Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Late July

Sadly, Summer is halfway over already.  Luckily, I've been making good use of my days off.  This is the bright side of working around an academic calendar, even if it also means I run out of money by August.
Since returning home from Europe, I've been to northwestern upstate New York (even crossed into Canada for a few hours at Niagra Falls) and house-sitting for my parents.  I've been watching a lot of Netflix, reading a lot of books, spending a lot of quality time with my cat and unfortunately also eating a lot of food.  More on that later.  While traveling has been a pretty big highlight of my summer, some little things have also been a lot of fun.
Simple Midsummer Pleasures

1) Watching the first season of "Revenge"
Aside from making me jealous of the Hamptons home I will never have, this show is full of soap opera goodness.  Complete with bouts of amnesia, evil twins, secret plots, and love polygons (because triangles are too simple).  It's indulgent like the gooeyest, sweetest chocolate cake made from one part Gossip Girl and one part Kill Bill.

2) Semi-homemade pickles!
I've known for a while that I could re-use pickle brine to pickle my own vegetables, but I never actually tried it until now.  This makes it a little more worth it to buy a $7 jar of pickles from the farmers' market.  Actually, going to the farmers' market is a simple summer pleasure in itself.  Making your own pickles sounds fancy, but is pretty much the simplest thing in the world to do.  When you finish a jar of pickles, put fresh cucumbers, carrots, peppers, whatever in the brine and wait a week (or longer if you like a stronger flavor).  I'm not sure how many times you can use the same brine, but it will definitely stretch your dollar even if you only use it once, especially if you have some raw vegetables that you're not going to use before they start to go bad.  Just drop them into the pickle brine and they won't go to waste.

3) Summer movies
There's something special about going into a movie theater on a summer day, sitting in the dark and mooching some free air conditioning, then stepping back out into the heat and sunlight.  One benefit of not having a regular work schedule is that I can see movies on weekdays when most people are at work, so I end up with the theater mostly to myself.  I took advantage of this on Monday and went to see The Conjuring, which got pretty good reviews.  It definitely met all of my expectations.  It's a truly scary horror movie that also happens to be a decent film.  I think filmmakers are still struggling with how to properly end an exorcism movie, and this one has the same problem, but it's the best one I've seen since The Exorcism of Emily Rose, which was the best one I'd seen since The Exorcist.  I got scared all over again just googling pictures to post here.  On a lighter note, I might try to go see The Wolverine or The To-Do List sometime later this week.  

4) Summer activities - camping and canoeing
I grew up going to summer camp almost every year since age 4 or 5 (I'd have to check with my mom on that one), so there are a lot of good memories and feelings attached to being in a canoe.  Aside from being a great upper body workout, it can also be amazingly peaceful and relaxing -- assuming you don't try to go over some whitewater rapids and end up capsizing like my boyfriend did last summer!  We're going to find at least one or two nights before the summer is over so that we can camp near a lake or river and do a little canoe day trip.  Of course, I also get to be included in this year's family trip to Knoebels, so I'll get my campfire fix there as well, even if it's attached to an amusement park. 

Other honorable mentions are walking around barefoot, not wearing makeup, reading a book on the porch, fireflies, and cricket sounds at night.

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