16 great summertime movies

The arrival of summer makes me want to do certain things. Such as wear crisp black and white, or my raggedy denim cutoffs. Listen to Niki & The Dove and Bananarama. Eat BLTs, watermelon, cheeseburgers and things with pesto. Drink red sangria. And watch the movies I consider summertime classics.

In making this list, I noticed some common themes. They often include the presence of Richard Dreyfuss, a Kenny Loggins song, Sam Neill or Laura Dern or both, people looking appropriately flushed or damp, an anxiety-ridden scene around a middle-class kitchen table, and a great soundtrack.

Here are my favorites:


You can usually find Jaws playing on some random cable channel. I like the first half of the movie best: all the beach scenes with Roy running around blowing his whistle and pissing off the mayor, and the kitchen table scenes with him looking all swarthy and worried. You just know they don’t have air conditioning.


I’ve really warmed up to this one over the years. Now, it doesn’t feel like a proper summer unless I watch it at least once.


Baby’s jean cutoffs and Keds. The soundtrack. The dancing. I carried a watermelon. The parents who just don’t understand. Come ON!


It just FEELS like summer in this movie, even though the kids are obviously in school. Running away will never make it right. But anything worth my love is worth a fight. I’m free!


Creepy hijinks on a sun-dappled sea. Foreboding music. Nicole Kidman running around with flushed cheeks. Billy Zane playing a salty dog lunatic. Sam Neill barely saying a word. I’ve never stopped loving you, Dead Calm.


Again, we have Richard Dreyfuss playing a dry-humored, know-better hero. I prefer the first half of this movie, when it’s all beige and humid and 70s-ish. And Teri Garr!


The family goes to movies. They go for ice cream. They go boating. Reminds me of my childhood (except for the scary Robert DeNiro parts).


My favorite scenes are of the caddies just hanging out as part of their summer job. “Then you don’t get no Coke.”


I remember seeing this in the theater and being so blown away. Haven’t seen in years (it’s rarely on TV). Seems to perpetually take place in summer — either idyllic balmy small-town summer or a hazy wartime oven.


Compared to most others on this list, Ruby in Paradise is small and quiet and I’ve only seen it once or twice. A Sundance Film Festival winner and one of Ashley Judd’s first films. Her breakout role maybe. She’s a self-possessed but lost soul who gets random jobs in beach junk stores and tries to figure out her life.


I consider this a late summer movie, when you’re starting to crave fall and spookiness. A cross-over pick, meaning it’s also on my list of favorite Halloween movies. If it’s on, I’m watching it.


Another small movie that for whatever reason resonated with me. Diane Lane is a repressed housewife in the 1960s who falls for cool alternative hippie Viggo in — you guessed — the summertime. Great soundtrack!




I won’t insult you.


I rediscovered the fun of Jurassic Park last summer when my kids got into it in preparation for the Chris Pratt dino-buster (which we also dug).


Cornfields. Baseball. Aliens. A foreboding family dinner around a sad looking kitchen table where everyone is on edge while eating fried chicken and mashed potatoes. Signs has all the elements! I have a soft spot for M. Night.

*I would also include Point Break, T2: Judgement Day, Field of Dreams and Top Gun on this list except that I pretty much watch those year-round.

And you know which summer-esque movie I’m craving? Sleeping with the Enemy. Bring it on, DirectTV! Maybe it will make next year’s list.






Butter chicken 


This is called “Easy Butter Chicken” on Simply Scratch’s blog, and it IS pretty easy. This morning, I chopped up a bunch of boneless chicken thighs, tossed the 1-inch chunks with full-fat Greek yogurt and some fresh lemon juice and threw it in the fridge to marinate for the day. When I got home, the whole mess goes in the pot with sautéed fresh ginger, minced garlic, a bunch of spices (most notably garam masala and cayenne), tomato puree and a can of coconut milk. Store-bought naan warmed in the toaster and dinner is served!

Recipe here.

Happy Mother’s Day

My mom is a baby whisperer. She did day care in her home through most of her 30s and has always had a way with kids.

She has certainly always been able to make my kids laugh. They are drawn to her and couldn’t adore her more. I’m so fortunate to have her in my life, to help me learn the ropes of motherhood and give me advice as my babies grow up.

Mom, you were mom and dad for many years. Thanks for giving us a beautiful childhood and for showing me how to be a loving parent.

Happy Mother’s Day!

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Before and After: Wood floors

I thought it would never happen.

But it did!

Eight years after moving in, we finally got wood floors on the main floor.

Earlier this year, as we were looking at ways to spruce up the living room and kitchen, it felt like anything we did would be like putting lipstick on a pig if we didn’t touch the floors. So we did the floors.

To say they knew me in the flooring store is an understatement. But it’s a big decision and if you end up with something you don’t like, you’re kind of stuck with it.

Thank goodness, we like them. A lot.

Here’s the reveal!




The wood has to acclimate in your house (not in your garage or basement) for at least a week.




I wanted mixed-width, a matte finish, lots of variation in the color, and lots of imperfections. I’m really happy with it, and with the job the contractor did.

Next, I’d love to paint the kitchen island and cupboards, change the countertops, install a gas range and double ovens, paint the house exterior, replace the tile in the laundry room, do a nice patio in the backyard, finish the basement, do the master bath, repaint all the walls in the house, especially the kids’ rooms and bathrooms, repaint the half-bath downstairs… and oh yeah, replace the hideous standard-issue chandelier in the foyer.

See what HGTV is doing to us as a people??


Anniversary road trip!

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Barrak and I took a little road trip to the northern Georgia/North Carolina area for our 10th wedding anniversary. We stayed in a super-cool modern glass-walled house in the woods (our first experience with airbnb), drove into Asheville twice for some awesome Spanish tapas at Curate, fried chicken and biscuits at Tupelo Honey and craft beer at Burial, toured the Biltmore, got presents for the kids (and my mom for watching them), walked behind waterfalls, ran/hiked to the top of Raybun Gap where we were literally in the clouds, got carsick on the winding roads heading up to Highlands, NC (that selfie was right after our run back down the mountain and about 20 minutes before I dry-heaved on the side of the road), had the best eggplant parmesan of my life at a tiny shack halfway up a mountain in the middle of nowhere called Bella’s Junction Cafe (think Merlotte’s of True Blood fame), and listened to a lot of Prince. Happy anniversary honey.