Being Fully Alive in the Summer - Skillful Cook
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Being Fully Alive in the Summer

Woman holding two cones of nice cream.

The sun right now - ugh, the morning summer sun. ♡ PLEASE NEVER LEAVE.

It's streaming through the pines outside the windows and making the quiet morning lake glitter with just the right amount of natural bling just beyond that green line of trees. Dad is sipping a steaming coffee after his traditional early morning swim, Mom is planning some kind of elaborate and competitive family olympics, Bjork is deeply immersed in his 97th nonfiction book of the week (literally at this moment I can hear him explaining to my mom, “yeah, it's called The Tax and Legal Playbook and it's, yeah, no, it's actually really good” as I am sitting here throwing up a little bit in my mouth), and my sister just called to say she'd be here later tonight just in time for the night games. There's a cheapy page-turner of a mystery novel waiting for me on the cushy chaise lounge outside next to the picnic table, and the little green hammock hasn't stopped swinging since the moment my brother hung it and popped inside yesterday. I just wrapped up a 10am breakfast of chocolate granola + mom's banana bread complete with a green smoothie on the side just so my whole family can roll their eyes at me for being THAT sister.

We call this “Up North” - and it is simultaneously a place, a mindset, and a practice of getting away and going off-grid.

Loon mug.

Almost every year when we get to the end of summer, I find myself eyeballs-deep in regret: WHY. HOW. NO NO NO. It's already almost gone and I SHOULD HAVE TREATED MYSELF TO MORE SUMMER. Why didn't I sit outside in the sun with every free second I had? Why didn't I go swimming in lakes and binge-read mystery novels and eat grilled romaine with jalapeño ranch (current obsession) and dad's pork chops and loaded peanut butter cup nice cream like it was my last day of life?

The cabin, aka a week in an old-turned-new northern Wisconsin lake house with my family, is the best method of Fully-Alive Summer Living I know and one of the only ways to get rid of end-of-summer regret.

Chairs in a cabin.

If there ever were a time to get in the lake - not just look at it, we're talking about actually jumping in the water - to read cheesy books that you might never want to tell anyone about (or fine, smart nonfiction, but WHO ARE YOU), to spend three days straight in the same grey tee-shirt, with no makeup and a summery little top knot to seal the deal, this would be the time.

Three girls tubing on a lake.

I mentioned this end-of-summer regret concept, and my go-live-large-in-August sort of mantra in a post earlier this week, but it's worth mentioning again (for my own sake and for yours):

Be good to your summer self. Especially all of you sweet friends, myself included, who live in a place where there is a big white winter just a few months around the bend.

Give yourself extra time, extra space, extra breathing room for the love of all things summer, including but not limited to juicy watermelon, sunsets, bike rides, and sand between your toes. Take a weekend mini-vacation. Or staycation - yes yes yes, do an easy and stress-free staycation. Jump in a lake. Meet someone for happy hour, sit outside, and then skip dinner in favor of post-HH ice cream just because you can. Take deep breaths and get enough sleep and drink in all the summer around you. It really is the most delicious.

Man and woman sitting on a dock.

Two men tubing on a lake.Two boys looking out the back of a boat.

Young boy drinking from a straw.

Three women tubing on a lake.
People sitting around a table at a cabin eating.
Woman holding a baby looking at the lake. Food on a tray. Grilling lettuce. Boy holding a tray of lettuce. Man kissing baby on the cheek. Woman holding a young boy in a chair. Boy sitting in a chair writing in a notebook.

People hanging around a tube in a lake.

People on a boat near a dock on the lake. Man and woman reaching to kiss a baby boy.

Girl and boy holding hands with a young boy. Two people on a moped. Woman holding a baby on her shoulder. People eating ice cream around a table outside. Woman smiling at camera. Little boy playing in dirt.

Women on a boat. Woman wake boarding on a lake. Boy and girl on a boat. Little boy with hat on. Chips with salsa and grapes. Men sitting in chairs.

Tray of lettuce. Two men sitting on a dock on the lake.

Girl swinging in a hammock. Boy relaxing in a chair. Boy playing with sticks. Boy playing guitar on a dock. Man holding a fish. Boy eating in a hammock. Blue crocs. Man pretending to eat two ice cream cones.

That's a wrap, guys!

Get out there and be fully alive in the summer.

Today. This minute. Right now let's do it here we go.


More Travel Pictures and Posts:

Pink drink.

Girls' Weekend Getaway: Scottsdale, Arizona

Woman with hands covering her mouth.

West Coast Road Trip (San Fran To Seattle)

Notes on clothes pins.

New Orleans In The Summer

Family Vacation to Emerald Isle.

Emerald Isle Family Trip

Woman sitting at a table.

Girls' Trip To Aspen

Woman smiling at a dog.

Sage's Big Vacation

Woman and man wearing ski gear.

Ski Trip To Park City

Men on tubes.

Ten Days At The Cabin

Man and woman wearing sunglasses making silly faces.

California Road Trip (San Fran To Los Angeles)

Man standing by a car.


Filed Under: Life Travel

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    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Rental! but not public rental. like rental from a friend rental. 😉 we found it on VRBO like 10 years ago but I don’t think it’s listed publicly anymore. It’s near Eagle River though so if you are looking for a great location, that’s your spot!

  1. Skillful Cook Logo

    I wish I was able to be fully alive this summer. It’s been, literally, one of the worst summers ever. No work, two of my girls had asthma attacks and landed in the hospital for several days each, in the same week. Then our apartment management decided they didn’t care about the crazy mold growth that triggered the asthma attacks, from a leak in the unit above ours that they hadn’t fixed in over a year…so we ended up moving out instead of renewing and are now living in my MIL’s living room til we find a new place. There are tons of other examples of how this summer tried to kill me, but I’ll spare those details, and just live vicariously through your summer until I can remember that this too, shall pass.

    At least, it better pass, cause I can’t take much more!

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Karly, I am SO so so sorry for the difficulties and challenges this summer has presented to you. And yes, as you said it will pass, but it is obviously so very difficult in the moment. Hang in there and I hope that when it does pass you find that it has made you even stronger and more courageous to tackle the inevitable tough moments in life. <3

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      Ugh, Karly, what a rough summer. I’m so sorry, and thanks for being so genuine in your comment. Part of why I’m so intent on soaking in this summer season is that I know it is just that – a season. I know that Bjork and I are in a season where a lot of things are mostly easy and good, and that just isn’t how our life will be forever and things could change at any moment. It’s a season. Here’s one of my favorite quotes from Shauna Niequist who wrote the book Bittersweet: “Bittersweet is the idea that in all things there is both something broken and something beautiful, that there is a moment of lightness on even the darkest of nights, a shadow of hope in every heartbreak, and that rejoicing is no less rich even when it contains a splinter of sadness. It’s the practice of believing that we really do need both the bitter and the sweet, and that a life of nothing but sweetness rots both your teeth and your soul. Bitter is what makes us strong, what forces us to push through, what helps us earn the lines on our faces and the calluses on our hands. Sweet is nice enough, but bittersweet is beautiful, nuanced, full of depth and complexity. Bittersweet is courageous, gutsy, audacious, earthy.” Much love and strength to you during these hard times. XO

  2. Skillful Cook Logo

    Lindsay, this post was so good for my soul!! Thank you for writing it, reminding me of the important things in life and making me laugh all at the same time. I love your life posts so much and you always and forever will be one of my favorite bloggers! Wishing you the very best rest of the summer…hugs!! P.S. I can’t believe how much older your youngest brother and nephew look!! These pictures warm my heart.

  3. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yes yes to all of this. I love summer and I want to soak up every bit of it, even if “soak” means sweat and humid weather. I love the sun, and how it stays in the sky into the evening. I’m okay if football weather is late this year.

    Your family is beautiful.

  4. Skillful Cook Logo

    The travel bug is setting in big time after reading this post! I absolutely loved meeting you this past week, Lindsay. You are just as kind and thoughtful in person as you come across on your blog. (Also, that pic of you in the gray t-shirt = GORGEOUS! You look so joyful! <3 )

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      Oh my gosh, it was so wonderful to meet you too, Julie! I was inspired after checking in again on your blog – I just enjoy reading about others’ real lives and families as much, or more! than recipe posts, so it was a little push for me to keep sharing pieces of personal life on the blog. Hope our paths cross again soon!

  5. Skillful Cook Logo

    Ahhhh, this story and accompanying pictures is exactly what I needed to start my w/end off; it makes me HAAAAPPPYYY. Good times, good times – makes me long for a family and friends gathering. And although I hear ya about not wanting to rush summer away, I’m a fall/crisp weather/sweater kinda gal; I can’t wait for the crisp air and fiery colors of autumn. Oh and btw, how DARE you (or whoever is in the pic with the white shorts) not have cellulite. LOLOLOLOLOLOL xoxoxoxo;-)

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      I ditto that comment on cellulite,haha. But I especially ditto that comment on fall! I can’t wait! I love fall so much on the East coast but as a girl who was born and raised in the Midwest where fall is a very fleeting and sometimes nonexistent thing, I do appreciate your love of summer.

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Thanks for havin’ my back on the cellulite comment, LOL! Much appreciated:) Yes I’m with you all the way, you just can’t beat fall weather – summer is great for all the fun summer activities (minus bugs and incessant humidity????) but that crisp weather – I can’t wait, can’t wait can’t WAIT

    2. Skillful Cook Logo

      I love fall too! Ooooh, it makes me giddy. Summer and fall are just the best. And early winter. And late spring. I think I live in the right place. 😉 (remind me of this in February please)

      1. Skillful Cook Logo

        Haha ok, I’ll remind ya! Tell you a couple reasons tho, that I haven’t enjoyed summer so much – well first off as I get older I find I don’t enjoy summer as much in general because it’s harder dealing with the heat and humidity but, in the house I’m currently renting – there’s no central air – and this summer has been super HOT and super humid. Another thing I hate about the house I currently rent is: drum roll please – the KITCHEN…which is a problem because I LOVE to cook – hence constantly browsing and finding amazing food bloggers like yourself – but because the whole house is like a sauna, it is terribly uncomfortable, especially in the kitchen – that room is the worst, and it also seems like the gas stove is constantly giving off a radiant heat making the kitchen even HOTTER. For someone that loves to cook and bake, that is the room I spend the most time in, and sometimes I feel downright sick or faint, because of the heat. So it makes summer even LESS enjoyable! I grew up w/o central air but after a certain point of being on my own, all the apartments I’d rent had central air and I got VERY spoiled – so now it’s hard to enjoy kitchen life when the kitchen is 91 degrees at TEN P.M.!!

  6. Skillful Cook Logo

    Yes, you are SO right. About all of it! This summer has passed me by in a flurry of VERY IMPORTANT deadlines and now it’s practically September. 🙁 But I’m doing my best to turn my weekends into mini-staycations and squeeze as much out of summer as Northern Germany will let me!

  7. Skillful Cook Logo

    Beautiful post of awesome pics! Makes me misty eyed as its so true, summer is going so fast. We are heading to N WI end of August and can’t wait!

  8. Skillful Cook Logo

    I just want to jump right through the screen and be enjoying this weekend on the lake with you guys! It looks like you’ve had such a wonderful summer – I’ve forgotten what that’s all about, but living vicariously through your photos definitely made me smile. 🙂

  9. Skillful Cook Logo

    Oh Lindsay. What a fabulous post. Thanks for sharing your beautiful self with us. Carry on with the fun, love and family. You totally rock. X. I.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      It was! And the pictures will be a good way to take me back there again in a few short months when it’s totally snowy and cold out.

  10. Skillful Cook Logo

    Just got back home from Minocqua, WI for my family’s up north trip and I just have to say…you are so spot on on EVERYTHING in this post. There is nothing better than getting fresh air, being out on the lake, reading all day and grilling every night. I miss it already. Enjoy it while it lasts 🙂 And thanks for sharing your photos!

  11. Skillful Cook Logo

    Loved this post! The pictures made me feel like I was right there. What a great vacation. I just moved to Phoenix so summer has taken on a new meaning of hiding inside until temps cool down, but coming from PA, I know how cherished summers can be!

  12. Skillful Cook Logo

    This was a really beautiful post. I feel the same way about summer. On my break last evening at work (an R.N. in a nursing home) I took ten minutes to show my 97 year old, clear as a bell resident the pictures of woods, fern-fields & sun-lit river I took on my 4 mile hike with my husband last week . Following up showing her the beach photos I took in ME on a quick day trip last month which she had loved! Life goes by too fast. At 52 spending time with 90-somethings I can hear it whistling by. Gotta get those lake days. Though the winter comfort food by the wood stove will also be a delight in its turn! Every season has its sweetnesses.

    1. Skillful Cook Logo

      What a sweet and thoughtful comment. I love this. And I totally agree – every season has its sweetness! Spoken like a true Midwesterner. (Are you a Midwesterner? you should be!)

  13. Skillful Cook Logo

    After reading this post I ran outside and finally spray painted the Adirondack chair I’d been meaning to paint all summer. Not exactly the most fun way to live up the summer, but tackling the before-the-snow-flies house project list is a serious task in Minnesota!

  14. Skillful Cook Logo

    Love all the pics Lindsay. We used to go to my Aunt’s lake house every summer – floating in the water was my favorite thing to do. It got too much for her to maintain after my Uncle died, so she bought a house on the river. Imagine my surprise that you can literally walk in water knee high for 500 feet from her dock – still beautiful, but I miss the deep water lake!

  15. Skillful Cook Logo

    I love this! Oozing all of the summer that I find myself wanting to explore, only to realize that it is august, FOOtball already started, I’m somehow already sweeping up leaves and it’s quite chilly in the morning. Nooooo! I’m objecting with tons of smoothie bowls, and cold soup, and lots of SUPing. Thank goodness I have 2 more weeks off before I start a new job to really enjoy all the outside fun summer has to offer. Enjoy the lake and up north and all of the dairy Wisco has to offer. As a former Wisconsinite, I understand the need for some serious vitamin D, because winter is coming!