Summer: A User's Guide


Make this the summer you try all the things you've always wanted to try!

Find out how to:

  • paddle a canoe; shuck an oyster; track the tides; do a flip turn
  • play badminton, bocce, and horseshoes
  • turn ...
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Make this the summer you try all the things you've always wanted to try!

Find out how to:

  • paddle a canoe; shuck an oyster; track the tides; do a flip turn
  • play badminton, bocce, and horseshoes
  • turn seashells into wind chimes; tid-dye T-shirts
  • prepare summer staples such as the sea breeze, barbecued spareribs, and lobster rolls
  • build a campfire; grill your just caught trout; toast s'mores
  • spruce up your summer rental; banish mildew; get the upper hand on berry stains
  • read the night sky; identify animal tracks, leaves, and clouds
  • handle the flag with respect and remember all the words to the national anthem
  • get back to flying a kite and using a hula hoop
  • play card games, word games, lawn games, and pool games
  • host an instant party with 20 effortless appetizers
  • become the most sought-after house guest or host
  • make bird feeders; grow sunflowers; lure butterflies to your garden
  • keep the kids occupied with fun activities for car trips and rainy days
  • organize a clambake or a picnic; hang a tire swing; pack for a hike
  • contruct towering sand castles; master the art of knots.
Hundreds of entries, glorious color photographs, and illustrations take you there and show you how.

Whether you're in a cabin in the mountains, in a rental at the beach, at a weekend house in the country, or taking it easy in town or in your own backyard, Summer: A User's Guide is the summer necessity—packed with practical guidance, inspiring suggestions, useful resources, engaging history, nostalgic reminiscences, and the promise of a dream summer to come.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781579653163
  • Publisher: Artisan
  • Publication date: 5/9/2007
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 1,499,432
  • Product dimensions: 7.94 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Meet the Author

Suzanne Brown proudly wears her flip-flops into fall, hoping to stretch the season out just a little longer. She has spent summer months cooking pancakes on the grill in Martha's Vineyard, water-skiing in the Adirondacks, and relaxing on the coast of South Carolina. When Brown's not digging for clams or daydreaming of summers gone by, she runs Suzanne Brown Design, a successful design and image consulting firm in Chappaqua, New York, where she lives with her husband.

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Read an Excerpt


I’m madly in love with summer and the feelings it evokes—the carefree spirit of freedom and adventure that fall, winter, and spring simply don’t provide. Summer entices us to lose our inhibitions, to have fun, to be curious, and to seek adventure. We are joyous upon its arrival in June and bittersweet as it fades into September. Summer is fabulous, but fleeting.

I’ve had the good fortune to spend many summers in places other than my “real” home. As a child, my family spent the season in an old beach bungalow on the Jersey shore. Looking back, it seems to me that we spent every waking moment outdoors— at the beach during the day, kite flying after dinner, at miniature golf or on the boardwalk in the evening. In the early mornings, my father—whom I’ve never seen happier than when he has a fishing pole or crab net in his hands—would bring us to the pier, where we’d drop the crab nets into inky waters, ever impatient to pull them up and see what we caught. Hours later, we’d return home with buckets of blue crabs, which my mother would magically turn into a delicious crab salad. My mom loves to tell the Annie Hall–esque story of the wily crab that went on the lam across our kitchen floor, eventually finding safe refuge behind the stove. Alas, his freedom didn’t last for long; after much bedlam, my parents somehow managed to extract him from his hideaway and get him into the steamer pot.

As a young woman, I frequently spent summer weekends with family friends in their fabulous home nestled in the woods of Martha’s Vineyard. We’d wake up at sunrise and cook pancakes and sausages outside on the grill, then head off to the beach, where we’d spend hours combing the sand for sharks’ teeth, shells, and beach glass. On special evenings, we’d drive their jalopy—a 1969 Dodge Dart—to Menemsha, where we’d crack open freshly cooked lobsters and watch the sun set. What wonderful, effortless days those were.

My passion for the outdoors led me to Maine, where I summered for many years on a quiet cove in ruggedly beautiful Bar Harbor. Down East I braved frigid waters, hiked endless wooded paths, and biked along meandering carriage trails shaded by an awning of pines. Exhausted from whatever the day’s activities were, I’d reward myself with a hearty lobster roll or a bucket of steamers, then drift off to sleep to the rhythmic sound of the ocean.

Lest you think I’m only content breathing in salt air, rest assured that I equally adore the clean, pure scent of fresh water. My love affair with lakes began at a friend’s cabin in the Adirondacks. A natural gathering spot on long weekends, we’d paddle canoes, water-ski behind a balky old powerboat, drift aimlessly on a pontoon, or lounge on fat tire tubes. After years spent on the ocean, the lakefront lifestyle was a delightful new experience of slithering fish, slippery green rocks, and no undercurrents. As quaint as it might seem, at day’s end we’d all gather around a campfire to roast marshmallows, talk, and laugh deep into the night, heading to bed in the wee hours, smelling of smoke.

Of course, being a New Yorker, I can’t dismiss my summers in the city; just because I love the outdoors doesn’t mean I don’t equally love watching the sun set over the Hudson from a Manhattan terrace while sipping a glass of good champagne. My friends Christophe and Léa throw the most wonderful parties on the roof of their downtown apartment building. There’s always a fashionable and cosmopolitan crowd, and most times I forget the hour and have to race like Cinderella to Grand Central to catch the last train back home.

I’m married now, and my husband and I spend our summers along the perpetually sunny coast of South Carolina. Everything moves at a slower pace there, and we’re no exception. As a rule, we do nothing more ambitious than shell-seeking, biking along the beach, sea kayaking, and making an occasional stop at a nearby beach bar for a refreshing frozen cocktail. It was on one of these vacations, on a stretch of endless white sand on Hilton Head Island, that I began thinking deeply about all the things I love about summer. I realized that if sheer pleasure makes for expertise, then few are more qualified than I am to write on the essence and the spirit of the season.

On these pages, you’ll find ideas for living life to the fullest in the summer months. I’ve included all of the crafts, recipes, music, and games that I personally look forward to each year—plus I’ve thrown in practical how-to’s and a hefty dose of nostalgia to conjure up days past. It’s my hope that this book will inspire all of you to embrace the carefree warm-weather lifestyle wherever you might be and whatever the season—after all, summer is not just a time of year, but a state of mind.

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Table of Contents


Introduction 13

50 Fun Things to Do This Summer 16

the summer house and garden

How to Make Your Summer Rental Shine 24
Stocking the Kitchen 26
Hosting Weekend Guests 28
What’s for Breakfast? 29
How to Be the Perfect House Guest 30
The Fourth of July 31
Flag Etiquette 31
20 Easy Appetizers 32
The Adirondack Chair 34
How to Line-Dry Summer Linens 36
The Outdoor Shower 37
Growing a Kitchen Herb Garden 38
Flip-Flops 40
Flowery Flip-Flops 41
How to Arrange Flowers 43
How to Grow Sunflowers 43
The Porch Swing 44
Bird-watching for Beginners 46
Creating a Bird-Friendly Backyard 47
Attracting Hummingbirds 48
How to Lure Butterflies to Your Garden 49
The Hammock 50
How to Hang a Hammock 52
The Tire Swing 53
Make a Backyard Tire Swing 53

the great outdoors

How to Throw and Catch a Frisbee 60
How to Pack for a Picnic 61
Hawaiian Tropic Scent 62
How to Protect Your Skin from the Sun 62
How to Play Beach Volleyball 63
The Bikini 64
How to Do a Flip Turn 66
How to Do a Handstand Underwater 66
Beach Cruisers 67
How to Ride a Boogie Board 68
How to Fly a Kite 69
Reggae 70
Surfing 72
How to Use a Skim Board 73
The Jalopy 74
The Beach Towel 76
How to Make a Beach Towel Pillow 76
How to Make a Sarong 78
How to Build a Sand Castle 79
Boating 80
How to Tie a Sturdy Knot 80
How to Paddle a Canoe 83
How to Get Up on Water Skis 84
How to Track the Tides 85
How to Take a Day Hike 86
My 8 Rules for Safe Hiking 87
How to Build a Campfire 88
How to Build a Lean-to 89
Identifying Common Leaves 90
Identifying Clouds 91
Identifying Animal Tracks 92
Toasted Marshmallows 94
Campfire Songs 96
How to Catch Trout 98
How to Clean a Fish 99
The Hoodie 100
The Perseid Meteor Shower 101
How to Identify Stars and Constellations 102

games, indoors and out

How to Play Horseshoes 111
How to Play Croquet 112
How to Make a Rope Swing 113
How to Play Bocce 114
How to Play Badminton 115
Baseball 116
Rainy Day Movies 118
Backyard Movies 119
How to Play Checkers 120
How to Play Solitaire 121
How to Play 5-Card Draw Poker 122
How to Play Dominoes 123
How to Play Charades 124
Fictionary 125
How to Up Your Scrabble Score 125

the summer table

Drinks and Cocktails 130
The Margarita 132
The Beachside Bar 134
Summer Treats 134
The New England Clambake 136
Digging for Dinner: A Guide to Clamming 138
How to Shuck Clams and Oysters 139
Seafood Sauces 142
How to Have a Traditional
New England Clambake 144
How to Have a Backyard or
Indoor Clambake 145
How to Catch Crabs 146
Baja Fish Tacos 149
Lobster 150
Barbecue 152
How to Light Charcoal 154
Making Perfect Burgers 155
How to Grill the Perfect Steak 158
Corn 159
Enjoying Tomatoes 160
Watermelon 162
Ice Cream 166
Homemade Ice Cream Toppings 168

for kids

Tie-Dyed Fabrics 174
How to Tie-Dye 176
Fireflies 178
Scavenger Hunt 178
How to Use All Those Seashells 180
Car Games 182
Pool Games 184
New-Mown Grass 186
Backyard Fun and Games 186
How to Play Hopscotch 188
How to Whistle on a Blade of Grass 189
How to Skip Stones 189
Jump Rope Games 190
Jump Rope Rhymes 191
Other Things to Make and Do 192
Amusement Parks 194
How to Set Up a Lemonade Stand 197

how to fix or cure just about everything

How to Remove Mold and Mildew 202
Removing Summer Stains 203
Curing What Ails You 206
Basic First-Aid Kit 208
Creature Control 212
How to Repair a Hole in a Window Screen 215
Caring for Wicker Furniture 216
The Road Warrior Survival Kit 217
Two Final Recipes 217

Acknowledgments 218
Index 219
Photo Credits 224

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