Embrace Summer


“Summertime, and the livin’ is easy…” ~ Ella Fitzgerald

As a “summer baby” (born in July), I have always loved this time of year.  I have such fond memories of summers past – picnics with friends and family, outdoor birthday parties, fresh watermelon on the deck, vacations to cottage country, swimming pools, shorts, sandals, barbecues, ice cream and beaches.

I believe it was Charles Bowden that once said, “Summertime is always the best of what might be,” and I firmly believe that.  For me, everything seems effortless in the summer.  I have more energy, my body and mind feel stronger, I am more adventurous (well, reasonably) and just overall, happier.

Formally, summer is the hottest of the four temperate seasons, falling between spring and autumn.  At the summer solstice, the days are longest and the nights are shortest, with day-length decreasing as the season progresses (I’m not a fan of this part).

For many, summer is a time to enjoy the outdoors and relax.  As a Canadian girl (who doesn’t care for snow), I do my best to take advantage of the season while it lasts.

In two of my previous posts, entitled Embrace Spring and Embrace Autumn, I offered readers a few ways to make the most of the respective seasons, and with my affinity for summer, I thought it only appropriate to continue that theme.  From barbecues to baseball games, there is certainly something for all to enjoy.  With that said, I offer you four ways to embrace summer:

Read a Book 

For some reason, I tend to devour books in the summer.  I know this may seem counterintuitive, given how long and cold our winters are here, but for me, enjoying a new book at this time of year (especially outdoors) is such a luxury.

Each summer, countless books are released for readers to enjoy; be that on a dock at the cottage, on a blanket under your favourite tree in the park, or lounging in your backyard hammock.  One of my favourite places to read is at the Royal Botanical Gardens.  Many evenings after work, I stop by my favourite bench in the rose garden and spend an hour reading before I head home.  It is a such a wonderful way to enjoy the evening breeze and decompress from whatever the day has thrown at me.

I tend to move between several genres, really whatever tickles my fancy at the bookstore.  Over the past few weeks, I have been intrigued by ideas around simple/slow living and have read books like Simple Matters, by Erin Boyle and The Kinfolk Home, by Nathan Williams (a gorgeous coffee table book, by the way); however, last weekend, I decided to switch gears and bring home two classics, Villette, by Charlotte Bronte and Vanity Fair, by William Makepeace Thackeray.  {Sidebar: if you enjoy classic works, try to find the clothbound versions  published by Penguin Group.  They are absolutely stunning on a bedside table or bookshelf}

For more summer read inspiration, visit The Simply Luxurious Life, where Shannon offers a few of her own recommendations.

Dine (or Drink) Alfresco 

Another one of my favourite ways to embrace summer is to enjoy a meal and/or drinks outdoors.

Throughout the week, my husband and I will often have our dinner the balcony.  As we do not have a backyard or green space to ourselves, I have done my best to recreate that atmosphere with large palm plants, colourful flowers, a chic bistro table and a comfortable outdoor area rug.  Dining alfresco, even with everyday meals, is such a pleasure for the senses.

As the evening sun fades, I like to add a touch of ambience by lighting a few candles and playing some jazz or classical music softly in the background.  A small portable speaker, like this one from Bose, is perfect to bring out on the balcony while sipping on a glass of wine or cocktail (for my favourite cocktail of the moment, visit my most recent Favourite Things post).

Finally, I try to enjoy a cup of tea or coffee on the balcony each morning before I head off to work.  The early morning quiet allows time for both reflection and preparation for the day ahead.

Delight in an Outdoor Activity 

While I am not an outdoor girl by nature (no pun intended), in order to make the most of the summer season, over the past few years, I have found a handful of outdoor activities that I throughly enjoy.

We all know how hot the summer months can be, so I try to schedule my activities in the (early) morning or evening to avoid middle-of-the-day temperatures.

Here are a few of the summer activities I partake in regularly:

  • Tennis at my local public court
  • Riding a bicycle along the lakeshore
  • Hikes along the nature trails near my home
  • Swimming at the quarry (or pool)
  • Baseball with my husband at our local park
  • Lounging at the beach

Enjoy a Cool Treat

Apart from refreshing pools and cold showers, enjoying a cool treat is one of the best ways to beat the heat during the summer months, and there are so many delicious options to choose from.

Because I tend to be more active during this time of year, I also allow myself to indulge more (#balance), and one of my favourite cool treats is gelato.  If you live in the Greater Toronto Area, one of the best places to stop is Crema Di Gelato, located on the lakeshore in Burlington.  Their house-made gelato, offered in a multitude of flavours, makes for a divine treat.  The best part, much of their delectable gelato is made with local fruits, which adds a tremendous amount of flavour.

If you’re not a gelato fan, don’t fret, there are so many other options.  Maybe you’re looking for a store-bought treat? If that’s the case, anything from Magnum is to die for.  Or, maybe you want to make a cool treat for yourself?   If so, here are a few fabulous resources:

10 Homemade Popsicle Recipes – Real Simple 
20 Homemade Popsicle Recipes that are Ridiculously Refreshing – Country Living
Summer on a Stick! 40 Ice Pop Recipes That Couldn’t Be Simpler – Martha Stewart

However you choose to embrace summer, cheers to a warm and relaxing season!  If you need me, I’ll be at the beach.

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1 Comment

  1. Dear Ashleigh,
    I love your organizational posts on Instagram. Would you do a large blog post on your week of purging and organization. You inspire me!

    Warmly, Kathleen

    (I thought of you when I saw Mrs. Shockley’s ‘Tiffany’ bicycle.)

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