Summer and watermelon go together like pumpkins and autumn. Watermelon is one of my favorite summer treats. The kids usually flock around me when I start to chop one up.
This year, I grew watermelon for the first time. We got a bunch of cute little watermelons that tasted amazing. There really is nothing better than food grown at home.
Watermelon is harder to photograph than I thought it would be. I’ve always struggled to photograph the color red. I’ve attempted to tackle it with roses but even then, they’re not exactly to my liking.
That’s the kind of challenge that I don’t give up on. I actually did this photoshoot 3 times. The first two were not to my liking. My last, I can finally say that I have an image I’m proud of.
Although spring has had a late start this year, these last few weeks have really warmed up! It’s almost hard to believe that a few weeks ago, we had a huge blizzard! If you are anything like us, you are probably itching to get outside and enjoy the warm, fresh air!
Last year we had so much fun doing a 5-week workout challenge! Every week we made it a goal to move our bodies. I don’t know about you, but I am not a big fan of a traditional work out session. I have a hard time getting motivated to stare at a TV and watch other people work out. Or worse, go somewhere public to work out with strangers.
Hiking is my favorite way to get exercise. Being outside, in nature, makes me happy. Getting a change of scenery, enjoying a new adventure, exploring a new location, what’s not to love?!
When doing research for local parks online, I found so many! I felt like the ones I had seen were just a drop in the bucket. I wanted to see them all! Is it crazy and over-ambitious that I’m not exaggerating?!
We had only scratched the surface last year. I knew, without a doubt, that our adventures would continue. Should I do another workout challenge?! I don’t know. It did motivate me last year. Honestly, many days I felt like sitting on the couch and being lazy in the air conditioning. Knowing I had made a commitment kept me going.
Maybe this year is time for a new challenge. There are so many options! I might have to try one or all of these.
7 Summer Challenge Ideas
Get Outside Every Day Challenge-For 3 months… for a year?!
How many parks can we hit in the summer? 30? 40? 60?!
Around Minnesota in 80 Days
Exercise Every Day for a Month
30/60/90 Day Planking Challenge
100 Days of Gardening
Get Outside Every Day Challenge/ 100 Days of Sun
People Are spending more time inside than ever before in history. With the air inside polluted and stale, getting outside is vitally important to our health. AT LEAST an hour outside every day is the recommended amount for every age.
Visiting Parks is one of the most fun things to do in the summer. Parks are full of activities for every age. The whole family can go for a hike. The kids can play at the playground while the adults relax and chat. Biking, swimming, sightseeing, bird watching, there are so many options!
Although the title is just an idea, you can set your goal for as many or as little parks as you think you will visit. Obviously, you will change Minnesota to your own local area.
Around Minnesota in 80 Days
This title leaves the window open for future fun expeditions. If you don’t have an exact plan of what you want to do, but you know you want to start a challenge, this might be a good starting point.
I might make a fun list soon about traveling ideas within a region. To get you started with a few ideas, you could visit local parks, check out small historic towns, visit a museum, check out a historic site, go to a zoo, smell the flowers at a conservatory, and so much more!
Exercise Every Day for a Month!
I don’t know about you, but I have a hard time getting motivated to exercise. Making it a goal is a great way to keep on track and get your body moving. Last year we did a 5 Week Workout Challenge. It was a lot of fun!
Working out doesn’t have to be just exercise videos or hitting up the Y. Exercise can be so many different things! You could go hiking, ride a bike, go kayaking, go swimming or even try rock climbing!
There are so many options with this one! Art is near and dear to my heart. My Grandfather was an artist. He inspired me to be a creative person. I’m working hard to instill a love of being creative in my children. This would be the perfect project for us all to enjoy together.
If you didn’t have an artsy Grandpa, here are a couple of ideas to get you going! I’ll make a more extensive list in the future too. Paint on canvas, visit an art museum, draw with chalk, paint rocks, make a birdhouse, do a photography project, color with crayons and so much more!
30/60/90 Day Planking Challenge
Last year, during our 5 Week Workout Challenge, we tried planking for two of the days. Planking is HARD! It was so much harder than I thought it would be. It’s such a great way to build muscle FAST though! I’d love to try a 30-day plank challenge to see how long I would last at the end of the 30 days.
I think it would be fun to plank in different places every day for different visual content. The kids would probably love that too!
100 Days of Gardening
I started my first vegetable garden last year. This year we have been expanding, growing new things and learning more and more about gardening. Doing a 100 days of gardening challenge would be a perfect way to learn about gardening faster and get a lot of fresh food!
I would love to know how you are going to challenge yourself this summer! Let me know in the comments!
The spring trees challenge was a lot of fun to photograph. After choosing to photograph the same spot of trees for the winter, spring, summer and autumn challenge, I already knew where one of my locations was. As my main image for the challenge, I’m choosing some beautiful crab apple blossoms.
I’m always amazed at how fast the trees turn green. In what feels like a few days, the trees go from bare branches to tops full of leaves. Catching that moment when the trees are softly budding with baby leaves is a race against time. As soon as the surrounding hills took on a soft subtle green, I knew it was time to head out and start shooting.
All of the kids came with for this challenge. It was a lovely, warm Sunday, with a scattered sprinkling of rain showers throughout the day. After our meeting at the Kingdom Hall, we stopped by home to pick up our cameras. We took the scenic route to the park and enjoyed the lovely views of our changing world.
Mr. Awesome and Cupcake chose to wait in the car, but Princess hopped out with Cat and me. Princess is my little shadow, she follows me everywhere.
Cat’s Spring Trees
The following Sunday was a clear, warm, sunny day. We met some friends at the park for a walk. In just one week you could really see the difference in the trees. In the picture of the children below, the kids are walking toward the back of the trees from the previous week.
On our walk, we saw a kayaker in the river. We went down to our favorite spot where the children were able to wade and splash in the water. It was a beautiful, spring day.
I knew exactly what I wanted to do for the light photography project. I have seen beautiful images that others have taken of sparklers and I wanted to create an image of my own.
Ever since I was a little child, I have loved the glittery glow that sparklers give off. I can remember my parents giving me sparklers and the joy I had running around, waving them in trailing arcs, trying to make an M for Melissa or making stars or circles. I can remember being burned by the hot end and learning quickly to be careful, even after the light had gone out.
Cupcake, Mr. Awesome, and Princess joined me outside for this project. I lit sparklers for them as I snapped away at my own. After I was satisfied with my work, I continued to light them for the children and enjoyed watching them run happily around the yard. Even after being warned, poor Princess learned the hard way, just as I had, to be careful of the hot end after the light went out.
After all of the sparklers had been spent, we gathered up our mess and went in for bedtime. Hopefully, the children had smiles on their faces as they drifted off to sleep, imagining glowing sparkles and running through the warm summer air. I sat happily at my computer, editing my images and feeling content. I love that two dollars can easily buy a night of joy for our family.
I have always joked about having a brown thumb instead of a green one. I have good intentions with plants, but I usually kill most of them. My problem was that I watered them too much. For me, caring for a plant equaled watering it. I literally loved them to death.
I did manage to keep hardy plants alive, to my great joy. My brother got me a Philodendron as a gift when I was 13. It’s the only plant that has survived this long.
My parents were great gardeners. As a child, they had a huge garden in our yard. I can remember working with them to weed, pick off pests, gather ripe plants and care for my own little garden plot. And occasionally, they had me get to lawn care and landscaping near me to make the garden more aesthetic-appealing. My favorites were the raspberries bordering 2 sides of the garage and the strawberries.
When I was given my own little corner plot, I planted Shasta daisies, echinacea, and zinnia among a few other flowers. I loved flowers and the butterflies that they drew to our yard. My Mother had flower gardens in raised planters that my Father built all over our property.
After my own children were born, I gave plants a renewed interest. I tried a few easy house plants, a few palms, some morning glories outside during the warm months, hanging petunias or impatiens. I tried peppers many times but they rarely produced peppers and if they did, were never large enough to eat. I’ve overloved and killed many orchids over the years.
With the addition of extreme allergies to my life, I’ve had to learn to grow my own food. Organic food from health food stores is usually incredibly expensive and is not always guaranteed to be corn free. The safest option is home grown because I control all of the factors of what my food is exposed to.
When I first moved to this house, my Mom helped me plant a small outdoor garden. The weeds overtook it to my great frustration. Creeping Charlie choked out most of my plants. I did get some tomatoes and small ears of corn (ironic, right? This was pre-corn allergy.). After that, I gave up planting in the ground. Nate built me a planter around the mulberry tree in the backyard, which I grew flowers and hostas in, for an easy to maintain, decorative garden.
Inside, I grew potted plants. I tried basil by the sink but I ended up overwatering it. My next sink plant was rosemary, which, as it turns out, LOVES being overwatered. In fact, if I don’t water it often, it starts to die. I also grow potted plants on my porch and bring them inside over winter. My theory was, if they die, that’s ok because they would have died if I had left them outside to die by frost. If they live, I have another plant to enjoy.
This last year, my gardening skills have grown, as has the number of plants in and out. I have several plants that live inside year round, Outside, on my porch, my number of potted plants has grown. After installing a critter fence, it was clear that the plants where staying healthier and growing faster. Those pesky critters can really make a dent in most plants. Those interested in the specific fence used, I found it here. I renewed my attempt for ground grown plants. I planted several things around the porch outside and started a new side garden. I’ve also planted raspberries and blueberries along the fence.
I am not an expert gardener. I have, however, turned my brown thumb into a green one with persistence and determination. I’ve never given up. If my plants die, I try again. I do more research. The best way I’ve learned is by experience and trial and error.
I recommend everyone give gardening a try. It is so rewarding. When I eat food from my own garden, I have a great pride and satisfaction that I have never gotten from bought food.
If you are afraid of killing plants, don’t let that deter you! Keep trying! Start with potted plants. Try something easy to maintain, like impatiens, petunias, philodendrons, or palms like I did. Otherwise, try checking out the end of the year plant sales that most greenhouses have. You can usually get plants cheap or for free. Use the mindset that if it dies, at least you tried. Research what you can do differently next time.
Do you care for any plants? What do you grow? Have you also overcome a brown thumb or has gardening come naturally to you?