Someone asked me recently if I’m “busy” and my answer to that question is almost always and exasperated yes — too busy. But this time I answered honestly — I’m busy enough. I’m so lucky to have flexibility with my work schedule now and have been trying hard to capitalize on it while the weather is warm (and before the madness of my book launch in the fall! We’ve been cooking out most nights, enjoying walks down to the waterfront in our seaside neighborhood, and are gearing up for a family beach trip too! It can be hard to turn off the never-ending feeling that I should be crushing to-do-lists and hustling towards new goals, but the reward for taking it a little bit slower this summer has been sweet. Sharing some more of these summer moments, trips, recipes and reads below:BBQ Recipes. With the Fourth of July being on a Wednesday last week, we managed to sneak in BBQs the weekend before the holiday, BBQs on the holiday, and BBQs the weekend after the holiday. I have jokingly been calling my husband the pit-master since we’ve only eaten grilled foods this month. While he gets the smoker going, I’m on side dish duty and have lots of new recipes because of it! We served panzanella and burrata stuffed tomatoes, a tasty lemon-herb macaroni salad, and a new favorite: summer tomato and grilled corn salad. For dessert, Jane is on an ice cream kick, so I’ve been dressing up store-brought ice cream cones with all sorts of chocolatey-sprinkle-dipped flair!

Summer Reads. I took a little reading hiatus over the holiday week and am eager to get back into my summer reading stack! It might be overzealous, but I have quite a few books checked out from the library right now, starting with Eleanor Oliphant Is Completely FineIt’s a Reese Witherspoon book club pick and I’m already flying through it and enjoying the quirky main character. I’m excited to start You Think It, I’ll Say It by Curtis Sittenfeld next – I loved her previous books and essays are perfect quick beach reads. I also picked up How to Find Love in a Bookshop because it looks like a modern-day version of my favorite movie You’ve Got Mail!  I’ve been saving my book recs on my Instagram story highlights if you’re looking for more summer reads – the last two books I read (Visible Empire and Women in Sunlight) got two-thumbs up!

Beach Trip. We are taking a few days off next week for a little beach excursion, and I’m currently laughing at the length of my packing list I’ve written down on a legal pad. It looks like we’re movingto the beach. I like to be prepared though, and put together a little beach-fun kit for Jane and her buddy with some new crayons, activity pads, sea-creature toys, and bubble wands to try to keep them happy so that maybe I can get through one of those books I’ve mentioned above! My favorite packing cubes are keeping me organized, so hopefully we don’t need to rent a trailer to haul all of our gear and beach toys.

In my own beach tote I am SO excited to be packing a new camera to play with! I’ve been researching it for months and finally pulled the trigger before we left for this trip. I have been relying on my iPhone a ton for photos lately because I don’t want to haul my giant DSLR around, so I’m hoping this compact camera will be easy to throw in my bag when we are exploring. The iPhone takes awesome pictures, but I’m looking for something that will produce photos that are a bit nicer to print and hope that this will help me get a little more creative and adventurous with my photography! Now I just need to narrow down my props, er, I mean beach gear, for a relaxing and photogenic day on the beach.