Thursday, July 22, 2010

Thank you BH&G

A big shout out to Better Homes and Gardens for including my Summerology blog in their August issue. Get to their website riiiiight here....

+ get to Summerology here! (what took you so long?)

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

One year later....

Will try to keep this yearly tradition going until I can't bear to see the changes any longer.

Saturday, July 17, 2010

The backyard.

Yesterday was a classic mid-July sort of day; the kind of day where there is very little change in the mercury after sunset, the humidity makes everyone as lazy as cats, and the best solution to the sweltering heat would be to play hooky, plop your ass into a big old tire tube, and float around a lake until you're as wrinkled as a raisin, preferably eating an ice cream cone while the current carries you along.

Despite the steamy conditions, there was a barbecue last night to celebrate my Aunt's birthday in backyard of the Big Old House that has been in my family for as long as we all can remember. It was the house that belonged to my grandparents--a comfy, well-worn, two-family home on a big corner lot--and each and every one of us have memories of growing up there. My grandparents raised my father and my aunt there, my brothers and I began our lives in that home, my cousins were always staying over, family was always weaving in and out. Years later, both of my brothers at separate times lived downstairs from my grandmother, and as a result, my nephews and nieces got to connect with the home the same way that we did when we were young. My Grams died two years ago and since then my cousin and his wife have lived there with their two children, but as I have posted before, my grandmothers spirit is still very much a part of that house.

For me, it's bittersweet going back to Parsons Street as it seems like just yesterday my grandmother was there with us in the backyard, 'racing us' across the lawn, around the big Azalea bush and back again--always letting us win, hanging her laundry out to dry on the clothesline, tending to her garden. In that home--with my family around me--I always felt safe and protected. Last night I got to taste a bit of those sweet summer memories once again as I ran around the yard barefoot with the first generation, the second generation, and the next generation that is growing up in and around the house. We barbecued, played baseball, caught fireflies, shot water pistols, and later in the evening we went upstairs to the dining room table--the dining room where we've shared more meals than any of us could ever count--to sing Happy Birthday to my Aunt. In my minds eye I flashed back to this scene repeated a hundred times before; it was so familiar and comforting that I never wanted the night to end.

As I drove home in my Jeep, my mind wandered to the things that are truly important in my life, and how those things seem to be evolving as I grow older. I don't buy 'stuff' for myself any more; I now care more about experiences with people I love, rather than possessions I don't need. In fact, I would give away everything I own to simply have time stand still, and for everyone in my family to be exactly where they are at this very moment....

In Long Beach.

Down the Jersey Shore.

In a car driving to Medieval festival.

Sitting on a deck beneath the warm summer sun.

Paddling on a kayak.

Tending a garden.

Driving in a Jeep with the top down.

Running barefoot after a toddler in the backyard.

...frozen in time on a sunny Saturday afternoon in mid-July, enjoying life and appreciating it's simple pleasures, because we were fortunate enough to grow up learning such things in that beautiful backyard on the very edge of Parsons Street, my grandmother watching over us as we laughed, love overflowing.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I'm a thief.

I'm stealing from my talented and beautiful niece Maureen's blog today. You can arrest me, or thank me. I bet dollars to donuts you'll thank me.


Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Heat Schmeat

There's been quite a lot of bitching and moaning going on around here on the east coast as the mercury soars into the triple digits, and newscasters screech on apocalyptically about the Big Heatwave of 2010 Me? You won't hear one single complaint spill out across these lips as I'm genuinely grateful for this steamy, bubbling cauldron of New York stew, since the flipside--which will most definitely come sometime in early 2011 in the form of sleet, then snow, then high winds, then downed power lines, then maddening claustrophobia--is certainly no picnic.

As far as I am concerned, this has been a fabulous--and classic--summer here in the Northeast; sunny hot days with nary a drop of rain, other than the occasional rumbling thunderstorm in the afternoon or late evening. And thankfully those few-and-far-between showers that do roll into town quickly make haste, leaving in their wake yet another inviting sunny day. We've not had a summer like this in as long as I can remember -- it brings me back to a time when I was young and school was let out, and I had no agenda other than simply being lazy and carefree for two warm, delicious months.

I made a promise to myself early on in the season that I would not squander this lovely time of year; there has been too much time frittered away over the past twenty-four months, so I refuse to waste any more precious minutes on things or people that don't make me smile.

If it doesn't bring a smile to your face or your heart, then you don't need it in your world.

In 2008 I wrote a post at the end of the summer titled It's not Over Till It's Over, which listed 21 things to do before the end of the summer. Since we are midway through the Summer of 2010, I thought I would revisit that idea and post a new list to inspire you (and me as well) to grab hold of the two remaining summer months, and fill each and every minute of them with carefree joy and memorable adventures, just like we did when we were young and didn't let little things like heatwaves + humidity + limp hair keep us from living each day as if it was our last....

Things to do before September 1st comes around...
Plan a road trip to some place you never thought you'd visit Don't test the water...just jump in (better yet, do a cannonball) Have a water balloon fight (I don't care how old you are) Enjoy a rootbeer float Roller skate Eat an ice cream sandwich Make pickled vegetables Picnic at the beach at sunset (with someone you love, or by yourself) Sleep in a hammock Whip up some homemade ice cream Nap Wear a flower in your hair Construct a sandcastle Hang the American flag Squeeze fresh lemonade Have BLT's with ripe tomatoes for lunch (or dinner) Sleep naked Watch the Perseid meteor shower in August Study bugs in the grass Drink rum and coke while listening to reggae Dig for clams Fly a kite Skinnydip at midnight Go to an outdoor concert Play hopscotch Blow bubbles Grow gigantic sunflowers Tie dye t-shirts Hang a tire swing Buy a water gun + spray people with it Run barefoot around the yard catching fireflies Take a cool bubble bath Make freezer jam to remind you of summer all winter long Dip bananas in melted chocolate, freeze, then eat Skip Stones Go to a midnight movie Get a henna tattoo Eat more hot dogs Wear toe rings and ankle bracelets + paint your toenails different colors Play badminton Watch Grease, Shag + Dirty Dancing Eat cherry (or blueberry) pie with vanilla ice cream Wear flip flops every day Make a bucket list of all the things you want to do when you retire + can be young and free every day....

Chocolate Covered Frozen Banana's

From my book, Summer: A User's Guide

3 Bananas

12 ounces semi-sweet or German chocolate

Ice Cream Sticks

Plastic Wrap

Waxed Paper or Coated Paper Plate

Peel the bananas and remove any remaining stringy fibers, then cut in half widthwise. Insert an ice cream stick through the cut end of each half, cover each banana in plastic wrap and place in freezer until frozen (approximately 3 hours).

Melt the chocolate either on a stovetop in a double boiler, or in a microwave. Remove bananas from freezer and use a rubber spatula or butter knife to coat the bananas evenly with chocolate.

Place the pops on wax paper and freeze until ready to serve.

Makes 6 pops.