I live for summer! Yes, many people love summer, but living in Seattle means a lot of grey days so when the sun comes out, the city really shines. People come out of their houses and stare up at the big yellow orb in the sky like moles from underground. Quickly, we run (not walk) to our nearest park or outdoor patio to take it all in, drop by glistening, warm drop. Whether you live on the West coast, East (or somewhere in the middle) get ready to love your summer more.
With summer comes freedom and the feeling of coming alive. We shed winter layers and boots for sandals, flip flops, shorts and flowy dresses. Summer is more casual and laid back than its winter counterpart when we are buttoned up and tucked in. Don’t get me wrong, when fall hits I feel just as excited to pull out my boots and sweaters, but not as free. I am a sun loving, free-styling, deck grilling, less is more kinda summer girl. So what does one free-flowing gal do to keep summer simple, and how can you too? Get ready to hit the beach, join your friends for a hike or enjoy cocktails on the patio on just a moment’s notice. Here are my top tips on how to live the free and easy summer lifestyle – from beauty and health to eating and relaxing.
Be ready to play with your kids or have some coveted ME time.
Think about the things you, your family and crew of friends, do most often this time of year. Create a basket or bag or crate of the essential items you will want if the feeling strikes. I’m often taking my boys to the beach, a park, water fountain or the zoo. I have a plastic bin in the back of my car and in the summer it is filled with all the things we may need such as water shoes, extra swimsuits, sunscreen, sand buckets and shovels, towels, squirt guns, a ball or two, and Frisbee. If we ever decide to stop off, we are ready to go.
My A1 most essential ingredient of summer of all is my zip up, picnic blanket tote. I’ve had it for years and I always have it in my car and I cannot tell you how many times we break it out. I got mine at Bed, Bath and Beyond.
When my kids aren’t tagging along and I have a little time on my hands, I will often hit the trails for a walk or head down to the water to rent a kayak or do some stand-up paddleboarding (SUP) for an hour or two. I make sure to keep some good walking/running/trail shoes in my car, a swimsuit and towel, a hat and of course plenty of sunscreen and my water bottle. I also bought a waterproof case for my phone, keys and money for the times when I do hit the water.
Be ready to entertain.
We love to have our neighbors over for drinks and light summer noshes and it’s often done across fences. “Hey, come over for a glass of wine.” I don’t want to be scrambling, so I do the same gathering for at-home entertaining. ” I make sure the propane tank is full and ready to go, stock up on white wine, bottles of sparkling water and other fun summer drinks. Next, I dust off the patio furniture, put out the umbrella and hang some festive lights around the deck. And don’t forget music to add joy to your gatherings.
When shopping I always make sure to grab some fresh simple ingredients that will allow me to offer up a light snack to those who visit. Plenty of fresh fruit and veggies, a nice cheese and some sort of meat like a prosciutto. Nothing says summer simple like chunks of cantaloupe with a prosciutto wrap or a nice Caprese salad (tomato/mozzarella/basil). I keep rosemary crackers, almonds and olives on hand at all time as well as other non-perishable items such as pickles. Asparagus, green beans and okra are always a hit too.
Since I’m a gardener, I love to plant a few things that can aid in my simple, summer plans. Everything tastes better when fresh from the garden. Try a simple herb garden to add fresh flavors to your meals. For entertaining, I love grabbing snap peas and cherry tomatoes off the vines and my kids snack on them while playing in the yard.
Be ready for summertime fun with friends.
I like to meet up with friends as often as possible in the summer. We tend to hibernate in the winter and are much less social so when the days are long, I like to take advantage and meet up for lunch, after work or the gym to catch up with my girlfriends. I always keep a gym bag in my car with all my pre and post gym essentials: tennis shoes, a clean sports bra, towel, and toiletries bag. When summer hits, I add in a super cute and casual, jersey dress that doesn’t wrinkle (rolled), a pair of leather flip flops to wear with said dress or for pedicure sessions, a sun hat and a light sweater. This little outfit means, I’m ready to go and have no excuses when it comes to summer socializing. Okay so maybe I should find a babysitter first, but as I said, I’ve been locked up all winter and now’s the time to seize the day!
Get a summer glow.
For summer time looks, less is most definitely more. You want a routine that is simple, easy and quick. Go for a more natural feel. When I am out in my garden, it doesn’t take long to develop a bit of color in my cheeks. A light tan on my skin makes me feel healthy and glowing. Of course, I’m sure to wear sunscreen and most of my tan comes from a bottle these days but a little sun-kissed color can go a long way. Best of all, it means less make-up. My morning routine becomes so much simpler.
I keep my moisturizer light as opposed to the more emollient sorbet I use in the winter. Look for one with SPF of 30 or more or add a sunscreen over it. To even out my skin, I opt for a tinted moisturizer or a BB cream like Physicians Formula Organic Beauty Balm. It feels light yet moisturizing on my skin, has a summer, tropical smell and has SPF 20. A dab on cheeks, chin, forehead and nose usually does the trick. A swipe of mascara and a little lip gloss and I’m out the door. If you want to add a little summer fun to your face, brush on a bit of sparkling face powder. This will help fight the oil and when the sun hits your face just so, you’ll shimmer instead of shine.
Your body is the one thing that can require more work in the summertime. Let’s be honest, how often do we shave during the winter months? And our feet are often exposed which means more pedicures are a must and a lot more exfoliation is required overall. My routine goes something like this: Exfoliate, Hydrate, Glow.
Shaving itself, aids in exfoliation, so your legs probably get the most dry skin sloughing. But what about the rest of your body? There are body scrubs with sea salt and hand mats that can be used while showering. I like to dry brush. Dry brushing your skin before showering has many benefits. Brushing removes the top layer of dead skin, increases circulation and aids in the release of toxins in your body. I do it two to three times per week in the morning. Whole Foods sells a Tampico Skin Brush which is the one I use. To brush, stand in the shower (water off) and begin brushing your skin in a circular motion starting at your feet. Work your way up your legs. When brushing your torso and chest, brush towards your heart and when brushing your tummy, brush in a clockwise motion. For arms, use long strokes starting at your fingers up towards your shoulder. Brush in a circular motion in your armpits as well. Avoid the face. Then shower like normal. Try it and see how invigorating you feel after. A normal skin brushing routine will truly optimize the health of your skin at the cellular level.
After showering, choose a hydrating moisturizer and slather up. And hey, it’s summer. Why not go for a tropical or coconut scent? If you’re going to be in the sun, top that with a layer of sunscreen. I recently discovered this great natural spray on which makes application so easy wherever you are.
Now add a little glow. Choose your favorite self-tanner or bronzer and rub a nice, even layer over your skin. Be sure to allow a few minutes of drying time before getting dressed. For more on sun protection and tanning, see my article on how to achieve a healthy tan.
Enjoy beach waves.
As for hair, it’s all about that wind blow, salty beach, free-flowing look anyway, so very little is required. I let my hair dry naturally after showering in the evenings, using my fingers to give it a little shake here and there as it dries. The next morning, I have several options.
Go for the scrunch – I spray in a salt infused beach spray like Bumble and Bumble’s Surf Spray to add texture to my hair and give it that wavy, just got off the beach look. This works for shorter or longer lengths.
Try a messy top knot – After scrunching your hair with the salt spray or a little hairspray, begin to pull it all to the top of your head. Don’t worry about it being perfectly smooth. That would defeat the purpose. Once gathered, pull it through a band once, then wrap it around itself and wrap the band again around the base of your knot to secure. It’s okay if pieces poke out here and there. That’s the mess!
Rock your sleek look – If you have shorter hair or if you need a more polished look for say a networking event or meeting, go for a sleek look. Comb your hair back with a wet comb to tame and add a little mousse. If your hair is shorter, you can secure it on the sides with clips or bobby pins. For longer hair, gather it at the nape of your neck for a low hanging ponytail. This look doesn’t say, I just left the beach but I was at the beach, showered and ran out the door. Still low fuss.
Braid it up – Braids are all the rage and I sometimes turn to them when I need to keep my hair out of my face while biking (which prohibits the top knot due to the helmet) or I’m going to be on the water. My go-to is two regular pigtail side braids topped off with a bandana or hat, but with the braids the possibilities are endless. YouTube offers countless lessons on braiding, but again, we are trying to keep life simple so if you’re not already a braiding expert, take the easy route. Go with the pigtails, a braid down the back or pull your hair low and to the side and then braid for the Katniss Everdeen look.
If any of these tips seem too complicated for you (we’re all a little different), pick the ones that don’t. With a little upfront preparation, you can feel free and easy and have more time to relax for the rest of your summer days.