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    How to Make Your Weekend Special While Staying at Home

    So it looks like we’re all going to be at home until 2021. I hate to be so dramatic, but that’s how I feel. I miss feeling safe going out to have a meal with my friends, I miss dropping by my favorite coffee shop to chit chat with my favorite barista on a Sunday morning—and I am sure I’m not the only one having these bouts of missing how things used to be before COVID-19 became a part of our lives. But until this public health crisis gets better, we must all do our part to flatten the curve, and that means staying home (if you can). When I settled in with my parents after leaving my apartment (and exorbitant rent) in Los Angeles at the end of March, just as we saw the first peak in cases, I was so enthusiastic about making being home fun. I ordered new books to read, went for walks, and carved out time each day to do a face or hair mask. However, after nearly four months of going from my bedroom to my office (my sister’s room) to the kitchen, that enthusiasm has turned into boredom and sometimes sadness, leading me to this list. I am writing this for all of us that are feeling the weight of this “new normal.” Our weekends may look a lot different, but that doesn’t mean we can’t find new hobbies or things to do besides binge-watching our 100th show on Netflix to lift our spirits. Here are a few ways to make your weekend feel special:

    Source: @petiteelliee

    1. Work on a Puzzle
    I can’t tell you the last time I bought or put together a puzzle. As I searched the net, I realized there were shockingly a variety of options I loved, many of them designed by independent artists. I bought my first puzzle with original artwork by Afro-Latina artist Reyna Noriega on Jiggy. Sites like Jiggy, Piecework Puzzles, and Etsy offer a chance to add a relaxing pastime to your weekend plans (with a glass of wine or a mocktail) while supporting small businesses. 

    2. Take an Online Cooking Class
    At the start of quarantine, Airbnb cooking classes were my weekend ritual. I’d go to Trader Joe’s (with a mask on, of course) shop for my ingredients, and prep for my class. Scheduling these Saturday morning classes gave me something to look forward to, and they were also budget-friendly. I started out doing these classes solo and found that inviting friends based across the globe to join made the experience even more fun.  

    3. Purchase a Cocktail Kit From Your Favorite Restaurant 
    It’s the simple things I miss these days—like my favorite brunch cocktail. In some areas, restaurants are open, but if you feel more comfortable having your favorite drink in the comfort of your own home, reach out to your go-to spot and see if they’re offering take-home cocktail kits. Many of my local favorites are, and I have to say it’s nice to have a little something familiar even if I’m mixing myself. 
    READ: 15 Classic Cocktails to Master at Home

    Source: @waityouneedthis

    4. Go Indoor Camping
    Planning an indoor camping session may sound a little elementary, but who cares? Channel your inner child. Build a fort out of sheets, hang some lights, and make s’mores on the stovetop while watching the new Baby-Sitters Club series on Netflix. We deserve some time off from adulting even if it’s for one night. There are a few essentials you’ll need to build the perfect fort that you already have at home: pillows, sheets, and cozy blankets.  

    5. Tour a Museum Virtually 
    Touring a museum virtually sounded a little boring to me, especially since I was supposed to be in Mexico visiting my friend for a month in June. Visiting the Museo Frida Kahlo was on my Mexico City to-do list, so I tried visiting online. What I found so interesting about my visit was the colors of the artwork and artifacts were so vibrant. I still hope to be able to visit the museum IRL one day soon. 
    Until then, this was a nice way to view the work of one of my favorite artists. Many other museums are offering similar virtual experiences. The Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture is offering video curator chats, the Picasso Museum in Barcelona  is showcasing their permanent collection, and the British Museum in London is offering an interactive experience that provides an in-depth look at key pieces inside the museum. 

    6. Start a Garden Indoors
    Gardening doesn’t necessarily require a green thumb, especially if you start with a small project like an indoor herb garden. There are quite a few kits on the market that make getting started relatively simple. If you’re looking for a kit with everything you need, try the Organic Herb Growing Kit. This kit is also popular among those who want to invest in helping their herbs flourish. 
    READ: How to Start an Herb Garden at Home

    Source: @_harlowejames

    7. Recreate Your Brunch Order
    I am going to be honest: I have tried to do this (more than once) and failed with blueberry pancakes. You might be wondering how anyone could mess up pancakes. Truthfully, I continue to ask the same question. However, I have perfected my bacon, egg, and cheese croissant with a honey drizzle. It’s *chef’s kiss.* Cooking fails happen, but trying to recreate your signature brunch can be fun even if it doesn’t turn out just how you hoped. 

    8. Have a DIY Spa Day
    I know—usually, the purpose of a spa day is to relax, meaning you aren’t the one doing the pampering. Oddly, during quarantine, I have found it relaxing to care for my skin, hair, and nails. Truth be told, my skincare routine usually stops at the places you can see. Over the last few months, I have made it a practice to scrub my body three times a week, deep condition my hair under a bonnet dryer, and manicure my nails (and apply press-ons). You can also try a body scrub and post-shower self-massage with an essential oil scented body butter to help ease your workweek woes. 
    I promise you won’t regret taking extra time for yourself. When you do decide on a weekend spa treatment, invest in products that are good for your skin that pique your senses. I think that is one thing that makes visiting a spa such a sensory experience from the moment you check-in. Lately, I’ve been alternating between smelling like a mango or a lychee fruit. My skin visually says thank you when I make this a weekly practice. 

    Source: @theyusufs

    9. Turn Off Your Phone and Get Outdoors
    You might have anxiety just thinking about disconnecting from technology. We live in a digital world that is pretty addictive that can lead to mindless scrolling and sometimes overindulging in the 24-hour news cycle. We should always be informed, but too much of anything is not good. There has been an uptick in hiking and camping this summer, since they’re a generally safe way to social distance while getting out. The AllTrails app is a great resource if you’re looking for trails nearby or want to go for a long drive. 
    One outdoor option, I’ve personally looked into is Getaway House. I need a little time away from my day-to-day surroundings, and a solo cabin with no WiFi and a lox box for my phone sounded like the perfect fit. I booked a getaway for my upcoming birthday. I’m not the super outdoorsy type, but I am looking forward to emerging myself in nature and taking time to disconnect. The Getaway House has outposts close to 14 major cities and seems to be diligent about ensuring their guest’s and team’s safety. If you’re looking to book in Atlanta, Dallas, Houston, or Portland, they have a deal on Gilt City (that I took advantage of) making booking my cabin even more worthwhile.  More

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    5 Exercises to Strengthen Your Core at Home

    Are you missing your typical workout routine as much as we are? We know it’s been months since you’ve gotten to clip into a bike at a spin studio, had a Body Pump instructor barking at you to squat lower, or blazed a trail on the treadmill. We’ve been stuck working out from home, which isn’t as exciting as exercising in a fancy gym or club-esque boutique studio, but the work itself remains important—especially when it comes to your core muscles. Your core is the epicenter of your body’s success, helping you with everything from stabilization to breathing.The best part of core exercises is that they can be executed without any added weight—your body alone can add resistance to crank up the intensity of the exercise and continue to challenge you. The number of core exercises and variations are seemingly endless, but let’s face it: the motivation to actually complete an ab workout solo or at the end of the rest of your workout can be low. These five exercises in particular are ideal; they’re going to attack all parts of your core, can be done from the comfort of your living room carpet, and will keep you from the mundane routine of crunching yourself into oblivion.

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    Planks are the most classic core move there is, but despite its constant presence in ab routines and group fitness classes, it never gets easy. Starting out on your forearms, extend your legs back behind you and come onto your toes, making yourself flat as a board. Now, it’s time to hold for as long as you can, or to do sets of 30-second rounds. The challenge here comes from ensuring your butt is down and your back is flat. Plank intensity can be increased by raising a leg, an arm, or both to add some instability. This exercise not only has a ton of options for variation, including side planks or raised planks, but it works all the muscles in your core at once.

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    Bird dogs will help strengthen the core through both contraction and balance. This move will help to train your whole core, and will help strengthen your lower back. Start out in a tabletop position on your hands and knees. Extend one arm out and at the same time, extend the opposite leg out. Then, bring both the extended arm and leg in underneath your stomach and squeeze. You can do a certain number of reps on one side and then switch sides, or do alternating reps. The element of balance comes in when the arm and leg are extended, and the other arm and leg are responsible for keeping you stable.

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    You’ll be channeling your inner superhero with this one. Contrary to popular belief, your lower back muscles are a part of your core—it’s not just about the washboard stomach up front. Start out lying on your stomach, and to execute one rep, contract your arms and legs up off the floor. After holding for a second, you’ll drop back down. Supermans work as a good counter-exercise to all of the other abdominal work you’re doing.

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    The tricky part about core work is that there are so many different muscles to train. Flutter kicks are an effective way to strengthen your lower abdominal muscles. Start out by lying on the floor and put your hands underneath your glutes or lower back. Next, raise your legs, shoulders, and head off the floor, and from there, you’ll begin to flutter your legs up and down, alternating which leg goes up while the other is coming down. This exercise can be done for time or for a number of reps. It’s important that you keep your legs, shoulders, and head raised off the ground the entire time. You may feel your neck and shoulders becoming tense, and if that’s the case, you can lower your head and shoulders to the floor and just focus on the leg motion. This won’t alter the results or benefit from the movement, but will help you to avoid injury. Once you become more comfortable with the movement itself, you can add back in the challenge of lifting your neck and shoulders off of the ground. 

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    Russian twists will help to burn out the main part of your core, and also turn up the heat on your obliques. Start out on the ground in a seated position, and raise your feet up off the ground. Next, you’ll literally twist from side-to-side, touching the floor beside your legs while keeping your feet raised. To increase the intensity, you can lean back further with your upper body creating a more difficult angle. This exercise is plenty tough without weight, but adding a dumbbell, heavy book, or detergent bottle will give an extra challenge. More

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    Feeling Bored? Take One of These Online Classes

    In this day and age, there is never an excuse to be bored, but it may not feel that way—especially when it seems like you’ve already watched every movie and show ever uploaded to Netflix. Sometimes to break out of your boredom, you need to mix things up a little bit and give your mind some food for thought. Enter: online classes. Digital education has always been a great option for those looking to expand their skill set or supplement their resume, but lately, the amount of amazing online course options have expanded even more. You can probably guess why. Online classes are flexible, often allow you to work at your own pace, and are almost always more affordable than going back to school. Because there are basically an endless amount of options out there for you to choose from, we rounded up a list of online classes you can enroll in if you’re bored—some of which are completely free to take, and all are hosted by really cool, talented, and insanely smart women!

    This free 30-day course from public academic, writer, and lecturer Rachel Cargle serves as an eye-opener and a call to action for anyone seeking to be allies to Black women. Each day you will have access to prompts that will urge you to think critically and act tangibly in solidarity. 

    Chances are, you’ve seen the ads that popped up everywhere when social distancing began for MasterClass (you’ll see a few of their courses on this list!). A $15 monthly subscription to this service gives you access to online classes from more than 85 of the world’s greatest minds, including the remarkable Dr. Jane Goodall. Her first ever online class will teach you how you can work to conserve the environment, plus she’ll give insight into her decades of work studying chimpanzees. 

    It’s safe to say that most of us could use a little extra confidence! In this online course, author, broadcaster, and podcast host Emma Gannon will walk you through why we self sabotage and will lead you through five exercises that will help you build your creative confidence. You got this!

    Considering Shonda Rhimes produces some of the most popular TV shows of our generation (we’re looking at you Grey’s Anatomy and Scandal), we can think of no one better to instruct us in the art of television writing. Even if you don’t have dreams of writing for TV professionally, learning about the process and trying something creative will be fun and educational. 

    If you’re in need of a little comfort food, you’ll love Tuscan cookbook author Giulia Scarpaleggia’s introduction to simple, traditional, hearty Italian and Tuscan recipes. You’ll learn how to make pasta from scratch (yes please!) and how to use basic ingredients in the pantry to make wholesome, delicious recipes.

    It’s time to step away from the iPhone and finally learn how to use that DSLR that’s been collecting dust in your closet. Learning how to use a DSLR camera to its full potential can be intimidating, but photographer Kelly Lawson will take you through all the basics in a way that makes the learning process way easier. 

    Source: Mateus Campos Felipe | Unsplash

    Throughout this course, Bola Sokunbi, Certified Financial Education Instructor (CFEI), money expert, and the founder of Clever Girl Finance wants to help you transform your money mindset by teaching you how to become confident regarding organizing your finances, goal setting, and budgeting.

    We’ve been fans of Emily Henderson’s amazing design skills for years, and can see why over 27,000 students have enrolled in her digital interior design course. This course has 57 projects you can complete, which means you’ll be on your way to expert status in no time too. 

    This course offers a deep dive into women’s health and human rights issues from infancy through old age. You’ll learn about positive interventions relating to those issues, as well as have the ability to chat with other classmates through interactive discussions. Through Coursera’s financial aid program, you also can apply to take this course for free.

    Most of us have been cooking at home for months on end now and probably need to mix things up a bit. That’s why we’re extremely tempted to sign up for chef Gabriela Cámara’s online cooking class that focuses on modern Mexican cuisine!

    If you’ve ever come up with the perfect app idea—which we know you have—now is your chance to learn from a literal expert, Dr. Angela Yu, how to build any app you want. She began programming at the age of 12 and she’s whipped up over 70 apps and video games in her day. Your app will be at the top of the charts any day now!

    If you’ve ever been curious how bloggers and media brands make money off affiliate links, this course will break down everything you’ve been dying to know. The course comes from the designer and creative mind Salma Sheriff and will teach you the basics on how to make money off affiliate marketing. Basically, this course will end up paying for itself. 

    In all relationships (family, friends, partners, and coworkers) communication is key. Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts knows a thing or two about communication and is sharing her best tips for fostering unforgettable moments through human connection in this online course. 

    Source: Gabby in the City

    Founder and creative director of the popular lifestyle brand Wit & Delight, Kate Arends is an expert on leveraging a social following into a creative business. If you’re looking to build an online community, develop content channels, or identify worthwhile opportunities, this course is for you. 

    YouTube beauty gurus are great, but if you’re looking to learn from one of the original makeup masters, you’ll love Bobbi Brown’s new online course. She’ll walk you through step-by-step makeup tutorials on models with a variety of skin tones and will answer some major makeup questions that you probably want answers to.

    If you want to master the culinary basics, chef Alice Waters is the perfect teacher. Known for starting the farm-to-table movement, Waters is the perfect person to instruct in the art of home cooking. Deep dive into essential kitchen tools, properly stocking a pantry, and cooking delicious, healthy food.

    Best-selling Author Roxane Gay’s online creative writing course aims to help students find their story, craft their truth, and learn how to write to make a difference. No matter what type of writing you want to undertake, this course will teach you to develop your craft.

    Any Gilmore Girls fan will likely jump at the chance to take a Yale course for free! Over two million people have taken this course from professor Laurie Santos, which presents a series of challenges designed to increase happiness and build more productive habits. It’s not too late to join them!

    WordPress is an exceptionally popular blogging platform, which means WordPress developers who can customize the design and functionality of these websites are in hot demand. Whether you want to make WordPress development a professional goal or simply want to learn more about how to customize your own website, this course can help lead the way. 

    Considering Diane Von Furstenberg built one of the most iconic fashion brands of all time, we’re looking forward to learning a thing or two about branding from her. Whether you work in fashion or not, her tips can’t be missed. 

    Of course, this list wouldn’t be complete without highlighting a few of our own online courses! This course gives you all the resources you need to land your dream job. Alongside guided worksheets, insight from career experts, and a comprehensive resource list, you’ll gain access to super helpful resume, cover letter, and email templates. 

    It seems fair to say that we could all use a little extra self-care right about now! This online course is formatted as a fun six week challenge that comes with over 100 pages of guidance, tips, and worksheets. 

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    This Book Delivery Service Will Make Your Summer

    For the longest time, I figured people either identified as readers or not, and I definitely fell into the “not” category the last year or so. I would rather watch YouTube videos and listen to music in my spare time, not force my brain to work when I’ve finally shut it off. I enjoy books, of course, but I declared myself as a non-reader who just couldn’t find the time unless I was sitting on a beach vacation or curled up with a cup of tea. Well, obviously, our entire lives have shifted the last six months, and my whole “not reading” thing flew straight out the window, down the street, onto the highway, and into some ditch. I started reading more and more with all the extra time on my hands, but I needed to diversify my authors, both in terms of reading books by and about BIPOC and LGBTQ+ people but also in genres and ideas (trust me: I love a good thriller as much as the next gal, but I also love ghost stories and retellings and literary fiction and romance and nonfiction!). Then, I stumbled upon Book of the Month. And let me tell ya, BOTM has become my new favorite way to find books.

    Book of the Month is the fastest-growing book subscription service in America—and you’re about to hear why. They promote new and emerging authors every month, selecting five amazing new releases to choose from (read on for a look at some of July’s!). As a subscriber, you choose one of the five and it’s sent directly to your door. The titles range all genres (sci-fi, romance, thriller, historical fiction—you name it, they’ve got it), and they’re even beginning to incorporate nonfiction titles as well. 

    As I was getting back into the world of reading once again, I was inundated with recommendations for authors and titles, almost to the point of not knowing where I should start. Book of the Month made it so easy. Pick your titles, and as soon as they arrive, you’ll likely get started on them right away. I was so motivated to read my BOTM because they’re all up-and-coming titles and authors you’re bound to start seeing everywhere. Last month, I read The Vanishing Half, and the day after I finished, it made the New York Times’ Best Seller list. I’ve never had that happen before—a book I’d already read and loved become a best-seller just before my eyes. You get early access to books that are about to become major hits, so you can read and get ahead of your book clubs! Oh, and I wanted to finish it right away so my plate would be clear by the time my next BOTM arrival came in a month.  

    On my journey to become a bigger reader (will I start a BookTube channel? The jury’s still out), I struggled a bit with cost. $15 here, $25 there. Before you know it, you’ve spent the equivalent of a week’s worth of groceries on a couple of books. And if you read quickly, you’re basically done for. Book of the Month not only cut down how often I had to research books, but it cut my costs too. Using code EVERYGIRL, your first book is $9.99 (yeah, seriously—less than a coffee and a breakfast sandwich!)—then it’s still only $14.99 a month afterward (which is still an incredible deal for hardbacks). Not loving the selections one month or just not in the budget? No worries, you can skip whenever and won’t be charged. Love to read? You can select an add-on book every month from BOTM’s large selection of titles—including tons of books you’ll likely see made into movies and TV shows in the future. This month, I added Riley Sager’s Home Before Dark—a spooky thriller about a haunted house. (BRB, lighting my fall candle and wishing it was Halloween!)

    Wondering what new titles are up this month? Here’s a look at the two of the five books I’m most excited to read for July:

    Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman
    Big Friendship: How We Keep Each Other Close

    This book sounds like a necessary read for women everywhere. Aminatou Sow and Ann Friedman, co-hosts of the popular podcast “Call Your Girlfriend,” explain what it takes to really have a friendship for the long haul. We all know that friendships take work, but to really keep someone close for a long time isn’t an easy feat. These two BFFs share the ups and downs of their friendship and how they’ve gotten to where they are today. I can’t wait to read this and cry, laugh, and call my best friends. This is the book I’ll be choosing for my personal subscription—if you couldn’t already tell.

    Michele Harper
    The Beauty in Breaking

    This is Michele Harper’s memoir, following her career as a Black emergency room physician, a profession that is widely male and white. She attended Harvard after leaving an abusive childhood in Washington, D.C., and just before moving to Philidelphia to work in a new hospital, she and her husband split up. So, she’s in a new city, a new job, and newly single (something many of us might be able to relate to). This book follows her journey to self-healing, realizing that she must heal herself while she’s working as a doctor healing others. The book has tons of praise for being moving, inspirational, and educational—something we all could use right now.

    Whether you’re reading a couple of books or week or get excited when you finish one a month, Book of the Month is truly the easiest way to get a new book in your hand every month without doing much work.

    This post was in partnership with Book of The Month, but all of the opinions within are those of The Everygirl editorial board. More

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    How 15 Celebs Are Working Out at Home

    At this point, normal daily activities like grabbing a smoothie with your work(out) wife or taking a class at a yoga studio seem like distant memories (sigh remember heated rooms and cool lavender towels!?). However, just because you can’t meet up with your accountability buddy or head to the gym doesn’t mean you can’t stay […] More