Friday Favorites: Summer Essentials

If you weren’t sure if we were going to have a typical summer in southern Indiana this year, this week definitely confirmed it for you: 100 degree days with 200% humidity. Great days to enjoy some Netflix and chill in the AC. (Literally chill, guys.)

Today I’m going to share a few of the things I’m loving this summer + a few of the things that I feel like are saving my life. The bugs. The heat. Sigh.

I’m also linking up today for Friday Favorites, so be sure to check out all the other posts today! ❤

Bug Stuff

You guys, the bugs are insane this year. I think it has something to do with how warm it was all winter—things didn’t die as they were supposed to as part of the circle of life. I am particularly susceptible to mosquito bites, and my legs look like those of a child who has been playing outside all day (minus being tan, because I’m in an office all day). These are the products I’m relying on to help with all the bugs.

Badger Anti-Bug Shake & Spray

I love pretty much anything put out by Badger Balm, but this bug spray is pretty legit. You will smell like citronella. But I think this natural bug repellant is much more effective than some of the other hippie ones I’ve tried.

Witch Hazel

I’m convinced witch hazel will cure anything. But this is one of the ONLY things I’ve found that actually relieves the itching/pain from bug bites. I put some on every night after I get out of the shower.

Badger Balm also has an after-bug balm that works nicely, although I think witch hazel is a little better. Also, I’ve tried lavender oil to repel bugs a few times, and it worked pretty OK. It’s nice in a pinch if you would like a more natural bug spray.

Sunscreen

Speaking of Badger Balm, I’m a big fan of their sport sunscreen.

This is a zinc-oxide (HAY) based sunscreen, so it goes on pretty white—I recommend applying it with a mirror nearby so you can see what you’re working with. It’s waterproof for up to 80 minutes, which I think is a nice bonus. I definitely miss the convenience of the spray-on sunscreens, but I’m getting used to this natural option.

Sandals

I splurged on 2 pairs of sandals this year, and I have no regrets. My first purchase (which was technically this spring) was this pair of Birkenstock Mayari sandals.

I wanted these sandals like whoa last summer, but you couldn’t find them anywhere by August. So I got on it this year and ordered them in April. Sizing was a little challenging—I ordered a size down, and think I really should have gotten them in narrow, but I was sick of ordering and sending back and reordering at that point. Anyway, I tightened the straps and have never looked back.

Next up is this pair of Chacos.

First off, the style is called Dorra, so how could I not get them?? They are probably the most comfortable sandals I’ve ever owned right off the bat—no breaking in necessary. I also love that they are really functional, but could also be worn with a summer dress or out for a nicer occasion if needed.

Drinks

I got this Healthy Human stainless steel cruiser tumbler a while ago, but it has been a life-saver this summer.

The “keeps cold for 24 hours” thing is legit. I bring my iced coffee in it to work every morning, then on lunch will stick the tumbler out in my car for the rest of the day. In the 100 degree heat. In my car with black interior. And there is still ice in there when I get in at the end of the day to go home. It’s magic.

Also, this nettle tea from Republic of Tea.

I read an article earlier this year about how nettle tea can provide allergy relief, so I figured I’d give it a try. I don’t know if it has really affected my allergies, but this tea is dang delicious—it almost tastes like cake.

Fresh Fruit

Specifically, cherries.

I’ve never bought cherries before, mainly because they are $$$ at the grocery. This year I’m splurging on them every week and cannot get enough. They are the perfect amount of sweet and so refreshing.

Much thanks to Erika, Narci, and Andrea for hosting today’s linkup—be sure and go check them out!

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Tips for Packing a Healthy Lunch

As I was typing up my first post in a while, I was thinking about what kind of things I wanted to share on here. I started keeping a note in my phone with possible topics. Because while I love reading “day in the life”-type posts on blogs, they get kind of repetitive. Even more so when you’re a creature of habit, like me. Posting the same breakfast, lunch and snacks plus work synopsis would wear pretty thin pretty quickly.

One of the first ideas that popped in my head was tips on packing your lunch, because that is something I kind of have on lockdown. Packing a lunch bag for work (or school or whatever your current life situation is) is one of the most effective things you can do to make healthier choices throughout the day AND save some money. So here we go!

Tip 1: Get Your Shit Together the Night Before

Pardon my French, but this is THE most important thing when getting my lunch (and life, for what it matters) together. I am not a morning person (which if you know me at all, you know that about me), and I can think of the instances when I’ve actually packed a good breakfast + lunch + snacks the morning before work on like, one hand. So now I make it a point to put everything together the night before—and honestly, it usually takes no longer than 5 minutes. Then I can snooze in the morning and not worry about having nothing to get me through the day at work.

Tip 2: Get a Really Nice Lunch Bag

I got mine at TJ Maxx for less than $20, but you can find it on Amazon here. I love it because it’s big enough that I can get A LOT of stuff in there, but small enough that it can still fit in the fridge at work without taking up an obscene amount of space. It also has some nice outer pockets where I keep utensils, stuff that doesn’t need to be refrigerated, etc.

Tip 3: Invest in a Few Reusable Containers

(I didn’t have any clean containers, so I used the ones with my lunch in it for tomorrow. Cooper was pretty interested haha.)

For years I used Gladware or other plastic containers, but I recently got a set of 4 Pyrex containers so I don’t have to worry about anything leaching into my food, especially if I put it in the microwave. I can’t find the exact set I got online, but here’s a similar one: mine has a 4-cup bowl, a 2-cup bowl, and two 1-cup bowls. I got them at Target for less than $20 (and they seriously go on sale all the time). I also got a set of these 4 ounce Ball jars, which are perfect for dressings or dips.

Lunch is usually a salad that I put in the largest bowl, and then I bring berries or some other fruit in one of the smaller bowls. The 4 bowls in this set plus the 4 ounce jars are basically all that I need. And, pro tip: If you are able, wash your containers at work, so you’ll have them clean when you get home—just throw everything together for tomorrow and you’re done!

The other thing I’ve started using recently that I really like are these reusable zip bags (like Ziploc, but you can reuse them). I used to use a TON of Ziploc baggies, and I started getting really convicted about how wasteful that was. I found this set of 5 online (3 sandwich size, 2 snack size) and am in love with them. They are BPA-free, freezer-safe, and I just wipe them out with some soapy water and a paper towel, then air-dry them overnight.

Tip 4: Overpack Rather Than Underpack

So ideally, pack the right amount of food, but I would much rather bring too much and then bring it home with me or leave it at work for the next day than not bring enough and be hangry all day or looking for change to use at the vending machine.

Most days, I bring my breakfast, lunch, and then a snack for midmorning (which I sometimes skip) and a snack for midafternoon. Breakfast is usually turkey sausage with a banana and almond butter (which I buy in pre-portioned packets, so I don’t go overboard with the AB), and lunch is either leftovers or a salad. I try to bring snacks that are healthy, filling, and portable. Most days I bring 2 cuties, a sandwich bag of baby carrots or some other fresh vegetable, and a Larabar. If I know I won’t be heading home right after work, I might have some grapes or jerky to hold me over till dinner.

This is based on years of research, fyi. Figuring out how much food to bring, plus what kind of food is filling without making you feel miserable, is a lot of trial and error.

Tip 5: Extras and Nice-to-Haves

OK, now we’ve basically covered what I consider are the essentials of a good packed lunch. Now we arrive at the things that are nice to have, but really up to you. A couple things I really love:

  • A good water bottle. I actually bring 2 big water bottles to work every day (each 32 fl oz) to cut down on buying bottled water from our vending machine (I’m really into recycling right now, guys). I still usually have to buy maybe 1 or 2 bottled waters each day, but it’s much better than before.
  • Reusable utensils. I came across these bamboo utensils while I was poking around online and they look pretty neat. The ones I keep in my bag are just plastic, maybe Tupperware. Honestly, I mostly use them when other utensils are not available—I should stop doing that.
  • Coffee tumbler that keeps drinks hot or cold. I am obsessed with this Healthy Human tumbler I got. It for real keeps drinks cold for 24 hours (or after an entire day in 90 degree heat, in the sun, in a car with black interior). Plus it’s so pretty.

And that’s all I got! Let me know if you guys have questions or would like to see more of these types of posts. Oh, and have a happy and fun long weekend! ❤

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