Even though we’re not planning on selling for a few years, Nick and I want to start working on some of the things that need to be done before we can even think about putting our house on the market. There are some big ticket tasks, like a new roof and a fresh exterior paint job, and plenty of smaller ones, like this broken fence gate. In this photo it’s just propped into place (upside down!) to provide some privacy and deter trespassers. It was too heavy for me to move on my own and would often get knocked over by strong winds.

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We’ve been putting it off forever but we finally tackled fixing it this weekend. First we removed the old, rusty hardware.

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One of the reasons Nick had been dreading this task is that he thought he would have to hold the heavy gate in place while I attached the hinges, so he was pretty thrilled when I told him my plan to block it up with some scrap wood.

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These big hinges were about $5 each at Lowe’s. I had no idea what type was best suited to our circumstances so I just picked these.

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Luckily they were a cinch to install! We moved the location of the bottom hinge up a little so it would be better secured to the frame, and actually added a piece of scrap wood on the other side to reinforce it. I think the poor placement of that hinge might be what caused the old hardware to fail.

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With the hinges installed I added a new latch to the backside of the fence. Our neighborhood is not dangerous, but there are a fair amount of burglaries and so we prefer to keep our home on the secure side. We’ve never been robbed, knock on wood, though someone did try to kick in the back door once when we’d just moved in and didn’t have signs from the alarm company yet. A determined burglar could jump the fence or reach over to unlatch it, but this at least creates some resistance.

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And last but not least I installed a handle on the front. We actually didn’t think of this until after we’d fixed the gate, so I picked up the handle yesterday and installed it while Jack was napping. I shut the gate to see how it looked, then realized it had latched closed and the front door was locked. I had to drag a chair around from the front porch to reach over and unlatch the gate. This makes me wonder about how the guy who reads our electric meter will get back there, as well as the guy who mows our lawn. Perhaps I didn’t think this whole “backyard security” thing through. Do you think most men are tall enough to just reach over and unlatch it? It’s really amazing to me that in this day and age a person still comes out to literally look at my electric meter. He scared the crap out of me one time when I was in the backyard by myself. I could tell that he felt bad about it–he had actually called out to let me know he was there before I saw him, but I had my back to the gate and practically jumped right out of my chair when a strange man’s voice came from nowhere. Anyway, I digress. The handle makes it easier to pull the gate open when it’s unlatched.

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The other problem here is that the gate sticks big time. You have to really throw your shoulder into it to get it closed. Is there a magic way to fix that? A planer perhaps?

I picked up a graph paper spiral notebook recently and it rekindled my longstanding hobby of sketching plans for my future dream house.

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Pinterest is supplementing my fantasy nicely. Please let my future dream house have oak trees.

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BHG

My plans include not one, but two window seats.

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House Beautiful

And traditional meets modern built-ins similar to these.

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Michele Skinner

This is my dream tub. I love that I could slither down for a soak after washing my hair without having to contend with a wet shower curtain.

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The Colonial

And these floors! White hexagon and dot plus dark grout equals happiness.

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Life in Grace

Yep, this is what my future bedroom will be like.

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Cottage Living

I really want to have a detached carport or garage at the back of the house with a brick patio connecting the two.

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Bruce Clodfelter and Associates

Nick keeps laughing at me as I sketch away in my notebook and ask him ridiculous questions like, “Would you rather have a fireplace or a TV on our back porch?” But someday, y’all. Someday I will build this house.

Happy Thursday, my friends! What a fabulous midsummer week this has been. A little bit of work, a little bit of play, and a whole lot of happiness. Today’s post is a special shout out to the small businesses I’m proud to partner with.

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Sprigs Jewelry and Accessories has over 100 items to choose from and they are all adorable so you’re sure to find something that you or someone you know would love. She also has lots of options for customizing colors and finishes so if you don’t see exactly what you’re looking for just ask! The majority of her creations are earrings but this simple and elegant birthstone bracelet is actually my favorite.

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Anna Birthstone Bracelet

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Little Eli is the brainchild of friends Amelia and Meghan. Meghan makes jewelry, Amelia works with concrete, and together the two of them have some seriously covet-worthy creations, like their new line of concrete jewelry! They also have several pieces that would make great gifts for wedding season. They’re on a brief hiatus while they expand and move studios but you can still view some pretties in their Etsy shop.

Concrete Hexagon Pendant. Metallic Gold or Silver Finish. Gray or Black Concrete Jewelry. Necklace. Minimalist. Subtle. Cement. Gray.

Concrete Hexagon Pendant. Metallic Gold or Silver Finish. Gray or Black Concrete Jewelry. Necklace. Minimalist. Subtle. Cement. Gray.

Every month I like to feature a worthy nonprofit. I’m a big fan of Law and Order: SVU and was thrilled to learn that in 2004 actress Mariska Hargitay founded an organization in response to the letters she received from viewers telling of their own experiences with sexual assault, domestic violence, and child abuse. Today, Joyful Heart is a national organization with hubs of service in New York, Los Angeles and Honolulu. Their mission is to heal, educate and empower survivors and to shed light into the darkness that surrounds these issues. They carry out this mission in three ways: Healing & Wellness, Education & Awareness, and Policy & Advocacy. To find out more, visit their website at joyfulheartfoundation.org.

joyful heart logo

Have a great day, y’all!

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I started out this summer devouring several books in a row, but lately I’ve hit a bit of a dry spell. I’ve started a few books and just can’t get into any of them. So, what are your favorites that you’d suggest? I like to really be able to get to know the characters, bonus if there’s a romantic element. Here are some I’m considering:

The Secret Keeper: A Novel During a summer party at the family farm in the English countryside, sixteen-year-old Laurel Nicolson has escaped to her childhood tree house and is happily dreaming of the future. She spies a stranger coming up the long road to the farm and watches as her mother speaks to him. Before the afternoon is over, Laurel will witness a shocking crime. A crime that challenges everything she knows about her family and especially her mother, Dorothy—her vivacious, loving, nearly perfect mother. Now, fifty years later, Laurel is a successful and well-regarded actress living in London. The family is gathering at Greenacres farm for Dorothy’s ninetieth birthday. Realizing that this may be her last chance, Laurel searches for answers to the questions that still haunt her from that long-ago day, answers that can only be found in Dorothy’s past. Dorothy’s story takes the reader from pre–WWII England through the blitz, to the ’60s and beyond. It is the secret history of three strangers from vastly different worlds—Dorothy, Vivien, and Jimmy—who meet by chance in wartime London and whose lives are forever entwined. The Secret Keeper explores longings and dreams and the unexpected consequences they sometimes bring. It is an unforgettable story of lovers and friends, deception and passion that is told—in Morton’s signature style—against a backdrop of events that changed the world.

Margot: A Novel Anne Frank has long been a symbol of bravery and hope, but there were two sisters hidden in the annex, two young Jewish girls, one a cultural icon made famous by her published diary and the other, nearly forgotten. In the spring of 1959, The Diary of Anne Frank has just come to the silver screen to great acclaim, and a young woman named Margie Franklin is working in Philadelphia as a secretary at a Jewish law firm. On the surface she lives a quiet life, but Margie has a secret: a life she once lived, a past and a religion she has denied, and a family and a country she left behind. Margie Franklin is really Margot Frank, older sister of Anne, who did not die in Bergen-Belsen as reported, but who instead escaped the Nazis for America. But now, as her sister becomes a global icon, Margie’s carefully constructed American life begins to fall apart. A new relationship threatens to overtake the young love that sustained her during the war, and her past and present begin to collide. Margie is forced to come to terms with Margot, with the people she loved, and with a life swept up into the course of history.

The Secret Life of Bees When Lily’s fierce-hearted black “stand-in mother,” Rosaleen, insults three of the town’s most vicious racists, Lily decides they should both escape to Tiburon, South Carolina—a town that holds the secret to her mother’s past. There they are taken in by an eccentric trio of black beekeeping sisters who introduce Lily to a mesmerizing world of bees, honey, and the Black Madonna who presides over their household. This is a remarkable story about divine female power and the transforming power of love—a story that women will continue to share and pass on to their daughters for years to come.

The Invention of Wings Hetty “Handful” Grimke, an urban slave in early nineteenth century Charleston, yearns for life beyond the suffocating walls that enclose her within the wealthy Grimke household. The Grimke’s daughter, Sarah, has known from an early age she is meant to do something large in the world, but she is hemmed in by the limits imposed on women. Kidd’s sweeping novel is set in motion on Sarah’s eleventh birthday, when she is given ownership of ten year old Handful, who is to be her handmaid. We follow their remarkable journeys over the next thirty five years, as both strive for a life of their own, dramatically shaping each other’s destinies and forming a complex relationship marked by guilt, defiance, estrangement and the uneasy ways of love. As the stories build to a riveting climax, Handful will endure loss and sorrow, finding courage and a sense of self in the process. Sarah will experience crushed hopes, betrayal, unrequited love, and ostracism before leaving Charleston to find her place alongside her fearless younger sister, Angelina, as one of the early pioneers in the abolition and women’s rights movements. Inspired by the historical figure of Sarah Grimke, Kidd goes beyond the record to flesh out the rich interior lives of all of her characters, both real and invented, including Handful’s cunning mother, Charlotte, who courts danger in her search for something better. This exquisitely written novel is a triumph of storytelling that looks with unswerving eyes at a devastating wound in American history, through women whose struggles for liberation, empowerment, and expression will leave no reader unmoved.

I know the easy solution would be to download a free sample of each to my Kindle, but I wanted to ask your opinions, plus inquire as to whether there are any others I might like. So what say you?

(all book descriptions are from amazon)