How To Throw A Canada-Themed Party

Happy 150th Birthday, Canada! The true, north, strong and free marks a century and a half this week with #Canada150, and it’s not just Canada that’s celebrating. The whole world – and especially the rest of North America – owes Canada a debt of gratitude for its strong yet kind example: Canada cares for its citizens, welcomes refugees, expands human rights and learns from its mistakes. Although I’m an American, I’ve always been proud of my Canadian ancestry (my grandmother’s family was in Quebec since the 1500s) and have been grateful to live near the border of such a fantastic neighbo(u)r. If you love Canada too, maybe you’d like to celebrate Canada on its sesquicentennial anniversary  … or get a jump start on your Canada Day planning. Like our American-Themed Party, these ideas aren’t intended to replicate a “typical” Canadian party. Instead, they’re some fun ways to boost Canadian pride, celebrate a beautiful country, and maybe even learn a bit of trivia.

Games

Polite Water Balloon Relay

This is basically a normal balloon relay. Each team forms two lines and players toss a water balloon back and forth to each other to reach the end of the line. If you break a water balloon, you have to start back at the beginning. The first team to send three water balloons successfully down the line wins.

Here’s the twist: each team member needs to say thank you before passing the balloon off. Each player must also say sorry if they drop the balloon AND if the person before or after them drops it, even if it’s not your fault. If a player forgets to say thank you or sorry, you have to start over (sorry).

Duck Duck Canada Goose

Here’s one for the kiddos. This is just like Duck Duck Goose, but when a player is chosen as “Canada Goose” it either goes apeshit or stands directly in the pathway of whoever is trying to catch them without moving. If you really wanted to be accurate, the Canada Goose would also drop improbably large poops absolutely everywhere, but let’s not. The Canada Goose is the one Canadian export I could do without.

Money Mix-Up!

To really recreate the life of the millions of Canadians who live near the U.S. border, bring a piggy bank of Canadian coins and mix them up in everyone’s wallet (riddle me this: if Canada got rid of pennies in 2013, why do I have SO MANY CANADIAN PENNIES in my wallet always?).

The real games happens after the party when you find out which machines will and won’t accept your currency.

Cottage Invite Blitz

Please correct me if I’m wrong – and maybe this is totally just my experience – but I feel like everyone I’ve met from Ontario has a cottage, has a friend with a cottage, or just generally loves cottages.  But what to do if you haven’t nailed down a summer cottage invite?

In Cottage Invite Blitz, half of the players have a card that says I Have A Cottage and half say I Need A Cottage. The card is on your forehead and there is no peeking to see what you got. By talking to each other, players have to pair up – one player who has a cottage with one who needs one. The tricky part is rather than explicitly telling another player that they have a cottage or need one, you have to sort of indirectly work out the invitation in a friendly and polite way. Is the other player being nice to you because you have a cottage, or are they being nice to you because they are Canadian?

Canadian Or Not Canadian

You can either make a set of flashcards or use photos on your phone. Players must guess whether the celebrity pictured is Canadian or Not Canadian. A lot of modern celebrities may prove challenging: Ryans Reynolds and Gosling, Keanu Reeves, Seth Rogan, Joshua Jackson, Michael Cera… it’s a very, VERY long list, but you can make the game tricky by including Americans who seem kind of Canadian.

Canadian Spelling/ Vocab Bee

Canadian spelling: not really British, not really American. Have a fun spelling bee with the following words:

grey, travelling, colour, honour, neighbour,  axe, lincence, moustache, eh, anything with a ‘z’ in it because you’re out if you say zee instead of zed.

Or, have players provide the definitions to the following words in a vocab bee:

toque, chesterfield, loonie, toonie, poutine, double-double, and eh again (because it can mean so many things!)

Fill In Map Of Canada

Inspired by our map game in the American-themed party, have guests fill in the names of the provinces and territories on a blank map of Canada.

I thought I had it on lock because there are only 13, but I swear nobody ever told me there was a thing just called Northwest Territories. Sorry, Northwest Territories. Sorry that I called you The North Place.

Can You Say That In French?

In this elimination game, you make conversation as normal – but you have to repeat everything you say in French. The last person standing wins.

Dans ce jeu d’élimination, vous parlez normalement – sauf que vous devez répéter tout en français. La dernière personne qui reste gagne.

[I CLEARLY would not be the last person remaining. My apologies to the French language for that.]

Winter Wear Bonanza

In this pairs relay, the first player must run to the station, put on a selection of winter outerwear (scarf, hat, gloves, coat, earmuffs, etc), then run back to their partner, change out of the winter clothes and have their partner put them on. The partner then runs to the station and back. First team to finish wins.

 


Entertainment

On The Screen

My first thought was to just play all of the Anne Of Green Gables movies – and while I liked the new series, you know I mean the Megan Follows ones. Then I realized I was remiss in excluding Canadian fav Degrassi, both the O.G. ’80s series and the reboot staring Drake.

It’s also never wrong to air a hockey game, particularly a Hockey Night In Canada broadcast.

Particularly if you don’t speak French, it could be fun to play a soap opera from Quebec and fill in the dialogue yourself, a la that classic scene from Friends with the telenovela.

You can’t beat Canadian comedy, and if that’s more your speed you can tune in to The Kids In The Hall, SCTV (the Catherine O’Hara era is my personal favorite), The Red Green Show or Trailer Park Boys.

Finally, for a bit of childhood nostalgia, try The Elephant Show or You Can’t Do That On Television.

(You could also watch nothing because that is what is available on Canadian Netflix, and Hulu blocks your IP address on half of everything.)

In The Speakers

Just play The Tragically Hip the whole time.

Okay, fine. If you’d like to expand further you still may want to stick with a mix of musicians who are typically associated with Canada – even though there are excellent Canadian musicians of every genre. This means Drake, Alanis Morrissette, Neil Young, Leonard Cohen, Celine Dion, the Barenaked Ladies, Justin Bieber, Bryan Adams, Gordon Lightfoot, Sarah McLachlan and Crash Test Dummies. Please include at least one play of Let’s Go To The Mall from How I Met Your Mother, as it is the only time the phrase “rock your body ’til Canada day” has appeared in music thus far.


Refreshments

Food
Maple Anything

Canadians don’t really eat wacky maple-flavored treats, but in keeping with the theme you can serve maple candy or some refreshing maple ice cream. You can even find maple mustard dip and maple jerky.

Ketchup Chips

It’s true: these are very hard, if not impossible to find in the U.S.A. If you live near Canada, swing up and grab a few bags for your bash. If you live IN Canada, can we get married so I can have health care? I’ll pay for the chips.

Poutine

Cheese. Gravy. Fries. Good.

Tim Hortons

Assuming you live someplace where there’s Tim Hortons, provide guests with an array of all the finest Timbits and a big box of hot coffee, with sugar and cream for the classic double-double. It’s probably not a Classic Canadian Icon but the iced cap is also legit.

Kraft Dinner

Yes, it’s the same as Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, but you have to call it Kraft Dinner.

Hickory Sticks

… I guess. Does anybody like these?

Nanaimo Bars, Beaver Tails and Butter Tarts

If you’re a good baker or can get to a Canadian bakery or cafe, these Canadian treats are must-haves, particularly if your guests haven’t had a chance to try them before.

Drinks
Canadian Beer

This might be a great time to try some delicious Canadian craft beer, but to keep your budget low and your party Canadian, maybe you should provide a standby like Molson or Labatt.

Canadian Mixed Drinks

I’ll defer to this MentalFloss piece, as well as my own memories of going across the border to drink as a 19-year-old. For liability reasons I should tell you that Canadian drinking ages only apply in Canada.

Screech is a real only-in-Canada rum, and of course I have to recommend anything using Canadian whisky.

I’m still never trying a Bloody Caesar, though. Blech.

Wine

If you run with more of a wine crowd, Niagara wines from Ontario are always a great bet. There are also some good selections from the Okanagan Valley in British Columbia. Try an ice wine if you haven’t already.

Other

I have no idea. Canada Dry and Canadian Club?


Canadian Style

Decor

It’s kind of a no-brainer, but a lot of Canadian flags and maple leaf insignia would be a good way to go. You can also include hockey posters and memorabilia or tack up pictures of Canadian wildlife (a moose and a beaver, at least).

In our American-Themed party post, we suggested hanging up pictures of great Americans and having guests name as many as they can. That would work well for great Canadians as well. You can include everyone from Justin Trudeau to Wayne Gretzky, Margaret Atwood to Lucy Maud Montgomery.

If you don’t play the Fill In The Map game, you could hang up a large, blank map of Canada (oh Canada…) and have guests fill in the names of the provinces and territories, major cities, places they’ve been, or just draw snowflakes and moose and those goddamn geese everywhere.

Fashion

Canadians just dress like regular humans, but you can have some fun here. Clothes in Canadian colors or with the Canadian flag on it would be great – Roots even has a Canada 150 line. You could also dress as an inoffensive Canadian stereotype, which is probably just a person with warm clothing.

If you really want to go for it, I’d have each guest dress as a Canadian, past or present. You can have everything from Anne of Green Gables to Robin Sparkles. Guests can be a hockey player or a Tim Hortons cashier if they want to go more generic. For an ’80s vibe, you could dress as a classic Degrassi character, and more modern TV fans can reuse their Orphan Black cosplay from Halloween. Deep cut references include the girl in the Steal My Sunshine video from the 90s or a group costume as Sharon, Lois and Bram.

If full costumes are too much to ask, name tags can add a bit of Canadian fun – everyone can pick a Canadian name like Jim Carrey, Megan Follows, Don Cherry, or Gordon. Any Gordon.

 

 

 

Advertisements

Jesus Be A Raindrop or Central Air

Well kids, it’s officially summer. Our calendars and local weathermen/women have told us so. You know how else I know it’s summer? Because this is what it looked like when I walked outside yesterday:

Maybe less gun wounds and not enough Donald Glover bringing me boxes of pizza. But I mean, the same thing. In case you hadn’t heard, Southern California is experiencing record heat. I’m talking like 110 degree heat. Like, there are two forest fires currently burning because of said heat. As I was on my way to work yesterday, I was thinking, ‘Ya know, at least it’s not humid’.

And that was the last positive thought I had about this dumb heat.

Long story short, my first day of summer had me sitting in a pool of my own sweat at work and at home and with intermittent access to the Internet. It was my own literal version of hell.

And it reminded me of this video that sort of went viral a few years ago, by YouTuber KrissyChula, who expertly expresses my thoughts on the heat and made me laugh in the process.

SHIT. SHIT. SHIT. AMEN SISTER FRIEND.

Krissy also covers topics that aren’t specific to the heat or Moses, and continues to be irritated and hysterical at the same time. So if you need a reason to laugh in the midst of the hot summer heat, check out some of her other vids. She angry, but she worth it.

*The Chipotle one won’t embed click to view on YouTube!!

I know, she has a lot of anger, but it’s what’s been smoldering in your soul for years.

It’s 1975: Let’s All Decorate Our Porches and Patios!

Welcome back to Let’s All Decorate, a series examining the design trends and tribulations of years past. We’ve examined everything from 90s country geese to the early-DIY era sponge painting craze to your grandma’s house (yes, yours), but today we’re going to take it outside. Memorial Day is in the books and summer 2016 is unofficially here. For a lot of us that means planting our gardens, cleaning off the outdoor furniture and hanging hammocks. In the 1970s it meant all of that too, but everything was just a little bit uglier.

I don’t know why, but the 1970s just scream summer with me. Maybe it was my childhood obsession with Now and Then, or maybe it’s the bold, loud prints and colors of the era. Whatever it is, I can just see 1970s homeowners wearing polyester outfits, trying to gussy up their decks and patios before their swinging cocktail party. Plus, a lot of the 70s styles lived on in my relatives’ houses throughout my very 90s childhood, so all of this looks more than a little familiar.

Are you ready? Queue up your favorite 8-track, slip on your finest caftan, and start seeing the world through Harvest Gold-colored glasses. It’s 1975, let’s all decorate our porches and patios!

Pick A Color Scheme And Go With It. Really, Really Go With It.

Do you like yellow? Orange? Pea green? Throw it on everything! Those are your only color options, sorry!

My fav is the Big Bird pelt on the floor.

 

On one hand that’s a kind of cute, Liberty print-looking fabric. On the other hand, it is on everything up to and including the walls. BTW the woman looks like she’s posing for a picture, but the man is just looking at her.

 

Baby diarrhea. That’s the color of the background. Baby. Diarrhea.

April Showers Bring Macrame Flowers?

If you lived through the 70s, you probably had a cousin or sister-in-law make you one of these for Christmas. If you lived through the 80s or 90s, it was probably still in your parents’ house.

Were you born between 1972 and 1979? You may have been conceived on this macrame monster, CONGRATS.

Crimson Crystal Beads To Beckon

It is almost like instead of design books, 1970s homeowners were going off of the lyrics to Joni Mitchell’s Chelsea Morning. I love her but it’s true.

Make Yourself Comfortable. If At All Possible.

The good thing is that by the 1970s, outdoor-friendly materials had come a long way! The bad thing is they were still plastic-y and uncomfortable. You’d probably stock up a few of these bad boys:

If you were born before 1990, you probably put a foot through one of these at some point.

 

And who could forget your skin sticking to these strips of woven plastic?

 

Then there were these not-at-all-soft, rain-resistant cushions.

Invite All Your 70s Friends Over!

You don’t decorate a porch or patio for yourself alone. Time to throw a bash for all your 70s friends!

Playlist of the Month: Ridiculous Summer Jams

There are two times a year when we all act so ridiculous – wearing wacky clothes and garish color combos, attending party after party, and listening to corny novelty songs – that you have to wonder if we all have temporarily lost our minds. One of these times is Christmas – too wintery, too cold, no thank you – and the other is summer.

When we look back at the summers of our past, the soundtrack is a series of pop and hip hop jams, each more ridiculous than the last. We have another month of summer to go – a whole month of sunny skies, sundresses, and warm nights! And we have just the ridiculous summer jam soundtrack to remind us of all those silly, long-ago summer tunes.

Listen to the entire playlist on Spotify!

Jump by Kris Kross
{April 1992}

This song is anything but wiggidy wiggidy wiggidy whack, and makes me want to put on my backwards overalls and sideways ball cap. [ Favorite summer style c. 1992 – 1995: overall shorts with one strap undone, pacifier necklace, keds.] Jump was such a sensation during the summer of ’92 that my brother joked that he would one day have two sons and name them Kris and Kross. 2015: his boys are named Charley and Henry.

I thought the lyrics were more overtly summery, but they aren’t. I guess as a kid I just equated summer with jumping and free-form movement and winter with huddling miserably.

Fly by Sugar Ray
{June 1997}

Summer days from the mid-90s are a blur of riding bikes with the neighborhood kids, making new friends at acting camp, and hanging out at my aunt’s pool until way past my bedtime. This song was all over the place in the summer of ’97 and I can almost still taste the chlorine-tinged Sour Patch Kids when I listen to it. It’s also a little ridiculous: you just started talking two sentences ago, why are you telling me that your mother died? What are those weird sounds you’re making in the middle of it? Are you having a stroke? Is that how your mother died?

Walkin On The Sun by Smash Mouth
{July 1997}

This band’s songs were so tied to summer in the mid and late 90s that on my initial draft of the list I just said “something by Smash Mouth.” I’m sure Smash Mouth fans existed, but I never knew any. It’s more like their music just materialized near swimming pools, beach shops, and water parks from thin air during the summers of 1997 – 2003.

Summer Girls by L.F.O.
{June 1999}

In the summer of 1999 I was about to begin eighth grade. According to the photo album from our trip to the Cape, my three teenage siblings and I were really into khaki. What can I say? Gap and Abercrombie were pushing the khakis, and the youth of America wanted to look like girls that wear Abercrombie & Fitch.  Summer Girls was chock full of nostalgic references to the early 90s, which was only several years in the past … but to a 12-year-old it was a lifetime ago.

Thong Song by Sisqo
{December 1999}

Don’t let the December release date fool you: the video was released in the spring of 2000, and there were massive tie-ins to MTV’s Spring Break in order to boost it for summer’s Tacky Music Season. This was really at the beginning of butts being a thing; J.Lo’s butt was a pretty new topic in the national dialogue. I feel like Thong Song is at least partially responsible for kicking off the Butt Zeitgeist that I don’t fully understand.

Traci’s Picks

In The Summertime by Shaggy featuring Rayvon
{May 1995}

Years before Shaggy was in denial of it being him and going by Mr. Boombastic, he kept the tone light and fun by sticking to his Jamaican roots and singing straight up about hittin on chicks in the summer. I think my main problem with this, though, is that he constantly refers to himself in third person. “Shaggy say”, “Raggamuffin Shaggy” – both lines muttered by Mr. Boombastic. Also, in general he constantly sounds like he’s got nasal problems.

Cruel Summer by Ace of Base
{July 1998}

If you did a drinking game to this song and took a shot anytime “Cruel Summer” is sung, you’d probably be dead. They’re complaining that it’s too hot and it’s a “cruel summer” because of the heat. What makes this ridic is that the singer is complaining his/her mate isn’t in the city to experience the record heat, and therefore it’s an even crueler summer. Guess what – it’s going to be fucking hot no matter if your signif oth is there or not.

Steal My Sunshine by Len
{July 1999}

“Now the fuzzy stare from not being there on a confusing morning week impaired my tribal lunar-speak” WHAT EVEN ARE YOU SAYING, LEN. ALSO WHAT IS A LEN??

Graduation (Friends Forever) by Vitamic C
{June 2000}

This song came out when we graduated middle school, and for that reason alone, the timing was perfect and it became THE JAM. Back then, the song was reminiscing about our school daze and promising to K.I.T. forever and ever. But I’m more annoyed with it now because A), I’m older than the “we talked all night about the rest of our lives, where we’re gonna be when we turn 25” line, and B) she spoke/sang it like almost slam poetry but with less anger? And a little bit of a whisper, because Vitamin C is embarrassed of her hair, I’m assuming?

Who Let The Dogs Out? by Baha Men
{July 2000}

No one ever got the answer to this. No one cares. Carry on with your summer.

#FlashbackFriday: Modern Day Fourth of July Songs

You’re almost there, folks! Fourth of July is tomorrow, and that means not only freedom for America, but freedom from work and nearly all our responsibilities! I hope you guys have a great weekend, but to make it even better, how about a soundtrack worthy of the amount of hot dogs and hamburgs and fireworks you’ll be taking in this weekend.

In 2013, we compiled a list of our fave America-inspired and summertime-centric songs, so we’re bringing it back again for your enjoyment in 2015. Have a safe and fun July 4th, y’all!

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify!

Traci’s Picks:

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

You’re probably expecting Born in the USA. But I thought I’d throw a curveball, and also I like this song better.

Jack and Diane – John Mellencamp

This may be a little ditty about Jack and Diane (two American kids growing up in the Heartland), but apparently it’s also about the loss of innocence amongst teens. So yeah, kids in the USA go through life changing experiences, and that’s a part of American culture.

All-American Girl – Carrie Underwood

A touching tale of a boy who grows up, falls in love, gets married, and hopes for a son to carry on his football legacy, his dreams changed when he has a baby girl. An ‘All-American’ baby girl. But hey, it’s 2013, girls can play football too. Theoretically.

Summer Nights – Rascal Flatts

Fourth of July obviously means summertime, and this is a great song to play if you’re chillin in the back of your friend’s pickup truck drinking an ice cold Budwiser in the middle of a corn field. Note: I’ve never done this, I just imagine that’s what kids in the country too.

Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

I think my thing with Fourth of July songs is that I picked songs that everyone knows. Independence day is celebrating America- One Nation, Under God, etc. etc. What better way to come together as a whole than by singing a song together that everyone knows? In saying that, Sweet Caroline personally reminds me of the Red Sox and Fenway Park – baseball, Americana, etc. And the ‘Ba Ba Ba’? Who doesn’t love a good ‘Ba Ba Ba’?

Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus

Because, America.

Molly’s picks:

America, Fuck Yeah – Team America: World Police

On the 4th of July, you will be hearing a lot of soaring, majestic numbers about amber waves of grain and there being ain’t no doubt you love this land. Fine. But I like an America that can laugh at itself. LOL jingoism.

Under The Boardwalk – The Drifters

Independence day barbecues are all about the cheerful oldies. You need to play a selection of the summery ones – whether it’s this song, Summer In The City, Surfin’ USA, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini … whatever it takes to make you feel like Megan Draper without all the, you know, troubles.

Electric Feel – MGMT

    If I picture outdoor summer parties from the past 6 years or so, this song is always playing. I don’t know who made the rule that every 20-something’s summer party in the 2010s has to play MGMT, but the rule exists and you may as well follow it.

Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

    Right?! Right.

At The Beach – The Avett Brothers

    If it’s 4th of July, I need some kind of country or folksy music. It’s no wonder that the best 4th of July celebration I’ve been to was in Nashville. Something about the modern version of country/bluegrass/folk just makes me really happy to be from the good ol’ U.S. of A. So put on Devil Makes Three, or the Avett Brothers, or Father John Misty, or Old Crow Medicine Show, or whatever, and thank God that you live in America.

American Pie – Don MacLean

    Everybody knows this song, everybody loves this song, and it’s one of the best singalong tunes I know. Plus the word “American” is in it so… you know.

Gigantic Old-Fashioned Wool Bathing Suits For Every Body

Memorial Day is here, and Memorial Day means the beginning of summer*! And summer means bathing suits! And bathing suits mean bathing suit shopping, and bathing suit shopping means falling further and further into despair as a cheerful shopping attendant tries to bring you ill-fitting bikinis, ending up like a real-life version of a late-80s Cathy comic. ACKKKK!!!

It doesn’t have to be like this. Once upon a time, swimwear experienced a golden age, when toned abs and cellulitic thighs alike were covered by thick woolen fabric. I’m talking about the 1860s through the 1920s, the bathing suit’s zenith.

So, like so many fashion magazines, we thought we would help you find a bathing suit. Nay, not just any bathing suit, the absolute perfect old-timey bathing suit for your body type. Spoiler: it probably weights over 5 pounds and comes with a superfluous belt.

* Also technically, solemn reflection for those who have gone before us. But mostly barbeques! [Source: my Facebook feed]

Apple Shaped

The real challenge for the apple-shaped woman is choosing between a two-piece (which is going to expose your midsection), or dealing with clingy Lycra and spandex adhering to your belly. However, in the 1880s you could let it all hang out (and then immediately cover all of it with wool). For ladies who carry their weight in their (neatly corseted) midsection, these full, proud pantaloons lead the eye down and balance your proportions. Bonus: the giant legs makes your feet look like Barbie feet tacked onto a My Buddy doll.

Pear Shaped

In the present day, ladies with serious hip-thigh situations spend a lot of time looking for bathing suit bottoms that actually cover their entire butt. In 1864, these styles from Godey’s Lady’s Book had your ass covered! As well as your knees, calves, and forearms. Note the shape of these swim costumes, which flare out… shall we say generously? from the waist. Today’s fashion is all about trying to camouflage your derriere, but this is a suit that says “oh, these hips are on purpose.”

Petite

Hey there, little lady! What better way to take advantage of your petite proportions than dressing like an actual pixie? You know everyone’s thinking it, anyway. Note the zig-zag hem on the far left, a style that says “I made this outfit out of a flower petal.” The style is complemented by criss-cross lace-up shoes, telling everyone on the beach “yeah, I could be a ballerina with this petite body shape and delicate swim dress.” The sassy turban at far right indicates “I’m Bohemian! But I mean, Bohemian in the “La Boheme” sense. I might have consumption. But look how petite!” Carrying a blanket around, like our friend in the “maillot” style,  reminds other beach-goers that you are very tiny and cold.

Hourglass

With its kicky sailor collar, sodden wool skirt, and improbably small waist, the only way this suit could better enhance your hourglass figure is if your bosom gradually filled with sand if somebody tipped you over.

Athletic

 

You’ve worked hard at the gym. You run, you lift, and summer time is the big payoff. So leave the pantaloons at home, because you have toned your way into this formfitting tank dress. In case people couldn’t tell that you work out by your awesome quads and triceps, you can steal a robe from an actual prizefighter to let them know you’ve been putting in your hours at the gymnasium.

If you’re prepared to rock this style, you will be showing a LOT of skin – so don’t let it get all burned and gross. Sport a straw witches’ hat with a four-foot brim to keep away unwanted sunbeams and attention. If you look this good, you gotta ward off those crowds somehow.

Full-Figured

This demure nautical romper will cover up everything you want covered, and even some things you probably don’t.

Cross It Off: The Summer To-Do List

How is it May already? I swear it was just January. At the beginning of the year, my friends and I came up with two mottos to live by (because we couldn’t pick just one). It’s pretty self explanatory, but basically we’ve been using these phrases to help push us to do things that we would have been hesitant to do otherwise, or things we’ve been putting off for forever.

I don’t know about you guys, but I like making to-do lists. I get great joy in crossing things off my to-do lists. Every summer, I make a list of TV shows that I’ve been meaning to watch but never have time to during the regular TV season. Last year, I managed to plow through 7 series (welp) in a matter of months. But this summer, in the spirit of our 2014 mottos, I’ve decided to expand my summer bucket list beyond the small screen. I put things on my list that I’ve been putting off the rest of the year, and hopefully this will be the summer I will get shit done. Here are some of the things on my to do list this summer.

Read More Books

In full disclosure, I’m not much of a reader. Legit my favorite books are popular young adult novels and biographies by celebrities. But whatever. Molly gave me John Green’s Looking for Alaska and I shit you not, it took me like a year to get through – not because it wasn’t good, but because I just struggle to find time to sit down and focus on a book instead of watching TV or something. In February, I bought BJ Novak’s book, One More Thing (and met him at a signing, NBD), and as of May 1st, I have only read 33 pages. Again, it’s not because I don’t like it – I do, it’s really funny – but because ugh sitting down to read. But guys, I’m gonna finish it this summer. And I’m going to re-read The Fault in Our Stars before the movie comes out. And I’m going to read Gone Girl before that movie comes out in October… uh do you see a pattern?

Get Through My Netflix Queue

I am one of those rare people who still have both the Instant AND DVD subscriptions with Netflix. While I use Instant frequently, I tend to sit on DVDs for a long time, which I’m sure a lot of people do too. I had Rock of Ages for like 6 months. In the end I forced myself to watch it and I didn’t even pay full attention to it. I have like over 200 movies in my queue, and I’ve been trying really hard to not hold on to one movie for too long. As you may have guessed, I’m more of a TV person, so there are a lot of films I still haven’t seen (legit JUST saw This is the End last week. Hated it. Best part was BSB. And Emma Watson), and I’m going to attempt to get through a lot of films in my queue – maybe get it down to like 75? That seems too lofty…

I Never Said I Wasn’t Going To Not Put TV Shows On This List

The past few weeks, some of my favorite shows have been wrapping up their seasons early (SCANDAL THO. AND PARKS!). It was April for goodness sake! I mean How I Met Your Mother wrapped in March! Shows are supposed to end in May! /endrant. Basically this means I can start my TV watching a little earlier than usual. So what am I watching this year?

Dance Academy

(per the suggestion of my friend Ana, who has been pushing me to watch it for like 5 months haha)

True Detective

(So proud of myself for avoiding all spoilers on this)

It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia

(This will be my Everest. I always felt left out with the Kitten Mittens joke. 10 seasons… we’ll see.)

Learn How To Make GIFs

Because, obviously. Relatedly: PHOTOSHOP IS EXPENSIVE WTF.

Explore LA

I’ve lived here for about five years now, and still have so much more to discover. I went hiking for the first time a couple weeks ago, which is like a thing that everyone in LA does. There are restaurants I went to go to, neighborhoods I’ve never seen before, and not gonna lie, the Backstreet Boys got their star on the Walk of Fame last year and I STILL haven’t been to it, even though I drive near it on my commute to work.

Well, there it is. Do you guys make to-do lists like this too?! Share in the comments below!

Playlist of the Month: Modern Day Fourth of July Songs

Happy 4th of July! This is one of my favorite holidays. Not because I’m so into America (though I mean land of the free and all of that), but because it’s such a laid-back, no-expectations day that it can almost never disappoint you. As long as you have friends, fireworks, and food, you’re all set. The only thing missing is a good playlist — just call it our love letter to America.

Enjoy the entire playlist on Spotify!

Traci’s Picks:

Born to Run – Bruce Springsteen

You’re probably expecting Born in the USA. But I thought I’d throw a curveball, and also I like this song better.

Jack and Diane – John Mellencamp

This may be a little ditty about Jack and Diane (two American kids growing up in the Heartland), but apparently it’s also about the loss of innocence amongst teens. So yeah, kids in the USA go through life changing experiences, and that’s a part of American culture.

All-American Girl – Carrie Underwood

A touching tale of a boy who grows up, falls in love, gets married, and hopes for a son to carry on his football legacy, his dreams changed when he has a baby girl. An ‘All-American’ baby girl. But hey, it’s 2013, girls can play football too. Theoretically.

Summer Nights – Rascal Flatts

Fourth of July obviously means summertime, and this is a great song to play if you’re chillin in the back of your friend’s pickup truck drinking an ice cold Budwiser in the middle of a corn field. Note: I’ve never done this, I just imagine that’s what kids in the country too.

Sweet Caroline – Neil Diamond

I think my thing with Fourth of July songs is that I picked songs that everyone knows. Independence day is celebrating America- One Nation, Under God, etc. etc. What better way to come together as a whole than by singing a song together that everyone knows? In saying that, Sweet Caroline personally reminds me of the Red Sox and Fenway Park – baseball, Americana, etc. And the ‘Ba Ba Ba’? Who doesn’t love a good ‘Ba Ba Ba’?

Party in the USA – Miley Cyrus

Because, America.

Molly’s picks:

America, Fuck Yeah – Team America: World Police

On the 4th of July, you will be hearing a lot of soaring, majestic numbers about amber waves of grain and there being ain’t no doubt you love this land. Fine. But I like an America that can laugh at itself. LOL jingoism.

Under The Boardwalk – The Drifters

Independence day barbecues are all about the cheerful oldies. You need to play a selection of the summery ones – whether it’s this song, Summer In The City, Surfin’ USA, Itsy Bitsy Teeny Weeny Yellow Polka Dot Bikini … whatever it takes to make you feel like Megan Draper without all the, you know, troubles.

Electric Feel – MGMT

    If I picture outdoor summer parties from the past 6 years or so, this song is always playing. I don’t know who made the rule that every 20-something’s summer party in the 2010s has to play MGMT, but the rule exists and you may as well follow it.

Summertime – DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince

    Right?! Right.

At The Beach – The Avett Brothers

    If it’s 4th of July, I need some kind of country or folksy music. It’s no wonder that the best 4th of July celebration I’ve been to was in Nashville. Something about the modern version of country/bluegrass/folk just makes me really happy to be from the good ol’ U.S. of A. So put on Devil Makes Three, or the Avett Brothers, or Father John Misty, or Old Crow Medicine Show, or whatever, and thank God that you live in America.

American Pie – Don MacLean

    Everybody knows this song, everybody loves this song, and it’s one of the best singalong tunes I know. Plus the word “American” is in it so… you know.