I feel a little bit of pressure when June starts. After all, who doesn’t want to have the most magnificent summer ever? A couple years ago we started doing a “Summer Bucket List” and while I loved it, I felt pressure to get it all done. Every time the kids pulled out an activity I’d hold my breath and hope it was something attainable for that day. (I’d often have to ask them to re-pick!)  If I’m not careful I get caught up with needing everything to be big and grand, but I’ve been learning and embracing that there can be so much joy in the small moments.

Here are some little ideas that can make your summer full of great memories:

Sunset Watch – I’ve gotten a little obsessed with sunsets in the past year and they often take my breath away. Usually every night around 9:30, I do a sunset check. I go out to the back deck and I sit and watch. If it’s extra-spectacular (like the one last night of nautical pink stripes, see above picture!) I call everyone to come out and watch with me. Sunsets are like a big beautiful art gallery in the sky, with an inspiring and moving show every night. Take a seat and enjoy. (Note: Sunsets are free)

Outdoor Kitchen – A few weeks ago we got our deck ready for summer. With very little cost, I got some pretty lights to hang up, some potted plants to put around and prepared a mini-container vegetable garden. (I love rescuing shrivelling discount plants from the garden centre!) Then, I started the most annoying proclamation ever, “Outside is the new kitchen.” My family finds it incredibly tiresome because I say this every night but I’ve decided unless it’s raining, grab your dinner plate and come eat outside. I’m sorry there are flies, but you’ll be ok. (Note: Eating outside is free)

Neighbourhood Walks – Besides the fact that I need exercise and it’s good for the soul, I’ve been loving the neighbourhood summer walks. I’m not a winter outdoors person at all. I’ll shamefully admit that I pretty much stay inside from Jan-March so this is the time of year when its just so good to be outside. Walk time is also good talk time. Grab a spouse, child, sibling, friend – whoever you can find and walk those summer neighbourhood streets. (Note: Walks are free)

Patio Goals – Last year I set some patio goals for the summer as I noticed a lot of people were living the exciting patio life. We don’t go out to eat that much, but my husband and I do have a pretty regular date night and those date nights in the summer now involve patios. Depending on where we go the cost can vary, our last two dates nights were selected based on some new summer menu’s that I noticed with choices under $10. There are tons of other places that I consider to be in the patio category that are very affordable. McDonald’s has the best iced coffee (ONLY A DOLLAR ALL SUMMER!!!), Tim’s, Starbucks, Wendy’s – all have good choices and many have patios. If you’re going to go out, you might as well sit on a patio! (Note: At the right place our family can all have an ice cream patio treat for under $10)

Community Exploring –  Our little town is surrounded by vineyards, fruit trees, farms and wineries. I can buy a bunch of flowers off the side of the road for $5, there are fruit stands on charming country roads and I recently found a secret street that leads up the escarpment with the most stunning views of the Lake I’ve ever seen. About 15 minutes from our house is a beautiful marina and beach, a carousel you can ride for 5 cents and  benches to sit on and watch boats go by. No matter where you live, there are places you can explore that can be part of your summer traditions. (Note: Exploring is free)

Maybe you don’t have a big exciting summer vacation planned – that’s ok! Your summer can still be full of memories. Enlarge your circles, embrace your family and friends, and celebrate small moments with big enthusiasm.

Leave joy prints wherever summer brings you.

Make summer beautiful.