Nicole’s Favourite Things – Summer Loving

I love summer. I love heat, I love sunshine, I love seasonal berries and vegetables, I love not feeling like my hands and feet are those of a ninety-year-old woman’s. Despite – or perhaps because of – my propensity to schedule and organize everything to the minute throughout the school year, I love having lazy unscheduled days. I love writing ONE activity on my calendar: “afternoon swimming!” or “zoo?”. I love the fact that I’m still in my sweaty yoga clothes at 10:00 in the morning and the boys are in their pajamas some days until noon. Sure, around September I will somewhat willingly switch my sandals for boots and my tank tops for sweaters but for now? I’m soaking up every minute I can of this (strangely warm and glorious) summer.

It’s time for Nicole’s Favourite Things – the summer edition! Reminder: all products mentioned are not sponsored in any way. I am not in any way being compensated for this post – I just love these things and want to share!

Nicole’s Favourite Things – Summer Loving

Sun Protection

At least once a week I like to take the boys to the local outdoor pool. What’s not to love? It’s a big sunny area with some shade, grass, and picnic tables. Ice cream sandwiches cost $2 and it’s a great meeting place for friends. My kids are at the age where they can swim and I can hang out and watch them. I love soaking up that Vitamin D but I don’t want to look like a) an Oompa Loompa, b) a leather purse, or c) an apple doll. I also have known people who have died from melanoma and so I cannot emphasize the importance of sun protection.


I’m going to get on my soapbox now and tell you that there is ONE way to safely apply sunscreen, and that is NOT at the pool when you have already been exposed to the sun. I am wagging my lecturing finger at you right now if you are someone who gets to the pool, hangs out for half an hour, notices skin pinking up, and THEN applies sunscreen. NO. DO NOT DO THAT. There is one way to do it and that is to apply it to your body after your shower: naked and in front of the mirror. I know! Who wants to stare at themselves naked and covered with sunscreen? No one, but it’s important. I am generally not a “spray” girl – I haven’t been a fan of aerosol sprays since 1988 when I realized that my Salon Selectives addiction and my penchant for vertical bangs were in part responsible for the destruction of the ozone layer – but I love these Neutrogena “Wet Skin” and “Beach Defense” sprays. I can spray my whole back and I don’t have to rely on anyone else to help me. This is how you get bikini ready – it has nothing to do with diet, in my opinion, and everything to do with getting sunscreen on your back by yourself. I only use the spray on my back; for the rest I love Hawaiian Tropic. It smells like vacation!  For my face I like Ultra-Sheer Water Light, which doesn’t make my face all shiny and oily. DON’T FORGET TO REAPPLY. Also, if you’re reapplying, and it’s windy, don’t use a spray. The spray will get carried away in the wind and it will be ineffective. This seems obvious but based on the number of people I’ve seen applying spray in the wind, it needs to be said.

For the first time ever I bought a sun hat. It’s gigantic and ridiculous and makes me feel like I’m wearing a sombrero, but it keeps the sun off my face – who wants wrinkles? – and off my shoulders, which are usually the first thing to burn. I bought it at La Vie En Rose, from their Aqua collection. They have some great sales on right now, including on their beach cover-ups, so check it out!



Another benefit of wearing a giant hat? My processed hair doesn’t get over-dry and bleached by the sun.

My Garden

The problem with Calgary is that it’s largely colourless for so much of the year. When it is finally, finally gardening season I go all out. I have something blooming all the time in my garden.



These annuals were called “Strawberry Shortcakes” at the garden centre. Am I made of stone? No. I had to have them.



These Siberian irises were planted by the original owners of our home. I love watching them bloom every year. The blooms are almost done now, so I have to enjoy them while they last.



I planted three new John Cabot roses this year, and this is one of the new ones. Blooming already!


This is one of my old John Cabot roses. It was just budding when I took this photo a week ago; now it’s covered in blooms!



Love my little garden Buddha.





Gratuitous Barkley shot.


Summer Style

I’m not going to go all Adam Glassman on you and tell you what I think of shorts. You probably already know. But, as someone once said to me when I went on a diatribe about shorts, It’s not about style. It’s about practicality. It’s true that in the winter I don’t wear an ankle length puffy coat with gigantic Sorel boots because it’s stylish; I wear such items so I don’t die when I walk the dog or pick up the kids. But people, let me speak up in favour of the running skirt.

A running skirt is an amazingly cute little number that has shorts underneath. It is genius. Cool, comfortable, and no fear of wardrobe malfunctions.


I know, two colours AT THE SAME TIME. What is the world coming to? Barkley obviously is confused.


Skirts are great too; I bought a couple of super-comfy ones on sale at Old Navy for about ten dollars.

Essential Oils

My friend Julie told me about DoTerra essential oils, and while I wasn’t exactly skeptical – I love that crazy hippie stuff – I wasn’t over-the-moon excited either. I mean, I was happy to use lavender oil on my myriad mosquito bites and lemon oil to deodorize the bathroom, but it wasn’t totally life-changing. And then I tried the cleaning products. Dear reader, I am not exaggerating in the least when I say the DoTerra On Guard cleaner and oil have revolutionized my life. This is a discovery on par with green smoothies. It’s antiviral, antibacterial, and it is THE most powerful cleaner I’ve ever used, and that includes bleach-based products. I’m doing weird things like cleaning out my kitchen compost bin and the bathroom garbage can JUST so I can use this product, which smells like cinnamon and cloves. Now, you know I’m a vinegar-and-water kind of girl but to be honest, that always left my hardwood floors a bit streaky. I thought that was just the way it was with hardwood floors, and then I used a few drops of the On Guard oil in a spray bottle of water. My floors are amazing. All summer long the kids are leaving bare footprints on the floor and the dog is tracking in dirt with his “I walked through wet grass and then through the garden” paws. But this has CHANGED MY LIFE.



The Terra Shield works great as a bug spray, for those of us who are constantly covered in gigantically swollen mosquito bites. Mosquitoes are the one downside to summer.


Cold Snacks and Drinks

A little self-promotion here: I have been making frozen treats for myself and the kids constantly this summer, and have been posting them over at Yummy Mummy Club. Click the photo to go to the recipe!


Knock-off DIY Frappucino



The kids love these fudgsicles!


DIY Dole Whip



Chocolate soft-serve – no ice cream maker required!


Key Lime Pie – made with avocados!


Also, you all know I’m a red wine girl. But sometimes it’s actually too hot for red wine. I know! I hardly know who I am anymore either. But I’ve been making cosmopolitans like nobody’s business lately, and the recipe will be up at Yummy Mummy Club next week! Stay tuned! In the meantime…


Is it me, or when anyone says “Cosmo” do you think “Kramer”? If these pretzels are making you thirsty, maybe try a Cosmo to alleviate things.


I had to do a LOT of testing to get JUST the right proportions. The sacrifices I make for this job!

And now, dear reader, I turn it over to you – what are your favourite things about summer? Are you a summer lover or can you not wait until September? Tell me everything. xo


  1. Thanks for the sunscreen tips! As a pasty white girl, you’d think I’d remember to reapply, but once the kids are playing happily, it’s SO EASY to just let them keep playing…until later when I see my equally-fair daughter’s bright pink face. Then I feel guilty. So today I am taking them swimming and promise to do better…reapply to them and myself!

    And also, skirts (and cute summer dresses) are easy-breezy! Much easier than shorts IMO. I need to get a running skirt, especially since I do run (sometimes) now.

    • I should probably mention that I’ve never actually *ran* in my running skirt…just to be clear…but I have friends who are runners who do!

      • I’ve heard good things about running in a running skirt. I saw acwoman running in one the other day and it looked very cute. I’ll get one soon!

  2. The real reason I apply sunscreen at home is because I HATE getting it on my hands so much that I have to be able to wash them thoroughly right after I apply it, so that works out well. I’ve avoided the sprays, but I’m thinking I should get at least one can, because with all the baseball and outside-ing, Eve and I are thoroughly sunscreen-fatigued already. I’m not even minding the heat that much this year – we were just at a baseball game and Eve said “Mom, HOW are you not complaining?”. As long as I know I can come home and get cool after, it’s all good. We went to the beach yesterday! Then I cooked supper in my bathing suit! (Which has a skirt).

    • You know, I hate that too – sunscreen on the hands is so greasy, then you drop everything you try to pick up, can’t open doorknobs, etc., etc. I’m so glad you’re enjoying the summer!

  3. Love your sun hat! I am so very, very poor at applying sunscreen – I know I should wear it all the time but I only ever put it on if we will be out in the sun for four or more hours in the middle of the day. I KNOW. Will work on this as a life skill. In the meantime – will also look for more cute sun hats, because that’s something adorable I can get behind.

    And also: haven’t been commenting over at your food blog lately but I totally appreciate all the vegan cool treats. We’re planning on trying a few of them this summer – will let you know how it goes!

  4. I sunscreen grudgingly as i like being tan. But I like not having cancer too.
    My kids on the other hand get sprayed before they ever set foot outside. I do LURVE the spray for them. So easy.
    In my ever present quest for a good hat (I CANNOT be in the sun without one ) I finally found one that I can still see when I wear it, it doesn’t make me look 90 or 2 and it fits my gigantic head. This makes me happier than just about anything.
    I have seen SO MANY burns at the water park this vacation and I want to start walking around randomly spraying people’s kids, shouting “Burns HURT” as I do so.
    But don’t worry, I will not.
    Not today anyway. 🙂

    • In Maui, I saw SO MANY ridiculous burns. Like, bright red people who would be at the beach smearing on OIL. Um, that’s not a good look. There is a happy medium between lobster red and dead white, I think…

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