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Summer Is My Favorite Time Of Year

Summer is my favorite time of year, perhaps because I associate it with long-ago summers of my childhood when my days were filled with getting up, doing my chores, and having the rest of the day to do whatever I wanted. I would not have made it in a year-round school. I would have bristled against what I would have perceived as a loss of my personal freedom, a civil rights violation perhaps, even as a child.

That said, like many people, I have a tendency to let summer get by me without really enjoying it. I don’t make plans and, with the California state government furloughs extended until the end of the year and no state budget in sight, I’m reluctant to spend money since the Governor is threatening not to pay me and other exempt employees next month if there’s no budget in place by the new fiscal year.

But why should I let a flat-assed guy with ugly teeth and a bad self-tan ruin my summer?

So here are my summer plans for a good summer on the cheap:

*Read good books, mostly from the library – mine. I’ve got a ton of really good books I’ve bought over the years that I’m STILL unpacking in our house. Might as well enjoy them, even if all the buzz surrounding them has long since died down. Memory Keeper’s Daughter, here I come!

*Eat well by cooking well. I’ve noticed that when I make home-cooked meals, 1) I eat more vegetables; 2) I eat healthier food in smaller portions; and 3) I spend a whole lot less on feeding myself. The first week of June, BMNB dragged the grill from the garage and cleaned it up, and we grilled just about everything we had – burgers, hot dogs, marinated garlic herbed boneless chicken breasts we got from Target with a coupon (Who knew?), red bell peppers, summer squash, corn, asparagus, zucchini. We tossed balsamic vinaigrette on the veggies one night, Italian dressing the next. There’s just something about that first grilled burger of the summer! And all of this was pretty cheap, too.

*Go to free and/or cheap stuff. Farmers markets, festivals, parks, family movie night at the local library. All good fun on the cheap.

*Walk. My favorite time of the day during the summer is twilight. It’s a good time to go walking with your honey, your kids, and your dog, although you might need mosquito repellent.

*Lots of iced sweet tea with fresh lemon and homemade sparking limeade. I believe I’ve written before about Martha Stewart’s sparkling limeade recipe. Summer to me is definitely iced sweet tea with fresh lemon juice (who are those Neanderthals who put bottled lemon juice in their iced tea?) and sparkling limeade. Heck, if I get tired of the limeade, I’ll leave out the club soda, add two cups of tequila, and start wasting away in my own personal Margaritaville . . . don’t tell BMNB.

*Sandals, whether you like my feet or not. Sure, I’ll do my part – lotion, toenail polish, scrub off the rough stuff with Pretty Feet and Hands. But after that, well, you’ll just have to get over it.

*Spend more time at home with people I like. It’s taken me quite a while to realize that the people who really care about BMNB and I don’t really care that we don’t have window treatments or decent furniture. They come for the company and the food. My home may not be a well-appointed mansion, but I can marinate and grill a good steak with the best of them. Which would you prefer in a friend? Yeah, that’s what I thought – a steak master.

*Relax. Too often I run myself ragged and exhaust myself to the point of illness. Summer is the perfect time to slow down, take stock, and just be thankful for what you have, for however long you have it.

*Garden. Luckily, I started a lot of plants from seed early in May, so I’m now reaping the benefits – tomato plants, marigolds, etc. Plus, I still have the collard and mustard greens I planted a while back, and my carrots, lettuce and squash are starting to peak out of the ground. Nothing like eating food fresh from your own garden and planting flowers that you’ve grown from seed.

*Give myself a break. I’m not going to jump up and say “yes” to every invitation I get, nor am I going to be goaded into throwing functions I don’t really want to host. I strongly believe that you should never feed anyone you don’t like.

*Catch up on my magazines, including O Magazine. By the time I read about the offers in O Magazine, they’ve expired. When I read about events in Sunset Magazine, they’re past. I need to start working backward and calendaring events from Sunset so that I CAN make plans.

*Get in the office early and leave early. Who wants to be in at 5:00 pm during the summer? I spent the last week working long hours on days off. Enough already!

*Daytrip to nearby places. For my birthday, BMNB took me to Coloma. Why? Because I hadn’t been since the first grade, and he’d never been. Being the geeky history buffs we are, we had a good day. Yes, we do intend to take our kids to all the California missions, the Grand Canyon, and to all the Civil War battlefields to see re-enactments. That’s how we roll – black and geeky.

*Make my home a happy one – start putting up all the art we have stored in the garage; organize; put up shelving; and start using the stuff we already have and getting rid of the stuff we don’t need.

*Dig out my old CD's that remind me of good times. I’m still rocking Tony!Toni!Tone’s House of Music. Maybe I’ll put together a playlist for grillin’ and chillin’.

*Write. My sister, the Writing Diva, has challenged me to finish the two books she says are begging to be finished by me. Game on!

I wish you all a very happy summer. Remember, it goes by fast, so enjoy!

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