I love summer. I hate the unbearable heat and humidity that sometimes comes with it but having some stylish fashion accessories, sunscreen, some delicious food and beverage treats, and a good book or knit/crochet project on hand definitely makes dealing with the heat so much easier and more enjoyable! Here are a few items that are helping me pass the longer, hotter days of summer this year.
I live in the South, so a tall glass of sweet iced tea is always a welcome sight. But, equally enjoyable are my other standbys — ice cold Diet Coke and sweet, creamy iced coffee. KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee offers several flavor options that are tempting my taste buds this season. I love these because the different flavor options take an average iced coffee drink up a notch on the sophistication spectrum.
Available flavors: Original, Espresso, Hawaiian Vanilla, Kauai Caramel, and Maui Mocha
KonaRed Cold Brew Coffee flavors are rich and flavorful. And they are sweet enough for me that all I add is ice and milk, no additional sweeteners needed! I’ve even got my mother-in-law craving this delicious drink during the evenings when she is relaxing.
And, yes, you do see an Instant Pot in the background in these pics. During the summertime, the Instant Pot and my older traditional slow cooker are two of my most precious appliances. They allow me to prepare savory, flavorful, long-cooking recipes without spending the time I’d rather be using to do something much more fun (and not heating up my house in the process) to make them.
This particular day I was preparing a delicious Beef Pot Roast with potatoes, and two kinds of onions (Red and Vidalia). Mmmmmm……. The best part, no oversight during the cooking process! And I didn’t have to use multiple pans to make an awesome dinner, either. I used the sauté function on the Instant Pot to sear the roast and then just dumped all of the other ingredients in on top of it. Ten minutes prep time and I was off to more enjoyable endeavors!
Coffee isn’t only an enjoyable drink, I also like to use coffee to flavor some of the sweet treats that help to quell my insatiable sweet tooth. One of my favorite ways to incorporate coffee into a quick and easy (and undoubtedly delicious) dessert is in a pan of chocolate cake or brownies (I simply replace the water called for in the recipe with an equal amount of strongly brewed coffee or a coffee concentrate).
You can make this substitution in any cake or brownie recipe you like. I usually look up a Texas sheet cake recipe online (this one is a recipe I’ve used many times) and use that as a guide, working in the coffee as it seems best within the recipe.
I’ve been known to play around with different frostings, but one of my all-time fave cake or brownie toppers is a simple one — mix together some peanut butter, powdered sugar, and a little melted butter and spread it over the top. Then I put some chocolate spread, hazelnut spread or almond butter spread (or any other that you prefer) and a small amount of really strong coffee (just to help it get thin enough to spread easily) in a ziploc bag, mix it up a bit, snip a small bit of the corner off, and then do a criss-cross pattern on top of the peanut butter frosting for decoration.
Sunglasses are the single most basic summer must-have for me. Without ibuprofen and sunglasses at the ready, I am guaranteed to have a migraine before the end of the day when we are spending time out in the bright sunshine. Good quality shades are just non-negotiable! I’ve been known to make my husband turn the car around if we’re not too far from home to retrieve forgotten sunglasses. I’ve also made him stop at roadside convenience stores if we were too far to turn back home so that I can buy a pair.
Knockaround Sunglasses have some fantastic options that are not only really fashionable but offer options for adults and children, too. They offer quality sunglasses at affordable prices which can be really important because this accessory is one of the most misplaced, forgotten items. Who hasn’t left home or a restaurant or park and realized that their sunglasses have been misplaced or left behind accidentally? Being able to have multiple pairs (and replacing them) has to be something that can be done without draining your pocketbook.
Of the three pairs I used last summer, one ended up getting mangled when the kitchen drawer got closed (by someone in my house … though no one copped to it) and the earpiece was sticking up. The other pairs I still have, but one pair of them are several years old and the lenses had gotten scratched enough that they really needed to be replaced.
My fave Knockaround sunglasses are the Grey Monochrome Mai Tais. I’ve been wearing this pair a lot this summer so far. I also really like the Glossy Tortoise Shell / Green Moonshine Paso Robles. It’s been a long time since I had reflective lenses like these, but it should be a fun addition to my summer wardrobe.
These super cute kids’ sunglasses are going to be gifts for my sisters young children (since mine are all teens/adults now). My nephew seems to really be into wearing his favorite pair of green sunglasses, so I’m hoping he will fall in love with these. I could totally see him rockin’ the bright red ones!
Last year, I got my first pair of denim sunglasses. You heard that right! Mosevic Denim Sunglasses are actually made from layers of recycled denim that’s infused with resin, obviously for stability. They are totally cool!
I also recently noticed that Mosevic is now offering phone cases made from this same material. How cool is that? I might have to get one!
Fashionable footwear can make or break an outfit at any time of year. This is true. But, summer footwear comes with the added significance of how your actual feet look. Think about it. In wintertime you wear shoes or boots what completely cover your feet so you can let skin and nail care slide during the late fall and winter months (and believe me, I do. I’m kinda lazy that way.)
But, when spring and summer are looming all of a sudden I find myself thinking about digging out that pumice stone, upping my foot moisturizer game, and paying more attention to shaping and polishing my toenails. Because, well, everyone is going to see my feet! There is nothing worse than having really cute sandals and scraggly-looking feet, right?
This summer, I’m sporting Showaflops Sandals. They are really … really … comfortable and have many cute styles available. They also have these nifty little drainage holes in the soles that prevent slipping while walking by wicking water away (perfect for the pool or beach, community showers like in pool houses or college dorms, or walking in the rain).
I like flip flops, but there are just some days that I don’t want to deal with that plastic piece between my toes. So, having a sandal option that doesn’t include that nuisance is essential. And, as adorable as I find the Smoke Flip Flops, I love having the additional (and totally neutral) option of the Black Bow Slide Sandals.
I also have a fabulous (and kinda flirty) pair of white-heeled sandals and last summer’s fashion find, the OluKai Footwear Paniolo Sandal, in my wardrobe, as well. So, I think I have a really good selection that will allow me to have options for most occasions this year no matter what I’m wearing.
It’s pretty funny, but my husband has more shoes than I do. Although, I will say he wears very few of them regularly. I am definitely NOT what some might call a clothes horse or an avid shopper. I really don’t enjoy hours of milling about in stores trying on a bunch of stuff. My clothing and shoe selection is pretty small and limited.
I just don’t enjoy shopping. Fortunately, online shopping is a thing now, and Showaflops is right on top of this trend with plenty of variety for ladies, men, and children alike. I really (like, really) want to order this totally cute pair of Sprinkles Flip Flops. They are really colorful and fun!
Obviously, the first thing one thinks about when going out in the sun is protecting their skin, right? Okay, maybe not first thing, but it should be a close second, for sure. Good sunglasses protect your eyes from UV rays. And days spent at various water destinations necessitate preparation in terms of sun hats, swim suit coverups and the like.
My teenage daughter has snagged my Coolibar Cabana Hoodie shown here for her own use. Which, I guess is okay. I mean, she did outgrow her previous one and we haven’t bought her a new one yet. And I think I have another one in my closet I can use if I need it.
I love my personalized Floppy Straw Hat because it has my initials on it, and I think that’s cool. But, for traveling or just throwing a hat in the car to have handy the SunLily Roll-n-Go Sun Hat that can be rolled up and fastened is just the thing!
And while hats, coverups, Striped Beach Towel, and umbrellas all serve to help protect our skin, none of these items should preclude the use of a good sunscreen. I’m always interested in trying new brands of sunscreen because I’m kind of partial to certain scents.
Every time I open a bottle of sunscreen that has a tropical scent it has a way of evoking memories from the past. Like specifically about when I used to live in Florida and my friends and I would ride the air-conditioned public transportation bus up and down Highway 98 to the beach, or our favorite places to eat, or to the SunDestin resort to ride the glass elevator up and down and up again. Good times!
I love that Love Sun Body has a fragrance-free option for those who prefer it. But, personally, I really like the lightly scented Tiare & Vanilla, myself. It has the sweet type of scent that I like, but it’s really different from the tropical scents that I’ve tried before.
As I mentioned, when I spend time out in the sun I can develop a headache if I’m not careful. Sometimes the tropical coconut scented sunscreens I love can be a bit much during those times. But, I think this vanilla is a lighter scent and would be great to have.
Love Sun Body sunscreens are not only good for people, they are good for the environment, too. Benefits include:
- 100% natural mineral sunscreen
- ingredients won’t sting your eyes
- water and sweat resistant up to 80 minutes
- first & only sunscreen in the US certified by Ecocert Cosmos Natural (national standard for organic and natural cosmetics and skincare products)
Love Sun Body uses 100% natural ingredients obtained from plants. I had no idea that any sunscreen was banned anywhere, but learned that Hawaii is the first U.S. state to ban sunscreens that contain oxybenzone and octinoxate. These ingredients are banned because they are toxic to coral reefs and marine life. I just… I am so uninformed!
Natural and organic ingredients have been all over the news and I’ve started paying more attention to this issue when it comes to other personal care products. But, I honestly just had not broadened that mode of thinking to sunscreens before. I will definitely be thinking about it now because even though I no longer live near a beach, I still identify as a lifelong beach bum and love nothing better than spending time at the beach when I am able to get there. And, I would never want to contribute to damaging coral reefs, they are so vital and beautiful.
Whether you are into gaming, reading, listening to music, attending public sports events or other performance art, participating in performance art or sports, strolling through a museum, traveling, crafting or any of the hundreds of other pleasurable past-times available to you, it’s really important to find that activity (or activities) that refill and sustain your inner spirit.
Life can be harsh and it’s hard not to be affected by being overworked, underappreciated, and otherwise sucked up into exterior dramas no matter the form they take. It’s crucial to take time to participate in pleasurable pursuits all year round, not only during the generally more laid-back summer season.
This last year has seemed more fraught with soul-draining drama with family, friends, in our local and national community as well as abroad. It’s just not that hard to be consumed by it all if you allow yourself to be.
Personally, some of my favorite pleasures are watching good TV and movies, listening to (and singing along with) my favorite songs, reading, doing puzzles, trying new recipes, making jams and jellies, and crocheting or knitting something beautiful.
Most recently I’ve been reading Sleeping Beauties by one of my long-time fave authors, Stephen King and his son, Owen King. I’ve been reading (and re-reading) classics from Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Fyodor Dostoevsky, among others for as long as I could read but I also love a good thriller and SK hooked me with The Shining back in my teens, many years ago. I have a fairly large collection of his work that I love to revisit in between reading other authors. I’ve read online about many fans’ reactions to this book and it seems pretty evenly split that most people either really liked it or really disliked it. That’s about par for the course, though.
Personally, I just finished it up last night and I enjoyed it. It’s a long book and I was not surprised to read in the authors’ letter at the end that it was longer before its final edit and publication. I liked it a lot, but I would have loved to have had the longer version as I’m sure there was probably more character development that was cut out of this story that I would have found fascinating to read.
Puzzle books have been a part of my life since I can remember. Logic puzzles are my all-time favorites, though I also thoroughly enjoy others such as Quotefalls/Dropquotes, Escalators, Acrostic or Crostic Puzzles, and Cryptograms/Crypto-Families. I also adore Diagramless Crossword Puzzles. I love a good puzzle challenge! If you’re not familiar, I’ve put some links in here to give you a bit of a visual of what these type of puzzles look like.
And YES, more often than not I do my puzzles in pen! I know, I’m a glutton for punishment. Not really, I just usually have plenty of pens around and not so many pencils (plus it’s a pain to sharpen wood pencils or put new lead in mechanical ones). Again, I’m kinda lazy that way. I think I might have mentioned that lazy gene a little earlier in this article. (wink, wink)
When I’m not in the mood to read or do puzzles, I love to crochet and knit. I made my kids some new crochet Christmas stockings a few years ago. One of my younger sisters had made them all Christmas stockings years ago when they were little, but they were among many possessions lost when a tornado destroyed our home in 2012.
My older sister loved how they turned out and has requested I make some for her kids this year. I finally got around to going through my yarn and pattern stash recently and found the stuff I have left from this project, so I’ll be starting a set to send to her soon. They were pretty quick to work up and a lot of fun. I’m looking forward to it!
Not sure yet what colors I’ll make for her kids, but it’ll be fun to figure it out.
I’m currently working on two knitting projects. One is a lap-size afghan for my daughter in shades of blue, white, and tan. And one I’ve finished but still need to weave in the yarn ends for is a throw size blanket I made for my niece’s wedding gift. I’m so behind on it! She got married in May! (gasp!) I hope she loves using it as much as I loved making it.
I’ve actually gotten a bit further along than this pic shows. I’ve gone through the light blue peeking at you in this pic and on into a little darker shade of blue. The yarn is pretty small so this project will take a while to finish.
The yarn for this wedding afghan is a bulky weight so it works up quicker than smaller yarns, but it’s still the largest, most ambitious knitting project I’ve attempted so far!
And here’s a little something I already made for my sister. I really need to get a box together and mail them to her. I’m so bad at remembering to get it done!!!
These are a couple of cotton yarn potholders I made for her to use with hot baking dishes. The main part is just simple single crochet rows made with an off-white cotton yarn. Then I used colored cotton yarn to cross stitch the designs and add the border.
I got the owl design from the pattern book shown, but I found the deer design online and altered it a bit to look the way I wanted it. I still can’t decide if I want to rip out the blue eyes on the deer and make them black instead. I still need to dig out my scrubby yarn and make a couple of little dishwashing scrubbies to send with these — something similar to this dish scrubby pattern.
Oh, yeah, I totally forgot to mention that I also like to cross-stitch and do embroidery. I haven’t done much of it the last year or two. Been too busy with crochet and knit projects. But, I’ve got several projects in this area on my to-do list and can’t find pics of anything I’ve finished other than this really simple wooden cross stitch necklace I made a while back.
I’ve made plenty of cross stitch projects over the years including birth announcements for my two oldest children, an Eeyore-themed one (because my youngest daughter and I love Eeyore), and a variation on the Serenity Prayer for my mother-in-law. I really should snap some pics of some of them to share. One of these days! (and my crafting to-do/wish list grows ever longer!)
The hubby, somewhere along the way in our 25 years of marriage, has mercifully learned never to question the size of my yarn/crafting stash. Lucky for him, right?! You want a long and happy marriage, let each other have your hobbies and actively support those passions. Trust me on that.
Well, I’ve spent a ton of time and energy assembling this assortment of my favorite summer essential items and activities for your consideration. I hope you’ve enjoyed it!
What new and interesting summer essentials have you found this season? Share with us!
My Favorite Summer Essentials
My Favorite Summer Essentials
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