Beat the Heat: 16 Ways to Stay Cool this Summer

Beat the Heat: 16 Ways to Stay Cool this Summer

With temperatures in the 90s and the heat index over 100 this week, it’s been a real challenge to stay cool the past few days. Especially with no air conditioning in my apartment. So without further ado, for all of you who are in the same boat, here are 16 creative ideas to help you beat the heat without having the luxury of A/C.

1. Find friends who do have air conditioning. Try to visit and have sleepovers there as much as possible.

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2. Go anywhere else with A/C whenever possible. Put in extra hours at the office, go to the mall, go out to eat, go grocery shopping, go to the movies, go bowling, visit a local museum or the library, or just have a party at Walmart.

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3. Sleep with cold packs. If your friends don’t feel like housing you for the fourth time this week, this is an excellent alternative. Cool, damp towels or washcloths feel great too.

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4. Deck out every room with fans. My apartment doesn’t even have ceiling fans, so portable floor fans are lifesavers.

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5. Make a cold drink. A few of my favorites include smoothies, shakes, or Italian soda (club soda, flavored syrup, and half and half). Or just hit up that smoothie shop down the street. Besides, they probably have A/C.

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6. Get wet. Go swimming, go tubing, have a water balloon fight, or wash the car!

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7. Enjoy a good old Popsicle. Or ice cream or basically anything else that’s cold. Avoid hot food, especially if it requires turning on the oven.

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8. Go boating. Even if you don’t get wet, the breeze will cool you off!

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9. Go to the beach. 

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10. Go ice skating at an indoor rink.

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11. If you have to stay home, wear minimal clothing. Why bother when you’ll probably just sweat all over it anyway?

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12. Take a road trip up north. I mean way up north.

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13. Or just book the next flight to the north pole.

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14. Stay hydrated. The heat takes a lot out of you. Drink fluids as much as possible.

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15. Take a cold shower. You’ll probably start sweating again as soon as you step out, but its nice break for a while.

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16. Or take a natural shower. When you are fortunate enough to get some precipitation, take advantage. Don’t pass up the opportunity to dance in the rain.

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Good luck and stay cool!

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Tortilla Pie

Tortilla Pie

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Tortilla pie is a classic dish that my mom made for us all the time growing up. It is very delicious and so simple and easy to make.

Start out with a fun 9-inch pie dish like this one:

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Then preheat the oven to 400°F. I sprayed my pie dish with some cooking spray to prevent sticking, wiping the dish with a paper towel to make the spray less thick and concentrated.

Then I poured the can of beans into a strainer so I could rinse them off and mix them with the corn.

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Time for assembly! Start out with a tortilla in the bottom of the dish. Mine are green because I used spinach flour tortillas from Trader Joe’s but you can use whichever kind you prefer. Spread on about 1/3 cup of salsa.

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Note: I haven’t tried this, but for all the experimenters out there, I think this could be even more delicious if a fresh salsa was used. I think I’ll try that next time!

After the salsa, add a few spoonfuls of the corn and bean mixture.

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Sprinkle on about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.

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Finally top with another tortilla. Continue this pattern – tortilla, salsa, corn and beans, and cheese – for the next two layers. Then top it all with the fourth tortilla.

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Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for about 30 minutes at 400°F.

See the full recipe below.


Tortilla Pie

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Ingredients:

  • 4 flour tortillas
  • 1 can whole kernel corn
  • 1 can black beans
  • 1 cup of salsa
  • 1 & 1/2 cups shredded colby jack cheese
  • cooking spray

Instructions:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Spray a 9-inch pie dish with cooking spray and then wipe it with a paper towel to evenly cover the pan with a thin layer.
  3. Open the can of black beans, pour into a strainer, and rinse in cold water.
  4. In the strainer or a separate bowl, mix together beans and corn.
  5. Lay one tortilla in the bottom of the pan and cover in a thin layer of salsa, about 1/3 cup. Then top with a few spoonfuls of the bean and corn mixture, and finally sprinkle on about 1/2 cup of shredded cheese.
  6. Repeat step 5 for the next two tortillas. Be sure to spread the salsa, corn, and beans to the edges of the tortillas to prevent the edges from sagging.
  7. Place the final tortilla on top and cover the pan with aluminum foil.
  8. Bake at 400°F for about 30 minutes or until heated through.
  9. Serve with rice if desired. Enjoy!
Dear Future Self

Dear Future Self

Dear Future Self,

“How’s it going? You’re living in your first apartment now! How awesome is that? You’re probably covered in German Shepherd hair right now, but don’t worry, soon you can vacuum that off for good because your roommate and her furry companion are moving into their own apartment next year.

Hopefully you’re getting along with your other roommates okay, and that you’re making time to stay in touch with your friends from high school and grade school. I mean, you grew up with those girls; you are basically sisters! Make sure you are devoting time to keeping up with those lovely ladies. But most importantly, I hope that you’re taking time to hang out with your actual, biological sister, Rachel!

What else is new? Have you overcome your inability to swallow pills yet? How about sports? Have you started following any teams? Did you finally fill out a bracket for March Madness this year?”


One year ago, I wrote a letter to myself to open today. Those were just some of many things I wrote about and it was crazy to see how far I’d come and how much has changed in just one year.

Now I challenge you to do the same. Write a letter to your future self. On the envelope, tell yourself to open it one year from now, five years from now, or maybe 30 years from now. Write about what your life is like right now and then talk about where you want to be when you are finally allowed to open it up and read it! It’s so fun to look back and see the kinds of things you were doing and thinking. Maybe you’ll realize you were a total dork. Maybe you were super successful. Maybe you were going through a really tough time. Maybe you listened to some inspirational (or weird) music that helped you get through. No matter what was going on in your life then, you will appreciate that you kept a record of it and you can reminisce about it now.

Then talk about the goals you hope to achieve over the next year (or ten). Maybe try giving yourself some advice to help you achieve them. Last year I guess I thought I would need relationship advice so I wrote things like: “Have you talked to so and so in a while? Give her a call.” I also read an article last year I had really liked called “Date a Man Who Loves You More” and told my future self if I was having any doubts in my relationship to go and read it. If you read it, we probably have different interpretations of who the “man who loves you more” is. You may think he is someone who loves his woman more than she loves him. Or he is the guy that women settle for because they just want some stability. To me, the “man who loves you more” is the man who truly cares about you and loves you unconditionally. Some of my opinions of the article have changed over the last year; however, it reminded me of some of the qualities that are important for the man in my life to have and it helped me believe that I truly have found the perfect man for me: the “man who loves me more.”

Sorry to get so off track with all that deep, sentimental talk. Your advice doesn’t have to be about your relationships, but I think some guidance or recommendations in some category are beneficial to include. I’m sure you will all succeed and none of you will fall short of your dreams, but just in case you don’t meet some of your goals by the time you open your letter, a few nuggets of advice may help remind you why you wanted to do these things in the first place, and how to get you back on track.

Finally, don’t forget to make predictions. What kind of job will you have? Where will you be living? Who will you be living with? Will you be married? Have kids? Will you have accomplished any of your other major (or minor) goals? I think this was the most fun section for me to read because I actually correctly predicted a lot of things that happened to me over the past year, and I don’t even remember having considered some of those things back then! And then of course some of my predictions were totally wrong, but those were fun to read too.

Alright, I’ve said enough about writing letters; now it’s your turn. I am going to write another letter in the coming weeks too, addressed to myself to open after I graduate next year!  So I hope you’ll join me. It’s a fun way to track your goals and you just might surprise yourself with the relevance of your advice and the accuracy of your predictions. How well do you know your future self?

Spaghetti Pie

Spaghetti Pie

Today I am going to share a simple and delicious recipe that my mother shared with me. It is extremely adaptable so there are plenty of ways to spice it up if you are looking for something a little more exciting; however, even the most basic version is a crowdpleaser.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 lb. spaghetti (or pasta of choice)
  • 1 lb. shredded cheese (I recommend mozzarella, but you can mix in other kinds for added flavor)
  • 2 egg whites
  • Your favorite pasta sauce! (I used Newman’s Own Marinara)

Instructions:

  1. Cook pasta according to the directions on the box.
  2. While pasta is cooking, separate egg whites from yolks and beat.
  3. Rinse pasta with cold water to cool. (This is very important to prevent the eggs from cooking when they hit the pasta!)
  4. In a large mixing bowl, combine cooked spaghetti and egg whites, fully covering all of the spaghetti.
  5. In a 9 x 13 baking pan, layer the spaghetti mixture and the cheese, about 1/3 of each at a time. Be sure to fully cover the bottom of the pan with the first layer of spaghetti. (I also recommend spraying some cooking spray in the pan before you start, it makes the serving and cleaning go way more smoothly!)
  6. Make that final layer of cheese on top the thickest, to prevent the noodles from getting chewy while baking.
  7. Bake at 350° for 35-40 minutes or until golden brown.
  8. Serve topped with your favorite marinara or meat sauce and enjoy!

Variations:

  • You can choose to use the entire egg or just the egg whites for a healthier version.
  • If you want an egg-free dish, my mom uses a flax seed and hot water mixture as a replacement. 1 tablespoon ground flax seed and 3 tablespoons boiling water is equivalent to one egg. Just mix and let stand for about 5 minutes.
  • Feel free to add other ingredients into the layers such as cottage cheese, kale, or any of your favorite pasta pairings!
Kid at HeART

Kid at HeART

“Coloring isn’t just for kids,” says Paige Tate, who created the awesome, chic, and modern adult coloring book that I got for Christmas.IMG_20160120_093854

Well, it’s true, coloring doesn’t have to be just for children; adults can find good reasons to pick up this fun activity again too.

It can provide a nice break from the stressful things in your life and is a great way to relax and unwind for awhile. It also can provide an excellent creative outlet for you to express yourself and you’ll find that it feels very rewarding to create something beautiful.

Even if you don’t consider yourself the creative type, don’t worry, the nice thing about coloring is that the design is already there for you; you just have to, well, color it! And there is definitely no right or wrong way.

One thing that I love about this coloring book in particular, is the fun and inspirational words on every page. Not only are the loopy, cursive letters the best part to color, you will also have a cute and motivational piece of art when you’re done! Honestly, I should hang these up in my room.

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So go ahead “kids,” start coloring!

The Best [insert noun here] Ever

The Best [insert noun here] Ever

Growing up, one of my favorite activities to do with family and friends was playing the word game Mad Libs®. I loved thinking of crazy and creative words to help write the silly short stories that always ended in laughing and laughing-induced tears and stomachaches.

Yesterday, I was able to relive some of those hilarious childhood memories. In preparation for our work party next week, I was asked to write a homemade “Mad Lib” for our staff to fill out together and make ridiculous stories about each other.

I tested it out with my closest work friends, and as usual, I walked away feeling like I’d gotten a nice ab workout from all the laughter.

Below you will find said “Mad Lib” for you to enjoy with your own friends or coworkers. I hope, at the very least, it brings a smile to your face or maybe even makes you laugh so hard you cry! Enjoy!


How to Lib: LuBerry Style

1. First write down a word for each of the following:

  • Noun (I suggest excluding people and places and instead opting for things)
  • Name of a Street
  • Name of a Person (possibly a friend or coworker)
  • Adjective
  • Same Person from Above
  • Adjective
  • Body Part
  • Noun
  • Noun
  • Past Tense Verb
  • Plural Noun
  • A Second Person
  • Adjective
  • Sound
  • A Third Person
  • Noun
  • Verb
  • Place
  • Past Tense Verb
  • Same Third Person
  • Type of Vehicle
  • Same Place from Above
  • Verb Ending in -ING
  • Exclamation
  • Adjective
  • Adjective
  • Noun
  • Same Third Person
  • Plural Noun
  • Same Place

2. Replace all of the blanks in the short story below with your words from above!

The Best [NOUN] Ever

While I was walking down [NAME OF STREET] on my way to work today, I saw [FIRST PERSON]. As I got closer, I was confronted with a(n) [ADJECTIVE] scene.  Before my eyes was [FIRST PERSON], with a [ADJECTIVE] [BODY PART].  He/she shouted “Quick!  Bring me a [NOUN]!”

Once the situation was under control, I went to my office. Sitting on my desk was a [NOUN] and a cardboard box. I [PAST TENSE VERB] the box and inside were two [PLURAL NOUN] from [SECOND PERSON]. “How [ADJECTIVE],” I thought with a smile.

Suddenly, I heard a loud [SOUND] and turned around. [THIRD PERSON] was standing there with a [NOUN]. “You have to [VERB] with me right now!” he/she said. “We need to get to [PLACE] right away!” I got up and [PAST TENSE VERB] with [THIRD PERSON] and then we hopped into my [VEHICLE].

When we got to [SAME PLACE], we saw lots of people [VERB ENDING IN –ING] outside. “[EXCLAMATION]!” I yelled. “Who are these [ADJECTIVE] people?” “They are here to see the [ADJECTIVE] [NOUN]!” [THIRD PERSON] said. “Wow,” I said, “What dedicated [PLURAL NOUN] they have here in [SAME PLACE]!”

Zentangle

Zentangle

Over the weekend, I tried Zentangle for the first time.

“Tangling” may just look like doodling, but it is an art form that anyone of any age or level of experience can practice. It can be done for fun, as a creative outlet, or for meditative and stress-relieving purposes.

The Zentangle Method was developed by Rick Roberts and Maria Thomas to create a simple and creative way for others to experience the feelings of well-being and total focus that can be achieved through meditation.

In the workshop I attended, we learned four of the most basic patterns: Hollibaugh (overlapping bridge pattern), Crescent Moon (scalloped ridges pattern), Knightsbridge (checkerboard pattern), and Florz (straight or curved lines with a point where the lines intersect).

All of these patterns can be seen below in my tangles and the tangles created by my friends and family who did the Zentangle workshop with me.

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