These Dear Things: Six Things I Can’t Live Without This Summer

When I fall in love with something, I tend to fall hard. I fear the people I spend the most time with (ahem, my husband) are growing tired of hearing me talk about how much I love this new precious thing that has totally changed my life (for example: my new underwear, I swear they are truly miraculous).

It’s not just my new magical underwear. Last week while ordering a drink at a karaoke bar I screamed over Pat Benatar’s “Hit Me with Your Best Shot” to a complete stranger, “Have you ever seen Nanette?”. So, in the interest of preserving my marriage and saving total strangers from being assaulted with my telling them about all the things I hold dear, I’m going to share a few of the things I’ve fallen in love with this summer with you. There are many more things I’m crushing on deeply (hello Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel Seasoning and this nectar of the gods, several books for creatives which we’ll share next month and this jumpsuit which lives up to its name) but I’m in the honeymoon phase with the six things below.

P.S. – I’d love hear about your summer loves in the comments.

P.P.S. – If you want to join us for four life-changing days or DIY craft workshops and business classes at the beach in California, save the date because registration for our Craftcation: Business & Makers Conference opens on October 5, 2019.

These Dear Things Six Things I Can't Live Without This Summer from Dear Handmade Life


“I don’t have words for how good it is. You will be moved. I was floored by it. I’ve never seen anything like it.” That is the text my friend Helen sent me about the Netflix comedy special Nanette. Although I’m immediately turned off by the comedy special genre (I dated a comedian in my early 30s and feel like I put in my time hearing all the self deprecating confessionals) with a glowing recommendation like that, I had to give it a try. After all, Helen is the person who forced me to keep trying to watch Friday Night Lights (“It’s really not about football,” she kept saying) until I finally made it past the first episode on my fifth try and became utterly addicted. (Clear eyes, full hearts, can’t lose.) I don’t want to give too much away about Nanette but suffice to say that Helen was right. I was moved. I was floored. I’ve never seen anything like it. Watching and listening to Hannah Gadsby share about creativity, mental illness, self medication, gender, abuse, humanity, art history, self deprecation, resiliency, diversity, family, expectations and so much more, I couldn’t help but think about how hard it is to truly know yourself, then to utterly be yourself and then to unabashedly share yourself with the world. Not a day has gone by that I haven’t thought about something that Hannah said. Nanette is transformative.

“Laughter is not the medicine. Stories hold our cure. Laughter is just the honey that sweetens the bitter medicine.” -Hannah Gadsby


My house is just over 850 square feet which means we utilize every bit of space we have. So, when I started my hunt for my first couch that wasn’t either found on the street, at a thrift store or in the as-is section of Ikea, I knew that aside from a modern look, it had to fold out into a bed. I fell in love with Joybird and scrimped and saved for my Hughes Sleeper Sofa and waited for a sale. Although I’ve been thoroughly enjoying binge-watching Parks and Recreation on it for a few months, last week when my brother and niece visited was the first time we transformed it and tested out the bed. It is hands-down the most comfortable sleeper sofa I’ve ever slept on and I’ve slept on my fair share. In fact, my brother tried to trade me to sleep on it instead of our guest bed after he gave it a test drive. Aside from the unprecedented comfiness, the order process was simple and they even send swatches of every possible fabric so you can get to know the texture and actual color before you order.


I have spent an embarrassing amount of time trying to slyly edge my underwear back into position after they inevitably ride up. As a middle-aged lady who has been wearing and buying underwear for four decades, I feel pretty confident saying that I have tried pretty much every brand that claims to stay in place and have never found any underwear that actually live up to that claim… UNTIL I picked up a pair of Thunderpants at Renegade Craft Fair in San Francisco last weekend. Not only do Thunderpants stay in place but they are soft, comfortable, don’t cut into my plus-size thighs and I love the prints. After day one of wearing these miracle underwear I immediately purchased a pair for every day of the week.


In preparation for a 10 hour car trip with my 12 year old niece, I scoured the internet for podcast recommendations only to have all of them be dismissed by my niece who had some reason why each and every one was “stupid” (her word of choice for anything and everything she wasn’t into). Finally, exasperated, I suggested a podcast a friend recommended to me called By the Book. “It’s about two women who read a self-help book, try to do what the book says and then report on their experience,” I told my niece. “Okay,” she responded. I wanted to ask her if she knew what self-help meant but I didn’t want to push it and have her change her mind and call it stupid. We blazed through the treeless landscape of California’s 5 freeway with the A/C on full blast and laughed our way through three episodes as hosts Jolenta Greenberg and Kristen Meinzer cleaned their way through The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up, scoffed at the bad writing and confirmed a distaste for early rising in The Miracle Morning and said badass more times than I think my niece has ever heard it when they reviewed You Are a Badass.

“My favorite part is the husbands,” my niece said. I enjoyed hearing the husbands who were forced to “improve” (not every book made things better) their lives right alongside their wives share their anger at not being able to have ANYTHING out on any counter in their whole house during the two life-changing weeks of tidiness. But, my favorite part was feeling a little less alone knowing that I wasn’t the only one who held the concurrent ideals that self-help could actually improve your life but believing that one book could change your life was bananas.

P.S. – I still can’t get their catchy theme song out of my head.


This peach tomato basil and burrata salad has been the official salad of summer three years in a row at my house. It replaced this salad which held the title from 2013-2015. The hardest thing about this salad is waiting until late-July when the tomatoes and peaches are truly ripe. Every year I jump the gun and make the salad during the first June heatwave and am disappointed. Right now is the perfect time for this sweet, savory, herbaceous and tart salad that’s my go-to for every summer party.


I spent a summer nine or so years ago in that elusive honeymoon phase of a new relationship where every errand somehow felt like poetry and every touch made me forget that I had to do things like pay the electric bill or fold kitchen towels. That was the first summer that I had a song of the summer and I’ve had one every year since. This summer it’s Spirit in the Night by Bruce Springsteen. This song somehow has the power to make me feel both nostalgic and present at the same time which is what I think every good summer song should do.

Whether you know this song or not, please do not click here and listen to this song now. Instead add it to your playlist and wait until you’re driving either:

  1. Down a road lined with more trees than buildings and the windows are down, preferably after spending the day in some body of water. If it was the beach, be sure to close your eyes and deeply inhale your skin as you listen.
  2. Anywhere on a warm summer night (also with the windows down). Make it a point to peek through the windshield or out the window and look up at the stars. Bonus points for sticking your arm out the window and moving your hand up and down as if it’s doing the worm so you can feel the wind rush over your skin.

-Nicole S.

Image Credits/links: Nanette, peach tomato basil and burrata salad, Joybird Hughes Sleeper SofaThunderpantsBy the Book and Bruce Springsteen

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