Summer Bucket List: A Recap

Today is the first day of Fall, which for most of you means you’re elbow-deep in scarves and blazers and pumpkin spice. For me it means that the long stretches of triple-digit temperatures are FINALLY behind us, but it’s still sweltering on the regular (yesterday it was still 103, btw). Back in May, when it was also sweltering, I posted a fairly ambitious list of things to accomplish over the summer, and despite a LOT of unanticipated changes and craziness over the last few months, I am so proud of myself for really sticking to my plans, which were pretty great to start with.

Summer Bucket List: 2016

    • No sunburns, no tan lines, and religious sunscreen application!
      Yes, ma’am!

Arizona Backyard After 5_feistyharriet_May 2016

    • Finish up the landscaping in the backyard.
      Yep! Also done! And it looks SOOO GOOOD!
    • Schedule a personal day off from work: go to a spa, get a massage, a pedicure, take myself out to a nice lunch, and maybe a movie, just because I can.
      This….did not happen. I need to revisit this idea, stat.
    • Go camping!
      Yep! National Park camping, FTW!

Arizona Backyard After 4_feistyharriet_May 2016


    • Eat at least one full meal harvested entirely from the backyard garden.
      Mostly yes. It wasn’t a full meal in one sitting, harvest times being staggered and all, but we ate as much produce as our backyard garden would churn out: tomatoes, peppers, butternut squash, herbs, and my fridge is still full of eggplant.


    • Make homemade ice cream happen.
      Yep. Batches of strawberry, black raspberry, and peach. Delicious!


    • Visit four new National Parks.
      Three/four. I only made it to 3 new parks (Joshua Tree, Sequoia, and King’s Canyon), but also visited a few National Monuments, so, I’m counting it done.


    • Go to a rodeo!
      Absolutely. Strawberry Days Rodeo is one of my favorite traditions.
    • Tackle and manage a joint budget with Mr. Blue Eyes.
      Ish? I don’t know if this is complete, meaning finished, but it has been tackled, and tackled again. It’s a work in progress, basically. Merging lives is hard, ya’ll.
    • Continue my current health and exercise regimen.
      Yes! I haven’t lost as much weight as I did in the spring, but I have been steadily improving my speed and distance. I still feel fluffy, but a lot less fluffy than I have for years. This goal will continue for the foreseeable future.


    • Read a LOT of books. Inside. With the AC blowing directly on me.
      Yep, yep, yep. Fifty-nine since summer started (ok, since I posted this as an item on my summer to-do list).
    • Finish the last bit of painting inside our house: 2 rooms and a closet.
      Well…the closet is done… Ahem.

Ok, so overall, a pretty decent summer, with a lot of food-based highlights…which I didn’t quite realize until I started looking for images for this post, ahem. Additional wins included presenting at a non-work-related conference with a non-profit I’ve contributed to the last couple of years, and starting a new job here in Arizona.

My previous lists and successes, here.

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Arizona Summer vs My First Vegetable Garden

This is my first experience with an Arizona summer, and while I am halfway though it, I am sooo over the heat. I have managed to make a solid dent on my Summer Bucket List, which has been good. I could complain about the heat forever, but I am trying really hard to complain about focus on other things.

So far my biggest complaint obstacle thru the insufferable Arizona summer is the cabin fever. My long history of skin issues (cancer, cancer, cancer) means I can’t just slap on the sunscreen and hop in the pool all afternoon to beat the heat. I do go to the gym several times a week just to get my body moving a little without having ankle-to-wrist-plus-hat coverage, and that has helped quite a bit to combat the feeling of being trapped in an (air conditioned! yay!) cage.

Mr. Blue Eyes built me some fantastic garden boxes in our backyard revamp, and I filled them up with seeds and tiny vegetable plants and hoped they’d make it. It’s been a bit of a learning curve: my yellow squash and zucchini have died; a crazy-even-for-here heat wave withered my peppers and herbs (123* F?!? ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!); the birds have had a heyday with the tomatoes, pecking them to pieces. BUT! we rigged up some shade to protect most of our little plants and I found some bird-repellant holographic tape to scare the birds away.


In the last few weeks the butternut squash and watermelon bed has gone crazy with trailing vines all over the place and about a dozen squash and four watermelons all growing nicely under those broad leaves. In the last two days I’ve picked FIVE tomatoes and the one remaining bell pepper, and there are some darling baby eggplants that will probably be ready to pick next week.


I am ridiculously happy about my little plants, it’s been fun to watch them grow (and frustrating to watch them wither and die) and has given me something to look forward to, as stupid or silly as that sounds. I have been doing some research, and apparently you can replant several different things in mid-August and get a second harvest in October or November, and lettuce and spinach and peas do really well over the “winter” months, so I’ll be trying that, for sure. We always had a very big vegetable garden while I was growing up, and I know how to keep veggies alive…but the climate here is VERY different from my Rocky Mountain hometown. Hopefully I’ll have a little more success moving forward!


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Summer Bucket List: 2016

I don’t know about you, but where I live summer is in full force. We’ve got summer vegetables available at farm stands, summer activities on weekends, kids in and out of the pool, and (COMPLETELY INSANE) summer temperatures. It was 103 last Wednesday and I still haven’t quite gotten over it. And this isn’t even the worst heat of the summer. It’s gonna be 118 before I know it. Summer in Arizona is going to be very different from my summer’s in the relatively mild Salt Lake City. I can’t just hop in my car and escape to the mountains for some mid-70’s temperatures and plenty of leafy shade. I mean, saguaro cactus give just enough shade for a really skinny person to stand in. My Summer Bucket List for this year (and all subsequent years) will look very different than previous lists, heading outside is more of an Arizona “winter” activity, not something that is at all enjoyable from May – October.

I have been firming up some work scheduling things and personal vacation-y things, the calendar was looking kind of…full. So I did the math: for a six-week long stretch I will only be at home in my own bed for six nights. Total. On average, one night per week for six weeks. Now, that sounds ridiculously overwhelming, but the good news is that every single one of the places I will be visiting (for work and for fun) are cooler than the Valley of the Surface of the Sun. So, despite knowing that kind of travel will be exhausting, I am looking forward to a little respite from the face-melting heat.

Summer Bucket List: 2016

      1. No sunburns, no tan lines, and religious sunscreen application!
      2. Finish up the landscaping in the backyard (the hardest part is already done, just some concrete work, finishing off some planter boxes, and laying the sod).
      3. Schedule a personal day off from work: go to a spa, get a massage, a pedicure, take myself out to a nice lunch, and maybe a movie, just because I can. (This should happen immediately after the 6 weeks of travel hell.)
      4. Go camping! Preferably somewhere higher in elevation, cooler, and leafier.
      5. Keep my backyard garden boxes alive! I need to rig up some shade to protect the baby veggies from 10 hours of the blasting Arizona sun.
      6. Eat at least one full meal harvested entirely from the backyard garden.
      7. Make homemade ice cream happen.
      8. Visit four new National Parks.
      9. Go to a rodeo!
      10. Tackle and manage a joint budget with Mr. Blue Eyes.
      11. Continue my current health and exercise regimen. (The good news is that the gym is heavily air conditioned, so while outdoor hiking may be a November and January activity, treadmill and exercises classes will be perfect when the temperatures soar.)
      12. Read a LOT of books. Inside. With the AC blowing directly on me.
      13. Finish the last bit of painting inside our house: 2 rooms and a closet.

I have had medium-levels of success with posting and then sticking to a summer bucket list in previous years, we’ll see how I do this year. Minus the “keep the backyard vegetables from burning up!” goal, these seem fairly manageable, even with six weeks away. Wish me luck!

What’s on your summer bucket list?

Summer Bucket Lists from previous years: 2015, 2014

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