My 5 Favorite Books & an iPad Mini Giveaway!

HI! Hope y’all had an amazing Labor Day weekend! I spent mine doing what everyone should be doing…not laboring! Just kidding, I had lots and lots of work to do around here…but I was able to carve out some time for a bit of fun, phew! I also got to do one of my favorite things…read (on our awesome new concrete rug porch!)!

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What do you like to read? I have a crazy, undying passion for books—all kind of books! Big books, small books, long, old, new, anything! My husband built me this beautiful bookcase to help house my collection (obsession). But I am always ready to find a new good book—so please give me the details on what you guys are reading these days so I can add to my list.

Dream fulfilled:

I want a boy who will build me bookshelvesvia

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Hehe.

While it’s hard to narrow it down, these are my current top five FAVORITE non-fiction reads:

5. Shopahoic Series
By Sophie Kinsella
I know this is a series and not a book, but I read it all in like 3 days, so in my mind it’s a long giant book. This is my confession for the day: I kind of love to shop! Who doesn’t? There’s something magical about sliding that shiny credit card and walking away with some killer boots, or shiny cardigan. Well, until the bill comes right? So I don’t get to shop that much (unless it’s for lumber and hammers, boo), but I do love living vicariously through Becky in the book! Plus, there is a new book in the series coming out in a few months…finally!  :)

4. Night Road
By Kristin Hannah
You guys. This one is a tearjerker. But it is SO GOOD. This was another book that I couldn’t put down. I’m a huge fan of Kristin Hannah’s writing style, even though Scott always gets nervous when he sees me pick up one of her books because it leads to tears every. single. time. But this book deals with so many big themes—parents, children, friendship, how one second can change your life, etc. So good.

3. Gone Girl
By: Gillian Flynn
If you have seen previews for the upcoming movie and thought, “nah I’ll pass on reading and just wait till the movie comes out”, you are missing out! I picked this up last summer, and my husband will attest to how obsessed I got. We were enjoying an all-inclusive trip to the Dominican Republic and I couldn’t put it down…it went in the pool with me, on the sand, the beach, the tub and my bed. And I hear the movie has a surprise ending, so go ahead and read the book—it is SO good.

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2. Anne of Green Gables
By: Lucy Maud Montgomery
Surely you’ve read this? Anne Shirley that is…haha (props to Scott for that joke!).  If you haven’t, you need to get yourself a bottle of cordial, get your best friend a little tipsy, then sneak off in a canoe down the most charming of streams during a beautiful sunset to read the most breathtaking love story from the perspective of my bosom friend, Anne (with an e). Anne was my childhood hero, and still is in a lot of ways. Witty, chatty and red-haired, I definitely learned a lot from her!

1. Pride and Prejudice
By Jane Austen
Duh! Okay, if you’ve read my previous blogs you probably know this already. But it really doesn’t get any better than this. Really, it doesn’t, don’t try to argue that, history will prove you wrong. ;) This book NEVER gets old. If it has been more than a year since you’ve read this timeless story, please pick it up and find new love for it. Every time I read a bit of the book some new reality comes through…it’s just the best…EVER

I mean it, like, I will be at work, or at the grocery store, walking my dogs and a scene from Pride and Prejudice will come to mind. Darcy will be walking slowly through the mist, in his oversized trench coat and facial hair that in reality would drive me crazy but fits so perfect in my P&P world. I even made a giant sign that hangs in our dining room to show my devotion. :P

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Runner up: Outlander
By: Diane Gabaldon
I had to add one more. So I am working my way through this series after numerous people recommended it to me. It’s really interesting but I will admit I had to cover my eyes (sometimes literally!) through parts of the book, especially towards the end. Does anyone know what I’m talking about? Ahh! Also, the show is so good…I’ll admit I totally got Starz channel just to watch it (worth it so far!).

I also have some BIG news to share…I’m giving away an IPAD MINI. Giving it away!

To be honest with you guys, I am in transition. I love the smell of old books, something about the old paper, antique-store smell that just makes me happy. I also happen to love new books, and ever since I joined Amazon Prime my bookcase is expanding a bit too rapidly. I couldn’t help but notice that one day, believe it or not, I might have too many books for my bookcase. I realized that I would have to find some sort of filtering system for good books, and turned to an iPad and e-books as a solution. I will never say goodbye to paper books but sometimes the practicality (and instant receiving!) of an e-Book is hard to resist.

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We live in a world with amazing technology and awesome gadgets that we can use to access a plethora of knowledge, and entertainment — with just a few swipes of our finger tips!! The Apple’s ipad is an extremely versatile device. And the iPad mini just makes it all even more fantastic because of its compact size! You can do so many things with it!

As the Apple site states: iPad mini with Retina display lets you do more than you ever imagined. Feature for feature, it’s identical to iPad Air in every way. Except for its super-portable, hold-it-in-one-hand, still-just-right mini size.

You can use the iPad mini for school, work, to read books, to help organizing your finances and/or life, scheduling, browsing the internet, social media, games, entertaining your kids, and so MUCH more!

There are also TONS of apps that you can download for countless purposes–from business to fun to everything in between. The iPad mini is truly a fantastic product!

And…

Like I said, we are giving one away!!!

The 411 on the 32 GB iPad mini Giveaway

Who?

You, of course!

Note: giveaway is open to the Continental US, Hawaii, and Alaska. Ages 18+.

What?

ONE – 32 GB iPad mini

When?

Giveaway will be open from September 2, 2014 – September 30, 2014. Winner will be chosen at random on or about October 6, 2014. If winner does not respond within 48 hours, an alternate winner will be chosen. Please read more about giveaway terms here.

How?

To have a chance to win the 32 GB iPad mini all you are required to do is leave a comment below telling us what you would use the ipad mini for if you won!! The rest is up to fate! ;)

All other tasks are optional to increase your chances of winning.

This giveaway is sponsored by:

Moms of Faith
A Cowboy’s Wife
This Roller Coaster Called Life
Tech Savvy Mama
That Bald Chick
The Bright Side of Reality
Run to Radiance
Mom Foodie

Disclaimer: Apple is not affiliated with this ipad mini giveaway or its sponsors. Prize is being provided by sponsors mentioned above.

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How to Paint Concrete—a Patio Makeover

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Since we’ve been remodeling for over two years now (can you guys believe it?!?), the inside of our house has improved significantly. The outside, however, is a slightly different story. Yes, we’ve added some improvements to the back yard, but our front yard has been put on the back burner. Sorry neighbors. Well, no longer! The front yard is up on our “to do” list, and I am SUPER excited about how everything is turning out!

I have always dreamt of a house with a wide, wrap-around front porch. This house doesn’t have it. Boo! But that doesn’t mean that I can’t get creative with the space I do have. For years I have been looking for an outdoor rug that will fit the narrow front porch we have, and have had no luck. Recently it dawned on me—why not paint a rug on the porch? After doing some research to verify (1) yes, painted rugs are a thing and (2) yes, my husband was on board, I wasted no time getting a plan together.

One of the things I learned while researching about painting concrete is that you have to have a super clean surface to start. A lot of people even went as far as recommending using acid to wash the surface. Yikes. That was a little hardcore for me!

Luckily for me however, I was given the opportunity to partner with Proctor & Gamble to try out their new product, Tide Oxi. I knew Tide was awesome in the laundry room, but I was unsure if it would excel in concrete-cleaning abilities. I decided to give it a shot, however, before turning to acid. Luckily for me, Tide Oxi did not disappoint and no acid was needed, yay!

To get started, we picked up our supplies at Home Depot (of course!). Our supply list was fairly short: Tide Oxi, two scrubbing brushes, a bucket, concrete paint (we went with Behr Premium Concrete & Masonary Waterproofer in Sudden Fog thanks to the recommendation from the paint counter!), painters tape and a small paint roller.

The first thing we did when we got home was to remove the old furniture off the porch. I was SO happy to get rid of all the ugly brown, but you all are going to be grossed out when you see what was hiding underneath all of it. Look how nasty our porch was!

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The next thing we did was use a broom to sweep off all the dirt, leaves and debris we could from our porch. We then mixed the Tide Oxi into warm water. I used a full scoop since our porch was so dirty. I’ve gotten to work with a lot of cleaning agents and products over the years, and I promise you guys—this was the best smelling one! Both Scott and I were joking that our porch was going to smell like fresh laundry.

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After we had our solution mixed, we worked in small areas at a time. Scott would pour some of the solution onto the porch, and we both used the scrubbing brushes to scrub the stains and dirt off.

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Check out this brush—yikes!

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The directions on the box clearly say to keep away from plants, so we were very careful to not allow any run off into the garden. We would continually use the broom to push all the water down the stairs rather than let it drip into the garden.

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It took us about 30 minutes to scrub down the entire porch. Before we could start painting, we had to wait for the concrete to dry completely. In the Texas summer heat, that took about 4-5 hours. Check out how much better things were looking already!

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Here’s a before/after shot so you don’t have to scroll back up to compare. :)

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Then it was painting time. We used exterior painter’s tape to mark off the edges. I knew I wanted a striped pattern, but didn’t want to have to bust out the measuring tape to mark out the lines. No problem! We ended up using a piece of baseboard to mark out the lines. Brilliant right? :) Once we had the entire pattern taped, it was time to start painting!

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Painting was a cinch with the small roller we had picked up, and using concrete paint was no different than any other paint I’ve used before. I simply rolled it on—easy! I decided to paint wearing socks so I could keep the concrete nice and clean. I’m partial to not wearing shoes. :)
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I did one coat, then the next morning came back and did a second.

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The dry time was listed at 4 hours, but I waited until that evening to come back and very carefully peel all the tape off. Voila! We had stripes!

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It still wasn’t rug-like enough for me though. So I decided to paint on fringe. This was a little nerve-racking since I am not the best freehand painter, but I went with it and LOVE how it turned out. I think the fringe might be my favorite part!
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Our patio looked so lovely that we couldn’t bear to put our old furniture back. So we purchased some new outdoor chairs and décor and have already spent several afternoons sitting on the porch after work, talking about life. Now we aren’t embarrassed to say hi to our neighbors either. :)

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I am so thrilled with how our porch looks. I love the stripes and the fringe and how clean and fresh everything feels!

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We still have more outdoor projects coming up (like some awesome DIY shutters!) but for now let’s admire the before and after.

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Lemonade anyone? Ya’ll come by! :)

Disclosure: I was compensated by Procter & Gamble to work on this project. The ideas, opinions, photographs and writing are mine, as always.