Summer Reading List for Kids

I remember every summer my mom letting me pick a big fat “big kid” book from our local library and reading it to me every afternoon until we finished it. Those are some of my best childhood memories. Even my brother–who didn’t really enjoy being read to–wanted to sit and listen sometimes.

With summer in full swing your child or children are probably desperate for something to do. Or maybe they are reading through books faster than you can swipe your library card. Either way, you need book suggestions! Guess what, I’ve got a great list for you! The list I’ve compiled is categorized by genre instead of reading level–I leave the reading level decision to you, the parent.

May I also suggest signing your older child up for a Goodreads account. It’s a completely free online community with millions of book suggestions and millions of people passionate about reading. It’s a place to keep track of all the books your reading, write reviews, and get suggestions about what to read next.

Adventure:

Swiss Family Robinson

Little House on the Prairie (Series)-1 from boys perspective

Watership Down

The Odyssey

Wilderness:

Hatchet

Call of the Wild

White Fang

The Last of the Mohicans

Where the Red Ferns Grow

Shiloh

Old Yeller

Irish Red

High Seas:

Robinson Crusoe

Master and Commander (Series) 12+

Treasure Island

The Temeraire (Dragons)

Fantasy/Magic:

The Hobbit

The Lord of the Rings (Series)

The Chronicles of Narnia (Series)

Redwall (Series)

Ralph the Motorcycle Mouse

Indian and the Cupboard

Eragon (Series)

Harry Potter (Series)

Western:

Hank the Cowdog (Series)

Science:

The Magic School Bus (Series)

Science Fiction/Space Opera:

Enders game (Series)

Star Wars (Series)

Strong Female Characters:

Little Women

Anne of Green Gables (Series)

Amelia Bedilia (Series)

Mystery:

Nancy drew (Series)

The Hardy Boys (Series)

Box Car Children (Series)

Equestrian:

Black Beauty

National Velvet

My Friend Flicka (Series)

Misty of Chincoteague (Series)

Bears:

Paddington (Series)

Winnie the Pooh (Series)

 

Happy Reading!

Maegan — xx

Boho Chic Laundry Room Renovation

Laundry rooms are not glamorous. Especially laundry rooms in a rental. Ours is utilitarian at best and that’s only because the hook-ups actually work. Like most adults I would love for my laundry room to be functional and look great. Our laundry room was obviously neither functional or pretty. It was a hideous mess. Aside from the tools laying on top of the dryer this was what it looked like a good eighty percent of the time. I couldn’t keep up with the clutter and the clothes at the same time. The fact that we had nowhere to put a laundry basket made the situation worse. Part of renting in a large city is lack of space. I was stacking the laundry baskets on top of the washing machine and dryer to keep them out of the hallway that runs between the guest half bath, our bedroom, kitchen, and garage door. I also had other baskets full of laundry randomly scattered throughout the house. I had to take the baskets off the top of the washing machine every time I washed clothes–it was such a time waster. Not to mention that the tiny horrible shelf was really hard to reach. I finally had enough.

My goals for this mini-remodel were; a permanent place for my laundry baskets and laundry, laundry supplies within arms reach, a soothing and happy color palette, and no more clutter. I had been wanting to paint something a deep dark green for years, so I immediately knew that this space was the perfect place to try that color. If I hated it I could quickly repaint and it was easily hidden from guests.

The first thing I had to do was rip the shelves off the wall. They were installed poorly and calked around the perimeter so they ripped off the top layers of drywall and layers of ancient paint. They were a mess and they smelled so so bad. It was really gross. I was immediately faced with several dilemmas I wasn’t expecting; first, I had to repair the drywall and peeling paint; and second, I now had to putty and add texture back to the wall. I had no idea how to do either. As I stood staring at the gashes and holes torn in the wall I started second guessing my decision. It’s that moment every renovator has when they realize they’ve committed to more than they expected but it’s already too late to turn back.

The first thing I had to do was take a very sharp knife and cut around the edges of the peeled up paint. I’d never repaired drywall before so that took some internet sleuthing to figure out. I used Rx-35 PRO-999 to seal down the drywall and paint, and create a layer for the putty to stick to.  So I painted over the entire exposed area and then let it dry. (This is the drywall after the PRO-999)img_9377

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Once it was dry I started puttying. I used a wide putty knife and regular old DAP, and honestly I just went for it. I have seen my dad and Sam putty before so I kind of had the idea. This was a little different though in that I had to layer in on thick and leave it(that’s why the PRO-999 is so important because it helps that putty stick). It took over an hour to putty the area and then it took about twelve hours to dry completely. Once it dried, I lightly sanded it and then reapplied another layer of PRO–999 over the entire area to set the putty into place.

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With the putty dry we taped off and painted. The color I chose is called Thunderbolt by Valspar. I opted to have the color mixed in Sherwin Williams Enerald paint because it’s antifungal and water resistent–perfect for a laundry room. With that we installed the Closet Maid wire shelving from Home Depot. They were the only brand I found locally that had 20″ deep wire shelving. They cut my shelf to length in store so it fit perfectly in my car with the back seat down. Did you know both Home Depot and Lowe’s can cut your wire shelving in store to the exact length you need? I was so proud of myself for figuring that out. I saved a lot of money on this project because I didn’t have to buy an extra tool to cut my shelving! Sam was very very happy about that too. I chose coated wire shelving because it wouldn’t be as affected by the humidity and moisture constantly trapped in this space and it was an inexpensive option even though it’s not the most aesthetically pleasing shelving to look at. And we rent, so the budget for this reno needed to be a reasonable. Y’all know what I mean.

Maegan Johnson Laundry Room Tour Before and After, Dark Green and White,

I now had a designated place for all my laundry baskets but I lost space for my laundry supplies. I cut a 3/4″ piece of pine and painted it with some white paint I already had to match the appliances and shelving. I bought these 3″ brackets from Hobby Lobby and painted them to match. A key component to living organized in a small space is to constantly get rid of stuff. I completely purged the junk that was being kept in here and what I didn’t trash I moved under the kitchen sink with the rest of the cleaning supplies. There are perks to living a more plant based life because the stuff you actually need gets narrowed down to the essentials. I honestly had no idea that I only needed like three things to do laundry.  Laundry soap, dryer balls, lavender to scent the clothes, and lemon for stain removal. Done.

Maegan Johnson Laundry Room Tour Before and After, Dark Green and White, Theives Laundry SoapMaegan Johnson Laundry Room Tour Before and After, Dark Green and White, Small Laundry Room

With the dark green walls I wanted to keep the aesthetic as crisp as possible. I also painted the dryer base white and what a difference it made! It added a cohesive, geometric element to the space. The laundry room is located in the smack middle of our town home and it gets no natural light. I needed a better, brighter, whiter light so I could see. How can anyone see stains in dim yellow light? I changed the light bulb to a generic 75 Watt Daylight LED and what a difference it made!

Maegan Johnson Laundry Room Tour Before and After, Dark Green and White, Scottie Dog, Lemon

Lemon is soo sweet–and such a good helper! She really wanted me to play while I was shooting for this post. I can’t believe what a little paint and some new shelving did to our laundry room or what a huge impact it has made on our life. I have seriously stayed on top of laundry now. Let’s get real though, my husband still wants to leave a pile of clothes on his side of the bed and I left the clean sheets in a pile at the foot of our bed the other day. But, this change has brought so much peace and functionality to a daily chore that was really making my life miserable. And, for the first time in years, I am actually able to keep up with what is clean and what isn’t–and I’m not drowning in loads of unwashed laundry. This ended being a bigger project than I anticipated, but it was worth it. Oh, was it so worth it.

I hope you were inspired by my mini reno! I always want to inspire you and remind you that if I can so can you! Do you also have a space in your home that is completely not functioning for you and your family? Let me know your thoughts in the comments below.

Maegan — xx

Click here for our Midcentury Coastal Nursery/Bedroom Tour!

Maegan Johnson Foster Care and Decor Blog New Orleans Vacation

Our First New Orleans Vacation

New Orleans is one of the places I have had on my bucket list since I was a little girl. When Sam came to me earlier in the year and asked me if I wanted to go I was beside myself. New Orleans was like nowhere else I’ve ever been before. It is one of the friendliest, welcoming, down to earth cities I’ve ever visited. I kind of felt like I was on another planet. The weather was just beautiful at this time of year too. I expected it to be a lot hotter and muggier but it was really dreamy–the perfect amount of humidity mixed with cool breezes from the surrounding water. As soon as we landed, we dropped off our bags at the hotel and hopped on a streetcar to the French Quarter.

The first thing I noticed was all the color! It was everywhere! I really loved how informal using the streetcar(not trolley) was too. The platform sat flush with tracks making hopping on and off fun and casual–though it did take us a few rides to get the hang of proper streetcar etiquette(board from the front, exit from the back). It was really cheap to ride and I highly recommend buying the streetcar day pass–the Jazzy Pass–which is $3 per day for unlimited rides. The easiest way is to download the app and add your pass to it.

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Our first stop was the St. Louis Cathedral. I was really stunning to see that kind of architecture in America.–it’s so European! This is the oldest cathedral in America–if you were wondering.

A kid riding along on a bike stopped abruptly in front of Sam and I and thrust this daisy in my hand then rode off before I could even thank him. I stopped where we were and took a picture of it before I handed it off to a man running a vending stand. I kind of feel this photo is a really great visual descriptor of the spirit of New Orleans–beautiful, tender, people surrounded by hundreds of years of history, technology, and tourists. A flower in an urban jungle. It’s honestly on of my favorite photos of our trip. 

After an afternoon and evening of sightseeing we ended up at Cafe Du Monde and the beignets  were even better than I imagined! What I didn’t expect was to see such a large informal outdoor space! I was thinking it’s French so it will be a more formal atmosphere so I was pleasantly surprised to find a boisterous crowd of all different types of people in the late hours of the night enjoying the evening while drinking coffee and eating beignets.

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Cafe Du Monde is open twenty-four hours a day seven days a week and couldn’t help but take a picture of the harried wait staff taking a break. It wasn’t just that they were all dressed in uniform that brought a sense of cohesiveness to the little scene but also that they were covered in equal amounts of powdered sugar. It even caked the floor in a thick layer. It was just so Cafe Du Monde.

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The next morning we woke bright and early and walked up Poydras to catch the St. Charles Ave Streetcar to eat at The Trolley Stop Cafe. For the first time in my life I had catfish, eggs, and grits for breakfast and it was one of the top three best breakfasts’ of my life. If we did one thing right on our trip it was food. We listened to the locals and ate where they ate and we were NOT disappointed.

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The catfish wasn’t even fishy. It was that dang good. My only regret was not taking a picture with our waitress who was the most friendly woman and taught me how to eat grits–of which, I am now a HUGE fan!

We left the cafe and decided to walk off our breakfast by taking in all the beautiful antebellum houses along St. Charles Ave. There were churches everywhere in New Orleans and I really appreciated their beautiful architecture and uniqueness–none looked alike. 

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The houses and the views were equally breathtaking. And the trees were enormous!

We walked up St Charles quite a ways then caught the streetcar to the end of the line. From there we took a Lyft and went to City Park. Honestly, this was part of the reason I put New Orleans on my bucket list. I’ve always wanted to see trees so big they lie down with moss wafting from every branch. I felt transported back in time.

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We walked around City Park(which is absolutely huge) for about an hour and we started to get hungry. By this time we really were sweltering. We were hot and tired and hungry–it was close to 2:30pm. So we took a Lyft over to Willie Mae’s Chicken House for the best chicken I’ve had in my life!

But first, we had to get on the wait-list. It was hot and we had to stand outside. Thankfully I found a little “convenience store” literally around the corner. And by convenience store I mean it had a window where you walked up and they sold beer in a brown paper bag to you–and any other convenience store type items like chips, candy, and cigarettes. So we bought two beers and stood in the shade while we waited an hour to get a table. But it was worth it. It was so worth it that I forgot to take a picture. This is actually a very famous restaurant and for good reason. If you come to New Orleans you HAVE to eat here. And be prepared to wait an hour because there is never a ‘slow’ time–just get a beer and people watch to help the time pass. You wont regret eating here, I promise.

We went back to our hotel and slept off the chicken and then headed back into the city for more sight-seeing and dinner. I had my first ‘poor boy’ sandwich at Parkway Bakery & Tavern. This was a local recommendation and I highly recommend it too. The atmosphere here and everywhere we ate was so New Orleans.

The next day I was on my own as Sam had a seminar to attend so I took an all day tour of the Oak Alley Plantation. So this is one of those things I’ve had on my bucket list since I read ‘Gone With the Wind’ in the 6th Grade. And it did not disappoint. This was the view from the back of the house.

This was the view from the front of the house off the second story balcony. At the end of the walkway is a road and across from it is the levee they built up for the Mississippi and that red thing is a barge floating down it. I think it’s a half a mile to the end of the drive from the house. I have never in my life seen such grandeur on that scale. I was in awe.

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This is the front of the house. Of course we were not allowed to take pictures of the inside during the tour which was a huge bummer. I also learned that the trees down the front entrance and all the trees in New Orleans proper are actually Virginia Live Oak and not native to Louisiana. Virginia Live Oaks naturally let their branches lay and grow on the ground. I always wondered why the trees in Louisiana looked so weepy and just magical–I thought it was the climate or something. Trees don’t grow like that in Texas y’all. The trees growing along this walkway are anywhere from one hundred and fifty to over two-hundred years old.

The picture above is from the very end of the walkway.

This was the highlight of my trip. I really cannot wait to go back again and tour some of the other plantations in the area. I am so so so glad I went–even if I was by myself. It was worth it. I did not want to leave and I made Sam promise me that we would go back together soon.

I returned to New Orleans and met Sam after his seminar and we grabbed a quick snack and then did more sight-seeing in the French Quarter.

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One of the things I really wanted to do was dine alfresco in the French Quarter and we happened upon this amazing restaurant called Tableau on the corner of Chartres St. and St. Peter St. There was this perfect breeze as we ordered cocktails and dessert from the second story balcony just enjoying the afternoon until Sam had to go back for more seminar classes. It was the perfect last afternoon of my trip.

I thought I was going to be spending the evening by myself and I enjoyed the view and the food so much I went back to Tableau for dinner. I still can’t get over the European architecture that was the French Quarter. I didn’t feel like I was in America at all. I took this photo from my table and was enjoying my dinner when Sam came back and joined me as a surprise! It was a perfect ending to my trip!

I enjoyed New Orleans so much and I only saw an eighth of the places I wanted to see. But hands down my favorite thing about New Orleans is the people. They are some of the most friendly, down to earth people I’ve ever met. And I can understand why so many people visit here and then don’t leave. The atmosphere was so easy and relaxed but also full of life. People here work hard but they also know when it’s time to lay down their work for the day and enjoy life–really enjoy it. I didn’t want to come home I loved it so much. And now I understand why I hear people rave about it all the time. It’s a city to love.

Maegan — xx