Country Living...Island Dreaming

March 30, 2017

Ways I Have Decorated With Tulips In My Home

Tulips...I just can't get enough of them!  I know they don't last long but I just can't stop myself from buying them this time of year!  They are a simple and inexpensive way to update a room for spring...

Tulips for Easter Decor

Since I don't overdecorate for holidays, I love the way these white tulips contribute to the little bits of Easter decor around my house.

White Tulips on Rattan Tray

And I really do mean "little bits" when it comes to Easter decor!  You can see my three little ceramic bunnies up on the mantel in the background.  Yeah, those and the kitchen bunny are almost all I use...simplicity.

White Tulips in the Kitchen

White Tulips in Crystal Vase - Decorating for Spring
Just a simple vase of flowers is all I need to brighten up the kitchen island for spring.  This towel I bought at Homegoods pretty much says it all!

White Tulips on Front Door for Spring

And what better way to welcome guests to our "home sweet home" than with tulips hanging on the front door.  Obviously, these are faux ones but they still provide a warm spring welcome!

Although the white tulips are probably my favorites, I have used more colorful ones on occasion...

Pink Tulips with Navy Table Setting

I have always loved using pink tulips with navy...such a cheerful color combination.

The pink tulips really stand out against my white cabinets too...

Pink Tulips in the Kitchen - Tulips in Decor
I use my crystal vases all the time.  They are probably my most used wedding gifts!

Although, I do fill my white pitchers with flowers almost as often as the crystal vases!  The white pitchers have more of a casual farmhouse look than the crystal.  I usually buy them in Homegoods whenever I see them.  You can never have enough of those!...

Red Tulips and Spring Mantel - Tulip Decorating Ideas

That year, I went bold with the tulips and added some red ones to the mantel...

Red Tulips in White Pitcher

The red ones worked well during the Valentine's to spring transition.  Their vibrant color really brightened up those dreary late winter days!

My foyer is another place I like to put a vase of tulips.  Once again, I bought white ones but those tulips were starting to droop down a bit by the time I took the picture.

White Tulips - Decorating with Tulips in My Home

I just got a tip from someone on Instagram who said to put a penny in the water.  I tried that with my most recent tulip purchase and so far, so good!  I will do anything to keep them fresh longer!  The shape of the vase seems to help too.  The top is wider on this vase than on my other crystal vase so I think they tend to fill out a little faster.

Here is another shot of the other crystal vase,,,

Tulips in the Kitchen for Spring - Tulip Decorating Ideas

As you can see by last year's spring counter setting, my spring decor hasn't changed much!  Either way, I never get tired of tulips in the spring!

What flowers do you like to buy
 in the spring?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

Ways to Decorate with Tulips for Spring

Joining these parties:
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
From Gardners to Bergers - The Handmade Hangout
Craftberry Bush - Inspiration Gallery
Two Chicks and a Mom - Funtastic Friday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
The SITS Girls - Saturday Sharefest
DIY Showoff - That DIY Party
Finding Silver Pennies - Silver Pennies Sunday
Marilyn's Treats - Over the Moon Party
Little Farmstead - Sundays at Home
Dwellings - Amaze Me Monday
Domestically Speaking - Inspire Me Monday
Coastal Charm - Show and Share
Cedar Hill Farmhouse - The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life - Inspire Me Tuesday
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday
DIY by Design - Swing into Spring
Love My Simple Home - Talk of the Town
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Seeking Lavender Lane - The Creative Circle
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday


March 26, 2017

Help Me Plan My Trip to Martha's Vineyard!

We just returned from our last ski trip of the season in Vermont.  So bittersweet.  Even though I love spring and warmer weather, I am sad to know we won't be spending many weekends up north for awhile.  The ski conditions were fabulous this year and the boys are becoming amazing skiers.  My 13 year old can out-ski us all now and is enjoying every minute of it.  He truly loves the sport!

While I unpack the winter clothes one last time, I am beginning to think about my girls weekend scheduled for May.  A group of us are heading to Martha's Vineyard, Massachusetts and I cannot wait!  I have never been there but I seemed to have taken over the trip surprise there.

Edgartown Lighthouse - Martha's Vineyard

So far, we know we are staying at the Harbor View Hotel in Edgartown but that's all we have planned.  I have been reading up on restaurants and things to do but I would love to hear from those of you who have been to Martha's Vineyard.

What are your favorite restaurants?

What are the must see/must do activities?

Any other tips or suggestions are appreciated!

If you missed my post, Girl Getaways of My Past and Future, you can pop over there to see where we have taken trips in the past.  In that post, I also asked for help with the Martha's Vineyard planning but I figured I would dedicate a whole post to it now.  Thank you to everyone who gave advice there.  I am taking tons of notes!

Thanks for your help!
I can't wait to hear what advice you have to give!
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!

March 18, 2017

Reading, Shopping and Catching Up On Life

It's been a crazy busy couple of weeks around here.  Seriously, where does the time go?  I just wrapped up co-chairing an annual event at my son's school.  This was my 4th and final year so it felt a little bittersweet.  Next year is middle school, which doesn't have as many opportunities for parents to get involved.  Why do they have to grow up so fast?

Even though we just had a snowstorm this week, I am getting in the mood to start decorating for spring!  Now that St. Patrick's Day is over, I feel comfortable bringing out the bunnies for Easter!

Bunny decor on stove mantel
So far, I have only brought out a few things like this cute bunny from last year.  I believe I purchased it at Homegoods.  I am not sure if I will add anything more to the mantel over my stove but for now, this is how it looks.  I like the way he stands out against the white.

Please note this post contains affiliate links, which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking my links (at no additional cost to you!)

Speaking of white, am I the last person to try this?
Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder
Charcoal Teeth Whitening Powder

Apparently, it's all the rage.  One of the mom's I have been working with on the school project came over the other morning.  I noticed how white her teeth looked and she told me this is what she has been using.  She only used it a couple times and her teeth already look amazing.  The next day, she brought it over and I took a picture of it so I would remember which one she ordered.  Needless to say, I just ordered it from Amazon and plan to start using it the second it arrives.  I drink tea all the time so my teeth could use some whitening.  I will keep you posted with how it works!  Have you tried it yet?

Now that I am finished with the school event, I can get back to my reading...
Slightly South of Simple - the latest novel by Kristy Woodson Harvey

The darling, Kristy Woodson Harvey from the blog, Design Chic was kind enough to send me an advanced copy of her latest novel,  Slightly South of Simple and I am loving it so far!  The book is due to be released April 25, 2017 but you can pre-order now!  It's a good time to start planning your summer reading list!

I adored her first two novels, Dear Carolina and Lies and Other Acts of Love so I have high expectations for this one.  Feel free to read my review on the latter - Book Review - Lies and Other Acts of Love.  I just love her writing style and can never seem to get enough southern fiction!

Speaking of southern novels, for the past several months, I have been engrossed in this classic...
Gone with the Wind - THE classic southern novel
Gone with the Wind

Wow, how did I go through life without reading that one?  There is no question why this is considered "The Great American Novel".  It took me a few months of bedtime reading to finish but I looked forward to my nightly installments.  Needless to say I will be watching the movie in the near future.  I have to check to see what is available on DVR but I might just order the Gone with the Wind DVD to have it as part of my collection.  

Ironically, I decided to read, Gone with the Wind because of another book I fell in love with...

Starts Over Sunset Boulevard - Historical Fiction about the filming of Gone with the Wind

Susan Meissner does historical fiction like no other!  In this one, she takes us back to Hollywood's Golden Age and to the friendship that developed around the filming of Gone with the Wind.  LOVED it!  After finishing her novel, it only made sense to read Gone with the Wind next!

It's interesting how one thing will lead you to another.  That's why I guess it's always a good idea to keep an open mind and pay attention where clues take you!

And I really need an open mind to benefit from this other book that I am also reading right now.  (Yes, I frequently read a couple books simultaneously.  I am always reading something non-fiction)...

Healing Back Pain by John Sarno - the guy Howard Stern recommends
Healing Back Pain: The Mind Body Connection

The reason I picked up this book is because I have been dealing with a neck problem for the past few months.  I have gone for an MRI, have been doing physical therapy which includes stretching, yoga, massage, ultrasound and dry needling.  I have also started taking supplements that supposedly help with inflammation, joint and arthritis problems.  So far, I haven't shown much improvement.  It is extremely frustrating and I just don't know what to do next.  

My husband remembered Howard Stern discussing how Dr. John Sarno healed his back pain.  My husband suggested that I might want to try reading one of Dr. Sarno's books.  Hey, I will do anything at this point.  If you told me my neck would be cured if I ate a whole jar of mayonnaise, I would do that...and if you know how much I hate mayonnaise, you would understand...

Anyway, I am about halfway through reading this book and I am trying to be optimistic so we will see.  If you have any suggestions for neck pain, please let me know.  Just don't mention surgery because I am a big baby and not ready to go there yet.  I will eat the jar of icky mayonnaise first...

I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend.  You know, Monday at 6:28 a.m. it becomes spring!  I am so excited!  Now, if only all this snow would melt!
Snow in March

What have you been up to lately?
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March 5, 2017

White Chocolate Silk Pie (aka Ski Bum Pie)

It's always a pleasant surprise when a recipe comes out even better than you had imagined...

White Chocolate Silk Pie Recipe with a funny story to go with it!

Since some of you have mentioned you find my husband's stories amusing, I thought I would share another one with you.  This time, it involves a pie recipe...

Let me start by saying that this guy is not the easiest person to buy gifts for.  He really doesn't ask for much so every Christmas and birthday I am searching like a lunatic to come up with something creative.  This past birthday, he only requested one thing...

He wanted me to create a white chocolate version of his family's chocolate silk pie recipe.

Easy enough, right?  Well, he wanted it to be very specific.  In fact, one night while we were out to dinner in Vermont, he decided to draw his instructions on a napkin for me...

Pie Planning

In place of the chocolate mousse, he wanted a white chocolate mousse.  (He called it mousse but the family recipe is more of a custard).  He also wanted only half of the pie crust to be Oreo and the other half to be a vanilla wafer pie crust.  Since this was the only gift he actually asked for, I really had to attempt his idea.

I texted my niece the drawing and she sent me her recipe with suggestions to use for his revisions.  We decided to use Vienna Fingers cookies instead of the Vanilla Wafers because we thought the whole thing might end up being too sweet.

Here is the recipe we used:

For the Crust:
8 Oreo Cookies, broken into rough pieces
8 Vienna Fingers Cookies, broken into rough pieces
4 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled

For the Filling:
2 1/2 cups of half and half
1/3 cup of sugar
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
2 Tablespoons cornstarch
6 Tablespoons unsalted butter cut into 6 pieces
7 ounces white chocolate, chopped fine
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For the Topping:
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
2 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

Instructions for Crust:
Adjust oven rack to the middle position and pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Pulse the Oreo cookies in a food processor until ground coarsely.  Sprinkle 2 Tablespoons of the melted butter over the crumbs and pulse again to mix together (about 5 pulses).  Repeat using the Vienna Fingers.  Please note that you are using the whole cookie for these mixtures, not just the outside cookie part.  That's why it's important to use regular Oreos and not Double or Triple Stuff types where the filling would be too much.

Sprinkle the two mixtures evenly into a 9 inch pie dish.  Using the bottom of a measuring cup, press the crumbs into an even layer on bottom and sides of the dish.  Bake 10-15 minutes until set. Transfer the pie dish to a wire rack and cool completely.

Pie Crust using Oreo Cookies - White Chocolate Silk Pie (with a twist)

Instructions for Filling:
Bring half and half, 3 Tablespoons of sugar, and salt to simmer in a medium saucepan, stirring occasionally.

As half and half mixture begins to simmer, whisk the egg yolks, cornstarch, and remaining sugar together in a medium bowl until smooth.  Slowly whisk 1 cup of the simmering half and half mixture into the yolk mixture to temper, then slowly whisk the tempered yolk mixture back into the remaining half and half mixture.  Reduce the heat to medium and cook, while whisking, until the mixture is thickened and bubbly on the surface.  (about 30 seconds).  Remove from heat, whisk in butter and white chocolate until completely smooth and melted.  Then stir in vanilla.

Pour the warm filling into the cooled pie crust.  Lay a sheet of plastic wrap directly on top of the filling and refrigerate the pie until the filling is chilled and set.  (About 4 hours).

Instructions for Topping:
Once the pie is chilled, use a mixer to whip the cream, sugar and vanilla on medium-low speed until foamy.  Increase speed until soft peaks form.  (2-3 minutes).  Spread the whipped cream over the pie and serve.

White Chocolate Silk Pie

It only made sense to call the pie, "Ski Bum Pie"!  After all, it is white and was created on a ski trip to Vermont!

The pie ended up being a huge hit at the family birthday dinner for my husband.  I think everyone wanted to try it so they could compare it to the original version.  They may have even loved it more!  I am a chocolate person and even I thought the white chocolate version was amazing!  All I know, is that we didn't have a crumb left over and we may or may not have licked the pie dish!

*If you want to try the original version, just make the whole crust with Oreos and substitute the white chocolate for 6 ounces of semisweet chocolate and 1 ounce of bittersweet chocolate.  By the way, I just discovered that March 6th is National Oreo Cookie Day!  Too funny - they have a day for EVERYTHING, don't they?

If your husband is also difficult to shop for, you could always try getting creative with a recipe!  Or you might want to try doing something like I did for his Christmas presents last year...Getting Creative with the Husband Gifts.  This idea could work for birthdays too!  

Have you revised any family recipes?
Did you know March 6th is 
National Oreo Cookie Day?

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

Joining these parties:
Domestically Speaking - Inspire Me Monday
Homestories A to Z - Tutorials and Tips
Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
Ducks n a Row - Wonderful Wednesday
The Essence of Home - Share Your Style
Ducks n a Row - Recipe Sharing Party
The SITS Girls - Recipe and DIY Linky
Rattlebridge Farm - Foodie Friday and Everything Else
French Country Cottage - Feathered Nest Friday
Chic on a Shoestring - Flaunt it Friday
Pieced Pastimes - Saturday Sparks
Sweet Pea - Best of the Weekend
DIY Show Off - DIY Party Time
Two Chicks and a Mom - Snickerdoodle Sunday
Finding Silver Pennies - Silver Pennies Sunday
Inspiration for Moms - Inspiration Monday
Little Miss Dexterous - Meet Up Monday
Life and Linda - Dishing It and Digging It Party
Celebrating Everyday Life - Sundays at Home
Modern Pilgrim - Moonlight and Mason Jars
Imparting Grace - Grace at Home
The Chronicles of Home - The Inspiration Party


March 2, 2017

Take Me Away Link Party - March 2017

With all this crazy weather we've been having, I don't know if I should wear boots or a pair of flip flops!  Well, since I am dreaming of the beach, I think I will choose flip I did just get a pedicure...
Welcome to the March Take Me Away Link Party!  

Once again, we had some wonderful travel posts last month.  Thank you to everyone who linked up.   If you missed the highlights, be sure to stop by and read the Take Me Away - February Recap.

Let's get started with this month's party!
  • Please link up to 3 travel post 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!


March 1, 2017

Happiness at the Uptown Acorn

Happy March 1st everyone!  March is definitely coming "in like a lion" here in New Jersey!  In fact, a thunderstorm is rolling in at this very moment.  Let's hope this means the month will "go out like a lamb"!

Enough about the I am talking about happy things over at the The Uptown Acorn.  I would love for you to stop over and read about What Makes Me Happy in Ron's fabulous new series!  I am a longtime reader of Ron's blog and if you aren't already following him, be sure to browse through his lovely blog.  His gorgeous New Orleans home is always decorated to perfection and he knows how to entertain like no other!  Enjoy!

What makes you happy?
I would love for you follow along so you don't miss a post!
Uptown Acorn

See you over there!

Thanks again, Ron!

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