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.

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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)

Way back in April Nick’s parents gave us a pair of twin beds that their boys slept in when they were kids. I used gel stain to darken the wood and then had to wait a while until we could get a mattress and hardware.

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The stars aligned this weekend and Nick was able to bring a truck home from work on a weekend when we already had plans to visit his parents about an hour away. They had a twin mattress that wasn’t being used so we loaded it up. We decided to only set up one of the beds for now because Jack’s room is so small. Someday we may move him into the larger guest room and set both beds up then, but for now one bed is plenty. These beds have been in storage for a while and the accompanying hardware is nowhere to be found. I tried tracking down replacement hardware, but from what I understand there is no standard sizing for these sorts of fasteners and the company that made the beds has since gone out of business.

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I decided to just attach the rails with some sturdy brackets instead. Nick and I measured, marked, and drilled until brackets were attached to all four posts, then measured and pre-drilled holes in the rails before attaching them in place. I’m considering adding another small bracket on the top or side at each corner but they’re surprisingly sturdy as is.

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The bed came with a set of slats and what google tells me is called a “bunky board.” I love that it offers more support than slats alone without the bulk of a boxspring.

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I made up the bed with a set of basic white sheets and this blanket (in gray pickstitch). It’s so much softer and cozier than anything I saw in the kids’ section and I love the way it looks.

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Jack was really excited about making the move into his new bed! I think it helped that my mom got him this book for his birthday a few weeks ago. Here he is at bedtime on that first night (Sunday).

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As excited as he was, he definitely needed a little more support falling asleep that night. I ended up laying down with him for a little while, then sitting in the chair, then sitting in the living room with his bedroom door open and telling him to lay back down whenever I saw him sit up on the video monitor. But I am shocked to report that he never got out of bed! Even in the morning! I’m also hopeful that we won’t need the guardrail for long, but I’ll watch him carefully for a while to be sure. He hasn’t moved around much at all so far. I still need to add a waterproof mattress cover and contraption for toddlerproofing that outlet behind the headboard (both on order from Amazon), and I have plans to rework the mobile that I made to hang above his crib, but setting up the new bed was the only major change required to take this space from nursery to kid room.

It feels like the end of an era, y’all. As I stood on his bed to remove the mobile hanging from the ceiling above I remembered being hugely pregnant and climbing into his crib to hang it a little over two years ago (I actually bent the metal mattress support standing on it with my big pregnant self). Here’s a throwback pic for nostalgia’s sake:

And OMG I can’t even.