I love recognizing and indulging in small pleasures on a regular basis. They add a sense of happiness and contentment to my life. Summertime offers an inordinate amount of these delights (ice cream cones from Pine View Dairy, lightning bugs, eating al fresco at every opportunity, etc.) and I’ve been enjoying as many of them as I can.
My favorites of the summer so far:
- Strawberry spinach salad. June is strawberry season around here and I am all about those strawberries. My favorite way to eat them this year is in this beautiful spinach salad. I just can’t get enough of the sweet and tangy deliciousness.
- Baseball season. Youth baseball, that is. This is the last year my youngest son, Aaron, will play in the local youth league so I am trying to soak up as much of the experience as I can. The weather has been especially accommodating for evening baseball games and Aaron’s team is having a winning year. It’s an irresistible combination as a spectator/mom.
- Listening to The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah. I’ve recently gotten into audiobooks as an enticement to walk regularly or complete nasty chores. For most of June, I’ve listened to The Nightingale, A WWII story that focuses on the experiences of two very different sisters in Nazi occupied France. The narrator, Polly Stone, does a fantastic job of bringing the characters to life and I’m transported to another, often sad and dark but ultimately hopeful, world.
- Summer reading lists. I love reading articles and blog posts about books and the summer reading lists are jam-packed with great suggestions. Considering my massive TBR pile, perusing lists of tempting books is rather counter-productive but I can’t seem to help myself. If you are wondering what book you should take with you to the pool, beach, or your next vacation these sites are good places to start: Modern Mrs. Darcy, The Bookbub Blog, and Popsugar.
- The front porch. My front porch is shaded for most of the day and secluded from the street by burning bush and holly. It is private and comfy and I have already whiled away many pleasant hours reading a good book, watching a thunderstorm roll in, or relaxing with my husband in the late evening after a long, busy day.
I hope you are taking time to enjoy the small pleasures of summer and of life. Please tell me about them in the comments!
One of my Summer Mini-Bucket List items is to read 12 books by the end of August. My intention is to mix books that satisfy the Popsugar Reading Challenge with a few faith-based books and what I consider lighter, fluffier choices. I’ve compiled a tentative list of the books I plan to devour in the next few months. I say tentative because, other than the Popsugar books which I have to read to meet the challenge, I’ll be letting my feelings dictate my selections. Right now the reading list is pretty fluffy because I just finished The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey and am in need of some mindless (but well-executed) entertainment. That may or may not change as the summer progresses. In anticipation of my fickle feelings, I’ve added some alternative choices just in case nothing I’ve officially listed is tempting me.
Summer Reading List:
- The Girl With All the Gifts by Mike Carey (a book recommended by a stranger, audiobook)
- The Summer Before the War by Helen Simonson (a book published in 2016)
- Wide Sargasso Sea by Jean Rhys (a book and its prequel – this would be the prequel to Jane Eyre which I already read)
- The Art of Fielding by Chad Harbach (a book with a blue cover)
- Dune by Frank Herbert (a science fiction novel)
- Girl Waits with Gun by Amy Stewart
- The Good Girl by Mary Kubica
- The Eyre Affair by Jasper Fforde
- Still Life by Louise Penny
- A Dangerous Place by Jaqueline Winspear
- The Case for a Creator by Lee Strobel
- Made to Crave by Lysa Terkeurst
Waiting in the wings (just in case): The Beach Street Bakery by Jenny Colgan , The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah, The Storied Life of A.J. Fikry by Garielle Zevin, A Man Called Ove by Fredric Backman, Out of the the House of Bread by Preston Yancy, H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald, In the Garden of Beasts: Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin by Eric Larson.
I’m looking forward to settling in with these books and only wish I had time to read them all…
What books are you looking forward to reading this summer?
Ah, Summer! I love your long days, relaxed pace, and the opportunities you provide to do most of my living outdoors. With your arrival, my schedule loosens up, travel adventures commence, and I can reconnect with my family over campfires and hikes in the woods. You are the long-awaited, extended vacation of my overly-ordered, hectic year.
Each summer I make a list of fun goals I’d like to accomplish and activities I’d like to experience during the season. Having a bit of a plan protects me from waking up one morning in September, realizing that summer has slipped away and I missed its unique opportunities because I was too caught up in the minutiae of living. This summer, my bucket list touches on a few bigger, long term goals but is mostly light-hearted and fun. I can’t wait to get started.
Summer 2016 Mini-Bucket List
- Visit a historical site I’ve never been to before. Poplar Forest (Thomas Jefferson’s vacation home) and Fort Ticonderoga are possibilities based on vacation plans.
- Spend a day with each of my children doing whatever their hearts desire. I have a feeling there’s a lot of fishing in my future.
- Offer three different invites for dinner on the patio to friends we would like to get to know better. I’ve been convicted of my stinginess with my time and this is a small way for me to practice generosity and hospitality.
- Try a new homemade ice cream recipe. Strawberry, maybe? Or peach? Or salted caramel?
- Go to a major league baseball game. It’s been a few years and the Phillies are actually playing pretty well so far this season.
- Take a road trip. Is it cheating to put this on my list when I already have the road trips planned? My husband and I will be driving the Blue ridge Parkway at the end of June and in August the family will cruise to the Adirondacks.
- Enjoy some time in my kayak. My husband bought me a kayak two years ago and I have yet to use it. It’s about time I took the opportunity to enjoy a float down the Conestoga.
- Swim in a lake. I haven’t done this in years and I think the Adirondacks will be the perfect place to jump in.
- Participate in a service project with my family. I’m not sure what form this activity will take but it should be a great bonding experience for us that also benefits others.
- Read or listen to 12 books. That’s about 4 books a month. Piece of cake! I want to keeping plugging away at the Popsugar Reading Challenge and also read some books just for the fun of it. It is summer, after all, and summer reading should never be a chore.
- Walk 108 miles (3 miles, 3 times a week for 12 weeks). My health and well-being are worth this little bit of time investment. Besides, I often listen to books when I walk – more story time for me.
- Sit on the porch or patio late in the evening with Jay as many nights as possible, listening to nature’s music and talking over our little and big dreams.
Welcome, Summer! Stay as long as you like.
Do you have any goals you’d like to accomplish this summer?
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!
- 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.
My sentiments exactly. Thank God for the summertime…
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.
- 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?