August 17, 2017

The Dessert That Will Make You an Instant Hit With Party Guests!

Are you tired of just bringing a bottle of wine to every party?

If you are looking for something different to bring to the next party or even serve at your own party, look no further!  I recently discovered a fabulous dessert that is sure to be a huge hit!  I almost hesitate to share this because I feel like my secret is out now, but here we go...

All you need to do is take a trip to the pastry section at the grocery store to pick up my newest find...
Cannoli Chips and Dip

Cannoli Chips and Dip!

Let me tell you, whoever thought up this sweet treat is an absolute genius!  Now, I'm not sure if cannolis are really popular in your area, but here in the northeast, you can't go to an Italian restaurant or bakery without seeing them.  

Cannoli Chips and Dip - Easiest Dessert Ever!

I absolutely love cannolis but the problem with regular cannolis is that they can get soggy.  If they are pre-filled and sit in the refrigerator, the cream cheese filling soaks into the shell.  Not ideal.

You don't have that problem with these since the chips stay separate from the filling.  And the chips are delicious even on their own if you aren't a cream-cheese-filling-type-of-person.

Cannoli Chips and Dip for Parties

I tried these at a party for the first time a couple of months ago.  I am assuming they are a "new thing" because all the party guests were asking where they came from.  Since then, I have brought them to a few parties myself and got the same reaction from all the guests.  They are that good!

Great Idea to Bring to Your Next Party

They are also the perfect thing to serve at a party because they are easy to eat in front of people.  If you try to eat your typical cannoli at a party, you take one bite and cream cheese could come shooting out the end.  I can safely say, no one likes to be hit by flying cream cheese filling.

Cannoli Chips and Dip from Supermarket

This is how they come in the store.  This is a small size but I have bought the party sized trays for larger crowd.  These are for our family, and as you can see, I had already starting digging in when I got the idea to share them with you.  Needless to say, I had to pretty-them-up on a plate so you could see how I would serve them.

No Reason to Make Homemade! - Cannoli Chips and Dip

Well, I guess my secret is out now!

I hope you can find these delectable treats in your area so you can share them with friends (or hog them yourself!)  I bought mine at Wegman's but I have heard that Shop Rite carries them too.  You will have to check with your local store to see if they sell them.  And no, I wasn't compensated in any way to mention these chips or stores, etc.  I just wanted to share a great find with you!

Have you tried Cannoli Chips and Dip yet?
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My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday

August 15, 2017

Working on the Family Room - The Latest Purchases

Back in my earlier blogging days, I wouldn't have hesitated to show a room in process.  Now I feel like it's a crime if I don't show a finished "before and after" to inspire everyone!  Why is that?  Maybe it's just me...

This is more of an "in progress" post than a "before and after".  With the kids home all summer, I am lucky I have gotten anywhere where this space!  Anyway, my family room is slowly evolving.  Recently we bought a new sectional to replace the old one.
New Sectional Sofa - Room in Progress

This is the Pearce Sectional from Pottery Barn.  I wanted something lighter in here so I chose the Oatmeal colored velvet.  The velvet keeps my family happy because it's soft and comfy.  The color keeps me happy because now I feel like I have more pillow options!  And we all know, it's all about the pillows!
Blue and White Pillows and a new sectional
These are actually pillows I had around the house.  I brought them in here to play around with some options when the sectional was delivered.  I got the blue and white print covers at Pottery Barn last year for like $7.00 each on the clearance table.  I planned to use them in my bedroom but they just sat in the closet until I decided to try them in here.  I am sure they will move again.

This is the sectional we had before...
Family Room Before

It's funny, I really couldn't find many pictures of the sofa!  I guess I was planning on getting rid of it for awhile...Anyway, it held up really well for the 12 or so years we've had it.  In fact, it's in really great condition but I just wanted a new look for the room.  Ever since we remodeled our kitchen, I have felt like the sofa color was too dark.  I would have loved a nice light colored linen or even white but I had to be realistic with my family.  I know everyone raves about how great it is to just whip off a slipcover and throw it in the wash, I just don't see that happening around here!

And now that the new sectional is in place, I need to address two more important issues...
Family Room with New Sectional
My darling dog, Rosie will be devastated if I take away her chair.  It's the only furniture she is allowed on (except my kids' beds) and she lays on that chair all day!  I am either going to find another chair in a different fabric or have a slipcover made for that one.  The things we do for our pets...

And obviously, the rug has to be replaced.  The rug is an indoor outdoor one that used to sit under my kitchen table before the renovation.  We stuck it in here one day so the room wouldn't feel so bare (and so Rosie wouldn't slip when she jumped off her chair!).  As much as I love the look of a natural fiber rug, I want something softer in here.  This is where we hang out as a family and I want everyone to be comfortable.  I have already wrecked it for them by putting in a sofa that they can't eat on!

If you want to see where this room started, stop over to my last Latest Update to the Family Room.  At least that post might satisfy any need for more "before and after" photos!

What room are you working on these days?
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August 3, 2017

Take Me Away Link Party - August 2017

Welcome to the August - Take Me Away Travel Link Party!  It's so exciting to read all the inspiring trip reports...lots of places to add to the bucket list.  We can't wait to see what you link up this month!

Take Me Away Travel Link Party

Let's get started with the August 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 ads or giveaways (affiliate links are fine, though!)
  • 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 original source of the photo.
  • 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!

August 2, 2017

Take Me Away Recap - July 2017

And here we are in August already!  I always feel kind of sad when July ends.  To me, July is the middle of the summer, when there is still time to enjoy all the warm weather activities and no one is really thinking ahead to fall yet.  Then boom - August arrives and something just shifts.  Luckily, in New Jersey the kids don't go back to school until after Labor Day so we are going to try to make the most of what's left of summer!

And since we have flipped the calendar to August, it's almost time to share your latest travel posts!  The next Take Me Away Link Party starts tomorrow evening at 7:00 p.m. EST.  In the meantime, let's enjoy the fabulous trips you linked up last month!

Pam from Everyday Living took us on a tour of Oregon's scenic coast...

As you can tell by the title, she then continued on to Washington's Cascade Mountains!  What a beautiful area of the country!

Tanya from The Other Side of the Road did some traveling to New England this summer...

Join her on her first stop in the historic city of Boston!  She and her family covered all the important sights on this educational yet lighthearted family vacation.  Don't miss Boston Parts 2 and 3 as well!

But Boston wasn't the only place this jet-setting family visited on their New England vacation...

Follow along on their family trip to the coastal town of Kennebunkport and you will see why everyone raves about Maine.  So pretty!

They wrapped up their New England trip with a visit to Bar Harbor and Arcadia National Park...
New England - Bar Harbor

Such a gorgeous area!  Tanya said that was their favorite part of the trip...and you can tell by their smiling faces in all the pictures!  #familyvacationgoals!

Next we go farther south where Carole from the blog, From My Carolina Home takes us outside her home to reflect on the morning...

Grab a cup of coffee and imagine sitting on that porch taking in the morning views. I think if I had a porch like that, I would be out there all day!

But when you live in that beautiful of an area it's also nice to get out and explore!...
French Broad River Canoe Trip

Join Carole on her scenic canoe trip....a peaceful ride where she caught glimpses of wildlife and views of the Biltmore house in the distance.  What a nice day to remember!

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 
on this Friday, August 4th
for the next Take Me Away Link Party!


Looking forward to seeing you then!
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July 27, 2017

Did You Know Today is National New Jersey Day?

I had to laugh when I read that July 27th is now National New Jersey Day!  Apparently, each state will now be recognized in the order it joined the union.  Let's just celebrate everything...why not?!!

So, in honor of this *special day*, I collected a bunch of posts I have written over the years highlighting different areas of the state.  Those of you who have only been to Newark Airport and the surrounding areas might be surprised.  (Please click the link below each photo to take you to the full post.)  Enjoy!










Enjoy your day!
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July 25, 2017

Charleston on My Mind and Summer Happenings

I can't wait to read all the Haven Conference recaps from this past weekend in Atlanta.  Unfortunately, I had to miss the conference this year but you can read all about my experience as a "newbie" there last year - Haven Conference - A Newbie's Perspective.

And you can bet I will do everything in my power to attend next year!  While scanning Instagram this weekend, I came across a few posts announcing that next year's conference will be held in Charleston, SC!  I adore that city!  Ever since I traveled there on a girl's weekend a few years ago, I have been dying to go back.
Beautiful Charleston Home

I think I will plan to arrive a few days early to tour that lovely city again.  There is so much to do and see and each home is more beautiful than the next.  If you are planning a trip, be sure to check out my 3 Charleston posts for some helpful tips...

Speaking of girl's weekends...many years ago, one of my dearest friends and I traveled to the fabulous seaside town of Newport Rhode Island.
Marble House Newport Rhode Island

We have been talking about going back and hopefully we will make the trip up there sometime in August.  I guess I better get moving on that since July is flying by!

Adirondack Chairs at Castle Hill in Newport Rhode Island

Not only would we love to explore and enjoy the town but there is another attraction that we MUST add to our list.  I will give you a hint...

Beautiful by Mark D Sikes - My new favorite design book
Please note that this post contains some affiliate links which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links - (at no additional cost to you!)  Thanks for supporting my blog!

I have been devouring every page of this gorgeous book, Beautiful by Mark D. Sikes and I was thrilled to learn that Mark Sikes decorated the 2017 - Coastal Living Idea House in yes, you guessed it...Newport, Rhode Island!!!  The house is open for tours from now through September 4th so I HAVE TO find a way to get up there before it ends!  

Other than that, we have been staying close to home...just making trips back and forth to the Jersey Shore.
Jersey Shore Beach
We have had some beautiful beach days and warm water temperatures.  Though, some of the days have been scorching hot!  Luckily the ocean breezes have made it bearable!

Which is more than I can say for the days we are back home...

Wet Golden Retriever
Poor Rosie had to resort to sprinkler chasing to stay cool!  Actually, it's one of her favorite activities so we let her do it on those really hot days.  Of course, we pay later when our house smells like wet-dog!  Ugh!

How has your summer been going?
Any plans to visit the Coastal Living Idea House?

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

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Savvy Southern Style - Wow Us Wednesdays
My Life Abundant - Wonderful Wednesday

July 11, 2017

7 Ways to Update Your Deck for Entertaining

I recently made a few purchases for my deck and have been playing around with accessories.  This past weekend's sunny weather made it feel like the perfect time to take a few photos and share some ideas with you!

Please note that this post contains some affiliate links which means I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase after clicking on my links - (at no additional cost to you!)  Thanks for supporting my blog!

Here are 7 Ideas to Update Your Deck for Summer Entertaining:

Deck Decor for Entertaining

1. Power wash and re-stain as needed.  

Cedar Deck Before
Yes, you can see, our deck definitely needed it!  When building our deck many years ago, we thought it would be "nice" to go with a cedar deck.  Not the best idea for a deck that gets full sun - all day!  We have ours power washed and re-stained every other year, although, it probably needs it every year!

Cedar Deck After Staining
My little "dog model" insisted on showing how much she loves the new color!

2.  Make sure you have plenty of flowers or plants scattered around.

Summer Flowers
Even if you do nothing else, having some live flowers and plants around will make your outdoor space feel like summer!

Petunias in outdoor urn
I have been faking a green thumb for a few weeks now but I fear that my black thumb will emerge any day now.  Better enjoy these while I can!  This urn was a Homegoods purchase but I found this similar indoor-outdoor urn which is pretty and lightweight as well!  This urn would also look great!

Pink Petunias

3.  Have a few outdoor seating options.

Outdoor Lounge Seating
I recently bought this seating set at Home Depot.  It was super-inexpensive but we had to put it together - which was not a big deal (for my husband, that is).  It's made from powder coated steel which I heard can rust...probably why it was so inexpensive.  I am keeping my fingers crossed but so far, I am loving it!

4.  Anchor the seating area with an outdoor rug.

Navy and Tan outdoor rug
This outdoor rug just might be my favorite purchase all year!  It's surprisingly soft for an outdoor rug and I love the pattern and colors!

5.  Add a tray and some colorful accessories.

Outdoor accessories
You can't go wrong with a cute seagrass tray - just add some lemons and limes for color!  I bought the white woven bowl in Homegoods but this white ceramic basket is also adorable!

Outdoor tray for entertaining
We are ready for margaritas!  I have had those plastic margarita glasses forever but these colorful margarita glasses would be fun as well!

I couldn't decide which look I liked best for the tray so I also tried it with some glass bottles.
Blue Coastal Bottles and other accessories to decorate your deck for summer
I love the coastal vibe they give.  These are more Homegoods purchases but I found this blue bottle with netting which has the same look along with this lighter blue coastal bottle.

Blue coastal bottles on seagrass tray and other deck decor ideas
I think the blue goes with the rest of the deck decor!

6.  Add some shaded areas if you have full sun (like we do).

Cantilever Umbrella and lounge chairs
This 11 foot umbrella could be my 2nd favorite purchase this year!  Not bad for $299.00!  It's from Home Depot and is one of those cantilever umbrellas so it covers a large area.  This one is also lined with solar lights underneath and gives off a surprising amount of light at night!  If you want a similar look but don't want to spend that much, this 10 foot cantilever umbrella (without lights) looks nice!

The big umbrella provides a nice shaded spot to sip on some cool drinks...
Outdoor drinks

7.  Coordinate your table setting with the rest of the deck decor...

Outdoor Table Setting
I went with a coastal setting to pick up on the blues and also to go with the throw pillows.

Coastal Table Setting

Coastal Table Setting with shells
You can't go wrong with shells when decorating for summer!  

Summer Table setting on deck

Coastal Place Setting with Striped Napkins
For some reason, I couldn't find the rest of my striped napkins so I alternated striped napkins with some white ones.  I actually like both looks.

Coastal Table Setting with white napkins

Here is a view of the whole deck so you can see the layout.  
Summer Deck View
Speaking of "laying out", my fluffy photo-bomber loves getting some sun out here!

8. (Bonus Tip!)  This tip is totally optional, but it doesn't hurt to have a cute dog waiting to greet guests!  I mean, who wouldn't want to pet this little darling?!!

Lazy Golden Retriever on deck

Thanks for stopping by to see how I updated my deck for summer.
I hope I gave you some great ideas to use in your outdoor area!

If you are looking for more outdoor inspiration, 

Have you been entertaining outdoors this summer?
I'd love for you to follow along so you don't miss a post!


7 Ways to Update Your Deck for Entertaining


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