Here Comes The Sun: My Start of Summer Essentials

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Memorial Day Weekend is upon us, and you know what that means – the unofficial start of Summer is here!  It’s the time for grilling and eating meals outdoors, switching to iced coffee, and whipping neglected flowerbeds into shape; time for impromptu trips to the beach and watching fireflies at dusk from the comfort of a screened porch.  Summer is all about those easy moments, when we can take a collective deep breath and release the stress of a long-endured Winter (say it with me now: ahhhhhhh).  To make this Summer even more special, I’ll be kicking off the season with my 30th (!!!) birthday.  There’s nothing quite like embarking on another decade to put time in perspective, and I’m determined this year to make the most out of the beautiful Summer sunshine while I have it.  To help with that, I’ve put together a list of my go-to Summer essentials.  These are the items – some fun (a cute monogram tote) and some absolute necessities (sunscreen!) – that I’ll be reaching for time and time again this Summer.

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1. Sun Protection.  Let’s start with the #1 item I literally cannot live without during the Summer – sunscreen!  (Ok, so maybe I could literally live without this liquid SPF gold, but my burnt and miserable skin would never forgive me).  For body coverage, I love Neutrogena Fresh Cooling Sunscreen Body Mist, SPF 70.  I find spray sunscreens to be the easiest to apply, especially in hard-to-reach areas, and this one in particular provides very sheer, non-greasy, and reliable coverage.  (Note: always apply spray sunscreens in well-ventilated areas to avoid accidental inhalation of chemicals and never spray directly onto the face; spray into your hands and apply).  For the face, I prefer a lightweight, oil-free lotion such as Shiseido ‘Urban Environment’ Oil-Free UV Protector SPF 42 that has a matte finish suitable for wearing under makeup. (Kudos to those women who feel confident going sans makeup in the Summer, but alas, I am not one of them).

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2. Swimsuit.  Call me old fashioned, but I am loving the resurgence of modest, retro-inspired swimsuits.  The trick to pulling off a one piece without looking like your mother (no offense to moms – I know some hot mamas!) is to find styles with youthful accents such as bright colors, playful patterns, or cheeky details.  I love this Vintage Boyleg Swimsuit from Boden.  Nautical navy and white stripes are Summer classics, and the polka dot detailing keeps it fresh and fun.

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3. Cover-up.  Warm weather calls for easy, laid-back style, and for me, nothing fits the bill quite like a breezy Summer dress that can double as a swim cover-up.  This crochet-trimmed style from Zara is versatile enough to take you from the beach to a lunch date.

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4. Shades.  I wear prescription sunglasses, so as much as I’d love to don the cute, trendy, and inexpensive shades I see everywhere from Target to my local drugstore, I usually splurge on a quality pair that will carry me through several seasons.  I gravitate toward classic styles such as these Tory Burch aviators or Ray Ban wayfarers.

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5. Sun Hat.  In the summer, I never leave the house without a hat in hand.  Wide brimmed and fedora styles keep the sun out of my face and help keep my bangs and long hair in check on especially breezy days.  I have a few go-with-everything hats in rotation, but this classic panama hat from J.Crew is one of my favorites.  I usually have a difficult time finding hats for my (apparently giant!?) head, but luckily this one comes in S/M/L sizing, so I was able to get the proper fit.

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6. Sandals. I know I’m in the minority on this one, but I have never been a huge fan of flip-flops.  They certainly have their place at the beach or by the pool, but there are so many other fun, stylish, and equally easygoing alternatives I prefer for day-to-day wear.  This embellished sandal from Target is chic, comfortable, and wallet friendly at around $22.

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7. Easy Jewelry.  When it’s hot and humid outside, the last thing I want to do is load up on tons of jewelry.  Instead, I’d rather throw on a bold statement piece like these wood tassel bracelets from Gold & Gray.  I love the pop of the bright tassels against the neutral beads – so fun!

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8. Beach Towel.  Yes, beach towels and blankets are made to get wet and sandy, but nothing says they can’t be stylish too!  I love the texture and generous size of this Herringbone Striped Turkish Cotton Towel, and it can even double as a picnic blanket or a casual table topper.

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9. Portable Charger.  I carry this little pocket battery charger in my purse year round, but it especially comes in handy in the Summer months when so much time is spent outdoors (and away from an outlet)!  I use it to charge my cell phone, e-reader, and other mobile devices when I’m on the go, and it does a surprisingly good job for such a little device.  At less than $15, this one is a no-brainer.

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10. E-Reader.  One of the things I most look forward to during the Summer is sitting on the beach or out on the porch with a good book.  I love the feel of a good old-fashioned paperback in my hands, but e-readers are just so darn convenient – especially when you are on vacation and want to bring several books with you but don’t want to weigh down your luggage.  This Kindle Paperwhite is my go-to choice for digital reading and the closest thing I have found to reading actual paper.  The screen performs beautifully in the sun with no glare, and at around $100, it’s not nearly as big of a commitment as it’s flashier tablet cousins.

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11. Water Bottle.  Confession: I am a coffee fiend, and I will never give up my oh-so-delicious habit.  That being said, I do try to stay hydrated and drink as much water as I can throughout the day, especially in the unforgiving Summer heat.  I LOVE the clean styling and simple silicone cap (do you also get annoyed by lids with moving parts, or is that just me???) of this eco-friendly glass water bottle.  Now, the real trick is to force myself to drink at least one of these filled with water for every cup of coffee I have. #healthgoals

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12. Roomy Tote.  Finally, with all of the fun Summer activities on the horizon, I’ll need a big tote bag to carry all of my must-haves.  I have been coveting this monogrammed St. Anne Tote from Barrington Gifts, and I love that you can personalize it with your choice of background fabric, stripe color, and monogram style.  My choice is a straw background (i.e. will go with everything!) with a fun pop of navy and bright green, but there are so many combinations available; it’s hard to choose just one!

So, what’s on your Summer must-have list?

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Wishing everyone a very fun-filled, sunny, and safe Memorial Day Weekend! XO Meg

2014: Goals for the Year Ahead

Goals 2014

I’ve never been a big believer in making New Year’s resolutions, because, well, I’ve never managed to keep one beyond the second week in January.  I think resolutions put unrealistic expectations on us to become perfect versions of ourselves.  I do, however, love the feeling of excitement the New Year brings to improve upon the previous year and make plans for the year ahead.  With January now in full swing, I took some time to write down a few goals I have for 2014.  They aren’t big, sweeping resolutions like “I will double my salary!” or “I will eat only green foods!”  This year, I’m keeping the emphasis on meaningful yet doable changes I can make and keep going throughout the year to make me a happier, more satisfied person {an important goal in itself}.

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Here’s my list:

Stress less about things I can’t control. I have a tendency to let frustration and anxiety get the best of me. When I feel my stress level rising, I need to take a deep breath and ask myself what’s causing the problem. Holding onto unnecessary stress can be toxic. Instead of getting upset over things that are out of my control, I’m going to work on putting that energy to more positive and constructive uses.

Approach arguments as something to be solved, not won.  As JC and I navigate our first year together in the new house, we’re sure to encounter plenty of stressful situations.  When we do inevitably have disagreements, I want to make sure they are productive, not destructive.  For me, this means learning to swallow my pride from time to time and, instead of fixating on a point ad nauseam for the sake of being ‘right’, working to find real and meaningful resolutions.  After all, what good is being ‘right’ to either of us if, when it’s all said and done, we’re not happy together.

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Drink more water.  I love coffee.  I know I drink way more than I should, but I have no intention of parting ways with my favorite caffeinated companion.  That being said, I am going to make a concerted effort to drink more water throughout the day to make sure I’m staying hydrated and keeping my body healthy.

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Take a cue from William Morris.  The artist famously wrote, “Have nothing in your houses that you do not know to be useful or believe to be beautiful.”  I’m going to keep this clutter-free philosophy in mind as we settle into the new house.  It’s not about living without, it’s about living with only what you need or really, truly want.  The rest is just in the way.

And finally,

Be my own biggest fan.  Confidence comes naturally to some people, while others have to work a little harder to keep all of those nagging doubts at bay.  I fall into the latter category.  To cultivate a healthier outlook, I’m going to try relying less on validation from others and, instead, start putting more faith in my own instincts and talents.

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Maintaining some of these goals will be easier said than done, I know, but I’m going to work to keep them in mind throughout the year, and hopefully they’ll become part of my routine moving forward.  I think these few small but important changes will go a long way to keeping me level headed and happy in the future.

So, here’s to the New Year and making the most out of 2014!  Best of luck to you as you work toward your own goals this year.  Feel free to share your progress in the comment section below – I’d love to hear how you plan to make this year your happiest yet!

Cheers!

Megan

Welcome to Starting Out in Style!

Tell me if this sounds familiar.  You love feeling inspired and often find yourself in awe of the seemingly endless stream of style and creativity to be found in your favorite blogs and magazines…and then, of course, there’s Pinterest.  The enjoyment you get from sifting through image after beautiful image of dream homes and wardrobes borders on the addictive {and, let’s be honest, you’re fine with that}.  The only problem?  With no shortage of inspiration, you find yourself feeling frustrated, because so many of the ideas and products you love seem out of reach.  Whether you have a limited budget, an overflowing schedule, or simply a lack of expertise, it seems like there’s always something keeping you from turning your ideas into reality.

If you can relate, then you’re probably a lot like me.

For as long as I can remember, I have loved finding new ways to express creativity through arts and crafts, decorating, fashion, music – you name it, I’ve probably tried it.  Some endeavors were more successful than others {a certain mosaic tile fiasco comes to mind}, but the hunt for artistic inspiration has remained a constant source of enjoyment for me, with one notable caveat.  Too often, I found myself feeling discouraged; between work, school, and family obligations, there never seemed to be enough time in the day or money in the bank to bring the ideas I loved to fruition…which brings us to the present.

I created Starting Out in Style as a challenge to myself to create the life I wanted with the budget and resources I had.  The goal: to prove that an “ordinary” person like me can lead an extraordinary life of style, inspiration, and creativity.

Starting Out in Style is a work in progress.  I invite you to join me as I share my experiences decorating my first home, tackling DIY projects, and seeking out fresh and exciting ways to inject more style into everyday life.  Please check back in as I add more content, and don’t hesitate to leave comments or contact me at megan@startingoutinstyle.com with questions or feedback.

Last and most of all, welcome and thank you for visiting Starting Out in Style.

Wish me luck!

Megan Good