Everything You Need for a Fabulous Day at the Beach

My family and I have been going to Bethany Beach in Delaware as long as I can remember, and after a stressful year, it was wonderful to spend a week soaking up the sun in my happy place. A lot more folks are headed to the beach this month and vacation is a time to unwind, relax, and do a lot of wonderful self-care. That’s why I always want to head to the beach worry-free knowing I have everything I’ll need and why I’m sharing my essentials with y’all today ūüôā

Everything You Need for a Fabulous Day at the Beach www.thefemmeinist.com

First for a fabulous day at the beach, you need a fabulous beach look that makes you feel confident (this is my first tip for feeling comfortable in a bathing suit, pick something you love). I went with this super femme leopard print bikini from Target and an over-sized pair of cat eye sunglasses from Forever 21.

Everything You Need for a Fabulous Day at the Beach www.thefemmeinist.com

What’s the beach without a great beach book? I was favoring Modern Romance by Aziz Ansari which a humorous look at how dating has changed with shifts in technology grounded with a lot of hard, sociology research. It was a really enjoyable read (though not entirely non-problematic, what’s up with all the fat jokes, Aziz?) that made me laugh and reflect. It’s also one of those books that inevitably leads to interesting conversations which I love.

Modern Romance

If you’re super pale like me, you probably already know the importance of sun screen for avoiding sunburns. But it’s important for everyone to protect their skin from the sun, regardless of your complexion. I have been using this Neutrogena Clear Face Breakout-Free Sunscreen for years and I love it. I have super sensitive skin so a lot of sunscreens cause me to break out, but this one manages to be light enough to quell my acne while also providing enough coverage to keep me from getting burnt.

Everything You Need to Have a Fabulous Day at the Beach www.thefemmeinist.com

If you’re just going to the beach for a day, grabbing fast food on the boardwalk is NBD. But if you’re staying for more than a couple of days, that can get pricey fast. So why not grab some groceries and make yourself a yummy, healthy lunch to pack and eat on the beach? My favorite beach eat was this delicious powerhouse sandwich. I used a multigrain bread full of nuts and seeds and low on sugar, meunster cheese, avocado, cucumber, iceberg lettuce, tomato, and spicy brown mustard. I recently learned from a nutritionist’s vlogs that spicy brown mustard tends to have the most natural ingredients, and lowest sodium compared to other types of mustard so I’ve been favoring it. Plus it tastes soo good with all these veggies. I also totally recommend adding sprouts to this sandwich if you can find them (sadly I couldn’t). Wrap your sandwich up, pack some baby carrots, and enjoy your lunch and ocean view!

Everything You Need for a Fabulous Day at the Beach www.thefemmeinist.com

With all this stuff, you’re going to need something to actually tote it all to the beach. So you need a cute beach bag. I used this one from the dollar spot at Target. It was only $5 and it held¬†everything I need. I will say however, I definitely got what I paid for. Literally the day I got back from the beach, I found a big hole in the bottom. So I recommend picking up a bag made out of a sturdier material- reusable shopping bags can be great for this.

Everything You Need for a Fabulous Day at the Beach www.thefemmeinist.com

Finally, I know they have a bad rap, but I totally recommend picking up a selfie stick before your next vacation, wherever you go. My family found one at Safeway when we were buying groceries for the trips and it made it super easy for us to take family pictures, something we always struggle to do. It also made it super easy for me to take bikini pics. You might look a little silly using it, but who cares when your Insta game is so on point?

Be sure to follow me on Instagram to see more of my beach photos and let me know below in the comments what your beach essentials are. Have a fabulous July, everyone!

7 Steps to Feeling Confident in a Bathing Suit

Recently, someone wrote to me on my body positive blog asking me how to feel more confident in a bathing suit. This is something so many folks struggle with during summer so I wanted to take some time to really delve into how you can feel more comfortable in your beach body‚Äď whatever that beach body looks like. So first thing’s first…

Find a Suit You Feel Comfortable In

You might be reading this and thinking, Katie, I don’t feel comfortable in any suit, that’s the whole point! But bear with me for a sec. There are always going to be some pieces of clothing that make you feel better than others even on the days when you feel pretty badly in everything. We all have little things that make us feel more at ease. Maybe you always feel pretty in the color blue. Or you feel confidently about your shoulders and want to show them off. Or you feel more comfortable when people can’t see your chest. Or you’re more masculine and you wanna wear something that feels affirming of that. Whatever makes you start to feel even the slightest bit more comfortable, choose that option.

This also means covering as much or as little as you want regardless of what other people say. Maybe you’ve been nervous about showing off a lot of skin in a bikini but that’s really what you wanna wear. I say, go for it! Maybe you’re not comfortable showing off your whole bod and you want to wear something with more coverage, but you’re worried you’ll be seen as too conservative. You do you! You get to decide how much skin you reveal. It’s a personal choice and the only opinion that matters is yours.

Affirm Your Inner Self

I know I probably sound like a broken record ’cause I say it all the time, but loving on your body is a hell of a lot easier to do when you’re loving on your whole self. There are a hundred reasons¬†we feel uncomfortable or upset with our bodies and let’s be honest about 99 of them are oppressive forces like misogyny, racism, fatphobia, transphobia, ableism, queerphobia, etc.. But personally,¬†I want to keep seeking self love in the face of forces I can’t control. And for me, I always feel better about my looks when I’ve been caring for my heart and soul because I believe that on some level our emotional well-being is always linked to our body image. After all, if your emotional health isn’t being cared for, if your heart isn’t being nurtured, you’re not going to feel positively generally, so how can you feel positively about your outside?

So if you want to feel more confident about your appearance, carve out some time to not focus on your looks, just focus on how you feel, and what your emotional needs are. Spend some time writing yourself a letter or talking to yourself in the mirror, telling yourself the things you like about your personality. Reflect on a personal accomplishment that made you feel proud. Think honestly about what your loved ones have said they see in your character that makes them appreciate you (I also don’t think there’s any shame in asking them if you need some reminders, that’s what besties are for). Engage in whatever form of self-care your inner self is calling out for whether that is treating yourself to something soothing like a bubble bath, processing your issues by journaling or attending a therapy session,¬†reaching out to a friend to talk & allow yourself to be cared for, or doing something proactive that gives you a sense of accomplishment. There are a lot of ways to self-care; find what feels best for you and leaves you in a more positive place.

Spend Some Time with Your Body

Ok, yeah, you’re with your body all the time, but I’m suggesting you really, intentionally spend time with it. If you’re in a place where it’s comfortable, get in your bathing suit, or wear more or less depending on what feels good for you. Look at yourself in the mirror, maybe take some selfies just for your self(ie). So often we hide our bodies from ourselves. We constantly cover up, we avoid our reflection, and then the only time we do really look at ourselves we do so to criticize. So my challenge is to spend some time looking at yourself with the aim to appreciate and compliment, not pick apart or disparage. Negative thoughts might arise. Let them. Acknowledge them, then set them aside. Say, “I hear you thought, but that’s not what we’re doing right now,” and dig for the positive. If you don’t genuinely feel appreciative of any part of your body, fake it til you make it. Compliment each part of yourself with the tenderness and kindness you would offer a close friend. Again, follow the path that works best for you. Sometimes when I’m feeling down on my body, I treat myself like I would a kid or a cat. I give my body cute nicknames, like calling my stomach my “tum.” I do the Pooh Bear dance of “I’m short and fat and proud of that.” It’s so silly and cutesy, it’s hard for me to get to that painful, self-loathing place. Maybe that would feel totally childish and unhelpful for you. That’s fine. Maybe you want to verbally affirm your body, maybe you’re only comfortable doing it in your head, or writing or drawing something would feel more powerful. Since this is an uncomfortable exercise, find comfort zones where you can. Put on your favorite lipstick. Listen to a song that makes you happy or encouraged. Be silent if silence comforts you or be loud if volume empowers you. The important thing is to really dedicate yourself to just spending a little bit of time engaging with your body in a positive and affirming way. Even if you’re not totally believing it, it’s establishing a habit and serving as a reminder that this is the way you deserve to be treated.

7 Steps to Feeling Confident in a Bathing Suit www.thefemmeinist.com

Ease into It

My dad always says I am not a rip the band aid off kind of person. I don’t like to do things I’m afraid of or think will hurt quickly. I tiptoe my way into it. I used to be terrified of heights. Now I’m pretty comfortable with them, I even love roller coasters, but that took baby steps. I had to get myself accustomed to lower heights in more controlled circumstances before I was ready for super high heights at lightning fast speeds. This is also how I got myself to be comfortable wearing a bikini. I took tiny steps there. I started wearing things that scared me or that I’d been told a girl with my body type isn’t supposed to wear. I’d go out dancing in a sleeveless dress and get used to watching my arms jiggle and fight the urge to hide them. I’d wear shorts that hit above my knee and adjust to the sight of my thick thighs in the sun. The road to feeling comfortable in a bikini took time, I’m talking years, and if you’re looking to feel amazing next week, that might feel discouraging. But I’m saying this for two reasons. First, because it’s a¬†reason to give yourself a little grace. You have spent a lifetime developing your current relationship with your body and absorbing harmful messages about how a person ought to look. Changing that relationship and combating those messages is difficult, yes, but that means wherever you are right now? It’s ok. You aren’t a failure for not being head over heels in love with your body. You don’t owe a totally positive attitude about your body to anyone. You are allowed to be wherever you are with your emotions. But also second, if you want to seek a more loving attitude toward your body, it is possible. Where you are today is not where you’ll be tomorrow (or where you are this year is not where you’ll be five years from now). You have the capacity to grow and change and heal. And I think when we remember both those things, it is possible to find some hope and some strength to keep going with this journey.

There are also more short-term ways of easing into it. For example, if you’re scared of showing your arms,¬†wear a short sleeve cover-up that feels a little outside of your comfort zone to the pool or the beach. Then ease into taking it off. If you’re gonna be at the pool all summer long, maybe just get used to sitting on the sidelines for a few days in something slightly revealing like a crop top or a tighter dress before you jump to being active and swimming in a bathing suit. Seeking body postivity often requires that we push our boundaries and explore outside our comfort zones, but you can do it at a pace that feels safe for you.

Contextualize Your Feelings

Like I said earlier, a lot of our negative feelings about our bodies come from outside forces. I know that misogyny and fatphobia and a culture which encouraged my disordered eating have a huge impact on how I view and relate to my body. Can I personally destroy those forces overnight? No, sadly, as powerful and mighty as I am, that is gonna take a little more time and a few more people. But sometimes just remembering that those forces are influencing the way I feel can be helpful. Knowing that there’s a few billion dollar industries that know they can make money¬†selling products to ease women’s insecurity is knowing that my relationship with my body doesn’t exist in a vaccuam. It was manufactured so corporations selling diets and make-up and spanx could continue to profit. And once I know that, I can start to reason with my insecurity, and ask it, “hey, are my thunder thighs really a bad thing or do I feel that way because my whole life commercials have been selling me products to reduce and hide them?” Contextualizing your relationship with your body within the culture we live in can help you to understand why your body image is how it is and to more effectively combat the harmful messages you’ve received about how a body ought to look.

It can also be helpful to contextualize your feelings within your personal history and experiences. Starting in the fourth grade, I was bullied about my weight a lot. At thirteen, I developed an eating disorder. At seventeen, I was¬†a victim of sexual violence. Those experiences aren’t static parts of the past. They’ve impacted me and they have an active role in how I see and treat my body today. That’s not to say I can’t overcome or heal from those experiences, just the opposite. Acknowledging and validating the impact past experiences have had on us can allow us to better understand our current emotions and struggles, and to begin or continue to heal. For example, as bathing suit season approaches, I know I’m going to be seeing a lot of messages and images in magazines, advertisements, and online that are similar to those that fueled my eating disorder. So I do my best to avoid that triggering media, monitor my emotional responses when I am exposed, and take extra steps to be engaged in my recovery during the summer months. Once you know what specifically contributes to you feeling negatively, you can make a better game plan for coping with those negative feelings and counteracting them.

Seek What Inspires You, Leave What Harms You

While a media fast (disengaging from certain forms of media) is something that specifically helps me as someone in recovery, it can be really beneficial for anyone. You don’t have to totally cut out all magazines or tv or the internet. Just think consciously about what serves you and what harms you. If reading headlines about how to get your best beach body or shed pounds fast makes you feel icky, take a break from the mags and/or sites where you see them. This goes for more than just media. If you have a loved one who tends to say things that make you feel negatively, you don’t need to be hanging out with them right now. You might want to explore cutting them out totally if it’s a truly toxic relationship, but maybe they’re just going through their own stuff that’s not helpful for yours. It’s ok to take a break from someone who makes you feel badly. For example, I have pals who are also recovering from disordered eating and sometimes I can’t see them when they are struggling and making a lot of comments about needing to lose weight or skip meals because it just isn’t healthy for me to be around. So if your Aunt Lauren always comments critically on your body? You don’t need to be around her right now.

Instead of engaging with media and/or people who make you feel badly about yourself, seek out those that make you feel affirmed, valued, and loved. I’m going to the beach next week, and I’m spending more time than usual on other folks’ body positive blogs, even reading through affirming posts that I’ve written, because that is content that makes me feel more positive and confident. I also really like to look at pictures of women who have my body type enjoying themselves & feeling fabulous¬†in swimsuits. It’s a great reminder that the images of bodies I see on runways and in clothing ads aren’t the only bodies that exist and an opportunity to celebrate and find solidarity with girls like me. It doesn’t have to be so on the nose though. Reread one of your favorite books, play your favorite albums, engage in activities that make you feel joyful or talented, hang out with the people in your life who make you feel awesome. If something spiritual like yoga or prayer or reading a religious text makes you feel fulfilled, spend some extra time on that this week. Look for the things that make you feel energized, for the spaces you leave smiling wider than when you entered, for the people that make your heart sing. That’s where your confidence is. Don’t be afraid to chase it. You deserve to feel like the valuable, beautiful, lovable person you are.

Focus on the Fun

If you’re in a bathing suit, chances are high you’re in a situation with a big possibility for fun. When I’m on vacation with my family, I try to focus more on the fun and not on how I look in my bikini. I focus on the beauty of the beach and the nature I have the amazing opportunity to enjoy. I focus on the memories I’m making with my loved ones and how happy I am to be with them. I focus on the lovely feeling of sun hitting my back, of reading a book in the sand. I focus on how powerful and strong I feel when I swim in the ocean. That is the stuff that really matters to me. Body image matters (obvs, I run a whole blog about it), but in twenty years I think I will care more about time spent with my loved ones than how I felt about my thighs on a certain day. So when I actually get my beach body to the beach, I try to focus more on everything the beach has to offer and less on the body.

Now I should note that’s not always an easy thing especially in¬†a world that critiques, shames, and even attacks our bodies for being too big, too brown, too trans, too disabled, too outside of all of the norms society has established. Obviously, various forms of privilege impact our ability to stop thinking about our bodies (and certainly being white, cis, and able-bodied makes it a hell of a lot easier for me to forget my body for a while). And I will never tell you that stuff doesn’t matter or to “just stop thinking about it.” I have a chronic illness and I know there are times we can’t not pay attention to our bodies.¬†But I hope the world gives you moments when you feel safe and able to feel like more than just the body the world sometimes treats you as, moments when you feel like the complex, interesting, nuanced human being you are. Moments when you can turn your attention to other things, moments when you are so full of joy, or peace, or contentment, or curiosity, or fun that your body is the last thing you’re thinking about. Moments you get to fully experience and treasure. Whenever it¬†is possible for you to choose to turn¬†your focus in that direction for a while, I encourage you to do so.¬†How do you do that? This is another great time to practice mindfulness. When thoughts about your body arise, acknowledge them, then set them aside. You can also ground yourself in the present moment by mentally noting physical stimuli: what you see/feel/hear/taste. Or you can draw in your beach buddies and ask them to distract you. Whatever helps you to feel present and happy and whole in the current moment, that’s what you wanna do.

I hope this helps you feel more confident and that you all have an amazing summer with your beach body. Whatever that beach body looks like, I know you’re going to look amazing!

 

May Favorites

May was a¬†pretty exciting month. I finished my first year of grad school at the Teachers College (part of Columbia University), I became a contributor for GeeksOut.com, and I am preparing to start a new job at an awesome summer camp. Because I’m between ending school and starting my job, I have been having a bit of vacation and I’ve had a ton of time to focus on myself. So I wanted to share some of the things I have been loving that have been helping me nurture and care for myself in May!

May Favorites www.thefemmeinist.com

Health

Planet Fitness

This month, I joined my local Planet Fitness and thus far I’m loving it. It’s only a few blocks from my apartment so it’s super easy to get myself there. It’s pretty standard as far as a gym goes, but what I really love is the Planet Fitness approach to fitness. Their mantra is “no judgment” and they are very focused on making people feel comfortable which I love. A lot of gyms don’t feel like a super safe space if you’re new to fitness, if you’re not thin, or if you’ve struggled with disordered eating, etc.. But (at least so far) Planet Fitness feels very welcoming. The only things I wish they had are more classes and a pool. But for $10 a month, I really can’t complain.

Mint & Pink Tennis Shoes

May Favorites www.thefemmeinist.com

I have really been needing a new pair of tennis shoes so I ordered these online¬†from Payless. If you follow my Instagram or my healthy living blog, you’ve probably already seen them, because I’m a little obsessed with them. They are the brand Champion which I think is a great cheaper alternative to Nike and they came in lots of different colors. Pink and mint are my two favorite colors so I was so excited to find this pair, especially because they perfectly match my yoga mat. I was also really excited because I have super small feet (I wear a children’s size 3 to a 5 depending on the brand) and a lot of tennis shoes in my size look childish, but these look just like the adult version. I have to lace these up very tight, but when I do they feel very comfortable and I am loving these not only for the gym, but also walking to do my errands.

Food YouTube Channels

My best friend thinks I’m ridiculous, but this month I have been watching a ton of grocery hauls on YouTube. These are just like fashion¬†or beauty hauls on YouTube, where the vloggers show you what they’ve purchased recently, but instead of showing you clothing or make-up they’ve bought, they¬†show you their groceries. I really like these videos because they give me new ideas of what to buy. A lot of these vloggers also post What I Eat in a Day Videos (which are exactly what they sound like) and recipe videos which I love as well because I am always looking for new meals to make. I find that trying out new recipes encourages me to eat at home more which can be a great way to save money and eat a little more nutritiously. Some of the YouTube channels I have really been enjoying for these types of videos are Nikki Philippi, Becca Kay, and Health Nut Nutrition. From what I’ve seen, these vloggers focus more on nutrition than on weight or achieving a certain image which is what I’m looking for when I look for health-spiration.

Self-Care

Bubble Baths

I have always been a bath lover, but I’ve been especially loving them this month and I feel like I’ve finally nailed down the perfect bath routine. Instead of more expensive bath bombs, I have been making my bubbles with just a tiny bit of body wash. I’ve been using the Moonlight Path scent from Bath and Body Works and a tiny bit makes a ton of bubbles! Then when I’m in the bath, I like to burn a candle, put on a face mask (I am in love with the charcoal mask from Origins), and read a book, keeping a towel nearby so I can make sure my hands are dry to avoid damaging the pages. Recently I’ve been reading Bridget Jones’ Diary and it’s so nice to end my day laughing while I soak in a hot, relaxing bath.

Practicing Gratitude

May Favorites www.thefemmeinist.com

This is a habit that I’ve been cultivating for a while. Every night before I go to sleep, I like to note at least three things I’m feeling grateful for. And this month I found this adorable notebook at Marshalls for only $3,99. It is a gorgeous teal color and it says My Daily Gratitude in gold lettering on the front cover. Inside there is a line to fill in your own date and some blank space to jot down whatever you’re grateful for. There have been a lot of studies showing how positive practicing gratitude can be for you and it’s honestly been one of the best habits I’ve ever formed. It makes me feel calmer and more at peace before I try to sleep, which is an amazing gift if like me you have anxiety and/or struggle with insomnia. However I’ve been feeling that day, whatever has been going on it is a really humbling and centering reminder that there are people & things in my life worth waking up for.

 Ten Minute Tidy-ing

I’ve written before about how splitting cleaning and other chores & tasks into smaller increments can be really helpful when you feel overwhelmed with all you have to do. In May, I have been doing a ten minute tidy every day and it really helps me to feel less overwhelmed with cleaning and organizing my apartment. I just look at whatever needs to be dealt with the most and I dedicate ten minutes to dealing with it. So sometimes that means picking things up on my floor and putting them away, some days I’ll take ten minutes to wipe down & scrub surfaces in my bathroom or to clean the kitchen floor. When you have depression like me, it can be really hard to find the motivation to perform basic tasks like this, but telling myself I only have to do it for ten minutes makes it way easier for me to get going. If you need to ease into this you could always start with five minutes instead.

Also, just a note: I know this might not sound like self-care to some of you who are more accustomed to the type of self-care above, but I’m a big believer in having a diversified approach to self-care. Sometimes I need self-care that nurtures me and lets me relax or is more geared towards serving my emotional health. But sometimes I need to get stuff done, especially things like chores because that’s how I maintain a safe, clean, live-able, and enjoyable environment for myself so I view finding easier ways to accomplish my to-do list a necessary form of self-care.

Treat Yo’Self

Home Made Cookies

I love baking and cooking, and recently I have been making a ton of cookies. I think that baking something sweet can be a great way to treat yourself because it’s sort of a two-for-one treat. You get the calming activity of baking, and then you get the yummy results to savor yourself or share. The cookies I have been making the most are a no-bake version that are perfect for hot summer days when you don’t want to turn on the stove. All you have to do to make them is combine a cup of rolled oats, a couple big spoonfuls of peanut butter, two tablespoons of honey, a dash of vanilla, and your preferred chocolate. You could totally use normal chocolate chips, but I really like roughly chopping up some dark chocolate and mixing it in. You mix everything together until you have a sticky batter that can be rolled into little balls. Stick your yummy cookie balls on a plate, pop them in the freezer for an hour, and ouila! You’ve got delicious no-bake cookies that are a little healthier than your average chocolate chip.

Starbucks Via Instant

May Favorites www.thefemmeinist.com

I’m not a daily coffee drinker, because I try to limit caffeine due to my anxiety. But, I still love it. It’s one of my favorite ways to treat myself. There’s nothing I like better than waking up on a Saturday morning, filling my favorite mug with some hot coffee, and curling up back in bed with it. Our coffee pot recently broke so for a while coffee was off the table, until I picked up some Starbucks Via Instant packets. Right now I have the Pike Place Roast and I like the taste so much more than any other instant coffee I’ve tried. I just mix mine with hot water and a packet of sweet n’ low and I have a perfect early morning treat. So if you’re a broke grad student like me and you don’t have a coffee pot, or you want coffee you can drink when you’re out, I think these are a great, fast option. compared to actually buying a coffee from Starbucks. And the Via pack costs $9.95 and comes with twelve servings of coffee which comes to about 83 cents a coffee so they’re a better deal than actually¬†ordering a drink at Starbucks.

What were your favorites this month? Let me know down in the comments. I’d love to hear them!

 

20 Budget Friendly Ways to Have a Fabulous Summer

Here in NYC, we’ve been having super summery weather and it has me incredibly excited for the coming season. I can’t wait to enjoy the warm weather and all the fun activities the summer has to offer. At the same time, I still want to be able to keep to my budget. I know this is something a lot of you are probably thinking about as well so I wanted to share some ways you can save money this summer while still having a blast. Enjoy!

20 Budget Friendly Ways to Have a Fabulous Summer www.thefemmeinist.com

1. Make a Summer Reading List

I am so looking forward to getting to read whatever I want this summer (something I don’t always get to do because of grad school). I am kicking off my summer reading with The Brief Wonderous Life of Oscar Wao, Americanah, Modern Romance, and lots of comics. Let me know in the comments what you’re looking forward to reading this summer! Reading is a really amazing way to experience new worlds without actually traveling, and it’s a great way to expand your mind and learn a bit in your free time as well. Plus, public libraries give you access to tons of new books without costing you a dime. I especially love using my library’s app, Overdrive, on my tablet which lets me temporarily download e-books so I can get library books without even leaving my home.

2. Start a Morning Routine

One of my favorite things about the summer is that it’s a sort of midway point during which I can gear up for the coming school year. If you’re a student like me and you have a break, or even if you’re just as busy but want to clean your slate, use the summer to start establishing habits you want to last into the fall. If you don’t know how to start, check out my tips for taking on morning.

3. Play Flashlight Tag

This is something my friends and I used to do in high school and it was always a blast. It is so much fun dashing around in the dark. You can play this in your yard, but I think it’s even more fun in a park or the woods where you have space to spread out and hide (this also makes it easier to play with a big group). I also recall a lot of flirting happening while playing this in high school, so if you & your pals are single and have been wanting an excuse to hang out with the folks you’re crushing on, this could be a perfect, low-stakes group get together.

4. Have a BYOW Night with Friends

I love to do BYOW (bring your own wine nights) with friends. Everyone brings a bottle of wine or a snack to share and you spend the evening catching up. If you’re sober or underage, this can easily be amended to a bring your own dessert or bring your own mocktail night. The key is to share the hosting responsibilities which makes the night a little cheaper and easier so you can focus on having fun with friends.

5. Write to a Family Member

My grandmother loves getting cards and letters and I love sending them to her. Especially if you’re like me and you’re a young adult who’s moved away from home, snail mail can be a fun way to keep in touch with your older relatives. Whoever you write to, you can turn prepping for your penpal into a fun day out by going on a hunt for cheap postcards (I recently found a bunch of lovely, affordable ones at the Metropolitan Museum of Art). If you don’t have anyone to write to, you could try out a project¬†like Postcrossing¬† which helps you send & receive postcards to/from other members. My best friend has been doing this for years and she has a ton of really cool postcards from around the world as a result.

6. Track Your Adventures in a Smashbook

I have been using Smashbooks for about four years and I absolutely love them. Basically a Smashbook is a cross between a journal and a scrapbook. I use mine mostly for keeping track of memories. I paste & tape in ticket stubs, photos, maps, brochures, anything I want to save from a day and I do a bit of journaling to remind me why that day was special to me. You can buy Smashbooks at craft stores or you can totally make your own using a blank notebook and pretty paper and stickers.

7. Plan a Dream Vacation

Even if you can’t travel this summer, it doesn’t mean you can’t dream about future seasons of travel. I love planning dream vacations because it gives me things to look forward to and keeps me hopeful and motivated to keep pushing forward in my life. Recently, I have been dreaming about traveling to Japan with my younger sibling. I would love to know your dream destination and what you’d like to do there! By the way, YouTube is great for trip planning because you can often find videos of where you want to go. It’s nice because you get to experience a little piece of where you want to be even if you can’t get there quite yet.

8. Have a Staycation

There are so many free or affordable things to do in your local community. Check out nearby museums, monuments, parks, and hiking paths. You can totally fill a free day with free fun without leaving your hometown. If you’re in NYC like me, you can hit the Highline, see a free Shakespeare play in Central Park, or¬†go kayaking for free.

9. Camp Indoors

You could also totally do this in your yard if you have one, but I live in an apartment in NYC so the living room will have to do for me (and hey camping inside has the added bonus of avoiding the heat). Build a blanket tent, make a pitcher of lemonade, listen to Lemonade, and cue up a marathon of your favorite summer films. I am planning to do this with my boyfriend and I think it will be a super cute day.

10. Go to a Food Festival

One of my favorite things to do over the summer with my dad is go to food truck festivals. They’re nice because they are often free to enter and the food is often only a food dollars. Plus part of the fun is just wandering, people (and food) watching, and picking out what you want. Personally, I am looking forward to going to Smorgasburg in Brooklyn and eating lots of yummy, trendy, local food. These events are often outside, have live music, and activities for kids so they’re often a great place to find free, family friendly entertainment. Can’t find an affordable food festival? Try a local farmer’s market. Bonus: you’re bound to find some free samples!

11. Spend a Night in a Bookstore

This is one of my family’s favorite weekend night activities. We like to go sit in Barnes and Noble, camp out in the Starbucks section sipping our coffee and flipping through magazines, comics, and coffee table books. Then, if it’s in the budget, we pick one item to buy. Now that I live away from home, I sometimes do this with my best friend and we have a great time sharing what we’re reading and stalking the stationary section. If regular books aren’t your thing, you can always browse a comic book (my boyfriend and I enjoy this so much it’s on my list of great dates).

12. Organize a Room in Your Home

Lately I have been picking an area of my home to organize each month. It makes the organization feel much easier to handle when I break it up over a chunk of time, and it is so nice to know that my home is slowly becoming more functional and fabulous. This can be a totally free activity and it’s one that will benefit you long term because once you have a system in place that’s easy to stick to you’re home will feel way cozier & nice to live in. (If you’d like to learn more about how I keep my home organized, be sure to let me know in the comments and I’ll do a post about it!)

13. Go Stargazing

This one could require a bit more effort if you live in a city like me. But really you just have to find a field or any open space where you can see the stars. Take a telescope if you have access to one or just take a pal and use your naked eye to absorb all the beauty the night has to offer. Pack a night picnic & bring your partner to turn this into an adorable late night date.

14. Swim Free

This may or not be an option depending on where you live, but in my home state of Maryland there are a lot of gorgeous natural bodies of water you can take a dip in totally free. The closest one to my parent’s home is the Gunpowder River and it’s a beautiful place to hike, wade, swim, and even go tubing. On nice summer days, my family and I love to pack some yummy snacks and go down to the river to spend the day splashing around or lounging on rocks with our feet cooling in the water. Check out your state’s parks to see if any of them have spots to swim.

15. Go to the Movies (at Home)

Going out to the movies is one of my favorite activities, but it can get super expensive. So why not make your home the theater? You can find projectors online for as little as $17 which is cheaper than two movie tickets. You can also often rent projectors from the AV department at your school or find a pal to borrow one from. Pick a blank wall in your house or hang a white sheet and you have your own mini theater! Fire up Netflix or swing by Redbox to find your movie of choice, and then make microwavable popcorn. You’ve got an awesome movie experience on a budget.

16. Visit a Home Away from Home

If you’re like me and you’ve moved away from your hometown as an adult, it’s great to be able to get back to your roots and visit your loved ones there. I love getting back to Baltimore whenever I can and I’m planning a great weekend trip for my boyfriend and I this summer so we can see the sights and hang with my family. If you still live where you grew up, you can always go visit friends or family who live elsewhere. The great thing about this is that staying with someone you know¬†can save money on lodging. Plus, who doesn’t want to get to spend the summer those they love?

17. Be Crafty

I love doing crafts, and they’re even more fun with friends. To make this one budget friendly, encourage everyone to bring a) some of their favorite arts & crafts supplies (old magazines are a great recyclable option) and b) a snack or part of a meal. Then get crafty! For ideas on what to make, be sure to follow my DIY Pinterest board.

18. Get Hooked on a Podcast

I am a big lover of podcasts. They are my favorite thing to listen to on my commute or at the gym. I love how much variety there is. Pretty much any interest you have, you can find a podcast devoted to it. My current favorites are This American Life (a classic), To the Best of Our Knowledge (very similar to This American Life, each week takes on a different theme), The Black Tapes (a fictional horror podcast my boyfriend got me into, warning: it is super scary), and Ask Me Another (a cute quiz show by NPR that features some of your favorite celebs). Plug in your earbuds, take a walk in the sun, and enjoy the free entertainment. If podcasts aren’t your thing, check out your library’s selection of audiobooks. I’m listening to Lean In right now.

19. Pick a Pretty Spot to Watch the Sunset

This idea could range from cheap to totally free depending on where you go. You could find a hill in a park or you could pick a rooftop bar with a great happy hour deal. Either way the gorgeous view will be totally free! And it’s a fun way to get out of the house and enjoy the warm weather and long nights that make summer so enjoyable.

20. Try Out a No/Low Cook Recipe

Cooking is one of my favorite things to do, but with the summer heat it can be pretty unpleasant to use the stove. So as it gets hotter, I am loving trying out some recipes that require minimal to no cooking like these tangy veggie wraps or these Mexican street corn nachos. I am also a big fan of adjusting recipes to make them a little more affordable. Challenge yourself to see how low a budget you can make a recipe for, then enjoy the yummy results!

I hope you all have a fabulous summer! Be sure to let me know what you’re looking forward to doing this summer in the comments, and I’ll talk to you soon.

 

 

 

10 Tips to Tackle Your Mornings

I am not a morning person. I am a moan and groan until I get my coffee/black tea person. However, I’ve found that a big part of adulting well is learning to use your mornings effectively. It still might not be my favorite time of day, but I feel like lately I have been kicking morning’s butt, and I wanted to share what I’ve learned about conquering the A.M. hours.

10 Tips to Tackle Your Mornings www.thefemmeinist.com

Plan a Breakfast You Love

I don’t know about you, but food is the source of most of the joy in my life. So knowing that I’m going to have something yummy in the morning makes it much easier to get out of bed. It makes sense because habits are always easier to form if you reward yourself. So why not reward yourself for getting out of bed with a delicious treat? I personally love having a strawberry banana smoothie first thing. Because I only use frozen fruit and cold water in my smoothies, they’re a really easy and healthy way to kick off the day and they give me something sweet to wake up for. If your mornings are rushed, another easy breakfast I love is these breakfast burritos which you can make in bulk and freeze so you can just reheat, grab, and go.

Set an Alarm You Can’t Ignore

Maybe it’s just me, but waking up is so hard especially when I don’t actually have to be anywhere for a while. When you work from home or are a student on summer break, it can be challenging to get yourself up and motivated in the morning. That’s why I set a few different alarms about ten to fifteen minutes apart to make sure I can’t fall back to sleep. I am also a big fan of putting your phone (if that’s what you use for an alarm) in a location where you have to stand and walk to get it from your bed. That way you literally have to get up to silence it and you’re a lot less likely to hit snooze. Putting your phone across the room at night also has the added benefit of ensuring you’re not looking at your screen too late which helps you sleep better and wake more rested.

Stretch

I feel like a lot of people put this on their “be a morning person” lists, but I had to include it on mine because it really is an amazing addition to your day. I’m young (only 23), but I already feel my body getting a bit older and stiffer so stretching at the start of my day really helps my body handle what lies ahead whether that includes intentional exercise or just all the walking, bending, and lifting that regular everyday life tends to require. Stretching also helps me to start physically waking up my body so I feel a little less groggy as I start my day.

Leave Your Curtains Open

I have very sheer curtains in my room and I love waking up to sunlight streaming in the windows. I know some people have trouble sleeping if there’s any light in the room, but that’s sort of the point of this tip. If you want/need to wake up super early, leave your curtains open at night and let the sunrise be your wake up call. As much as I’m a grump in the morning, there is something so natural about rising with the sun. Not to mention, there are tons of proven health benefits to sunlight exposure, including better sleep. Why¬†not start your day with something that’s going to help you be more rested in your day to day life?

Get Started on Your To-Do List

Because studies have found that ticking just one item off your to-do list can give you a big boost, I like to plan a couple things in my agenda for the morning that I know will be very easy for me to accomplish as soon as I get up before I have to take on the bigger items of the day. For me that usually means a task like cleaning a few dishes in the sink, doing a ten minute tidy in my room, or taking out the trash. But you can suit this to your lifestyle. Even something very simple and necessary like packing your lunch or washing your face can give you a boost of motivation if you treat it like a goal you are accomplishing.

Review Your Day

Once I have ticked my one easy task off, I look at the rest of my day in my Happy Planner.¬†I like to do this so I can see if I have any important deadlines or appointments and be sure I’m not forgetting anything important (I do not have a great memory). I also like to take this as an opportunity to prioritize my to-do list and identify the day’s three big must-dos. This helps me to begin my day focused on what I need to accomplish and gives me a clearer picture of how it’s all going to get done. And that’s helpful regardless of whether the bulk of my day is being taken up by work, school, blogging, or household chores.

Make a Little Me Time

When I had my old job, my morning routine was pretty much about rushing out of the house as fast as possible so I could start my hour long commute. So I know what it’s like to feel harried in the morning and like there’s no time to engage in some of the more luxurious morning routines floating around the internet. But even with that schedule, I found I could carve out time just for myself. I did that by using my commute to listen to my favorite podcasts or do some recreational reading. Making that the time I got to listen to This American Life or read the next chapter in my mystery novel made me begin to actually enjoy my commute (as much as is possible on a crowded train with a bunch of sleepy, grouchy people). It made me feel calmer and more positive when I reached work and I definitely noticed a difference between my attitude when I used that commute for me time versus when I didn’t. So however you have to make a moment for yourself happen in the mornings, make it happen. Even if it really is just a moment. You’ll notice a difference.

Cover Your Bases (And Cover Them Well)

There’s basic stuff we all know should happen in the morning- brushing our teeth, cleaning our face, etc.. But we also all have varying levels of ability and amounts of time. Still, if it’s at all possible I find it really important to genuinely commit to doing those basic things well. That means brushing my teeth for a full two minutes. It means making sure my hands are clean before I wash my face and using a clean towel to dry it. It means making sure I take whatever medication I need and that if I need food to go with it, I am definitely eating. It means having water waiting for me in the fridge so I can start hydrating right away. All of this might sound simple, but I think because it’s so simple we often don’t give this stuff the thought it deserves. These activities are the first way that day you are serving your body and mind. Really paying attention to them establishes a solid foundation on which to build your day. Plus, this can be a place to build in some of that me time. By making little upgrades to these core parts of your routine like using a face wash with a scent you love or having fresh lemon in your morning glass of water, you can sneak a little extra joy into your life (or at least make the morning a bit more bearable).

Borrow from the Greats

Maybe it’s just because I’m nosy, but I am really into learning about the habits of famous people. Thanks to the internet, that’s a total possibility. This year I was seeing a ton of people talking on blogs and podcasts about the power of practicing daily gratitude so I made it a part of my routine and started saying three things I’m thankful for every night. It’s been one of the best changes I’ve ever made. Other people have good ideas and there’s no harm in borrowing them. So if you need inspiration for how to get you geared up in the morning, check out these morning routines of successful women¬†and see which of their tricks you want to steal.¬†Maybe you’re like Michelle Obama and you wanna start your day with exercise to feel active and energized. Maybe you wanna meditate like Oprah and start your day calm and centered. Or maybe you wanna walk your dog like Joanna Coles and get in a little outdoor me time.

Nail Down a Routine that Works for You

While you can find great ideas from trying out other people’s routines,¬†you’re ultimately not going to stick to something that isn’t fit for you, your preferences, and your lifestyle. Think about what makes you personally feel motivated, what works in your schedule, what you need to accomplish first thing. If you totally hate meditation, there is no reason to force yourself to do it. If you love journaling but never find time for it, maybe this is the time. If you are a coffee fanatic, center your morning around that. You shouldn’t have to work incredibly hard for a routine to be right, your routines should work for you.

I’d love to hear how you’re adapting these tips to fit your lifestyle. Let me know in the comments what’s helping you wake up every day. And be sure to follow me on Pinterest for more tips and tricks like these!

 

5 Ways to Use Your Planner to Stay Healthy

5 Ways to Use Your Planner to Stay Healthy www.thefemmeinist.com

I got a Me And My Big Idea (MAMBI for short) Happy Planner for Christmas this year, and it is one of my favorite things I’ve ever owned. Not only is the Happy Planner full of bright colors and adorable designs, it has a layout that helps me perfectly plan my days, weeks, and months. Recently, I have been trying to re-invest in my health. And I’ve found that the perfect way to keep me on track is by using my planner. Here’s five easy ways to use your planner to help your health:

1. Track Your Water Intake

I know drinking water is incredibly important in maintaining one’s health, but I still find it hard¬†to keep myself hydrated. The day goes by and I just totally forget to drink it. But ever since I’ve started logging my water intake in my Happy Planner, I find myself remembering to reach for my water bottle.

Because I try to empty my water bottle three times a day, I just fill in a little bubble each time I do. However, you can also use cute stickers like these

hydration

Source: Love Your Planners

2. Schedule Your Work Outs

It’s just a lot easier to skip a work out if you haven’t made a specific plan. By scheduling when I’m going to do my work out or even what type of work out I intend to do (by specifying “yoga” or “strength training”), I make it easier for myself to actually follow through. And I find checking off that box after I’ve finished is a very low stakes, but effective form of accountability.

5 Ways to Use Your Planner to Stay Healthy www.thefemmeinist.com

3. Set Achievable Goals

One of my favorite sections of the Happy Planner is the monthly planning page that precedes each month. It has lots of helpful boxes, like birthdays, special events, and important dates, but my favorite section by far is the goals box in which you can set a few goals for the month. I’ve spoken before about the importance of setting realistic goals. So I either try to keep my goals vague enough to inspire me or achievable enough I know I can meet them, even if it takes a little work. So, for example, this month I set three vague goals I can keep in the back of my head as I plan more specifically week by week (organize my room, exercise, and try new recipes), and one specific goal (read six books- I only have 1 and a half left to go!).

5 Ways to Use Your Planner to Stay Healthy www.thefemmeinist.com

4. Use Stickers

Hydration isn’t the only thing you can track with the use of stickers. There are lots of great stickers available on Etsy to help you track just about anything.

These stickers let you track the number of steps you’ve taken each day.

78 Step Tracker Planner Stickers / Fits Erin Condren, InkWELL Press, The Happy Planner| Fitness Stickers | Gym Stickers | Work Out

Source: SweetAvasPaper

These stickers designed for the Erin Condren planner let you track hydration, but also how much you’ve slept and how many servings of fruits & veggies you’ve had today

Source: WendyPrints

Source: WendyPrints

Or you could use¬†these blank habit tracking stickers which let you fill in any habit you’re trying to cultivate.

5. Motivate Yourself

Almost every page of the Happy Planner has an inspirational quote on it, but you can always add more yourself. Seeing those little encouraging phrases each time I sit down to think about the week ahead helps me to stay in a positive mindset.

5 Ways to Use Your Planner to Stay Motivated www.thefemmeinist.com

Be sure to follow my Planning board on Pinterest for lots of free stickers & materials, and let me know your best tip for using your planner down in the comments. Happy planning!