All The Free Things — Summer Edition

summer picnic

For most of you it’s finally officially summer. But just because you suddenly have a whole bunch of free time on your hands doesn’t mean you also have endless funds in your pockets for summer activities. If you’re like me and always trying to have the most amazing adventures you can on as little as possible, then the research I’m about to share with you might come in handy. Check this list of 25 fun free (and almost free) things to do when you’re stumped for options and want to make the most of your day.

1) Have a picnic — This one’s been around forever, but people rarely take advantage of how simple, yet how fun having picnics can be. Alone or with friends, eating outside on a blanket is always more exciting.

2) Public art project — Playing around at home with paints and pencils has all the makings for a good time, but turn it one notch up by creating ephemeral art with friends outdoors. Make it simple: a giant chalk drawing on the driveway, or a message along the sidewalk. Choose what you want to create together and make it a team effort. Then stand back and marvel at your work.

3) Learn a language — No need to pick up a pricey Rosetta Stone package. All that’s required is a wifi connection and the ability to type into Google “Spanish lessons,” or whichever language you’re interested in learning.

4) Visit your public library — You may not even realize your town has one; it might be hiding away somewhere. Libraries tend to offer programs and events all summer long that might pique your curiosity and keep your engaged.

5) Go for a hike, a walking adventure — No matter where you live, there is someplace you can sufficiently hike. It doesn’t need to be a waterfall hike in Malibu or a mountainous excursion in Aspen. Urban dwellers and small-town inhabiters can find beauty all around them, too. Discover your town by foot and explore the far corners of your neighborhood. Trudge up hilly streets, steps, stairs and anything else you can find in your area that will get your blood pumping and help you see new sights.

6) iPhone scavenger hunt — Have you done a scavenger hunt lately? They’re amazing and so forgotten after we reach junior or high school. Let’s bring them back, but with a modern twist. Create a list of unlikely conquests to check off. Try to find someone who will sing a tune for you, go look for a particular leaf or flower, find a specific styled dress in a storefront window and take photos or shoot video of everything you find. Bags with collected oddities are no longer needed. Simply show the friends you’re competing against all the shots from your adventure. Most items checked off the list wins.

7) Travel the world (through your meals) — Make it a point to learn about a region and create food for which it’s best known. Think: Lily Huffman and her family’s International dinner night. Look up recipes online and help your parents in the kitchen to prepare the meal.

8) Look at the stars — Want to know what exactly you’re gazing at up there? There’s an app for that.

9) Make comic books — Instead of trying to crank out an entire novel over the summer (I’ve read some of Lisi’s fans’ comments and some of you are quite ambitious!) why not tell a complete story using pictures and captions. It’ll force you to refine your plot as well as give you some more drawing practice. Do this alone or collab with friends, then share with family and neighbors.

10) Start a book club — Lisi will tell you, it’s one of the best ways to get to know someone and it’s a whole lot of fun discussing favorite characters with fellow book enthusiasts. Create a club where you all read the Clique series together start to finish, and meet up after each book to talk about what you loved most. Then start a new club to discuss the themes and messages (ok, ok, and the drama) of Pretenders and License to Spill.

11) Be Jackson Pollock (the abstract artist known for his splatter/drip paintings) — In an area large enough to move around and experiment, put down a sheet or canvas and go to town splattering it with paint. Let your inner Pollock shine.

12) Movie date — Plan a movie date with mom or your BFF, but do your research first. There are many $1-3 movie theaters across the country and they’re playing movies you’ve been wanting to see.

13) Make a fort — We are never too old for blanket forts. Make one and feel happy.

FREEEE!

14) Have a car dance party — Next time your mom’s driving you somewhere or you’re driving your friends to get lunch, crank up the volume and dance it out from behind the safety of your seatbelt. Make a mix cd or mp3 of your favorite anthems and high energy music right now, and get to dancing.

15) Bubble bath (outside) — This is what happens when your relaxing tub experience meets the kiddie pool outside. Add bubbles and make it 100 times more fun.

16) Create a photo series — Decide on a theme beforehand and, using your smartphone or any camera at your disposal, take photos that will reflect your photography project. Collect photos all summer long and then put them together in a collage, scrapbook, or upload them to a photo blog.

17) Explore nature programs — Check nature centers near you for free community programs and start exploring.

18) Plant a garden — You can get flower bulbs and seeds at the dollar store. Choose flowers that grow well in summer like sunflowers and watch them grow 6′ tall in no time.

19) Form a bike gang — Chart a route beforehand and ask a few friends to regularly meet for bike rides. Tell them there are t-shirts or Members Only jackets involved. They’ll say yes.

20) Make a time capsule — Does anyone do this anymore? It’s another one of those forgotten activities that needs reviving. Grab a large jar, tin box or something similar and place items of meaning to you in it (not too much meaning that you don’t want to give them up, of course). A receipt from a favorite restaurant, a rock from your trip to the beach, a few lines from a poem you loved… Write a note about what’s happening in the world or in your life right now in 2014. Then bury the capsule in the garden or near a tree for some future someone to discover it. You may never find out if your capsule is uncovered, so be prepared to let it go to the universe.

21) Learn origami — Another brilliant Youtube craft activity that will make you very popular at birthdays. No money for a gift? No problem. Bring your friend a couple of beautifully folded origami boxes for rings or to keep treasures in and write a heartfelt birthday note in a handmade card.

22) Host a frozen yogurt sundae party — This one isn’t free but can be done on the cheap. Pick up several toppings and frozen yogurt of your choice, and invite  friends over to create their own frozen yogurt sundaes. This will make everyone so happy that conversation, laughter, and good times will naturally ensue.

23) Start flower bombing — Look for places around you that could use a little color or would do well with some life added to it. What better way to brighten up some empty land than bombing it with wildflower seeds? Try the patches of grass between the sidewalk and street, empty lots, grassy medians, and wherever else you can find. Click through the “flower bombing” link above for a few tips on how to make your own wildflower bombs, and start spreading beauty.

24) Fashion challenge — Flip through a few fashion magazines you have at home or pick up a new issue of your favorite. Choose one or two looks you’d love to rock and then head to a thrift store and recreate them for less. Much less.

25) Make a vision board — I made a brand board with Lisi when I first started working with her to get to know her brand and understand her audience. It was incredibly fun to put together and did the trick. You may not have too much use for a brand, but you might love having your own vision board hung up in your room. Gather every print material of interest you can find: magazines, newspapers, ads, etc. and artfully collage images of things you love, experiences you want for you life, goals you have, and anything else your imagination can muster.

 

This list ends at 25, but the options for fun, (mostly) free things to do in the summer are endless. What activities did I miss? Where else can you adventure for less but get much more? Feel free to let us know in the comments section below. Lisi will return with her usual blah-g post next week. For now, happy summer!

 

xx,

Alisha

Advertisements

Prep Talk

Class Picture

This is the time of year when all of your favorite magazines and blog posts have been highjacked by back-to-school know-how. I’ve been flipping through some magazines and reading about a whole lot of bad advice getting dished out to young girls and guys about how to approach the first day of school so that it’s absolutely perfect. Since Lisi asked me to guest post today (she was extremely busy today with back-to-back press interviews for Pretenders :)), I figured this would be a good time to run down a few of what I believe to be the top prep issues to get out of the way before your big first day at school.

1. Brush the dust off the old alarm clock. Maybe it’s been a while since last you needed to use it. If it has, then be sure you try it out for a couple of days leading up to school’s start so there won’t be any accidental malfunctions. The last thing you’ll need on your first day is to feel behind schedule as you run late to homeroom. And for Pete’s sake! Don’t forget to switch the PM to AM on the setting!

Snooze

2. Wear comfortable shoes. For a lot of people, the first day of school is like a fashion show with everybody presenting the best of what they’ve got, showcasing their ah-mazing style to their peers. My junior high wasn’t so much that way, but high school definitely was. Tons of girls came on the first day in sky-high heels, but sometime after lunch, I’d either watch them hobbling out to the parking lot to be picked up by parents, or they had abandoned their heels altogether (which isn’t permissible at school since you need to be wearing footwear). Now I’m not suggesting you get your mom’s Aerosoles loafers and attach them to your stylish first-day-of-school outfit, but do make sure whatever you put on your feet won’t be killing you by late afternoon. Unless you’re one of those heels masters, which I definitely am NOT, leave the stilettos for Friday night.

No heels

 

3. Don’t declare your style. I’m reading all of these articles in teen magazines about how you need to “declare your style” as soon as school starts, starting with the perfect first-day-of-school outfit. I don’t buy it. In my experience, declaring anything in certainty is one of the worst ways you can back yourself into a corner and stop experimenting and exploring with who you really are. So don’t declare a thing. Just do, or be. Wear whatever you want to wear, within reason, of course. It doesn’t hurt to be on trend in one area or another, but by no means should you hold those trends as the almighty rule book for what’s acceptable of you.  Junior and high school are times when you’re supposed to wear weird stuff that adults find questionable, or experiment with different personas until you find which one fits, or which one is undeniable ‘you.’ Some of us don’t find that for decades until we’ve already left school behind, and some of us simply follow what the trends say we should wear because it’s so much easier than finding our own personal take on style. If that’s you, that’s fine, as well, but if you’re someone who enjoys expressing an aspect of who you are through what you creatively wear, then go ahead and experiment, experiment, experiment. There’s really no reason not to. And if you’re low on funds to do it, don’t fret. Some of the best dressed, most unique people I know shop solely from thrift stores. Dollar sale, anyone? The last word I’ll say on first-day-of-school outfits is that you definitely should have it ready a few days before classes begin. In my younger years, I systematically had freak outs each first day of school from kindergarten through my senior year (silly, I know) because of outfit mishaps right before I needed to leave my house. Be sure to have your outfit ready and possibly laid out to save you enough time in the morning to eat some breakfast with the ‘rents.

Wear it well Experiment with fashion

 

4. Backpack perfection. I am not a huge fan of the word perfect, so I’m not loving all of the advice I’m reading in blogs about how to make your first day as such, but having a great backpack really does skyrocket your day into perfectdom. Sometimes we get a bag that is stylish and cool, but not functional at all and it leaves our backs feeling broken, if not on the first day, definitely by the end of the term. There are so many awesome backpacks these days by every designer under the sun, and many are affordable without sacrificing the cool factor. Here’s something I found in Teen Vogue and they got it exactly right: the top 100 backpacks for back-to-school. Peruse the slideshow here to find your favorite. I’m going to take a class just to have an excuse to buy a new backpack, and I’ll probably get any and all of the ones that look like they are made for boys.

Backpack perfection

5. Know where your classes are before school starts. This is advice I wish I could tell my past self since I never once tried to find my classes before the moment I needed to be in my seat. I always just assumed I’d be able to find them easily, or that I had a pretty good idea where I needed to go. Don’t under-estimate how long it takes you to navigate a new campus. Even if you’re a high school senior or are in college and have experienced your fair share of first days, sometimes there’s a class that is in the boondocks and running to it against the clock can cause serious stress, not to mention forehead sweat and everybody knows the omnipotent rule in school: NEVER let them see you sweat. Just kidding. (Kinda.) Seriously, sweating in school is the worst. And if all of this advice fails, what you’ll ultimately need is a back-up emergency plan with a good friend to escape the horror of your first day. Maybe you can agree to meet at so-and-so’s locker between 3rd and 4th period to reconvene on the day and pump each other up as needed; or maybe you can drop off notes to each other in a well-concealed way. Remember notes? The original text messaging.

Original Text Messaging

 

So that’s it. All you need is a working alarm clock,  a comfortable backpack or tote as well as shoes, an outfit ready days before the first day of school, a map to your classes, and, if possible, an emergency escape plan with a friend midday just in case the whole day turns out wrong. If you can get those few things in order then you’ll be well on your way to a fantastic first day of class, and you can get back to the dwindling days of summer before the sun goes down on the last one. If you think there’s something I missed or you have your own essential preps, feel free to leave it in the comments. Now forget this post! Go out and try some of the fun, quintessentially summer suggestions detailed in the illustration below.

Rookie Mag Illustration by Allegra

Rookie Mag Illustration by Allegra

xx,

Alisha, Office Elf

To Beach or Not to Beach

That is my question for tomorrow in celebration of Independence Day. We’re already into July with the summer quickly passing and I haven’t been to the beach once. Actually, I haven’t been in literally years. It’s been so long since I’ve been, in fact, that my brain is fantasizing that the whole day will look something like this:

Summer Paradise

Looks nice, doesn’t it?

And that getting there will be as simple as everybody jumping in the car, turning the music up and letting wind blow through our hair.

Windy GIF

Then it’s just a hop, skip and a jump to the water’s edge.

GIF me beach

LetsPartaaayyy GIF

The perfect day. But one small detail is always overlooked and this year, I’m keeping it in mind and sharing the beach wisdom with you: I’m not the only one to think it’s a perfect day to hit the beach.

Try getting on the road on the 4th of July. Actually, don’t. It’s not safe–there are too many cars out. And that’s exactly the issue. By the time we’d be done fighting traffic, inching our way to the parking lots over the span of an hour, inevitably the price for parking will have skyrocketed for yet another year. And you better have cash on you or else you’re ousted from the line (Who carries cash these days? I forget every year).

Poor GIF

Getting down to the sand and enjoying a day by the ocean is not nearly as simply as it seems. But once you’re there, all you need to do is find that perfect spot. You know, the one that’s always waiting for you right there by the lifeguard tower, looking like it’s just been manicured by a zen garden raker. Right? Wrong. Nobody saves your spot at the beach.

Craziness

It’s every man, woman child for themselves.

too-many-people

And for crying out loud, don’t forget your SPF 30+!

Lily White Skin GIF

I’ve just completely talked myself out of a beach day tomorrow by writing this post. I think the GIFs helped. So if you’re bummed you won’t be making it to the ocean or even by a pool tomorrow, worry not for you won’t be missing out on much more than one huge headache and a shoulder sunburn. Stay inside with the AC, kids, and enjoy grandma’s famous tofurkey dog. Or your mom’s ice cold fruit punch–whatever your relatives are known for that can be consumed in celebration of the United States’ independence.

On a different note, I have a few things Lisi just emailed me about to share with you all. First off, she held a mini contest on her Facebook yesterday. Don’t worry if you missed it; it was only up since the afternoon. If you didn’t see the post because you haven’t “liked” Lisi on Facebook yet, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR?! There’s a Like button on the righthand side of this page. Go! Go! Go! And get updates from Lisi herself. BUT, if you DID see the post, you noticed the fill-in-the-blank message stating: “I change the world by ____.” You were asked to fill in that spot with whatever your heart had to say and the best response would win a special shout out from Lisi today. You can check Lisi’s Blah-g to see who won, but I can tell you right now that the winner had a fantastic answer!

Second big news you might want to know about is a Gracelet name change. I know, I know–I loved the name Gracelet, too. Book one was just about to go to print and someone said Gracelets already exist. Lisi thought she made it up, but turns out it’s a trademarked name which would be like one of Lisi’s characters making up a soda name called Coke. Lisi said this to me earlier: “I would have been hunted down and dragged to court. With minutes to spare I came up with S.W.A.P. — Sealed With A Promise. You whisper a wish inside the envelope and seal it shut. Open it, set it free and make another wish. The design will stay the same. So will the color choices you voted on two weeks ago.”

So there you have it. Seal with a promise and then S.W.A.P. with friends. Personally, I can’t wait to get my own after seeing the final color options. Lisi will be blah-gging again soon and will definitely keep you all updated on anything S.W.A.P. related and when you can get yours to start SWAPing.

For everybody in the U.S., have a safe and merry 4th of July! And for everybody else, have a safe and merry Thursday! Lisi will be back next week.

xx

Alisha