8 (mostly) little things I’m loving for mid-summer

I like to keep a list in my bullet journal of the (mostly) little, everyday things bringing me a disproportionate amount of happiness these days. And I like to share a handful of these things with you occasionally—but I just realized it’s been ages since I have!

Let’s catch up with this little sampling of small things making me happy right now:

1. The Family Road Trip Trivia podcast. I never considered my science-loving youngest child would one day outgrow Wow in the World, but it finally happened—and thankfully, my genius husband stumbled upon this crowd-pleasing substitute for short (or, later this summer, LONG) family trips in the car.

In every short episode, the hosts ask a series of questions on topics ranging from The Simpsons to holiday movies to Greek myths. You get to play along in your car, and we’ve found the trivia questions spark great conversation for when the episode is over.

We downloaded this for our 11-year-old, but it truly is fun for the whole family.

2. New book series, and series installments. Isn’t it such a gift to fall in love with a new book series, or learn a new installment is coming out in a series you already love? While this is of course fun for me, I really love it when my kids find a new series or series installment, because it’s hard to keep them in good books. Especially my youngest, because he reads them so dang fast!

Recently my 14-year-old and I browsed a different location of our local indie than we usually visit—the one with an extra-large children’s section—and she was delighted to discover new titles in series she already loved, like Truly Tyler in the Emmie & Friends series (Bookshop | Amazon) and Merci Suarez Changes Gears (Bookshop | Amazon), which has been out for well over a year and we didn’t know it!

And while my 11-year-old has resisted some of the Gordon Korman titles that seem (to me) like they are perfect for him, he’s currently hooked on the Masterminds series (Bookshop | Amazon). It’s only three books—I wouldn’t mind longer—but they’re keeping him busy for, well, at least four whole days. I’ll take it!

(Pictured above: a stack of books he’s loved in the past—because I know I’m not the only one who has a hard time loading up my kid’s TBR list!)

3. Salads (in the right bowls). I tend to eat the same thing for lunch everyday; this summer that recurring dish has been a salad of some kind. My most-repeated combo is greens, snap peas, radishes if I have them around (by July, I usually don’t), tiny slices of preserved lemon (more on that in a sec), chicken, quinoa, plus lemon poppyseed or green goddess bottled dressing.  

A salad is better in the right bowl, and this month I’m loving these pretty and functional salad bowls a kind friend gave me.   

My tiny salad tip: it’s a small thing, but I enjoy my salads so much more when I toss them before serving, instead of drizzling the dressing on after. I don’t love that this method dirties another bowl, but if I wash that bowl away, it takes mere seconds to wash it. Worth it.   

4. This Will Make It Taste Good. (Bookshop | Amazon) About those preserved lemons: I have long loved using these in the kitchen, but didn’t use them multiple times per week until I started making my own. And that brings me to Vivian Howard’s second cookbook: I bought this on a whim at my local indie when it first came out, and have been referring to it ALL THE TIME ever since.

In this cookbook, Howard shares recipes for ten food staples she relies on in her own home (not restaurant) cooking, the “flavor heroes” that make simple food taste really good. I’ve been making several of those basic recipes ever since: recipes like her spicy tomatoes, sauerkraut, and preserved citrus.

At this point I’ve not tried many of the book’s recipes—but the ones I’ve made, I’ve made A TON. Most of all, I appreciate her extremely detailed directions to preserve not just lemons but limes, oranges, and other citrus as well.

5. Shower stuff. I have a friend who gives the best gifts: she’s responsible for much of the good stuff I’ve shared in these loving-lately round-ups over the years! Recently she gave me this Body Hero Daily Oil Wash from Glossier (maker of the cult classic Boy Brow, which I also use every day), which I’ve happily used every day since. She told me she couldn’t decide if the smell reminded her of a chic French girl or her grandmother, which made me laugh, because the scent is EXACTLY that of the rose-shaped soaps my grandmother kept in her bathroom for years!

I love the feel of this stuff, and that my dry, sensitive skin actually likes it, too.

6. Parks and Rec. Will and I watched the whole series back in 2017 (thanks again for talking us into it!) and then recently, once our family ran out of Corner Gas and Kim’s Convenience episodes to watch together, we tentatively started Parks and Rec.

We’d tried several years ago and they hated it, but this time we skipped season one, started with season two, and they were HOOKED. It’s such a relief to find something everyone enjoys watching together (that’s not easy with a family of six), especially something that keeps making us laugh and laugh.

7. Earl Grey and tonic. While on the hunt for something non-alcoholic but still fun and festive—and more interesting than seltzer + juice—I stumbled upon this recipe on one of my longtime favorite cooking sites. The Earl Grey syrup has a heavier mouth feel than plain old juice or other mixers, and I’ve always loved the citrusy-bitter taste of tonic water, so it was a big hit around here.

I like Earl Grey, but if it’s not your cup of tea (I couldn’t help myself), sub in another herbal tea the recipe says you can sub in other tea or herbal teas in its place.

And despite the recipe’s recommendation for Fever Tree Indian tonic, I use Q tonic—it’s what we happen to have on hand this summer, and it works great.

8. Olly Sleep gummies. It’s nice to have these in my toolkit, for me and for the kids. I often end up taking (or dispensing) just a fourth of a dose—so maybe at that point it’s just the placebo effect—but I’m happy to have these in my bedtime arsenal. I imagine I’ll be even more glad to have them once I’m traveling again.

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: 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.

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