Country Living...Island Dreaming

February 28, 2017

Take Me Away - February Recap

Well, I guess that wraps up February!  Wow, you'd never know it was February with all the crazy-warm weather we've had in the Northeast!  With spring just around the corner, it's a great time to start planning some warm weather getaways!  Maybe you will be inspired by a few of these!...

Let's take a look at the highlights from February's party!

Come experience spring in France with Susan from Our French Oasis.

Susan shared her beautiful early spring blooms and a heartwarming story that is sure to bring tears to your eyes.  

Mollie's Mom joined us this month with a recap of her Honduras trip!

Aren't those baskets amazing?  So wonderful how she has donated her time to help improve the living conditions for children in the villages.  Very inspiring!

Carole from the blog, From My Carolina Home took us on a lovely Holiday Tour of Inns.

Several beautiful homes with gorgeous porches all decked out for the holidays!  Be sure to click on the bottom of her post to continue with Parts 2 and 3 of these Holiday House tours!

Bonnie from Living With Thanksgiving took us away to the enchanting Isle of Capri, Italy.
Living With Thanksgiving - Isle of Capri, Italy

I have a feeling you will be adding this one to your bucket list if you haven't already!  Gorgeous scenery, delicious food and plenty of people watching to keep you entertained.

Sandy from You May Be Wandering took us away to the luxurious Acqualina Resort and Spa.

A stunning 5 star property just north of Miami Beach with all the amenities you could wish for.  From the pools to the magnificent accommodations - wow, just wow! 

Everyday Living - Romantic Rosecliff Mansion

You can't visit Newport, Rhode Island without touring the elegant mansions.  Pam shared the most romantic one with us - Rosecliff!  Join her on the tour to view this exquisite property and learn a little bit of history as well.  Just beautiful, inside and out.  No wonder several movies have been filmed there!

50 Days of No Grey took us away to the city of  Munich, Germany.
50 Days of No Grey - Guten Tag Munich!

This city might be known for Oktoberfest but you will see, there is so much more!  Stop by her blog for a fun visit and don't miss the interesting castle trivia!

If you want to see more of the links shared this month, stop over at - Take Me Away - February.

Thank you to everyone who stops by each month!  Whether you are here to link up your own posts or to read others, we always enjoy having you!

Please remember to stop by 
this Friday, March 3rd 
for the next Take Me Away Link Party!
(The party officially opens Thursday at 7:00 p.m. EST 
so get your travel posts ready!)

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


February 25, 2017

Customer Service - The Good and the Bad!

Do you remember the times you received good customer service?  What about the times you received bad customer service?...

We still talk about our wonderful customer service from almost nineteen years ago!  We were on our honeymoon and staying at the Four Seasons in Maui.  The day we wanted to drive the road to Hana (an all day event) happened to be the last day of the U.S. Open Golf tournament on TV.  My husband is a huge golf fan and didn't want to miss the finals.  I am dating myself but yes, back in those days, the only way to record a show was with a VCR - Video Cassette Recorder for those young people who have no idea of what I am talking about!  Anyway, there was a VCR in our room so we asked the front desk if we could get a cassette tape to record the tournament.  Instead, they insisted that they tape it for us!  We were thrilled at the offer and were able to spend the day enjoying our drive to Hana.  We returned later that day with the recorded tournament (and a bottle of champagne) waiting for us in our room!

 The way they handled it made us love the Four Seasons even more!  A simple gesture, but definitely appreciated - and like I said, we still talk about it!

Just this morning, I was food shopping in Wegman's and I couldn't find the croutons.  A store employee unloading vegetables in the produce section was nearby, so I asked him.  He directed me to the bread section in the back.  But when I reached that department, I didn't see any croutons.  I stood there for a minute or so, scanning the shelves figuring I was just brain dead and wasn't noticing them.  The next thing I knew, that same employee was rushing over to me apologizing for his mistake.  He then told me the croutons were now located in aisle 13B.  Was it necessary for him to drop what he was doing to find me across the store?  Of course not, but he did and I appreciated it!  It's not the first time a Wegman's employee has gone out of his way to help me.  No wonder the store is known for great service!

I remember last year, I found a necklace I liked on the Talbots website and decided to stop by the local store to buy it in person.  I mentioned to the sales woman that I was happy they had one left since it was on sale.  As she was wrapping it up, she said she would wipe it down for me since I guess it was a little dull from being on display.  (I hadn't even noticed.)  Anyway, after wiping it, she thought it still looked a little dull so she went out of her way to search in the back for another one.  She must have pulled out six or seven little black bags holding different necklaces to search for the one I wanted.  Finally, she found it and we compared the necklaces.  Sure enough, the one in the bag was much shinier than the one on display and I purchased it.

Like I said, I hadn't even noticed the first necklace wasn't as shiny but it made me happy that someone put in such effort to help me!

Sometimes it really is the little things that will set a company apart from others.  Things like having a repair person be overly nice to the dog when they come in or the landscaper who brought in my newspaper when it was raining.  Totally, unnecessary, but appreciated!

In contrast to those helpful gestures, I recently had a not so pleasant service experience.  We were attending a fund raising event which was being held in the ballroom of a restaurant.  During the evening while standing near a high top table, I felt a huge splash down the back of me.  As I turned around, I realized someone had knocked over an entire glass of red wine, splattering the back of my dress, my legs and shoes.  Luckily, I was wearing a navy dress and not a white one!  

Everyone around me scrambled to grab cocktail napkins and anything they could find to wipe me off.  Then I looked down and realized my cute little silver handbag was almost completely covered in wine.  I held it up to the show the waiter who was heading over with some more napkins.  I figured he would run over to the nearby bar to grab me some club soda or something to try to clean it off.  

But no.  He proceeded to assess blame instead!  "None of our employees are responsible for the spill", he quickly informed me.  "One of the volunteers knocked over the wine", he told me.  (Did I even accuse anyone?!!)

I think I said something like, "I just need something to clean this off!"  (Seriously, who even cares who knocked it over!)  He actually acted annoyed with me and all he seemed to care about was not being held responsible.  It's not like I said, "You have to pay for a new purse!"  I mean, I probably only spent $39 for it ten years ago but that wasn't the point.  The point was that he could have handled it so much better.  

Within minutes, the waiter was no where to be found.  I motioned to the "blamed volunteer" that I was fine and then headed to the rest room to continue cleaning up.  Luckily, I think she was oblivious to the whole incident.  She probably wasn't even the one who knocked it over!

As I headed over to the rest room, I thought how this "gem" of a waiter could have handled it better.  For instance, he could have brought me some club soda to clean off my handbag, he could have made sure I had enough napkins to wipe off or he could have just said, "I am so sorry this happened" without blaming this poor girl who was volunteering her time to sell raffle tickets!  It would have also been nice if he checked back with me later to see if I needed anything.  Even a simple gesture like offering to pay my dry cleaning bill would have been nice, even if it wasn't specifically the restaurant's fault.  I mean, how much does it really cost to dry clean a dress?  I would have declined that anyway but would have felt like I was given good service.  As it turns out, I didn't even see him the rest of the night!

So now I will be telling this story every time someone mentions the place or the event.  Partly because it's kind of a funny story and partly because of the disappointment of receiving bad service there!  I would much rather give my business to a place that makes their customers a priority over one that could care less!

What kind of memorable 
customer service experiences have you had?

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February 23, 2017

Girl Getaways of My Past and Future

Have you ever taken a trip with your best friends?  Sure, family vacations and romantic trips with your spouse are always top priority, but there is nothing like some bonding time with the girls!  Don't you agree?

I have shared a few of my girls getaways with you over the years and soon, I will have one more to share!  Yay!  But before I tell you about that new development, let's take a look at some of the girls trips I have taken over the years..(Click on the title under each photo to read the full posts).

One of my favorite destinations was Charleston, South Carolina!...
Charleston, South Carolina and other ideas for a girls weekend

I knew I was going to love Charleston but that lovely city exceeded my expectations!  It didn't hurt that I escaped the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy while visiting Charleston that year.  My poor family was stuck at home in New Jersey without power while I strolled around Charleston without a care in the world.  Good times...

Probably my most recent girls weekend getaway was our quick trip to Philadelphia...
Girls Weekend in Philadelphia

Road-trips are always a blast and not having to deal with flight schedules make the whole trip so much easier.  We may have only been an hour from home, but we managed to pack in some fun activities and quality girl-time on that getaway!

Since we are fortunate enough to also live an hour from New York, a girls day-trip is always an easy escape!...
New York Broadway Show and other ideas for a girls getaway!

The excitement of New York never wears off, no matter how many times I have gone!

Before kids, a four and a half hour road trip seemed like nothing...
Newport, Rhode Island and other great girls getaway ideas

Ahh, the relaxing days of mansion touring and sipping cocktails on the lawn in Newport, Rhode Island.  It has been way too long since I have been there.  Definitely, a great place for a girls getaway!

Another great place - but definitely NOT a road trip was one of my first girls getaways...
Barbados with the girls

Three of us ventured to the island of Barbados, where I began my love for the Caribbean!  Since then, I have traveled to the Caribbean almost every year with my husband or the whole family but haven't been back with the girls.  Maybe it's time for another trip!

Back in my younger, carefree days, I traveled to Europe a couple times with friends...
Venice, Italy and other great girls getaways

On our first trip, we visited Germany, France, Switzerland, Austria (for lunch on a train stop) and Venice, Italy.  There was just something about Italy that made us want to return.  Then after seeing the movie,  Only You, a trip to back to Italy was inevitable.  I challenge you to watch the movie and not book a trip!  In fact, my friend Sandy from You May Be Wandering just wrote a post about one of the hotels from that movie!  Anyway, a couple years later, we headed back to Italy and loved it more than we anticipated!

We have also taken girl trips to Boston, San Francisco, Montreal and Lake Placid, New York.  And I am thrilled to tell you that we just booked our next trip to the enchanting island of Martha's Vineyard!  I have never been there and am so excited to start planning all of our activities and shenanigans...not that we actually plan those!

Just as a reminder, on the first Friday of every month, I host a travel link party where you can come and link up your travel posts.  
Take Me Away Travel Link Party

Where have you traveled with your friends?
Do you have any Martha's Vineyard tips to share?

UPDATE:  We can now add Martha's Vineyard to the list of places we've been! You can read about that trip here -   My New Favorite Place to Watch the Kentucky Derby.

I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!
Great Ideas for a Girls Getaway

Joining these link parties:


February 19, 2017

What Will Happen to the Red? - (Help Me Choose!)

For many years, I have been dreaming of changing the wall color in my dining room.  It's been red for probably 14 or so years and I am ready for an update!

Don't get me wrong, I do love the way the red looks with various table settings...

Black and White Table Setting in Red Dining Room

I mean, how can you go wrong with red at Christmas?...
Christmas Table - Red Dining Room

The wall shelves look so festive with a red background during the holidays...
Red Walls with Ledge Shelves

And even though the red is dark, the white below the chair rail helps to lighten up the room a little.
Red Dining Room with White Wainscotting

But in a north-west facing room, it will never be bright and sunny in here...
Red Dining Room and Holiday Table

Something to consider is that the adjoining rooms are light colors...
White Kitchen with Wood Floors and Cherry Island
My kitchen cabinets are White Dove and the walls are Manchester Tan (both Benjamin Moore).

The foyer is painted White Sand...
Neutral Foyer next to Red Dining Room

With all that considered, I have managed to narrow the new dining room color down to two choices - navy or a tan/griege color.  Yes, I am aware that those are extremely different looks but I can't decide if I want the room to stay dark and cozy or switch to light and airy.

I have had a difficult time finding inspiration photos of navy dining rooms.  If you were to take a look at my Dining Room Pinterest Board, you will see that most my inspiration rooms have lighter walls.  I really do love this navy dining room, though and could really see myself coming up with a version of that look...or this gorgeous one!...I just don't know!  I think it's really challenging to pull off a navy room.

There is no way my husband will ever agree to replacing the furniture so the color I choose will have to go with the dark cherry.  I think I could probably convince him to change the chairs though...
Red Dining Room Walls with White Wainscotting
The rug is still in excellent condition (except the messy fringe) so I am not sure if this will stay or go.  The curtain panels will probably be replaced. 

Red Dining Room

I would love to know what you think...

Which paint color do you vote for?
Navy or Tan/Greige?
(Or possibly something else?...)

Thanks for your input!
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

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February 14, 2017

Recent Happenings in My World - Winter Edition

Happy Valentine's Day everyone!  I hope you are all enjoying today with loved ones!

Pink Tulips

I am so thankful to have just spent a long weekend with my loves.  My husband, boys and I (and our golden retriever, Rosie as well) just returned from a ski weekend in Vermont where we spend many of our winter weekends.  Our usual routine is to drive up on a Friday after school and return Sunday evening.

Winter Storm in Vermont

Well, I don't know if you followed the weather recently, but New England was just hit with a blizzard....I guess we probably should have paid closer attention before we drove up!  As we continued to follow the forecast, we realized coming home on Sunday may not be an option this time -  even if we tried to leave first thing in the morning.  The snow was approaching from the south which meant most of the ride home would be through the storm. We made the call to just wait until Monday to drive home.  Needless to say, the kids were thrilled to miss school!  Instead of waking up early to leave on Sunday, we had a leisurely breakfast and then I drove my husband and boys to the mountain to ski.  

Vermont is having a phenomenal year for snow which is a relief after the bust of a ski season we had last year.  Last year was the first year we bought season lift tickets for Killington and we barely broke even.  This year we bought them again and have been skiing since early December.  Well, my family has, at least.  I have only skied a few times because I have been having some neck issues.   Most of my life, I have had back and neck issues probably due to a slight case of scoliosis which throws my back out of alignment often.  Then in December, I started to have problems again.  I even went as far as having blood work to rule out Lyme Disease and Rheumatoid Arthritis.  Luckily, they came out negative so I had an MRI which showed some mild compression.  I started physical therapy which includes stretches I have to do at home.  So far, I have improved slightly but it's been a slow recovery - and I am getting a little impatient!

There are still plenty of ski weekends left this season so hopefully my neck will start feeling better so I can join the boys.  If you are planning a ski weekend of your own, be sure to check out my tips- My Essentials to Stay Warm for a Ski Weekend.  There are definitely a few things I can't live without when skiing!

Vermont Snow

But like I said, the guys have been having an amazing time this year and they took advantage of the excellent conditions this weekend to ski as much as possible!

Even though I haven't been able to ski much this season, I have enjoyed relaxing and going out to dinner at our usual places.  The Foundry in Killington is one of our favorite restaurants to unwind on a cold winter evening and it was an extra special treat to eat there this Sunday since we were "snowed in".

Dinner by the fire at the Foundry

We enjoyed a tranquil dinner by the fire and ended with s'mores for dessert.  The perfect way to spend a winter night with the family...much better than battling the blizzard on the long ride back to New Jersey!  We finally did make it home safely on Monday.  I am glad we waited though!

Speaking of New Jersey, we finally got some real snow here last week!  I was actually excited for that storm since we had an uneventful winter to that point...a few dustings of snow here and there but nothing significant.
Golden in the snow

The kids even had a snow day on Thursday and spent the whole day outside sledding with the neighbors.  As you can see, Rosie savored her outdoor time as well!

As much as I love the change of seasons, I definitely lean towards being more of a summer person.  But I have to endure some winter weather...especially with my snow loving family.  I try my hardest to make the best of it all!

"What good is the warmth of summer, without the cold of winter to give it sweetness."
                   - John Steinbeck

I decided to treat myself to some new boots to help make the winter a little more bearable!  Please note that this post contains affiliate links which means if you click over and purchase something, I will receive a small commission at no additional cost to you.
Furry Snow Boots
I can't believe how many people have complimented these furry things!  They are quite cozy and I have been wearing them every chance I get!

Black Rain Boots
It must be the "year of the boot" for me because I also picked up these rain boots a couple months ago.  Not only did they make the perfect Christmas accessory but I have worn them a ton.  I decided on the Uggs over the Hunter rain boots because the price was better and I liked the fit and the fur on the insides.  Might as well make the harsh winter weather as comfortable as possible!  (I still can't wait for flip flop season, though!)

Now that we are making our way through another winter holiday, I am looking forward to pulling out some spring decor!  I was scrolling through some old posts to remind myself of how I have decorated in the past and I came across this spring mantel...

I guess it kind of bridges the gap from Valentine's to spring.  Red tulips...can't go wrong with them.

And speaking of red...
Red Dining Room

For years, I have been saying I am repainting my red dining room.  Mark my word - this will be the year!

Well, that wraps up the all the excitement around here!  Enjoy the rest of your week!  

What have you been up to recently?

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


February 2, 2017

Take Me Away Link Party - February 2017

According to the groundhog, we can expect 6 more weeks of winter.  That's fine with me as long as I can dream of some faraway destinations!  I am looking forward to seeing where you've been...
It's time for the February Take Me Away Link Party!

Take Me Away Travel Link Party

Let's get started with this month's party!
  • Please link up to 3 travel posts you have written (new or old as long as you haven't shared them at the Take Me Away Party before).
  • Please include a link back to my blog.
  • Please don't link any ads or giveaways.
  • By joining the party, you give me permission to feature your photo/post on any of my social media networks and this blog.
  • Please Pin from the source of the photo, not from this page.
  • Please visit and comment on as many links as you can...after all, it's a party!
Once again, we are off!  Take Me Away!

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