I adore this time of year. My stress level at work comes way down, so I always tend to enjoy my job so much more. It might be that sweet, sweet summer is just around the corner, or it might be that my kids have grown so much by now that they are easier to manage. Whatever the reason, I adore this feeling: I laugh more, make more jokes, and generally enjoy my life more. I feel lucky to have all that I have, and I feel grateful for the past which made me who I am today, and for the future which is so bright and promising. It fills me with a sense of perpetual peace, undulating joy, and the warmest most opaque love—like manuka honey.
One of my favorite things to do is make lists, and brainstorming how to spend ALL my free time this summer is the best type of list. While there are quite a few items on my list so far, maybe too many, I get so much pleasure from thinking about all of the things that make me happy and knowing that I have 10 weeks to spend exploring them. Yes, my job is very demanding and can bring just about anyone to tears on occasion, but the kids change me and make me a better person each year, and the summer allows me the opportunity to explore other parts of myself.
Here are just some of the things I have on my list this summer! What would you do if you had 10 weeks to yourself?
Taking a free online creative writing course
Learning how to knit
Making more natural beauty products and learning more about essential oils
Reading, reading, reading
Cooking, cooking, cooking
Learning Spanish with Duolingo (free app!)
Exploring Garage sales/antique stores/thrift stores
Yoga, yoga, yoga
Long walks daily
Mixed Berry Salad with Citrus Chicken, Pumpkin Seeds, and Coconut Chips
Serves 2 hungry people or 4 as an appetizer or light lunch
1 package organic chicken tenders (Trader Joe’s, a little over a pound usually)
1 naval orange
½ cup blueberries (I’m guessing on the amounts…I just used a few handfuls!)
½ cup blackberries
½ cup sliced strawberries
½ cup raspberries
1 bag mixed lettuce (I used a baby lettuce blend)
1-2 teaspoons kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful of pumpkin seeds
Handful of coconut chips (Trader Joe’s—a MUST HAVE! They are salty and sweet!)
- Zest your orange into a small bowl. Then add your salt to the zest, mixing to combine. I usually use about 2 teaspoons, and it sounds like a lot, but it gives the chicken great flavor! Use 1 teaspoon if you are worried.
- Heat some olive oil (about a tablespoon) in a large sauté pan over medium heat.
- Sprinkle the citrus salt on the first side and put it first side down in the pan. Add the rest of the citrus salt to the other side and crack on some pepper.
- Cook each side for around 5 minutes. When done, tent the chicken for 5-10 minutes—this makes for juicer chicken!
- Add the bag of lettuce to a large bowl and add the berries.
- Dressing: I squeeze 1 firm lemon, or ½ a really juicy lemon into a bowl and then add around 2 tablespoons of olive oil. Give that a stir and then add it to the salad and give it a toss.
- Top with the citrus chicken, pumpkin seeds, and coconut chips. Enjoy!