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Summer Must-Reads

Hey y’all! So we still have a few weeks of summer, and that means there’s still time for some summer must-reads. I’ve curated this list partially based on books I’ve read myself, as well as recommendations from friends, and of course, books that are making a name for themselves by just being that good. This is a pretty good mix, so if you like romance, there’s some of that, mystery/murder, we have that too. Check it out!

  • The Rest of the Story by Sarah Dessen. Obviously, since she is one of my favorite authors, this one had to be on the list. This is a great summer read, I was captured by it, and no matter your age, this is a YA novel worth the read. Once you get through this one, I recommend reading more of hers, they handle some serious topics, in a very realistic manner, and it’s a refreshing option.
  • One of Us Is Lying. I told you I’d give you some murder/mystery too, and this is wonderful for it. You’ll be wondering who did it the entire time, and quite frankly, if you’re a fan of Pretty Little Liars, you’ll enjoy this book too.
  • Where the Crawdads Sing. This is on my to be read list, but I’ve heard great things and am looking forward to getting a chance to read it myself.
  • The Proposal. This one is your standard summer romance. I didn’t necessarily like the ending, I feel it lacked a bit, but overall the story was enjoyable, and light reading material for soaking up some sun on a beach.
  • Every Breathe by Nicholas Sparks. Another one of my favorite authors, I will recommend pretty much any book by him, because his writing and stories are just enthralling. I always find myself getting sucked into them.
  • Save the Date by Morgan Matson. This was a cute story, I really enjoyed how it progressed, and what the character went through.
  • Dear Evan Hansen. Yes, this is the same as the Broadway show, but trust me, you’ll want to read the book. I read this before seeing the show, and honestly, it helped me to understand his character better.
  • The Art of Racing in the Rain. Yes, it’s a movie out right now, but it’s also a book, and you should definitely give it a read. I always like to compare the book to the movie, so go get yourself a copy, and then go see this amazing film.

This is just a small list of the amazing books out there. Don’t be afraid to try a new genre, and definitely use your library to check off all of the books on this list. I personally can’t wait to continue reading more books, and finding more stories to fall in love with. Happy reading!

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Bowtie Lasagna

Try this bowtie lasagna for those nights you’re cramped on time and need a delicious meal the whole family will love!

You’ll Need:

1 pound ground beef

1 box bowtie pasta

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 jar spaghetti sauce

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1 teaspoon salt

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 cup shredded mozzarella (there’s a great vegan alternative, if you have any dairy allergies or intolerance)

1 cup sour cream (again, if necessary, there are vegan alternatives)

Preparation:

  • Boil pasta until al dente. Drain and set aside.
  • In separate pan, brown beef and drain excess fat.
  • Add pasta to beef pan.
  • Drizzle on olive oil, then add sauce, salt, garlic powder, and Italian seasoning. Stir all together.
  • Add cheese and sour cream.
  • Stir over low heat until the cheese melts completely.
  • Enjoy!

That’s it, you’re done! This can literally be ready in 30 minutes, perfect for a busy weeknight dinner.

Protect Your Skin

It’s summertime and we all know that means working out in the summer sun, laying on the beach or at the pool working on our tans or just getting more sun than usual, even on your lunch break. With that being said, it’s super important that you protect your skin during all seasons, but this one especially.

I got diagnosed with a form of skin cancer a couple of years ago, and had to have part of my skin near my fingernail removed. I can happily say they got it all, but I can not so happily say that my cuticle didn’t grow back quite right in that area, and I have to see my dermatologist every 6 months for a checkup at this point in perpetuity. Now, I have actually been pretty good about applying sunscreen before I go out to lay at the pool or at a day at the beach. But I wasn’t always, and I remember going out to the beach in high school and bragging that I didn’t burn, I just tanned and that I didn’t need sunscreen. Stupid, foolish high school me. Obviously, I’ve learned my lesson since then, and am working much harder at protecting my skin, but I see so many people still being really nonchalant about their skin health. Guys, I love the sun, but I also know it is super dangerous, so if protecting your skin isn’t your priority, hopefully these tips will help. Take it from me, having surgery to remove skin cancer, not fun.

  • Cover your skin if you can when the rays are severe. That’s right, in this summer sun, a baseball cap or floppy hat is your hairline and face’s best friend. You know what else is great? Those UV repellent clothing options are great too. So are lightweight long sleeves, they’ll help keep your skin safe.

Floppy Hat

  • Apply and reapply sunscreen. It’s not enough for you to apply it once and then be done with it for the rest of the day. You have to reapply, especially if you are sweating, which it’s summer, that usually comes with the season. This goes for your regular sunscreen as well as the sunscreen you put on your face each morning ladies. Reapply! You’ll thank me later.
  • Avoid the worst times of day. In the middle of the day is when the rays are the absolute worst, so if you can, avoid going outside at that time. I used to schedule my beach days in the mornings, and then we’d be done around lunch time, which was perfect to get a smoothie or a sub and get some much-needed air conditioning.
  • Wear sunscreen even if it’s cloudy. Did you know you can still get burned even in cloudy weather? The clouds don’t always block the sun’s harmful rays 100%, so make sure you apply that sunscreen even when it seems like you may not need it.
  • Wear sunglasses. These will help protect the skin around your eyes, not to mention let you see in the sun. Wear them, love them, just don’t forget to clean them.
  • Bring shade with you. There are these chairs that have little shades that pop up and if you like to frequent outdoor games or summer concerts, these are perfect for them, especially if you don’t have a covered seat! They’ll give you shade wherever you are, and are attached to the chair. I have a few of these myself, and they are fantastic.

Hopefully these tips will help you protect your skin and stay safe during this summer. The final piece of advice is to see a dermatologist. I promise, the visits are mostly painless, and it’s better to find something sooner rather than later. The longer you wait, the more likely it could turn into melanoma, and if it gets that far, you’ll have more than just some weird colored skin or a little section of it scraped off. Take care of yourself and your skin, and stay protected from the sun.

Beat the Summer Blues

Summertime is a wonderful time of the year, the kids are out of school, teachers are on break, the sun is shining, and there is always so much to do. The downside is if you work full time, you can feel like your summer is passing you by! The summertime blues are a real thing, but luckily, I’ve got some tips to help you beat the summer blues, even when you work a full time job and don’t have a lot of vacation time.

Let’s face it, seeing everyone living their best life on a tropical island while you’re in the office can be downright depressing. Seeing kids at theme parks while you can barely afford a walk in the park isn’t fun either. But, before you stay down about it the rest of the summer, check out these options for beating the summer blues.

  • Schedule a “me” day. This involves no friends, unless you want to try coordinating with someone you’re close with, and it’s focus is everything you want to do. Take a sick day, we’ll call it mental health day, and go out for a manicure or pedicure, get a massage, sit in the tub for a while, whatever it is you want to do and enjoy to do, make time for it. This is a perfect tip for those working a full week or moms or dads running around doing everything for their kids and not having much time for themselves. Make “me” time and chase those summer blues away.
  • Create a new tradition. Plan ahead and set a weekend, maybe Labor Day weekend, to create a new tradition with your friends or family. It can be a family BBQ or one last pool party to celebrate the end of summer and the beginning of fall.
  • Get outside. We all need Vitamin D to stay happy and healthy, so make sure you’re getting some of it, even if you work all day. Take a bit of time during lunch to head out or take a walk in the evening or morning before you head in. You’d be amazed what a good walk can do for your mood.
  • Make plans with friends. Yes, I know, I know, you’re super busy with catching up on everything on the weekends, but trust me, those chores can wait. If you can plan a day during the weekend with your friends to head out to a water park or check out a local waterfall, DO IT! Have some outdoor fun, and enjoy the season.
  • Look ahead to fall. If you love fall weather and are just trying to get through the summer, don’t fret, it’s almost there. Plan ahead your fall decorations and maybe start putting together some fun fall activities for you and the family to participate in.
  • Try a stay-cation. I wish we all could afford to jet off to Bermuda for a week in the summer, but if like me, that’s just not financially possible for you right now, then try something a little bit cheaper. A stay-cation is a great way to get away for the night, while not leaving your town or only going an hour or two away. You won’t have to buy a plane ticket, and you can likely get a deal for being a local. If you don’t belong to a reward program with a hotel, now would be the time to start, those points can add up and help you with your stay-cation for next year.
  • Take yourself out for ice cream. It’s a simple thing, but nothing says summer like fresh ice cream. Whether you prefer the rolled kind, the fro yo filled with toppings or a fancy artisanal flavor that you can only get at this little hole-in-the-wall place, go ahead and treat yo self! You deserve it, and even if you’re focused on health goals and keeping up with your beach body, one ice cream cone isn’t going to hurt. Enjoy the summer vibes.
  • Spend a day at the beach. Nothing says summer like the beach, and if you’ve been struggling to get that summer time feeling, go out to the water. The beach is one of my happy places, and there’s nothing better than hearing the sound of the waves. Everything is so much clearer out near the water.

I hope these tips on how to beat the summer blues help, and that you can find some fun activities to help get your spirits up. Don’t forget, a fun activity can be seeing a movie or reading a good book. My suggestions for a good movie are Spiderman: Far From Home and the Art of Racing in the Rain comes out in a few weeks, it has Milo Ventimiglia and dogs, why wouldn’t you go see it? As for a good book, I’ll be putting out a list of my favorite summertime reads that I’ve gone through this summer in a couple of days, keep an eye out for it!

Peach Mint Strawberry Sangria

This is perfect for a party or just having some girls over for a day at the pool. I had meant to make it this weekend when a friend was coming over to catch up, but plans change, so I didn’t wind up making it this weekend, but I can guarantee y’all will love it.

You’ll Need:

  • 4 mint leaves
  • 4 peaches
  • A handful of raspberries
  • 1 cup strawberries
  • 1 bottle of sauvignon blanc
  • 1/2 cup peach schnapps
  • 1 cup sprite

Preparation:

Put all the fruit and mint leaves in a pitcher, then pour the liquids on top, mix well and allow to cool in the fridge for 2 hours. If you don’t want to wait quite that long, which I totally understand, then go ahead and add ice to speed it up, and enjoy!

Learn to Paddleboard

If you live near the water, go out for a few hours and learn to paddleboard. It can be great fun for vacation, a new hobby or just to try something new.

Get Your Dorm Room Supplies

If you or your child are heading back to college, get your dorm room supplies now. You’ll likely still have last-minute things you’ll need to buy once you get to the school, but starting early will help ensure you forget less. You can also pack it up now, rather than later.

Buy a Kiddie Pool to Make Dog Washing Easier

Dogs and toddlers both seem to hate bath time with a passion. Buy a kiddie pool to make dog washing easier than ever! You can contain the mess, and keep your dog’s paws from getting muddy.

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