how my dresser has been looking these days...

Mini Makeover Before

Yes, stale, uncoordinated, boring...

Mini-Makeover issues to address - Before and After

I have always been frustrated with the cable box sitting there right in the middle.  It really needs to be there for the remote to work properly and I can't cover it up because I don't want it to overheat.  Instead, I decided to just work around it.

I like having the plant on the end because the leaves hanging over the edge block the view of the wires behind the dresser when you walk in the room.  

None of the picture frames go together and just look like a thrown together mess.

So, I decided to shop my house, because that's the thing to do if you write a blog.  

Shopping the house for a mini-makeover of my dresser
  • First, I changed all my frames to all black ones.  I even swapped out a couple old photos and removed a few to freshen things up a bit.
  • I added an artificial orchid for some height (because I kill real ones anyway) and brought in my faux coral for some texture.  The coral is from Pottery Barn and you might recognize it from my recent mantel redo - Island Dreaming Mantel.

Perfume Tray - part of my mini makeover of my dresser
  • Since my perfumes normally stay hidden under my sink in the bathroom, I displayed them all together on an old neglected tray.  I bought the tray from Southern Living at Home years ago.  
Dresser Mini-Makeover - Before and After
  • I left the plant in place to disguise the wires in the back.
  • In my attempt to hide the cable box, I added a candle in a holder on top.  I think it's small enough so it shouldn't block the ventilation too much.  There's not much I can do with that thing.
Mini-Makeover - Before and After using items from around my house

And the mini makeover is done!  Just by moving a few things, it feels fresher and a little more pulled together.

Get this, my husband (who never even notices if I get my hair cut), just says to me, "Oh, I see you've changed around some pictures."  I just laughed.  It's not like I did something major in there.  In fact, it's about as mini of a Mini-Makeover you can get!

At least I didn't spend anything this time so he couldn't say his usual line to me, "You're spending money like a drunken sailor!"  Let's hope when I actually spend some money on a makeover, he doesn't notice!

Have you done any Mini-Makeovers lately?
Ways to Save Money on a Mini Makeover - Shop Your House

Linking to:
Between Naps on the Porch - Metamorphosis Monday
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Cedar Hill - The Scoop
Sand and Sisal - Inspire Me Monday
Homestories A to Z - Tutorials and Tips Party
The Kim Six Fix - You're Gonna Love It
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday
VMG206 - Brag About It
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase
Love My Simple Life - Talk of the Town
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursday
Have a Daily Cup of Mrs. Olson - Share Your Cup Thursday
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Seeking Lavender Lane - Creative Circle Party
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
The Chronicles of Home - Inspiration Gallery
Easy Peasy Pleasy - Funtastic Friday
Cherished Bliss - Moonlight and Mason Jars
My Husband Has too Many Hobbies - Snickerdoodle Sunday


July 17, 2016

A Few Random Thoughts and Happenings

We've had some VERY hot and humid days here in New Jersey this summer but every now and then we get a cool morning.  Last week it was so beautiful that I opened every window in the house for a couple hours.
It was so refreshing to feel and smell the crisp breeze.

Rosie was also enjoying the change in temperature.

Although, it was also a nice day to lay in the sun!

But don't think I am complaining at all about the heat.  I love summer and we are trying to enjoy every single second of it.  I do not need to be reminded that fall is only a couple months away and I am NOT ready to see all the fall clothes creeping into the stores and magazines.

Wow - big news...I finally updated my blog photo.  Yes, I have retired this old, out-of-focus picture...

I replaced it with something a bit more current.  Now I am out from behind the sunglasses and have included my dog, Rosie...

At least this is my picture for now.  I realized that I don't have many pictures of myself since I am always the one taking the photos.  I guess that's the typical mom-dilemma, right?  My goal now is to be in more pictures.  Plus, since I will be attending the Haven Conference in a few weeks, I thought I would allow myself be a little more recognizable.  

I have been shopping around for new white everyday dishes.  Even though I love the look of my Mikasa Italian Countryside ones, I don't love the way they have chipped over the years.  I have already replaced a few pieces but now almost every one of the cereal bowls are chipped.  I think I want to switch to a porcelain.
I have been eyeing up a few styles from Williams Sonoma.

I let you know which ones I choose.  They will definitely be white though because I love the look of plain white dishes.

So that's about all the excitement around here.  My boys have been keeping me busy with activities, pool visits and beach trips.  I also spend a significant amount of time trying to keep them off their screens!  That's why I was thrilled to come downstairs to see them working hard on some creative projects.
Of course, an ipad was close by, but hey, it's progress!

What have you been up to lately?
Have you been able to open your windows?

Linking to:


July 9, 2016

Another Great Book and Our Week at the Beach

I am on a roll with my summer reading.  Recently, I provided you with some book recommendations and now I have another to add to the list.  (Especially for all you Gone With the Wind fans!)

Please note this post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links.

I just finished reading this enchanting novel - Stars Over Sunset Boulevard ...
Stars Over Sunset Boulevard by Susan Meissner - a great book for the beach!

I just knew I would enjoy it after already reading a few of Susan Meissner's novels.  She has such a talent for writing historical fiction and I find myself emerging from each book with additional knowledge about a specific era.  This time, she takes us back to Hollywood's Golden Age and to the filming of the epic, Gone With the Wind.

Here is the excerpt from Amazon:

In this new novel from the acclaimed author of Secrets of a Charmed Life, two women working in Hollywood during its Golden Age discover the joy and heartbreak of true friendship.

Los Angeles, Present Day. When an iconic hat worn by Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind  ends up in Christine McAllister’s vintage clothing boutique by mistake, her efforts to return it to its owner take her on a journey more enchanting than any classic movie… 

Los Angeles, 1938.  Violet Mayfield sets out to reinvent herself in Hollywood after her  dream of becoming a wife and mother falls apart, and lands a job on the film-set of Gone With the Wind. There, she meets enigmatic Audrey Duvall, a once-rising film star who is now a fellow secretary. Audrey’s zest for life and their adventures together among Hollywood’s glitterati enthrall Violet…until each woman’s deepest desires collide.  What Audrey and Violet are willing to risk, for themselves and for each other, to ensure their own happy endings will shape their friendship, and their lives, far into the future. 

Sounds intriguing, doesn't it?   Get this...I have an embarrassing confession to make...I have never read Gone With the Wind!  I know, I know - how did  this classic American novel get past me?  I just don't know, but I have seen the movie so I basically know the story.  Of course, now Susan Meissner's story has gotten me interested so, guess what I just ordered from Amazon?!   Yup!...It should be here any day now but since I recently purchased Our Souls at Night by Kent Haruf, I plan to read that one first.  It looks like a quick one and it's already sitting on my nightstand waiting to be read.  I will let you know how I like both books when I am finished...

We had plenty of time for reading this past week while we spent time at my in-law's Jersey Shore house!  We drove down a few days before the 4th of July and enjoyed a week of fun in the sun!

Boardwalk at the Jersey Shore

The weather was perfect all week.  The first couple of days were a bit chilly on the beach due to the ocean breeze but overall, the weather was wonderful!

Jersey Shore beach

Crabbing at the Jersey Shore

The boys enjoyed one of the afternoons crabbing with my husband.  Here they are showing off their catch.  Most of them weren't large enough to keep so after counting them up, we released them back into the bay.  We just crab for fun anyway.  We gave the larger ones to the people next to us who were crabbing for their dinner.

Theresa's South - great restaurant in Bayhead, NJ

Speaking of dinner, one of the nights we headed up to Bayhead and had dinner at Theresa's South.  We hadn't been there in years but the food was just as delicious as I remembered!  I wrote a post about the town a few years ago - Charming Beach Town where you can read more.  Last time, we ate outside on the patio but we were inside this time...good thing because that night was a scorcher!

Lilly Pulitzer Store in Bayhead, NJ

I never noticed the Lilly Pulitzer store next door.  The jeep caught my eye when we were walking back to the car.  I will have to head back for some shopping...without the boys.

Jersey Shore beach at sunset

We spent some gorgeous sunsets down on the beach where the boys shot off these little light up sling-shot things.  That kept them busy for awhile...

Baby shark at the Jersey Shore

Until a fisherman caught a baby shark!  That may have been the highlight of that evening!

Jersey Shore Sunset on the beach

Another wonderful week spending time with family at the shore.  I couldn't ask for anything more!

What have you been up to this week?
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