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What We’re Reading Right Now

Our family likes books, you might say. I started working in an independent bookstore in 1998, and met Brandon when he was hired a year later (and we both stayed on until 2004 — the same year we were married). The kids have tons of books in their rooms, and we installed floor-to-ceiling bookshelves to hold (most of) our collection in the front parlor of our Victorian after having made a library of our second floor landing in our first house. Yeah, we kinda like reading.

Brandon switched over to digital books a few years before I did, and now we both read like a mix of traditional and e-books. I use an iPad or sometimes my iPhone, and Brandon reads a Kindle. We were recently introduced to Oyster, which has been described as “Netflix for books,” and it’s pretty awesome. It works on both of our operating systems (and Android, too), and there are several display settings to choose from, letting you customize the look. You get unlimited access to over half a million books for $9.95 a month, and they have everything from classics to new releases (with new titles being added all the time). The best part is that the app makes it easy to find new books through their collections by genre, and it even learns what you like and makes recommendations based on your tastes and activity.

Oyster is offering a 30-day free trial right now and you can browse their popular titles to find some good new books, but I thought it would be fun to put together a reading list with picks from both Brandon and me. Summer’s winding down, but I’m still sort of in that light and fun frame of mind when choosing what to read right now, so my list reflects that. I’m guessing by Brandon’s list that he’s in the ‘end of the world apocalypse’ frame of mind, but you know, to each their own.

Our Oyster Books Reading List

Summer Reads

If you’re still looking for something quick and easy to pick up, these are some good options.

Guilty Pleasures

I re-read a couple of these recently, and oh man. They are ridiculous, in the best way.

My To-Read List

We all have that list of books that we’ve been meaning to get to, right? These are a few of mine.

Brandon’s Picks

Brandon assures me that A Confederacy of Dunces comes together in the end, but I only made it halfway before I gave up on it in favor of something else. (I’m sure I’m wrong and in the minority here, seeing as it’s a Pullitzer Prize winner and all.)

Oyster is offering a free 30-day trial for my readers, so you can try it out for yourself. I have a bunch of other titles that I’m eager to read (I narrowed it down to just three here!), but I’d love a few suggestions too. I’ll add them to my reading list!

Three Easy Wallpaper Projects

I flew out to New York a couple of weeks ago to film a segment at the Meredith studio for Better TV. (I went to six cities over the course of a month while in my third trimester, so I’m glad to be done with traveling for a while!) I shared a few wallpaper project ideas for the video below — ways to use it besides on your walls — using the allen + roth line from Lowe’s.

Filming with Better TV

1

Decoupaged Letters

We spelled out “LOVE” to give the basic idea in the video above, but I think it’s the kind of project that would be great for personalizing a nursery or kid’s room (either with their name spelled out in full, or just their first initial).

Materials Needed: metallic brocade wallpaper • water and a small brush (to activate paste) • scissors • craft letters

Instructions: Place a letter face down on your wallpaper, trace the shape, cut it out, and set aside. Next, begin covering the sides of your letter — a little water will activate the glue on the paper’s backing. (If using paper that isn’t prepasted, Mod Podge works well for this project.) Long strips of paper are fine for straight sides, but smaller pieces work well for curves. After all of the sides have been covered, affix the top piece and smooth into place.

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2

Drawer Liners

Lined drawers are always a nice touch, right? You could use adhesive paper made for drawers of course, but wallpaper comes in so many more colors and patterns. Lined shelves, in a closet or otherwise, are another opportunity for customization. And if the wallpaper has a nonwoven backing like the allen + roth line does, it’s easy to remove if you ever want to change the style.

Materials Needed: striped wallpaper • water and a small brush (to activate paste) • scissors and/or razor blade • metal ruler or other straight edge • drawers or shelves

Instructions: (Pretty sure you can figure this one out without instructions, but here goes!) Cut a piece of wallpaper to the size of your drawer or shelf. Activate the paste on the back of your wallpaper by applying water with a brush, and place the paper in your drawer. Smooth, then trim edges with a razor.

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3

Bookcase Update

We used grasscloth to add texture and change the color of the back of a bookcase, but obviously you can use any style you like, depending on the look you’re going for. And that bookshelf? Truly a quick and easy project. We had actually started with a white bookshelf on set and the grasscloth looked great on the back of it, but it wasn’t reading well on camera. In a very quick, very last minute switcheroo, we swapped out the white bookshelf for a black one instead. I think it took all of 15 minutes from start to finish!

Materials Needed: grasscloth wallpaperwallpaper paste • razor blade • metal ruler or other straight edge • bookcase

Instructions: Remove the backing from your bookcase if possible. Trace it onto your wallpaper and cut out. If the back of your bookcase can not be removed, measure and cut a piece of wallpaper to size. Activate the paste on your wallpaper by applying water with a brush, and place the paper on the back of your bookcase. Smooth, then trim edges with a razor.

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Come Say Hello

Remember, I’ll be at my local Lowe’s this Saturday, offering one-on-one design consultations and doing another fun project with wallpaper that you can make and take with you! RSVP to PublicRelations@Lowes.com to make sure you’ve got a spot.

Style Saturday Invitation

The 30 Best Flush Mount Lighting Fixtures

Opening up the hallway in our renovation meant that the two lights on one end don’t go with the newly exposed third light from the back side of the house. It’s not the worst thing in the world but the mismatched fixtures irk me, so I’d rather not put them off. Of course, this means I’ve been spending a lot of time looking at flush mount fixtures lately. So many of them are so ugly! There are some great ones out there too though, and I’ve narrowed down the assortment out there to the 30 best — presented here for your illumination (and mine).

The 30 Best Flush Mount Lighting Fixtures

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Flush Mount Lighting Fixtures Under $100

  1. Bell Flush Mount Lamp, CB2
    Sometimes modern design like this comes with a big price tag, but these little guys are affordable and available in white and brass, or black and steel.

  2. Oxnard 2-Light Ceiling Brushed Nickel Flush Mount, Home Depot
    A sleek and simple light without a lot of fuss for a great price.

  3. Alabax Medium, Schoolhouse Electric
    Adorable! Choose your porcelain color from marigold yellow, gray, white, or black.

  4. Vanadin, IKEA
    A faceted fixture that looks like collectible milk glass.

  5. Nantucket Ceiling Light, Shades of Light
    The antique copper finish lends some antique charm, but you can also choose matte black or brushed stainless.

  6. Allen + Roth Harpwell Oil-Rubbed Bronze Ceiling Flush Mount, Lowe’s
    The clean lines and oil-rubbed bronze make this a simple but handsome fixture.

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