Friday, July 10, 2020

The Best Pool Time Accessories for the Whole Family

This post was sponsored by SwimWays as part of an Influencer Activation for Influence Central and all opinions expressed in my post are my own.

Owning a pool is new to us this year, but having fun poolside all Summer isn't. The South is H-O-T HOT from Spring until Fall, and long ago I found that the key for all of us surviving those humidity filled scorchers is cooling off in a pool.

I was nervous as a new pool owner that we would feel overwhelmed with the maintenance or feel out of our element. I admit it does feel a little weird just walking out the back door and not carrying a large armload of stuff, a wagon packed with pool toys, and enough snacks to feed the entire neighborhood. But now a few months in all my worries were for nothing. It might actually be the easiest thing of 2020 so far.

I have a great list of pool must-haves (stay tuned!), but before I go on about my favorite sunscreen or the item that keeps my pool deck clean the most, there is one pool time accessory that stands above the rest. The whole family enjoys it. Any friends that come over enjoy it. There's even a good chance our dog even has enjoyed it a time or two. And it can be used in the lake, at the beach or even in your bathtub if it's big enough.

This magical, universal pool accessory is...a SwimWays pool float!

Okay before you laugh at my dramatics - it's true! When I was sitting down to write out a list of my "pool must-haves" for you (stay tuned), I realized there was one pool time accessory that everyone loves, the kids fight over the most, and we take with us even on vacation.

We're long time SwimWays fans, and think they are leaders when it comes to both swim safety and swim fun. As babies we let our kids splash in the Baby Spring Float and now they are a little older (insert big ugly mom tears) they are having a blast playing with the wide variety of fun floats offered by SwimWays. They are designed by water lovers, for water lovers and it's obvious when you come to our pool they help take the fun to the next level.

They don't look like they are having any fun at all, right?

Our love for the Original Spring Float goes way back. For years it is the float that we make sure to always bring with us. It's easy to pack, easy to set up, and is the ultimate game changer when it comes to floating in the water comfortably.

One of my biggest pet peeves about a float is that "stuck to it" feeling you get as your body leaves the rubber of some floats. The Original Spring Float is made of durable fabric and a soft cooling mesh bed that allows you to float in the water. No awful suction noise as you move on it (winning!), it's nice and cool since you can actually be in the water, and it has a soft pillow to rest your head back. In the off chance we get to actually close our eyes and relax on the water - it's like floating on heaven!

It's also the first float the kids steal from us.

They love lounging on it too. And playing on it. Making it a pretend pirate ship, a mermaid rock, a frog lilly pad, or their personal favorite - playing "mommy".

What can I say? Good moms set a good example. And that includes not bringing weak float game to the pool party.

In an effort to save my favorite pool floats for myself and my mom squad, I gave the kids these fun Papasan Floats and this Huggables Panda.

The Papasan Float is similar in make to the Original Spring Float. It has that same outer fabric and mesh center - just in a circular papasan style shape. We love packing it on the boat for the lake. It packs so small that it's easy to just throw in a pool bag or bring along for any water adventures. It's also super comfortable for adults and kids alike to enjoy.

These also last forever. Like we have a few that we've brought to the beach, the lake, and many a pool season and years later they are still going strong. The fabric has held up remarkably well for the amount of use and abuse it receives each season. Well worth the minimal investment just knowing I'm not buying new floats every single year.

The Huggables Panda is just plain FUN. In addition to the Panda, the SwimWays Huggables line has a Bear and a Sloth. If you polled any kids who are swimming in my pool currently what their favorite float would be - this is it. So much so that I had to go back and purchase back ups. We even brought it to the beach with us a few weeks ago.

I have yet to be given the opportunity to ride on it, but I love that it has a cup holder and looks super comfortable. It's the perfect size that the kids think it's "huge", but really it is just a fun slightly oversized huggable panda bear ready for fun.

And fun it has.

SwimWays and their pool floats will always be synonymous with pool time fun for us, and I promise they are the ultimate water time accessory to have on hand no matter where you plan on floating this Summer.

You can purchase SwimWays floats from Amazon, Target or Walmart. To learn more and see all their amazing float options you can visit Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter

Happy Floating! 

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Tuesday, July 7, 2020

Best Beach Reads of 2020

This year isn't panning out to be anything close that resembles normal. And this Summer... Well, let's just say aside from the Southern heat and humidity, Summer this year is a little different. We're putting out all of the positive vibes that we can in hopes that the back half of 2020 will put us all back on an upswing. 

I mean, where else does it have to go at this point?! 

Our fingers all double and triple crossed. 

Behind a pair of gloves and a mask obviously. 

And while not all of us get to enjoy a summer full of poolside fun and beachside bliss, that doesn't mean we can't escape for a few hours and pretend. 

One of our favorite posts to do each year is our annual "Best Books of Summer" list. This year we had so much fun gathering together what we think is the list of all beach read lists. A list so good you won't even realize that that crunchy feeling between your freshly done home pedicure isn't from the white sands of a tropical beach, but the remnants of crunched of Goldfish as you hide with a glass of Rosé in your pantry because #pandemicsummer. 

With a little bit of suspense, a dash of thriller, a dip into the past, enough drama to make you miss your own family even more, and a whole lot of heat - our Best Books of Summer list has a little something for everyone to escape into. 

Feels Like Falling by Kristi Woodson Harvey
Longtime readers know we are huge fans of Kristi Woodson Harvey's novels. They are the perfect summertime reads, and we couldn't wait to snag our own copy of her latest book Feels Like Falling. The story follows entrepreneur Gray Howard as she tries to re-focus her life beachside amidst a messy divorce, her mother dying of cancer, and losing her sister to a cult. Jam packed with family drama, juicy romance, and a cast of lovable characters - Feels Like Falling will definitely be your favorite pool side accessory this Summer.

Hello, Summer by Mary Kay Andrews
Mary Kay Andrews is the queen of the beach read, and for 2020 she pulls out all the stops when presenting us with her latest Hello, Summer. Acclaimed reporter Conley Hawkins heads back to her small seaside hometown to regroup after uprooting her life for a job that doesn't quite pan out. Thinking she will be bored and broke revisiting her past, she quickly learns that her time spent in Silver Bay will be anything but. Political drama, a mysterious death, and old turned new romance... just go ahead and "add to cart" and enjoy!

Sex & Vanity by Kevin Kwan
Remember the fun that was the Crazy Rich Asian series? Well Kwan is back with a new novel! Sex & Vanity follows Lucie Churchilll who is torn between falling for the man of her dreams or the man of her family's dreams.  We are already looking forward to reading about the over the top luxuries and next-level family drama this cast of characters is going to bring.

The Guest List by Lucy Foley
Already topping the reading charts, and named part of Reese Witherspoon's Book Club picks (so you know it's going to be a good one!) - The Guest List is on our must-read list for the Summer. A magazine worthy destination wedding in Ireland quickly turns into the talk of the wedding season when one of the guests turns up. Dead.

The Heir Affair by Heather Cocks & Jessica Morgan 
The long anticipated follow up to The Royal We is finally here! While the British royal family serves up enough of their own drama, you can get an additional royal fix with this juicy sequel. Bex and Prince Nicholas are back after their elopement and the Queen, press, and people are letting them know they are not happy. We can't wait to see if one of our favorite royal couples survives in The Heir Affair.

Beach Read by Emily Henry
How can a book titled "Beach Read" not be added to the list? This quirky rom-com is just what we all need to escape this Summer. Two authors with writers block head to the beach for the summer to get inspired. Once these neighbors discover each other they formulate a plan that will allow them to both get what they are looking for - and maybe a happy ending of their own.

Big Summer by Jennifer Weiner 
We always enjoy Jennifer Weiner's novels, so when a new one releases we get our tissue boxes ready and dig in. (Mascara disclaimer: tissues are for both tears of laughter and tears of emotions. Weiner knows how to bring it all.) Big Summer promises to be a tale of friendship, family, a big wedding, life in the social media spotlight, and a message about what matters most.

Party of Two by Jasmine Guillory
Jasmine Guillory's Wedding Date series is just plain fun. These light and easy romances make for the perfect beach reads, and Party of Two is the newest addition in the series. Olivia has eyes only for her newly established law firm. That is, until she runs into Max - the hotshot senator whose charm is tough to resist. Because of Max's job they try to keep the romance quiet, but soon the secret is out.

28 Summers by Elin Hilderbrand
This wouldn't be a "beach read" list if it didn't include at least one Elin Hilderbrand novel. We always look forward to her new releases year round, but particularly look forward to her summers on Nantucket. We've heard a lot of hype surrounding her latest, and already can't wait to throw 28 Summers in our beach bags! A juicy deathbed secret emerges, and two families lives are forever changed.

The Lies That Bind by Emily Griffin
What happens when you find the perfect person, but then they disappear without a trace? The Lies That Bind follows Cecily as she newly enters NYC as a heartbroken reporter. Contemplating life and feeling homesick, she stumbles into a relationship with seemingly the perfect rebound. Except he's leaving for a job overseas. The moment comes to say goodbye, and they just can't. Decisions are made and then 9/11 occurs. Dream man disappears without a trace.  Until he appears on a missing persons poster, and Cecily realizes she isn't the only one looking for him. We already can't wait to dig into this one!

The Girl From Widow Hills by Megan Miranda
Okay psychological thriller lovers - this one's for you! Arden is famous, but not in the good kind of way. As a child she disappeared during a sleepwalking episode in the middle of a rainstorm. For days she was missing, and quickly became a media sensation as neighbors and family searched for her. As an adult Arden wants no part of being in the spotlight, and now goes by the name of Olivia. Her wish is fulfilled until she wakes up from sleepwalking again, but this time she's not alone. This time she's next to a dead man. One she knows. But why?  We'll prepare now for the loss of sleep.

Two Lives of Lydia Bird by Josie Silver 
If you could go back and redo or relive certain events in your life, would you? Two Lives of Lydia Bird is a unique tale of love lost and getting a second chance. Lydia's longtime boyfriend dies in a car crash on her birthday. With the help of loved ones she finds her way out of the all consuming grief and towards a new special someone. But then she's given the chance to go back and revisit those months before the tragic loss of her boyfriend. Intrigued? So are we!

Girls of Summer by Nancy Thayer 
Thayer is one of those go-to's when you want something good in your beach bag. Girls of Summer promises to be the heartfelt family drama/romance we all need. Set in Nantucket, a single mom and her two adult children all find that both love and a storm is brewing on the island that they call home. 

Her Last Flight by Beatriz Williams 
We fell in love with Beatriz Williams when we were introduced to A Hundred Summers years ago. Each book makes us fall in love with her more. The queen of historical fiction is back with another Summer must-read. Her Last Flight follows Janey, a photographer and WWII correspondent, as she searches for what happened in the mysterious disappearance of pilot Sam Mallory.  The book promises to be full of suspense, rich detail, and some of that infamous Williams' plot twisting.

Have a great beach read suggestion? What should we add to our list?

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Monday, June 29, 2020

DIY American Flag Pallet {Tutorial}

We recently put in a fence and when all of the supplies were delivered to our house the concrete for the fence posts came on a pallet. The Mr. had the idea to turn that pallet into an American flag and I loved the idea!  I looked up a few different tutorials online and ended up with a game plan.  I love the way it turned out and happy that I finished it just in time for the 4th of July!

As promised on Instagram stories, I thought I would share a tutorial in case anyone else has access to a pallet and looking for a project!

The first step was to prep the pallet.  Our slats were spaced apart, but I decided that I liked the look of them being closer together. I started to take them off and it was taking me forever so the Mr. took over this part of the project and worked much faster than I did.  He took them off of both sides and then nailed them all onto one side closer together.

At this point I sanded it down a bit, but left it pretty rough because I liked the rustic feel of it and didn't want it to be too perfect. Next the kids and I spray painted the entire pallet white and when it dried I used painters tape to tape off where I wanted the stripes.  This obviously doesn't have the correct number of stripes as the real flag, but I wanted to use each slat as a stripe to make it easier to paint. I just made sure there was a red one on the top and at the very bottom.   

Up first were the red stripes! 

Next I adjusted the tape a bit so I could paint the blue part and left the tape on what would be the white stripes so it didn't overspray too much.

Finally I was ready for the stars. I debated several ways to do this, but ultimately ended up making my own stencil.  It was easy to do using any word processing program.  You simply open a new document, go to Insert, then Shape, and finally Star. 

I just copied and pasted the stars until I got them arranged in the pattern I wanted and printed it out. Then I used a straight edge razor and a ruler on a cutting board to cut out each star. It took forever, but was so worth it in the end! 

I taped the stencil down and used white acrylic paint with a sponge paint brush. 

I ended up having to move my stencil around after each section dried several times to get all 50 stars because I was worried about the paint smudging. I could have avoided this and painted them all at once, but that would have meant cutting out more stars.

Originally, I was going to put the flag on our screened porch, but ended up putting it down on our patio because I have so many other red, white, and blue things down there right now for summer. 

To hang it we screwed a wire picture hanger in the back. 

Then the Mr. found a stud, added a screw, and hung it for me! 

I just love the way it looks down there and I feel like it finishes off the space perfectly!  

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Friday, June 26, 2020

Friday Favorites

Happy Friday!!!  I hope you have all had a great week. It was a pretty quiet week around here for us. Just baseball, cheer, soccer, and enjoying the lazy days for summer. It's been a while since I've done a random Friday Favorites post so I decided it was time for one today. 

Hydrangeas are some of my favorite flowers and I have wanted to plant some in my yard forever, but just never got around to it.  I've also wanted to get some planters on either side of my front door forever, but just never got around to it.  Notice a trend?  Well, back in May when we were still pretty much stuck at home and tackling just about every home project we could to fill the time I did both!  I got THESE planters and decided to put hydrangeas in them.  

My plan is to move the hydrangeas into the yard after the fall, but for now I'm enjoying watching the blooms go from tiny and barely there to full and beautiful!  This is my very first bloom and I love it!  

I shared about this on stories a few weeks ago, but we recently put in a fence at our house. It was another one of those quarantine home project ideas that came to life.  The Mr. decided that the kids were going to paint it as their summer job and while they are smiling in this picture, they pretty much have complained the ENTIRE time.

All 5 of us have been working to get it finished and it is almost done! I just love the way it frames the property and I feel like it was well worth the money. This is my favorite view as a drive up to my house each day.

My next favorite is this birthday girl!!!  I can hardly believe that my oldest is a teenager! I don't quite feel like I'm old enough to have a teenager, but I guess that is me living in denial because she turned 13 last week. 

We had so much fun celebrating her birthday at one of our favorite spots, Board & Brush!

She invited some friends and they all made different personalized signs. It was the perfect party for her age group and all of the girls had a blast!

My next favorite is Jen's new back yard!!!  If you missed Monday's post, be sure to click HERE and check it out. We both shared our summer outdoors spaces and her pool is by far one of mine and my kids' very favorites.  A few weeks ago we had a pool day and the kids swam off and on for probably 6 hours. It was the BEST day and made me just stop and think how awesome summer is!  

My last favorite for the week is baseball.  We weren't sure if it was going to happen this summer or not, but allstar baseball is back in full swing and we're loving it. 

It's hot each weekend and multiple games make for long days, but cheering for our little guy is a family affair and we wouldn't have it any other way.  

Speaking of baseball, my favorite baseball tank that I share about all the time is available HERE. With MLB announcing this week that they are coming back it is the perfect time to stock up on all the cute baseball things!  

baseball tank // shorts // Birkenstocks  // earrings (come in a ton of colors and on sale!)

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