Country Living...Island Dreaming

January 30, 2016

A Few Winter Touches

The snowstorm last week made me realize we still have a couple months left of winter around here.  I think I was in denial right after Christmas when I decorated my mantel.  The weather had been so mild that I pretty much skipped right over winter and jumped into vacation mode.  But then it snowed.  It really snowed.  Suddenly, I felt the need to embrace the cold weather, at least for a little while longer.  It helped to pull out a few things to decorate for the season.

Decorating with Pine Cones

Pine cones still work for this time of year.  It's easy to just throw a bunch into a basket and be done...instant winter decor!

Snowy views
I took this photo the morning after the snowstorm.  The sun shining on the beautiful fresh snow outside somehow added to the coziness inside.

Winter candle decor

I swapped out the old decaying cranberries I had in these candle holders at Christmas time for some river stones.  This could work for fall or winter.

Decorating with Branches

In the guest bathroom, I filled this basket/vase with some white wintery branches.  I like the way they look against the sage green walls.

Chalkboard Quote Art

Excuse the glare on this one.  Each season I replace the artwork in that bathroom with a quote or free printout.  I found this free printable winter chalkboard art from The Happy Housie.  The John Steinbeck quote is appropriate for this time of year.

Sometimes I want to rush through this time of year and get to the warmer weather.  But then I see my kids skiing, sledding and enjoying the snow and I am reminded to enjoy each moment of every season.

How are you embracing this time of year?

Winter Decorating - Calypso in the Country Blog

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January 27, 2016

Counter Stool Dilemma

It seems like I have a lot of decorating dilemmas lately...

My latest dilemma involves the counter stools I mentioned in a recent post.

When I gave you a tour of my renovated kitchen, I mentioned that I still need to replace these temporary stools.  I just have not been able to commit to some permanent ones.

Besides my indecision, I also feel a bit limited in my stool choices.  Our island has a piece of trim below the counter top to give the island a more furniture look to it.  The problem is, the trim takes up valuable leg space between the stool and the counter top.

The temporary stools I have in there now are only 24 inches high and as you can see, there is just enough space now - but I really shouldn't go any higher.  That really limits me.  Counter height stools generally range between 24-26 inches high but it seems like most of the ones I like are 26 inches.  I don't want anyone to feel stuck when they sit at my counter!

I also can't decide if I want to go backed or backless with the stools.  I have gotten so used to sliding these stools under the counter leaving plenty of place to stand.  I love that there are no backs in the way.  

On the other hand, we planned our kitchen layout so we have plenty of room between the island and the fridge so it would never seem crowded.  

The counter hangs over about 16 inches so most stools will fit underneath.  The only area we have to worry about is on the end of the counter where only one stool would sit.  There is only about a 10 inch overhang there due to my last minute panic to add floor space by the stove...

Oh yeah, and I didn't even mention that I am still going back and forth on color!  It's hard to match the color of the island so I am thinking possibly white stools...or maybe black...??

And then I have to consider the fact that I will be replacing the kitchen table and chairs!

Here is where I am at so far...

I talked to a sales person in Restoration Hardware and she suggested going with black to pick up on the black from the lighting.  

I mentioned liking the Madeleine Stools but the seat was 26 inches high.  Too high - especially if I added a cushion down the road.  She suggested this combo...

The Trestle Table in black...

Madeleine Side Chair...

And for the counter stools, she suggested the Bennett cushioned stool with black legs and on of the natural 'Perennial' fabrics (which cleans easily).  This stool is 24 inches high.

Here is how they would look with my counter.

I like this idea but I am not completely sold on so much black.  I don't know if I like the black stools against the brown cherry island and I don't know if I want all the black at the table.  I am afraid that combination will be too heavy with the rest of the kitchen being white.

Another combination would be to go with white counter stools like these Constance Stools from Ballard...

Their seat height is 24 3/4 inches so they would fit.  I ordered the chestnut stained one a few months ago but the color clashed with the island.  So now I am thinking white...or black?

Then I could go with a wood stained table and maybe chairs that would coordinate with the counter stools?  A company called Bermex that makes custom tables and chairs had some wood samples in a furniture store.  I brought in a piece of my island wood and found one that was very close...

So I am thinking of possibly matching the table to the island and doing different chairs...?  I don't love the selection of chairs and counter stools that the company offers so I would probably just order the table from them.

I also found these cute stools on the Kirkland's website.
They are 25 inches (but a little lower in the middle).  I visited their retail store to see if they had any to see in person.  They just had one with the blue leather in the store but I got to see the color of the wood.  It matched my island pretty well so I just ordered one of these with the ivory seat.  As soon as it comes, I will try it in my kitchen.  They are not expensive so I wonder how they would hold up...we'll see.

I also like these from Crate and Barrel...
The cushion would make them comfy but I don't know...maybe I should go try these out...

Decisions, decisions....

So basically, I am looking for:

  • 4 counter height stools 
  • 24 to possibly 25 inches for seat height
  • Needs to work with a cherry island (a browner cherry, not a red cherry)
  • Need to also consider what table and chairs would work in there. 

Oh yeah, and painting or staining my existing table is out.  I thought of doing that but the table I have needs to be a little wider - like 42 inches wide.  The new light fixture I have in there is wider than the old one and we keep hitting our heads...ugh.

I know, too much info for one blog post but I am kind of thinking as I type!  And by the way, I am not being compensated in any way to mention these companies.  They are just examples to show you as I shop...

So, by looking at my kitchen and hearing my dilemmas, what kind of counter stool would you suggest?  I would love to hear your opinions!

Thanks and have a great day!

January 25, 2016

New Jersey Doesn't Fool Around

In New Jersey, when we get a storm, we get a storm!

I think the forecasters originally predicted 12-18 inches from Snowstorm Jonas but we ended up with around 27 inches in our area!  How insane is that?  Up until this storm, we have only had a couple dustings of snow this winter.  I guess we made up for it!  As you can see, Rosie couldn't wait to get out there and play first thing Sunday morning.

She was also out there during the blizzard on Saturday...
That crazy golden refused to come in no matter how hard it snowed.  We ended up dragging her inside after she wouldn't listen.  

We borrowed the neighbor's snow blower to make some paths during the day and she was out again for more fun...
The mail never came that day though...sorry Rosie.

The next morning we woke up to sunny skies and snow everywhere...

My husband and son finished clearing with shovels where they had left off with the snow blower.  They definitely had their workout for the day!

And of course, Rosie was out there as soon as the plows cleared our driveway.

Luckily, Rosie has a pal who loves the snow as much as she does!

I know you probably have seen a ton of snow pictures the past day or so which is why I didn't go too crazy with the pictures.  Plus, I didn't take that many.  I have been too busy taking the boys sledding and to friends' houses.  We ended up having a day off from school today so it was fun, fun, fun for everyone.  I'm exhausted.

Did you get any snow from this storm where you live?

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Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else


January 19, 2016

Kitchen Before and After (from Each Angle)

A few months ago, I was so excited to show you my new kitchen that I forgot to do a follow up post showing you the before and after from every angle.  Let's get started...

This is what my kitchen used to look like when you entered the room.
Oak Kitchen Before
Basically we gutted the room from top to bottom.  What a project!  (And when I say 'we', I mean the contractor and his crew.  This was no way a DIY project!)

White Kitchen with Cherry Island After
I had always wanted a white kitchen and was thrilled with the results!  I still have to buy new bar stools and eventually a new table and chairs, but basically we are finished!

Here is the view from the kitchen table.  As you can see we changed and added lighting as well...
Oak Kitchen with Peninsula
The refrigerator used to be on the far wall and the peninsula divided the room.  The stove top was on the peninsula.  Those things have changed!

White Kitchen with Cherry Island and wood floors
One of the best things we did was remove that peninsula and put in an island!  It's so much easier to move around in here now!  The refrigerator is no longer on the far wall.  Now that's where the new stove sits!

The one thing that annoyed me from the day we moved into our house 16 (almost 17) years ago was the size and placement of the kitchen window!  Changing the window was one of my top priorities!  This view is looking in from the dining room...
Oak Kitchen Cabinets
The windows were just too high.  I would have to stand on my toes to really get a good view out the window!  And I always hated having that garbage can as such a focal point!

White Kitchen with 3 Transom Windows
I am in love with my new windows!  They ended up being even bigger than I originally ordered due to a fortunate mistake!  Now they are the right height from the sink and they let in a ton of light!  And the garbage can is no longer a focal point.  I have two cabinet trash cans now!  One is below a drawer in the island and the other just to the right of the sink.  That one is my favorite because it is right below counter height which makes it easy to empty garbage right in as I am clearing plates at the sink.  It also has a recycling bin behind the trash can.

And here is a better view of the island - no more peninsula!
Cherry Island with White Ice Granite
I can't believe how much the traffic flow has improved!

As we swing over to the other side, you can see where the wall oven and microwave used to be.
Oak Kitchen Cabinets and wall ovens
That wall to the right of the ovens wasn't load bearing and divided the kitchen too much.  Although I miss having my baker's rack in here, I am much happier with the new use of space!

Refrigerator Wall with White Cabinets
I was so worried about disrupting the 'work triangle' by putting the fridge on this wall but it hasn't bothered me one bit!  In fact, now it's easier to grab something from the fridge when you are already sitting at the kitchen table!  We also made sure we left enough space between the fridge and the island so people can walk through.

Here is another shot of the same wall (minus the Christmas decorations!)
White Cabinets with Shelf and bar area
The tall cabinets next to the fridge have slide out drawers.  We already have a pantry so this is additional space for pantry items.  I am still working on rearranging that stuff to make it more efficient.

Here is another view of the kitchen if you were walking in from the back door.
Oak Kitchen with Tile Floors Before
See, there's that lovely garbage can again!

New White Kitchen with Wood Floors
No more tile, no more garbage can!

This photo was taken from the center of the kitchen, looking into the family room.
Oak Kitchen with Uba Tuba Granite Peninsula
The peninsula cut the room in half and made it difficult to serve food when we had large family gatherings.
Now it's so much easier to move around the island!

And this last angle shows the wall we ended up removing.  You can also see down the hall to the back door.  
Kitchen Before with divider wall
We used to have hanging lanterns in the hallway for lighting.  I was never happy with the way they lit up the hallway though.
White Kitchen - side view of refrigerator wall
We changed the hallway lanterns to recessed lighting which doesn't compete with the large lanterns over the island.  And no more wall sticking out to divide the space!

And that's the full before and after from every angle!
Took me long enough, huh?
Thanks for taking the tour!

You can see more of the kitchen reveal here - My New White Kitchen  (and at the bottom of that post are links to all the renovation posts and sources!)  And by the way, I finally bought new counter stools!

For more inspiration, please follow along...

Kitchen Renovation - Befores and Afters from every angle - Calypso in the Country Blog

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January 15, 2016

A Fun Valentine Idea

Now that Valentine's Day is just around the corner, I am trying to come up with some unique ideas.  My husband is THE most difficult person to buy for and to be honest, he really doesn't care if he gets anything for Valentine's Day!  He would rather not have me spend the money on something he doesn't need than receive a gift.  But that doesn't stop me from trying to be creative anyway!

Here's what I am thinking for this year...

A couple months ago, I took a cooking class with some girlfriends.  We had a blast and learned to cook several new desserts...yum!  There was this adorable young couple next to us who were having the best time together.  While the rest of us created fall themed apple tarts using leaf cookie cutters, they used hearts to cut their sweet!

Mini Apple Tarts

It made me think what a fun date night this could be!  Or better yet, what a great Valentine's gift this could be!  I would love for my husband to come up with this idea for me...but since he won't, I could give it to him as a gift!

Sure, I could be taking a a bit of a chance with this idea because my husband is not really into cooking.  He might be the master at the outdoor grill and holds the annual job of making breakfast on Christmas morning, but the thought of him taking a cooking class makes me giggle.  I just can't see it...which makes it even more of a fun idea!

The class my friends and I took was at Sur La Table (and no, I am not being compensated in any way to mention them).  Their cooking studio was huge with all the high end appliances and gadgets you could imagine!

Cooking Class at Sur La Table

I have already started browsing through their cooking classes listed online to see which date I can fit into our schedule.  After all, it is ski season so we have to consider that with my husband and boys!  My husband loves Italian food so the Date Night Romance in Italy class sounds like a lot of fun.  They have several dates and times to choose from so hopefully one of those will work!

Or in case he doesn't go for the idea, I could sign up for something more general and not so 'date oriented'.  This way if he really doesn't want to join me, I could still take the class with a friend again!  So basically it's a win-win situation...for me that is!

After all, the class we took was so much fun!

Girls Day Out - A Cooking Class at Sur La Table

Not only were we laughing and enjoying each other's company all day, but we learned some very valuable tips!

Such as, you must use a candy thermometer when making caramel!
Cooking tips

You should have seen the disastrous attempt the boys and I made with our caramel recipe a few years ago because I didn't think one of these was necessary!   Believe me, it is!

Another valuable tip.,,You can never add enough chocolate!
Chocolate Caramel Tart
Okay, so maybe that is just an opinion, but everyone in the class agreed!  Anyway, we learned all kinds of techniques, made three different desserts and got to taste them all!  No one could pick a favorite because everything was incredible!  

So, that's my plan for a Valentine's Day gift...and if that idea fails miserably, I can go back to using a theme to purchase gifts next year.  After all, my 'Everything You've Never Wanted for Christmas' theme went over so well!  You can read about that one -  HERE.

Have you ever taken a cooking class?

Fun Idea for Valentine's Day - Cooking Class

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