As I flip the calendar to August, I find I’m desperate to hold onto this last month of summer before the rush of fall (and eventually the holidays) overtakes me. It’s been a season of transition for my family and me—we know change is coming, but we don’t know when—and we want to be present in our todays, living them slowly and intentionally.
With that intentionality has come a purposeful decision to spend less time in front of a screen (yes, I get the irony of my writing a blog post about this), and more time in relationship and free of technology. Plus winter has never been my favorite time of year, so while the weather is beautiful and warm, I want to spend more time outside without my phone or laptop. Here are a dozen ways I’m going to slow down and savor this last month of my summer. I hope these ideas inspire you to get unplugged before life picks up again too!
1 - Reading paperback books from my childhood.
In the past year I’ve been on a kick where I read a bunch of favorite books from my youth. Sure these are easy reads, but they’ve been fun and nostalgic to revisit after so many years. I’m currently rereading “The Hobbit”, which I last picked up in high school.
2 - Working on my first cross stitch project.
I think it’s so important for people to have a creative outlet, myself included! Because my business involves so much embroidery pattern creation, it’s fun to pick up a pattern someone else has designed and stitch one that I admire. I’ve been enjoying this pattern from Satsuma Street and hope to finish up this month. It’s my first time doing a full cross stitch project and I love that it’s totally different than the patterns I design.
3 - Growing my own food.
Gardening is in my blood and I also really enjoy eating, so growing a vegetable garden was a pretty obvious next step. There is nothing quite like picking fresh food right from your backyard. It’s a LOT of work, but so worth it. This year I tried growing some new things such as okra (hey, the seeds were free!), carrots and zucchini.
4 - Learning to preserve what I grow.
As I’ve expanded my vegetable garden, I know I won’t be able to eat everything I grow. It’s been fun sharing with friends and neighbors, but I’ve also been excited to make everything from strawberry freezer jam to homemade pickles and carrot top pesto!
5 - Arts and crafts time with family.
My nieces and nephews have learned that when it comes time for coloring, art projects, or popsicle crafts, I’m always game. I’ll never pass up an opportunity to encourage creativity with my favorite littles. Featured here is a drawing of jellyfish that one of my nieces did earlier this summer.
6 - Putting together old puzzles.
My in-laws are getting ready to move, and one day while we were helping them, my husband and I found a closet full of old puzzles. We like the idea of spending time together in the evening assembling these instead of watching TV. The downside: you never know if old puzzles will have all of their pieces!
7 - Learning to machine sew and making pajama shorts.
Last year I bought a sewing machine and have been slowly learning to sew simple projects. My latest project is to sew a pair of pajama shorts with this adorable strawberry fabric! (I probably should have sewn them much earlier in the summer so I could enjoy them longer!)
8 - Serving my community.
Each August my church organizes a week full of opportunities where we can serve the community, from working with Habitat for Humanity to providing meals to hospice patients to assembling care packages for those in need. It’s a great time to see people come out in huge numbers and demonstrate God’s love in practical ways.
9 - Exploring bike paths.
I find gyms really boring and I hate running, so I am trying to cycle more to get my cardio exercise. Last month I went cycling down by the beach and scouted out bike paths in the area. This month I hope to explore the woods and backroads.
10 - Taking a slow nature walk, being still and listening.
My husband and I have a favorite spot along a local creek where we go to listen to marsh wrens, redwing blackbirds and bullfrogs sing their summer songs. Taking nature walks and keeping our eyes and ears out for wildlife is one of our simple joys. Later this month we will be heading to the Adirondack Mountains for a lake vacation. There is nothing quite like hearing the sounds of loons croon and bald eagles chitter across the water in the foggy mornings.
11 - Making room for spontaneous visits with friends and family.
One of the great blessings I have been given is flexibility in my work as a freelancer and handmade business owner. Work slows down in the summer, and I’m learning to embrace that rhythm and take time to make an impromptu visit with a family member or have lunch with a friend rather than fixating solely on getting ahead on my to-do list.
12 - Sketching ideas for winter embroidery designs.
I find it difficult to think of wintry designs when it’s the dog days of summer, but I’m making time to brainstorm and doodle in my sketchbooks before I pick finals for new patterns and kits. Sneak peeks to come!