Nostalgia, Picnics and All Things Summer


By Nicole Verspyck

Nostalgia, Picnics and All Things Summer

Summer has arrived and thoughts of ice cream, cool swims, and picnics come to mind. So does the joy of sharing the long summer days with friends and family.  


I recently came upon a photo of my grandfather on a beach boiling lobster in an oversized pot.  It was a family tradition every summer. Memories of homemade  ice cream, bonfires, roasted marshmallows, sailing lessons, board games while listening to old vinyl, all remain vivid.  It got me thinking about what traditions I’m nurturing and even creating,  the answer brings me to all things entertaining.  


What reminds you of summer? Maybe it's memories of summer camp, visits with your grandparents, picking berries, catching fireflies, or playing til the sun went down. Perhaps it’s an annual trip to the shore, camping with family or friends, or a staycation with a good book or board games. Do your memories help you plan for a summer’s day today? At junedays, it’s an answer ripe with the deliciousness of summer.  


It goes without saying that the best part of summer is sharing time with others.  Planning a picnic with dear friends and family can be such a memorable experience. Working together, sharing recipes, preparing fruit and snacks, making sandwiches, packing drinks…what fun!   


We’ve been entertaining guests in our home and on our boat for many years now; it’s still terrific fun hosting and planning.  What I notice most is that preplanning makes for easy days and relaxed guests. It also makes for good memories and the promise of new ones to be made.  


Summer Outdoor Tips:  


Picnic Blankets are at the top of our list. Having a place for people to sit and relax is paramount. Whether at the beach, a park or a summer evening concert, you can begin to set the atmosphere with your picnic blanket. Nautical stripes or sweet ginghams, nostalgic plaids or heirloom quilts, there are many options. Mix and match! There are no rules.    

But something to keep top of mind is making sure the picnic blanket works with the conditions, meaning if at the beach, look for a blanket that is sandproof; going to an outdoor evening concert, make sure you have a blanket that is waterproof, so the evening dew doesn’t invite soggy bottoms.  Spending all day “en plein air” add a sun umbrella. It’s a good idea to have a little protective shade.     


Salad in a Jar is an awesome item to include a picnic.  We use BPA free acrylic mason jars to pre-measure individual portions, making serving food easy, and clean-up a breeze. Our favorite recipe is a Greek Orzo Salad, and includes: 

1 cup orzo 

½ cup red onion scallion 

Cherry tomatoes 

Persian cucumbers 

Kalamata Olives 

Feta Cheese 


Greek salad dressing 

Sea salt and black pepper 


Trust us, your guests will be impressed! You can customize the jars based on food allergies, food sensitivities or preferences. What’s not to love! 


Ice vs. Cooler Packs: After selecting your favorite food and beverages for a picnic, the question “what do I put my provisions in”, is quickly followed by “how do I keep them cool”? People have asked me over the years whether I use ice packs or cubes. I always answer both.  Ice packs are excellent for keeping perishables cool without the risk of causing soggy bread.  Ice cubes are best for cooling drinks, as more of the drinks’ surface is in contact with the cold source.  The cooler box or bag you use is as much a part of the answer as the cold source itself. We discovered that isolating provisions was the most effective way of keeping everything cool over the course of a long hot summer’s day.  Sandwiches go into one cooler cube with ice packs, kids’ drinks go into another with cubed ice, while wine and beer go into yet another with a combo of ice packs and loose ice.  The junedays cooler system offers this versatility, with nesting features that make planning, transporting and accessing your supplies a breeze. 


Sunscreen: We are big fans of eco-friendly sunscreen, and champions of healthy skin. We always pack sunscreens with SPF values (50+). Avoid sunscreens that contain oxybenzone or octinoxate. They’re not good for the environment, particularly coral reef systems.  Sun Bum has earned a top spot on our list for its commitment to the environment.  We just bought mineral sunscreen from Project Reef and are very impressed! Raw Elements, Coola and Dune all earn honorable mentions. Here are some links to nonprofits that provide information about sunscreens; Coral Reef Alliance or EWG.Org. 


Summer Games: Outdoor games like bocce, corn hole, and horseshoes are to summer like flowers are to spring.  We love our bocce, mostly because anybody can play (young and old alike) and anyone can win.  Corn hole is another fun group activity that is open to all age groups; and if you don’t have “official” equipment, a heavy bucket and stones will do the trick. Horseshoes is another classic summer game, although of the three recommended summer games, this one requires a little more strength making it hard for young and older players.  


Summer Phone Apps: Summer often invites off road, off shore and sometimes off grid adventures.  We’ve used AllTrails for mapping some of best hikes throughout the northeast, and found it did a nice job.  

PictureThis is an excellent plant-identifier app (phone). Its accuracy is superior to other apps we’ve used, and it allows you to build a library of your own garden or knowledge. Makes for a great activity or creative distraction for the kiddos, too.  


There are many other features and favorites of a great summer’s day, but these favorites help tell the story of fun in the sun.   


Happy picnicking!