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My Summer Fling

plum pitEvery summer I have a fling.

The romance starts in the spring. The seduction of the sun after long, dark winter nights always pulls me away from the cozy hibernation of the indoors.  My clothing gets lighter, I show more skin, and turn my back to anything that pulls me away from the fullness of his attention.

The house becomes a forgotten locker room.  I bathe, change, and sleep inside, feeling that each moment is wasted away from the splendid beauty of the summer.  Spending time away from the fresh air and wildness of summer pains me. My patio becomes the breakfast nook, living room and dining room.  I lose track of time, and weekends blur into the workweek, each sunny morning a painful reminder that at some point I have to steal myself away from the embrace of my May-September lover, interact with other people and for-god’s-sake-put-on-some-decent-clothes.

Increasingly nostalgia blossoms into a familiar yearning for the type of countryside wildness into which I was born. A sensuality city-folk only ever glimpse but never fully appreciate; picking wild raspberries by the roadside, climbing ancient, gnarled mulberry trees to acquire enough fruit to bake something delicious, finding wild strawberries in the grass, and falling asleep with the window open in the dark nights that the city can never know.

My home turns into a bit of a museum in the summertime. Even though autumn is a time of slow decay, it has always signaled a fresh start. A renewal of routine and return to the warmth of home. And so endeth my summertime affair every year. Slowly I come back to preserving the harvest,  decluttering all that was dropped and forgotten as the sun seduced the household outdoors.

Summer affairs allow you to sip the sweet, sweet, nectar from the cup of life, but there is something to be said to waiving good-bye and coming back home.

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Sweet Summertime

Summer solstice is almost upon us. You know, the phase of this trip around that sun that marks the true onset of summer.

We’ve all seen the social media posts with funky patio lights and carefree al fresco dining; vintage glassware, impossibly perfect outdoor furniture (that would wither with one rainfall), and no mosquitoes.

This side of 40, we all know that it’s never that perfect. But it can come pretty damn close.  The secret to enjoying summer, or anything else at this stage of the game, is a certain dude-ish je ne sais quoi.  A few flowy, funky, retro tops to hide a multitude of middle aged sins, and plenty of liquids.

The idea of cottaging, camping and celebrating everything that can be celebrated is a great idea, but the reality can be a little tiny bit exhausting.

So I’ve created a little backyard oasis which includes a couple of sets of dated christmas lights which are now trendily referred to as ‘fairie lights’, a water feature from my partner’s ex’s house, and a load of carefree climbing vines.  I added a few palms just to remind myself that when winter arrives, so do the snowbird deals to the Caribbean.

Creating your own, personal oasis leaves plenty of time (no snakey fifty kilometre traffic nightmare into the muskokas or Haliburton Highlands) to tear off your work-a-day clothes, throw on something loose, pour an icy cold gin and tonic and turn up the Jimmy Buffett in the backyard (before and after work, although you might want to substitute coffee before work).

In order to make summertime a little bit more summery and a lot less hectic may I recommend a few of my mid-life-mid-summer-secrets?

  1. The muu-muu. Call it a caftan, or whatever you like, but it’s a lifesaver. No bra. No panties. No public entertaining in this either, but you will feel somewhat goddess like with a generous heap of nonchalant I-could-give-a-craplessness.  Mrs. Roper to the rescue.

2. An easy cocktail. I recommend a simple gin and tonic. Either Tanqueray with Lime, or Hendricks with cucumber. Either works. Poured over ice, it’s simple and refreshing.

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3. Non-alcoholic beverages. Let’s face it, middle-age and empty nesting lets us fall into a relaxed way of being that does not always require assistance. A simple pitcher of pink lemonade in the refrigerator or a sumptuous hot tea can do the trick. My favourites include T by Daniel’s Night in Rio, or Tazo Wild Sweet Orange.

yellowtea

4.  A damn good book that you can sink your teeth into. This could be a post unto itself, but I’m going to stick with just one book for now. If you are a mid-lifer, empty-nester, or a woman who feels like change is on the horizon, I highly recommend, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Reading this will make you 100% confident wearing your muu-muu. I promise. No gin required.

women who run with the wolves

5. Fire. Yes, that’s right you need some fire. It’s primal, it’s hypnotising, and it can bring you back to yourself after a long day at work. If you have the space, try a firepit, maybe a chimenea, and for smaller spaces, try a little fire-pot.

chimenea

6. Soundscaping. A water feature can add that lovely trickling sound that makes you think that you’re somewhere other than your urban cage. If there’s no room for that, or no budget, try some of the 1990’s Dan Gibson Solitudes tracks cranked up to drown out the neighbour’s nattering,

Celebrating the sunshine is quintessential to summertime, and creating your own oasis optimizes all of that joyous vitality that the season brings. Wishing you the relaxed kind of muu-muu, gin-drinking, pink lemonade, feminist-reading kind of summer you deserve.

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Summer: Does Pumpkin Spice Belong Here?

pumpkinspiceThe end of summer has a natural melancholy about it, nostalgia seems to like the golden light of sunset and my pumpkin-spice-swilling-compadres seem always ready for the next consumer fix…ho-ho-hold off on the winter holidays please. I’m still trying to sip my September dream of October.

I missed day-one of the Pumpkin Spice season at Starbucks, but you can bet your syrupy sweet, sugary ass that I made it there on the second day.  We are an odd bunch, craving fall when it’s still peach season.

Does pumpkin spice belong here before the kids go back to school? Who’s to say. I mean, it was a marketing campaign that changed the face of how we end our summers, but maybe we can come up with some new ideas;

Peach tea lattes ( I know, it’s been done, but they are damn yummy), please don’t leave me plum lemonade, late summer boo-hoo berry or  harvest melancholy melon???

Perhaps is was Toronto’s above average rain fall and below average temperatures that fooled me into thinking our season had to be longer, or that September would bring with her some sunshine and dry heat.

For a gal who loves her some festive, pumpkin-spice lattes, I wasn’t prepared this year. Nor was I prepared to walk into a shop yesterday and find myself surrounded by Christmas decor, the  Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en stock already having been pushed to a corner.

Late summer is a mix of hanging on to the carefree days of summer, new beginnings and connecting to our ancient rituals around the harvest.

Every year, my middle-aged mom social media feed is awash with ladies celebrating the return of the syrupy-sweet-caffeine-laden coffee that is our generation’s valium. And every year, I contribute to the madness. I covet  no-whip-half-sweet-non-fat-pumpkin-spice-lattes. It’s like a small booby-prize for growing older but not up.

 

 

 

 

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Summertime To-Do List

being happyYou can’t have it all.

Seriously, you just can’t, unless you want the anxiety to go along with it.

So, instead of giving you a ‘Summer To-Do’ list on top of all of the other stuff you have on your plate my darlings, may I suggest a “Less – More” list?

 

Less City – More Beach

Less Kitchen – More  BBQ

Less Glamour – More Flip-Flops

Less Cohen  – More Calypso

Less Contemplating – More Laughter

Less Solitude – More Friend Time

Less Formal – More Casual

Less  Agenda – More Spontaneous Road Tripping

Less Accumulating – More Making Space

Less Hurry – More Mindfulness

Less No – More Yes

Less Worry – More Wonder

Less Dwelling in the Past – More Letting Go Into the Future

Less Bourbon – More Gin

Less Work – More Kiddo

Less Should – More Let’s

Less Waiting – More Freedom

Less News – More Art

putdownthatmap

 

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It’s the Waiting that’s Killing Us

2e2ace5e88f78b655e97a14a2a14a3c5Waiting, patience, giving someone the benefit of the doubt.

As we age, we begin to appreciate the value of these things. As we participate in the ride of life, we begin to realize that some of the pithy generalizations that people make are true; you can’t control what happens to you, you can only control how you react.

To a certain extent this is true. What we also come to recognize is that we can, to some extent control some of the things that happen to us.

Usually it’s by establishing personal boundaries, and filtering out the people who do not contribute to our well-being, who take without giving, and generally display sociopathic, tendencies, albeit on a sliding scale.

Waiting. We wait. We wait and we wait some more.

We wait most of all for perfect timing; for a long weekend, money in the bank or for when the kids are out of school. When we  wait with our own idealistic timeline in mind, it’s not waiting, it’s planning. Planning can be a good thing – it goes a long way to securing security, which, can never be guaranteed.

Let’s face it, every day when we get out of bed, we’re hedging our bets against our own mortality. We spend and save, worry and regret, love or protect our hearts as if we have all of the time in the world.

I hate to break it to you, but we’re not guaranteed a freaking thing; not tomorrow, not fidelity, not good health. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not telling you to throw caution to the wind and live a wild and carefree life. Goodness, what on earth would that be like for everyone? You know, living and loving and sharing as if we were all human???

What I’m saying is, align yourself with souls who are on the same path, willing to take risks with matters of the heart, and who don’t want to let life fly by without feeling fully and completely what it is to be joyful, sad, afraid and elated. Don’t settle for a partner who makes you wait, and wait, and wait some more. Don’t feel cuffed to a friend who doesn’t want to expand their horizons.

As the landscapes turn from bright summer, to pastels, and finally to the gold and oranges of autumn, I challenge you to stop waiting.

Stop waiting for someone who doesn’t want to be with you. Stop waiting until the perfect day when you don’t have to rush a little of the daily-what-must-be-dones to arrive at ah-yes-this-is-what-living is’s. Stop waiting for someone, or Jupiter to align with the sun.

Each moment you wait, you check another bar off of your lifeline. Each moment that you wait, you’re not out there meeting other vibrant, life-loving, engaged human beings.

Each moment offers an opportunity to choose something that gives us energy or zaps us. If someone continues to keep you waiting, and waiting, and waiting, I suggest getting up and getting on with the business of being fabulous. Grace and patience do not have to be self-effacing or selfless. If you are waiting for someone, you can wait and still be vibrant. You can wait and still do what you love. You can wait and meet other people to share wonderfully rich and unforgettable moments.

It’s the waiting that’s killing us darlings. Don’t wait.

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Savoury Sunday: Crevettes a la Grecque

Glasses
Glasses (Photo credit: Simon_sees)

It’s been a while darlings. It’s not that I’ve forgotten about you, I’ve just been terribly busy, pre-occupied, and frankly, enjoying the simple pleasures of the barbecue.

Alas, I am back with a delicious recipe for you to enjoy while dining al fresco under the stars after the sun has set and the humidity is blown away by  the cool evening breeze.

Shrimp in Mediterranean sauce is simple, easy and delicious; the way that food should be prepared and served. With a few fine quality ingredients and lots of love, you can enjoy this simple dish with your true-love without having to spend hours slaving over the stove.

Add a glass or five of Joseph Cattin Pinot Gris spritzed half and half with ice-cold club soda and a wedge of juicy lime. Be sure to have a baguette and fresh salad of baby greens with a simple vinegraitte, and you’re all set.

Don’t worry darlings, I haven’t forgotten the  ambiance. Please see my preferred selection below the recipe.

Enjoy!

Ingredients

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 cup water

1/3 cup olive oil

2 large garlic cloves (thinly sliced NOT crushed)

1 small red onion (finely chopped)

1 large lemon with finely pared zest

2 tbsp. lemon juice

1 tbsp. coriander seeds (lightly toasted)

1/2 tbsp. ground pepper

20 large shrimp or equivalent smaller shrimp

Fresh flat-leaf parsley (chopped for garnish)

Method

1) Combine wine, water, oil, garlic, onion, lemon zest, lemon juice, coriander seeds, pepper into a pan and bring to a boil.

2)Cover and simmer for 20 minutes.

3) Add the shrimp and simmer for approximately 3 minutes or until the shrimp (depending on size) turn pink. Remove from pan and place in serving bowl.

4) Bring the liquid back to a boil and reduce it by half (approx. 5 minutes)

5) Pour over shrimp and serve warm, garnished with parsley.

***

What would a romantic dinner be without a little music?

I’m going to suggest a summery-remix of one of my favourites;

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Stategic Planning for Summer

strategic plan

A Strategic Plan  list of ‘Early Summer Things’ to do;

1) Plant flowers, herbs and veggies.

2) Pedicures – as many as possible.

3) Break in the new BBQ.

4) Spend hours sipping coffee and watching the baby birds learn to fly.

5) Have many impromptu visits with the neighbours a la patio, porch or front step.

6) Drive with the windows down.

7) Receive the joy of sunshine, green grass and thunder storms

8) Notice the subtle changes in season during your long twilight walks on the lake trail.

9) Sleep with the windows open.

10) Walk bare foot in the midnight grass, hand in hand with your sweetheart….