12 Editor Picks for This Summer
Our writers and editors share their top picks for home, garden, life, travel, and food. Check out new outdoor kitchenware, a hybrid that blooms from spring to first frost, an Indiana artist's new book and condiments for Wisconsin-styled wursts.
Home + Garden
1. OUTDOOR LIVING: EXTRA CHILL SUMMER Put your mayo anxiety to rest. Hydro Flask's new outdoor kitchen line includes insulated, powder-coated, stainless-steel bowls and lids in three sizes (from $25) that work like your favorite water bottle to keep salads cool and serve-ready, even on steamy days. For a splurge, get the full bundle: a tumbler, plate, flatware, three bowls and two serving spoons in a tote ($288). hydroflask.com
Hydro Flask outdoor kitchenware comes in three earthy-cool colors, including pineapple.
2. SUNNY DAYS AHEAD For those times in your life (er, garden) when you don't want a 10-foot sunflower, consider SunBelievable Brown Eyed Girl Helianthus, a new heat-tolerant hybrid that blooms continuously from spring to first frost—and has a compact, shrubby growing habit that's perfect for a patio container. From $27. monrovia.com
3. ALL THE COLOR I can't stop scrolling around Viva La Vida Imports, a Detroit biz founded by two Latina women (also partners in life) who sell fairly traded Mexican crafts like embroidered Otomí pillow coverings and table runners, bags, and leather huarache shoes. Take my money! vivalavidaimports.com — From Dorothy Hernandez, MWL Writer
4. GIVE BACK: EVERY ACRE COUNTS In Johnson County, Iowa, in the late '70s, a parcel of land that could have been conserved was sold to developers—and a group of community members decided, "Never again." Their vision to preserve pockets of nature became Bur Oak Land Trust, a nonprofit that today protects nearly 900 acres across 28 properties (12 of which they own), largely around Iowa City and all open to the public. Efforts like prescribed fires and invasive plant removal enhance habitats for native species, such as threatened ornate box turtles (above). This year the trust will plant 800 pawpaw trees (they bear North America's largest edible indigenous fruit) to help save the zebra swallowtail butterfly, which feeds upon the leaves. "Over the past 150 years, the land in Iowa has been altered so significantly that it can no longer support the thousands of species that once called it home," says executive director Jason Taylor. "The best way to fix this is by protecting the precious few acres that have not been destroyed." buroaklandtrust.org
As part of our Good Neighbors program, highlighting unique Midwest nonprofits and individuals making our communities stronger, Midwest Living has donated $500 to Bur Oak Land Trust.
5. POP THE BUBBLY Started by Chicago friends (and conveniently available at Target), Heywell sparkling drinks tout vitamins and adaptogens, functional ingredients that promote calm or boost energy. Some flavors are even caffeinated. But personally? I just love those pretty cans—and that 1 percent of sales go to nonprofits advocating inclusion. livingheywell.com — From Erin Keeffer, Senior Graphic Designer
6. BOOKSHELF: PRETTY FLY Like bees to a blossom, 180,000 followers have found @soflytaxidermy, the quirky-cute Instagram account of Indiana artist Ali Beckman. For each post, she poses dead insects like bees, flies or butterflies in meme-y settings with inspirational, witty (and occasionally potty-mouthed) captions. Her new book, Bee a Good Human, is a giftable collection of her work (Red Lightning Books, $16).
The family-owned Shiloh Vineyard and Winery in WaKeeney, Kansas, has a spot for an RV just outside the tasting room.
7. CAMPING: WINE DOWN Stepping out of your RV door in the morning to see the sun rise over a vineyard beats the standard parking lot campground any day. Or so say fans of Harvest Hosts, a membership-based website that allows travelers the chance to park their campers at unique spots around the country, including wineries, breweries, farms, golf courses and attractions. The company has host locations in all of the Lower 48 states, plus Alaska and Canada, with many concentrated in the Midwest. The best part: Once you pay for your membership ($99 per year), there is no fee to camp overnight. Just make sure your RV is self-contained; not all locations offer hookups. harvesthosts.com
8. CITY PRIDE The Missouri History Museum is showcasing St. Louis' LGBTQIA+ history with an interactive virtual exhibit called Gateway to Pride. I loved exploring this facet of the Gateway City, specifically the stories behind surprising artifacts like Mattel's Earring Magic Ken doll. The See STL tour program offers a monthly guided walk to some of the sites explored in the exhibit. mohistory.org — From Katy Spratte Joyce, MWL Writer
9. NOW OPEN: ART IN CONTEXT Some art is inextricably tied to the physical space around it—that's the idea behind the Art Preserve in Sheboygan, Wisconsin. This new museum (the first of its kind in the world and part of the John Michael Kohler Arts Center) showcases 35 artist-built environments. They span site-specific installations as well as reconstructions or facsimiles of studios or homes, such as the shed where Nebraska artist Emery Blagdon twisted metal and beads into pieces he called Healing Machines. jmkac.org
10. TRADITIONS: SAUSAGE SEASON Cheesy brats. Pineapple brats. Brats with heat. Brats as burgers. We'll try them all. (Though we hold a soft spot for a Wisconsin-style wurst braised in beer with onion—and a purist's preference for casing. That snappy skin keeps 'em juicy!) Throw vegetables on the grill, too, for an easy side dish. And load upon condiments, like two of our favorite heritage brands, below.
Nicely spicy Boetje's Stone Ground Dutch Mustard has been made in Illinois since 1889. $4 at Hy-Vee stores or $37 for six jars online. boetjefoodsinc.com All the spices and pepper bits in the brine tell you that Safie, a third-generation Michigan company, knows its way around a pickle. Go for the bread and butter. $7.50. safiefoods.com
11. CHERRY PITTER OXO Quick-Release Multi-Cherry Pitter. $20. oxo.com. "Oh, the pies you'll make when you can pit six cherries at a time. Brilliant." — From Hannah Agran, Executive Editor
12. SUGAR RUSH Based near Akron, Ohio, Art of Sucre spins gourmet cotton candy in fanciful flavors like watermelon, orange bourbon and sugar cookie. (Cute pastel packaging makes it perfect for gifts.) Or channel your inner unicorn and try their new Shimmer Glitter Bombs—cotton candy tufts you can drop in champagne or seltzer to release a cascade of edible glitter in your drink. From $12. artofsucre.com