2018 Summer Mini-Bucket List

 
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I’ve always loved summer, especially when my kiddos were school-aged.  The Fun Fridays, endless pool days, library reading challenges, and impromptu meet-ups with cousins to tour potato chip factories or play in the park filled our days with fun and created wonderful memories.  Now that I’m a parent of two young adults and a teenager who is driving, the structure of the summer months has morphed into something entirely different and it still feels a little weird to me.

High school and college are finished for the year so the kids are technically enjoying a break, although it doesn’t feel like it.  Julia is studying abroad in Italy this month and we only speak to her a few nights a week for a few minutes.  When she returns, she’ll be working and probably spending a lot time with her boyfriend.  Mark is working full time for a landscaper friend of ours during the day and his evenings are dedicated to his girlfriend or to fishing with his brother. And Aaron, who would love to find a job, prefers fishing or watching Netflix with a certain girl with very long hair and glasses to hanging out with his mom.

I’m being left to my own devices this summer and it’s a bittersweet experience.  While I’m sad that the years of corralling and entertaining little people are over, I’m enjoying the experience of watching my children grow into their capable and independent adult selves.  I’m also really looking forward to some me time this summer, which brings me, finally, to the reason for this post.  It’s time for my annual Summer Mini-Bucket List.

This year I’m taking my inspiration from Tsh Oxenrider of The Simple Show, a podcast I occasionally listen to.  The theme for June is Grown-Upping the Summer and Tsh and her co-host Kendra Adachi talk about ways to have a personally enjoyable and productive summer without losing your mind.  In the first podcast of the series, Tsh outlines four categories that provide the framework for her low-key summer goals.  The categories are: 1) Something to learn, 2) Something to enjoy, 3) Something good for me, and 4) Something to finish.  These mesh well with my own summer goal philosophy so I’ve decide to build my mini-bucket list around her framework.  (Note: I have added one additional goal: Some way to serve).

After considering these categories and my own expectations and hopes for the summer, I came up with this list:

2018 Summer Mini-Bucket List

  1. Something to learn:  Learn how to play Somewhere Over the Rainbow on the piano.  I just bought the sheet music for this lovely arrangement and I’d like to take time to learn it well and maybe even memorize it.
  2. Something to enjoy:  Voracious reading for pleasure.  No surprises here, I know, but I have been doing so much hard reading lately for the Challies 2018 Reading Challenge and for work that I need a break.  I am only going to read what thrills me this summer.  Period.
  3. Something good for me.  Walk 10 miles a week.  The goal here is to get outside, indulge in the pleasure of moving my body and reap some health benefits.
  4. Something to finish.  Finish decorating the dining room.  Originally I was going to say “Hem the drapes in the dining room”, but that would only be a partial finish because we still need a carpet and wall sconces and a plant and a photograph framed and hung.  With this in mind, the actual goal includes putting all the finishing touches on the dining room.
  5. Some way to serve:  Prepare and deliver meals for people in need.  I am part of a group at my church that prepares meals and takes them to individuals who have recently had surgery or welcomed a new baby into their family.  Because of my work schedule most of the year, I can only infrequently sign up for a meal.  This summer, every time an opportunity arises, I am going to sign up and make it work with my schedule.

This is a short list, especially compared to some of my previous summer mini-bucket lists, but it feels just right for this time in my life.  It’s eminently doable, totally low stress, and just makes me happy.  It also provides plenty of breathing space for all the other serendipitous and wonderful things this summer might have to offer.  I think I’ll get started right away with a good book and a beverage on the front porch.

Do you make any goals or bucket lists for the summer?  Please share.

 

 

Summer Mini-Bucket List, 2017 Iteration

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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)

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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

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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

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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…