How to Have the Perfect Barbecue


Summer is upon us and the sun is out and shining–well most of the time anyways. There are so many great ways to enjoy summer and having a barbecue is one of the best. If you like delicious food, music, and enjoying the company of your friends on a beautiful sunny day, then a summer barbecue is the perfect option. Here are some important things to do to ensure you have the best barbecue possible.

Plan Ahead With the Weather

barbecue weather

Nothing can ruin a barbecue more than the pouring rain. Soggy meat and muddy clothes can spoil a fun day quickly, so check ahead with the weather to try and select a day that is clear and sunny. Sometimes you will just get unlucky and the weather will do its best to ruin your day, but if you plan ahead you can usually avoid having a barbecue on a rainy miserable day.

Make a Fun Summertime Playlist

barbecue playlist

Upbeat music can really do a lot to boost your mood, so it is imperative to have a good selection of music to dance and sing to, or just enjoy in the background. Try to find a genre or selection of songs that are well known and positive. Summer themed songs can help enhance the experience as well. Be careful about selecting specific genres if you have a group with a variety of different tastes. When in doubt, it’s hard to go wrong with classic rock songs, as they tend to be universally more known. Some examples of bands that would work well on a barbecue playlist are The Beach Boys, as well as Queen and Journey.

Invite a Close Group of Friends

barbecue friends

Barbecues can be extremely fun, so make sure to get a good group of people who you like to be around and who are happy to be there. This doesn’t mean excluding people who may not necessarily fit in with everyone or who may be a little shyer. Barbecues are a great way to introduce friends to other friends who they may not know, as it is a relaxing setting in which people are generally upbeat and happy.

Stay Hydrated and Bring Refreshing Drinks

barbecue drinks

It is important to have plenty of liquids available in the hot summer sun, so bring plenty of refreshing drinks. Fruity drinks such as fruit juices and sodas are tasty beverages to bring to the event. For the 21+ crowd, cold beer as well as wine can be a nice treat to help one relax on a cold summer day. Consult local drinking laws if you are in public areas to ensure that you are drinking legally. It is also a good idea to bring water as it is refreshing and good for you to drink.  A cooler is also a good idea to keep in mind to keep your drinks cold.

Bring Something To Do As A Group

barbecue games

Barbecues can be fantastic events to just relax, sit around, and talk, but there are many other things that can be done at them.  Bringing card or board games can be a good relaxing way to enjoy each others company, as well as bringing balls or other items.  A soccer ball to kick around or a Frisbee to throw are very common barbecue items and can help to keep those who don’t like to remain sedentary having fun.

Bring Lots of Tasty Food

barbecue food

Ah, the best part of the barbecue: Food. The food at a barbecue may be the most important factor and is what a lot of people look forward to the most. The traditional barbecue foods are hot dogs, hamburgers and watermelon, which are all excellent choices that you cannot go wrong with.  Remember though that there are many other options as well. Pulled pork and brisket are a little harder to make but can be twice as delicious if made right. There are also plenty of barbecue sides available that you can bring such as sweet corn, potato salad, and baked beans. It is also a nice idea to bring a dessert that people can enjoy. Homemade brownies or cookies are a delicious idea, but you also can’t go wrong with something cold on a hot summer day, like ice cream or popsicles.  It is also very important to not forget condiments! Although some people may like their burgers or hot dogs plain, it can often be that extra bit of mustard, ketchup, or barbecue sauce that really helps to put the food over the edge.

If you follow all these steps, you will have a fantastic barbecue and have a wonderful day eating good food, enjoying some good music, and enjoying the company of friends and/or family!


Books To Read When You Miss John Green


Are you missing this guy?

books to read

By now must of us have read at least one John Green book, or heard of one. A lot of you have already read all his books, multiple times. If you are one of those people you may be looking for some similar reading material. Here are some books to read to help you fill the void of John Green this summer. Not all of these books are new but they are all still amazing so keep an open mind.

It’s Kind of a Funny Story: Ned Vizzini

books to read

This is a story that follows Craig, a fifteen year old attending a very prestigious school.  He has very high hopes for himself which adds an enormous amount of pressure on him to succeed. A series of events ends with him in a mental institution, where he makes new friend and finds himself.  The books does very well at depicting mental issues and depression, without sugar-coating it, but refrains from being morbid. The storyline is a little intense, but the way Vizzini writes the story has you laughing throughout it’s entirety. has It’s Kind of a Funny Story available to purchase for $7.45.

The Probability of Miracles: Wendy Wunder

books to read

This story follows Cam, a sarcastic teenager who has spend a lot of her life in and out of hospitals.  Her mom then has this idea: move them to Promise, Maine which is supposed to have miraculous powers.  When they arrive, Cam finds a sort of bucket list and as she moves down the list we see her fall in love, find self-love and even start to believe that maybe miracles CAN happen.  The story is not centered Cam’s illness, it is about how she copes with it and learns to enjoy her life. A feel good read that makes you smile with every chapter!  iTunes has the Probability of Miracles available to download for $7.99 if you want to read it by the pool on your iPhone or iPad.

Okay for Now: Gary D. Schmidt

books to read

Schmidt is a sort of western writer and this story is set in the Vietnam era so it is a little different than the other three by him. Teenage Doug moves to a new town, gets a new job and meets a new girl, Lil. Together the duo spend their free time at the public library where Doug get unofficial art lessons from the librarian.  The story follows Doug as he deals with his abusive father and his brother back from the war in Vietnam.  Schmidt does a good job of depicting life in a new town, as well as the incredible feat of incorporating art into the story. Knetbooks has Okay for Now available to rent for $9.25.

Perks of Being a Wallflower: Stephen Chboksy

books to read

A lot of people have seen this movie and the movie is actually pretty close to the book. Charlie is an incoming freshmen; a very quiet person without a lot of friends but he soon finds some. This is a coming of age story about a boy finding friends as place to fit in, as well as trying to deal with personal issues. This book is not as light as the others and I will admit that I cried while reading it. It is very inspirational and is a feel good read without being mushy, while also being more mature.

*Be warned that if you decide to read this one that the book goes into more detail and is much more intense than the movie and may make you feel uncomfortable at times.*

As always, as the cheapest option you can look for this title at a local library.  Knetbooks also has The Perks of Being a Wallflower available to rent for $10.00.

I hope that these suggestions of books to read when you’re missing John Green (sigh) help keep you occupied this summer!

Comment below if you have any feedback or more related books to suggest!


Savoring Summer



Now that I’ll be a senior in college this year, I look back and realize exactly how precious this time of the year really was. Instead of really taking the time to enjoy my summers, I complained about how hot it was and shut myself in the house indefinitely. Now, I’m here trying to make up for all those squandered days and nights by doing this list of things I’ve found to be effective when trying to savor summer.

Grab a bunch of friends and do something out of your comfort zone.

                     Do something different! If everyone in the group is out of their comfort zone, you’ll all have to rely on each other to make the experience what it is. I’m currently planning a picnic, and looking up cabin rentals and laser tag specials as possible activities for my friends and I!

Grab lunch from different places around town.

Try not to eat at fast food places. You’ll never know what your local town offers if you don’t step out and try. My best friend and I are currently doing this and have been opened to a world of healthy, cheap foodie gems.


A lot of us can get caught up in the hustle and bustle of “summer jobs”, but when you look back on your summers when you’re older, you’ll be wishing you did a little more of this and a little more of that on the dance floor when you had the chance.

Pool, pool, pool.

It’s hot. Why not? Grab a bunch of friends, tap into your younger days with pool noodles and goggles, and head down Splishy Splashy Way.


  I know, I know. You’re like whaaat? While this may seem like an unconventional summer idea, this the only time you’re away from the stress of school that’s usually the cause of added weight gain. Why not try to get your body right before the school year? From personal experience, working out this summer has helped me gain a new sense of confidence… AND I can walk longer distances without sweating out of my shirt which is a total plus.

Stack that paper.

  Now’s the time to really get those hours in (or build up your resume), so you can ball out during the school year without worry!

Listen: I could give you all the ideas in the world, but it’s up to YOU to make your summer! For some of us (like myself) this is the last summer until true adulthood. This may even be your last summer away from your high school friends. It’s time to own the summer before school, or responsibility, snatches it away!


How To Prepare for Fall Semester in College


With summer in full swing, it’s difficult to think about returning to school and spending hours in lecture halls. However, there are a few things we can do to take advantage of the summer months in order to stay ahead of the game and be prepared for the upcoming fall semester.

1. Apply for Scholarships

6-13 cap-diploma-moneyMost college students are far too busy worrying about their vacation plans to bother with scholarship applications. This lower competition makes it a bit easier to win scholarships that are offered during the summer months.

2. Find a Job

6-13 bigstock-Waitress-Serving-Food-To-Senio-47117440Use your spare time in the summer to save money from working. Extra earnings can be used for books or to pay on interest on your student loans. Every little bit counts!

3. Intern

6-13 photodune-202599-smart-business-man-with-a-laptop-and-colleagues-at-the-back-mThere are many internship programs offered during the summer. It’s easier to focus on your internship when you don’t also have to commit time to your regular classes.  One simple way to get started is by visiting sites like this one.

4. Register for Classes

6-12 stack of books2The last thing you want to deal with is trying to register for a class for the fall semester only to find it has already been filled. Especially since sometimes certain classes are only offered one semester a year. Avoid all of the inconvenience by registering as early as possible.

How do you stay ahead of the game for upcoming semesters? Let us know in the comments below!


6 Thrifty Ways to Enjoy Summer Break


With May came graduations, the end of final exams, packing up, and moving on to the next chapter of this year: summer break. There is finally time to relax and spend time with family and friends, but as a college student or recent graduate, many of us are still on tight budgets. Here are some low cost (or free!) ways to enjoy this summer without breaking the bank.

1. Go to a public beach Beach_Public

If you live on a coast or by the Great Lakes, this can be a perfect option for you! Many beaches are free and have free parking for residents. You can also pack your own lunch and bring things to do such as a Frisbee or a volleyball.



Picnic2. Have a Picnic

If you don’t have any beaches nearby, find a park in your area and have a picnic. Bring a few friends and make it a potluck and you’ll cut costs even more.



Hiking3. Go Hiking

Take advantage of the sunshine and head out on a hiking trail in your area. The best part about it is it’s absolutely free! Spending time outdoors can really make you appreciate the beauty around you: no wifi required.



Museum4. Visit a Museum on a Free Day

During the summer months, many museums and aquariums have free days on the weekends. These places will usually advertise events such as these on their websites and in local newspapers.



Movies5. Go to the movies

When summer heat gets too intense, take advantage of air conditioning and catch a movie. After all, it’s time for summer blockbusters!



Concert6. Catch a Free Concert or Theatre Production

Keep an eye out for advertisements for local free concerts. Many parks and small theatres have shows for upcoming bands or community theatre productions. These ticket prices are usually very low (or free!) and you can support local artists at the same time. It’s a win-win!



Share your thrifty summer plans in the comments below!


The One Band You Need to See Live This Summer: DMB


Dave Matthews

With the spring semester quickly progressing, college kids everywhere are scurrying to make summer plans. Some travel, while others rent beach houses or relax at home. But personally, I like to go see live music. There’s no question about it: summer time is concert season. The warm weather makes for a comfortable outdoor experience to listen to some of my favorite bands. Yet, one band stands out far above the rest, and that’s the Dave Matthews Band.

I’ve seen DMB live ten times thus far, and I’ve never left a show disappointed. The environment at every show is electric, regardless of the venue, but summer shows are always the best. The lawn tends to be filled with college-aged kids looking for nothing but a good time. Once Dave Matthews gets on stage, the place simply erupts. Before the band even plays a single note, you just get the feeling that you’re about to see something special. And you always do.

For a band that’s played approximately 2,000 concerts over the course of about two decades, the energy of each performance is unbelievable. From Carter Beauford, the drummer, to Boyd Tinsley, the violinist, each member goes all out every night. Dave Matthews’ eccentric personality shines through in every performance, as he takes frequent breaks to talk to the crowd and thank them for coming, even sharing a story or two.

As a self-proclaimed Dave Matthews fanatic, the joy I get at these shows is hard to put into words. Yet, people who don’t even listen to the band come to the concerts and have a great time. The atmosphere and the music itself are perfect for any warm summer night. So if you’ve never experienced it, the one band you need to see live this summer: DMB.

Dave Matthews




Celebrating Memorial Day the Right Way


For many young people, Memorial Day is considered one of the first marks of summer. The public pools open, barbecues are planned, and those who work get a day off. However, Memorial Day has much more meaning than just a three day weekend. Memorial Day is a national holiday that honors all those Americans who have died serving our country. With Memorial Day just around the corner, now is a better time than any to contemplate the history and true meaning behind the holiday, and think of how you can celebrate Memorial Day the right way this year.

 Memorial Day

There are numerous differing accounts concerning the first Memorial Day, though most agree that it began during the Civil War era. Early observers of the holiday laid flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers, and also paid respect to soldiers who died during the Civil War. The first official Memorial Day was celebrated on May 30th, 1868. General John Logan of the Grand Army of the Republic proclaimed the holiday, and by the late 1800’s, Memorial Day became a national observance. At first, Memorial Day was meant to pay respect only to the soldiers of the Civil War. Around 1890, it was expanded to honor Americans who died in any war.

There are many things that we can do to honor the soldiers who died defending us, and also those who are still living. Consider spending the day with any veterans or current soldiers you may know. It is important to tell them how much they mean to us, and to let them know what their service means to our country. After all, without them, we might not have a day off at all. Another way to show your thanks is to follow the old tradition of placing flowers on the graves of fallen soldiers. I think that this was and still is a great way to honor our veterans. Perhaps we cannot ever truly repay them for what they did, but we can still give thanks as best we can.

If you are wondering how to spend your Memorial Day, consider some of these ideas as well as your own as to how to make the day a meaningful one that expresses gratitude and respect to our fallen soldiers. As long as we give thanks to those who have defended our freedom, we’ve spent Memorial Day the right way.

To learn more information about this holiday, check out for some interesting facts. How do you celebrate a meaningful Memorial Day? Let us know!


Must See Films for Summer Break


Summertime is almost here, folks. You might be wondering what to do with yourself for the next few months. If you have the time, why not go see a pulse-pounding summer blockbuster? Here are three movies I am really looking forward to:

First, try Man of Steel, coming to theaters on June 14th. The latest of the Superman film adaptations, this version boasts an impressive cast, including Henry Cavill, Amy Adams, and Russell Crowe. In addition, the film is produced by Dark Knight Rises director Christopher Nolan, who turned an ailing Batman franchise into a multi-million dollar juggernaut. Judging from the preview, I’d say that Nolan has brought the gritty, realistic style of his Dark Knight trilogy to a franchise that is often criticized for endless campiness. I wonder if they’ll still have Superman change in a phone booth…

THE LONE RANGERThe next blockbuster I’m looking forward to is Disney’s The Lone Ranger, starring The Social Network’s Armie Hammer as the titular character. Johnny Depp plays Native American warrior Tonto, and together they set out to fight corruption. The main reason to see this one is the crew. The Lone Ranger reunites writing duo Terry Rossio and Ted Elliot with director Gore Verbinski and actor Johnny Depp, all of whom worked on the Pirates of the Caribbean franchise. Yes, the last three installments were stinkers, but the The Curse of the Black Pearl was excellent. If Elliot, Rossio, Verbinski and Depp can recapture the sense of adventure that was at the heart of the first Pirates, I think The Lone Ranger could be a hit. Look for it on July 3rd.

Last but not least is R.I.P.D.: Rest In Peace Department, an action film about two dead cops (played by Jeff Bridges and Ryan Reynolds) who work from beyond the grave to fight crime. R.I.P.D. is based on a comic book, and you can tell from the trailer. The film looks to be chock full of zany action, impressive special effects, and snappy one-liners. And of course, Jeff Bridges is in it. What more could you ask for?

Enjoy your summer, and don’t miss these great films!


Why You Should Spend a Beautiful Day Inside


Spring is finally in the air. The days are longer, the temperature is warmer, and the sun is here to stay. Now that summer is right around the corner, it’s hard to resist spending the day outside. However, before you head out into the sunshine for the next few months, taking a day to do some cleaning and organizing from the months you’ve spent inside the house will be well worth it.
Spring Cleaning

The transition from winter to summer is a great opportunity to de-clutter your life. We spend so much time inside during the winter months, and thanks to the holiday season we have a tendency to accumulate more than we need. The summer redirects our attention from our material items indoors, to the simple beauty of the outdoors.

Trading out your thick winter sweater for a t-shirt and pair of shorts can be the greatest feeling in the world. While switching out your wardrobe this spring, take the time to go through and get rid of those winter clothes you haven’t worn in years. Also consider getting rid of those gifts you received that you know you have no use for. Then, take advantage of the nice weather and have a garage sale. You’ll be able to enjoy the weather outside while getting rid of your old things and making a little extra money. Have old books lying around? You can sell those too!


Summertime also rejuvenates our spirit to tackle new projects. If you’re looking for something to do, check out websites like Pinterest or OrgJunkie for fun ideas that will help you organize the items you do have, in fun and unique ways. If you don’t have any need to de-clutter, take time just freshening up your house. Pull back your curtains to let the sun in, and spend your day vacuuming, dusting, and trading out your warm winter sheets for a lighter, more colorful set. Having a clean and organized home will allow you to enjoy the summer even more.

Spring cleaning doesn’t have to be dreaded. If you use our tips above you can face summer head on with an organized home, a little extra cash in your pocket, and a few new projects to get working on!

What do you do to get organized for the Summer? Let us know in the comments.


5 Summer Music Festivals Your Friends Haven’t Heard Of


Everyone knows the big names in music festivals (think Bonnaroo, Coachella, Ultra, Sasquach etc.) but there are some great smaller music festivals that are sure to cure the festival fever without causing major wallet damage. Here are my picks for the top 5 little known music festivals.

5. Bunbury Festival – Cincinnati, OH July 12-14

This downtown festival has six stages and three days of performances. The headliners include Fun. MGMT, Sky Ferreira, Tegan and Sara,Yo La Tengo, The National, and Daniel Martin Moore. Although you may have to spring for a hotel for the weekend instead of camping, you will still come in under budget because this festival is only $120 for all three days.

4. Wakarusa – Ozark, AR May 30-June 2

If you are looking for an intense camping experience in one of the most beautiful locations look no further than Wakarusa. I would say that this particular festival isn’t for everyone. It has an attractive line up but be prepared to have a primitive camping experience and be surrounded by some modern day hippies where music and shows are a way of life not just a summer distraction. Notable acts include Grouplove, Snoop Lion, Zeds Dead, Baauer, Icona Pop, Araabmuzik, RJD2, Widespread Panic, and my personal favorite, Amon Tobin. Be warned you will be dirty, smelly, and sweaty at the end of this one. Watch the promo video and you’ll know what I mean.


3. Hard Summer 2013 – Los Angeles, CA August 3-4

If you live anywhere near LA you’ll want to attend this show. In the past this series has some of the most elite electronic acts including Deadmau5, A-Trak, Borgore, Crystal Castles, and Flying Lotus. The festival lineup isn’t out yet for this year but tickets for a 3 day pass are about $120. It is definetly a bang for your buck.

2. Summer Camp – Chillicothe, IL May 24-26

This is another small camping festival that landed some big names this year. The lineup includes Big Boi, Diplo, Zeds Dead, STS9, Theievery Corporation, 3 days of Moe, and 3 days of Umphreys’s McGee. It has 7 stages and over 75 artists and at $115 it is a no-brainier. Like other mid-west camping festivals you’ll wanna be prepared for limited showers, bugs, and heat. If you can stand the stress it’ll be worth it and at ¼ the cost of Bonnaroo.

1. Forecastle – Louisville, KY July 12-14

This will be the 11th forecastle festival, and in the past few years this festival has gained some major publicity mostly due to the unique structure and setting of the weekend festival. It is a true music and arts festival that includes speakers and art tutorials as well as music. The setting is also unique. There are 5 stages in downtown Louisville on the water front (one stage is even under an interstate overpass). The after parties are on the historic bell of Louisville and range from 15-35 dollars for late night shows. This festival has become a popular one so it may be your last year to enjoy it at the low $145 price point.

When so many good lineups are released in one year it can be tempting to clean out your savings account on tickets, but it is important to look around at your options before committing to the priciest summer fest. Are there any we missed?