What’s Up: Summer 2021

It’s been a minute since I’ve shared a What’s Up Wednesday post. I put together a round-up of all my summer 2021 faves in case you are on the hunt for a new book, bathing suit or beach bag before you head off on one last summer vacay.

Did you know that the official halfway point of summer is August 7th? My kiddos go back to school on August 10th and I find myself simultaneously feeling like summer has only just begun and that it has flown by in the blink of an eye. I have full intention of squeezing every little bit of summer fun out of the time we have left.

What I’ve been up to…

I’ve been working my way through the bucket list above. Here are some of the highlights from my summer so far..

I wouldn’t describe myself as being a naturally adventurous person, but over the past 5 years I’ve tried to be much more intentional about taking advantage when new opportunities present themselves. I remind myself the benefits are likely to greatly outweigh the negatives and what’s the worst that can happen? Summer is a season ripe for stepping out of my comfort zone and saying YES. This summer I was finally able to successfully wakeboard and take on some of the big coasters at Discovery Kingdom. One of the best rewards is receiving my kids’ kudos.

I usually take on the role of activity planner in our household. It was such a treat when my husband took over the task of finding a new hiking trail to explore this summer. The Stateline Fire Lookout Hike near Incline Village in Lake Tahoe is an awesome choice for hikers of all ages and abilities. It includes non-stop gorgeous views of the lake, a paved walking path, restrooms and interesting factoids about Lake Tahoe at regular intervals. The up and back keyhole loop is just under 2 miles.

The kids and I have a little more time on our hands during the summer and it is important to me that we use some of it to volunteer in our community. My daughter and I have a lot of opportunities to volunteer through our National Charity League membership, but I wanted to find an activity that my son could do with us as well. White Pony Express in Pleasant Hill offered us the opportunity to all work together in the food distribution warehouse after attending a training session. If you are interested in signing up to volunteer at White Pony Express click HERE. There are shifts available twice daily almost every day of the week.

What I’m Eating and Drinking…

We had the opportunity to try MakiAli in Truckee this summer. A friend had raved that it was included in his top 3 sushi spots to visit. My husband and son are the sushi lovers. I opted for chicken teriyaki instead. We all agreed that our food was delicious and the staff was beyond helpful and kind. They are currently only open for takeout. We won’t hesitate to return in the future.

My favorite seasonal latte last year was the honey lavender latte at Peet’s. I was bummed when they didn’t bring it back again this year. A friend told me that Truckee’s newest coffee spot, Drink Coffee Do Stuff, had something similar on their menu called the Purple Haze Latte. I ordered this yummy concoction of lavender, vanilla syrup, espresso and milk at the first opportunity to present itself. The Purple Haze didn’t disappoint and I’ve already been back for more.

I’ve added Drink Coffee Do Stuff and MakiAli to my list of Favorite places to Eat in Tahoe in case you are vacationing in Tahoe and need a reference list of great spots you grab a bite to eat.

What I’m Looking Forward To…

Next up will be tackling the length on Donner Lake on my SUP. I’ve made it about ¾ of the way in past year’s before turning back. This goal has been a long time coming and I can’t wait to cross it off my bucket list.

What I’m Wearing…

Summer and swimsuits go hand in hand. I wanted to share this line of swimsuits just in case you are still on the hunt. I bought one of their reversible styles last summer. The fact that this suit provides two different looks and guarantees me more packing space justified the higher price tag. The quality, fit and style of the suit were so good that I purchased this second style before our spring break trip to Maui. I was so impressed with how supported I felt in the bikini top and how flattering it was at the same time. I would recommend sizing down. My other go-to suit this summer has been this budget friendly option. A handful of my friends all own the same suit and we swear that it is the unicorn of bathing suits because it fits and flatters every shape and size. I found this suit to fit true to size.

This tote has become my most used summer accessory since buying it last summer. It still looks as great as the day I bought it. The handmade, multi colored design compliments all my swim suits and the high quality, recycled plastic is easy to wipe down and shake free of sand. It even packs easily in my suitcase. I picked mine up at this local boutique and it is also available here. You can also order it online from both spots.

There are so many more opportunities to dress up this summer and I am taking full advantage! This skirt was my favorite and most impulsive buy this year. I fell in love with the colorful print immediately and could not resist bringing it home with me. So far this summer I’ve worn it to my son’s middle school promotion, several dinners out and a day of sightseeing. There are so many colors that I can wear with it, that I’ve yet to wear it the same way twice. It just went on sale and I couldn’t keep this find to myself. I would recommend sizing down at least one size.

What I’m Loving…

I am so grateful that we purchased a Peloton this past year. It took me a little while to find my groove, figure out how to best stay motivated and find instructors I love, but now I’m completely hooked. The membership has been especially handy during the summer months when we are out of town frequently. I alternate between guided outdoor runs, cardio and core strength classes streamed through my phone when hopping on my bike at home isn’t an option.

My top 5 Peloton recommendations are:
  1. Jess Sims Bike Bootcamp classes
  2. Crush Your Core with Emma program
  3. Groove Rides with Emma Lovewell or Cody Rigsby
  4. The Broadway Series rides
  5. Interval & Arms rides with Bradley Rose and Sam Yo

I’m loving this combination air purifier and fan almost as much as my Peloton. It has been a lifesaver while working out during the hot summer heat. We had already been discussing purchasing an air purifier for our home after the terrible fires California has suffered these past few years. This is the only brand I could find on the market that both cools and purifies. We were able to snag this model for a good price thanks to a manufacturer discount that is available through the end of August.

What I’ve been reading…

Summer is the time of year I am usually able to dedicate the most time to reading. This summer is no exception. So far the books that have made the biggest impressions are Beneath a Scarlett Sky and The Four Winds.

Beneath a Scarlett Sky is based on the true story of Pino Lella, and young Italian man whose real life adventures go beyond anything fiction could have imagined. I loved the epilogue almost as much as the story itself because Pino Lella continued to live a life that defied fiction once the war was over. This is a man that was up close and personal with some of history’s most fascinating moments and people.

As a fan of Kristin Hannah’s The Great Alone and The Nightingale, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on her newest novel. Some of the best books have the ability to provide knowledge about a little known subject using a story as its vehicle. While reading The Four Winds I quickly realized I know almost nothing about the Great Depression. So much about that time period is still relevant today. One of the things that struck me most is that our country was able to tackle an environmental catastrophe by changing our agricultural practices and make a true difference. It gave me hope in our battle against global warming now.

Tip: Encourage your kids to read during the summer by picking up your own book and announcing a late afternoon reading break. It gives everyone a little time to recharge.

What I’ve been listening to…

The top 5 songs I’ve listened to non-stop this summer are:

  • Happy Ending Mika
  • Classic Cam
  • Paper Rings Taylor Swift
  • Drive Through Mackenzie Porter
  • Tambourine Eve

Two of my favorite podcasts this summer have been Shattered Glass with Oprah Winfrey and Smartless with Ryan Reynolds.

What I’ve been watching…

Season 3 of Virgin River and Hometown Takeover on HGTV. I also got a kick out of watching The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills travel to Tahoe. Their cabin attire and mine are extremely different.

I hope you are having an awesome summer with a little adventure and a lot of relaxation involved. Fill me in on what you’ve been up to lately. I always love getting your recommendations!


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  1. Katy McDermott

    July 25, 2021 at 5:26 am

    Two podcasts I have been listening to: “citizen chef with Tom Colicchio “and “splendid table”, both talk about food topics. Love your blog posts!

    1. M. Parker

      July 27, 2021 at 5:02 pm

      I appreciate the recommendations!!! Tom Colicchio’s restaurant Craftsteak is one of my all time favorites. I can’t wait to listen to his podcast. Thank you so much for following along 😘

  2. Andria Dickson

    July 24, 2021 at 3:16 pm

    I love reading your posts, Melissa! You always give ‘a little bit of everything’ no matter the topic in your posts! I have heard about the Cupshe bathing suits and am going to have to give them a whirl. Are they TTS?
    For the volunteering, did you have the training and get to volunteer in the same day?
    I am going to try out that hike next time we are in T-hoe.

    Thanks Parker posts!

    1. M. Parker

      July 27, 2021 at 5:00 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! I found the Cupshe to be TTS. I ordered according to the measurements on their size chart and it fit perfectly. I tend to size up when ordering swimsuits and was pleasantly surprised to find the size chart to be accurate. If you are between sizes I would recommend sizing down.
      Regarding volunteering at White Pony the orientation can be done in person or over Zoom. If you choose to do the in person orientation, you may have an opportunity to volunteer if they are not staffed to capacity.
      I think you will really enjoy the views from the Fire Lookout Hike!

  3. Amber Hamblin

    July 21, 2021 at 8:40 am

    Quick Question… What’s the best way to pack straw hats for trips? Specifically, airplane travel?

    1. M. Parker

      July 21, 2021 at 9:40 am

      Great question! My husband recently asked me this when he was struggling whether or not he should pack his woven lifeguard hat for our trip to Maui.
      This method has worked for me every time and my hats have arrived at our destinations dent and damage free.
      1. Place the hat upside down, inside your suitcase before packing any other items.
      2. Roll of stack clothes around the perimeter of the hat until they touch the brim.
      3. Stack smaller hats inside your largest hat, then fill the remainder of the hat interior with small items such as bathing suits, socks, underwear, etc…
      4. If you still have more items to pack you can flat lay them on top of the hat at this point because your hat is supported on all sides and won’t collapse.

      Thanks for the blog post idea! I’ll take photos of my process and post a step-by-step tutorial on the blog soon. 🙂

  4. Sherrill Dalto

    July 21, 2021 at 6:49 am

    What a treat – Love reading your What’s up Wednesday posts! 😊

    1. M. Parker

      July 21, 2021 at 9:41 am

      Thank you 😊

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