9 (mostly) little things I’m loving for late summer

I like to keep a list in my journal of the (mostly) little, everyday things bringing me a disproportionate amount of happiness these days. But also, a few things happened recently that called to mind some of my perennial favorites—as opposed to the smaller, fleeting ones I so often share here—and so I’m sharing those as well. I hope you enjoy the variety!

1. My Blundstone boots

We went to Rocky Mountain National Park lately and I was reminded of how much I adore my Blundstones, which I originally bought to go to Scotland back in 2018. Summer is the season I wear them the least but I was so glad I packed them for our trip! Some of the trails we walked on in Rocky Mountain National Park (pictured up top) were steep and more than a little terrifying, and I was grateful for sturdy (and comfortable) footing.

I can and have walked ten miles a day in them, and apparently—since I’ve worn them hard for going on four years now—they last a long time. By now my husband Will is used to me saying, every time I put them on, “I really love my boots.”

2. Packing cubes

Travel, how I’ve missed you! While I took a few short trips in 2021, this year we’ve hit the road repeatedly—mostly as a family, though I have at least one work trip on the horizon. And now that I’ve been traveling again, I’ve realized … I seem to have forgot how to do it.

I’ll confess, 2022 me had completely forgotten that packing cubes existed, let alone that pre-2020 Anne relied heavily on them to pack a whole week’s worth of clothes and book tour supplies into a single carry-on—during sweater season, no less!

These things are amazing. They’re great for organizing: on our recent trip I separated dressy clothes from casual ones, and later clean from dirty—all of which saves time and stress. But I really love them because they let me fit way more into my suitcase. (Because of the density these lightweight cubes make your bag heavier, but if fitting more in a suitcase is your priority, they’re magic.)

These are the packing cubes I have, and this is a similar option with more color/pattern options available at the moment.

3. A favorite nonstick skillet

We cook A LOT at my house: all the time, for six people. We are hard on our pots and pans simply because we use them so much. I fully expect some of these kitchen items to last forever, like our Lodge cast iron skillets and our Le Creuset dutch oven. But others will need to be replaced occasionally.

Years ago I was advised by a chef friend to invest in a good nonstick skillet and treat it like royalty—and even then it would last five years at the most. We did exactly that: after trying a few variations of $12 nonstick Target pans that were amazing for the first few uses but sticky in a few short weeks, we finally invested in this $40 Tramontina 12″ nonstick skillet. (They’re less expensive if you can get by with a smaller one.)

I adored this pan and used it almost every day—but sure enough, the closer we got to the five-year mark, the stickier it got. This summer we reached the point when I dreaded making scrambled eggs because the clean-up was such a mess, and so I finally replaced it with the same model.

Having a new nonstick skillet is AMAZING. Making eggs for breakfast is a breeze again and I’m loving it. (I’m also making a mental note that next time I may want to plan on replacing it at the 4 1/2 year mark, because those last six months were pretty rough.)

4. Tools to help me hide from the sun

My sensitive skin isn’t particularly fond of the sun and really hates sunscreen, so finding the right products for sun protection has been a lifelong challenge—and one that’s been top of mind as I prepare to visit the Florida panhandle for a launch-day signing at Seaside’s Sundog Books! And my daughters’ skin is even more sensitive than mine so we’re in it together.

For starters: the sunscreen I can actually handle for my face is Elta MD UV Clear Broad Spectrum (the holy grail) and Supergoop’s Unseen Sunscreen (the supplement). For the rest of me, our whole family swears by Trader Joe’s broad spectrum spray sunscreen. (I wish I knew who they partner with to make this sunscreen because I’ve never found a name brand that’s as gentle on our skin.)

Sunscreen is great, but my skin tolerates it much better if I don’t use it nonstop—which is why I rely heavily on hats, rashguards, and other means of protection. I’ve bought numerous incarnations of this J.Crew rashguard over the years and it’s still my first choice. (Because final sale is scary: I should be a medium in this style but I sized up to a large for a looser fit.) I’m also trying this Athleta sun protection jacket for the first time this year.

Finally, in the summer I never leave home without a book and a snack … and a hat! I have this inexpensive straw roll-up hat in both black and khaki. My 15-year-old daughter just got this adorable straw hat from J.Crew, but I’m sorry to say it’s now sold out.

5. Ted Lasso

I’m currently on my third rewatch of this show and still enjoying it. I first watched it last fall on a solo trip and loved it, so downloaded it to watch with Will on our recent plane trip. Because we didn’t quite finish the series while we were traveling we finished it again so the kids got hooked early in season two, and then they wanted to start again at the beginning.

How soon till season 3? We’re ready!

6. Spicy tomatoes

I really like Vivian Howard’s cookbook This Will Make It Taste Good and have enjoyed cooking my way through her master recipes for “kitchen heros”—a foundational recipe you can then use to make everything you cook taste better.

This summer I’m keeping my fridge stocked with Vivian’s spicy tomatoes or, as she renamed them for the book, “red weapons”: quartered roma tomatoes, pickled in brine with jalapeños and scallions.

Before this summer my favorite way to use them was to chop and toss with grilled vegetables. (Don’t get me wrong: this combo is still magic.) But this summer I started putting them in salads, and now that’s my daily lunch. More on that in a sec.

This cookbook excerpt includes the recipe for spicy tomatoes. (Don’t be put off by the single 3-star review: the reviewer is quibbling with semantics and hasn’t made the recipe yet.)

7. Pickled things

This summer my friend and MMD team member Leigh reminded me of a recipe I once made on the regular: Smitten Kitchen’s pickled vegetables. Deb calls hers a sandwich slaw but I’ve never once put this on a sandwich: instead, I dump it into salads for extra zing and crunch.

Deb’s version consists of beautifully layered rainbow vegetables; mine is usually carrots plus a few sugar snaps and red onions. It’s easy, it’s delicious, it keeps for a month in the fridge and it’s so nice to have a jar at the ready for lunchtime.

8. Salads, salads, all the time

Longtime readers of this blog (and readers of Don’t Overthink It) know that I’m a big fan of having the same thing for lunch every day. This summer, it’s been salads: a bed of greens, with spicy tomatoes, pickled vegetables, maybe some chopped fresh vegetables if something good is in the crisper, with a little feta and/or crunchy nuts. We usually have leftover protein to throw on top, or if we don’t I’ve learned it’s easy enough to air fry a salmon filet.

The thing that’s made this so easy and delicious is I discovered by accident that the spicy tomato recipe—brined in a mixture of vinegar and olive oil—doubles as a salad dressing. We’ll call it a spicy tomato vinaigrette. (Who’s been to the Red Bar in Grayton Beach, Florida? Every day at lunchtime I’m reminded of their salads.)

It’s easy, it’s delicious, it’s largely do-ahead. I love it.

9. All the word games

My family has a whole rotation of word games we work our way through every morning (and sometimes for the rest of the day). It sounds ridiculous, but then again, I love getting a text from my kid that says, “Pangram!” In the order I usually do them, we have: Wordle, Quordle, Waffle, Spelling Bee, and the NYT crossword (which we have a subscription for, and is some of the best money I’ve spent these past few years).

I’m actually wondering if I’m reading less because in sum they take more than a few minutes. But they bring me joy, so I’m okay with it … at least for now.

What (mostly) little things are bringing YOU a disproportionate amount of happy lately? I’d love to hear in comments.

P.S. Previous editions of little things I’m loving: 8 (mostly) little things I’m loving for winter, 9 (mostly) little things I’m loving lately: kitchen edition, 8 (mostly) little things I’m loving for early fall9 little things I’m loving this September6 things I’m loving for early summer5 late fall/early winter favorites7 little January favorites9 October favorites, and 7 not terribly exciting things making me really happy these days.

74 comments

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  1. Adrienne says:

    Great list! I thought my son (who loves football and soccer) would enjoy the Ted Lasso series, so I mentioned it to him. Turns out he has watched both seasons and loves it, so my guess was correct.
    I’m looking forward to trying the pickled tomatoes aka “Red Weapons” recipe, which looks fabulous!

  2. LoisAnn says:

    I like spicy but the tomato recipe sounds flaming hot. Before I try this could you please tell me your tolerance for hot spicy food. Thank you.

    • Anne Bogel says:

      I like moderately spicy food but the jalapeños I’ve used this summer have been pretty mild. Remember Vivian is the pro here but I think you could reduce the quantity or skip them entirely and the recipe would still turn out great.

  3. Mary says:

    Trader Joe’s dish cloths-they work so well and, when they start to show wear, work great as cleaning rags. Also, coffee and reading in the morning on our back screened in porch while listening to the sound of children playing at the daycare center behind us.

  4. Moira Moore says:

    I am a grandmother to a 2 year old and though sometimes the constant motion and fluctuations in mood can be exhausting, she is the light of my life and my greatest blessing. She lights up my days and reminds me to take time to look at the little things that surround me. Like flowering weeds, bugs, and rocks made into castle towers.

  5. Rada Foote says:

    I’m loving the delayed start button on my dishwasher. I don’t want to start a load right after dinner and have missed the dirty ice cream bowls that show up later. But life is so busy right now that if I didn’t have a delayed start button, the next morning I would end up having to run the dishwasher. Now when I come downstairs all the dishes are clean. JUST LIKE MAGIC.

  6. Michelle Wilson says:

    I am watching West Wing (for the first time…yes, late to the party but so glad that I’m here now). It is such a joy to have a couple episodes to look forward to each night!

  7. Sandy says:

    Late summer sales, especially Barnes and Noble’s clearance rack! I’ve bought “Haven Point” and “Termination Shock.”

  8. Brooke K says:

    YES to Blundstones! I invested in a pair this past winter when we moved from central TX to upstate NY. I wore them 90% of the winter, and with our first NY fall approaching, I know they’ll get even more wear. Best investment ever.

  9. Amy says:

    My siblings and I also enjoy playing word games. We share our scores daily on a Messenger group. You should add Octordle to your list.

  10. Jen says:

    Mojitos! I’ve always loved mojitos, and now that I have fresh mint growing in my garden, I am making mojitos a lot. They are so refreshing!

  11. Nanette says:

    Every morning, I feed the cats, make coffee, do wordle and quardle, I got addicted to the Happy Color app and color the picture of the day while listening to my latest audiobook. Sometimes, I update my reading journal or other to-do lists. By then, I’m ready to go to the gym or the office or whatever is next as I start my day.

  12. Sandy says:

    I start my day with coffee, a kitty snuggle, and a few puzzles. My sequence: Wordle, Worldle (identify the country by it’s silhouette), Quordle, Nerdle, and Octordle (like Wordle x 8). I can see I’ll be adding Waffle to the list.
    Thank you for the sunscreen recommendation. It sounds like one I will actually use!

  13. Donna B. says:

    Cats. My cats have silky coats, comforting purrs, and outsized personalities. Spending even a few minutes with them is a balm to my soul. And getting a gentle nose “boop”? Magical.

    Daylilies. Lovely, often fragrant, ephemeral, and easy to grow. They encourage me to be “hands on” in the garden. Most last only a single day, hence the name, but have an outsized visual impact. They encourage me to be in the moment and to savor their beauty and scent. And the flowers are edible, should the need arise.

  14. Kitty says:

    Hi Anne-
    Will you explain how you use Unseen Sunscreen as a supplement to the Elta? I’ve just discovered it & love it! It’s currently all I use. Am I missing out on the Elta?

    • Anne Bogel says:

      I generally wear the Elta all day on days when I don’t have makeup on my face, because the lack of makeup makes it easy to reapply. I put unseen sunscreen on top of makeup when I need to reapply. If the Unseen Sunscreen is working well for you then I don’t think you’re missing out!

  15. Donna says:

    Morning coffee on the back patio, listening to the birds. I’ve discovered to get small bags of coffee beans to sample different kinds of coffee from the local store. It gives variety each day and helps me to find a new favorite!

  16. Susan says:

    I have a smoothie with breakfast every morning, and our heavy duty pro blender (Ninja Ultima) is great for handling frozen fruit. The smoothies are also a good way to use fruit from the fridge that is going a little soft. Each day’s smoothie is different from the day before. I thrive on routine (ie morning smoothie) but that bit of variety (what fruit today?) within it is great.

  17. Leigh says:

    That frying pan is the best. I usually find them at Costco Business center in a two pack for less then that. We have the bigger and smaller size.

  18. Vanessa says:

    I love cooking good food. I also love eating so it works out well. Lately I’ve been going through some of my Bon Appétit magazines and having a blast matching recipes with food that’s on sale at the grocery store that week. Love your recipe recommendations always!!!

  19. Stacy says:

    I love Wordle, Octordle, and Waffle too. Phoodle is food-based words and Duotrigordle is 32 words. You get 37 chances to get them all right. It’s easier to complete on a bigger screen. Canuckle is now archived, so you can complete them all. It’s fun and interesting, and the words all relate to Canada. My book count is down this year too, and I’m sure it’s because of these games!

  20. Nancy says:

    Please tell me what salmon you quickly cook for lunch. I’ve been having a terrible time finding good salmon. Thanks.

    • Anne Bogel says:

      We typically buy frozen sockeye filets at Trader Joe’s or fresh ones at Costco and portion them ourselves. Always wild, because for reasons I can’t figure out farmed gives me stomach pains.

  21. Kathy says:

    Tomato sandwiches! Definitely a seasonal treat. Crusty bread, mayonnaise, luscious heirloom tomato slices, a grind of pepper, some Maldon salt, and a twist or two of the oregano buds grinder from Burlap & Barrel. YUM. There’s only one tomato left in the bowl…

  22. sarah says:

    I recently downloaded the Merlin Bird ID app. I use it when I go for walks in the town park down the road, but I also just start running the audio ID while on my porch and let it run for a few minutes. I’ve had some surprising results!

  23. Biz says:

    First watching the men’s Tour de France and this week the women’s! The helicopter camera operators do a fantastic job of showing the gorgeousness of France and the athleticism is amazing and inspiring. The American men had a great Tour this year, we enjoy rooting for them!

  24. Lisa says:

    I think you are mentioning word games you play by yourself- others similar to Wordle. If your family likes to play games together, though, Quiddler is such a fun word game for that!

  25. Kimberly Fox says:

    Every day our family (me, hubby and our son) okay Wordle, Worldle and sometimes Nerdle. Then my son and I do Dordle, Quordle, Octordle, Sedecordle and Spelling Bee. The word games keep my brain working and I love them!

  26. Jennifer says:

    Wordle, Quordle (4), Octordle (8), sedecordle (16), and duotrigordle (32!). I think the Octordle is the best measure of skill.

  27. Ellen says:

    I don’t usually comment but these seasonal posts are some of my fav’s and I’m really really sun sensitive. So two things I love
    1-a packable hat, so easy to take everywhere and my thick hair is enough to keep the burn at bay, lots of compliments and I wear it year round but it doesn’t snow here
    https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0845YQG78/ref=ppx_yo_dt_b_search_asin_title?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    2-Sunscreen without any chemical sunscreen – for daily use
    https://www.sephora.com/product/biossance-squalane-zinc-sheer-mineral-sunscreen-spf-30-pa-P456410?country_switch=us&lang=en&skuId=2347789&om_mmc=ppc-GG_1918213323_68906960845_pla-420378096665_2347789_353573794922_9060225_c&ds_rl=1261471&gclid=Cj0KCQjw54iXBhCXARIsADWpsG80WmCQbVkOcZBTCoMAcK1pfH8ulHEwXYSwGZ2lS5i5RDIZDhwKcHAaAvh1EALw_wcB&gclsrc=aw.ds

  28. Leanne says:

    My morning game routine is Wordle, Spelling Bee, Mathler, and and all the forms of Nerdle. And yes, my reading count is down this summer!

  29. Karen S says:

    So we are all hooked on the daily Wordle at my house too, but my 17-year-old son and I also do Hurdle almost every day. We team up for that one since it is harder. We found out about the larger games (octordle (8), sedecordle (16), etc) on a wedding trip this summer and played on the drive with me brainstorming as my son called out the letters. So much FUN!
    I am loving mineral water (Topo Chico or Perrier) with a lime squeezed in for a cooling dinner drink. (I occasionally add to it for a Ranch Water)
    We are also on a Tea kick here and have purchased random sampler packs. We have fun reaching in and picking out a tea option from the cannister. (they are all individually packaged) I am having hot tea in the evening to sip while my husband does a pour over ice with his for dinner.

  30. Shawna says:

    We are watching Ted Lasso for the third time, and laughing just as much as the first. Can’t wait for the 3rd season but I fear it will be the last. Things I’m loving right now: my coworkers (yes, really), weeding the flowers early on weekends mornings, time with teen and toddler grandkids, and finishing up a long woodworking project.

  31. CA Crowe says:

    Favorites for summer 2022: “volunteer” sunflowers and zinnias in my yard that grow by happenstance, homemade cantaloupe sorbet, the bounty of a neighbors garden, the brilliance of summer sunsets, eating the first heirloom tomato of the year, dairy free banana ice cream, pop up ice cream socials (2nd annual) with the neighbors and the brilliant colors of my summer flowers.

  32. Susan Boyer Howell says:

    Dear Anne,
    Love your blog and book suggestions. Purchased your Book Journal and love it, too. I’m wondering about the Blundstone boots in that I take an 11 and the reviews say the boot runs small. I remember you saying you took a size 11. Did you purchase a Women’s size 11 or purchase Men’s boots in a different size?
    Many thanks for answering this question.

  33. Kay says:

    I recently discovered Fabulous50s, a great blog and usually daily videos to exercise along too. They are just perfect for me to use for daily fitness and toning and are making me feel better about my body as she is such a positive person and so encouraging.
    I also decided that I wanted to learn a new skill so am teaching myself embroidery, it makes me happy to use lots of free tutorials and videos to help me make something simple but lovely.
    I recently came across the most wonderful homemade sausage rolls at a butchers in a nearby village, getting something tasty, homemade, and supporting a small business all at the same time.

  34. Melissa Gerber says:

    Nonstick pans get food stuck to them, which causes them to be “stick” pans instead of “nonstick” pans. Put about an inch of water in the pan with a couple of tablespoons of baking soda. Bring to a boil. Let the water boil for 10 minutes or so (little black bits may rise to the top.) You may have to do this more than once. Then follow up with a good scrubbing with Bar Keepers Friend. I regularly clean mine with BKF after using. And, no, cleaning nonstick pans is not what is making me happy this summer! Listening to audio books and doing hand embroidery — now that’s right up my street!

  35. Stacey Adams says:

    We just got the game Quick-tionary from Barnes and Noble. I saw it years ago and knew I wanted it, but couldn’t remember the name and didn’t see it again. Randomly saw it this week and snagged it up. It is such a fun family word game your family would also probably love. 😉

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