DIY Do's and Don'ts

Let's face it, you probably have a Pinterest board full of fun DIY projects that you want to tackle in 2017. Here are some important Do It Yourself Do's and Don'ts that you should know about before you take on any type of project: home improvement, gifts, wedding, etc.

DO: Research your project.

It always looks easier than it really is. Make sure you do the research your project requires. Know the in's and out's of the project from the project itself, to the space in which you are doing the project. Make sure you know everything you need to know before you get started, and that you have the resources you need just in case if you need more information in the middle of the project.

DON'T: Spend more money on a DIY hack than the original thing.

It is absolutely amazing how expensive Do It Yourself projects can be. Once you buy all of the supplies, and put all of the time into it, you could have just saved yourself a nice chunk of change and a headache if you had just bought the thing. For example, if you want to make a mason jar chandelier--it's going to cost you around $100 and you have to figure out the electrical work. Or you could drop $49.99 at Target.com for one that is already put together.

DO: Make mistakes in order to learn from them.

I can see how this is kind of counterintuitive, but it's important. Sometimes you need to screw up and do a "don't" in order to learn how to never do it again. When you make mistakes, learn from them. It's really the only way to get better at something.

DON'T: Take on a project that you're not qualified for.

There's a difference between making a mistake and using the wrong kind of glue, and electrocuting yourself because you decided to do the electrical in your DIY kitchen remodel instead of getting a professional to do it. There are parts of certain do it yourself projects that unfortunately, you cannot do yourself--so don't attempt to.

DO: Get all of the right measurements...twice.

If you're doing a fabric project, make sure you know EXACTLY what you need. Never cut fabric unless you have laid it over whatever it is you might be doing upholstery for, or if you know exactly what the measurements have to be. When you are cutting--it's always better to leave a little more on, than take too much off.

DON'T: Close the glue bottle until you know you are done with the glue.

Fun fact, when you screw the cap closed on a glue bottle, all of the glue gets sucked into the cap. This is what causes bottles to clog up. Keep the bottle open until you are sure you are done the project to prevent clogs!

DO: Cover an area to designate to paint.

Whether you are hand painting or spray painting, it's a good idea to have a designated spot for it. If you're covering the area in newspaper, be mindful to tape the paper down for it might blow away during a spray paint session, or use blue painter's tape.

DON'T: Keep a stencil on for too long.

When you are painting, don't forget to remove the stencil as soon as you are done--or else the stencil will get stuck to your project!

DO: Work with people on projects.

Find people that are also interested in DIY projects, or perhaps do a DIY project with a friend, family member or a significant other. Sometimes it can be not only fun to work with someone, but helpful.

DON'T: Panic.

People do DIY projects for plenty of reasons: being creative, financial restrictions, aesthetic, for fun, etc. However, no matter what your reason for doing it yourself, you shouldn't panic. Every project has its problems, but you will figure out how to make it a success. You have plenty of tools and resources available to you no matter what.

Snack Like A Southerner: Hasselback Tomato Caprese

Hasselback Tomato Caprese from tablespoon.com
(tablespoon)

Ingredients:
4 Roma tomatoes
1 pre-sliced log of mozzarella cheese
10 large basil leaves, cut up
1/2 cup balsamic vinegar
1tbsp olive oil
1 pinch coarse salt
1 pinch pepper

Step One:
Slice tomatoes, but not all of the way through.

Step Two:
Slice the mozzarella discs in half in order to fit them into the tomato slits. Stick the mozzarella into the slits of the tomatoes.

Step Three:
Layer a piece of basil with each mozzarella slice.

Step Four:
On the stove, bring the vinegar to a boil until it becomes thick (about four minutes). Drizzle the vinegar and olive oil over the tomatoes. Top with salt and pepper.

Thanksgiving for One, Two and Across the Miles

Ah the holidays. They're the best for a lot of reasons: family, celebration, great food, gifts, decorations, light heartedness, and an excuse to have endless amounts of fun. However, the holidays can be a bit of a pain. They're expensive, sometimes complicated, and some people don't like their families, or can't be with them during the holidays. No matter what gravy boat you seem to find yourself in, this is a little tutorial guide as to how you can celebrate Thanksgiving all by yourself, with one special someone, or when you're far away from your family.

-Utilize allrecipe's serving size function.

(allrecipes)

This allows you to adjust recipes to fit the serving size you want! It's such a pain to follow and shop for a recipe that will make enough to feed a small village, when you really only need enough for yourself.

-Surf the internet for perfect recipes that fit your taste (and budget).

Make sure you cover all your bases from Pinterest to Buzzfeed for fun ideas for recipes from turkey, stuffing, desserts to drinks. Personalizing your dinner will be key to making cooking worth it.

-Just buy it.

Seriously. Just buy the food at your local grocery store or restaurant. If you're doing dinner for one or two, don't sweat the details too much. Buy a dinner that you know you will enjoy gorging yourself with. A rotisserie chicken from the grocery store and some instant mashed potatoes, and a premade pie from the bakery. Boom!

-Share and swap traditions and recipes

If you and your SO or best friend or roommate are spending the holiday just the two of you; or you're traveling and will be away from your family, trade recipes and traditions. This will allow for a touch of familiarity at your little dinner and make you and your dining partner feel at home.

-Make lists

Lists are incredibly important. List everything out to make life easier. Start with a menu. What do you want at your dinner? (Turkey, stuffing, mashed potatoes, cranberry sauce, salad, vegetables, pie, etc.) When you're done making that list, consult (parents, dining partner, the internet) for which items to scrap, improve, or hack for an easier and yummier dinner. Make a shopping list! Grocery stores are absolute hell holes the last two weeks of November. Please be careful and plan accordingly. Finally, make a list of how you want the day to play out in order to keep yourself on schedule.

-Keep it simple.

Keep everything as simple as possible. Last year I had my first Thanksgiving on my own. My fiancé and I had just started living together and we were across the country from both of our families. We kept the budget at $50 and dishes to a minimum (both food and clean up wise). Make things disposable. The clean up was super easy because all we had to do was throw stuff out--much easier to clean up on a full stomach when all the clean up is is garbage!

-Take lots of photos

Document the day to share with the family and friends you won't get to see this year.

Have a Happy Thanksgiving! 

DIY: Fall Mason Jars

Fall Mason Jar Display
(sincerelyjean)

Step One:
Gather your materials-
-Four mason jars of the same size
-White and brown acrylic paint
-Foam paint brush
-Twine
-Vinyl letters
-Sandpaper
-"Wheat"

Step Two: "Paint the front of the jars brown and let them dry completely."

Step Three: "Place the vinyl letters over the brown paint. " 

fall rustic mason jars(sincerelyjean)

Step Four: "Paint the entire outside of the jars white using the the acrylic or chalk paint and let them dry completely."

fall rustic mason jars(sincerelyjean)

Step Five: "Peel off the vinyl letters."

Step Six: "Use sandpaper to sand evenly around the entire jar.  This is what gives the jars that rustic look." 

Step Seven: "Tie the twine around the top of the jar with a knot."

Step Eight: "Place the wheat inside.  We used 13-15 stalks per jar."

 

This super awesome project is brought to you by sincerelyjean! 

DIY: Leather Hair Clips

Leather Hair Clips
(beautifulness)

Step One:
Gather your materials-
-Leather (faux leather or vinyl works too)
-Ruler
-Scissors
-Base clip
-Hot glue or Tacky Glue

(abeautifulmess)
Step Two: "Cut a rectangle of leather that is two inches tall and three inches wide."

Step Three: "Cut another thin strip of leather that will serve as the middle of your bow and set aside."

Step Four: "Accordion fold the leather rectangle lengthwise so that you have two folds showing on the front of your bow, and use the thin leather strip and Tacky Glue to secure the middle of the bow tightly in place."

Step Five: "Glue the bow on to your base, and you’re done!"

September 09, 2016 by Lexx Fusco

A Season of Challenges

Summer is coming to a close. It's pretty much over. Pack up your beach towels, sunscreen and bikinis; and trade them in for cardigans, pumpkin spice practically everything, and feeling the pressure of the holidays. 

However, now that this new season is upon us, there is time for change and improvement! Here is a list of challenges to try this fall to better yourself, health, wardrobe, relationships, budget, etc.

Prepared Meals For A Month

Okay, so I know I'm not alone in this, but I find myself on campus getting a Diet Dr. Pepper and a bag of Cheddar Chex Mix nearly every day. Now, in Philly, that costs $6.00. $6.00 a day x 5 days = $42 that a broke college student like myself can't actually afford to spend. Plus, let's be honest, a diet consisting solely of 30th Street Station snacks is not exactly good one. 
Goal: Create healthier eating habits, budget money
Rules: For the entire month, all meals and snacks will be prepped at home, no food will be purchased outside of the two designated shopping days in the month. The two shopping trips will not exceed $100 each--creating a $200 food budget. These prepared meals can be anything from frozen prepped meals, to salads, to simple snacks. Here's a Pinterest board I created: Prepped Food Challenge with recipes, prep tips, and more.

The Get and Give

You probably have a lot of clothes that you don't wear, like, or still have the tags on but lost the receipt for. That's fine, but there are clothes that you will want to buy this fall, and you'll definitely get more around the holidays. So here's a solution to do some good with those old clothes, while rewarding yourself with something more than just good will.
Goal: Clear out and organize clothes, give back to the community 
Rules: Go to your closet, the stack of boxes in the basement full of clothes you haven't seen since the eighth grade, the garage, wherever you have clothes and go through it. For every ten articles of clothing you can donate, equals one article of clothing you can purchase on a shopping spree. You can donate clothes to clothing drives, Goodwill, Salvation Army, consignment shops, yard sale, and even shop your clothes to your friends and family members.

Fall Photo Challenge

Photos are fun and creative. Taking photos can be fun and creative as well. Doing creative projects is actually helpful in continuing to be productive. Some of the worst procrastination you can find yourself doing is unproductive, but if you procrastinate something important, with something productive, you are more likely to continue being productive and get things done.
Goal: be creative, share photos and ideas with people
Rules: Find a photo challenge list, write a photo challenge list, etc. Start as soon as you can. Take photos on your phone, with your camera, even draw if you want to. Share the photo that day, and pass the challenge onto someone else. At the end of the designated time (Depending on personal preference or challenge selected) you will have a whole bunch of amazing photos and experiences.

31 Days of Halloween

This is another fun creative idea. This challenge allows you to get your spook on as well as help someone else spread his or her creative wings. 
Goal: Complete 31 writing pieces, get someone else to complete 31 writing pieces, improve as a storyteller/writer
Rules: From October 1st and ending on November 1st, you and a partner will write scary stories based off of prompts you give one another. You will give the prompt on one day, both you and your partner will write that prompt. Then the next day, your partner will come up with the prompt. After the day is over, you swap the stories that night and give each other feedback. You set up parameters, word/page counts, story mediums, etc. 

Days of DIY

Do you have things in your house or apartment that could use some fixing up, sprucing up or simply you just want something new in your place? Probably. Well, Pinterest projects are really pretty and everyone wants to be as great as those projects, but sometimes they are more expensive than just buying the thing you want to DIY, and they can end up a disaster. Attack projects you need to do and know that you can do, as well as give yourself a challenge!
Goal: complete at least 10 DIY projects, stay under budget, try something new
Rules: This is a weekly challenge. Find at least 10 DIY projects that you can do--either online or basic projects around your house you know you need done. Create a budget for your projects--try not to go over $100 for your 10 week budget. Don't forget to ask for help! Keep a calendar so you know when you need to get stuff done by.

Rainy Day Fund

Have a major issue saving money? Same. This challenge is super simple and a challenge that you can do for however long you want. You can even set a goal in mind, or an end date. You can create a fund for something specific as well.
Goal: save money, raise money, budget money
Rules: At the beginning of the month, write down how much money you have in your account. Budget the money for the month (groceries, bills, gas, fun). Then take is a step further and budget that money for daily use. Use cash. Any change you get from these interactions (coins), put away in a rainy day fund.

Try Something New

Goal: trying new things
Rules: Try something new every day. It can be something small or big, but try something new. If you think the new thing was positive, write down it was positive. If it wasn't all that and a bag of chips, mark it with an X. At the end of the month, look at your calendar and see if trying new things was a positive experience for you.

Fall Fit Fun

Exercising is hard and it's not fun for a lot of people. The biggest challenge for people when it comes to exercising is keeping at it. So, here's a challenge that makes it simple and you'll hopefully feel like you're accomplishing a goal.
Goals: feel healthier, exercise, find a routine
Rules: Get a calendar for the month you want to do the challenge. Label every day with an exercise. Do that exercise. Mark off the days as you go along. See if you can challenge yourself further as the month goes on, but as long as you complete your daily goal, you have accomplished something. Now, here's where the "for everyone and anyone" part comes into play. These fitness goals can be in tandem with exercises. For example, take the stairs everywhere. Exercises can be crunches, push ups, running up and down the stairs, walking around with bags of flour on your shoulders, etc. Get fit when you can, however you can.

Replace and Refresh

New is never a good thing for me unless it's a new episode of Elementary on CBS. However, I have found copycat recipes, and even replacements for some of my favorite foods and activities have helped me be healthier and more productive.
Goal: create healthier habits, find alternatives for habits.
Rules: Make a list of 50-100 things that you eat all of the time, or habits that you do a lot that you can cut down on by sharing that with something else. For example, instead of rice and pasta, try quinoa and cauliflower. Or instead of writing on the computer, write in a notebook. Instead of watching TV, spend an hour reading or walking. Wheat bread for your grilled cheese instead of wheat bread. Sleep with just a sheet instead of blasting the AC. Work at the kitchen table instead of in bed.

SMILE

Your dentist will lose it after this month's challenge. This challenge is for dental health. Now, this might sound odd to some people--but not everyone flosses. This is a fact. This will help improve your smile.
Goal: improve dental health, boost confidence when smiling
Rules: Brush your teeth twice a day. Floss twice a day. Whiten your teeth using an at home kit. Take a photo every day of your smile and see if these habits improve your smile at the end of the 30 days.

Check out these other challenges for more inspirations and ideas!
52 Fun Things: Try a New One Each Week of the Year
100 30 Day Challenges Ideas
30 Day Challenge Ideas to Turn Your Life Around
30 Challenges for 30 Days

 

Blushing Belle: Top 10 Wedding on a Budget Tips

Weddings are incredibly special, beautiful, fun, tedious and EXPENSIVE. It's your special day, and a fairy tale moment. So, how can you have your perfect wedding without breaking the bank? Here are a few tips that will hopefully help soften the budget!

1. DIY

You can spend 12 minutes on Pinterest and find hundreds of amazing DIY ideas from wedding decor, invitations, recipes, recycling, etc. Doing projects yourself instead of shelling out the cash for wedding favors, decorations or what have you, it can be much cheaper to buy supplies in bulk in order to craft the items yourself. This not only is fiscally responsible, but it really adds a personal touch to your special day.
(buzzfeed
Invest in a Cricut. Seriously. These things are magical and can do ANYTHING. You can do all of your decorations, thank you cards, invitations, name cards and more with this device. 

2. Write up a budget. Start planning early. 

After you're done replying to all of the Facebook comments, texts and carrier pigeons sending congratulations on the engagement, start planning. When it comes to your budget (I recommend Microsoft Excel, but I'm a nerd. There are a ton of apps you can use specifically for wedding costs if you're more into that!), outline your dream wedding first. If you could have everything you wanted from guests to cake to decorations to location, what is that you want and what is it that you're looking for? After you get that out of your system, start downsizing to realistic expectations. After that, decide on the number that you would wish to spend (we'll go with $5,000-$10,000.) Once that number has been selected, assign an amount to an item (for example: $2,500 to venue, $1,000 to dress, $1,500 to bridesmaid dresses, $2,000 food and drink, etc.) Keep track of your spending and prioritize. Also, the earlier you start the easier it is to book cheaper venues and other things.
Wedding Cost Estimator
(swankywedding) 

3. Something borrowed.

Whether you can rifle around in your grandma's attic or a Goodwill, sometimes borrowed is better. You can recycle anything from dresses, jewelry, or decorations. Save on costs by seeing what you already have available to you.
(weddinglovely)
(weddingtonway) 

4. Shop online.

Shop online for deals, sales, and items you may not be able to find in stores. Shameless plug here, but Redneck Couture has beautiful, handmade jewelry for brides and bridesmaids that won't take a massive chunk out of your budget and shipping is FREE. They make for excellent accessories for the bridal party or for a gift!

Recycle Your Wedding 
29 Places to Shop for Your Wedding Online

5. Printables!

Some people make it their duty in life to create fantastic printables for any and every occasion from place mats, name tags, invitations, to activities, game boards and more! Printables can range from being free to $3.00, but are worth it instead of blowing hundreds of dollars on invitations, thank you cards and other stationary and decoration needs.
(everythingetsy)
31 Free Wedding Printables

6. Bridesmaids and Groomsmen get to dress themselves.

Spending money on bridesmaids' dresses and suits for the groomsmen can be stressful for anyone that's spending money on it. Select a color that you're into and instruct your bridal party to get a dress of any kind in that color. That way they can spend whatever they want on a bridesmaid dress and it won't cost you a dime. You can perhaps invest in an accessory that unifies all of the bridesmaids (perhaps Boot Bling, necklaces, little clutches, a DIY piece of jewelry, etc.), but ultimately you can let them select and worry about their own outfits. 
(pinterest)
(chicvintagebrides)
4 Things to Remember If You Let Your Bridesmaids Pick Their Own Dresses
Why Letting Your Bridesmaids Pick Their Own Dresses Can Work
3 Things You Can Let Your Bridesmaids Choose

7. Non traditional gifts.

"Thanks for the solar powered shower head, Aunt Deborah!" said no one ever. Going the traditional wedding registry route is a good idea (get everyone else to buy you dishes, kitchen appliances and that fancy quilt from Bed, Bath and Beyond); however, sometimes people will try to get you something similar to the things you ask for and you end up with stuff you don't need or already have. Asking for help with wedding costs, or sometimes just cold hard cash money may be a nice alternative to consider.
(sheahomes

8. Food and Drink.

Explore and keep your options open. Almost all budgets take the biggest hits when it comes to venues and the food and drink options. Buffets are a nice way to save on food costs. Making your own appetizers are a good idea as well, for most places gouge for that. Come up with a signature drink for the bar instead of having an expensive open bar. You can also do a BYOB or pot luck wedding.
(ashleysbrideguide) 

9. Plan for the honeymoon in advanced.

Start a honeymoon fund (a jar in the kitchen or perhaps even a honeyfund) or invest in a credit card to use for all of your wedding costs that can reward you with miles or rewards for travel such as car rentals, resorts, hotels, etc.
(forevermoreevents)

10. Ask for help.

Whether you want to hire an expert (most of which will try his/her best to save you as much money as possible so that you can pay him/her more), ask Mom/Dad, your best friend, or even just the internet. Seek out help for costs, funds, money, ideas, and ways to make your wedding planning easier or less stressful. Take all of the time you need. 
26 Ways to Save on Your Dream Wedding
Cheap Wedding Ideas
21 Clever Tricks to Make Any Wedding So Much Easier
47 Ways to Have an Almost Free Wedding
17 Useful Wedding Cheat Sheets


 

 

Summer Wishlist 2016

Here are some rad activities, goals, foods, and ideas to add to your Summer Wishlist for 2016. 

ACTIVITIES:

  • Blow bubbles
  • Swim in a pool, lake, ocean or river
  • Catch fireflies
  • Shopping trip (treat yo' self!)
  • Dine at a fancy restaurant
  • See three movies in theaters
  • Water gun or water balloon fight
  • Jump rope
  • Play with sidewalk chalk (the possibilities are endless)
  • Construct a blanket fort
  • Shoot at the local gun range
  • Tailgate
  • Tubing
  • Picnic
  • Stargaze
  • Fishing
  • Camping
  • Horseback riding
  • Watch the sunset
  • DIY projects
  • Fruit picking
  • Tanning
  • Mudding
  • Hammock naps
  • Mini-Golfing
  • Get a new tattoo or piercing
  • Make a playlist for any summer occasion (summer jams, workout, party, etc.)
  • Watch a parade
  • Learn something new!
  • Do something creative every day (art project, write, etc.)
  • Go for a run
  • Take lots of pictures (go on an adventure, vacation, come up with a photo set, etc.)
  • Break in your new boots (go line dancing!)
  • Build a sand castle
  • Enjoy the sunrise and sunset
  • Hiking
  • Volunteer
  • Adopt a pet
  • Decorate your house/apartment/room
  • Travel
  • Summer clean up (clean out your car, house, closet, laptop, etc and start fresh!)
  • Host a Yard Sale
  • Canoeing or kayaking
  • Get a full makeover (hair cut, makeup, new sexy outfit, etc.)
  • Bonfire
  • Plant a garden (flowers, veggies, fruits, etc.)
  • Make a new friend
  • Write a letter
  • Rollerblade or rollerskate
  • Go down a Zip-Line
  • Host a party
  • Explore a town/city
  • Slip 'n' Slide
  • Play boardgames
  • Ride a roller coaster
  • Roadtrip
  • Try new food (eat, drink and be merry!)
  • Cook/Bake
  • Random acts of kindness
  • Visit an old friend/family members you haven't seen in a while
DESTINATIONS:
  • Beach
  • Boardwalk
  • Zoo
  • Aquarium
  • Parks (local, state, national)
  • A city you've always dreamed of going to (New York City, Los Angeles, Philadelphia, Nashville, Austin, Miami, Boston, London, Berlin, Boise, etc.)
  • A resort
  • Amusement Park or Water Park
  • Carnival
  • County Fair
  • Concert or music festival
  • Campground
  • Wilderness
  • "Tourist Traps" (Statue of Liberty, the Hollywood Sign, Disney World, etc.)

IDEAS:

  • Learn a new language
  • Fall in love
  • Budget your money
  • Purge your Social Media accounts
  • Find a Pinterest activity
  • Be healthier

FOODS TO EAT AND DRINKS TO SLURP:

  • Ice cream (try something new or fancy!)
  • Watermelon
  • Strawberries
  • Pineapple
  • Tomatoes
  • Something deep fried (chicken, Oreos, etc.)
  • Funnel cake
  • Caramel popcorn
  • Hotdogs
  • Delicious Frozen Treats
  • Salads (there are millions and millions to try)
  • Fresh fish (catch it yourself)
  • Cotton candy
  • Popsicles
  • Smoothies
  • Sweet Tea
  • Bourbon
  • Big Batch Cocktails
  • Lemonade (try frozen or different flavors such as strawberry, raspberry, and blueberry)

PARTY IDEAS:

  • Parties People Should Totally Be Throwing
  • 4th of July Spectacular (fireworks, sparklers, red white and blue)
  • Pool Party (Pool required)
  • Splish Splash Party (Pool not required. This is for water gun and water balloon fights, slip 'n' slides, sprinklers, kiddie pools, etc.)
  • Luau (here are some fun ideas
  • Slumber Party
  • Bachelor and Bachelorette Parties (it's wedding season after all!)
  • Fancy Dinner Party

Here are some other lists to check out for some more summer inspirations:

101 Fun Things to Do With Kids This Summer
50 Fun Summer Activities Checklist
100 Fun Summer Ideas for the Whole Family
60 Days of Summer Fun

Going to the Beach as an Adult

On June 14th, 2016, I went to the beach for the first time by myself as a 21 year old woman. When I say "by myself" I mean I went with my boyfriend and our two very good friends, but we had no real "adult" supervision. Now, our ages range from 21 to 24, but for some reason, we're not entirely real "adults" yet. Perhaps it's because we're students, perhaps it's because we're the Peter Pan generation. The moral of the story here is: this was an adventure.

 

Here are some things that I learned when prepping for the beach trip, going to the beach, and post beach. These are things from hair brained ideas of my own to internet hacks to advice from family members. Here's what worked, what didn't and what I would have done differently, and hopefully this will not only entertain, but enlighten.

MY BRIGHT IDEAS

Pack the night before.

I'm a professional panicker. If I could put it on my business cards I would--but then it would be spatially unpleasing to look at and I would panic about that, it's a vicious cycle. So, I thought I should pack everything that I needed the night before, that way I could scramble around less at the last minute. This allowed me to check, double check, as well as make sure that I had everything that all of us could have needed or wanted.

DRAMATIZATION:
(organizedchaosonline)

Unpack the morning of.

Remember that professional panicker thing? Well, it causes me to over prepare. Our beach bag was packed for nuclear apocalypse survival more than for a day of fun in the sun. It was so much easier and faster to take out extra stuff that we may not need than it would have been running around trying to shove stuff into a bag that morning.

Clearance shopping.

I'm pigmentally challenged--super, duper pale. I don't do well in the sun. I wanted to get a floppy hat to go to the beach with to go along with my ridiculous beach outfit. (I wear stockings and a hoodie and it's my "I wouldn't blame my mom for telling people I was adopted if she was caught with me in public while I was wearing this" outfit) So, the gang and I went to Target the afternoon before the beach. I found a floppy hat in their front section by the doors for $5. We shopped around a bit for snacks and such and I found my way to the clearance section because I'm a sad, broke college student. Here's where the awesome idea comes in. There were picnic blankets, table cloths, and bath towels on clearance. I bought a 6ft x 8ft table cloth (with these cute foxes eating ice cream), a 6ft x 6ft picnic blanket, and two fluffy bath towels that were 5ft x 2ft, and two pillows for $17. Instead of purchasing beach towels, for $10.99 each, I bought all of the coverage we needed for less than the price of those two towels. The clearance options are not only cheaper, but it allows for kind of a sense of lack of responsibility. If the table cloth gets ripped, we have to leave it behind, etc, I don't really mind because it was only $1.98. I have to fly back from Los Angeles, to Philadelphia. If I had bought $22 worth of beach towels, you bet your diggity darn bottom dollar that I was going to pack them up and bring them home no matter how inconvenient! However, these clearance items were cheap, multi purpose and were things that we didn't have to necessarily keep--even though that's what we ended up doing. I also highly recommend bringing pillows to the beach for maximum neck comfort while laying down. We kept the plastic on them from when I bought them to keep sand from getting on them.

(savethefamilymoney)

Cash back over ATMs all day erryday.

TD Bank claims to be the most convenient bank, but I call BS because of the ATM charges. (I love TD Bank, but I do not love buying my own money.) My mom taught me this really nifty loophole: the cash back option at stores. This is a fee free method of getting money out. After the Target trip, I got cash out at the end of the purchase so I had cash to spend at the beach and on the boardwalk (aka the Santa Monica Pier, aka West Coasters have no idea what a boardwalk is.) 

Portable chargers for everyone!

I charged and brought two portable chargers with both an iPhone cord and a mini USB cord just in case any of us needed a charger at the beach whether it was for a phone, speaker or some other fun electronic device. There's no worse feeling in the world--well, okay, that's a major over exaggeration--than having your phone die while you're stuck in an unfamiliar place far away.

(amazon)

Lotions, hand sanitizer and other nice smelly stuff.

I brought hand lotion, sunscreen, unscented and scented hand sanitizer and makeup wipes with me. 

Plastic bags.

Plastic bags are frustratingly hard to come by in California. However, in my many months here I have created quite the stock pile. I brought several plastic bags with us. They came in handy:
-Everyone had a bag to put their sandy clothes in
-Trash bags
-Impromptu group purse for cellphones, wallets, etc. 

Dollar Tree Sunglasses.

It's very hard to remember things. For example, if you're going to a very sunny place, you'd expect yourself to remember sunglasses. Well, sometimes we overestimate ourselves. I knew I would do such a thing. Both myself and our friend Don forgot our sunglasses. HOWEVER, I purchased four pairs of Dollar Tree sunglasses and kept the bag in the car in case we forgot! Everyone had an extra pair of sunglasses just in case. Dollar Tree has pretty nice sunglasses too. They're only a dollar, so buying them in bulk isn't too much of an expense and they come in handy.

ft. Dollar Tree shades and floppy hat. 

INTERNET HACKS

Put your iPhone in a Ziploc baggie to still use it while making it beach safe.

I took a large freezer Ziploc bag and put all of our phones, wallets, chargers, and keys in it. Our friend Gianna kept her phone in a tiny sandwich bag so she could still use it. Spoiler alert: she couldn't. You're at the beach, hang out with your pals and enjoy yourself not on your phone. If you really want to use it though, take the risk. The bag method ended up being pretty frustrating for the poor girl. 

Use an unfitted sheet to keep the sand out.

(buzzfeed)

I don't think this would ever work, ever outside of this photo or if you feel like dragging mammoth sized bags and coolers to the beach with you. Luckily, this did inspire the Frankenstein towel, picnic blanket, table cloth hybrid that we created. We managed to cover a large amount of space and placed our towels on top of the blanket and table cloth in order to keep sand from spilling onto them any time we turned. 

Use baby powder to remove sandy from your skin.

(pinterest)

I wore socks on the beach. Yeah. I'm super cool. However, the socks and stockings didn't stay sandy after I started walking around. However, the baby powder method is also super useful and it makes your skin feel so much softer--instead of sticky with sand and salt water. 

"If you are having trouble finding parking near the beach, you could save one of your old parking tickets and use it on your windshield to avoid getting a new one."

This is an actual beach hack. No. Don't do this. Don't ever even, why would someone think that this was an actual idea? The top notchiest method for free parking is neighborhoods. My boyfriend's aunt and uncle live near the beach. We parked on their curbside and just walked the extra ten minutes to the beach and saved about $20 on parking. Be sure to read the signs in neighborhoods first, but they're worth parking in to save the cash and aggravation.

Bring lots of water.

We picked up a $0.92 gallon of water on our way to the beach and it was nice to have. Connor really likes ice tea. We get the NesTea mix. So, I filled an empty one with the amount of powder he prefers and brought that to the beach. We filled the container up with the water, shook it up to mix it and he just drank out of the container all day and tossed it once he was done. It was a nice and efficient drink to have.

(hy-vee) (kmart)

ADVICE FROM MY MOM

Checklist.

My mom and I are list people. Writing down a checklist of everything that we needed to bring and had in the car was extremely helpful. For example, Connor almost exclusively eats raw veggies. I cut them up the night before, but stored them in the fridge to keep them fresh. If I hadn't checked the list before we left, I would have forgotten them. The list is also helpful to go over within the group in order to make sure that everyone has what he/she needs, but also so we didn't double up on stuff. (I packed sunscreen, oh, I also packed sunscreen, etc.)

(erinakincaroll)

Leave early.

Leaving early is worth it. You experience the beach in all kinds of temperatures, crowds, and temperaments. Getting there early you have your choice of spots to choose from, it starts off cool and gets warmer throughout the day. There's less traffic to and on the beach as well.

Go to the bathroom at least twice before you leave.

Restrooms on the beach are to be your absolute last option. For some reason they are built to not flush after three uses and people just absolutely DESTROY them with bodily fluids and sludge. Go to the bathroom when you can before you leave and then space out beverage consumption throughout the day. 

Once you put your wallet away, keep it away.

I'm a professional panicker, but I also have an advanced degree in putting things down and abandoning them by accident. My wallet has fallen prey to this absent mindedness many a time. So, once we parked and all put our wallets in the plastic bag, I kept my wallet in that bag, inside of our bigger bag until we were back in the car. 

Make sure all of the sand is gone before you get in the car. 

Cleaning up thoroughly was kind of a pain, but totally worth not finding sand in every nook, crevice and cranny on ourselves and in the car for the next three days.

Have fun.

I did. 

I hope these tidbits were enlightening and that you have a summer of fun!

 

DIY: Pom Pom Blanket

(sugar&cloth)

Step One:
Gather materials-
-Throw blanket (from thrift shop, Target or just something lying around)
-Scissors
-Ruler
-Hot glue/Fabric glue
-Pom Pom Trim

Step Two:
Measure out length of blanket in order to cut the right amount of Pom Pom time. Snip snip!

Step Three:
Glue the trim onto the edge of the blanket a few inches at a time. Be careful not to get your fingers with the hot glue.

Step Four:
Let dry!