Homemade Happiness: Iced Coffee

Half-finished iced coffee

While I generally love all things coffee, I have never been a big fan of cold coffee drinks, especially those that are just regular coffee over ice.  I think to me, it feels counterproductive, as I am usually trying to consume my coffee before it gets to that state. (Many moms of small children likely feel me on this one.)

However, on a particularly humid day recently, I found myself ordering an iced coffee instead of my usual hot brew.  To my further surprise, I loved it! It got me wondering how easy it would be to make at home.

In my past experiences trying to reproduce lattes and the like, the results have been disappointing.  (The one exception to this has been the Oh She Glows version of the Pumpkin Spice Latte, which I would argue when made as instructed is even better than the original.) Recipes for iced coffee usually call for pre-made coffee concentrate, so I wasn’t sure how this would go.

I loved the way it turned out on the first try, and have made it several times since.

  1. Brew a cup of hot coffee as you normally would.  I use a vanilla-flavored decaf.
  2. Add any sweetener at this point so it can dissolve in the hot liquid.  I add about a teaspoon of honey.
  3. Refrigerate until the coffee has cooled to your liking.  I generally refrigerate overnight.  You could also use the freezer – just don’t forget to keep an eye on it!
  4. Pour the coffee over several ice cubes in a glass.  Add milk or cream to taste, and enjoy!

While pouring coffee over ice doesn’t seem particularly noteworthy, apparently a good iced coffee is more straightforward than I thought.  If you like them too, it is worth giving this super-simple method a try.  I have a feeling it will be adding some extra happiness to my summer!

Getting Back To It

dandelions
Freshly-picked dandelions.

It has been a while since I’ve updated here.  About eight months to be exact…yikes!

Things dropped off a lot in the fall last year.  It felt like a lot of my posts, while I was writing about things I am genuinely interested in and am often passionate about (yep, I am truly passionate about smoothies), were a little wooden.  Being somewhat reserved, I hold back a lot, and additionally I wanted to write about things that very often did not fit with the theme of my blog, such as it is.

However, I want to continue to blog and feel it is a great outlet to get some of my thoughts out into the world.

So where to go from here?  As I have discussed in previous posts, being a stay-at-home mom is my  primary occupation at the moment.

As such, a lot of what I am compelled to write about concerns things like cultivating contentment, day-to-day life with a preschooler, finding outlets to maintain sanity, juggling priorities, food, the joys and tribulations of feeding kids, meal planning…and the list could go on.  While I have not wanted to have a ‘mommy’ blog per se, it is a key part of my identity, so some of my writing is naturally going to fall into this category.

The fact is, there are a lot of things going on right now.  We are all so many things and our roles change as we pass through different seasons.  I am a wife, mom, writer, friend, feminist, daydreamer, music lover, avid reader, and home cook. I am a trained researcher and am interested in social change. I like finding ways to be creative, and I like exploring the minutiae of everyday life.  I want to write about the other things that are of interest to me, too.

To a certain extent, the theme of my posts will not change dramatically, for the aforementioned reasons!  But since this is a personal blog, I want to write a bit more generally, and see what sticks in terms of a more specific focus.

If you are reading this, I hope you will follow along to see how it goes! See you in a week or so.

Thinking About Time + Chalkboard Art

This one should really be tattooed on my forehead. But the chalkboard will do for now.
This one should really be tattooed on my forehead. But the chalkboard will do for now.

As my friend Sherrie mentioned in a recent post, when care of a small child is your full-time job, it is taunting the universe a bit to make any declaration as to how you will regularly spend your time. Particularly in regards to taking specific actions at specific times.

Such as making a statement, if only to myself, that I am going to try and post weekly on the blog. This was my intention when I first started out in January. I was able to keep up with this for a while, and I have more ideas for posts than I know what to do with. However, as any parent knows, a change in circumstances (as in the loss of naps in my case – RIP) means you need to work a little differently to work in what’s important to you. It is possible, it just requires some imagination and tweaking. Until there is finite time to regularly devote to writing, I will just have to squeeze it in where possible! I would much rather post less often than I would like than give up in frustration because I have set a standard I am not able to meet.

Speaking of tweaks, I intend to spend some time rethinking and sharpening the direction I would like the blog to go in. (Ahem. As time permits, of course. ) Over the next little while, I am going to continue to post what interests me and see what comes of that.

Recently I have been having a little fun with a chalkboard we put up in our kitchen/main hallway area.

Have Courage and Be Kind

It turns out that it not only brightens up the area quite a bit, but it’s nice to encounter a positive message each time I walk by. And it’s a reason for me to regularly play with coloured chalk and be creative in tiny chunks. Chalkboard art for the win!

Happy Friday, everyone!

Link Love: 3 Recipes We’ve Been Enjoying this Summer

Three Summer Recipes

Although summer has officially ended, the days are growing shorter and there is a definite chill in the air, I just cannot be sad about the arrive of fall, my favorite season. It is not too late to soak up as much fun and outside time as we can, and now that I have (mostly) gotten the hang of grilling, I intend to enjoy it as long as possible! Our family has been enjoying these easy recipes all summer long, but they are great any time of year.

Cilantro Lime Grilled Shrimp

Cilantro Lime Grilled Shrimp

In keeping with my goal of mastering learning to properly use the barbecue this summer, shrimp were the first thing I tackled. They are extremely easy and quick to cook, and the great thing about shrimp on the grill is that it can literally be done five minutes before you would like to eat.

This marinade from Closet Cooking is tangy, fresh and summery. The first time I made it, I did not have fresh cilantro on hand and used a paste instead – it was still fantastic. Some lime zest as well as juice is awesome, too!

These skewers would be a great appetizer at a barbecue or other get-together and are particularly good with coconut rice. And they are a delicious accompaniment to a summery salad, like this one. But perhaps my favorite thing about this recipe is that you can pair it with just about anything and throw together a meal in no time.

Cilantro Lime Grilled Shrimp

Recipe notes:

  • Don’t forget to soak your wooden skewers in water at least half an hour ahead of time to avoid burning.

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Pitas

Greek Chicken Pitas

Raise Healthy Eaters is one of my favorite sites to visit for practical, research-based advice on feeding children, and it is also a great source of easy, family-friendly recipes, this one being no exception.

I have been regularly making this yummy chicken pita dish since getting my slow cooker last year. The slow cooker is a great way to infuse flavor and tenderness into otherwise bland and dry chicken breasts, which I often find difficult to cook to my liking. And the addition of broth, herbs and lemon juice give this shredded chicken amazing flavor. I have often made it on its own to have on hand for things like wraps, salad and pizza.

Slow Cooker Greek Chicken Pitas

Additionally, the accompaniments for this recipe (tomato, onion and feta mixture, tzatziki) come together very quickly and are great for using up summer produce. This is a fun meal to serve family-style where everyone can add their own toppings.

I love Greek flavors and these pitas feel like a real treat without being too heavy, plus the slow cooker takes care of the chicken with no need for the oven. Perfect for summer! One of my favorite ways to enjoy this recipe is to skip the pita or bun and serve the chicken and toppings over spinach or other greens. I have also served this to company several times with rave reviews and it is kiddo-approved. (Not by my kiddo yet, although she is happy to dig into the hummus and pita bread!)

Flourless Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Blondies

blondies2

This is not a ‘summer’ recipe as such, but I’ve made these blondies several times in the past few weeks, and am officially hooked. As a disclaimer, I am all for regular brownies and blondies as part of a ‘healthy’ lifestyle in all their gooey, sugary glory. That said, I do love finding ways to incorporate more wholesome ingredients into baked goods, since there are lots of ways to add moisture, richness and body besides flour, butter and oil. It is also nice to have an arsenal of recipes that are less treat and more snack.

Bottom line: These blondies are good. Chick peas do not immediately spring to mind when thinking of wholesome baking substitutes, largely because they have a relatively dry texture. And I admit that although I love to experiment with beans in baking, I may not have tried these on my own. But after trying some made by a friend of mine I was sold.

The chick peas work surprisingly well! They blend up in the food processor with peanut butter to a hummus-like consistency, and essentially it is hummus with maple syrup added for sweetness. (I have used PB as a tahini substitute in hummus many times, as I am much more likely to have it on hand.) I like the chewy, dense texture of these, and they are especially good chilled.

Flourless PB Choc Chip Blondies

What I especially love about using ingredients like these is that you get a satisfying snack that does not leave you lethargic ten minutes later. The kiddo also loves to help make these and gives them two thumbs up.

Some notes:

  • I used vegan chocolate chips, specifically Enjoy Life Mini Chips, which were great.
  • I did not use the coconut sugar called for and just added a splash of extra maple syrup. These were sweet enough for me, but judge according to your own preferences.
  • Although the recipe states 1 and 1/2 cups of chick peas or one can, my cans yield 2 full cups, and I use the whole thing.

What are some of your favorite summer recipes?

5 Reasons I Love Using Timers

timers

Productivity and goal-setting are popular topics these days, with many of us trying to sort out the best ways to effectively accomplish what we need to do each day while squeezing in time for the fun-to-dos as well. There are endless sources of information out there in the forms of websites, blogs, apps, books, podcasts and many others that focus on how to make the best possible use of your time.

Generally, I tend to be fairly organized and goal-oriented, so my problem is not coming up with a plan of action or things that I want to accomplish. However, I often have trouble with focus. I know there is only so much time to spend in a day on certain tasks, like writing, without them crowding into other areas I am responsible for. And like many parents of small children, I am subject to often unpredictable pockets of time. I am grateful for the nap, for example, but how long will it last? (I learned long ago not to rely on what normally happens, as that will be the one day the kiddo decides to change things up.)

As a result, when I do have time to sit down and read, write, meal plan, or whatever, I find myself thinking about all the other things I could be doing, even when I’ve decided beforehand that this time will be for a certain task. Or worse, I start my task, but then go down a rabbit hole of distractions around the house or online.

To combat this, on almost a daily basis I use one of my favorite tools: a simple timer. Here’s why I love them.

1. Timers help keep goals spaced into manageable chunks.

To state the obvious, setting aside a small amount of time to dedicate to something you want to accomplish will help prevent being overwhelmed. You only need to spend the allotted time on it, and then you are done.

In her book Happier at Home and on her blog, Gretchen Rubin talks about the power of ‘suffering’ for 15 minutes. That is, when a task is daunting and overwhelming (Rubin uses the example of wrangling her large collection of digital photos), devoting 15 minutes to it daily until it is finished is an effective way to deal with it. The idea is that you can stand anything, no matter how annoying, for just 15 minutes a day (or even every couple of days). It may take time, but slowly chipping away at small chunks can accomplish a great deal over the long-term.

I have used this idea several times now, including to work on organizing my own digital photos. It is great for tasks that technically don’t need to be done (there will not be dire consequences for you or your family if you don’t eventually organize your photos), because they are likely never even to get started. Starting a timer for 15 minutes, and keeping to the definitive start and end points, helps make space to complete goals that can be overwhelming into tiny chunks that are doable. On the other hand…

2. Timers can work as a kick-starter for things I have trouble getting the motivation to do.

If I want to work on a piece of writing but just can’t seem to get started, or am struggling with an idea, I will set a timer for 5 or 10 minutes and just start in. Usually, this helps me focus in and not think about all the reasons I am having trouble with it. This is different from the point above in that my goal is to get a little momentum and keep going once the time is up. Sometimes, this helps me break through the apathy and keep on writing. But if not, at least something has been started!

3. Timers reinforce how much can be done in a very short amount of time.

15, 10 or even 5 minutes may not seem like a lot of time, but we tend to overestimate how much time it takes to do a dreaded or annoying task. I tend to put off certain chores like changing the bed sheets or emptying the dishwasher because I don’t like doing them. But if I set a timer for 5 minutes and complete a task like this, it becomes obvious very quickly how little time it takes. (The dishwasher can often be unloaded in as little as three minutes.) I’m far more likely to just do these things when they need to be done because I’m aware of how little time they will actually eat up.

As an aside to this, you can use a stopwatch (most smart phones have this feature now as well) to time certain tasks you dislike. You might discover that they take far less time than you think they do.

4. Timers help keep my least favorite, ongoing tasks to a minimum.

Unlike emptying the dishwasher, some tasks can take an infinite amount of time if we let them. I do not want to spend large chunks of my day cleaning or tidying beyond the necessary. Especially when, in the case of things like picking up toys, things will get messy again pretty quickly. At the same time, clutter and mess tend to drive me nuts.

If I want to pick up and tidy a bit at the end of the day or any other time, I will often set a timer for 5-10 minutes and just go at it. (The kiddo loves setting timers, too.) Whether you attack the clutter or go slowly and methodically, your space will often look very different after even 5 minutes of picking up. And then you can stop. There will always be more you could do. But setting a timer will help things stay relatively manageable without having to feel like you are spending half your life cleaning.

5. Using a timer keeps my overactive brain in check.

If I set a timer for 10 or 15 minutes or even longer, I know I have a finite amount of time to use. Writing a blog post or working on other writing projects, brainstorming ideas, or even working on a household chore can really get me thinking about other things that need to be done or all the ideas I have, and before I know it I am overwhelmed. Setting a timer reminds me that right now, the task at hand is all I have to think about, and generally this helps me feel calmer.

What is your favorite way to manage your time?

4 Things Making Me Happy Right Now

Hello Kitty also took in all the sights.
Hello Kitty also took in all the sights.

I hope everyone out there is enjoying the summer months (although lately for us, summer has more of an early-October feel some days. At least I can generally get away with wearing a hoodie and not something heavier!). I am working playing away at my summer bucket list and enjoying breaking out of our usual routine a bit. In keeping with that, here are a few things that are making me happy at the moment.

1. Road Tripping

Living on an island, it is often pretty time-consuming to get anywhere outside the province quickly unless you are going to fly, and that’s generally what we do. So it was lovely to get an opportunity recently to spend some time in Ontario, and take a detour through the northern United States and a few other provinces before heading home. The kiddo was a great sport as at three, she is now old enough to mostly appreciate seeing different sights (punctuated with frequent stops, snacks, chances to run around and the odd episode of Bubble Guppies) and she thought it was awesome to have taken a plane, a train, a subway, a car and a ferry all in one trip. And we enjoyed crossing a few destinations off our bucket list (hello Baseball Hall of Fame), trying some fantastic restaurants, and finding some places we knew little about beforehand but would love to return to. (Like this one!)

2. Some New Mugs to Admire

Nope, this post is not sponsored by Starbucks. But I have to admit that although I’m usually adverse to picking up more stuff to have around the house, I do have a thing for mugs. In Florida a few months back I picked up one of the new You Are Here series, and I loved the colorful and whimsical design. We had a fantastic time on that trip and I’m reminded of that whenever I use the mug, which is often.

On our recent trip I picked up a few more. I love mugs as souvenirs anyway regardless of brand, since they are functional, often beautiful, and you can relive a memory from a trip while sipping your morning coffee. New York might be my favorite so far.

3. Getting Up Early

This is a repeat from last time, but it is still at the top of my list. If I have to choose between getting enough sleep and getting up earlier than the rest of my household, I will always usually choose enough sleep. (Lack of sleep=cranky mom.) But that is why getting to bed on time is a priority. Second in awesomeness to enough sleep is getting some quiet time and the opportunity to plan my day a bit. Plus, as cliché as it might be, watching the sun come up and enjoying the stillness cannot be beat.

4. Reading Some Fun Fiction

I’ve been reading a ton of non-fiction the past few years, and recently have been trying to pack in a little more fiction, both for inspirational and relaxation purposes and to get out of my own head a little bit (it’s crowded in there!). Since titles like The Book Thief and Adult Onset have been on the list, it was nice recently to stumble upon some lighter-read novels, namely the Stephanie Plum series by Janet Evanovich. These are a lot of fun and are the type of books you can read through in an afternoon.

What is making you happy this summer?

And…Crickets

Sunrise

Hello there, dear reader.  I am learning some lessons the past few months about the likelihood of being able to post regularly when our usual routine is disrupted – even in a good way, like road tripping for the last several days. I had more than intention, I had plans to squeeze in a few quick posts, but they did not happen.  (Much like back in April.)  Hence the soothing sound of crickets you now hear in this space.

So.  Regular posting will resume shortly. I look forward to enjoying a few more sunrises – like the one above! – and getting back to it.

Apple Sauce Four Ways

Apple Sauce 4 Ways!

Apple sauce, for me, falls into a food category where depending on your time, energy, interests and values, it is debatable whether or not it is worth making at home. Sure, purchasing the ingredients and making it from scratch may be cost effective sometimes, and you may feel some pride in knowing that you made it yourself, but you may also want to invest your time and energy elsewhere. There are many brands available now that feature just pureed apples and other fruit, and nothing else. Personally, I would usually prefer to spend the energy assembling, preparing and cleaning up various ingredients and appliances to make something I feel will be of better quality if I make it myself.

Having said all that, there are also lots of reasons homemade apple sauce comes in handy. We tend to purchase apples in bulk, and it is an easy way to use up those that are getting past their prime. If you like the convenience of store-bought apple sauce but dislike going through so much packaging in the form of pots and pouches, making your own might be worth the time. And finally, making your own allows you to put your personal spin on it, which is the primary reason I like to make anything.

Whatever your reasons are, if you are inclined to try it for yourself, it could not be easier: peel apples and cut into chunks, add whatever flavors you like, add water, simmer and puree. Here are a few variations that are popular at our house.

peeled_apples

Basic Apple Cinnamon

Peel five apples of your favorite type (I like Royal Gala), core and chop into large chunks. Add to a medium sauce pan along with one cinnamon stick and a couple of splashes of water (about 1/4 a cup). Bring to a simmer over medium heat and cook for about 10 minutes. The apples are ready when they are soft enough to be speared with a fork.

Remove cinnamon stick. Transfer the cooled apples to a blender or food processor and puree to your desired consistency. If you like chunkier apple sauce, you could also pulse the mixture with an immersion blender or simply mash with a fork or potato masher.

This recipe yields about 1 and 1/2 to 2 cups of sauce.

Apple Prune

Okay, so this one might not sound like the most appealing option. But I tend to think that prunes get a bit of a bad rep, as they are delicious in cakes in other baked goods, and they add a delicious sour tang to this apple sauce. And well…maybe you’re interested in getting some into your toddler or preschooler. :)

Using the above method for basic apple sauce, add about 20 dried pitted prunes to the sauce pan along with the apples and about 1/2 a cup of water. Simmer until the apples are soft and the prunes have plumped up, about 10 minutes. Let cool and puree using preferred method.

Note: It is a good idea to remove the cooked prunes and lightly mash with a fork before pureeing to ensure there are no residual pits still lurking inside.

Apple Cherry

Using the basic method, add about two cups of fresh or frozen cherries to the sauce pan with a 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, covered, until the fruit is softened (if using frozen cherries, this might take a few extra minutes. Let cool and puree using preferred method.

This version is particularly good with meat like pork or simply mixed with some plain Greek yogurt.

Apple Peach

Using the basic method, add about a cup of fresh or frozen sliced peaches (peeled) to the sauce pan with a 1/4 cup water. Bring to a simmer and cook for about 10 minutes, covered, until the fruit is softened (if using frozen peaches, this might take a few extra minutes. Let cool and puree using preferred method.

apple_sauce_pot

Notes:

  • As per usual, ingredient amounts are subject to your own preferences and can easily be tweaked.
  • Amounts of water will vary, as the apples and other fruit will release a lot of their own as they cook. It is best to start with a small amount of water, keep an eye on the fruit for a few minutes, and add more water if the mixture looks too dry. Especially with frozen fruit, you will likely find in most cases there is more than enough water being released and you do not need to add more.
  • If the fruit has finished cooking and you are concerned about the amount of water, drain some before pureeing.
  • I like smoother apple sauce , so I tend to puree it in a regular blender. However, an immersion blender works well right in the pot and will result in less cleanup.
  • Store apple sauce in a Mason jar or airtight container in the refrigerator up to a week.
  • Apple sauce also freezes very well. Place in a freezer-safe container and when ready to use, thaw overnight in the refrigerator.  Alternatively, pour into ice cube trays and freeze for several hours, then pop out the cubes and store in a freezer-safe bag or container.  The small cubes of apple sauce can be thawed as needed in the microwave for about 30 seconds at a time.

Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint and Balsamic Glaze

Waltermelon Feta Salad

I always look forward to this time of year when fresh watermelon, particularly the adorable mini seedless variety, are readily available, and I am usually more than happy to munch away on them exactly as they are, sliced or cubed.

However, as evidenced by this post, there are many other ways to enjoy this sweet, crunchy pink fruit. Last weekend, I was contemplating what type of salad to make when having a friend over for lunch, and spied half a watermelon leftover in the fridge. Since we also had some feta cheese, they both seemed like a great accompaniment to the spicy soup and toasted sandwiches I was serving.

There are a lot of variations out there on the watermelon and feta combo, and this one works really well in combining tastes and textures. With the sweet juiciness of the watermelon, salty feta, pop from the fresh mint and crunch of the pine nuts, it is already delicious, but the syrup-y balsamic glaze sends it over the top. This turned out to be my favorite part of the whole meal, and I made another big bowl of it the next day. Be warned that it is difficult to stop eating.  With a side of toasty garlic bread it would be a meal in itself!

Watermelon Feta Salad with Mint and Balsamic Glaze

Serves 4 generously

Salad Ingredients:

  • Half a mini seedless watermelon, or about 2 and a half cups, cubed
  • Approximately 1 and a half cups cubed feta cheese (or just broken into whatever size chunks you like)
  • Two sprigs of fresh mint, torn into small pieces or finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup pine nuts, toasted
  • Freshly-ground black pepper, optional

Balsamic Glaze Ingredients:

  • Approximately 3/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp maple syrup (or other sweetener of your choice such as honey or brown sugar)

Salad Directions:

  • Mix watermelon cubes and feta cheese together gently, so as not to break up either ingredient – I used my hands for this.
  • Add the chopped mint, toasted pine nuts and pepper if using, and mix gently.
  • Just before serving, drizzle the balsamic glaze over the finished salad.
  • If you’re feeling fancy, garnish with a whole piece or sprig of mint.

Directions for reducing balsamic vinegar to a glaze:

  • Measure out about three times as much vinegar as you would like to have of glaze. I used about 3/4 of a cup.
  • In a heavy-bottomed pot or sauce pan, whisk together your choice of sweetener with the balsamic vinegar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until the mixture has reduced by about two thirds; this should take about 10 minutes. (See recipe notes for more details on time!) For a glaze that is easy to drizzle, you want to simmer until the mixture just coats the back of a spoon.
  • Turn off the heat and let the mixture cool for several minutes. As it does, it will thicken quite a bit, so it’s a good idea to stop simmering before you reach the consistency you would like.
  • Drizzle over Watermelon Feta Salad, or anything else you desire.

withglaze

Notes:

  • As with any salad, ingredient amounts are approximate. Feel free to adjust to your own preferences.
  • I sometimes reduce the vinegar a little too much – past a certain point it will become too thick and sticky to drizzle, and will harden as it cools. If this happens, you can heat it gently in the microwave, about 10 seconds or so, and add some hot water a little at a time until it reaches the desired consistency. The glaze will last for a very long time in the refrigerator.
  • I’ve seen watermelon salads out there in internet-land where arugula was used as a base, and that would be an awesome addition if you wanted to round out the dish a little. (Plus, it would look even more beautiful!)

What is your favorite way to use watermelon?

A Summer Bucket List for 2015

tlb

In contemplating summer lately, I’ve been hoping to be a little more intentional about our activities over the next couple of months. Since my daughter is not in school yet, and the weather is still relatively chilly in these parts, our summer sometimes tends to blend into the rest of the year, and before I know it a good chunk of it has slipped by.

Last summer I created a small ‘bucket list’ of fun activities I’d like to see happen over the season, and it served as a reminder to try and include those things. It was fun both to anticipate them and see them checked off the list. This year I would also like to tackle a few of the items that I didn’t get to last year (I’m looking at you, grilled pizza).

We have some travel plans and visitors coming that will build in a little fun automatically, and below are a few other things that would be nice to do. Some are extensions of pastimes we already have and are easy to incorporate, while a few will require a bit of planning.

  • Visit the Farmer’s Market in our city at least once.
  • Take better advantage of local produce (in keeping with the first point!). At least twice, visit one of our great local farms when I need fresh veggies, rather than the supermarket.
  • Try out the new splash pad at one of our local parks.
  • Spend some time at the beach with the kiddo, check out the rocks and watch the waves.
  • Try our hand at flying a kite.
  • Go on a Lighthouse Picnic, which we haven’t done for a few years.
  • Check out a u-pick with the kiddo.
  • Go swimming at least once a week.
  • Take advantage of the deck and backyard and have some meals and snacks outside at home.
  • Take a picnic to the park.
  • Seek out opportunities for some summer activities around the city that might be nice to try out.
  • Learn to properly use our barbeque on my own. I never have. This has nothing to do with the grill being the domain of any one gender, and everything to do with my tendency to be a little accident prone.  So I’m going to very cautiously proceed on this one.
  • Try making pizza on the grill!
  • Host some barbeques with friends and family.

flowers_tlb

I’m going to try and make plans to see how many of these I can squeeze in, and will report back at the end of August to see how we did. The point of thinking about these activities ahead of time is not to try and check everything off a perfect list (although I do love me a good list), but to make time for some fun and relaxing activities that sometimes can get lost in the shuffle and routine.

What is on your summer bucket list?