Country Living...Island Dreaming

May 30, 2016

Memorial Day

..."We are forever indebted to those who have given their lives that we might be free."                                                                                                              - Ronald Reagan

May 25, 2016

Inspiring Art

How is it already Wednesday?  This week is flying by isn't it?  I guess I am going a little crazy trying to squeeze in as many chores and activities as possible before the kids are off for summer.  Luckily in New Jersey, schools don't get out until mid-June.  Still, time is ticking by...

Last week, my lovely friend, Karolyn from The Relished Roost invited me to accompany her on a road trip to Rye, New York.  A group of Karolyn's blogger friends were getting together to welcome the super talented artist, Jeanne McKay Hartmann who was making an appearance at the store, Nest Inspired Home.

Watercolors by Jeanne McKay Hartmann

If you are like me and love vibrant watercolors, you need to check out Jeanne McKay Hartmann's work.  She brought a selection of her gorgeous original framed watercolors with her to display.  I think almost every piece was sold that day.  Not surprising, considering one was more beautiful than the next!  Jeanne was an absolute delight to meet and her sparkling personality matched her cheerful paintings!

Jeanne McKay Hartmann
Here is Jeanne customizing some adorable watercolors of tote bags bursting with flowers.

Customized watercolors by Jeanne McKay Hartmann - love the monograms!

I had to have one done for my monogram-loving niece who just graduated from law school.  How perfect for summer are these?  I couldn't resist purchasing one for myself as well!

Nest Inspired Home - Store in Rye, NY
Nest Inspired Home was the perfect place to display Jeanne's paintings.  The store was filled with gorgeous furnishings, gifts and unique decor items.  I would love to be able to shop there more often - if they weren't 2 hours away!  Oh well.  It's always nice to visit new places and it was a beautiful day for a road trip.  I was thrilled to be able to meet Jeanne Mckay Hartmann and purchase some of her original artwork.  Be sure to also check out her Instagram for more inspiration!

Not only was I fortunate enough to meet Jeanne McKay Hartmann at this event, but I also had the pleasure of meeting another talented artist, Patricia Van Essche who blogs at PVE  I recently discovered her blog through Karolyn and found myself paging through her entire portfolio.  Her attention to detail is amazing and I enjoyed scrolling through her colorful images of people, places and of course, pets...some of the most exquisite animal illustrations I have seen!  She also has an Etsy Shop so I definitely see some more shopping in my future...

Notebook by PVE Designs - Available on Etsy
Here is an example of a beautiful notebook she painted which is available on her Etsy Store.  Patricia was so kind to bring this thoughtful gift to the bloggers who attended!

And while we are the subject of talented artists, if you don't already follow my friend, Karolyn from The Relished Roost, then you need to stop by her blog.  Karolyn is an amazing artist and interior designer.  She just recently finished a room for the One Room Challenge which included a stunning mural.  You might also recognize Karolyn for her famous chinoiserie pumpkins!

A day surrounded by beautiful artwork and lovely people...what a wonderful and inspiring way to end the week!

What inspires you lately?

Linking to:
Peeking Thru the Sunflowers - Share Your Style
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursday
In the New House Designs - Inspiration Thursday
Domestic Charm - Creative Circle Link Party
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
The Chronicles of Home - The Inspiration Gallery
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
The Dedicated House - Make It Pretty Monday
Elizabeth and Co - Be Inspired


May 18, 2016

The New "Tile" Rug and My Search for a Chalkboard

Exactly one year ago today, we began demolition on our kitchen which included replacing most of the floors in our downstairs.  Yes, exactly a year ago today and I still haven't done much with the back hallway except buy this new rug...
New Hall Runner - an indoor-outdoor rug with a tile look

This is the Riviera indoor/outdoor rug from Ballard Designs and I spent way too much time obsessing over what should go in this spot.

This is what the hallway used to look like before the renovation...
Hallway Before

We had ceramic tile and a black traditional runner which was fine except this hallway is used all the time.  We come and go through our garage so this is probably the spot with the highest traffic in our house.  Our fluffy, shedding golden retriever, Rosie constantly walks through here so you can imagine how hard it was to keep this rug clean and hair-free!

Hallway with hardwood floors - red oak with Minwax Provincial Stain

Anyway, we changed the paint from Monroe Bisque to Manchester Tan and updated the hallway to hardwood.  I searched around for something to put here but it sat bare for a long time since I am not quick to make decisions!  I then decided to go with an indoor outdoor rug.  I have been obsessing over patterned tile lately and when I saw the Ballard rug, it reminded me of that look.  After all, I would never be able to convince my husband to go with a patterned tile anywhere in our house!

Hallway with new runner with a patterned tile look

With our long hallway and I probably could have gone with a longer rug but I decided to give this one a try.  The weather is a little dark and cloudy today.  Let me turn on the lights for you...

Hallway with tile-look runner

There, now you can see it a little better!  As you can see, we also changed the original lanterns to very simple recessed LED lights.  When we added lanterns over the island, I felt like the lanterns in the hallway were too much.  Plus, the hall lanterns made crazy shadows all over the ceiling making it look too busy.  Now the only busy thing in here is this rug.  Yes, I still need to re-hang my gallery wall.  Hey, it's only been a year! 

Hallway with blank wall for future chalkboard

Which brings me to this wall.  Previously, I had some framed photos hung here but I started to think that a chalkboard might be fun.  Fun for who?  Not me, because I have had the hardest time trying to find one!  

Why do I see all these adorable chalkboards on blogs all the time and I just can't find one that works?  The cute ones that I find in the store are hard to write on.  Do they not make slate chalkboards anymore?  I know they are kind of heavy and probably more expensive but when you write on those cute framed ones they don't look the same.  Ugh...if you can recommend one I would be really happy!

And speaking of being happy, check out the new Jack Rogers sandals I found at Marshalls!
New Rug - New Shoes - indoor outdoor patterned tile-look rug
This style is so comfortable for me!  They have a wedge heel and manage to hide my ghastly bunion a little better than most shoes!  This is my attempt at the cute shoe on the tile look...except it's a rug!  And so far I am very happy with the way the new rug is working in the hallway.  I love the look and the dirt and dog hair don't show at all.  It's perfect for the way our family lives

Now, to find that chalkboard!  Like I said, any suggestions are welcome!

Have you used any indoor/outdoor rugs in your home?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Joining these fabulous parties:

May 13, 2016

Take Me Away Highlights

The new travel link party, Take Me Away really took off this past week!  Well, actually we didn't have a huge turnout but those of you who linked up really shared some amazing places!

Instead of just featuring a few, I am going to share all the wonderful trip reports with you!  I will continue to do this each month...until the party turns into a huge bash with hundreds of people cramming to get their travel posts linked!  Let's get started.  Take me away...

Cancun Trip - by South Shore Decorating
Stacy from South Shore Decorating took us away with her to the most amazing place she has ever been.  Her stay in Cancun with the girls was a dream trip!  You must check out all the gorgeous photos of this breathtaking resort.  I tend to be a Caribbean fan myself, but this resort has me thinking that I need to look into Mexico.  I promise you, this place really is amazing!

Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite - J Bigg's Little Pieces blog
Speaking of amazing, Judy from J.Biggs Little Pieces took us away to Bridalveil Falls in Yosemite and I was blown away by the beauty of this place.  I have never been to that area of our country but I think I need to add it to my list!

Pedernales Falls - The Other Side of the Road blog
Another place I have never been is the big 'ol state of Texas!  Tanya from The Other Side of The Road took us away to Pedernales Falls in the Texas hill country.  What a fun family getaway complete with hiking, swimming and ending the day with smores!  A great adventure for kids and the entire family!

LBJ Ranch - The Other Side of the Road blog
But Tanya's Texas fun didn't end there.  She also took us away to LBJ Ranch for a trip back in time with a fascinating lesson in history.  What a gorgeous national park to visit!

Graveyard Fields - From My Carolina Home blog
More beautiful falls to admire when Carole from the blog, From My Carolina Home took us away on a hiking trip to Graveyard Fields in the magnificent North Carolina mountains.  Her photos of the falls are truly stunning.

Great Scot Games and British Car Show - From My Carolina Home blog
From My Carolina Home also took us away on a perfect picnic to the Great Scot Games and British Car Show in Greenville, South Carolina.  What a lively day filled with antique cars, music and outdoor games! 

Mackinac Island - Life in my Empty Nest blog
For years, I have heard about the beauty of Northern Michigan and now after reading Vicki's trip at Life in my Empty NestI am ready to book a vacation.  Vicki took us away on a "memory making" getaway to Mackinaw City and the enchanting Mackinac Island.  I was surprised and delighted to learn that no cars are allowed on Mackinac Island.  What a enjoyable way to spend time with family riding bikes surrounded by lovely scenery!

And that wraps up the May highlights of the Take Me Away Party!  Thank you to everyone who linked up this month!

I hope you will join me again on the first Friday in June for our next round of travel adventures!  

Are you planning any trips?

Linking to:


May 10, 2016

My Favorite Storage Bins

The links in this post contain affiliate links and I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking my link.

Do you ever find something that works for you 
and then you start buying more and more?

That's what happened when I discovered these bins from Target...

My Favorite White Storage Bins
I began by using them in my kitchen cabinet.  This is where we keep the medicines, first aid supplies and vitamins.  After renovating the kitchen last year, I needed to keep everything neat and orderly.  I also wanted something white to blend with the cabinets but would be easy to clean if I spilled something.  These bins worked out perfectly.

Kitchen Cabinet Organizing - Vitamin and First Aid Storage
I know, it's not very "blogger" of me to just write the labels on with a Sharpie, but I started with cute little stick-on tags that ended up falling off.  This works for now until I get motivated to come up with something else!

White Storage Bins in Pantry
I also use a bunch of the small and medium storage bins in my pantry.  Once again, I like how the white blends with the shelves.  The bins do come in a variety of colors though.  

I always admire all those beautiful pantries with real seagrass or wicker baskets but they just aren't practical for our family.  With the plastic, I don't have to worry about the inevitable spills that will happen with two boys.

Pantry Snack Organization - My Favorite White Storage Bins
I love how these bins have a basket weave look but aren't as plain as your typical white plastic bin.

Laundry Cabinet Organization - My Favorite Storage Bins
And here are a few more of the small white storage bins in my laundry room cabinet.  As you might have noticed, my husband and I differ in our selections of detergents.  I go the more natural route and he sticks with the "classics".

What favorite things do you keep buying over and over?

My Favorite Storage Bins to use Everywhere

Linking to:


May 9, 2016

Blue and White for Mother's Day

I hope you all enjoyed your Mother's Day!  I had a wonderful time hosting my mom and sister for brunch yesterday.  Later in the afternoon, we celebrated with my in-laws.  As my kids would say, "It was a busy-fun day!"

Blue and white table with pink tulips
I set the kitchen table in a casual blue and white theme.  The pink tulips added a pop of color.

Casual Mother's Day Table Setting with blue and white checks
 It rained (again) early in the morning but the sun finally came out later.  Too bad it wasn't warm enough to eat outside like we have in the past!

Casual blue and white table setting
Since the kids were joining us for our brunch, I kept the settings very casual...maybe a little too casual.  I later wished I added something on the napkin but I didn't have time.

Casual blue and white table
I was too busy opening cards and presents from the boys and cooking the brunch.  I kept the menu simple with cut up fruit, broccoli quiche and a mixed green salad...and mimosas of course!

Pink tulips centerpiece - a casual table setting for Mother's Day

Blue and white accessories in white kitchen
After setting the table in blue, I decided to pull some blue accessories from my office to decorate around the kitchen.

Pink roses
I dressed up the island with more pink flowers.  Unfortunately, this was the only picture I took of them.  My mom and sister arrived just as I was taking this picture and I gave them these roses to take home.  You can also see the pink bouquet in the background which was from the boys.  They know how much I love pink! 

Blue and white vase in white kitchen
After everyone left, this is how my island looked.  The blue and white vase is from my office and the branches are from my master bathroom.

White kitchen with blue and white accessories
I had also added more blue on the ledge above the stove.  I really love how it all looks against the white in here.

Kitchen island with blue vase

Blue and white in the kitchen

Blue and white planter
I even switched the pot on my kitchen plant to a blue and white one from my office.

Spring vignette in kitchen
But I didn't have a blue plate to change the spring vignette in the corner.  

Mother's Day Vignette
But I did have a cute, "Home is where your mom is" sign that the kids bought me last year.  I think this worked well for the special day!  Cheers to all the moms!

Where did you spend your Mother's Day?

Blue and White in the Kitchen

Linking to:

May 5, 2016

Take Me Away Link Party

Welcome to the new travel link party,
Take Me Away!

Take Me Away Link Party - Link up your travel posts on the first Friday of every month!  Calypso in the Country blog

Each month, you can link up to 3 travel posts (new or old).

When I say "travel", I don't mean it has to be some far away location.  If you want to highlight a beautiful town or tell us about your weekend at the beach, go for it!  This party is about places.  We want to inspire others and get ideas for wonderful places to visit!

So, start packing and link your travel posts below!

If you don't have a blog but still want to share a vacation photo, please follow me on Instagram and tag your photo #calypsotakemeaway.

Take Me Away Travel Link Party - Link Up your travel posts on the first Friday of every month.

Where have you been?


May 4, 2016

And the Name is...

In my last post, I asked for your help in naming my new travel link party.  Thank you for all of your suggestions.  Almost all of you picked the name I had in mind from the start...

The name of the new party will be
Take Me Away!

The new link party will take place on the first Friday of every month but I will open it up on Thursday nights at 7:00 p.m. EST because that seems to be the thing to do.  What do I know?...I am new to this!

Each month, you will be able to link up to 3 travel posts (new or old).

When I say "travel", I don't mean it has to be some far away location.  If you want to highlight a beautiful town or tell us about your weekend at the beach, go for it!  This party is about places.  We want to inspire others and get ideas for wonderful places to visit!

So pack your suitcase and let's get ready to escape!  
Hope to see you tomorrow night at 7:00!
UPDATE - The party is open!Click HERE!


May 2, 2016

Vote on the New Party Name

A couple weeks ago, I hosted a little travel link party on this blog.  At that time, I had no plans to make it a regular occurrence.  I just thought it would be nice to provide a place for people to share some vacation posts.  In fact, the first few days I wondered if I would get more than a couple link ups!

Slowly, the posts trickled in and it ended up being so much fun!  Those of you who joined, linked up some amazing vacations and I am sure you inspired others.

I received a few emails asking about the next party.  Some of you missed this one and some of you mentioned how much you enjoyed having a place to share your travel posts.

Like I said, I had only planned for this party to be a one-time deal so I had to consider it.  Then I thought, why not?  Summer is coming and I am sure you all have some wonderful vacations lined up!

So, I was thinking... a weekly link party might be too often for this type of thing.  It's different with DIY and home decor parties since most of us are changing things in our homes constantly.  But most of us aren't traveling constantly!  So, I thought a once a month party would be more appropriate.

Starting this Friday, May 6th, I will begin hosting a First Friday of the Month Travel Link Party.  Will that be the name?  I am not sure, I am still working on that.  I can't really call it the Spring Break Link Party again if I am going to do this every month.

I will run it basically the same way as before.  You can link up new or old travel posts, (just no repeats from the previous party).  This new party will take place on the First Friday of the month.  I think by the time Friday comes along, we are all in vacation mode anyway!  Now, I just need to commit to a name.  Here are a few I am considering...

  1. First Friday of the Month Travel Party
  2. Fantastic First Friday 
  3. First Friday Fiesta 
  4. First Friday Fly Me Away 
  5. Take Me Away Link Party 
  6. Your suggestion...
Feel free to vote on any of these in the comment section.  I would love to hear your thoughts!

What do you think of my monthly travel party idea?

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