Filtered by Category: summer

Extremely good shit: McLeod Farms peaches

macs pride mcleod farms peaches.JPG

As you may know, I’m not a fan of summer. But one way I’ve been making it more bearable in recent years is by ordering a box of peaches from McLeod Farms, a South Carolina operation that came on my radar several years ago when I lived in Houston.

These peaches are awesome in the dictionary-definition sense of the word. So juicy, so fragrant, so special. Every bit of them detaches from the pit so easily and cleanly, it’s genuinely remarkable. Getting a box of them delivered has become one of the highlights of my summer.

But you don’t have to take my word for it! Here are some of the things my friends have had to say about them:

“This is truly the best peach I’ve ever eaten.”

“I should have eaten that in the bathtub.”

“That was obscene.”

“I should not have eaten that in public.” (I heard this more than once!)

The peaches go on sale every year in the late spring. They are sold by the box; you can either buy a box of 20 (for $60) or a box of 40 (for $77), and when you order, you select the week you want them delivered. (They ship in June, July, and August. Also, shipping to NYC is free, but I’m not sure if that’s the case everywhere.)

These peaches aren’t cheap, which is, for me, part of what makes them so special; I make a point to really savor them (I always try to enjoy at least one while sitting outside), and to share them with friends who will appreciate them.

Oprah once said* something to the effect of “you can find God in a perfectly ripe tomato,” and I think about this whenever I eat one of these peaches. (And, yes, then I obviously have a minor existential crisis about climate change and my own mortality. It happens at the beach, too! Summer is great!!!) They are just…sublime.

*I am fairly certain it was on the final page of an issue of O Magazine that I read like a decade ago, but I have never been able to track down the exact quote, so this could be entirely made-up!!! But if Oprah didn’t say it, then I will: You can find God in a perfectly ripe summer fruit.

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Just good summer reading

Close-up photo of the novel  Valley of the Dolls  being read on the beach

When I think about the best summer reading, I think of really entertaining books that you’ll enjoy enough to want to binge read (see also: this great NYT article). But I don’t think they have to be pure fluff! To me, a great summer read should feel less like eating a ton of candy, and more like eating a delicious meal made up of of assorted dips, juicy fruits, delicious crostini, a couple of amazing pasta salads, some great Trader Joe’s appetizers, and sparkling water. It’s satisfying and filling (even if/when it’s light), and consuming it brings real pleasure.

So with that in mind, here are some of my favorites!

Fiction

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

I haven’t read this book in a few years, but it’s one I think of as best in class when it comes to light summer reads. Reading it feels like watching a great Nancy Meyers movie; it’s entertaining and goes down smoothly and easily.

Buy it for $9.70+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Every summer, I get what can only be described as a craving to read Valley of the Dolls. The book is pure camp and I love it. It also has one of the best elements of a great summer novel: rich people and their rich people problems. I might actually start reading it again tonight because it’s been a few years!

Buy it for $7.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante

When I think about these four books — My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child — I just feel such genuine fondness and appreciation for them. (By the way, I actually didn’t really get into My Brilliant Friend until the last few chapters, but then I was all in.)

Buy My Brilliant Friend for $9.32+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes

The first time I finished Middlesex, I felt like I'd just read a memoir, not a work of fiction. It’s one of my all-time faves. Also, I had heard the audiobook was better than the book itself, which I found preposterous but…the audiobook is truly excellent.

Buy it for $9.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

This was one of my favorite books of 2015, and reminded me just how good short story collections can be. (Also, short story collections feel very summery to me and I don’t know why.)

Buy it from Amazon for $5.10+ or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Most of this book takes place in the summer and it has loads of “classic novel you read on summer break between junior and senior years” energy.

Buy it for $10.80+ from Amazon or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

I went back and forth on including this one because I think it’s fluffier than most of my other picks…but I also really enjoyed it (and The Rumor and Beautiful Day, two other Elin Hilderbrand novels I’ve finished this week) and I think Hilderband is so good at what she does that it’s worth your consideration!

Buy it for $7.99+ from Amazon or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

Non-fiction

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

I’ve read almost all of David Sedaris’s books, but Me Talk Pretty One Day is probably my all-time favorite; I think it has the highest concentration of David Sedaris lines/anecdotes that I think about a lot. Also: the audiobook version (which David Sedaris narrates) is fantastic — so good for road trips.

Buy it for $10.38+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

It took more than one recommendation from Terri for me to finally read this book, but once I did, I had to admit: it’s amazing. Like, couldn’t put it down amazing; I’m happy to report I’m now a James Garfield stan.

Buy it for $12.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou

By now, you’ve surely watched or listened to or read something about Elizabeth Holmes, but this book is the OG for a reason. It’s gripping (and way better than the podcasts or documentaries have been) and totally worth it.

Buy it for $12.13+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

This book reads like a novel and, despite being about the Civil War, is a bit lighter than you might expect (while still being very informative). If you’re the kind of person who’d prefer to spend their summer vacation taking trips to Gettysburg and the like, this one’s for you.

Buy it for $11.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound. 📚


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Rosé + Spindrift is my go-to drink for summer 2019

Image of bottle of rosé and can of Spindrift on red wooden table on sunny rooftop with patio furniture and string lights

Last month, I came across this tweet from Maris Kreizman: “I don’t know who needs to hear this but Raspberry Lime Spindrift mixed with rosé is the ideal summer spritzer.”

Reader, it is good. I don’t actually love Spindrift, rosé, or lime flavoring alone, but the combination just works. I’ve brought it to a few parties and it’s been a hit every time! Highly recommend. ✨

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Notes on Camp (Pride)

camp pride party.jpg

A couple weeks ago, my girlfriend and I threw a Pride party. Pride means something different to every queer person; this year, she and I were both in need of community, friendship, joy, humor, creativity, and something public(ish), and that’s exactly what we got. The party was affirming and special and lovely and fun, and I’m so glad we did it.

So that is what the party was about, but that’s not what Pride as a whole is about (read more on that topic in the New York Times here and here), and it’s not what this post is about! This post is about cute enamel pins, delicious jello shots, and tips for assembling beaded friendship bracelets when you’ve consumed several of said jello shots and are sitting on a very windy roof. I actually wasn’t planning to write about the party at all, but after I got some questions about it on Instagram, I decided to share some details about the DIY projects, the relevant shopping links*, and my thoughts on what worked well. But I don’t want to give the impression that that’s all that this party (or Pride in general) meant to me.


*If this post happens to generate any affiliate revenue, I’m planning to donate it to the Audre Lorde project.

Cool? Cool. Onto the party!

camp pride party.jpg

The theme

We started planning this party right after the Met Gala, so when the topic of theme came up, I was like, “Literal camp? Please, I’m begging you????” (I’ve always just loved summer camp shit.) The camp theme worked out well — it’s summery, it’s equal parts wholesome and horny, and it’s really practical/inexpensive to pull off. (Like, most of what we needed could be found at any party store/craft store/big-box store.) Plus, allies could easily dress on theme without worrying about being appropriative.

The week leading up to the party felt like a combination of Halloween, school plays, and summer camp, and I was living for it. It’s been a while since I got to do a big burst of arts and crafts like this, and it felt great.

The refreshments

We didn’t do anything too special in this regard, but we did make these cherry lemonade jello shots. I tend to hate the taste of jello shots but these did not taste like vodka at all. Definitely recommend! I also made French onion dip using the classic Lipton mix because it never fails, and I believe in giving people what they want!

camp pride party.jpg

The decorations

We kept the decor very low-key overall, and bought everything from Michaels and Party City. Early on, we talked about doing more in terms of decor, but it wasn’t logistically possible and it wouldn’t have been worth it anyway. As someone who always wants to do The Most (I take after my mom in this regard!), it was nice to give myself permission to just…not.

We did spend a not-insignificant amount of time at Party City on 14th Street trying to figure out the exact right combination of colored cups for our rainbow. (They stock…way more options than you might think?!) I think every single color was in our cart briefly at some point, but honestly, it was worth it. And the coral cups we found on a Pantone Color of the Year display at the last minute really pulled their weight. Also, the Pendleton-knockoff blanket my girlfriend found in the back of her closet two days before the party made a great second tablecloth. We also bought glow sticks and bubbles, and asked a friend to bring her Instax camera.

camp pride party.jpg

The pennants

My girlfriend suggested we make collegiate-style pennants as part of the decor, and I had made some in the past and thought it would be a good low-lift option for this party! This project was mostly just a treat for me, and an excuse to dust off my beloved Cricut (gifted to me years ago). The pennant slogans were Gal Pals, Gay!, Bottoms, We’re Tops!, Both Teams, Pride, and Horny. And you might not be able to tell from the photos, but the lettering was glittery/holographic. 

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The pronoun koozies

I decided to buy a set of 12 solid colored koozies on Amazon during one of our big party purchases, thinking they’d be cute/colorful/festive, and that maybe I could add some fun text onto them. The colors were a bit disappointing IRL — like, a third of them were really muddy — so I decided to buy a second 12-pack of all lavender koozies, which were perfect, especially alongside the brighter colors. I really wanted to Cricut some kind of word or phrase onto them, but I knew whatever I went with would have to be really short to fit/be legible. Meanwhile, we’d had a difficult time finding pronoun stickers or temporary tattoos in time for the party. It was my girlfriend’s idea to just put the pronouns on the koozies, and it felt like a win-win. (I also left several blank so there were options.)

For reasons too boring and complicated to get into here, I had a bunch of unexpected trouble with the iron-on vinyl at first, so these projects could have looked a lot better, but I think they still looked pretty OK! The rainbow holographic vinyl is really special and looked so beautiful on the koozies IRL, and I’m excited to use it on other projects! (Oh, and if you’re wondering, that font is Corben Bold.)

pronoun coozies.jpg
Photo Jun 22, 6 47 42 PM.jpg

The friendship bracelets

This was also my girlfriend’s idea, and I was all for it, as I love friendship bracelets. I’m also a big fan of having some sort of activity at every party that’s neither drinking nor dancing. We had a bunch of embroidery floss for braided bracelets at the ready, but — perhaps unsurprisingly — everyone wanted to make letter bead bracelets that said things like “horny” and “butthole” and “Kirstie Alley” instead.


Here’s what I will say: I spent my evenings the week leading up to the party making beaded bracelets for my girlfriend and I and for some of my close friends, because I wanted to get good at it before we unleashed them on the world. And it turns out, this was the right move — letter bead bracelets are surprisingly fussy! For starters, you can’t put most letter beads on embroidery floss (it’s too thick), and working with the elastic cord definitely takes some getting used to. And you need to have some kind of stopper on the string when you are adding the beads so they don’t fall off. Also, if people fuck up when tying a completed bead bracelet, it’ll break. They’ll have wasted all that time and energy making a bracelet, and you’ll end up with beads everywhere, which no one wants. In our case, I ended up printing out a bunch of tips for making the beaded bracelets + an image of how to tie them in case I wasn’t around to do it, which felt a tiny bit extra but turned out to be a good idea. Another tip: keep all of the supplies on large tray to help avoid a major bead incident and to make cleanup easier. (The tray was also very helpful when I was working on the bracelets in the apartment.) And don’t ignore the advice to pre-stretch the cord, and to reinforce the knot with super glue.


That said, it was completely worth the effort because the bracelets were cute and funny and fun and very photogenic. And a lot more people than I was expecting to made bracelets, which made me happy! But it’s not the kind of thing we could have just decided to do a day before and had it work.

Tutorials I used:

Shopping list:

camp pride party.jpg

The outfits

Our guests showed up in a range of great on-theme looks that included “slutty Boy Scout,” a Smokey Bear–style uniform and hat, and an extremely minor character in The Parent Trap. There were also lots of good neckerchiefs and accessories, and everyone looked so summery and cute! (We also bought a pack of 12 neckerchiefs in solid colors in case anyone was feeling stressed about what to wear.) 


For our part, my girlfriend and I decided to bring Big Camp Counselor Energy. (TBH, I think I bring that energy…most days.)


I wore a light blue ringer tee, mustard yellow dolphin shorts with a pastel rainbow patch, a rainbow striped bandanna, my sparkle emoji pin, and my National Parks–inspired rainbow pin that says “This land was made for you and me.” (This pin makes me and also everyone who reads it surprisingly emotional???) And I wore striped camp socks and my blue Crocinstocks from Freedom Moses. My girlfriend’s outfit was essentially the same, but she had a mustard yellow ringer tee, lavender shorts, lavender slides, and her own enamel pins. And we both had gold whistles, plus friendship bracelets we made ourselves that matched our own personal aesthetics.

camp pride party.jpg

I also went to Sephora for a makeup mini the day of, which is a free thing anyone can do! You just have to book ahead (go here, and then filter by “services”) and they’ll do a 15-minute makeup application of your choosing (so, in my case, eye makeup and fake lashes). It was nice to not have to worry about it, and meant I didn’t have to buy the incredibly beautiful $40 Tarte palette for just a single use of that amazing gold glittery shadow.

Shopping list: 

One final thing…

I’ve written before about how much I love The Art of Gathering by Priya Parker, and once again, it really came in handy! We put so much of the advice from the book into practice for this party, including pre-game your guests, don’t be a chill host, and don’t end a funeral with logistics. But the tip that really served us was setting a purpose for the gathering. Doing that back in May was really helpful, and it meant we knew exactly what a “good” party would feel like. It was just a great night all around, and everyone who came really showed up for us. It was all really special, and I just feel so happy and grateful right now! ☀️

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Very good beach shit

summer beach gear.png

Last summer, I — after a lifetime of being Not Really A Beach Person — became a person who genuinely enjoys a day at the beach! The trick? Good gear. (Turns out, the secret to everything is just…having money.) In my experience, the beach isn’t a particularly comfortable place to be, and you really do need gear to offset that. Like, I can only sit on a towel reading — in direct sunlight!! — for so long before my body starts aching, you know? Having better gear made a world of difference; I was cool and comfortable and able to stay out for hours last year. And those beach days made me feel relaxed, happy, and whole, so I really am glad I found a way to make them happen.

Here’s the beach gear I love and recommend:

The Chair

Image:  Amazon

Image: Amazon

I love Rio Brands Deluxe Aluminum Backpack Chair ($42.96 on Amazon). Fun fact: I liked this chair so much after sitting in one at my friend Alanna’s parents’ house that, two years later, I dug up the photos I took of it at the time so I could figure out what the brand was and order one of my own! It’s so good: comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, lightweight. I love the adjustable pillow and the fact that you can wear it like a backpack when you’re walking to the beach. (Also, the cupholder is very handy!) I really don’t think I could do a long beach day without a good chair! I have it blue, but the blue one is inexplicably $70 at the moment, so maybe go with the red?

If you want a less expensive but still great chair, I ordered the Rio Gear Original Steel Backpack Chair ($25.97 on Amazon) and had it shipped to my mom’s house before my family’s trip to Saugatuck last summer, and it was also great. I’ll be using it again when we head to Saugatuck this summer! And if you want something similar to these two but a little roomier, this Tommy Bahama chair ($54.09 on Amazon) has a bigger seat and a maximum weight of 300 lbs.

What I really want is the white (!!!) “Rolls-Royce of beach chairs” ($141 on Amazon) with its matching canopy ($44.95 on Amazon). It’s pricey but it’s apparently built to last a decade. Someday!

The Tent

I’m obsessed with my Lovin' Summer Beach Tent ($150) and recommend it to everyone. I received mine as a PR gift back in 2015 and I love it. Every time I take it to the beach, multiple people come by to ask me where I got it; it's beautiful and just really unique looking. It's also just so practical; it provides a truly impressive amount of shade, but still allows for a wonderful breeze flow through. It's really easy to enter and exit, and it's super stable. It's also very lightweight and packs down in a bag that's similar in size to a yoga bag, so I can store it under my bed. If you go to the beach a few times a year, or if you are planning a days-long beach vacation, I think it's completely worth it.

My only caveat is that you should watch the video of how to set it up before you take it to the beach; the instructions are very confusingly written, and while the setup isn’t hard at all, it’s also not intuitive. (That said, the first time I ever took it out, I wasn't nearby when my friends set it up. When I got back to our area, it was fully assembled and they all said it was very easy!)

Anyway, because you may not get good cell service on the beach, you should watch that setup video and save some photos of how it looks when assembled to your camera roll before you head out. Once we figured out a couple crucial details, it came together really easily and quickly. (The setup and breakdown takes about 10 minutes.) You also could also easily string some battery-operated twinkle lights on the interior bar for evenings on the beach or for backyard camping type activities!

The Hat

Image:  Amazon

Image: Amazon

My current summer hat is a wide brim sun visor/hat ($12.99 on Amazon, available in 10 colors). For years, I wanted a good visor; my goal was "Offred, but make it summer." I mainly wanted something that would keep the sun off my face while I'm walking to and from the train every day — so I didn't want anything overly sporty/beachy. After discovering that most cute visors cost $150 (?!), I finally found what I was looking for in this visor. This visor completely keeps the sun off my face (and means I don't have to fuck with sunglasses / can wear my glasses to the beach). Also, the bow detail in the back is really cute! But, full disclosure: by September, it was falling apart, so I will be buying another one this summer.

Some other good beach shit:



The Cooler

I bought a cooler bag ($38.95 on Amazon) for picnics and the beach a few weeks ago but haven’t taken it out yet. But it looks/seems great!

The Towel

Last summer, I started using a beach towel from The Beach People ($49.50+). This was a PR gift and it's really lovely. (The exact one I have isn't on their site at the moment.) I don't think you need a fancy towel to enjoy the beach...but as someone who loves soft things and great towels, having a big blanket-like towel (seriously, it’s so blush) that matches my general aesthetic made me pretty happy. 

The Shoes

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Hurricane Drift Tevas ($40 from Zappos) are great, and are perfect for the beach. If you want to get them in white, my friend Marisa recommends cleaning them with a Magic Eraser, which is genius.

I’m also super curious about these Sea Star Beachwear waterproof espadrilles ($89), because I’m always on the lookout for closed-toe beach/summer shoes. (Terri also pointed out that they might be good for rainy summer days when it’s too warm to wear boots.)

The Beach

It’s Jacob Riis Beach for me! ⛱

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Just good shorts

Image:  Gap

Image: Gap

I am not, in general, a big fan of wearing shorts. I have a singular pair from Nordstrom Rack that I bought in 2015 and will wear until they are threadbare, and I found a style at J. Crew Factory in 2016 that I like/wear quite a bit (both here). But in general, shorts are not my fave garment.

But last summer, Terri came to work a few times in white shorts that I loved. Every time she wore them, I would think, Wow, those seem like the perfect shorts! Eventually, I just decided to try them for myself.

The shorts are, to be exact, the Gap 5” Girlfriend¹ chino shorts and they are great. I bought them in a couple of colors (white and anchorage cream) and I love them. They are short without being short²; casual, but still tailored enough to look nice; practical without being frumpy; and available in several colors. I’m extremely here for comfortable, practical shorts for grown-ass women who semi care about looking nice. Just good shorts!

Get them from Gap for $34 (currently on sale). (They are available in seven colors + three stripes versions and sizes 00-20; tall and petite options are also available up to size 16.) ✨

¹ The “girlfriend” label makes me think of this 2016 Racked article on the problems with the “boyfriend” clothing trend.

² My other tip for buying shorts is to pay close attention to the inseam lengths. I won’t go longer than 5 inches or shorter than 4 inches. While it bums me out to dismiss the (extremely common!!!) 3 inchers entirely, I know I won’t be comfortable in them. Anyway, figuring out your preferred inseam length can definitely save you some time when you’re shorts shopping online.

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