How to Keep a Happy Cat in a Dog-Dominated Home

July 26, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #LitterOdorRevolution #CollectiveBias

Are you a cat person or a dog person? They say you can’t be both, but I respectfully disagree. I love any and all cute and cuddly creatures. If it has four legs and fur, I will probably fall in love with it.

About six years ago I started bugging Nick to get our first pet. You see, my family has always had cats. Mostly strays that liked to hang out outside our home, but we always had some kind of fur creature around. Once I went off to college I missed having something snuggly in my life, so shortly after Nick and I got engaged, we adopted our first cat, Susie.

Susie Kitten

Susie is one of the most unique cats I’ve ever met (but don’t we all say this about our pets?) She is so playful, loves to jump on top of the refrigerator and observe the surroundings, and also is extremely stubborn. I’ve never met a cat who is so strong-willed. She’s vocal and loves to communicate with you through chirps and squeaks.

But, after a two years and a move across the country, I started itching to give Susie a sister. And this time, we wanted a puppy. Since I grew up in a cat family, this would be my first dog and we weren’t exactly sure how Susie, our only child for nearly two years, would handle it. Thankfully our dog Anabelle (a shepherd/collie mix) acts more like a cat than a dog, and she and Susie got along just fine when we introduced them in 2012.

Fast forward to 2015 and we added Jack (a border collie) to the household. My first male pet, he acts exactly what I would imagine a little boy to act like. He and Susie… well… they’ve learned to live with each other. He has more energy than Susie and Anabelle combined (multiplied times a million) so it’s been a learning process for all of us in the family.

As I imagine it is with human children, we’ve had to remember to give each of our fur kids the love and attention that they deserve individually. Remembering to fulfill all of the proper cat needs that Susie has is difficult when you have the other two (very high maintenance) pets to attend to! I wanted to share with you all a few ways that we keep a happy cat in our dog-dominated home:

1

– We have a nightly ritual between just us and the cat. Each evening since we have gotten Susie, as we settle into bed, I give her a few cat treats to sort of call the day to an end. And Susie has her ritual too! As we walk into the bedroom, she pops up onto our nightstand and patiently waits for us to pull out the treat bag. After a few treats and chin rubs, she takes a quick bath and then snuggles into bed in between my feet.

– Learn your cats’ behavior. For example, I know that Susie will not eat out of her food bowl if she can see the bottom of the dish, so I make sure to always keep her dish full. She also refuses to drink out of the water dish meant for her. She will only drink out of the dog bowl! Because of that, I make sure that she is getting enough water throughout the day to keep her hydrated.

Litter Genie Susie 1

– Updated vaccinations and medications are essential. Many cat owners don’t keep their cats on flea/tick/heartworm medications if they are indoors because they don’t see the need if they aren’t going outside. Even though Susie likes to slip out every once in a while, she is a 100% indoor cat. Since the dogs go out often, we make sure that Susie is kept on these medications in case the dogs bring something in from outside.

– Scratching posts are necessary to keep your furniture safe. Susie loves, and I mean LOVES to pick at things. When we got Jack I purchased a large cat tree that allows Susie to get her scratching out and has kept her (somewhat) from using our upholstered headboard as a scratching post.

– Allow cats to have their own space. Susie doesn’t mind the dogs too much but when they get rowdy, she needs to room to herself. During the day we block off our master suite so that Susie can get in but the dogs can’t. This gives her a chance to take a nap in peace without dog noses being stuck all over.

– Keep the litter box clean! Other than simple sanitary reasons, it’s imperative for us to keep our litter box clean because the dogs see the litter box as… well… boxes with “treats” for them. We love this particular litter box because it’s harder for the dogs to go “litter-diving.” We don’t need the dogs getting into the box and eating “treats!” Thankfully the Litter Genie® Cat Litter Disposal System allows us to clean out the litter box quickly and easily. If you’re curious what it is, imagine small trash can that seals away used litter so that you don’t have to take trips to the large trash can each time. We absolutely love it! I’m cleaning the little box once a day now, where as I was doing it maybe twice a week before. I love that you only have to “take out the trash” once every 2 weeks because everything is sealed away so it helps eliminate odors wherever you keep your litter box.

Litter Genie Susie 2

Litter Genie Pail 1

And, since we’re in an apartment I’m thankful that the Litter Genie® Pail is small, discreet and doesn’t take up too much room. It’s so easy to use and took just a couple of minutes to set up. The best part? I didn’t have to go to a specialty pet store to find it. I buy all of my pet supplies at Target and this was no different! You can find the Litter Genie® Cat Litter Disposal System right beside the litter boxes in the pet section. (Or you can grab it online. I also loved the price – just $14.99! Absolutely, 100% worth it.) So as I’m grabbing my cat treats, catnip and laser pointers at Target, I can grab a refill for my Litter Genie® Pail every two months.

Litter Genie Target

Now, I want to know, how do you keep a happy cat? I know many of you are “crazy cat ladies” so I want to know what makes your feline companion happy!

What’s an Appropriate Spoiler Policy in an Age of Live-Tweeting Everything?

July 25, 2016

We’ve all had it happen to us. We’re casually scrolling along Twitter and out of nowhere, someone posts a spoiler about a TV show we aren’t caught up on or a movie we have yet to see.

Sansa Game of Thrones

For many people this can be extremely frustrating. My husband Nick and I started watching Game of Thrones on Memorial Day weekend 2015, nearly five years after the show first premiered. Because of our busy schedules and other commitments, we didn’t finish watching the show until two weeks ago, nearly a year and a month after we initially started watching. In fact, another whole season had come and gone in the time it took us to catch up.

We did everything that we could to avoid spoilers. We didn’t go on Twitter on Sunday evenings. Monday mornings were infuriating as we carefully tried to avoid seeing anything revealing the previous night’s episode.

Many people think that spoilers aren’t a big deal. If you aren’t caught up on a show, you have no right to complain about being spoiled, right? I say, no, that’s wrong and completely misguided. In this day and age of DVRs and streaming services, most people don’t tune in for TV shows live anymore. To me, it comes down to respect. How would you feel if someone told you the big twist at the end of a season of your favorite TV show? As much as you may be excited to talk about the show, be respectful of those who may not have been able to watch. Message friends privately or use other means to communicate about the show. If you do feel like you need to post about the events you just saw, speak in general terms (“Did you guy see GoT tonight? OMG! I couldn’t believe that.”)

But what’s the grace period for spoilers? 24 hours? A week? An entire season? The Artifice tackles this exact question in a post from 2015 on “The Science of How Spoilers Can Ruin TV.” (They share a graphic from Vulture.com outlining a statute of limitations system which I 100% completely disagree with. Only 3 days for unmarked spoiled allowed in a headline?? Shame. Shame. Shame.)

I personally think that spoilers for shows that are currently on the air should never be shared without a warning on social media. That includes season one spoilers for shows currently on their 5th or 6th or 7th season. Memes or articles with spoiler images should not be shared and news outlets (here’s looking at you, HuffPo) should be more discrete about their headlines or images. I’ve had multiple things spoiled for me because of headlines like “Here’s what (insert actor name) has to say about last night’s tragic GoT ending.” Wow, could you be more obvious???

Here’s where things get dicey: what about shows that have been off the air for multiple years? Are they still covered under this spoiler policy?

The story that has inspired this blog post: a couple of years ago, Nick and I saw something on TV about the show “Lost” and I made a comment revealing the ending of the show. Keep in mind this was 2013 and the show ended in 2010. Nick. was. FURIOUS. I kept claiming “I thought everyone knew how it ended!!!” but that didn’t make the situation any better. I felt horrible, but also felt like 3 years was a little more than acceptable to discuss the show. I took to Twitter, and most people agreed that I was in the right to assume that it was ok and that 3 years was more than okay to discuss it. Unfortunately Nick didn’t agree and it has been a point of disagreement in our relationship ever since.

Another quick story: I have a podcast that I really enjoy listening to, but the duo discusses multiple TV shows each week at length with no spoiler warnings of any kind. I really dislike that and ended up stopping listening to the podcast because I hated being randomly spoiled with no warning.

So friends, I want to know: what is your “spoiler policy?” Do you believe in a certain time frame? Can we all just come up with an acceptable policy so we can stop ruining things for each other? 

Food Budget Diary: Week 1

July 13, 2016

Over the past few months I’ve discovered a series of articles across the internet (thanks Charlotte Agenda!) outlining the finances of anonymous individuals or couples, giving a peek into their weekly spending. And in turn, I’ve become a bit obsessed with these articles. You see, I’ve never been a saver. I’ve always been a ~*~spender~*~. I love going out to eat. I love buying new clothes. I love buying household goods. I love pet toys. It’s a problem, you guys. So the ability to peek into someone else’s financial habits is super duper interesting to me!

Lo and behold, after a few months of reading these articles I felt myself starting to actually think about my spending habits. “If I was writing this down, how would I justify this?” Finally, an obsession has started to somewhat pay off!

I decided that looking at a week of my own personal spending would be a great thing to track and share on the blog. But, I struggled with the idea of putting my entire financial situation out on the internet. After all, the whole point of seeing the spending of these subjects is how it fits into the grand scheme of things with their salary, rent, utilities, car/student loan payments, retirement and medical bills. Thankfully, after running the idea by my close friend, she suggested focusing on just one aspect of spending. I immediately knew what I would focus on: food.

Spending on food is something that I think the majority of millennials struggle with. Food is not just a way to fuel our bodies, it’s a social thing too. Ever since Nick and I have had combined finances, we have struggled with our eating habits and the amount we spend on a month basis at restaurants versus at home. Not to mention the types of food we eat isn’t exactly what the doctor ordered.

So, for everyone on the internet to see, I’ve outlined a week of my spending on food, both at restaurants and at the grocery store. This is a bit of an odd week to look at, with it being a holiday weekend and our binge watching GoT, but I hope to make this somewhat of a series to see how it looks from week to week. I’m also curious to see if any changes are made!

 

Food Budget Diary Week 1 - The Observant Turtle

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

8:45 a.m. – I was running late this morning and ran out of time to eat breakfast at home, so I grab a tall hot chocolate with 2% milk and a cheese Danish from Starbucks on campus. I reloaded my Starbucks card with $50 yesterday so technically there is “no cost” today. ($0)

Noon – I go home for lunch like most days and eat leftovers from the night before (Chicken Fajita Pasta from Skinnytaste.) The bad news? It doesn’t sit well on my stomach. ($0)

1:30 p.m. – My stomach is growling. I finish the last tablespoon or two of trail mix that was in my desk. ($0)

2:30 p.m. – Hungry again. I eat the peach I brought from home. ($0)

3:30 p.m. – Seriously, what is up with me today? Hungry again, so I eat a granola bar from my desk. ($0)

6 p.m. – Nick cooked dinner for us so we could watch an episode of Game of Thrones before we head to the movies tonight. He whipped up one of our Hello Fresh meals. Unfortunately, it’s not as good as I expected and I don’t finish my meal. I snack on some tortilla chips while we watch GoT. ($0)

8 p.m. – At the theatre and we have our movie tickets for “The Shallows.” Getting popcorn at the movie theatre isn’t optional for me. Popcorn is my favorite food and the smell is magical. Fortunately, it’s Discount Day at Regal so I get my popcorn half off. Add a soda in there and the total comes to $8.81. (Ripoff…)

Daily total: $8.81

Wednesday, June 29, 2016

9:30 a.m. – I’m working out with a friend at lunch so I knew I would need some fuel for that. I snack on some strawberries from home to help my grumbling belly. ($0)

11 a.m. – I eat a banana and some peanut butter I brought from home to get ready for the workout. I have a feeling I’m going to be hangry by the time we are done. ($0)

12:40 p.m. – Workout is done. I forgot to grab something for lunch this morning so Nick brings Panera for us to have lunch together in my office. I have the BBQ Chicken Salad and Creamy Tomato Soup with a baguette and a sweet tea, obvs. He got a cookie for himself and is flaunting it in front of me. Jerk. ($25.66)

4:40 p.m. – Nothing to record here; just wanted to point out that it’s four hours after lunch and I’m STILL full. Now THAT’S how you do lunch. Take that, Tuesday. Carry on.

7 p.m. – Operation Couch Potato continues (we’re now in the middle of season 4 of GoT) and we eat our Hello Fresh meal of Pan-Seared Gnocchi. Pretty darn tasty. ($0)

8:30 p.m. – Snack time! I pop a mini-bag of popcorn while we continue to watch GoT. So close to finishing season 4! ($0)

Daily total: $25.66

Thursday, June 30, 2016

9 a.m. – Ran out of time to make breakfast at home so I grab a chocolate croissant from Starbucks. Use my Starbucks app that has funds on it so $0.

12:30 p.m. – Running errands on my lunch break for blog posts so I grab some McAlister’s to go and bring it back to the office to eat. Club sandwich with potato salad, a cookie and sweet tea comes to $11.94.

6:30 p.m. – A filling lunch once again paid off and I didn’t eat again until dinnertime. We made our final HelloFresh meal of the week, Pan-Seared Chicken with Mashed Sweet Potatoes and Roasted Broccolini. The potatoes and broccolini were a hit but I wasn’t really a fan of the chicken. ($0)

8:30 p.m. – Watching more Game of Thrones (we finished season 4 this evening!) and had a small portion of Breyer’s Extra Creamy Chocolate Ice Cream that we had at home. Can you see my trend of wanting dessert after dinner? ($0)

Daily total: $11.94

Friday, July 1, 2016

7:45 a.m – Woke up with a sore throat so I grabbed a large glass of orange juice before heading out the door to work. I’m never very hungry when I feel sick. ($0)

9:30 a.m. – I supplement the orange juice with a granola bar from my desk. Since I get off at 11:30 today, an early lunch is in my future. ($0)

11:45 a.m. – Fridays are typically a day I grab something for Nick and myself or we meet up for lunch. Since we are still (STILL) watching Game of Thrones, I pick up Zaxby’s and head home. ($20.44)

6 p.m. – I have a really odd love of chickpeas/garbanzo beans and make them a lot. The Pioneer Woman has this delicious recipe for a Chickpea Curry, so I whip it up for dinner. It takes no time at all and it’s super cheap. (I recommend adding one extra teaspoon of curry powder to give it more flavor. And do NOT skimp out and use low-fat coconut milk – it doesn’t taste the same.)

8:30 p.m. – Nick had been craving a milkshake from Cookout for like a week so we take a break from watching GoT and grab milkshakes to go. I had the Peanut Butter Fudge, which tastes more like a Reese’s Cup than the Reese’s Cup milkshake does. ($6.08)

Daily total: $26.52

Saturday, July 2, 2016

11 a.m. – Lots of running errands this morning, so no breakfast. Nick and I meet up with a sorority sister of mine and her boyfriend who are in town for a wedding. We haven’t been to the Hickory Tavern in Rock Hill yet, but it’s pretty good. Nick has the Southern Burger and I have the Reuben plus one sweet tea to share. ($26.65)

4 p.m. – Nick spent the day working on his July movie release preview so I spend the day playing Overwatch. Afterwards we dive back into Game of Thrones and I make some popcorn. (Did I mention I eat it almost every day?) ($0)

7:30 p.m. – Dinner is leftover chickpea curry from the day before. We are trying to get better about actually eating leftovers. Does anyone else struggle with this? ($0)

Daily total: $26.65

Sunday, July 3, 2016

10 a.m. – Usually on Saturdays and/or Sundays we catch a movie before noon, since it’s half off at AMC Theatres. Before we head to the movie, I make biscuits and eggs at home. I only eat one biscuit because we’re going to the movies and popcorn is involved. ($0)

11 a.m. – Again, I can’t resist the popcorn smell when seeing a movie. I grab a Kid’s Pack, which is only $7.46 for a perfectly-sized personal bag of popcorn, fruit snacks and small drink. If you’re going to the movies with someone who doesn’t partake in snacks, this is a great deal for just one person, and aptly named, since we’re seeing “The BFG.”

3 p.m. – After the movie we head over to my in-laws for a holiday weekend cookout. Hamburgers, hot dogs, potato salad, corn on the cob, fruit salad… nothing is better. Plus it’s free, so that’s even better. ($0)

9 p.m. – After a huge lunch and snacking on leftover potato salad and fruit throughout the afternoon, we decide we should probably eat something substantial but I haven’t been to the store. Wings it is. We order from a local restaurant and go pick it up because the delivery time is over an hour. Nick gets 12 wings, split between mild and lemon pepper. I get 6 hot wings and garlic knots. ($20.71)

Daily total: $28.17

Monday, July 4, 2016

8 a.m. – I promised my mom I would go to Trader Joe’s to see if they carried her favorite kind of grapes. Since it’s about a 25-minute drive from our apartment, I go ahead and swing by Trader Joe’s to pick up some groceries for the week to supplement our Hello Fresh delivery that we will get on Thursday. Picked up some frozen shrimp, salami and some other things for snacking, two bags of corn chips, lots of veggies, and, of course, dark chocolate peanut butter cups. ($42.09) *I should mention that we have a credit for a free Hello Fresh box, so we are getting three meals at no cost. Typically, our grocery budget is about $100 per week.*

11 a.m. – Nick’s mom sent us home with some fruit salad so we snack on that for “breakfast.” I also eat a few peanut butter cups from that morning. Oops. ($0)

2 p.m. – We finally arrive in Spartanburg and hang out with my family until lunch is ready at 3. We do things a little different this year and enjoy steak, low country boil, a Chinese-inspired salad, mac and cheese, and cheddar garlic biscuits. Yummy yum. ($0)

7 p.m. – It’s time for the final three episodes of Game of Thrones. You guys, we have watched 28 episodes since last week… That’s insane. We eat salami and cheese, olives, fruit salad and a small veggie tray of carrots, tomatoes and cucumber. Proud of us for not spending any more money. ($0)

Daily total: $42.09

Weekly total: $143.29

Takeaways: Spending money on random lunches through the week really throw us off, money wise. It would be a good idea to make more meals that produce leftovers, but with our Hello Fresh plan, it’s not really possible. It is expensive, so we may stop getting boxes. We just like collecting the recipes! Also, we had a few meals paid for us this week because of the holiday, so it’s possible that we may have spent more money during a more “typical” week. 

Do we share any spending or eating habits? Are you interested in seeing more posts like this?

July 2016 Goals

July 11, 2016

July is almost halfway done and I haven’t even shared my July goals with you yet! Nor have I actually set them. To be honest, my June goals were not achieved in the slightest, so my motivation to set goals for July has been less than zero.

Let’s take a look back and see how last month’s goals went:

Goal: Work out at least three times a week. Yeah… this did not happen. BUT a few weeks ago, a few coworkers and I decide to have standing gym dates during lunch on Mondays and Wednesdays. So, that’s at least twice a week that I’ll be getting up and moving. You’d be surprised how much you’d sweat on a 40 minute indoor walk! Combine this with any activity that I do with Nick and I think I’m well on my way to meeting this goal.

Goal: Work on rebuilding my wardrobe and storing out-of-season pieces. This also did not happen to the extent I wanted it to, but I have purchased a few new tops to add to my wardrobe. Since my work dress code is somewhat lenient, I can often dress up casual tops just by adding dress pants to the outfit. As far as storing out-of-season pieces, they continue to stare at me every day in my closet. I really need to take care of that…

Goal: Catch up on watching Game of Thrones. If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I actually completed this goal! A few days after June, but it’s completed nonetheless. Nick and I planned out our evenings for about ten days and were able to finally watch the last three episodes on the 4th of July. (Thanks, 3-day weekend!) I’m so glad to be caught up, I think season 6 was the best so far! Now I’m ready to speculate all about the new season. Except the new season is going to be delayed… UGH.

Goal: Read and review “First Comes Love” before it comes out June 28. Oops. I didn’t do any reading at all in June. It was a very tough time for our family (my great-grandmother passed away) so we spent quite a bit of time with them. When we weren’t visiting with family, we were working or watching Game of Thrones, so time got away from me. I’m in the middle of reading “Outlander” but I do hope to read “First Comes Love” after that!

Goal: Drink at least 64 oz. of water a day. This also was not achieved. Here on campus, we have water fountains. I’m being totally ridiculous, but ever since there was a bout of mono that was spread through the water fountain in the band room in high school, I’ve avoided them like the plague. I’m starting to realize this is probably ridiculous and need to suck it up. This morning I ventured to Chick-fil-A to get my free Chicken Minis (thanks Calendar Card!) and got a 32 oz. water to enjoy. Once it’s empty, I’ll fill it up at the water fountain. I’m trying!

July Goals

Goal #1: Finish reading “Outlander.” It’s not a small book, so I think one book may be all I can handle this month. I definitely want to have this one done by my birthday (August 2).

Goal #2: Plan our NYC itinerary and purchase tickets for any shows/tours we want to do. I’ve started to come up with a general schedule, and was hoping that we could go to a taping of Jimmy Fallon. Unfortunately, they are taking a break the week that we’ll be there so womp, womp… Our top picks for shows are “The Lion King,” “Waitress,” “The Color Purple,” and “Fiddler on the Roof.” We already have our tickets to “Hamilton.” (!!!!) We’re also interested in going on the NBC Studios at 30 Rock tour, the Empire State Building, the Statue of Liberty and the Met. Anything else we should hit up on our trip?

Goal #3: Organize my closet. My closet has been included in my goals since I started this series. I really need to work on paring down what I have and keeping it as organized as I can. I hope to clean up some clutter and put away those clothes that aren’t appropriate for summer. (Although, we will be wrapping up this hot weather in a little over two months and it makes me SO READY for a proper fall that I haven’t experienced in 5 years. My level of excitement is off the charts.)

Goal #4: Blog at least twice a week. I know this was a goal of mine in May that didn’t go so well, but between my birthday wishlist, the first installment of my money-diary series, a pet-related post for cat lovers, preparing for our trip to NYC and a recap of our trip to NYC, I’m sure I’ll have lots to share. (By the way, family members, if you’re looking for birthday gifts, really anything of these Hamilton gifts are totally cool with me…but I do already own the Jordandene top.)

Goals #5: Attempt our “month with no going out to eat.” Okay, so to call it “a month with no going out to eat” is a little misleading. Nick and I have decided that we are going to limit our out eating out to once for lunch (together) and once for dinner (together) per week. We spend an exorbitant amount of money on food, so we’re challenging ourselves to be more creative with our meals at home. Side note: we are also pausing our HelloFresh deliveries until it cools down a bit. With the super hot weather in the South, by the time we get our meals they are dripping water and everything is soaking wet. Not cool. (literally)

What are your goals for July? If you did a post about it, please link it in the comments!

Our Beach Road Trip Essentials

July 5, 2016

This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and The Coca-Cola Company. All opinions are mine alone. #ShareTheLyrics #CollectiveBias

Summertime calls for road trips. No matter if you’re headed across the country to the mountains or the beach, driving along with friends or family with the radio up is a quintessential part of summer. When Nick and I first started dating, we took our first road trip to Myrtle Beach. We have so many great memories from that trip and the other trips that followed. In fact, we have probably spent more time in a car than most other couples! But, we haven’t had a chance to visit the South Carolina beaches after living for five years in Texas. So, we decided that we were due for a trip!

As we were preparing for our upcoming trip, I started to think about what kinds of items we would need to pack. Food, drinks and entertainment all spring to mind when headed down for a day (or two!) at the coast. I wanted to share with you all how we plan for a beach road trip and some of our favorite items!

Road Trip Essentials Header

Step 1: Visit your local Sam’s Club and stock up on your favorites. We got our first Sam’s membership earlier this year and I’ve been using it non-stop. Growing up, this was our go-to stop before any beach trip. We grabbed cookies, chips, beach towels and of course, Coca-Cola. Sam’s Club has 28- or 35-packs (depending on your store) of Coca-Cola and Diet Coke, which is perfect for stocking up for a vacation. Don’t forget that most beaches don’t allow glass, so keep that in mind when choosing your beverage.

Road Trip Essentials Sams

Step 2: Collect all of your items in one spot. This sounds crazy, but I promise it works! Before you start throwing items into a cooler or bag, look at everything you want to include and how they work with each other. These are just a few of my favorite items for a beach trip:

Road Trip Essentials 5-1

Insulated cooler on wheels – Once you load in all of your items, it’s going to be HEAVY. I don’t remember who gifted us this awesome cooler but it has come in such handy for occasions just like this!

Your favorite Coca-Cola products – Coca-Cola and summer go together like no other combination. These cans are part of the “Share a Coke and a Song” campaign and every time I see the lyrics on the side of the bottle or can, I always smile because the lyrics always bring up memories for me! I connect to music so much so the lyrics are a reminder that every day is a reason to celebrate. Plus, anytime I hand Nick a can, I sing to him. What’s more romantic than that? ;)

Road Trip Essentials 7-1

Magazines and books – While you’re relaxing and soaking up the sun on the coast, you’ll need something to occupy your brain! I just started reading “Outlander” so it’s definitely going into my beach tote. Southern Living is the go-to magazine for me anytime of the year! What are your favorite beach reads?

Sunscreen and bug spray – You want to be prepare for whatever Mother Nature throws at you. Sunscreen at the beach is a given. I love this type because it stays on even if you get wet or sweat, but you should definitely get a sunscreen that’s about 30 spf and apply regularly! As for bug spray, any evening walks you take might leave you with a not-so-great souvenir. Take care of your skin and prepare!

Snacks – Need I say more? Snacks are essential for any road trip or day at the beach! Planning to bring your own snacks before helps cut down costs and avoid bad decisions at the gas station. I believe bringing a combo of dried fruit, trail mix/nuts and jerky is a great balance and isn’t too heavy on added sugars.

Step 3: Load up your phone or mp3 player with all of your favorite songs. Do you like to “Drop It Like It’s Hot?” Do you “get a good feeling” listening to your favorite tunes? (Ok, I admit it, those were terrible puns.) Save your data and download songs directly to avoid those high data charges. Even my favorite online music streaming service allows me to download a playlist to my phone. Music is KEY to any good road trip. Belt out to some classic rock tunes or pump up the bass with some rap or hip-hop (or in my case, Hamilton.) Oh, and don’t forget to bring a car charger for your phone.

Step 4: Make sure it all fits. Take the heaviest items and put them on the bottom. (Hint: Do you subscribe to a food subscription box? Take your long-lasting ice packs and use them for a long trip to keep your Coke nice and cold!) Then, layer any lighter items on top. (And put your sunscreen in there too! The cool sunscreen will feel great on your skin and won’t be as runny.)

Road Trip Essentials 6

Voila! I think we’re ready to head down to the coast, don’t you? I can’t wait to be on the beach and soak up the sun. I can’t think of anything more perfect for our first summer back in South Carolina!

Now, I want to know: what are your beach road trip essentials? Anything you think I missed?