I grew up in New Zealand. The photograph above is of the beach down the street from my house. I never appreciated it until I moved away. Now I live in New Jersey and when Summer hits I always feel the need for water, sand and sun. Last week I went to the beach twice. I found that once there I never wanted to leave. Both experiences were totally different but equally as much fun. The first day we went to Coney Island in Brooklyn, New York. If ever there was a place that confronted the senses head on it would be Coney Island and the surrounding area. After visiting the NY Aquarium we walked onto the Boardwalk for lunch. The boardwalk is made of wood and very wide, sand and ocean on the left and the Amusement Park on the right. The original Amusement park was shut down years ago but then reopened with modifications a short time later. There are vestiges of the old amusements; some working and some left to slowly fall apart. I know that eventually the ones that are not being maintained will have to be removed, for safety reasons, but for now they are a fond memory for those of us who visited it years ago. After lunch we went to the beach. The beach was so crowded that to relax and listen to the ocean was not on the agenda. But people-watching was. There were people there from all walks of life, some were in bathing suits but many were in street clothes with their pants rolled up and their shirts unbuttoned. Many were children straight from school; still carrying backpacks and in school uniforms, their parents yelling at them to hold their shoes up out of their waves. The day was warm and there were street vendors walking the beaches selling homemade jewelry and bottles of water. It reminded me that summer should be what we make of it. Grasp the moments when you can and don’t worry if your not exactly prepared for it, just enjoy. The next day we went to Spring Lake in New Jersey. An area filled with Victorian homes and a small town center with Antique shops and ice cream parlors. The boardwalk is more modern but it is long and welcoming to anyone who wants to walk it or ride their bicycle along it. There aren’t rides or amusements but there is a small pavilion and outdoor showers. It is very beautiful, sailboats pass by and you are almost certain to see dolphins and ferries. The ocean was rough that day, to watch it from a distance was relaxing but not very safe for those who wanted to swim or surf. The children played at the very edge while the lifeguards were kept busy curtailing the adults who needed to show off their surfing skills. On both days I left sunburned, happy and tired. When I got home I realized that my home needed to reflect the summer days a bit more and I wanted that carefree feeling to blend seamlessly from the outside to the inside. So, after two days at the beach here are my ideas for Summer decorating: Color. – If you want to create a festive mood use bright colors like reds, greens and blues or, – Use greys, whites, blues and pale yellows for a more serene feel. Organic. – Pick branches from a tree, buy a bunch of flowers at the farm or supermarket. Try to choose plants that are naturally occurring around your area, this will feel more relaxing than an exotic or artificial plant. If you can’t find a bouquet that you like then just buy a plant, in bloom, repot it and put it on your table. Memories. – What does summertime and vacation mean to you? Even if you can’t go on vacation scatter things around the house that evoke that feeling for you. (Souvenirs, fabrics, even a bowl full of sand and shells that you collected ages ago or ones that you bought at the craft store recently). Photographs. – Enlarge photographs of places you have visited and hang them on the wall in inexpensive frames. Or just put the photographs in a bowl and put them on the coffee table, no-one will be able to resist looking through them. Vision Boards. – Cut out pictures of places you would like to visit, or postcards you have received and pin them to a noticeboard. Add words that inspire and relax you. I know we all work, and that life can be hectic, but try to make your Summer a special time for you and your family. Think of it as an opportunity to enjoy being outdoors; remember that feeling of being a teenager, sunbathing in the backgarden and reading cheap novels that took no effort (other than turning the pages and trying not to spill your iced tea). Go to a farm market and buy fresh fruits and vegetables (only the ones that you truly love). Make homemade guacamole and grill fresh corn alongside your hamburgers. Play music louder than you should. Wear flip-flops to the grocery store and cotton peasant tops that make you feel cool and comfortable. Sit outside and eat. Light candles, listen to what is happening around you and wait as long as you can before you surrender to the mosquitoes. Whether or not you go on vacation is irrelevant, pretend that you are already there!
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