15 Essential Summer Skills for Women
Posted by Katie Ostoich on June 22, 2012 at 5:46 PM
While summer is certainly the most fun season of all, it’s also time to learn a little something my dad used to call, “life skills.” So while they might not always be the most fun (see #10) they are totally useful and can take you from zero to hero. Because who doesn’t love the girl that can build a kick-ass campfire one weekend and look amazing at her sorority sister’s wedding the next? Here are 15 hot skills that will make this your coolest summer ever!
1. Perfect The No-Makeup Look
While most of us cringe at the idea of actually going without makeup, summer is the perfect time to lighten the load, so to speak. Here’s all you need to get a beautiful summer glow: A tinted moisturizer with spf, bronzer, waterproof mascara, and a tinted lip balm. That’s it. You’ll look fresh and put-together, and never have to worry about makeup meltdown!
2. Learn At Least One Go-To No-Heat Hairstyle
When it’s already over 70 at 7 am, there is no way I want to pull out that hairdryer. You feel me? That’s where disheveled-but-chic up dos come in handy. Here are three we love for all different kinds of hair, and if you have bangs, you have to try these out. And if all else fails, pull on a silk scarf for some vintage glamour.
3. Have a Simple Sangria Recipe You Know By Heart to Prepare for a Crowd
Summer is the best time for impromptu backyard bashes. If you find yourself hosting a barbecue in a few hours, don’t stress -- just whip up sangria and everyone will have a great time! Here’s an easy recipe that will win over any crowd.
White Wine Sangria
1 pint strawberries , hulled and halved lengthwise
2 oranges , sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
2 lemons , sliced into 1/4-inch-thick rings
3 peaches , pitted and cut into 8 wedges
3 bottles white wine (dry to semidry), such as Pinot Grigio or Chardonnay
1 liter sparkling water
Place all fruit in a large pitcher or bowl, add wine and allow to sit at room temperature 4 to 24 hours. When ready to serve, add sparkling water and ice. Serve in a bowl with a ladle (make sure there's fruit in every serving).
4. Look Cool at a Summer Wedding
While it’s tempting to want to buy a new dress for each event of the season, it’s really not necessary. If you have one showstopper of a dress, you’re sure to look fab every time. Find one really great dress and switch up the accessories for a new look. The easy route is to pick a LBD, but this summer, branch out a bit and pick something with a little color. We love neon and color-blocking is so cute and flattering this season. Just be sure to dress your look up or down depending on the time and formality of the wedding...you don’t want to be totally dressed to the nines for your friend’s intimate backyard picnic affair!
5. Know How to Master the Grill
Men may say they’re the grill masters, but don’t be intimidated. You can cook those hamburgers just as well. In my opinion, gas grills are a thousand times easier than charcoal grills because they light easier and you can control the temperature. Whichever grill you choose, be sure to lightly oil it by using a spray oil made for high heat. Then light it. Trust me, your eyebrows will thank you. (Here’s a great guide to lighting a charcoal grill.)
Once the grill is preheated (on gas grills you can watch the temperature, on charcoal grills it’s more of a feel it out kinda thing), put your marinated meat or veggies (corn is delicious) on the grates. In general, time out 4-5 minutes per side of a chicken breast or burger. This time will also work for veggies. If you’re cooking a steak or ribs, go a little longer. There’s really no right or wrong, but always check the temperature of your food before you eat it.
6. Build a Better Sandcastle
The 4 rules of sandcastle-building are:
Use moist sand.The best place to find perfectly moist sand is below the tide line. If you squeeze a ball of sand in your hand and it stays together when you roll it around in your palm, it’s perfect for building a sandcastle.
Start with a densely packed mound of sand.Start the 6 inches of firmly packed sand, and pour half a bucket of water on top. Don’t worry, any excess water will just drain out. Repeat until
you’ve reached your desired height. For the best density, build up the mound gradually.
Shave away sand in thin layers.It’s a million times easier to take away sand than to somehow add it back. Plus, you’ll have more control when you’re carving the intricate details later.
Work from top to bottom.I’ve always started at the bottom and worked my way up, but this makes sense. You won’t have to worry about accidentally crushing a tower with your knee your elbow and falling sand won’t ruin your progress either.
7. Build a Long-Lasting Fire
Once the sun goes down you’ll need an alternate light source to keep the party going. When you’re outside the best option is to build your own outdoor fire. It’s really not that hard, we promise. Here are a few tips for a long-lasting fire you can gather round to share some scary stories.
Use tinder,which catches the initial spark and flares up to transfer it to the kindling. Dry sticks and bark can be shredded into tinder with a knife or use dead dry plants and grasses, wood shavings, paper, moss, or even dry pine needles.
Use kindling, with a large surface to volume ratio and more bulk than the tinder. Dry twigs, smaller pieces of wood, and cardboard are perfect for kindling.
Now gather up more logs or “fuel” than you think necessary. The fire will burn through the logs quicker than you’ll expect.
Clear a circular area of about 4 feet and build a ring of rocks. The ring of rocks will insulate the fire.
Layer the kindling above the tinder spaced loosely enough to let air travel through, but also close enough for the flame to spread.
After you light the tinder, add firewood from smallest to biggest. Now you’re ready to melt some s’mores.
8. Try Beach Volleyball
Instead of spending your afternoon at the beach lounging on a towel, try something new, and burn some calories in the process, too. Since you’re playing on sand keep in mind that you won’t be able to jump as high as on a regular court so take shorter strides to keep more bounce in your step.
Don’t be afraid to really go after the ball and dive; the sand will soften your fall and you’ll have fun playing around. Don’t forget it’s just a game and you’ll get exponentially better with time.
9. Mix Up the Perfect Steak Marinade
It’s long been said that the way to a guy’s heart is through his stomach, and there’s no quicker route than a perfectly cooked steak. And that starts with a great marinade. Start with an acid to add bite to the marinade. Then add an oil to balance the taste, carry the flavor, and contribute a subtle nuttiness.
One part acid:You can use lemon juice, white-wine vinegar, or balsamic vinegar.
One part oil:Try olive oil, canola oil, or grapeseed oil.
Some flavor:Shallots, ginger, and herbs (chives, parsley) add tang. Use crushed red-pepper flakes for a spicier edge.
Season the steak with kosher salt and freshly ground pepper, both of which transfer the seasoning to the meat. Then soak your steak for 2 to 12 hours. (Longer is better.)
10. Perform Phone CPR
Phone emergencies are the worst. Not only are you cut off from civilization, you are stressed you’re going to have to fork over a bunch of money to replace it! Here’s how to save it (and your wallet). If your phone or device falls in a puddle by the pool or sea (or a beer - don’t laugh, it’s happened to so many people I know), first remove the battery, then stick the phone in a container with uncooked rice, which will help absorb moisture. If the phone gets covered in sand, use a bulb syringe (like the kind used for kids' medicines) or something similar to blow out any sand particles in the crevices; Do not use compressed air, which can damage your device internally.
11. Make Your Berries Last
One of the best parts about summer is that berries are in season and oh-so-yummy. But, they go bad so quickly! Well, not anymore. As soon as you get back from the farmer's market or store, prepare a mixture of one part vinegar and ten parts water. Dump the berries into the mixture and swirl around. Drain, rinse (just a bit because you won't be able to taste the vinegar anyway) and pop in the fridge. Apparently, the vinegar kills mold spores and other bacteria that might be on the surface of the fruit. This little vinegar rinse supposedly helps keep your berries from going soggy and moldy.
12. Fight Off Mosquitos
Mosquitos notoriously love me. And trust me, I do not love them back. But no one wants to smell like nasty bug spray on an otherwise sexy summer night. So use a fan! According to theNew York Times, research shows that wind is an effective way to ward off mosquitoes and other airborne pests. Sure, the wind prevents them from circling and landing on you. But a fan also dilutes and disperses the carbon dioxide you exhale, and carbon dioxide is one of the major chemicals that attract mosquitoes. And, a fan helps keep you cool, which helps keep mosquitos away because those critters love your sweat, lactic acid and body heat.
13. Know How to Pack a Bag in a Hurry
Use this tip to pack more quickly and ensure you’ll end up taking the best collection of clothes from your closet. Use the question, “If I could take only two items, what would I take?” Pack those two items. Now, expand the question to, “If I could take only three items, what would I take?” Pack the additional item. Continue with this method until your bag is full and you’ll have the most efficient and useful assortment of clothes.
Keep this in mind when it comes to shoes, too. I am always guilty of over packing shoes, and not wearing half of them. Be honest with yourself about what you’ll be doing on the trip and pack according to those plans. If you just want to veg out, forget the sneakers. If, like me, you think you’ll need a pair of dressier shoes for a fancy dinner, realize that if you’re going to be near a beach, a pair of nice leather sandals works just as well, and takes up a lot less room in your luggage.
14. Survive Running Outside...And Still Look Cute
When the air is so hot and heavy that it feels like breathing underwater, it’s hard to make yourself get off the couch and out of the air conditioning, much less exercise. But working out outdoors in the summer isn’t impossible. Try to go as early or late as possible, when the sun is rising and setting and stick to shaded areas. Be sure to carry water with you and of course, wear sunscreen.
While your genes determine how you handle the heat (some of us turn red, some of us sweat...) you can still avoid looking like a hot, soupy mess. Make sure to wear clothing that wicks, i.e. no cotton t-shirt from your sorority days, and use a headband or cute hat to keep your hair off your face.
15. Prevent a Roadside Breakdown
Before you begin that beachside road-trip you need to take necessary precautions to ensure your car is ready for the ride. Vacation is meant to be stress-free, not a time to worry about your vehicle breaking down. The Car Care Council recommends a 10-minute driveway inspection completed in 4 easy steps.
Check all fluids, including engine oil, power steering and brake and transmission, as well as windshield washer solvent and antifreeze/coolant.
Check the hoses and belts that can become cracked, brittle, frayed, loose, or show signs of excessive wear. These are critical to the proper functioning of the electrical system, air conditioning, power steering and the cooling system.
Check the tires, including tire pressure and tread. Uneven wear indicates a need for wheel alignment. Tires should also be checked for bulges and bald spots.
Check the wipers and lighting so that you can see and be seen. Check that all interior and exterior lighting is working properly and inspect and replace worn wiper blades so you can see clearly when driving during precipitation.
We recommend restocking your emergency kit, too, so you can have fun while staying safe.
What other "life skills" should we learn this summer? Teach us something in the comments!