Summer Success versus Summer Failure… It all depends on your nail polish color. (Okay, that might not be entirely true, but I’ll let you be the judge after reading #6.)
We just got back from Hilton Head, SC and I’m already missing the sand between my toes and the salty air in my hair. Growing up in Rhode Island (a.k.a., “The Ocean State”), the beach was a forgone conclusion—a part of the landscape that I never considered being without. In high school, my friends and I would grab a coffee after school (at Dunkin’ Donuts, of course, because there is one on Every. Single. Corner) and meet on the beach to dish about our day. Once school was out for the summer, we brought towels and practically spent the season there. We drove our cars up to the edge of the parking lot at night and let the headlights illuminate the waves. The way that beach air smells is one of my favorite smells. (I’ve met people around Knoxville who tell me that they feel this way about the mountains, and I laugh. That’s preposterous. We’re talking about THE BEACH, people.)
Now I’m back in landlocked Tennessee and staring down the ocean-less summer ahead of me. I’m feeling a bit hemmed in. Also, as you know from previous posts, we currently have five people all day under our little roof: two adults working from the dining room table and three kids with little to no organized summer activities in sight. On further thought, perhaps that’s what’s actually making me feel a bit unnerved.
Regardless, in the spirit of pursuing contentment and gratitude this summer, I’ve taken the liberty of preparing a list of some of my summer delights. These are not really in any particular order, but each and every one is worth sharing. It’s a mix: a few favorite products that I’m loving, a local shop you need to visit, a show I’m addicted to, and even an event I’m looking forward to… I do hope that you’ll drink them in slowly and perhaps find a few that can thrill you over the coming months. Sometimes, a little facial oil is all it takes!
10. VIRGINIA JANE
This one is for local peeps. I recently popped in to Meagan Puckett’s glorious shop on Northshore and was delightfully surprised by the boho summer style I found inside. A cute little scalloped, rattan clutch immediately grabbed my eye and almost forced me to buck my self-imposed “no more tiny purses” rule to secure it, but never fear: I stayed strong. I did, however, come home with a blonde wooden necklace that goes with just about everything. Summery vibes run high here with embroidery, woven textures, and plenty of splashes of color in the right places. With price points across the board, there’s truly something for everyone. (9430 S. Northshore Drive, Knoxville, Tennessee 37922)
9. THE DURRELLS IN CORFU
If Downton Abbey and the Cohen Brothers had a love child, it would be The Durrells. This PBS Masterpiece Theatre program has had me giggling and grinning from Episode 1, and with multiple seasons under wraps, I have the entire summer to look forward to marathoning the rest! Set in 1930’s, frazzled widow, Louisa Durrell moves her four children from England to Corfu, Greece for a supposed simpler, more cost-effective way of life. Her practically adult children are insufferable idiots, until they charm their way into your heart with every episode. Quirky and dry British humor will delight all summer long and beyond. And the gorgeous Greek Isle scenery may just carry me until my next beach trip.
8. THE PATTISON
– Prosecco (chilled)
– St. Germaine
– Luxardo cherries
Serve in a champagne flute. Prosecco with a heavy splash of St. Germaine. Two Luxardo cherries dropped in and sink to the bottom, with just a single splash of Luxardo cherry juice. Sip on a front porch somewhere really wonderful, or perhaps with toes in sand—even better. Chilled, bubbly, sweet… all the right things. (Clearly from the fairly uninspired name, I made this up but I’m sure there is some kind of real cocktail with a classic name in this same spirit—let me know!)
In the words of a friend, “Hello, Weight Watchers. We meet again.”
This past fall, I signed up for the online Weight Watchers program, rebranded as “WW” (probably to take the unfriendly “weight” word out of it). This revamped version has enabled me to lose the post-baby pounds I wanted to shed, while maintaining a very normal life of eating. I’ve focused much more on a healthy lifestyle than just losing a few pounds. I keep track of my choices throughout the day on their easy-to-use app, and I have a weekly coaching session via phone with Eleanor out of Florida who lost 75 pounds TWENTY YEARS AGO and has kept it all off. Go, Eleanor! Sometimes it feels like two steps forward and one step back, but then I look at my journey over the last six months and I’m floored. Summer is a lot more fun when you can fit into those sundresses again.
6. PUT IT IN NEUTRAL
I have an on-again, off-again affair with gel nails. The shine, the finished, polished look (pun intended): love, love, love. The time it takes to get them done, and the cost to do it basically twice a month: hate, hate, hate. That feeling that I’m trapped once the first nail starts to peel or crack… like the countdown has begun and I now have to find my way into a nail salon in the next 24 hours or everything will fall apart around me—the worst. Perhaps I’m the only one, but somehow if my nails look great, my life feels just the tiniest bit more under control. Welcome to the perfect summer shade, Put It In Neutral by OPI. It’s basically like a clear gloss, but richer, so when one goes to pot, you can barely even tell. Short, neutral nails for the garden, the pool, the beach, the lake? Put It In Neutral is your new best friend.
5. BOOK CLUB
On social media recently, I’ve seen the same desperate cry for help again and again: “Leaving for a trip: what are some good, easy to read books I should take with me?!” I’ve always got a few recommendations up my sleeve, and then I pause and think, “What would I do without my book club?!” I love reading, but with a full-time business to run and 3 kids to raise, who’s got time? Thanks to Book Club, at least I know that I’m going to have one good book per month. Book Club forces me to read. And not only that: it forces me to read things outside of my normal comfort zone, and if that weren’t enough, I then actually discuss those books with other people! AMAZING. Our Book Club has been meeting for around ten years, since our kids were all tiny. We share hosting responsibilities, we do dinner and drinks, and we have a full hour of discussion on every book we read. We’ve had members leave, and others join in. There’s been an ebb and flow over the years. It’s open and friendly and energetic— a divine evening and one I’ll consistently make time for. May I make a summer suggestion? Start a book club! With neighbors, friends, girls from church or other school moms… just make sure that someone is ready to lead a discussion, or else it will digress into a supper club, which is not at all the same. Go get your reading on!
4. TOWEL CLIPS
My sister in law had these at the beach. At first sight, I thought they looked like a dumb, informercial product, but my distain shifted into jealousy as I was fixing my slouching towel *again* and hers was perfectly straight and unwrinkled. Pool chairs, I’ve finally got your number. These are on their way from Amazon and going straight into my pool bag.
3. ORCHID OIL
A friend told me about this facial oil that she uses. I ordered it. I’m obsessed. My skin stays soft all night long, and the beautiful, subtle floral scent is just enough. I’m envisioning myself this summer, surrounded by two teenage girls who are *maybe* yelling and arguing amongst themselves, and one toddler baby who is climbing my leg, saying, “up, up, up peeeze, up, mommy, up, up, peeeze,” and I’m all zen and calm because I feel soft and smell ever so slightly of tropical flowers. It will all be fine.
2. LIST PADS
We come home from vacation. I open our refrigerator, and a blast of hot air and unmentionable fumes descend upon me. It was a lovely conclusion to a 7-hour drive with aforementioned toddler and teenage girls. So, fridge repair is top on our list.
In the meantime, we had to throw it all away. Everything. Every condiment that had been lurking in the door compartment for the last two years, hidden behind the maraschino cherries (although yes, those do get used up, and often… see above paragraph on WW).
I put my grocery list out on our counter where we keep it. It’s one of our own products, and I’m going to toot my own horn here and say that unequivocally, our list pads are the best I’ve found. They’re slightly wider than other list pads, and I think that the lines are perfectly placed for a readable grocery list that still maximizes the page. The thickness of the paper is just right. Oh, and of course, they’re all pretty.
Our grocery list is about to be very, very full, and I’ve got to bring a few more home from the studio. In the spirit of an organized and pretty summer grocery list, use the code FRIDGEFIX for 30% off all of our list pads this week only. And say a prayer for our fridge while you’re at it.
1. THE GATHERING
RT Lodge, just up the road from Knoxville, is one of our very favorite date night places. Also, it’s one of our favorite places for weddings! We work with a lot of brides getting married there, and I always tell them that they are lucky… it’s a beautiful place with a lot to offer. Chef Trevor Stockton knocks it out of the park every single time with specialties like house-cured meats, homemade pickles, and fresh fried chicken.
Ty’s 40th birthday is this summer, and we’re celebrating together by going to a fantastic weekend event at The Lodge in August. Chefs, drinks, tours, pottery, workshops… it’s going to be AMAZING and I’ll be looking forward to it all summer. See details below and I hope that maybe a few of you will purchase tickets and join in the weekend!
That’s my list of 10 things that will make your summer better. While none are miracles, there’s a lot to love here. Happy Summering!