08/07/2009 05:12 am ET Updated Nov 17, 2011

Four Hot Tips for a Cool Summer

Summer is one of those seasons we both can and can't wait for. There's no arguing to get the kids to wear jackets, but there is wrestling for them to wear sunscreen. Our little guys can be outside with their outside voices all the time, only they're in our backyard and not the school playground. We can shed the boots, sneaks, and sweaters but our feet and our wardrobe need to be ready for the climate change. All this effort for just three months of basking in the sunshine? Here are four ideas to make your efforts less painstaking and remind you that it is well worth the trouble.

Steal Michelle Obama's Air Force Style
The sun is finally shining -- it's been gloomy here for weeks so it has us thinking about summer vacations. We might not be jetting off to somewhere so quickly but we can dream, especially after seeing Michelle Obama's stunningly chic Air Force One attire.

The First Lady of style sported an A-line peach Narciso Rodriguez dress topped off with a matching coat and belted at the waist. It's spicy (the sexy cinched waist) and sweet (the color) at the same time and we love it! But our clothes need to stand up to kids, not world leaders (although both are equally tough). And there is that pesky notion of a budget to consider. This eyelet-trim sundress from Old Navy is 100% cotton, machine washable and has just enough femininity for us to remember that we're not "just mom," even if we are just wearing it for a day-cation that was just a car ride away. Add ballet flats and a jean jacket and voila: plane (not plain) wear.

The Good Kind of Wine-ing
It's picnic season, ladies, and time to stock up on all those outdoor-friendly essentials. Juice boxes for the kids, check. Reusable plastic plates, check. Wine for mom? Check, check. What's nicer, after all, than lounging on a blanket on a summer evening, sipping some cool Pino Gris? It certainly takes the edge off when the kids are in full, outdoor-voice form.

The only problem with schlepping wine on a picnic is the heft. Wine bottles weigh a lot, and when you're already carrying blankets, food, and supplies, they can really drag you down. No worries. The folks at Klean Kanteen (we already love their water bottles!) have got you covered. Their Wine Karafe is made of a lightweight, food-safe stainless steel. It's sturdy and unbreakable, too -- making it a smart alternative to glass outdoors. It holds a full 750ml, so you can decant your favorite bottle into it, tuck it in your bag, and go. It's just the thing to grab before that next outdoor adventure.

Make Your Feet Sandal Ready
Our tootsies are often covered-up in sneakers, UGGs, or some other form of footwear that masks the fact that we can't even remember the last time we penciled in a pedicure. It's now summer, however, and our feet want to see the sun (not to mention that there's no resisting those cut-out sandals we've spotted all over town). Just in time, Borghese has come out with a new line of foot care essentials.

Formulated with Micronized Gemstones (okay, so we're not exactly sure what this is, but how could we go wrong with gemstones?), the Borghese foot collection is also free of DBP's Toluene and added Formaldehyde. Our four-fold revitalizing foot treatment plan is hydration, exfoliation, filing and massaging, and then choosing a fabulous shade of nail lacquer. After, you just slip into a new pair of sandals and give yourself kudos for a job well done and money well saved.

No Standing in Long Lines for Ice-Cream
When it's hot and the Good Humor truck is eluding you and it seems the long line for ice cream at the local ice cream shop has you yes-ing the kids for a triple scoop sundae if it will keep the whining to a minimum, you may be wondering if there's a better way. There is. Go home to the air-conditioning and create your own yummy sundae, complete with homemade gooey topping drizzled over gleaming scoops of their favorite flavors.

In less than 5 minutes, you can have warm, luscious better tasting caramel fudge sauce than anything on a truck or at an ice cream parlor. And you don't have to break a sweat.

Hot Caramel Sauce
Serves 6 to 8
Prep time 5 minutes
Cooking Time 5 minutes

1 cup semisweet chocolate chips
30 caramels, unwrapped
5 ounces can evaporated milk
1 stick unsalted butter, cut up
Vanilla ice cream (or other favorite flavor)

In a microwave safe bowl, combine chocolate chips, caramels, sweetened condensed milk and butter. Cover with plastic wrap and punch a few holes to let steam escape.

Microwave on high for two minutes. Stir and microwave 1 to 2 minutes longer until caramels are almost melted.

Stir until smooth, cool for 30 minutes (or chill 5 to 10).

Serve drizzled over ice cream.