With Tiny Tweaks and Minimal Planning, you can turn Ordinary Activities into Awesome Ones!

  1.  Soak up nature…after dark.   Bring a flashlight—but for emergencies only.  Instead, notice your night vision kick in.  As you stare at a tree, your eyes will adjust and you’ll soon be able to pick out 10 leaves, then 100.  Now look up at the moon.  Walking toward it is how you’ll see best—it acts as a spotlight, illuminating details:  small stones, gnarled roots, branches stretching to the stars.  As you gaze up, find the Big Dipper.  The middle star in the handle?  Look closer:  It’s actually two, side by side.  Finally, as long as you don’t live in bear country, tiptoe with the wind at your face (so wildlife won’t smell you) and you may surprise a deer or a rabbit.
  2. Throw a barbecue with no grill.     A “campfire” cookout, which trades a backyard grill for a firepit, makes an outdoor meal more special.  Roasting precooked bratwurst or hot dogs on a stick is easy, but you can cook just about anything if you use a grate.  The trick is to cook over embers, not roaring flames.  My crew loves pizza, so I prep one in the kitchen, toss it together outside, then place it in a cast-iron skillet over the fire.  Eat your meal on picnic blankets. And for dessert, of course, let everyone make their own s’mores.  Sometimes, for fun, we substitute sandwich cookies for graham crackers.
  3. Revel in cherry season…with a DIY delight.     Friends love my easy recipe for maraschino cherries, which are totally worthy of your ice cream sundae!  Buy a pound of deep red cherries. Remove the pits but leave the stems.  Mix 1 ½ cups of water, a cup of pomegranate juice, a cup of sugar, the juice of three lemons, the peel from an orange, a pinch of salt and a star anise.  Bring to a boil, then lower heat to a simmer, stirring occasionally until the sugar dissolves.  Drop in the cherries and simmer for 10 minutes.  Put a whole mixture in an airtight container in the fridge for three days so the syrup soaks in.  Voila! A sweet treat that lasts about two weeks! 

(from Real Simple, August 2020)