2 years ago

Fun and fancy {mostly free!} things to try this summer.

Happy July! Here’s to the rest of the summer: grilling burgers, poolside relaxation, and backyard camping nights.  How dreamy. The only one of those things I’m about, however, is eating the burgers. Pooling it for me at this juncture in my life is an anxiety ridden chore. With a 6 year old and three children under the age of four, and the four year old has autism, and the youngest is an infant, it’s like taking your cats to the pool. No thank you. Garden hose for the Svells. And mama doesn’t camp. That’s what Dads are for.

Big summer plans aside, I put together a list of low-cost, low key things to do especially on rainy days, nights after the children go to bed, and on days when the heat is like walking through hot, ragged, mouth-breathing dragon breath, and not even the dog wants to be out.

1. Visit LEGO Americana Roadshow. 

I have 4 boys.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
Flashback to when Lexington had a manageable collection.

We now have enough LEGOs to build a fifth child –and I’m not heading up that operation, so don’t even think about putting that idea into Lexington’s head because he. will. build. a new brother.
When LEGO Americana Roadshow contacted me to write about their event at the Kenwood Towne Center here in Cincinnati, I was like now that I will do. Why? Because it’s not only the LEGO Store at the Kenwood mall (sweaty adults, grubby kid’s hands everywhere.), but a traveling roadshow which sets up “replicas of iconic buildings and architectural structures” of American landmarks on large scale, throughout the mall.
You know what I’m thinking?
I know you do.
I’m thinking a cup of Auntie Anne’s soft pretzel bites in one hand, a fountain drink in the cup holder of the stroller, 2 of my children contained inside, while the youngest sleeps in a baby sling, and the oldest gawks and gasps because for once, EVERYTHING IS AWESOME at the place Mommy and Daddy like to shop. Makes for a good afternoon inside.
The bingo is that it’s an educational trip because SO LANDMARKS. MUCH AMERICAN.  In fact, I was just looking at the website and noticed a little box for teachers (and you better believe we are teachers too, parents!) and behold, a lesson plan you can download. Summer school? Done.  Since we’re starting homeschool this autumn, I’ll be printing that out for practice.
Guilt-free trip, right there.  And!  It’s free, of course. Happy day.
I’m going.
LEGO Americana Roadshow will be at The Kenwood Towne Centre during July, the 4th through the 19th.   For more info and pictures, HERE is the link to the event.

Stay tuned for my gram pics.  You know I’m good for it. Wink.

To see if LEGO AR is coming to you, click here for their schedule.

2. Make your own guacamole.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger

I was such a H8er for the guac until a few years ago -FINE. last year- and I discovered that’s because I’d never eaten fresh, homemade guacamole. First of all -and I’m aware of how brainless this is going to paint me- I didn’t know what made it green.  It’s smashed avocados! When you’re finished rolling your eyes, look at how simple this recipe is:

  • 2 ripe avocados
  • 2 tablespoons minced white onion
  • 3 tablespoons roughly chopped cilantro
  • 1 lime
  • Coarse sea salt

I think either my mom or my sister Kate shared this recipe with me and it changed my life.

Guac changed my life? If you don’t think it did, talk to me when I was between 3-9 months pregnant with Jude, because that’s all I wanted in life. It’s Gwyneth Paltrow’s recipe, and Rachel Ray’s got it on her website right here. She uses white onion. I use red.

Method: After removing the avocado from its shell, you smash it up in a bowl with a fork, stir in your chopped ingredients, squeeze some lime juice to taste, and sprinkle some salt. 5 minutes, done.

3. Drink this wine.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger


Now that I run my own restaurant, Chez Svellinger, I don’t get to sample wine, umm, at all. So when I buy a new bottle, IT HAD BETTER BE GOOD, or else I cry on the inside about the $10-15 I wasted. Nope, not paying anymore than that. Top dollar these days. Hm. Maybe I should start a blog about wine, because I just realized I want to recommend all the wines paired with all the foods. But I wont. You’re welcome.
So this one: Sofia.
I found her at Target. She called out to me like Tolkien’s ring, and I bought it on a whim because I thought the bottle looked pretty.
It’s a red blend by Francis Coppola, and it’s perfect. Sweet, but not nectar-y. Dryish but not choke-me dry. Good with about anything. Goldfish crackers included. Sofia ‘my gurl.


4. Watch an underrated movie.

Walter Mitty BR

I’m 30. I’ve reached a point in my life where I understand that much of the hype around movies released from Hollywood involves story lines wrought with sex, party crashing, drugs, obnoxious, crude language for the sake of “humor”, rapid fire, non-stop dialogue, action and drama as fast and as overwhelming as possible because viewers get bored too quickly these days. It’s repetitive to a point of insanity.  I’m over it.
But every so often, a movie like The Secret Life of Walter Mitty comes along and gives you hope that Hollywood still might use their superpowers for good. Such an artistic, satisfying, feel-good movie. I hope you like it, too.

5. Learn to weave.

Property of Carolyn Svellinger
Plenty of room for improvement, but actually, a quick project!


How boho-hipster of me.
The itch to try this has been scratching me since the winter, and now that we have our own house to decorate, the itch got bad.

This is a great project to take on with your children. Lexington has been really interested in watching me and even directed the design of this wall hanging. Fine motor skill development.
With tools you’re likely to have laying around the house, you can weave something as small as a coaster, or as large as a blanket.  A Beautiful Mess blog has a DIY tutorial which I followed. Here’s the link.  And here’s a second link.

ABM blog gives a list of materials needed, but honestly, all you need is a loom (which I made out of cardboard) and something to weave.
What I made is a wall-hanging, because it looked easy. Which it was. And now I want to go full scale tapestry. ABM also has a tutorial on making your own pillow/pillow covers and I am all on board that train this summer, especially because our throw pillows are hideous. Look out, house of weave.

I woke up to a sky of gray and lots of rain, so today is a great day for any of the above. Enjoy your Independence Day weekend, America! Hearts and stars.



  1. Guac & chips is all I wanted during pregnancy too. I make mine the lazy way though – avocados + salsa in a jar + regular old table salt. The more labor-intensive version is better, but the substitute still is amazing.

  2. My oldest, age 7, just became the proud owner of numerous Legos courtesy of the generosity of Grandparents!! I always swore we would neverevereverever have them in our home, mainly due to their chokeability hazardness and miraculous ability to respawn themselves all over the house.

    How do you keep a growing Lego collection under control?? I would truly love to know!

    The exhibit is not coming to my town, but I know my boys would really like it too. Thank you for an interesting post.


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