Summer Mini-Bucket List, 2017 Iteration

Wheat field 2017

Summer officially begins today!  In celebration of the start of the most relaxed and carefree season of my year, I’m once again compiling a mini-bucket list of fun activities to enjoy before the Fall, with all its structure and demands, rolls around again.

Summer Mini-Bucket List, 2017

  1. Try three new-to-me local restaurants.  Top choices include the Belvedere Inn, Gibraltar, and Luca.
  2. Visit an Escape Room with my family before Julia and Mark leave for college.  This looks like so much fun!
  3. Attend a lawn concert at Nissley Vineyards.  A soft summer evening, homegrown wine, good friends, and live music for listening and dancing – a recipe for grown-up fun.
  4. Get to Central Market a few Friday mornings.  A historical treasure and a feast for the senses.
  5. Churn out a new flavor of homemade ice cream.  How about the Cookies and Cream Ice Cream recipe from Sweet Cream and Sugar Cones by Kris Hoogerhyde, Anne Walker, and Dabney Gough?  Yeah, I thought it sounded delicious, too.
  6. Read at least twelve books.  (Just trying to reach my Goodreads Summer Reading Goal of 12 – 20 books).  My summer reading choices swing between light and fluffy and suspenseful and thrilling (i.e, The Little Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan and  The Woman in Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware).
  7. Go to a baseball game (the Phillies or Barnstormers).  I do wish the Phils were playing better…
  8. Spend some quality time with my camera.  The flowers alone provide endless  possibilities for reviving my photography skills.
  9. Take an afternoon to bike an area Rail-to-Trail path.  I’d prefer if the trail was a downhill ride both ways.
  10. Volunteer for or support a local non-profit organization.  Clare House, Water Street Mission, and Schreiber Pediatric Center are a few I’m considering.
  11. Camp at a state park.  World’s End State Park on the Loyalsock Creek near Williamsport is looking promising.
  12. Memorize Romans 8:31 -39.  I need some sort of a challenge after all these mostly self-focused, feel good goals. 😉


I have very few other plans for the summer, actually.  In a few short days we’ll be heading to Corolla in the Outer Banks of North Carolina for a week of glorious laziness.  Other than that, I plan to hang around here, watching my son play baseball a few evenings a week and spending as much time as possible on my porch and patio.  We’ll be grilling all the time and eating ice cream (homemade or not), buttery corn on the cob, sweet raspberries, and juicy peaches.  My two oldest kiddos are heading to Lebanon Valley in the fall so I want to spend as much time as I can with them before they go.   I’ll also be starting to teach my youngest son how to drive.  His older siblings have broken me in pretty well so I’m not expecting too many “life passing before my eyes” experiences.

If I can accomplish all of this in the next few months, it will be a blessed summer indeed.

What are your plans and/or goals for the summer?  Please share!

Previous Summer mini-bucket lists here and here.


A Little Yule Cheer: Day 18 (Inspiration: December)


Are your feeling overwhelmed or scroogy yet?  I hope not, but it can happen to the best of us in the midst of endless preparations, activities, and celebrations.  Perhaps you need a time out?  Grab a hot drink, make yourself comfortable and take a few minutes to recharge.  I’ve found some no-pressure links to inspire and recharge your spirit this holiday season.  It’s OK to allow  yourself some down time.  Enjoy!

Inspiration: December

  • Taking cookies to the next level.  SweetAmbs creates the cutest penguin cookies ever!  If you have time, check out her snowglobe cookies, too. ( I just enjoy watching the videos and listening to the music).
  • Food 52 shares even more baking tips than I do.  Rolling dough between pieces of plastic wrap when it is still soft and then chilling it is genius.  I’ll have to give that a try.
  • Snowflake bread.  Beautiful!
  • Slowing down the holiday madness.  Laura Gaskill provides very doable words of wisdom.
  • Ann Voskamp takes the matter even more seriously.  She doesn’t just want to slow Christmas down, she wants to turn it upside down.
  • This advice on decorating for Christmas from The Lazy Genius Collective continues the theme of mindful Christmas preparations.
  • Two holiday weekends are looming on the horizon.  Read this for some suggestions on how to spend the time off.  I see much movie watching, book reading and game playing in my future.
  • Are you feeling a bit crafty?  These paper snowflakes look pretty easy and are very pretty.
  • For book lovers: Check out NPR’s Best Books of 2015.  A very interesting list.  Because I’ve been working so hard to reduce my To Be Read (TBR) pile, I’ve hardly read any of the books mentioned.
  • Check this list out from Live Renewed for “life changing” faith-based reading recommendations.
  • Even though I probably won’t finish Popsugar’s 2015 Reading Challenge ( I still have 9.5 books to go), the 2016 Reading Challenge is posted.  It sounds very tempting.
  • If you love A Christmas Carol as much as I do, you might enjoy seeing the home Charles Dickens lived in while he was establishing his career as a writer.  You can take a tour here at Houzz.
  • My favorite secular Christmas tune…

Inspiration: August/September


The first few weeks of September are an in-between time around here.  The days are still all summer hotness (it was 90°F yesterday) but the sunlight has mellowed, the shadows are lengthening and darkness arrives earlier each night.  School has resumed, much to everyone’s disappointment,  but we haven’t yet settled into The Schedule.  There is still time to make a batch of peach jam or to enjoy a late night glass of sangria on the front porch but I’ve also been indulging in fallish activities like baking and attending high school football games.  I’m enjoying this in-between time.  It’s a lovely place to be.

The link love I’m sharing reflects this in-between-ness with a bit of summer, a bit of fall  and a bit of other stuff thrown in.  Enjoy!

Inspiration: August/September

  • This looks like a delightful summer pie.  The season doesn’t officially end until September 23 which means there’s still time to give it a try.
  • If you are like me, you believe both summer and fall are wonderful seasons for hiking.  This list highlights some of the best hikes in the world.  They all look fabulous but for now I’d settle for a few days on the Rim-to-Rim Grand Canyon trail.
  • This wouldn’t be an Inspiration list without a nod to books and fall reading lists are popping up everywhere.  Check out this and this for suggestions of books to snuggle up with when the temperature turns chilly.
  • Photographic inspiration: Mary Ellen Mark.  I especially like her behind the scenes images of movies from 1969-2007.
  • On a serious, faith-based note, the Christian community in America is struggling with the recent legalization of gay marriage.  Carey Niewwhof, a Canadian pastor, offers some sound insights that I’ve been pondering for months.  I appreciate his thoughts on the topic.
  • The Dutch masters and their love affair with chiaroscuro make my heart flutter.  I’ve discovered that Rembrandt’s home in Amsterdam has been restored to look as it did when he resided there and is open for tours.  Yes, please!

Inspiration: June


Lately, my life has been filled to overflowing with celebratory madness: proms, graduations, birthday and graduation parties, the start of summer vacation, an anniversary and a much anticipated trip to Scotland. God has been raining down the blessings and it has been really good and really crazy. Now that all the festivities are over, I’m looking forward to a laid back summer with time to rest and finally process everything that’s happened in the last month and or so. Because of all the merry-making, I’m a little late with my sources of inspiration for June. Thankfully, everything should be just as inspiring in July. Enjoy!

Inspiration: June

  • My daughter graduated from high school this month.  Needless to say, it has been a big year for “Lasts” and “Good-byes”.  This reminder was something I definitely needed.
  • This advice also struck a chord with me.  I just celebrated 23 years of marriage to my best friend so I especially agree with #4.
  • Speaking of marriage, June has traditionally been the most popular month for weddings.  And weddings mean wedding dresses, right?  See some of the most iconic wedding dresses of all time here.
  • June also ushers in the summer break from school.  Which means the kids will be at home (yeah!) and the house will be perpetually messy (boo!).  Maybe this and this will inspire us to manage the chaos and protect my sanity.
  • We’ll be camping at least once this summer.  In a tent.  But I could be persuaded to forgo hard-core roughing-it for a stay in one of these.  They are just the cutest!
  • Summer is the time for travel and vacationing for the Whimsey Pie family.  I can sometimes get overwhelmed with the planning and preparations. I’m glad I stumbled across this to gain some perspective.  From now on my vacation mantra will be “High on love, low on expectations”.
  • An Inspiration list wouldn’t be complete without some book recommendations.  These suggestions focus on faith and offer some thought-provoking reads.  I’ve already read The Shack and An Altar in the World and am currently reading Blue Like Jazz – all very good.  I think I’ll be taking one of the others to the beach with me in July.  Perhaps Walking on Water or Quotidian Mysteries
  • It’s black raspberry season right now in my corner of the world.  I’ve already made some delicious seedless jam.  Now it’s time to try this.  (Just the color of it is enough to move me – seriously.)
  • And this, for a tart taste of summer.
  • And this, which I find strangely appealing.  That sweet/salty combo, probably.
  • For my monthly photography fix, this.
  • Finally:

My sentiments exactly.  Thank God for the summertime…





Inspiration: April/May


Although it’s been more hectic around here than I care to admit, I have taken time to revel in the greens and blues of late spring.  Warmer weather seems like such a treat because, after this winter, I thought it would never, ever, EVER return to my part of the world.  Between finishing up my Master’s degree and spending any free time I have outside, I haven’t done much Internet surfing for leisure.  Even so, I’ve stumbled upon a few things to inspire the heart, enlighten the mind and uplift the spirit.


Inspiration: April/May

  • Lately, my porch and patio have become my favorite “rooms” of the house. I like Houzz’s ideas for making these areas even homier.
  • Want a more luxurious way to improve an outdoor space?  Add a swimming pool.  I love the idea of these natural pools.
  • What will I be doing while I’m hanging out on my porch?  Reading, of course.  (I second Garden Spells, The Martian, Cinder and A Walk in the Woods – all great summer reads.)
  • And when I’m not reading, I’ll be cooking and eating good things from the grill.  This little chart makes the mystery of grilling the perfect steak as plain as the nose on my face.
  • Of course, there must also be dessert.  Something light and refreshing on a warm summer evening.  This looks just about perfect, I think.
  • Summer always means travel to me.  Even though I already have the family’s plans mapped out this year, these US destinations are pretty tempting.  Bombay Hook isn’t far from my home and Mount Desert Island is already a favorite I would return to again and again.
  • Finally, for a unique photography fix:

Now I think I’m ready to dive into summer.  Are you?