Blog Posts by Sarah McColl, Shine staff

  • How will you keep the summer fun rolling this month?

    The brutal truth is that the calendar says, "September." But in many parts of the country, it's still crazy hot, and the potential for continued summer fun is as high as the humidity. And technically, we've still got a few weeks of summer left to go, right?

    I've got one last trip to the beach coming up, complete with lobster rolls and soaking up some vitamin D for the dark days ahead. The crowds will have cleared out, and there's something really special about the beach in September. Like going to the movies on a sunny afternoon, it feels like thumbing your nose at the rules. (Plus, at night, I'll slip a sweater over my swim suit and feel like an extra in the J. Crew catalog. Always a bonus).

    So for everyone else intent on enjoying every last moment: how will you keep the fun rolling this month?

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  • What's your favorite summer treat?

    This weekend I stuck my head in bag filled with peaches, and the smell nearly knocked me off my feet: it was pure, ripe summer. I had been at a farmer's market, picking up the most luscious-looking tomatoes, the most fragrant herbs, the sweetest blueberries you've ever tasted, and corn so sweet is was like dessert. That, to me, is the best summer treat on earth: the fruits and vegetables coming out of the ground are so bursting with flavor and juice and sweetness; it's the taste of summer itself. And in a way, its timing is perfect: just as summer is close to winding down, the natural world rises up with its show-stoppers to take our mind off of backpacks and pencils.

    But ice cream cones take a close second. Is there any better summer evening than walking through the humid streets at dusk to get an ice cream cone? And now that I'm thinking about it, a cold glass of iced tea in the afternoon is irresistible. And what about homemade lemonade? Or a slice of cool, sweet watermelon?

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  • What's your favorite stay-cool spot?

    The heat wave currently baking much of the country is a lot less fun than the one sung about by Martha and the Vandelles. As temperatures climb to historic levels and humidity wilts the most summer-proof among us, staying cool is serious business.

    It means I've got a whole new level of appreciation for my Wednesday night swimming lessons at the local Y. No matter how high the mercury rises, I've got an escape route: at 7:30pm, I'll be hopping into cool water to paddle, float, and feel my fingers shrink back to the normal size. It may not be a pristine Alpine lake, but it works. And the walk home with wet hair, my body tired and cooled off to its very core, is one of the sweetest moments of the week.

    How do you and your family stay cool in this crazy hot weather?

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  • What should Will and Kate do in California?

    Catherine, the Duchess of Cambridge and her dashing Prince William will soon touch down in the Golden State, and they are in for a total delight: Perfect weather, star-sightings, and some of the freshest, most vibrant food in the States. The bad news? They only have 3 days.

    Imagine only having 72 hours in a state with beaches at one end, lush forests at the other (and a couple deserts somewhere in between). How do you make the most of it? Do you eat fish tacos in San Diego? Re-enact Pretty Woman's shopping scene on Rodeo Drive? Sip wine in Sonoma? Wave at the sea lions while snacking on sourdough in San Francisco?

    You could have the chance to do all of those things--and whatever else your little heart desires--if you enter to win this 8 day, 7 night trip to California with stops in Los Angeles, Carmel, Monterey, San Francisco and Yosemite. Read the full contest rules here.

    What do you think Will and Kate should do in California? What would be on your must-do, must-see, must-eat list

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  • Rainy day activities: Creating a fun indoor picnic

    You can always suit your kids up in their cute rain gear on wet days for outdoor adventures. But staying indoors can be more exciting than another Dora the Explorer marathon. Kick your kids' imaginations into high-gear and recreate all aspects of a sunny day picnic right at home.

    Share your child's school year photos and any other fun, embarrassing or incredible moments that you have captured on the Moments of Motherhood Flickr Group. While you are here take part in discussions with other moms.

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  • 6 things I learned on a yoga retreat

    When I signed up a for two days of yoga in the mountains with twenty strangers and early wake up calls, I thought I might get a little better at meditating and eat too much vegetarian food. But I didn't know I would come home feeling quite so wide open with joy.

    Do the worst thing first.
    Within the first 30 minutes of the first class on my first yoga retreat, I did a very advanced pose called Face Plant. I was in a handstand, my spotter went rogue, and the next thing I knew I was loudly crashing onto my head. Everyone stared, and my confidence plummeted. But you know what? When the thing you've always been most afraid of happens, it's kind of a relief. I put a band-aid on my pride, and when I was no longer so terrified of falling, there was room for other stuff, like courage and a sense of humor.

    Tell a new story about yourself.
    I went to this yoga retreat feeling quite sure of two truths: I do not like mushy eggplant or getting up at sunrise. The former truth held its veracity, the

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  • Mistakes you're making with your skin (that you might not know about!)

    Despite our efforts to achieve glowing, flawless skin, many of us are making mistakes that stand in the way of the finest potions and lotions. Here, the 14 biggest mistakes women are making with their skin, and the fixes to set things right. Gorgeousness, here we come!

    Mistake: You're not wearing sunscreen every single day
    We are all sick of hearing this advice (it gets more play than Lady Gaga!), but dermatologists are probably just as tired of repeating it. This is the single biggest mistake most of us are making with our skin, and there's no need: it's an easy gaffe to fix.

    The Fix
    : You know it already: Wear an SPF lotion or cream with broad spectrum UVA and UVB protection every single day. But why every day? While UVB rays are strong in summer, UVA rays stay the same year-round. "If you go outside to shovel shovel snow on the most overcast day of the year, you're getting the same amount of UVA as if you were on the beach during the summer," says Dr. Jeannette Graf, a Board

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  • Simple, instant ways to truly enjoy the holidays

    Put down your wrapping paper, car keys, and credit cards. The reason we've all been whipped into an errand-running frenzy is here, which means it's time to stop doing and start enjoying. Here are ten instant ways to be present and appreciate this once-a-year moment.

    You've trolled through the mall for the perfect gifts and clicked your way across the Internet looking for something just right. Now, really watch what happens. Hand over your gifts and delight in the surprise when it's unwrapped.

    Receive We spend so much of the holiday season thinking about others, but being a gracious receiver is every bit as important. Instead of thinking about getting the cinnamon buns out of the oven, hang on when your kids offer a morning hug. Don't shrug off compliments and gifts. With an open heart, accept the love, thoughtfulness, and macaroni necklaces that come your way.

    Read more: Easy, inexpensive, and eco-friendly DIY gift wrapping ideas

    Light a Candle It takes a quiet moment of attention

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  • Last-minute cookies and sweet treat gifts

    Even if you're not normally a homemade gifts-giver, we can all agree on one thing: people love them some cookies. We rounded up some simple sweet treat recipes to help you check off the rest of your Christmas list: some are especially simple (we're talking store-bought dough and cake mix), some are quick Christmas classics and others put creative spin on old favorites (cardamom snaps, anyone?). Hopefully, you'll find more than a few winners here to complete your Santa duties so you can pour yourself a glass of spiked eggnog and really get into the holiday spirit.

    Holiday cookie decorating ideas on a budget

    New tools from Walmart to save money on holiday shopping

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  • 10 ways to make the season brighter

    Real talk: the holiday season isn't all smiley elves and Karen Carpenter for some people. When you're feeling stressed or blue, the December pressure to slap on a happy face can make you feel even worse: the difference between how you actually feel and how you're supposed to feel is so great. There's no rule that says you can't be in a bad mood during the twelve days of Christmas. But maybe what you also need are some quiet, meaningful, and just plain fun ways to celebrate the season that don't have anything to do with presents or the mall parking lot. Here, ten timeless ways to bring light and cheer to the holiday season.

    Candlelight Night
    Make your season brighter by turning out the lights. There's something about candlelight-the way it lends a sense of import, makes you lower your voice just a bit, and makes everyone look about 87% more attractive-that is just inimitably…magic. For one night, why not make like the 19th century and rely on candles rather than electricity, if

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