Between Memorial Day Weekend falling early this year and you know… the blur of months and months of quarantine, I think the fast-approaching holiday has us all a little turned around. How is it already the unofficial start to summer?! How do we still celebrate without friends, family and travel?! (And bars!? And restaurants!?)
While this Memorial Day will undoubtedly look different than years past, it doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in your nostalgic favorites, soak up the outdoors and fully relax! Different isn’t bad, it’s just different! And today, we’re rounding up some easy, quarantine-approved ways to make this weekend a great one to remember–from home, or close to home!
Pack a picnic
Memorial Day weekend screams “something outdoors” to me, (and luckily, we’re due for some warmer weather in Chicago! Hooray!) so if the weather cooperates where you are, pack up a picnic and head to a park or grassy lawn to soak up some sun and fresh air!
Whether you picnic solo, with your quaranteam or meet some friends in the park for a social distancing hang, make sure to pack some towels/blankets and an array of your favorite snacks and cold beverages. For the easiest route–just make a snack plate with your favorite cheeses, crackers, meats, pickles, olives, etc, and store in a portable container.
If you want to take it a step further, may I suggest a Farro or Pasta salad? My TJ’s Hacks e-book has a whole page dedicated to farro because I love it so much! It’s healthy, and you can find quick-cooking farro that is done in just 10 minutes! If you prefer pasta salad though, you can make either of these recipes with short pasta like fusilli, penne, or farfalle (bowtie) pasta as well. These are delicious on their own for a picnic lunch, or as a side for a BBQ!
Antipasto farro salad:
Make a pot of farro (or pasta, if you prefer! Make sure to salt the water liberally). In a bowl, combined cooked farro with fresh mozzarella or mozzarella balls (got some string cheese? Slice that up–that’s good too!) Add any sliced Italian meat (salami, proscuitto, etc). Throw in some cherry tomatoes. Have any jarred artichoke hearts? Or jarred roasted red peppers? Those are great in here, too! As are any leftover grilled or roasted veggies you might have in the fridge. Chop ’em up and throw them in the bowl! Dress with storebought pesto, olive oil, and balsamic, or balsamic vinaigrette. (Don’t have pesto? That’s okay! It’s still delicious without!)
Greek farro salad with quick-pickled onions:
While you’re prepping the farro to cook, thinly slice some onions (red is great but whatever you have works!) and throw them into a small bowl with some red wine vinegar and a small bit of sugar to create a quick pickle, set aside.
Once farro is done, combine into a bowl with feta cheese, kalamata olives, halved cherry tomatoes, and if you have any fresh herbs, those are great too–fresh dill, fresh parsley, some scallions–whatever! Dress with red wine vinegar, olive oil, salt and pepper to taste. (Or your favorite Greek salad dressing!) Chill in the fridge. Combine with the pickled onions when you’re ready to serve. (Or at least until they’ve been pickling for about 30 minutes!)
Tip: For more protein, you can add canned chickpeas, or chicken–get a rotisserie chicken for the easiest route, or you can add sliced grilled chicken!
Watermelon honey spritzer:
This watermelon spritzer with lemon and honey looks so refreshing, it would make the perfect pairing. It can be made with or without alcohol! (So it’s kid-friendly if you have kiddos! But let’s be honest, I will likely add bubbly and a splash of vodka!) If you’re transporting it, just make the base, put it into a Hydroflask or another portable bottle, and then add ice and bubbles (prosecco or seltzer, for a non-alcoholic version) when you get to your picnic spot! That way it won’t explode with the carbonation en route!
Make a festive playlist + go for a drive!
Nothing makes you reminisce like a classic song with the windows down. I honestly can’t remember the last time we just “took a drive” for the fun of it. Why not take advantage of the one time in our lives the roads aren’t jammed up and go for a drive with no agenda?
Head out of town for a couple hours and drive through neighborhoods and areas you haven’t seen before–or make a day of it and make a plan to drive by a few friend’s houses for a socially-distanced hello!
(By th way–isn’t it so nice we can text each other now and say, “I’ll be in your ‘hood in 10! Come out and say hi!”? We could never do that before, because nobody was ever home, plus, it was rude, because there was always pressure for a friend to “invite you in” 😂Now that’s all out the window!)
Blast the tunes: Our favorite go-to playlist is Smokey and the Bandit, which is full of classic rock hits–perfect for driving! Another great one, if you want something a little “cooler” 😜is this “Beach Vibes” playlist, which will DEFINITELY get you in the summer mindset! If you like country, the “New Boots” playlist is MADE for driving on some back roads!
If you need new more playlist ideas, head over to my big Best Spotify Playlist roundup–it’s on older post, but there are so many good ones!
Put on a summer outfit that makes you smile!
There’s nothing like a festive outfit to get you in the holiday spirit! While you might not be leaving your backyard this weekend, but who cares! Dress the part and pull out your favorite red, white and blue summer pieces!
What was your favorite outfit you wore last summer? DIG THAT OUT! After months of sweatpants, I promise, it will feel like SUCH a treat! Pull on a sun dress, or your favorite jean shorts. Even swipe on some red lipstick! I might even curl my hair!!
(BTW–I just got this $28 sundress on Amazon and it’s one day delivery in certain colors–check multiple! I got the blue stripe!)
Prep some popsicles
If you missed this week’s On a High Note post, we talked about this festive and delicious popsicle recipe from Love & Lemons! Make a bunch of different flavors in advance and enjoy refreshing, homemade popsicles all weekend long! ☀️Amazon has a popsicle mold that I ordered this week!!
Make a Spritz!
Our go-to drink of summer! Obviously I’m partial to the Aperol Spritz (which, I highly recommend making with Tangerine prosecco instead of club soda for a fun twist!)
If you need a new Spritz to try and you love Negronis, Neal has been loving this “Negroni Sbagliato,” which is basically a Negroni where the gin is replaced with bubbly! Pour Prosecco into a glass with ice, add 1 oz sweet vermouth, 1/2-1 oz Campari (based on your preferences!), and top with club soda if you’d like! Garnish with an orange wedge and enjoy! (BTW, the recipe is also on this post on Instagram, so you can easily save it and reference for later!)
Make time for yourself
Remember to take advantage of a holiday weekend and do something for yourself!
Whether it’s catching up on sleep, getting organized in a certain area, tackling a passion project you’ve been putting off, really unplugging, indulging in self-care, etc. The past few months have been a lot on all of us, and we could all use a breather to do something for ourselves- make sure to carve some time out for that! Do yourself a favor and plan ahead for when you’ll set aside an hour or two just to do something for you. Put it on the calendar if you have to!
Get lost in a great read
Is there anything better than a fresh breeze and getting lost in a book with some sun on your face?! Make time to read outside this weekend! Whether it’s on your patio, at the park or by the pool, it’ll be time well spent. Need book recos? Check out 9 books to add to your summer reading list and #quaratinelife: some of my favorite book recos to read right now!