Country Living...Island Dreaming

October 27, 2016

Take Me Away - October Recap

Well, we have blown through another month and the next two are are going to be a blur - at least they are at my house!  Before all the upcoming holidays, I need to take some time to plan our spring vacation before everything gets booked up.  I am also in the planning stage for a girls long weekend for some time in either April or May.  If you have any ideas for something fun along the east coast, please let me know.  I already have a few places on my list thanks to some of your wonderful trip reports!

In the meantime, let's take a look at all the fabulous trips you linked up for the October Take Me Away Link Party!  Get your posts ready because the next party will take place on Friday, November 4th!  (You might need something to keep your mind off of Election Day!)...

Since it's fall, let's travel to a beautiful apple orchard with Carole from From My Carolina Home ...
From My Carolina Home - Apple Orchard

I've been to many apple orchards but none with such stunning mountain views!

Carole really does live in a beautiful area of the country and she finds the most interesting places!  You have got to check out the what she shared from the Unusual Exhibit at the North Carolina Arboretum...
From My Carolina Home - North Carolina Arboretum

This exhibit is truly out of this world!  Be sure to click on her links to see if these unique sculptures are coming to your area!

And then stop over to see some more fun at the NC Mountain State Fair ...
From My Carolina Home - NC Mountain State Fair

Between rides, animals and crafting competitions, this definitely looks like an entertaining place to spend the day!  The magnificent mountain scenery doesn't hurt either!

Now we take a whirlwind of a trip to beautiful Santa Monica with Colleen from 50 Days of No Grey...
50 Days of No Grey - Santa Monica

Colleen and her family managed to pack in a ton of sightseeing and activities into a short period of time.  Be sure to check out her recommendations of where to eat and stay.

Speaking of family vacations, all you Harry Potter fans will love to see where Tanya from The Other Side of the Road took her family...
The Other Side of the Road - Jacobite Steam Train

What an exciting train adventure through the mountains of Scotland while riding on the "Harry Potter" train.  They even spotted the bridge from the Harry Potter movies.  I am sure this is a vacation her kids will always remember!

I am sure Pam from Everyday Living will remember her birthday celebration at a beautiful  North Carolina Inn ...
Everyday Living - Inn

Between the mountain scenery and the lovely accommodations, no wonder North Carolina seems to be so popular with all of you who link up each month!  After reading Pam's post, I think we all will be booking rooms at this award winning historic hotel!

Then Pam takes us away on a walk through charming Martha's Vineyard...
Everyday Living - Martha's Vineyard

From Edgartown's classic New England homes to the Victorian style gingerbread cottages in Wesleyan Grove in Oaks Bluff, this is a dream walk for fans of beautiful architecture!

Speaking of beautiful architecture, Pam doesn't stop there!  Let's hop over to the other side of the world with her and visit The Catherine Palace in Saint Petersburg, Russia!...
Everyday Living - The Catherine Palace

Pam has toured several palaces in Russia but she says this was the most beautiful one!  If you think the exterior is impressive, you need to take a look inside!  Ah, the luxurious life of a Royal Family!

If you are looking to stay somewhere luxurious while enjoying the gorgeous fall colors, let Sandy from You May Be Wandering take you away to Five Luxury Resorts to Celebrate Fall...

You May Be Wandering - Five Luxury Resorts to Celebrate Fall

Each one of these U.S. destinations is more beautiful than the many stunning places to experience the autumn season.  I don't think I could pick a favorite but I am definitely keeping them all in mind for a future fall trip!

And we can't forget that fall is baseball season!  
Scoreboard Sweep - Dog Days of San Diego

Randy and Penny from Scoreboard Sweep share their travels to ballparks across the country and had a blast at Bark the Park Night in San Diego!  What fun for them - and all the dogs!

Linda from Life and Linda shared her fascinating Barge Adventure in France...
Life and Linda - Our Barge Adventure in France

What an exciting journey through the Burgundy Region of France.  Linda's post is so beautiful and inspiring in every way!

Once again, thank you to everyone who linked up their amazing travel posts!  Every time I read through these trip reports, I realize there are SO many places I need to see in this world!  You are always so inspiring!

Remember to join us next week
 on Friday, November 4th
for our next Take Me Away Party!

Linking to:
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend


October 23, 2016

Plantation Shutters - The Latest Update to the Family Room

My family room has gone through some changes over the past few years.  The most recent change just happened Friday, with the addition of plantation shutters!

Plantation Shutters

Let's take a look back at what the room looked like a couple years ago...
Family Room Before Renovation
We had white wall to wall carpeting, wood blinds, an oak fireplace mantel and the walls were painted Benjamin Moore, Monroe Bisque.

Then we decided to renovate our kitchen and in the process, tore out the carpeting in the family room.
Family Room During Renovation

The plan also included a fireplace update.  
Family Room in Progress
This photo was taken right before the fireplace was removed.

As you can see, we had hardwood floors installed...
Family Room with Hardwood Floors Installed (before staining)
The new fireplace was also in process at this point.

Of course, AFTER we had the hardwood floors installed, my husband finally realized that I was right about the half wall being we had it taken down.  More details on that here - Renovation Progress - The Half Wall.
Half Wall Removal

As you can see, that removal really opened up the kitchen into the family room!
Half Wall - Before and After
It would have been cheaper if my husband listened to me from the start!

Then the stone on the fireplace went up.  You can read all the details on that here - My Fireplace Before and After.
Stone Fireplace Progress
We compromised on the stone color.  I think if it had been just up to me, I would have gone a little lighter.  Oh well...

Red Oak Floors - Stained Minwax Provincial
Then we lived through the toxic fume nightmare of floor staining.

But I was happy with the color of those.
Family Room in Progress
And even happier when we had our furniture back in the room!  We also changed the paint color from Monroe Bisque to Manchester Tan...

I hadn't decided on a rug but needed something so my golden retriever, Rosie wouldn't slip when she jumped off her chair...
Ballard Designs Rug
I temporarily brought in the Ballard indoor-outdoor rug that I used to have under my kitchen table.

Indoor Outdoor Rug
It's obviously too small for the room but at least it's something until I make a rug decision.  I also bought a new coffee table from Pottery Barn which you can see above.

Then a few days ago, we took down the blinds to prepare for the new plantation shutters!
Wall of Windows - before plantation shutters were installed
Of course, it was a beautiful, sunny day and I started to panic that maybe I didn't want to cover up my pretty windows!

Wall of Windows in Family Room before Plantation Shutters installed
As much as I loved all the light and the view, I knew that with the TV on the opposite wall, we had to cover the windows to deal with the glare.

Then Friday, the plantation shutters were installed!
Plantation Shutters on Wall of Windows
I was thrilled with the result and couldn't have been happier with the company we chose.  This is NOT a sponsored post and I am not being compensated in any way to mention them but we ordered the shutters through Sunburst Shutters.  I have worked with them before in both my master bathroom and guest bathroom and have been happy each time.  Everyone I dealt with was professional.  They were on time the day they measured and even called to see if they could come earlier on the install day.  I think the shutters were even ready before the estimated 5-6 weeks.

I love the way the shutters filter the light and how easy they are to open and close.  I do not miss having all those messy strings hanging the way they used to with the wood blinds.  I feel like the room seems more polished now.

Plantation Shutters in Family Room

And now my next step is new furniture!  I plan to buy a new couch, chair or chairs and a new rug.  I swear I am never going to be done with this room!  

Thanks for stopping by to see my family room updates!

Do you decorate a room in steps or all at once?

Enjoy your week!
Sharing at these link parties:
Marilyn's Treats - Over the Moon Party
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Between Naps on the Porch - Metamorphosis Monday
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia - Inspire Me Monday
Cedar Hill Farmhouse - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Homestories A to Z - Tutorials and Tips
The Dedicated House - Make it Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday
A Savory Feast - the Wednesday Showcase
DIY by Design - Fall Into Fall Party
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Poofing the Pillows - Thoughts of Home Thursday
Domestic Charm - Creative Circle Link Party
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
Craftberry Bush - The Inspiration Gallery
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Tatertots and Jello - Link Party Palooza
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
The SITS Girls - Saturday Sharefest
The Everyday Home - Share it One More Time
Inspiration for Moms - Inspiration Monday
Life and Linda - Dishing it and Digging it


October 20, 2016

Thanksgiving Sign (and Free Printables)

The white beadboard frame in my guest bathroom gets changed for every season and holiday.  I usually just whip up a quick chalkboard print from PicMonkey like this one from a few years ago...

Bathroom Vignette with Thanksgiving art

And last year, I went with a burlap look...

Thankful sign in beadboard frame

Besides the typical fall decor, I don't have many 'Thanksgiving specific' type of decorations around the house.  This little addition to the bathroom is a fun way to honor the holiday...and to remind us all to be thankful!

Here is a close up of the print I made on PicMonkey...

Thankful Printable on "Burlap"

Then after I hung mine, I played around with the wording a bit and came up with this one...(which I think I actually like better)....

Always Thankful Printable on Burlap

The background is a slightly more detailed and the wording is a little different.  I might end up using one of the burlap ones again this year unless I come up with something else...

Here is a close up of the previous year's chalkboard look...

Thankful Chalkboard Printable

Anyway, feel free to save and print them if you like.  I apologize if I don't have a special "download here" or other fancy way of copying them.  I spent way too much time yesterday trying to learn how to save them as pdf files so they could be used as printables.

Just try doing a "save as" and see if that works.  Yeah, I am such a professional with this stuff!  

Thanksgiving will be here before we know it!


Sharing with these link parties:
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
Easy Peasy Pleasy - Funtastic Friday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
DIY Showoff - That DIY Party
Linda and Linda - Dishing It and Digging It
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Inspiration for Moms - Inspiration Monday
My Pinterventures - Merry Monday Link Party
Marilyn's Treats - Over the Moon
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia - Inspire Me Monday
Cedar Hill Farmhouse - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
The Dedicated House - Make it Pretty Monday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase
DIY by Design - Fall into Fall Party
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Domestic Charm - Creative Circle Party
Craftberry Bush - Inspiration Gallery
Tatertots and Jello - Link Party Palooza
The Everyday Home - Share it One More Time


October 18, 2016

How I Do Fall - Decor Around My Home

Each year, I start decorating for fall in early September.
Fall Mantel with Apples and White Pumpkins

Most of the decor stays out through Thanksgiving but I make a few little tweaks for Halloween along the way...
Simple Black and Orange Mantel

Mostly with the addition of a few Jack-O-Lanterns and decorations for the front porch...nothing major.

Pumpkins on the porch for Halloween

And as Thanksgiving approaches, I take away the little bits of Halloween and add a few accessories.

Thanksgiving Touches around the house

Thanksgiving Vignettes

I don't do the full overhaul of removing fall...adding Halloween...removing Halloween... and adding Thanksgiving.  It just seems like too much work over a season.  Basically, I keep a fall look with a few minor changes along the way.

We host Thanksgiving so I don't start pulling out the Christmas decor until the day after.
Thanksgiving Table

No Black Friday shopping for me!  That Friday - and most of that weekend is spent packing away the fall decor and decorating for Christmas!

Christmas in the Foyer
Then my Christmas decor stays up until New Year's Day.

How do you do fall in your home?
Do you go all out for Halloween or do you just squeeze it in with the rest of the fall decor?

I'd love for you to follow along so you don't miss a post!

Sharing at these Link Parties:
Adventures of Mel - Inspire Me Wednesday
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase
Poofing the Pillows - Thoughts of Home Thursday
Domestic Charm - The Creative Circle Party
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
Easy Peasy Pleasy - Funtastic Friday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
DIY Showoff - That DIY Party
Life and Linda - Dishing It and Digging It Link Party
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Inspiration for Moms - Inspiration Monday
My Pinterventures - Merry Monday
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
My Uncommon Slice of Suburbia - Inspire Me Mondays
Cedar Hill Farmhouse - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
DIY by Design - Fall into Fall Party
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Tatertots and Jello - Link Party Palooza
The Everyday Home - Share it One More Time


October 16, 2016

Our Weekend in Vermont - Family Time

Two weeks ago, we headed north for a long weekend in the beautiful state of Vermont.  The kids had a day off that Monday, so we figured it was the perfect time to catch some glimpses of the fall foliage.  According to a few websites, the foliage was "nearing peak".

I contacted a photographer a week or two before our trip thinking that with the leaves changing, it would be a nice idea to have some family photos done in Vermont.  Too bad as the weekend grew closer, the weather forecast wasn't looking very promising, but a plan is a plan so we just hoped for the best!

Before heading to Vermont we knew that the "Brewfest" was scheduled for that Saturday...but that isn't why I am posing in front of the sign above.  Do you see where it also says, "Up & Down Roll Sunday, Oct 2"?  Well, when my husband saw that, he thought the "Up and Down Roll" was an event where the drunk people from the Brewfest would physically "roll" down the mountain after a day of drinking!  Always coming up with something silly, that guy!  I must admit, I would have paid to see that event!  But no, the "Up and Down Roll" ended up being a mountain bike race!

We actually didn't plan on attending either of those events.  Instead, my husband and 12 year old, spent a chilly Saturday afternoon on the golf course...

As you can see, the leaves were changing but not exactly what I would call "nearing peak"!  I guess it didn't help that the skies were gray and we had on and off drizzling.

But the weather didn't stop them.  They enjoyed some great father-son bonding time while I indulged in a little bit of bonding time with my 10 year old son...

First, we stopped by Kent Pond where we spotted a couple playing with two black labs.  As soon as we walked up, they warned us that the one dog might get excited and run over to us.  I assured them we were fine with big dogs since we have our own golden retriever.  They let my son throw some of the objects in the pond for the dogs to retrieve.  

Suddenly the "one dog" came charging out of the water heading straight for me.  Within seconds his pond-soaked body was jumping all over me to the point where I almost fell over.  The owners quickly pulled him away apologizing like crazy, but all I could do was laugh.  I did not expect the dog to come at me with such force.  Then after he did the same thing to my son just minutes later, we decided it was time to drag our drenched bodies back to the car before one of us ended up hurt.

Afterwards, we browsed in some ski clothing shops and then headed over to the mountain so my son could see what it looked like without snow.

As I mentioned, the Brewfest was going on so the lodge area was packed.

This photo shows the overflow of people on the outside but the inside was another story.  I think the whole state of Vermont was inside partying it up!  The only reason we even went inside was to use the rest room.  We accidentally entered through a no-access back door and there my 10 year old and I stood in the middle of a lodge full of rowdy adults drinking beer.  He obviously was the only kid in the place.

Needless to say, I quickly ushered him downstairs and out of the drunkfest so he could use the restroom.  He was quite fascinated by the loud music and all the commotion inside the lodge but quickly forgot about it when I mentioned we could ride the "Beast Coaster".

I had hoped my husband would be the one to take him on that thing when the time came around.  I am a bit of a baby when it comes to rides but I felt a little calmer knowing I could control the speed on the coaster.  It ended up being pretty scary but I made it...although I was shaking a bit when we were done.  My son loved it but wished I didn't slow it down so much!

Afterwards, we walked around outside and did silly things like take pictures with the promotional signs...

And then headed back to pick up the guys at golf.

The next morning we met with the photographer and had our family pictures taken with the "nearing peak" fall foliage as our backdrop.  The boys had a blast posing for photos on the ski lifts while I enjoyed our silly family moments.  So what if it drizzled and my hair probably could have looked better!  Ugh...

That afternoon while my husband plopped himself in front of the TV to watch golf (because family photos are so exhausting), the boys and I headed back to the mountain to ride the Beast Coaster again.  Silly me, I thought one ride for the two of them would have been enough so I bought one ticket for each of them.  

Well...those boys of mine could not get enough of that thing especially after my younger son realized how fast he could go without Mommy controlling it!  We ended up purchasing the full day adventure pass which included all kinds of climbing mazes and trampolines in addition to the Beast Coaster.  I guess since the weather was chilly and drizzly, not many people were around (and most were probably hung over from the Brewfest), so the boys didn't have to wait in any line for the Beast Coaster.  I actually lost track of how many times they rode that thing!  They also tried out some of the other attractions...

They ended up having the best day and are still talking about how many times they rode on that coaster!

So, the weather was not ideal and the foliage wasn't exactly "nearing peak" but we still enjoyed a fun-filled family weekend that we will remember.  That's all that really matters, isn't it?

Here are a few more Vermont-in-the-fall posts from previous years:

Where have you traveled to see the fall foliage?

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