Sunday, June 25, 2017

Summer 2017: The Beginning (in pictures)

To say my kids were ready for summer would be like saying the Titanic nicked itself on an iceberg. They were crawling through the desert of school on their hands and knees, and summer was the oasis that was maybe just a mirage until it wasn't, and it came, and they drank and drank and are still drinking. They have been sleeping until 10, 11, 12, the poor, exhausted ducks.

They rouse themselves to eat and play Mine Craft. It was a difficult and tiring school year, and it makes me so happy to see them refueling.

Other Mine Craft compatriots come and go. They've only been on vacation for 5 seconds, these kids, so their binging goes unchecked for now.

Birdy takes gaming breaks to read a little bit. Michael and I took her to see the touring company of Fun Home, and I think it was the best thing we ever saw on stage. I got goosebumps no fewer than a dozen times. Birdy is now loving the book. (FYI, my Survivor column about teenagers and reading should go up tomorrow.)

If you're not already, try making cold-brew ice coffee: shake together 1/3 cup of any medium-roast grounds with 1 1/2 cups of water, and leave it at room temperature overnight. In the morning I pour it through my porcelain pour-over cone, but you could totally line a sieve with a basket filter, and use that instead. It makes about 2 cups of coffee, and it is caramel-sweet, with a striking absence of bitterness, burntness, or sourness. Keep extras in the fridge.
My current everyday, anytime meal: Put an egg in a small pot of cold water. Bring it to a boil, shut off the heat, and leave it for 7 minutes. Run under cold water, peel, halve, and top the yolk with a tiny pat of butter, a sprinkle of salt, and a shake of hot sauce. Perfection. 
But a person cannot live on eggs alone. So there are popsicles! These are from a recipe for Sour Cherry, only I used bing cherries and added lemon juice. There is also almond extract. They are possible the best popsicles ever.
I actually wrote the People's Pops people to remind them how wonderful their cookbook is. I mean, I know I've written about it before, but we use it at least twice a week, all summer long, and every recipe is delicious and perfectly crafted. It always makes exactly enough to fill our mold--no more, no less. Amazing. If you know anyone with a summer birthday, the book along with the mold makes a great gift.
Juxtabo is a very good summer game: the tiles are these gorgeous, sherbetty colors, and it's a perfect quickish but interesting on-the-carpet-by-the-fan sort of game. Plus, we can take it camping because the pieces are wonderfully heavy and won't blow away. What is it, though? It's like a cross between Othello and Blokus and Colorku, but not exactly. Sorry.
The kitten is under the impression that under = cooler. 
Maybe he is right!
A couple other things, re SUMMER:
  • Another great summer game is this.
  •  If you are resisiting Kan Jam because you don't want to spend $40 on two pieces of plastic and a shitty frisbee, I hear you. But we actually play every single day
  • They no longer make the old sunscreen I recommended all the time, but we are really liking this one
  • If you've got animal-loving kids, they will love my friend Cammie's latest book.
  • If you want to be harrowed in a good way, read this. If you want to be harrowed in a bad way, read this. If you don't want to be harrowed at all, read this.
  • Speaking of harrowing, the S-town podcast really is great. My whole family loved it, but there are very mature themes in it, just so you know. I would say 14-and-up, but would really depend on the kid. 
  • Maybe pre-order this

Please share your best summer game, book, audiobook, recipe, and whatever else ideas! Please!


  1. Hi! What a simple idea for cold brew! We stupidly spent money on a cold brew "maker" and while it works well, it makes a ton and is rather an obnoxious thing to store. Question: does this method make readily drinkable coffee or does it make a concentrate? Our maker makes a concentrate that you mix with 3 parts water or milk. Thanks!

    1. Hi Lauren! I mix it half and half with milk/half and half. So not quite a concentrate, but pretty strong. . .

  2. We saw the touring Fun Home in Denver as part of a season-long subscription. It was my favorite of the season and my 16 yo son's favorite until we saw Mamma Mia. Such a great story and hard to define the genre - both funny and sad. Also, I love cold brew coffee! I put a cup of grounds in my french press with a quart of cold water at night, then strain it in the morning. I either mix it half and half with hot water or I mix it half and half with cold almond milk and a squirt of Hershey's syrup and ice cubes, depending on the day. Delicious. Thanks for all the links - I popped them all on new tabs and I'm about to go looking.

  3. Love your suggestions! I did the same thing BeeBelle did - I now have a string of tabs open with lots to explore!

    I can totally share my best summer idea... I made up the "Amazing Summer Bucket List Challenge" to keep them from playing the PS4 for 16 hours straight while they're home alone this summer. Checklist items include making a new pen pal, reaching a specific level on DuoLingo, creating a piece of Arrangement Art, learning to juggle, having a picnic, stargazing, baking something, playing Calvinball. They each earn points for things they check off (pics or it didn't happen!) and I bought a selection of 5$ gift cards to give as prizes each week - because yes, I'm totally bribing them, but with dollars that I would already be spending at Rita's Ice or GameStop anyway. :) You should have seen them racing each other to finish a crossword puzzle on Saturday to see who would win last week's point.

    1. Love the bucket list!

    2. Wow, love this!!! I would love to see that whole checklist!!

  4. Must write to say thanks. I love your suggestions for books & games and your tips & recipes.... GREAT! And those eggs, ahhh those eggs. I had two (yes 2) for lunch w some crackers. Yum.

  5. Stircrazy, I love your bucket list challenge and may get my kids doing one too. My challenge is when to say "okay enough lounging in your pajamas--it's 3 pm--and scrolling through instagram/watching a video about a video game and do something.

  6. One of our favorite traditions is our Summer Book Party. On the Friday evening closest to the first day of summer, my daughters and I make bookmarks and play book-themed games. This year for the first time I made each of them mini pinatas decorated to look like their favorite books (I used those individual cereal boxes). I give them each a new set of summer pajamas and then we have the grand finale -- a box full of new books. Instead of retreating to their own rooms, the girls camp out in the living room for the night, and we allow them to stay up reading as late as they want. We've been doing this for the last 10 years or so, and our daughters -- now teenagers -- still love it.

    1. I love that they still love it. : )

  7. Love your summer columns as always! Please check Presidents are People, Too podcast as well as State of the Reunion (the public radio show episodes) - great storytelling

  8. Your family always seems to be playing games or doing other super fun quality time activities together. It's inspiring! I have a 5 year old girl and 3 year old son (plus a newborn) - any games that you'd recommend for the family with that range of ages? Thanks!!! Sarah from New Orleans!

  9. thanks, I needed that!