Welcome to the first Summer Sessions post! Summer is a chaotic time in my household. But the break from the usual routines and rigid schedule is refreshing and invigorating. Still, I love nothing more than a list for bringing a little order into my life (what can I say? I’m a Virgo.) So, here’s a list of ten things I’m really into right now.
Between my kids sporting events and our family vacation, I’ve taken more than 2000 pictures this summer. There are few things I enjoy more than capturing a special moment on camera. Sharing those moments with others makes them even more enjoyable. Here’s how I capture, organize, edit, and share photos:
Last Christmas, I received a Nikon D7100 camera . I’ve used a Canon for years, so this is my first foray into Nikon technology. This camera does a lot and I’ve only scratched the surface of what’s possible. But so far, I absolutely love it.
I upload photos to my iMac or MacBook Pro using the standard photo app. From there, since I take so many photos and they aren’t all worth keeping, I select my favorites by highlighting the little heart icon on the photo. This moves all the photos into my “Favorites” folder. From there, I select my most recent favorites and save them to an aptly-titled album in Photos.
The majority of my photos require some sort of editing. At the very least, I crop and straighten photos that need straightening in Photos. From there, I usually select a handful of photos that might be enhanced with a filter or some more creative editing. I text those photos to myself so that I can edit them using one of my two favorite apps: Snapseed and VSCO, both of which are free in the Apple App Store. Both apps offer a variety of simple photo correcting options as well as cool filters and editing tools.
If I’m only sharing a single photo, I’ll typically text it. But when I have more, I upload the photos to a folder in my dropbox.com account and email a link to anyone I want to share the photos with. I’ve found this is the best way to share large, high res files like photographs in a format that makes it easy for others to download and save their favorite pics on their own computers. Unlike photo sharing sites like Shutterfly and Snapfish, you don’t have to have a dropbox account and you can download the files for free.
Recently, after taking a vacation with five other families, my friend Lauren (of “Up Your Hosting Game”) suggested using an icloud shared album which allowed everyone – including the teenagers who had phones – to upload their photos into one central location everyone can access. This is another fabulous, free way to share photos with friends and family.
2. Ab & Core App
While on vacation together, my friend persuaded/bullied me into doing an ab and core workout with him after a run with the help of the Ab and Core Sworkit – Free Workout Trainer. You select the area you want to work out – abs, back, or complete core – the length of time you want to spend working out, and begin the workout. The app walks you through a series of exercises gives you a ten second warning before moving on to the next one, so you only have to glance at your phone (unless you have the names of the exercises memorized) to keep pace. It’s not rocket science, but it’s forces me to keep a steady rotation of exercises in my routine.
My friends and I played this game endlessly as kids and now I have the delicious, juvenile pleasure of playing it with my own children. They love selecting both realistic and imaginary futures for themselves and I learn a lot about their hopes and dreams in the process. It’s a win-win.
4. My Big Grey Tote Bag
This fabulous bag has been at my side every day this summer, lugging everything from water bottles to beach towels to boat snacks. It’s big, it’s well-constructed, and the color is rich and unexpected for summertime. I absolutely love it.
The bag was given to me by a fabulous South African-turned-American stylist, Kim, who represents A World Curated in collaboration with fellow South African and FIDM grad, Esther Brozin Feder. Esther travels to Paris and Italy four times a year in search of special clothing and accessory items that are harder to find, Stateside, in the price point most women are looking for. You can see more of their gorgeous wares on A World Curated or on their Instagram @aworldcurated. Be sure to also check out Kim and her great style on (and fabulous recipes) on RechargeYourStyle.com or on Instagram @kim_apodaca_style.
5. The Enneagram
This summer, I’ve been diving deep into the Enneagram, an ancient and highly complex personality typology.
My mom first introduced me to the Myers-Briggs when I was a teenager and I’ve found it to be a wonderful tool for helping me understand people and improve my relationships and communication style. But over the years I’ve come to see it’s holes and limitations.
The Enneagram “invites us to look deeply into the mystery of our true identity” and “as much as it reveals the spiritual heights that we are capable of attaining, it also sheds light clearly and nonjudgmentally on the aspects of our lives that are dark and unfree.”
While no typology can possibly capture all the dynamics of a single person, the Enneagram comes closer than any other I’ve studied. Tons of books have been written about this fascinating subject (an Amazon search on “Enneagram” turns up 2,118 results), but I recommend buying The Wisdom of the Enneagram: The Complete Guide to Psychological and Spiritual Growth for the Nine Personality Types by Don Richard Riso and Russ Hudson.
Note: I was first introduced to the Enneagram in college and it has taken me almost 20 years to properly identify my type. The tests almost never reveal my type accurately, for whatever reason, so keep this in mind. Once I stopped jumping around from chapter to chapter and started reading from page one, it has become more and more clear to me, and I still feel like there’s a lot I don’t yet understand.
6. The Chainsmokers
I don’t listen to the radio, but I’m told these guys are on repeat constantly and your kids already love them, so you might as well listen and try to understand what the fuss is all about. Start with “Something Just Like This” and if you’re ready for more, I recommend moving on to, “Break Up Every Night”. If you still don’t like it, you’re only out about $3 and your kids will be glad you have something they like on your iPhone.
7. Golden Road
I’m not typically a beer drinker, but ever since my friends started M Special Brewing Company two years ago, I’ve been intrigued by the process of art and science that goes into making a great-tasting beer. So when another parent on my daughter’s softball team showed up with a cheerfully painted can of Golden Road’s Pico to Mexico, a cucumber and lime flavored lager with a hint of habanero chili, I had to try it. This beer is so delicious and refreshing. The flavor is really nice and the alcohol content is lower than even a typical light beer (only 4.8%), so it’s almost like having a tasty, slightly malty soda.
Since the company was bought by Anheuser-Busch last year, their distribution seems to be broadening because I found this at my local neighborhood Big Box market, so look and see if your market carries them. But if you’re in Downtown Los Angeles, you can stop by their tasting station in the Grand Central Market.
8. The One-Piece
I have a thing for bikinis. If there’s one area of my wardrobe I have a tendency to over-spend on, it’s my swimsuit wardrobe. Before I finally purged some bathing suits last summer, I think I had more than 25 bathing suits, several of which could be mixed and matched for another 10+ combinations.
Over the years, as more and more well-designed, sexy maillots and other one-piece bathing suits have come out, I’ve been intrigued, but have never found one I like enough to buy. I have nothing against one-piece bathing suits, per se. But I have a relatively long torso and find the fit more difficult to work with.
But I decided to take a chance on this cute swimsuit from Mara Hoffman. Knowing issues with fit in the past, I ordered it in two sizes. The smaller of the two fit better through my hips and lower back, but rode up my a— uncomfortably. The larger of the two was more comfortable, but slightly baggy in the lower-back area. But I like the print and decided to gamble, so I kept the larger size and returned the smaller one.
I’m so glad I did. I wore this twice during our recent camping/boating vacation and wished I had five more just like it. I have been missing out on the liberation of having my stomach covered! No more “tiger stripes” (the unfortunate tan lines across my belly where my skin wrinkles), no more sucking it in. I could sit in almost any position I wanted to and relax. It was great.
Truth be told, my husband and another forthcoming guy friend of mine openly dislike this or any other one-piece. (“I guess I’m just a bikini kind of guy,” answered my friend when probed.) But my girlfriends (and, funny enough, my 9 year-old daughter) loved it, so that’s good enough for me.
9. Beach Days
My husband and I consider dropping our membership to a particular country club about every three months or so. We simply don’t use it enough to justify the expense. But now that I’m not working, the prospect of getting to take the kids to the club at the beach has opened up a whole host of reasons to consider keeping it.
Though the drive can be painful and dull if there’s a lot of traffic, once the kids and I get to the beach, we are instantly on vacation, a world away from the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles.
I typically order a “Woody”, the club’s signature vodka cocktail, early on in the day so that it’s effects can set the right tone for the day, but also wear off before it’s time for me to drive home. Then we haul our load down to the water and settle in for as many hours of swimming, sunning, sandcastle-making, surfing, and boogie boarding we can handle. It’s a great way to get away, be together, and have a one-day staycation.
10. Movie Night
My kids love when we sit together, at home, as a family to watch a movie. But getting them to agree on what to watch can be a challenge.
This summer, rather than let the kids choose the movies, my husband and I have been thoughtfully selecting family-friendly “classics” we love. I suspect my kids are secretly grateful to have someone else choose the movie for them and we, of course, are thrilled to get to watch movies we genuinely enjoy.
So far, we’ve watched Forrest Gump, Cast Away, Field of Dreams, and A League of Their Own.
What are you into right now?
Stay tuned for more Summer Sessions with Present Perfect.