July Pep Talk
We’re taking a break from our weekly pep talks this summer, so for June and July, we’re hooking you up with an over-stuffed monthly pep talk instead. We’ll be back in August with our regular weekly pep talks.
10 FUN THINGS TO DO THIS MONTH
July 4 is Independence Day, sure, but it’s also Sidewalk Egg Frying Day.
Celebrate Yellow Pig Day on July 17. I don’t totally understand this mathematician’s holiday (devised by two students studying the number 17), but any day that celebrates math, has its own songbook of Yellow Pig carols, and ends with a Yellow Pig cake is okay in my book.
What better way to celebrate Ice Cream Month than by making your own ice cream? Bonus: It’s a legitimate science experiment.
Video Games Day is July 8, and Suzanne’s got us all excited about checking out the Uncharted series, starring rakish adventurer Nathan Drake. (Add him to the list of people Nathan Fillion should be playing in a film adaptation.)
The easiest summer art project: Make sun prints.
Make a set of rock dominoes to play all summer. (River rocks are ideal for this, so collecting them is a great excuse to take a little river field trip.)
July is Picnic Month! I love the idea of painting a chess/checkers board on your picnic blanket for picnic gaming.
Make your own wooden stilts to get into the spirit of Walk on Stilts Day (July 27).
Celebrate Uncommon Instrument Awareness Day by making your own vuvuzela (a South African horn) out of recycled materials.
Get crafty on Thread the Needle Day (July 25) by making some easy-to-sew and completely adorable bean bags.
10 IDEAS FOR THIS MONTH’S DINNERS
I love how versatile these (gluten-free!) farinata are. Think of them as chickpea pancakes, and top them generously with whatever looks good at the farmers market.
You don’t really need a recipe to make a rainbow cauliflower rice bowl, so experiment with whatever veg you have on hand.
Put a summertime twist on Taco Tuesday with chipotle quinoa sweet potato tacos.
Make a batch of freezer-ready mini pizzas on a quiet day, and you’ll have an emergency dinner/lunch/snack whenever you need it.
I want to make a batch of this pickle-brined fried chicken for our next family picnic.
Break out of your grilling rut with grilled sweet potatoes.
This Big Green Cobbler with leeks, gruyere, and split peas is like a vegetarian take on the best chicken pot pie you ever had.
Summer is all about salad for dinner—and this Thai grilled corn and peach quinoa salad looks like a great addition to your summer salad lineup.
Another dose of inspiration for your grilling menu: Soy-based chicken kebabs with sesame-citrus sprinkle.
Summer squash pizza with goat cheese and walnuts puts a seasonal spin on pizza night.
FOUR GREAT READALOUDS
Seven Daughters and Seven Sons is a retelling of an Iranian folk tale, in which the fourth of seven daughters sets off to make her family’s fortune, disguised as a boy. I’m a sucker for a girl-powered fairy tale, so it’s no surprise I love this one.
Speaking of spunky girls, The Wolves of Willoughby Chase is as fun to read aloud as the Lemony Snicket books: plenty of nefarious villains, dramatic plot twists, and, yes, two plucky heroines who must save themselves from an evil governess’s plot.
If you’re looking for laughs, get yourself a copy of Daniel Pinkwater’s Yobgorgle, Mystery Monster of Lake Ontario. I like to think of Pinkwater as the elementary school set’s Douglas Adams, and this zany tale of a boy who takes up monster hunting is a delightful example of why.
New York City’s pushcarts declare war on the trucks in The Pushcart War, creating hilarious city-wide chaos.
ONE THOUGHT TO PONDER