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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Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Amazon Lately: June

Over the weekend we celebrated Father's Day with a cookout at our house and my father-in-law and I were chatting about our love of Amazon.  We gave him an Amazon gift card for Father's Day because I knew he could pick out anything he wanted and he was saying how he got a package the day before, was expecting one that day, and another one would be arriving on Monday. That is the best part about Amazon. I order, it shows up in just a day or two, and it saves me running out to the store every time I need something. 

Y'all loved my last Amazon Lately post so thought I would share another one this month!  My oldest celebrated her birthday last week, so a lot of the purchases were gifts for her, gifts for Father's Day and also some other random things thrown in the mix, too. 

1. Wave Ring - This was a  gift for my daughter.  It is a dupe for the very popular name brand with a similar style, but at much lower price point!  

2. AirPod Case - The kids and I got the Mr. AirPods as part of his Father's Day gift so I ordered this leather case for him to go along with it. 

3. Fly Ball Thrower - My son plays baseball and being able to track fly balls is something all the kids are constantly needing to work on.  He wanted to get this for the Mr. for Father's Day!  It's very similar to the one people use to toss tennis balls for dogs which makes me laugh, but this one fits baseballs and actually tosses the balls really far!  They've had a lot of fun practicing with it.  

4. Coop Pillow - For Mother's Day I got new pillows for our bed and after reading a lot of reviews we ended up with the Coop.  We got two standard pillows and two body pillows. They are made of shredded memory foam and are AMAZING!  It comes with extra "fluff" so you can add or take it out to adjust the pillows to your liking.  Well, it comes already pretty stuffed so we ended up wanting to take some of the stuffing out of all four of the pillows we got which meant we had a ton of extra stuffing and that leads me to #5! 

5. Zippered Pillow Cases - Because we had so much extra stuffing I bought zippered pillow cases to be able to put that fluff to good use.  I filled 5 other standard pillow cases with the extra shredded memory foam and now the kids all have some amazingly comfortable pillows to sleep with on their beds, too! Coop would probably not want me advertising this, but if you do end up buying some of their pillows you can make some extras of your own, too! 

6. Star Pajamas - These pajamas are super soft and super cute! They were a birthday gift for my daughter, but I might end up with a pair for myself, too.  They come in a bunch of different colors and prints. 

7. Outdoor String Lights - After seeing a friend's patio with outdoor lights I decided I would love some on our screened porch and these had SO many great reviews.  I still haven't gotten around to hanging them up, but it is on my to-do list for this week! 

8. Essential Oils - Another birthday gift for my daughter. She is obsessed with all things that smell good!  She's been known to go through an entire bottle of body mist just spraying it around her room so for her birthday I decided to get her some of these. Also see #11.

9. Ball Park Mystery Books - I've shared these before, but my son LOVES this series of books. He started reading them in March when schools closed and I'm making him read for 20 minutes a day this summer so he flew threw a ton of the books!  I ordered 5 more in the series for him. If you have a sports loving kid, I definitely recommend these books! 

10. Shea Sugar Scrub - This stuff smells great and is perfect for exfoliating dry skin while moisturizing at the same time! 

11. LED Essential Oil Diffuser - This goes with #8!  This diffuser works great and she loves the remote control and the fact that she can pick from a lot of different LED colors.  I actually just ordered a second one of these for my middle blondie to have in her room! 

12. Sugar Lip Scrub - Chapped and dry lips don't stand a chance against this lip scrub.  The Bubble Gum scent made it a perfect gift for my daughter. 

So there you have my orders from Amazon lately.  Click HERE to see the very last thing I ordered!

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Monday, June 22, 2020

Summer Outdoor Spaces Tour 2020

Hello and welcome to the Summer Outdoor Spaces Blog Hop hosted by AnnMarie & Anne from Simply2Moms! If you’re visiting from Michele at Vintage Home Designs, or if you just happened to stop by, we're so glad you’re here. We are Carrie Beth and Jen, a best friend blogging duo who share everything from fashion and food to travel and home decor!

When AnneMarie and Anne asked us if we wanted do share our outdoor spaces, we gave a resounding, "YES!". We loved joining in their Spring Home Decor Blog Hop, and outdoor spaces are our arguably our favorite parts of a home.

Living in the South, being outdoors is a way of life. We spend most of the year outside. Meals, entertaining, vacationing, and everything in between - outside is where you can find us nine months out of the year. Because of that our outdoor spaces tend to be extensions of our homes. Porches, decks, and yards are often more used living areas than most other rooms in our home.

For the hop today we thought we'd both share a peek at some of our favorite parts...


I've shared a ton about my house recently as part of my Home Sweet Home tour series, but one space I haven't highlighted yet is the outdoors! When we were building our home I knew I wanted to a screened porch and we have loved having this space. We watch football out here by the fire in the fall, but in the summer we spend a lot of evenings relaxing on this bed swing!

The patio under our screened porch and just off our basement is where we spend a lot of time with friends!

It overlooks where the kids play, so we can sit and relax while still keeping an eye on them! 

It's got a ton of seating, it's where we grill out, and because we use it a lot during the summer, I love adding red, white, and blue touches!

One of my favorite tips about decorating outdoor spaces is to not think of it as an outdoor space, but rather an extension of your home. Outdoor rugs, fun pillows, and other decor accessories can make it feel more complete and inviting. 


Last year when we were home shopping, the home we bought caught our attention because of it's gorgeous outdoor spaces. The home was okay, but the outdoor spaces? Ahhhh-mazing.

If you've been following along, you know that it has been a work in progress for the last few months. If you're new here - we have been renovating a home since the beginning of the year. As of a few weeks ago we are officially moved in, but still have a ways to go until we are finished with all of the work. However, we are finally able to see the light at the end of the renovation tunnel.

I'm not going to deny it, one of the major bonuses of the house was the spacious backyard - complete with a decadent pool. I was on the fence about moving, but picturing our little family swimming during our hot southern Summers, entertaining friends and family with tons of green space to enjoy, and the hours our kids could play in the surrounding acres of woods finally swayed me.

The previous owners of the home also owned a local pool design and landscape architecture company. And it shows. We can take no credit in the outdoor space other than the decor. They thought of every gorgeous detail.

Because this was one of the few spaces that we weren't touching in our renovations, I was able to get my hands on it pretty quickly to start decorating. This large ceramic planter was left behind from the previous owners, and after staring at it for six months it became my inspiration for the whole back yard. 

I mean, what Southern lady doesn't love her blues and whites? 

| Blue Ombré Planters | Outdoor Pillows | White Planter

The band of pool tile is made of glass in various shades of blue as well. So one of my first orders of business was incorporating all those colors that I could with our existing outdoor furniture pieces. This blue POLYWOOD adirondak set was bright purple before I got my hands on it (see the before photos and about the process here. )

I love how they turned out, and have no regrets about painting them. I love that I was able to find some fun blue ombré planters to match the large one left on the property, too! They are super inexpensive and help pull all the shades of blue together throughout the patio. 

The rest of the pool deck features lots of darker blues and whites, so I love that I gave these the aqua treatment to give it a brighter pop of color. 

The second set though...a glossy navy was the winner. 

| Striped Umbrella | Striped Pillows | White Planters | Lanterns

On most of the tables surrounding the pool I have these empty planters. Instead of using them for flowers, I use them for guests to place their cell phones, sunglasses, or sunscreen. I also have a citronella candle ready - because this is the South and the mosquitos here are like the size of small children and just as aggressive. I thought these blue tin ones were super cute. 

On our patio table sets you will find these mesh organizers from Target. At the beginning of the pool season I realized I wanted everything easy to grab whenever needed, but easy to store when we aren't swimming.  

These hold sunscreen, extra goggles, lighters for the candles, and some have a few blank spaces to be used for sunglasses and cell phones.

I'm a self proclaimed pillow addict, so you will find a ton of pillows throughout the loungers and seating as well. Some I had. Some I re-covered. And some I just flat out couldn't resist because it matched the color scheme. 

| Blue Dot Pillow | Blue Striped Pillow | Blue Ombré Planter | White Planter

There are tons of seating options around the pool deck. At first we were overwhelmed with the large space and how to furnish it, but then we realized we had a lot of furniture we could incorporate into the space from our old home (where we already had a lot of outdoor furniture). 

| Sectional Set (similar) | Throw Pillows & Planters

This little corner nook ended up being the perfect size for our patio sectional we purchased a few years ago. I mixed some new throw pillows in with some ones I had on hand, and it worked out perfectly. I'm a little nervous about how the cushions will hold up since it was previously in a covered space, but we will see how it does this season. 

If anyone has a great mildew protectant or mold cleaner for outdoor cushions they love - let me know! 

We've only been in the home a few weeks, but already this is where you can find us most of the day. Even though the house is in total chaos, it's been so nice to go out in the backyard and enjoy what feels like our own private resort. 

I'll share more of the backyard soon, and some of our other outdoor spaces as I finish them, but for now I hope you enjoyed this little peek into our home! 

Thanks for hanging out with us today! 

The Summer Outdoor Spaces Blog Hop continues with Jodi from Lyndale Drive. You can find links to all the inspiring outdoor spaces below!

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