Favorite Summer Brands

It finally feels like summer. Sunny skies (mostly) and warm nights with gentle breezes.

It’s time to celebrate the brands that make summer…well feel like summer.

Here are a few of my favorites:

1. Beer. I’m not a big beer drinker most of the year. But there is something about hot summer nights and some of my favorite summer foods (e.g. lobster, cheeseburgers, fried Ipswich clams) which down right begs to be accompanied by a cold one.

My favorite is Sam Adam’s Summer Ale. Here’s a list of some other recommended summer beers that I came across.

This list could use a bit of updating…so feel free to recommend.

If you are looking for a non-alcoholic summer beverage- nothing beats an Arnold Palmer (1/2 lemonade, ½ ice tea).

2. Mr. Softee Trucks ice cream. There’s something downright Pavlovian about hearing that distinctive music. It makes all kids ages 2- 82 come running. Since 1956 Mr. Softee has been serving up summer one scoop at a time .

3. Bug Spray. If there are mosquitoes lurking about, they will find me. Often I am that one person in a crowd besieged by bites, while everyone else enjoys their time out doors oblivious to the min-menaces. Growing up I hated bug spray particularly the smell of it. But I find the folks at Off Family Care have made some advances. I particularly like the smell and feel of Tropical Fresh Off and my brother swears by the Off Towelettes.

4. Water Parks. When it’s hot, there’s nothing better than a water park to combine some thrills with cooling spray. Two I really like are Six Flags Great Adventure New England in Agawam Mass (actually pretty clean and manageable for a big park) and Splash Down Beach in Fishkill NY (small and particularly good for young kids). My only warning about Six Flags, you will not be able to get that Venga Boys song out of your mind (“We like to party…).

5. A Great Summer Read. What’s summer without a great book to read on the beach or curl up with at night in the hammock under a summer sky? Here’s a few of my recent faves:

An American Wife by Curtis Sittenfeld

Unaccustomed Earth by Jhumpa Lahiri

Mary (Mrs. A Lincoln) by Janis Cooke Newman

Olive Kitteridgeby Elizabeth Strout

One summer experience I miss is the Drive In Movie.

I used to love to pile in the station wagon with my family and go to the movies. The sound was usually horrible, and we almost always fell asleep before the end.

But it felt so exotic to be doing something so familiar as watching a movie somewhere unexpected, like the great outdoors.

I’m lucky in that my town in Westchester shows movies outdoors a few times in the summer. Last week, I got to watch Madagascar 2 with my 8 year old on a beautiful summer night.

A friend of mine in Louisville has created her own neighborhood outdoor movie tradition with a laptop, a projector and lots of happy kids.

Summer is a unique time to slow down and take advantage of these seasonal treats. Don’t let it pass you by. It will be back to school and September before we know it.

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?

What brands and experiences define summer for you?

5 Favorite French Brands

In honor of Bastille Day and the French, here’s my take on some favorite French brands.

1. Lacoste

Last week’s Wimbledon men’s final really brought this home to me. There’s Federer all superhuman in his gold Nike gear looking every inch the Tennis God/Machine and there was Andy Roddick in his subdued Lacoste wear embodying the grace and sportsmanship of tennis. He seemed more human, more likable and more about the actual game. Lacoste has had it’s moments of popularity and then some less, but it seems to endure and continue to represent the quiet confidence and love of the game of it’s original namesake, Rene Lacoste.

2. Veuve Clicquot

I have to admit I am partial to champagne in general. But Veuve Clicquot in particular I admire both for it’s delicious bubbly, but also for the way it manages to continue to surprise and delight with it’s iconic orange and beautiful (and often useful) packaging.

3. Pylones

This might seem like a strange choice. A lot of people don’t know that this brand of whimsical household items and kitchen gadgets is actually French. But it is. Pylones (pronounced pee-lone) was founded in France in 1985 by Alan Ceppos and Frédéric Rambaud. What I love about this brand is that it is so whimsical, colorful, and light-hearted (not qualities always associated with the French- with apologies to my French husband and friends). But it literally draws you in the store, and even just passing by the windows in Grand Central every morning makes me smile.

4. YSL

This brand was founded in 1961 but still manages to feel fresh, contemporary and crave worthy. In recent years it’s begun to take itself slightly less seriously with the introduction of more color and whimsy in some of it’s famous patterns. I love what it represents. Timeless, but always contemporary and crave-worthy style.

5. Victor Hugo

A controversial figure but undoubtedly a literary master and a self-described “Free Thinker”. He actually spend much of his life in exile from Paris but was a quintessential French intellectual and writer. Les Miserables (albeit in it’s more digestible Broadway incarnation) remains one of the stories that has touched me the most deeply with it’s themes of love and sacrifice.

Vive La France (and the French brands).

That’s my point of view. What’s your twist?
What French brands are you celebrating this Bastille Day?