Summer 2018 Favorites

Marian Parsonsa slice of life, Favorite Things39 Comments

This week is back to school week and that means I can have my work day back!  Don’t get me wrong.  I have enjoyed the lazy mornings, trips to visit family, movie matinees with the boys, the warmer weather for gardening and house projects, and watching the boys enjoy the freedom of summer.  We had lots of playdates, sleepovers, bike rides, afternoons at the pool, and evenings at the park.  They did drama camp and sports camp and Marshall did his first week-long away-from-home camp.  We’ve had a great time, but it will be nice to get back to a rhythm that gives me a quiet house for a few hours each day.

Other than the obvious things, like visiting our families and special time spent with the boys, I thought I would share my summer 2018 favorites…


Jeff started watching this reality show first and I sort of laughed at him for it until I got sucked in mid-way through season two.  It’s a show featuring survivalists, outdoorsy-sorts, trappers, etc. living alone in the wilderness.  (And other than routine medical checks, they are truly alone and capture all of their own footage.)  The goal is simple…  Whoever lasts the longest wins $500,000, but they have no idea how many people are left or how long they have to live in the wild on their own.  The show is well made and it’s interesting to see different approaches and different personality types.  (You can watch this show on Hulu.)

Great British Baking Show

Kriste told me to start watching this show about two years ago and I finally got around to it!  I’m glad I finally did, because it is so delightful.  The contestants are polite to one another and the judges are honest, but not nasty.  It’s just enjoyable to watch and it makes me want to bake bread and cakes.

Guernsey Literary & Potato Peal Pie Society

I love period dramas and this new Netflix original hit all of the right notes for me.  If you haven’t seen it yet, you should.

I Can Only Imagine

The boys were the ones who prompted us to see this and I’m so glad they did.  I loved this movie so much.  Even if you’re not a Mercy Me fan or if “Christian movies” aren’t your thing, this film is a powerful, real life testimony about changed lives and forgiveness.


I loved the time we spent at Rainy Lake early in the summer.   While “roughing it” at a cabin isn’t really my thing, it was good for me to unplug and I loved watching the boys come alive around the water, with a fishing pole in their hands.

Girl’s Night Out & French Meadow

In mid-July, I went on a girl’s night out trip with three of my friends, who all happen to have birthdays in July.  We went kayaking/paddle boarding, restaurant-hopped for dinner and dessert, and spent the night in a nice hotel.  Other than the fellowship, breakfast was my favorite part!  I was introduced to a delightful eatery – French Meadow.  The breakfast menu was overwhelming and the pastries were out of this world.  I can’t wait to eat there again.

Greens with Everything

And, since eating at French Meadow (they serve greens with their breakfast sandwiches), I have been putting a heap of greens on everything!  Who knew salad for breakfast would be so tasty.  I have been working on losing weight (down 7 lbs so far) and eating lots of greens has helped.  I dress them lightly in olive oil, lemon juice, and a pinch of salt.


I shared about the Renaissance Academy of Fine Art classes I’m taking in a recent post, but it’s definitely worth putting on my list of favorites, too.  I have thoroughly enjoyed studying art in a more formal capacity and I can see the improvement in my work.  I still have along way to go, but it’s always fun to see progress in an area of discipline.

Brand New

This song just makes me happy…

Picture in a Frame

And this song is so simple, but so pretty.  I like the Tom Waits version (very Louis Armstrong-ish), but I found this sweet version on You Tube, so I thought I would share this one…

And, I got a lot of projects done this summer.  I really enjoy productivity and home improvement, so it was fun to get some big projects checked off my list.  Here were my favorites (and you can probably guess them)…

The dining room mural

Laundry Room Makeover

Upholstered Chairs

Butler’s Pantry...

Of course, there were other highlights, including Calvin’s 10th birthday and even some upgraded gear we got to manage his diabetes, but those are the favorites that are more of a personal nature.

This was the boy’s first summer when they didn’t have a regular babysitter or day camp to attend, so it was a bit of a learning experience for all of us.  At times, it was difficult for me trying to balance family and business and creative time and there were some things I had to put off until the fall.  All in all, though, I feel like this was one of our best summers ever.  The boys had a summer experience that was very similar to the ones Jeff and I remember as children…lots of free time to play with friends and bike around the neighborhood, visits to the grandparents, and some fun trips, camps, and outings sprinkled in.

I hope you had a good summer as well.  What were some of your favorites?



Summer 2018 Favorites

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39 Comments on “Summer 2018 Favorites”

  1. Looks like it was a GREAT summer (very productive)….Love the song/video..<3 …for me this summer went by too fast…I'd like June to be twice as long…lol

  2. You and I share favorite tv shows. I might suggest adding Castaways (Tuesdays ABC). You can catch up on I love that they go deeply into the personalities and backgrounds of the contestants.

    1. Yep, we just started watching that, but I’m not far enough into it to call it a summer favorite. It might make the September favorites list, though!

  3. Marian,
    I love reading about the care-free-ness type of summers I experienced as a young girl too. We always took one summer trip and a few of them pre-Disney (if that’s even thinkable) to Florida. We visited places like Silver Springs, Six Gun Territory and Cypress Gardens. Places most kids have never heard of now! ha

    Other summer experiences were visits to grandparents and usually Vacation Bible School. Remember the cookies and Kool-Aid? I never really did the camp thing but I remember my Mom telling me she went to a summer church camp once and had the worst case of home sickness ever. Anyway, it sounds like your boys had a great summer and I like many are wondering where the summer went as it comes to a close.

  4. Poldark season 3
    The Case For Christ movie on Netflix by Lee Strobel
    Eye of the Storm song by Ryan Stevenson
    Thy Will song by Hillary Scott (she sounds like Taylor Swift!)
    Chicken Tikka Masala with chickpea salad and rice pudding from a restaurant here.
    East Coast trip to DC and Philadelphia and saw Black Dog Salvage in Virginia
    The Billy Graham Library in Charlotte, NC–it’s not a library at all, but a full on experience highlighting his life with many different rooms to enjoy–it’s totally free, has a restaurant and gift shop and beautiful landscaping on the grounds–I highly recommend it to anyone–has animatronic animals that talk for the young kids along with a treasure hunt with a gift at the end and video clips from his rallys along with rooms and rooms of memorabilia. As good as any Disney experience!

    1. Oh, good favorites! I’ll have to check out a few of these. I also love the Eye of the Storm. I saw him perform it at a Toby Mac concert and it was my favorite part of the night.

  5. LOL…we are the same. Loved Guernsey Literary & Potato Peal Pie Society…and I can only Imagine. I eat greens with dinner every night…have to add to my morning eggs now who knew:) And lastly I have enjoyed your summer too:D

  6. I just saw your book in a cute gift shop in Nisswa MN this weekend. You would love the lakes area if you have not ventured up that way yet! Thanks for your daily inspiration!

  7. just received my copy of Country Homes magazines — congrats on a lovely layout!
    … and if the movie was a favorite, you will just fall in love with “The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society’. Put it on your MUST READ list –

  8. Enjoyed the music videos; you should hear renegade Willie Nelson’s version of Picture in a Frame!

  9. Your pantingis amazing, almost a new style for you… I am so impressed (and inspired by) your progress.

    Your summer sounds wonderful. Lucky Boys! My favorite thing this summer was finally launching my health & fitness blog after working on it for 7 months.

  10. The summer has flown by. I enjoyed planting and tending my flower gardens but it was feast or famine with the rain! This is my second summer being retired and I have spent a lot of quality time with my five grands. I am now in the middle of a ten day stint with my three grandsons, ages 3, 5, and 7. Lots of energy. Their Mom, my daughter, is a school teacher and she had to go back to work last week. My two granddaughters were at my house or I was at theirs on several occasions as well. They are four and one–girls and boys sure are different. I had two girls so the boys are a new experience for me. I have also kept up my crocheting and just finished a complicated granny square blanket called Moroccan Tiles using Fall colors. I made a mermaid tail blanket for a friend’s little girl and two baby blankets for extended family as well as two mermaid bags for the granddaughters. I wanted to paint some of my furniture but that just didn’t happen. I read a lot and do a lot of audiobooks while I’m gardening and crocheting and driving. My favorite book was A Place for Us. So good! I too loved the Guernsey show, I read that book and was delighted to see the show. My husband and I love to watch British mysteries and we discovered Maigret, based on famous French novels. New episodes were done in 2016 and we also discovered ones made in the early 90’s. All good! And last but not least one of my favorite things is reading your blog and following your house transformation as well as your personal growth–your art is amazing. That is another thing I had on my list for the summer that didn’t happen. I even bought some paints and paper and sketchbooks. Maybe I’ll do that when the weather gets a little cooler so I can paint on my porch. Have so much fun in Paris and Italy!!!

  11. Last week I had the privilege of watching the”Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society,” I loved this movie better than anything I have watched in a long time.

      1. Marian, my book club read Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society (whatever the name is… always have a hard time getting the words right…) a couple of years ago and loved it. My sister and I watched the movie on Netflix this past weekend and LOVED it. Highly recommended for its cinematography, costumes, set designs, scenery, and the story. What a wonderful story told in a beautiful way… limited violence, no nudity, no sex scenes, little profanity,… Reminded me of movies from bygone eras.


  12. Loved “Guernsey”! You really got a lot done — I only redid one room. I guess age is catching up…

  13. So glad you enjoyed your first summer in MN! Am wondering if the camp was Sham? We’ve got family there;) Glad you got to experience northern MN; it’s so beautiful there!

  14. There is nothing as special as summer break, except maybe back to school! I always loved both. My kids are all adults now and I do miss the chaos of having kids in the house. Enjoy!

  15. The book, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Society, is so much better than the movie. I, too, enjoyed the movie but you will truly LOVE the novel.

  16. Hi Marian. So glad you had a wondeful summer with your family. I’m somewhat new to your blog but already am a great admirer of your work and decorating style. Boxwood green is my favorite color! And I see we have other favorites in common: I Can Only Imagine movie (my daughter, granddaughter and I cried through it), The Great British Baking Show, Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society (fell in love with it). Until today had never heard of Ben Rector but loved the song and video for Brand New, truly a happy song. Then had to Google him and listen to some of his other music. My husband and I have been watching the Little League World Series games and after looking at Ben Rector’s FB page realized his song ‘Old Friends’ was used on a commercial for LLWS! So thanks for the introduction to Ben and his music. Look forward to you sharing new projects and congrats again on a great summer!

  17. I really enjoyed reading this post. I loved the Guernsey TV movie. So sweet and those awful Nazi’s! People think I’m weird because I too make my own salad dressing, but it has introduced me too a whole batch of new flavors with different vinegars (raspberry, garlic, tarragon, on and on, SO many!) and citrus juices.

  18. Marian,
    I always read, but rarely post. I loved this one, particularly about a summer well-spent. So many lovely family memories to mark your first summer in Minnesota. And your productivity amazes me always. What a beautiful post. BTW, I too loved the Guernsey movie. One of the best I’ve seen in quite a while. Carry on my dear.

  19. I got so wrapped up in commenting above about my summer experiences as a young girl I forgot to mention what fun things I did this summer. First, we took a trip to Graceland in Memphis and even if you are not a big Elvis fan the history of this home is incredible. We also took a trip to Lancaster, PA to see the new production of “Jesus” at Sight & Sight theatres and all I could do was rave about this show to everyone.

  20. Reading your blog has been one of my favorite evening activities this summer. Your creativity is inspiring. I so enjoy reading about how you are making your house at a home. I personally have had paint samples on my walls for weeks and can’t make a decision. Who knew that white comes in so many colors?! Pearly White is one, but it looks so different in my home than in the pics on your blog. Anyway, thank you for doing what you do. You truly touch a lot of people by simply sharing you.

  21. I loved Guernsey so much that as soon as the credits rolled, I was on my iPad ordering the book! My favorite thing this summer is happening TOMORROW! My daughter will be delivering my first grand baby! I’m over the moon excited! Loved watching as your house projects progressed. You’re my biggest inspiration in every way!

  22. The Guernsey movie was my favorite movie of all time. I Can Only Imagine was so inspiring, and the book is even better. I have to agree with your DIY projects, each one is a fave.

  23. How did I miss that mural? Been a busy summer here too I guess! Have to check that post out – it looks wonderful. Have a peaceful and productive fall and welcome to MN! Looks like you’ve settled in nicely 🙂

  24. My favorite thing this summer was finding your blog! A feast for hungry eyes! I love organization, old furniture, dishes, textiles, chippy paint, etc. Also love your energy and creativity; we are kindred spirits. My mom made her living as an artist so I understand many of your trials and tribulations. My first milk paint order is due today ( boxwood, linen and Lucketts Green) and I can’t wait to play! I recently retired from cutting and coloring hair for 25 years and while I don’t miss my schedule, I do miss the creative outlet. This will take my creative spirit in a new direction, always fun!

  25. This summer was a bit of a blur, but I caught most of your posts. I really liked the dining room mural and laundry room makeover, but I was disappointed about the chairs. The blue check is nice, but I really loved the red fabric.
    I was a little envious of your front garden as well 😉 I had big plans for ripping out all of the sickly and overgrown shrubbery planted against our foundations, but we had a tremendous amount of rain this year. I was able to use the resulting (relative) softness of the red clay to my advantage and put in the posts for a fence around my future lettuce garden, but I still need to stretch hog wire and plant flowers for the pollinators. The only thing I really accomplished out there this year was watching e weeds grow out of control.
    I have been hearing a lot about the Potato Peel Pie movie, but haven’t made time for it yet. In fact, I had to stop reading regularly also because I have been swamped with art shows and actually selling art, so that has been my main focus. I did pick up a huge fabulous cabinet for my studio that I am painting and putting new hardware on; and I’m picking up a blueprint cabinet next weekend. I really find your studio so inspiring and have been trying to make a better effort to make mine look nice as well as being functional. It’s so much more inviting and inspirational with nice furniture and interesting containers for brushes and supplies.
    Congratulations on all of your publications and taking time out for yourself. I’m trying to do better with self-care as well and have put submitting work for publication on my list for 2019. School started back here a few weeks ago and I have a Freshman in high school this year, so I’m enjoying his independence, while learning to give him space. Boys are so somber at this age.
    I know the holidays will be upon us before we know it and I look forward to seeing your new projects. I have started working with a 60s era Kenmoor sewing machine, so my fingers are crossed you will have some sewing tips lined up.

  26. Enjoy your favorite pieces blogs…love your laundry make over & I noticed you also use Mrs. Meyers products. Keep doing your videos please…use them when sewing, painting & they do help my attempts at both…

  27. If you like Brand New (it was my Zumba cool down song for the last year) you should check out, “Have it All” by Jason Mraz. You’ll be singing it to your boys all day ! 😀

  28. Good grief I’m behind in reading your posts, but things have been in a turmoil. On the sad side, a beloved uncle passed away suddenly so we were dealing with that. Grief turned the corner and we are in the process of rescuing a stray puppy. Our two older dogs are adjusting albeit slowly so it’s a bit like bringing a new baby home to adult children. I had to write about the Guernsey Potato Peel Pie Society. I read the book several years ago and LOVED it. I had no idea it was a Netflix series now. Will definitely be looking for it. Summer was filled with ups and downs, but we are thankful for each day!

  29. Thank you for introducing me to Guernsey Literary & Potato Peal Pie Society. I just watched it and wish it was a TV series instead of a movie. I also pulled up Guernsey on the map and learned a little geography and history. Thanks, Marian!

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