I’m so ready for vacation. It’s next to impossible for me to concentrate on running errands, meeting deadlines, and finishing projects when I can feel the mercury rising outside and see the sun finally peeking its overly shy head out from the clouds. Even though it’s still too chilly to unpack a bathing suit, I’m already concentrating on planning my next beach trip.
It may not be everyone’s first instinct, but I love visiting Chicago’s Lake Michigan beaches. I grew up basking on the shores of this glittering urban oasis, and anyone who overlooks its charms is seriously missing out. Of course, I didn’t suddenly morph into a millionaire overnight, so a trip to any beach means DIY projects. Overpriced, store-bought accessories are verboten; plus, I’m pretty sure (mostly, anyway) that I can make anything I need cheaper and sturdier than I can buy. Probably. Here’s what I’ve got going on right now.
The Best Little Homemade Sunshade
I’ve always wanted one of those little half-tent-looking sunshades for the beach. They are perfect for covering my head while reading a juicy page turner, but allow my body to hang out and crisp to a golden brown (an unexpected talent, despite Irish heritage). I’ve seen a number of awesome tutorials online, but I feel like it’s straight forward enough that I can just wing it. Here’s what I did:
I grabbed a cute, patterned piece of fabric I had lying around (with sailboats on it, yay!). If I were feeling ambitious, I could buy some vinyl or weatherproof fabric… leftover sailboat fabric it is! Now, I got a little goofy and used the legs from an old folding table I no longer use, but technically, I think you’re supposed to buy aluminum poles. With the addition of grommets on each corner and some twine, I now have a workable homemade sunshade. Easy peasy.
The Perfect Pocket Beach Towel
I don’t know how I ever lived without this thing. Ideal for Chi-Town’s windier days (uhm, it is the Windy City), this updated towel spreads open to reveal pockets on each corner where I can place my shoes, wallet, book, etc. and ensure everything stays grounded. Plus, it takes minutes to make. A couple triangles of fabric stitched onto the corners and I’m done. So, I made several. Why not?
The “Stay Classy Through Sunset” Sarong
Beachwear is obviously minimal, but I need a chic cover-up in case I run to a café for a bite or bar for a paper umbrella-topped beverage. Inexplicably, sarongs, which are little more than giant squares of fabric, are priced like they require European tailoring. Nonsense. I snatched up a couple yards of tropical-print silk chiffon and sewed a wide hem. Piece of cake. Now I just have to learn how to tie it correctly.
The Ambitious Project: Folding Chairs
All my DIY projects have been super simple, so I thought I might try and tackle one challenging one. This talented lady thinks she can teach me how to fashion a deck chair from scratch. Bold words. There’s a lot of cutting and drilling involved, but it all sounds pretty fun. Plus, it will give me something to focus on while I’m dreaming of those golden Chicago shores. If I can manage one, I’ll make a few more. They seem like great functional seating for any occasion.
I can’t emphasize enough how excited I am about vacationing in Chicago. There’s sooo much fun stuff there, way beyond the Navy Pier and Magnificent Mile. As for what to do in Chicago after leaving the beach, the sky’s the limit! But, I’ll be on the sand, with my pocket towel, sarong, sunshade and (hopefully) an enviable collection of deck chairs.