This has been a strange and mixed-up summer. With the pandemic still raging and for many of us, the thought of traveling to foreign lands a distant, uncertain endeavor, we are called to focus on the present and what is available to us where we’re at.
To keep me sane and my itchy feet at bay, I’ve thought of a list of things to do this summer that bring me instant joy and that are easily accessible and adaptable, and I hope they will inspire you in making your own list with what is available to you where you’re at.
I’ve also included a free checklist for you to download and use because isn’t it nice to cross something off and have something to look forward to? so make sure to read until the very end to grab it!
Try a new fruit
I cannot recommend this enough! if there is a time to try new fruits and veggies, summertime it is! go to your local grocery store or at the farmer’s market and try something new.
Something your curious about, something exotic, and maybe even something that looks strange and perhaps, you’ve overlooked until now. Feel the taste of it, the texture, the sensation it brings into your body… let yourself explore, like or unlike, just for the fun of it. Remember that it takes more than one try to really get to like something, so keep trying.
Tip for children and picky eaters: tell them that it’s okay to try something and spit it out afterwards if they don’t like it.
The idea is to get them to try things, to at least put them in their mouths. We really don’t know if we like something until we try it and with the little ones, even just getting them to try something can be a hassle. This method may be too gross for some but I’ve seen it work so many times and it’s such a good balance between what a parent/caretaker wants a child to do and what the child is willing to do; it’s like meeting them in the middle: they can try something without actually eating it.
Take a solo day trip
Road trips, on country roads or off the beaten path highways are meant for exploring.
Stop and take a photo, breathe in the scenery and visit a local thrift shop/antique store along the way. If it is available to you, do this alone. The most creative ideas and solutions come to me when I allow myself undisturbed time to wander. This method also boosts creativity and helps you discover treasures along the way like nothing else!
If a road trip by car is not an option, perhaps using the public transport (safely, with a mask on and maintaining social distancing as much as possible), on a bike, tramway or bus, and exploring a different neighborhood, one that you have not visited before, can truly be a wonderful experience in discovering new sights, parks, shops and boutiques.
If this is not available to you, then walking in your own neighborhood, taking a different route than usual can offer you a different perspective to how you generally view your community.
Visit a local orchard or farm
This, hands down, is one of my most favorite things to do during summertime!
I love being in the open, surrounded by trees laden with fruit. Not to mention, it’s safer this way too since the pandemic is still raging. There is nothing like the abundance of summer to remind you of the endless giving and generosity of nature and restore your faith in the world.
A visit with the family is also a great way to show little ones where the food comes from and how it’s being grown. We can be so disconnected from our food sources, but a trip to a local farm or orchard is such a great educational experience, for all involved.
Have a picnic at the park
Ok, picnics at the park are the easiest to do and you don’t even need a picnic basket to accomplish this!
Just grab a blanket, free up an afternoon and just a little bit of time beforehand to make yourself the best.sandwich.ever and you are good to go!
Here’s how to make it!
Got to your local bakery and grab a fresh baguette/sourdough bread/croissant. Bread is very important to make a great sandwich so don’t skip this. Then, visit your deli section and ask them to slice up your favorite meat; do the same with the cheese. I don’t have deli meat very often bit once in a while, I swear, a satisfying sandwich is all I need from life.
Remember, a sandwich is as good as its parts so we really want to splurge. We don’t do this very often so it’s okay to indulge. And if you are a vegan or vegetarian, grab some portobello mushrooms, or some delicious red pepper or even a veggie burger – the possibilities are endless.
Ok, now that we have our base, we need condiments. And here is where the magic happens! you could add some pesto instead of mayo for an Italian style sandwich, or some mashed avocado, anything you like, really. I like a traditional sandwich so I always opt for some light mayo on the bread and some ground mustard on the deli meat.
Add a simple “Romanian” summer salad to this made of fresh tomatoes, peppers, thinly sliced onions or green onions and cucumbers. Well, I call it Romanian because this was literally the salad we used to have in summer alongside our dishes. You could also add some thinly sliced radishes to this, they are so delicious.
What’s really great about this salad is that since it doesn’t have the greens, it will hold well and for much longer in the heat. And it is so easy. Back home, we would just add a bit of sunflower oil on top, some salt and pepper and that’s it. You can, of course, grab whatever dressing you like.
Then, add your favorite freshly cut fruit, a blanket, a book/kindle and a magazine and you are good to go.
Have a salad for lunch every single day
You know by now that I really want you to eat your fruits and veggies.
Contrary to popular belief, a big salad, filled with leafy greens, veggies, nuts and seeds, with or without the addition of some light protein like chicken, fish or beans is one of the most satiating and filling things you can eat.
I have been eating a salad for lunch since my Uni days when living on a super tight budget made me reach for filling but inexpensive dishes that I could quickly throw together so salads have been my go-to every day for lunch. Due to its versatility, a salad is a dish you can never get bored with.
And because the are so many types of salads and greens in season that you can start with, so many other veggies you can add or skip, the possibilities are endless. Again, this is the perfect time to experiment and try different combinations. Challenge yourself and get creative! While we’re at it, try your hand at a simple homemade dressing or use the best extra virgin, cold pressed, olive oil you can afford, like I do, to finish your salad off.
Make it a point to discover a locally owned business or shop in your area that employs artisans and fair trade practices, and purchase one sustainable item from them. Small businesses have been hit the hardest due to the pandemic and if open to visit, they could be the best place to find a classic linen/cotton dress or shirt, perfect to keep you cool in summer, a nice kitchen towel, hand woven by artisans, a great book to read or a new cotton mask to replenish your stash.
Bonus tip: create your perfect summer playlist
Music is so instrumental in setting and changing our moods, especially if we are feeling low or down. Some easy listening and uplifting music can do wonders! So make that nice playlist to accompany your (road) trips, or your walks and hikes, and stay safe and healthy. We will get through this!
I also want to tell you that I know this year has been hard. So hard, in fact, that perhaps the stress, the unknown, the worry and anxiety has overpowered everything else. What brings me comfort and joy, time and again, is going back to the familiar things, the tried and true, and those things might be different for you than this list offers, but I urge you to take some time and write yours down and commit, make a promise to yourself that you will do at least some of them. And please allow yourself to be surprised, and to explore. The best ideas and answers come to us when we allow ourselves time to play and daydream.
And thank you so much for taking the time to read my blog!
p.s: photo taken by me, in Romania, two summers ago.