When I worked at the head office of the LCBO (AKA: the Liquor Control Board of Ontario), I learned that offices in France closed in August. This made it difficult to track my Courvoisier orders, but I was impressed. Closed for the whole month?
I’ve always wanted to do that. This year it can happen!
So I’m taking off for a few weeks, but here’s a SUMMER FUN KIT to take you through the month! It’s packed with books, activities, new music, a super smoothie recipe, and a bunch of other great stuff to summer up with.
Boo, by Neil Smith: A nerdy boy dies and goes to heaven, meets other 13-year-old angel friends, and explores heaven, which is just like Chicago. This book is so not what you think.
Walking With Walser, by Daphne Gordon: Slightly neurotic (but in a really familiar way) car- and gluten-free urban woman walks through the contemporary West Queen West neighbourhood of Toronto. Translated from English to English. Hard to explain. Laugh-out-loud funny. Possibly the most unique and delightful book you’ve read in a while.
Summer House With Swimming Pool, by Herman Koch: Extremely unlikeable narrator, but I couldn’t stop reading it. The narrator is so misogynistic and homophobic and vile, I hesitated before listing it here. A book that will push your buttons. Not for the faint of heart (it’s pretty dark). If you read The Dinner (with the book cover I like to call This Cake’s shadow self), then you know a little of what you’re getting into, here. Read it with a friend, so you have someone to talk to afterwards.
Dog Songs, by Mary Oliver: Poems about dogs, by a master of creative presence. Read especially if you have a dog. Or if — like me — you just really, really, really want a dog.
Uncertainty, by Jonathan Fields: To get you psyched up to tackle writing something new. Or to keep you going forward even though you have a fear of not knowing what might come next in your book. This book reminds you that you can’t know! Uncertainty is the only way through your creative process. Galvanizing.
Seeing Flowers, by Robert Llewellyn and Teri Dunn Chace: A small(ish) coffee-table book with breathtaking photographs of flowers, arranged by species. Includes poems and excerpts of essays and other literary floral sparkles, and is actually a fascinating and charming read. Hello Passifloraceae! Asteraceae! Ranunculaceae! Oh, and the close-ups of everything in the lily family knock me out.
I swear by Coola. It’s from Hawaii. It’s a mineral-based sunscreen (I’m one of those people who feels hostility when faced with the paradox of cancer prevention through chemical use). I have the sport SPF 35 in Citrus Mimosa for when I go running and the face SPF 30 unscented matte tint for every day. I wish I could get their mineral sunscreen sprays, but for a reason I don’t understand, living in Canada makes this not possible. Sigh.
A brand-new SSMinder recently sent me this in a lovely email:
“…the course so far is SO good. I have written more in the last couple of months than I have in years. … such an easy and beautiful, clean and spacious interface. Honestly, so gorgeous — just visiting the page, I feel like I’m doing yoga and having a kale smoothie. In a good way. And then I go off and somehow, finally, write through the resistance. Thank you.” ~ Karen Taylor
Now I keep craving smoothies. Oh! The power of suggestion!
(Ha! See what I just did there?)
The Story Is a State of Mind Smoothie
- Big handful of ice cubes (6 or 7)
- 1 cup frozen strawberries
- 1 tbsp of ground flax seeds
- 1/2 cup coconut milk or coconut yoghurt (I use the YoSo brand of coconut yoghurt… in the chocolate flavour!)
- 1 tbsp cocoa powder (this is optional if you have chocolate yoghurt)
- 1 handful of kale (thanks, Karen!)
- Maple syrup to taste (I don’t use any in mine, but I don’t have a sweet tooth)
- 1 cup of water (less, if you like a very thick smoothie)
Blend all of the ingredients *except water* in a high-speed blender. Add the water last, and use just enough to make it your desired consistency. You won’t even taste the kale.
THE COLOURING BOOK
The Secret Garden: an Inky Treasure Hunt and Coloring Book, by Johanna Basford: Bliss out while you colour in the lines and explore these gorgeous, intricate drawings. Take my advice: don’t bother with substandard colouring pencils. Go to a proper art supply store and splurge on a set of artist-quality pencil crayons. The texture – buttery, rich, and soft, like cake in a stick – will make you melt. So worth it.
Skip apps. Go offline for a day, a weekend, a week, a whole month. Get your personality back. All of your feeds will be there when you get back.
I love spiral-bound notebooks for writing practice. They feel plain and simple, so you don’t get too precious with your sentences. I also like the lines – I don’t use the margins, but I use the horizontals. They help me enjoy my handwriting; I feel like I’m in grade seven again. Also, buying new spiral notebooks in August feels like school supply shopping! All to say: there’s nothing better than these spiral notebooks by Fabriano. Oh, Fabriano.
Icy cold and savoury: it’s like salad in a bowl. I don’t have a recipe for this — I make intuitive gazpacho – but I did some research for you, and I found this trusted recipe from Oh She Glows. For a sweet, refreshing treat, I suggest you try adding some watermelon to this recipe. My intuition just says you should try it.
This essential oil blend called Joy! Given to me by a friend/writer from Australia who I met in person on my writing retreat in Italy this spring. (Thank you, Julia!) The one she gave me is by Young Living; I discovered that their oils are quite expensive. This one by Eden’s Garden is similar, and a fraction of the price. I mix 4-5 drops with a dollop of grape seed oil and smooth it on my skin every morning. It makes me happy.
This little mix tape I made you is easy, light, and somewhat celestial/uplifting. For sipping ginger beer on the porch, with a book. For stargazing. Excellent for colouring. Reminds you that life is good, that you are creative and connected to things that are bigger than you, and that magic happens. There are lyrics in some of the songs, so it might not be best for writing on the first listen. But there are only 10 songs: listen to it a few times to get used to it, and then try writing with it. Here it is: enjoy.
Note: this link seems temperamental – if the playlist doesn’t open, copy this link and paste it into the Spotify Search bar: https://play.spotify.com/user/12168017471/playlist/3OnO2t6h9wTGtoRbxfhBXh
See you in September!
With sun + waves,