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I have to admit – June included a totally random book selection!  I had lots of time on our beach vacation to work my Kindle pretty hard, and then I ended up taking a 1,034 page detour into the 1860s that I really enjoyed.  July will be a little less pleasure reading and a little more academic reading as I pursue a few educational opportunities this summer, but I still think I’ll have plenty of time to get in some great books.  But before we hop on the July train, let’s take a look at how June totally derailed to 1865.

Here was my original plan for June…

If I Stay by Gayle Forman
Where She Went (If I Stay #2) by Gayle Forman
The Heir (Selection #4) by Kiera Cass
Red Rising (Book #1) by Pierce Brown
The Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins
While at the beach I knocked out all of these books in 4 days except Red Rising.  I had downloaded Red Rising onto my Kindle and I was about to start reading it when for some reason I decided that it didn’t “feel” very beachy and I thought tackling Gone With the Wind with 3 days left in our vacation was a great idea.  Now, to be honest, Scarlett and Rhett didn’t disappoint (well, Rhett didn’t disappoint, there were multiple occasions when I wanted to strangle Scarlett).  But 1,034 pages did take me the rest of the month to read, so Red Rising just never made it back onto the list.  It was on my list for July but I can already tell that my mind is just not feeling dystopian Mars right now, so who knows?!  I’ll get to it eventually.  But for now, here’s what I’m looking towards in July…

She is Mine by Stephanie Fast
Murder in the Marais by Cara Black (Aimee Leduc investigations #1)
Murder in Belleville by Cara Black (Aimee Leduc investigations #2)
Veronika Decides to Die by Paulo Coelho

The Aimee Leduc novels came from out of nowhere this month when Kindle recommended her 15th novel to me.  Aimee is a private investigator based in Paris, and that was really all I needed to know to dive right into this series.  So far I’m loving it.  It’s a light read, perfect for summer, and I’ve already enjoyed revisiting some of my favorite spots in Paris.

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My Book of the Month award is going to go to Gayle Forman for the If I Stay series.  Yes, Gone With the Wind is a classic, and it was a great read, but right now I just can’t get enough Gayle Forman.  I would seriously read her grocery list, and probably cry over it.  So, well done Rhett (and Scarlett), but congratulations to Gayle Forman for continuing to be freakin’ amazing.

A lot of people have been raving over Girl on the Train by Paula Hawkins, and yeah, it was okay.  I can see why it’s being compared to Gone Girl, and if you liked Gone Girl you’d probably really love Girl on the Train.  Unfortunately, I hated Gone Girl and I thought Girl on the Train was only marginally better.  The problem I have with both novels is that there’s no one to pull for.  When I hate every character in the book I tend to hate the book.  Are the stories interesting, fascinating and different? Yes. Do they both have twist endings? Yes. But that doesn’t make them awesome for me. So yeah, I’m glad I read it, but I’m even more glad that I got it from the library and returned it after 4 days.  It is certainly not shelf-worthy in my opinion.

Here’s to another great month of reading (and a few academic pursuits)!

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I need change like most people need oxygen.  I like to say that I embrace change and crave new experiences.  The Hubs says I have commitment issues.  Whatever the case, sometimes I feel like if something around me doesn’t change ASAP I’ll just bust.  About 3 weeks ago I woke up one morning and suddenly felt like 4 rooms in our house needed to be totally redone.  I am blessed to be married to a man that never questions these random acts of change and willingly jumps on board when I ask for help.

When I say something like, “Hun, there’s a man out in York that sells lumber out of his garage – I need you to swing by and pick some up at lunch.  Oh, be sure to take cash.”  He doesn’t say, “Why do we need lumber?” or “Am I in any immediate physical danger by going to the home of a man that has his own sawmill?” Nope.  He just says, “Text me the address.”  And when he comes home to find me wearing goggles and wielding power tools in the garage he just says, “What’s for dinner?” No doubt about it, this guy’s a keeper.

So, when I announced a few weeks ago that the laundry room was “wearing me out” and “needs an update, like yesterday” he just said something like, “Really? Ok.”  Which in my head sounded like, “Seriously, I thought you’d never say that because it’s wearing me out too!  Let’s do it!”

Now, in addition to loving change, I also love a challenge, so I randomly said, “I think I can do what needs to be done for $150″.  For the record – this number came out of nowhere, I just decided to set a random budget that I thought was affordable.

Here’s a quick rundown of my must-haves:
– PAINT!!!!!
– A drying rack
– Non-wire shelving
– Get the mops/brooms off of the floor

And here’s the before photo (taken w/my iphone).  Full disclosure – I had already cleared all of the junk off of those wire shelves before I remembered to take this photo.  If the junk had been there you’d understand why this was “wearing me out.”  We installed these cabinets about 4 years ago and they’ve been great, so that was also pre-update.  I think you can see why I wanted the mops/brooms off of the floor – that corner drives me crazy!!

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Now for the fun stuff….

I’m planning to repaint 3 other rooms in our house this summer, so I wanted to test out this coral paint and see if I liked it before I went crazy all over the house.  As it turns out, I LOVE it in the laundry room, but I’ve decided against it for other spots.

A full list of supplies/costs are at the end of the post, but in this photo you can see that I replaced the wire shelving with the LACK shelves from IKEA and added some cardboard letters from Hobby Lobby on the wall.  Also, Shelby’s little breakfast nook got relocated and she got a new placemat.  If you’re thinking, “What happened to her water bowl?”  Well, Her Royal Cuteness only likes to drink water upstairs, so that water bowl in the laundry room was just for show.  I downsized her little stand just to save some room. ;-)

DIY Laundry Room-1

The two metal drying racks from IKEA might be my favorite thing about the redo.  I considered making my own, but every set of plans I found said that the supplies were “only $40!”  I just didn’t want to spend the money and time to make one rack for $40 when I could buy 2 at IKEA for less.

DIY Laundry Room-2
DIY Laundry Room-3

I’m a pretty big fan of the signage too – the laundry sign was made of palette wood, so no cost there, and the massive clothes pins are from JoAnn’s Fabrics, I just had to stain them.

DIY Laundry Room-4

A mini ironing board for $4.99 and a mop holder for $9.99 – it’s amazing what $15 can do for my level of happiness relating to laundry!

DIY Laundry Room-5

I couldn’t possibly be happier with how it turned out.  It was a simple, relatively inexpensive redo, and it’s made the space so much more efficient.  A full list of costs are below…

Paint: (Lowe’s HGTV Sherwin Williams, Lei Flower) $40
Mop/Broom Holder: (Lowe’s) $9.99
Ironing board hook: (Lowe’s) $3.27
Ironing board: (IKEA) $4.99
Metal drying racks: (IKEA) $19.99 x 2
Shelby’s Placemat: (IKEA) $3.49
LACK Shelving: (IKEA) $14.99 x 2
WASH letters: (Hobby Lobby) $2.99 x 4
Brown baskets: (IKEA) $7.99 x 4
Mega Clothespins: (JoAnns) $3.49 x 2, $3.99 x 2
Single & Looking frame: (Amazon) $7.94

Total: $198.52

A little over the $150 budget but I wouldn’t change a thing!  Now on to project #2!

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When we go to the beach I feel like everyone looks at me and thinks, “Oh wow, I hope she applied sun screen.” The answer is 100% yes – 110 spf on my face and 85 everywhere else.  It seems like such horrible irony that my most favorite place in the world is so bad for my skin.  So, I lather up, wear floppy hats and stay in the shade as much as possible.  To hear the waves crashing on the shore and read 4 books in 1 week it’s totally worth it.  Since it’s the season for beach-going I thought it’d be fun to dedicate this month’s top 10 list to our favorite beach activities!  (These are in no particular order BTW – anything at the beach is better than the best day inland).

1.  This seems a little obvious – but sitting on the beach is definitely one of our favorite things to do.  People watching is primo, and waves crashing are the perfect background noise for reading and napping.  I hope that girl over my left shoulder screened up.

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2.  Weather watching – if you’ve got an ocean view weather watching is awesome.  I love to see storms roll in over the ocean, and it always amazes me that storms just dry up in about 5 minutes.

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While we were at the beach last week I took these photos 30 minutes apart.  Craziness!

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3.  Eating lots of horrible food.  Fried this and that, a dozen dounughts, snacking all day and ice cream before dinner are all totally acceptable when there are waves nearby.

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4.  Checking out the sites.  I don’t care if I’ve seen it a million times, I want to see it again on this vacation too!

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5.  Ice Cream!!!  My go-to flavor is black cherry, but I also require a dipped cone when we visit the boardwalk.  Just a little bite of sugar heaven.

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6.  LOTS of beach time with the pup.  Shelby LOVES the beach!  She loves to wake up and go for a walk first thing, get wet up to her neck and then shake it off.  She was terrified of the ocean the first 2 times we visited, but now she’s a total pro and I love seeing a big huge smile on her fuzzy face when she knows where we’re going.  The place we stayed last week had a golf cart, and her cute meter was off the freakin’ charts riding in that thing.  Just precious.

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I made her take a golf cart family selfie. ;-)

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But this was my favorite – she likes to sit right on the edge, in between my feet, and hang her tail off the side of the cart while we drive.  She’s just too much, and I love that little sandy butt.

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7.  Lazy lunches at restaurants with porches facing the ocean.  I mean seriously, a burger and fries aren’t special, but the view makes them priceless.

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8.  Putt-Putt.  Chris has a pretty strong winning streak going with our putt-putt match ups, but it’s always close!  Our favorite course is the Minotaur course up near the Pavilion area.

9.  Arcade games.  Chris is particularly fond of the baseball pinball games.  This year he won a bear for Shelby on his first game and then I won a t-shirt on my 2nd game.  We also played a few rounds of my personal favorite – skee ball.

10.  Anything involving a boat.  Last week we took a sunset cruise from Murrells Inlet and it was just as awesome as we though it would be.

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*NOTE – all photos in this post were taken with my iphone 6.  The best camera is the one you’ve got with you!

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