Summer Favorites – The Outdoor Shower

I first discovered the love of an outdoor shower when I married into the Miller family. As a decidedly “not outdoorsy” kind of girl, I was so surprised how much I love the outdoor shower up at camp. The crisp air in contrast to the hot water is absolutely invigorating. Add to that the birds chirping and the blue sky (or) stars above depending on the day, and I was an absolute convert.

When we built our house five years ago one of the “must haves” on my wish list was an outdoor shower. With beach access just at the end of the road and 12 sandy feet coming into and out of the house all summer long, I knew it would be an important addition for both convenience and my sanity!

But, as we approached the end of the build, things started getting cut or pared down on the list and by the time we got to it, all we could do was install a cheap shower head on the back side of the house. With no where to stand and nothing built for privacy, we only used it a handful of times that summer. And to make matters worse, we forgot to shut the valve to that outdoor water source and it promptly froze and burst the first winter here!

For the next four years we talked about getting it fixed, making it a proper shower, how great it will be some day. And then we never did anything about it. WOMP. Luckily, we got a chance to make things right when we did the garage addition last summer. We knew that this time, it was a must have that couldn’t be pushed down the list.

I can never go back! It’s such a treat and comes in super handy when we have other families join us on the boat for the day. We send all of the kids straight to the outdoor shower before they come into the house. They love it and I get to keep the house sand free!

To make it fun, we use scented shampoos and squirt soaps, both exfoliating and regular. Speaking of, I sort of feel like an exfoliating scrub is a must in the summer for both my skin and the kids – mineral sunscreen literally sits on the skins for days, even with daily baths. I like this one because it’s effective but gentle for the kids and my sensitive skin. Right now, this shampoo and conditioner is on rotation and the kids love getting something “special” from the typical fare we keep in the house. It really is the simple things, right?!?

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I complain about the cold winters a fair amount and I will never truly be a Mainer, but summers in Maine are just about perfect in my book. And now that I have the daily summer outdoor to start or end my day, I’m a pretty happy camper.

Life Update (and a recipe!)

The Millers are loving summer in Maine this year! With our oldest now 11 and youngest sprinting toward 5, I feel like this is the first year that we have been able to all enjoy the same things all day. In the past, someone needed a nap at some point, or was too young to ride a bike or swim or just be able to keep up. But every year, the spread feels a little smaller and summer feels a little less like work and lot more like fun – yay!

And now that we have four that want to go go go, I’m finding quickly that maintaining a blog in the summer with four busy kids is just not that easy!  Add to that the fact that I’m cracking down pretty hard on the technology rules. This means I’m following those rules too and just not on the computer that much! We are outside as much as possible, at the park, the beach, the pool, with friends, after dinner walks… We are just all around summering hard over here in the Miller house and I’m trying hard to be all in with the kids.

And we are reading this summer – including me! I’ve not picked up a book in nearly a year so I’m trying hard to be in the moment and enjoy all of the things they are enjoying. The blog is not going anywhere, but I’m going to be laid back about it – please stick around!!!

Overall, I’m just trying to be more of a yes mom this summer than a no, I have to pick up the house, or no, I need to write an article, or no, we can’t leave the house until I fold this laundry. It’s actually been as good for me as it has for them. And I know we are only a few weeks in so only time will tell how long I can keep up with them. But I’m trying!

Speaking of trying and all things summer, last night I tried something new and it was a total 6 for 6 hit with our family! About 1/2 of our family loves watermelon and the other 1/2 hates it. So I buy it rarely and when I do, it almost never gets finished. After days of begging people to eat some watermelon, I was about to give up and throw it out. Then I recalled a recipe for Agua Fresca and decided it was worth a shot. Spanish for “cool waters,” Aguas Fresca is a popular, non-alcoholic drink that combines fruit and ice – I tried the following recipe and it was fantastic! I’m firmly in the not liking watermelon camp at our house and even I loved it! It was so refreshing – we were grilling out and sipped on this while we waited for dinner.

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Strawberry and Watermelon Agua Fresca:

4 cups of seeded, cubed watermelon
1 cup strawberries
1/4 cup lemon juice
1-2 cups ice cubes

Blend until smooth. Serve immediately!

It’s really that easy. With watermelon already sliced in the fridge, this recipe came together in about a minute. While I’m not putting any pressure on myself to post as regularly as normal, I will definitely check in when I feel like I just have something I HAVE to share. This was one of those recipes I felt I had to share! Please let me know if you give it a try. I am certain it will be on repeat in our house for the rest of the summer!

*Recipe courtesy of Vitamix

**Could be amazing (and lethal) with a little vodka added to the mix!!! Careful if you try it, it will go down easy!

Summer Sweatshirts

I’m not sure I had ever heard of the term summer sweatshirt before I moved to Maine. Growing up in the deep south, summers were always for swimsuits and flip-flops and looking for ways to stay as cool as possible. But even on the last day of June, I still need a sweatshirt some days and I definitely need one for the cooler nights throughout the summer. Add to that, boat outings or dining al fresco on the water, having something warm to throw on becomes a must.

This year I have two in constant rotation. Both are fairly light weight but super cozy. I love the bell sleeved ruffle on this one from Aerie. I bought the peachy colored one and it looks great with white jeans, denim shorts, etc… It’s very versatile and the sleeves dress it up a bit. I’d buy it in multiple colors if I could!

And I found a Vineyard Vines Shep Hoodie at the Vineyard Vines outlet (similar here) that I’m absolutely living in. I’ve tied this around my shoulders on cool nights at the ball park and have worn it every time we have been on the boat so far this summer. I love the contrast striped hood and have gotten several complements – it takes it from from “just a hoodie” to something special! It’s perfect for those ocean breezy days we get here on the coast and I’m so glad I grabbed it!

And I am sure my southern friends can relate on some level the need to have something “just in case” with the absolutely frigid A/C blasting inside every building from May to October. I know there are times even on the hottest of summer days that you might want to have one of these on hand for when you are inside.

Here are a few others that I’ve seen that I love:

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Shep Shirt 

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J Crew Pom Pom

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Striped Sweatshirt

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Asos Star 

*Also worth noting, I always size up in sweatshirts. It makes easier to layer and I just love the oversized look with a sweatshirt.

 

 

 

 

Strawberry Fields…

I remember the first year we moved to Maine. My oldest was not quite four and my twins were still one. To say I was a deer in the headlights for a solid few months is an understatement. We moved in May so there were no preschool play dates or other official opportunities for us to meet families with young kids for several months. But one thing I promised myself that I’d NOT do that summer is sit in a house and wish I were somewhere else.

So every Sunday I’d look online for things to do with the girls while Mark was at work. First it was library story times (where I did end up meeting one of the sweetest souls I’ve ever known!) and then playground outings and many trips to the kids department at L.L. Bean. As the weather finally began to warm I realized that were opportunities to pick fruit much more easily here than anywhere else I’d ever lived. One of the benefits to all of the rural areas surrounding us that I had before been so quick to complain about.  So we picked. Strawberries, raspberries, blueberries, it was the summer of berries for the Millers. If it was in season, I had those girls out picking!

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Oh my word – Abigail, I think?!?!
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My babies!!!
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I remember this day so well…time so down!

Actually, the girls were mostly eating (evidence above!) but it created a sweet little tradition that has carried on through the years for us as a family. And now that we have wonderful friends, we often meet up with them and make it a social outing. Yesterday, we made one of our annual treks to a local strawberry field and picked with another sweet family. The weather was perfect, sunny but cool, from the beautiful ocean breeze blowing in. If you are local or visiting the area, we LOVE picking at Maxwell’s Farm on Cape Elizabeth. Bonus: the berries are sooooo sweet this year!

I honestly love them best just cut up and eaten plain or with a spoonful of freshly whipped cream, but stay tuned for a few yummy recipes coming that are great for using up the fruits of your labor!!!

Below are some pictures of our day:

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Whit was so serious about picking!
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All of the kids were really into it
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We wore our floppy hats to protect us in the fields
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Even mom! I love these hats – let me know if you need one!!!
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Oh my word…
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So yummy!!!
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Picking with a friend is even more fun
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So proud of his effort
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Pooling our efforts
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Love these cuties!
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Great day!

On my radar

I was at a meeting earlier this week talking about auction items for an upcoming fundraiser. One of our committee members said that every year bags are a hot ticket item at our auction. Mainers love to shop local and we are so lucky to have some fantastic local purveyors of bags. Artists who have worked creatively, been inspired by their surroundings and sourced local materials to produce beautiful bags

Alaina Marie has done just that, with her utilitarian line of clutches that are both fashion forward and practical. The clutches were inspired by a lobsterman’s bait bag and are constructed from the same marine-grade material. Also available in wallets, wristlets, totes and a variety of other styles, each bag is sewn by hand and they are all so unique and absolutely beautiful. No two are exactly alike!

Below are some of my favorite patterns and styles. If you are looking to share a piece of Maine, or just want to have a really great bag, I highly recommend you check out Alaina-Marie’s site!

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Wallet
blue lobs
Carryall
tote
Tote

And, if you don’t need any more bags (because I get that I really do!) the Alaina Marie has also partnered with Keds for a limited edition and completely adorable shoe! “The pattern from this shoe collection is reflective of the movement and energy you see on the ocean’s open water with a touch of bright coral inspired by buoy flags and fishing vessels.”*

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Keds

*Source: Keds.com