Country Living...Island Dreaming

January 31, 2017

Take Me Away - January Recap

The Take Me Away party started out a little slow for the first month of the year.  I think most of us were still recovering from all the holiday craziness!  I know I was!

Plus, who had time anyway with all those resolutions, organizing goals and new gym memberships?...  But now that we have come to our senses and realized we aren't really going to exercise or clean as much as we had hoped, we can start focusing on the fun things again - like travel!  

Let's take a look at the posts you contributed in January...

Carole from the blog, From My Carolina Home shared a lovely mountain sunrise...
December Mountain Living - From My Carolina Home

Her photos captured the vibrant colors of a winter sunrise where each moment is more beautiful than the next.  At this point, I am usually scrambling around trying to find my camera before I miss it all!   Carole didn't miss a thing.  Afterwards, she also shared photos of the variety of bird visitors who stopped by her feeders on that pleasant winter morning.

Pam from Everyday Living took us far away to St. Petersburg, Russia for a stunning palace tour...
The Hermitage - The Winter Palace - Everyday Living blog

Most of us will never be fortunate enough to travel to St. Petersburg, so Pam took us along to experience the fascinating Hermitage Winter Palace.  Such amazing architecture and the largest collection of paintings in the world!

Off to the British Isles to Newcastle upon Tyne...
Once Upon A Tyne - Everyday Living Blog

Pam took us away to this enchanting city, 280 miles north of London.  What a wonderful series of bridges along the River Tyne!  Not only will you find the bridges unique, but you won't want to miss the architecture and sights in this delightful city!

Back to the U.S. where Tanya from The Other Side of the Road shared her exciting family vacation to Los Angeles...
Los Angeles Part One - The Other Side of the Road

Look at that view!  Between the colorful flowers, the hillside homes and the breathtaking mountains in the distance, this is what we hope to see on a trip to Los Angeles!

But the beautiful LA scenery isn't over yet because Tanya continued with Part 2 of her trip!...
Los Angeles Part Two - The Other Side of the Road

Isn't this what you would picture for a drive through LA?  Yes, and this was December!  After recently visiting Los Angeles myself, I was so excited to see the sites through Tanya's eyes.  Wow, did she see and do it all!  If you are planning a trip to the Los Angeles area, be sure to check out both of her posts.  I am taking notes for the next time I visit!

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, February 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!)
Take Me Away - Travel Link Party

Looking forward to seeing you then!
And please follow along so you don't miss a post!

Joining these parties:
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else


January 28, 2017

Ways I Have Decorated With Blue and White in My Home

I am thrilled to see more and more blue and white in the stores these days!  For the longest time, I wasn't able to find a good selection and I have always craved the look of this classic color combination!

Let's take a look at where I have used blue and white around my home...

(Please click the title below each photo to bring you to the full post.)

My favorite blue and white room has to be my home office.  This space is truly my own so I did exactly what I wanted in here without having to consider what would work with the rest of the family.  Nowhere else would a white slip-covered chair survive with my family of boys!
Blue and White Home Office

It's I was looking through my photos, I realized my master bedroom has stayed the same for a long time.  Too long, actually.  It still looks like the picture below but I plan on making a few changes this year.  Sorry for the grainy photo...Either way, you get the and white in here.
Blue and White Bedroom

I change accessories all the time in my kitchen.  Last year for Mother's Day, I moved a bunch of blue and white accessories from my office to the kitchen.  I kept it this way for awhile because I loved the fresh, spring look.
Blue and White in the Kitchen

Since I loved the blue and white in the kitchen so much, I decorated the table with a blue and white theme during the summer.
Blue and White Table Setting and other ways I have used blue and white in my home

I have also decorated my deck in a blue and white beachy theme...
Blue and White on the Deck

And just last fall, I brought some of my blue and white porcelain into the foyer to complement the sunflowers I took home from my niece's wedding.  I loved all the color in here so much!
Blue and White in the Foyer and other ways I have decorated with blue and white in my home.

I am not sure where I will add more blue and white in my home but I don't think I will get tired of it any time soon!  I have even considered painting my red dining room navy.  That room is way overdue for an update!

If you want to see more blue and white inspiration, swing over to my Blue Rooms/Accessories Pinterest Board!

Are you decorating with blue and white in your home?

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

Blue and White Decorating Ideas

Joining these parties:
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
The Everyday Home - Share it One More Time
The SITS Girls - Saturday Sharefest
DIY Showoff - That DIY Party
Inspiration for Moms - Inspiration Monday
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Marilyn's Treats - Over the Moon Party
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Domestically Speaking - Inspire Me Monday
Cedar Hill - The Scoop
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday
Butcher's Niche - Wednesday Showcase
DIY by Design - Winter Blues Wednesday
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursday
Domestic Charm - The Creative Circle
Imparting Grace - Grace at Home
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
Craftberry Bush - Inspiration Gallery
Love of Home - Sundays at Home
Finding Silver Pennies - Silver Pennies Sundays
Homestories A to Z - Tutorials and Tips


January 24, 2017

3 Fun and Easy Games for a Winter Themed Party

Before the holidays, my son's class mom needed volunteers for the class winter party.  She sent an email request out on a Monday for the party that Friday.  Like everyone, I was busy with all my last minute Christmas running around so I finally responded on Wednesday with a quick, "If you need any extra help with the party, I am available on Friday."

Immediately, I got an email back saying something like, "Great, we have someone doing a craft but you can run the games!"

Yes, run the games.  Apparently, I was the only other person who offered, so here I was scurrying around on Wednesday trying to think of ideas for a party on Friday morning.  Yes, I still had Christmas gifts to buy and wrap but I had to remember that this could be the last class party I get to be involved in with middle school rapidly approaching.

It can be hard to come up with a good theme for a winter party that's not too Christmas-oriented but I figured a snow man theme would work.  I asked my kids for a few suggestions, scanned through Pinterest for some ideas and came up with these 3 easy games that could keep a bunch of 5th graders entertained.  In fact, these games would be a hit in a school or home party!

1.  The Marshmallow-Toothpick Challenge

Marshmallow Toothpick Challenge - A fun game for a winter themed party
My seventh grader gave me this idea and it was a huge hit with the kids.  We filled a cup with mini marshmallows and gave each child a stack of toothpicks.  The object of the game was to build the tallest structure just using marshmallows and toothpicks in a 5 minute time period.

Marshmallow Toothpick structure for a winter themed party game
The kids got pretty creative with the way they built the structures.  The only requirement was that it had to stand alone without support.  I think the winner ended up being 9 inches tall.  So much fun.  Of course, they wanted to eat them all in the end but we had to throw them out.  We are not allowed to bring in food for school parties...I know, just ridiculous.  They had fun with it anyway!

2.  The Snowman Building Contest

Snowman supplies to build a toilet paper snowman
Do you want to build a snowman?  Well, the kids definitely did and they had a blast!  I bought some cheap plastic hats for around 49 cents a piece and filled them with snowman building supplies.  I used colored paper cut into shapes for buttons, eyes and noses.  I supplied them with red streamers which could be used for the scarf and of course, we had tape and toilet paper.

Toilet paper snowman - 1 of 3 fun and easy winter party games
We broke the kids into groups and gave them 5 minutes to wrap up one of the group members in toilet paper to "build" their snowman .  Instead of choosing a winner, we just had all the snowman or snow-people stand in front of the class for a picture at the end.  They had so much fun throwing the toilet paper around and making a mess in the classroom.  It's not like they get the chance to do much of that in school!

And speaking of things they are not able to do in school...

3.  The Bottle Flipping Contest

Melted snowman water bottles for bottle flipping

If you don't have a tween or teen, you might not be aware of the bottle-flipping craze.  Basically, the kids take a water bottle, empty it about halfway or so and then try to flip it so it lands upright.  Yes, that's it.  For some reason, they are all obsessed with this and want to do it constantly!  It really can be quite annoying to hear that flipping sound over and over!  My plan was to have a contest to see who could get the most successful flips.

I think we all have a love-hate relationship with bottle flipping.  Actually, most of us parents probably hate it!  I actually don't mind it too much.  It may be annoying but it keeps my son away from screens and I am all for that!  

Since I know teachers find bottle flipping SO annoying, I had asked the class mom to check if we could do it for the party.  She told me she emailed the teacher beforehand and didn't hear back so she assumed it wasn't a problem.

Ha - you should have seen the teacher's face when I announced what the bottles were for!  Apparently, she never saw the email!  But through a forced smile, she said it would be fine to do as our last game.  I felt like the "bad kid" but oh's fun to shake things up sometimes!  Plus, I made cute little "Melted Snowman" labels for the bottles to go with our theme.  I couldn't let them go to waste!  

Unfortunately, the craft (which also happened to have a snow man theme), took longer than expected so we didn't have as much time as we had hoped to do all the games.  The Bottle Flipping Contest never happened!  I am sure my son's teacher was thrilled.  I ended up leaving the bottles so each child could take one home.  Oh well, I tried!  

The kids seemed to have a fabulous time at the party and all the games were a success...and would have been even better if they could have flipped those bottles!  I am sure they flipped them when they got home though.  A big sorry to all the parents who had to deal with them!

I hope these ideas were helpful if you are throwing your own winter-themed party.  If you are looking for other party ideas for this age group, you might want to also consider A Lego Themed Party!  That can be fun any time of the year!

What are your ideas for a winter party?

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

3 Fun and Easy Games for a Winter Themed Party - Bottle Flipping Included!

Joining these parties:
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Homestories A to Z - Tutorials and Tips Party
Ducks in a Row - Wonderful Wednesday
A Savory Feast - The Wednesday Showcase
A Delightsome Life - Home and Garden Thursday
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday
Craftberry Bush - Inspiration Gallery
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
The SITS Girls - Saturday Sharefest
The Everyday Home - Share it One More Time
DIY Showoff - That DIY Party
Two Chicks and a Mom - Snickerdoodle Sunday
Inspiration for Moms - Inspiration Monday
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Marilyn's Treats - Over the Moon Party
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Domestically Speaking - Inspire Me Monday
Cedar Hill - The Scoop
Love of Home - Sundays at Home


January 17, 2017

3 Simple Changes to Lighten Up My Living Room

Ah, January - the time to make all these ambitious plans for the new year.  Time for a fresh start.  Time to lighten up...

Sometimes I make New Year's resolutions, sometimes I don't.  I think it's because I always have a running list of house goals and personal goals.  For me, it doesn't make sense to declare them all in January and then feel the pressure to finish them all by a specific deadline.  Here's an example...Around this time last year, I announced one of the first projects of the year and did I accomplish it?  No.  Am I still planning to do it?  Yes, of course!  But as we all know, sometimes life gets in the way and sometimes other things take priority.  If you read my blog often, you might remember how long it took me to buy my counter stools!  Hey, things happen...

While I am still working on many things from last year, a new goal popped into my head the other day.  I stepped into my living room and got the urge to freshen it up!  (Spoiler alert - these are just my plans so if you are expecting a bunch of before and afters, you will be horribly disappointed...)

Living Room and plans to lighten it up more

I love this room.  I know some people don't use their formal living room too often, but we actually do.  Maybe because ours isn't too "formal".  In fact, it's very family friendly.  The kids practice their piano in there, I read in there, my dog, Rosie sometimes sleeps on the floor in there.  I often find my younger son on the iPad in there...probably escaping his older brother! But for whatever reason, we all use the room and I want to keep it as inviting as possible.

I think if I just make these 3 "simple" changes, It could give the room a fresher look...

1.  Take Down the Tapestry.
Tapestry in British Colonial Living Room

This tapestry has hung on this wall for at least 15 years and I think it's time to change it.  Although the colors work well with the room, I think I want to hang something lighter or brighter.

Here are a few ideas I have in my head:
  • One large mirror
  • One large mirror with smaller prints hung on either side
  • A gallery wall 
What do you think would work there?  Although one large piece of art would be nice, I don't want to buy some inexpensive, mass produced artwork...and an original piece of art that size is not in the budget!  (Especially when you see #3 below!)

2.  Change the dark red pillows.
Living Room Pillows and Tapestry

These darker pillows have been in here since day one.  I always liked them because they help give the room that British Colonial feel I love.  They are still in perfect condition and I will probably bring them back in next fall but for now, I want something lighter.  I am thinking maybe some green since after all, it is the color of the year!  The rug has a mixture of white, tan, yellow, green and red so I have a few colors to work with.  The rug is staying by the way.  It's traditional, wool and in perfect condition.

3.  Swap the silhouette shades for plantation shutters.
Shades on arched windows

I say "swap" like it's a two second project!  This one will actually take some serious husband-convincing but it was one of the mistakes I made in the room long ago.  Originally, I planned to finish the look by hanging curtain panels on the sides of all three windows.  The shades were cheaper than plantation shutters so I thought I was doing the "right" thing.  Well, I never committed to window panels and also realized that by the time I actually did, the price would have been more than if I had just gone with the plantation shutters from day one!

Shades side view

So, now I have these half finished looking window treatments that look terrible from the side view.

Most of the time we just keep them open which is why you have probably never seen them.
Living Room Freshening Ideas for the New Year

I do love it when the shades (and windows) are open, but we need to have some privacy in this front room sometimes.  Although, we don't run around naked in our house too often...

Then after installing plantation shutters in the family room this year, I knew that I definitely wanted to add them to the living room as well.  Luckily, the existing shades are in perfect condition so I hope to sell them on Ebay.

With these "simple" changes, I hope to have a lighter and brighter living room!  Time to start watching for plantation shutter sales again!  (That part make take some time...and it won't be "simple" convincing my husband I need to buy them!)

What changes are you making in your home? 

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

Joining these parties:


January 5, 2017

Take Me Away Link Party - January 2017

Welcome to the first Take Me Away Link Party of 2017!  I am so excited for the new year and I am so excited to see where you have been!

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!


January 3, 2017

Take Me Away - December Recap

Happy New Year everyone!!  I hope you had a wonderful holiday and are ready for a great 2017!  It's time for those resolutions and lists of goals for the new year.  Do you have any exciting trips planned?

I started this Take Me Away Link Party in 2016 and each month, I continue to enjoy all of your amazing travel posts!  I look forward to all your fabulous travel stories and tips this year!

With all the Christmas home tours and decorating posts happening in December, our party that month ended up short and sweet...but inspiring nonetheless!

Let's take a look at last month's highlights...

If you are going to travel anywhere in December, New York City is the place to be!
Pam from Everyday Living took us on a tour of City Sidewalks, Busy Sidewalks...of NYC!  From the dazzling tree in Rockefeller Center to the theme-decorated department store windows, she revealed how magical New York can be at Christmastime!

And you can't go to New York at Christmas without experiencing a show at the iconic Radio City Music Hall!
Pam did just that and also gave us the full Christmas Time In New York City experience through her camera lens.  More stunning window displays and sparkling lights made this a trip to remember!

Let's head south and explore the city of Atlanta!
Tanya from The Other Side of the Road takes her family away for Thanksgiving each year and this year they headed to the lovely city of  Atlanta, GA!  I was impressed with how many fun activities they fit into their schedule!

In fact, they had so many activities, that she wrote a Part 2 to her trip!
From historic sites to the gorgeous Stone Mountain Park, Tanya's Atlanta Part 2 had me adding Atlanta to my list of future family vacations!  

So many wonderful places to visit...

Please be sure to stop back
this Friday, January 6th
for the next Take Me Away Link Party!
 (You early birds can start linking up Thursday at 7:00 p.m. EST)

See you then!
Please follow along so you don't miss a post!
Blogger Template Created by pipdig