It's June! The month of grads, dads, no more school books...freedom. Summer may not officially start until the end of the month, but I think it's a state of mind. My family and I are looking forward to the lazy days of summer where schedules and have-tos are put on hold.
1. Buy a new swimsuit. If you're in and out of the water as much as we are, you need a few good suits to see you though the summer. Fading and stretching are natural, so try on your suits to see what fits and what doesn't, then treat yourself to a new suit that's fun and colorful.
2. Get ready for summer reads. Make your lists, swap books with friends and family (like I do each summer), and read something you wouldn't normally read like a biography, a book about birds, or a romance novel.
3. Hit the road. My parents were really into day trips when I was a child. We'd take off early and end up hours from home just to take in a change of scenery, eat at a new restaurant, or just enjoy the ride. When they come to visit, their car is like a traveling hotel room. They keep snacks, clothes, books, and just about every convenience you could think of stashed between the seats. I now have a basket filled with essentials that goes wherever I do. (Check out how to clean and organize your car.)
4. Do something different. When's the last time you played mini-golf? Or kayaked, boated, or canoed? How about played badminton, volleyball, bocce ball, or croquet? We try to do something each summer that we haven't tried before or done in a while. A few years ago, we went go-carting. Last year, the girls tried surf-bikes. And this year, I want to go clamming. What about you?
5. Try a new recipe. Take advantage of fresh fruits and vegetables and make delicious fruit shakes or these Fresh Corn and Summer Squash Tacos. When I cook on the grill, I make steak tips (on skewers with onions, peppers, and cherry tomatoes) with orzo salad (orzo, olive oil, garlic, and basil) that everyone enjoys.
6. Invest in a summer hat. If you're not a hat-wearer, it's time you were. Not only does it shade your eyes from the sun, but it saves your skin. I'm the one on the beach wearing a hat, sunglasses, and cover-up while sitting under an umbrella. I love the sun, but I'm not a fan of wrinkles.
7. Take up hiking. Walk in the woods and enjoy the shade of the trees. Take a stroll through the dunes. Or get reacquainted with your neighborhood.
8. Mix up your summer routine. Take one extra hour each day and spend it outdoors to get your dose of vitamin D or some fresh night air. As I mentioned last month, it's time to ditch the TV in favor of star-gazing. Play cards by candlelight on the porch. Work outside if you can. If I'm writing or researching, I can do this easily from my porch sofa. And I eat breakfast and lunch out there if I can't.
9. Become an artist. Grab that pad of paper, some pencils, paints, clay, or your hot glue gun. You don't really need to be an artist, just have fun. Put those pencils to use and try your hand at this drawing. If you're a seasoned crafter, how about making these outdoor cushions—perfect for concerts in the park. Scribble, doodle, use crayons. The more colorful and messy the better.
10. Make a summer playlist. Add upbeat, get-moving music to your iPod...the kind of music that makes you want to sing at the top of your lungs. (And date it so you can look back and see what you listened to.) Here are some of my favorites: "Summer of '69" by Bryan Adams, "Our Song" or "Starlight" by Taylor Swift, "Beautiful Day" by U2, and "She's So Perfect" by 5 Seconds of Summer.
Photo: Orleans, MA