8 FourthO July Hacks

8 FourthO July Hacks

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Nothing says 'Murica like the whiff of hotdogs on the grill in the backyard, the excited screams of children running across the lawn with water guns, and fireworks shooting overhead. As we wish America a happy birthday, here are some fun Fourth of July celebration hacks to enrich your gathering with family and friends.

1) Get creative with strawberries and blueberries

Blueberries and strawberries are the perfect Fourth of July fruits to use as toppings and ingredients for cakes, smoothies and even yummy DIY popsicles. Accompanied by whipped cream or white icing, these can make the perfect little desert or fruit salad for the occasion.

2) Use toothpicks and bamboo skewers

Burgers and hot dogs can be messy, as many of our once-white clothes now know. To help keep your sandwiches (and your life) together, try using toothpicks or bamboo skewers.

3) Keep drinks fresh with frozen 3D cubes

Instead of using ice that will alter the taste of your drink once melted, try to freeze cubes of the drink you will be serving, instead. That way, your drink will stay zesty and cold, rather than watered-down and cold. For a 3D effect, add in small pieces of fruit into the ice tray to make cool 3D cubes.

4) Make these easy, cute condiment holders

Hollow out red peppers to serve ranch and other dips or condiments in. This will reduce dishes significantly and add a nice touch to your salad or burger bar. Plus, that bright red is the perfect pop of color you need for your gathering.

5) Make your own adorable fruit bowl

Hollow out a watermelon to make an easy-to-clean up fruit bowl. Place your fruit salad inside the watermelon. Then, use the top of the watermelon that was initially carved out as a lid to keep flies away. To make a cute handle for easier access, hot glue a drawer knob to the "bowl lid" and you will have your very own adorable fruit bowl, with covering!

6) Create easy backdrops for pics

Capture pictures for memories with family and friends by making a creative backdrop for pictures. Start with a white disposable plastic table cloth and some washable kid-friendly paint, and some accessories, like glitter. Then, kids and adults can use their creativity to make a Fourth-of-July-inspired backdrop. String a line across two trees and use clothes pins or tape to secure the creative backdrop in place while you say "Cheese!"

7) Prepare for wind

With any outside gathering, there is always the possibility of breezes taking a hold of your items. To avoid wind annoyances, secure all table cloths under the table with some good 'ole duck tape, (or any tape, really). This will prevent the cloth from taking flight during a good meal. For other light-weight items, like napkins, secure a large rubber band around the stack for keeping them in place and for easy retrieval.

8) Watch fireworks from the back of a pickup

Watching fireworks from the back of a pickup can be a romantic or family-fun way to enjoy your night. Start by making the space comfortable. You can line the pickup bed with sleeping pads, yoga mats, or anything springy-soft that will encase the hard surface. Then, spread blankets, sleeping bags, or a comforter across the entire interior. Prop pillows up along the edge, and make space for your loved ones, as you all lean back and enjoy the display together.


Cover Image Credit: Pixabay Photography

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I Went To "The Bachelor" Auditions

And here's why you won’t be seeing me on TV.
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It’s finally time to admit my guilty pleasure: I have always been a huge fan of The Bachelor.

I can readily admit that I’ve been a part of Bachelor fantasy leagues, watch parties, solo watching — you name it, I’ve gone the whole nine yards. While I will admit that the show can be incredibly trashy at times, something about it makes me want to watch it that much more. So when I found out that The Bachelor was holding auditions in Houston, I had to investigate.

While I never had the intention of actually auditioning, there was no way I would miss an opportunity to spend some time people watching and check out the filming location of one of my favorite TV shows.

The casting location of The Bachelor, The Downtown Aquarium in Houston, was less than two blocks away from my office. I assumed that I would easily be able to spot the audition line, secretly hoping that the endless line of people would beg the question: what fish could draw THAT big of a crowd?

As I trekked around the tanks full of aquatic creatures in my bright pink dress and heels (feeling somewhat silly for being in such nice clothes in an aquarium and being really proud of myself for somewhat looking the part), I realized that these auditions would be a lot harder to find than I thought.

Finally, I followed the scent of hairspray leading me up the elevator to the third floor of the aquarium.

The doors slid open. I found myself at the end of a large line of 20-something-year-old men and women and I could feel all eyes on me, their next competitor. I watched as one woman pulled out her travel sized hair curler, someone practiced answering interview questions with a companion, and a man (who was definitely a little too old to be the next bachelor) trying out his own pick-up lines on some of the women standing next to him.

I walked to the end of the line (trying to maintain my nonchalant attitude — I don’t want to find love on a TV show). As I looked around, I realized that one woman had not taken her eyes off of me. She batted her fake eyelashes and looked at her friend, mumbling something about the *grumble mumble* “girl in the pink dress.”

I felt a wave of insecurity as I looked down at my body, immediately beginning to recognize the minor flaws in my appearance.

The string hanging off my dress, the bruise on my ankle, the smudge of mascara I was sure I had on the left corner of my eye. I could feel myself begin to sweat. These women were all so gorgeous. Everyone’s hair was perfectly in place, their eyeliner was done flawlessly, and most of them looked like they had just walked off the runway. Obviously, I stuck out like a sore thumb.

I walked over to the couches and sat down. For someone who for the most part spent most of the two hours each Monday night mocking the cast, I was shocked by how much pressure and tension I felt in the room.

A cop, stationed outside the audition room, looked over at me. After a brief explanation that I was just there to watch, he smiled and offered me a tour around the audition space. I watched the lines of beautiful people walk in and out of the space, realizing that each and every one of these contestants to-be was fixated on their own flaws rather than actually worrying about “love.”

Being with all these people, I can see why it’s so easy to get sucked into the fantasy. Reality TV sells because it’s different than real life. And really, what girl wouldn’t like a rose?

Why was I so intimidated by these people? Reality TV is actually the biggest oxymoron. In real life, one person doesn’t get to call all the shots. Every night isn’t going to be in a helicopter looking over the south of France. A real relationship depends on more than the first impression.

The best part of being in a relationship is the reality. The best part about yourself isn’t your high heels. It’s not the perfect dress or the great pick-up lines. It’s being with the person that you can be real with. While I will always be a fan of The Bachelor franchise, this was a nice dose of reality. I think I’ll stick to my cheap sushi dates and getting caught in the rain.

But for anyone who wants to be on The Bachelor, let me just tell you: Your mom was right. There really are a lot of fish in the sea. Or at least at the aquarium.

Cover Image Credit: The Cut

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There Is So Much Beauty In The Fourth Of July Despite The Blazing Hot Temperatures

Because what other time could you be sweating from every pore in your body but still be having a good time?

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July fourth is arguably one of the hottest and most American holidays there is. Families and friends come together to celebrate the day of the United States' independence. The whole town comes out to the same place, at the same time, to sit in the burning hot sun and watch the commencement of the celebration parade.

Old cars drive through, fire trucks and police cars blare their sirens, pageant princesses and little misses wave from their glorious floats, high school bands play with the sunlight gleaming off their instruments, and horses prance through the street.

Even with so many amazing things going by, everyone's attention is always on something else. Retired veterans from every branch of the military drive or walk by, proudly wearing their hats and waving at everyone they pass. These are the people that you're going to want to pay attention to, out of respect if nothing else.

Just about every other car throws out candy and little kids scramble to get some before it disappears. It's a race to get the most and the best pieces. Clearly, this is the highlight of their morning and it keeps them quiet until siblings start fighting over who got what. Although by the end of the day, all you've got is hard bubble gum and partially unwrapped dum-dums.

Once the last sirens die out the majority of the crowd begins to trickle away. Some go to the pool or the beach and get a tan, and others take it easy all day, but most will be grilling out on this night. Hot dogs, hamburgers, and apple pie are served and the adults kick back with a beer to watch the children play and run around in their red, white, and blue outfits.

Chances are the local park will hold family-friendly festivities that evening, including face painting and sketchy amusement rides. People are posing for pictures at every turn and the sound of overlapping chatter and laughing never dies down.

As the temperature begins to drop a couple degrees kids and adults alike light up sparklers and draw pictures or words in the air, creating fairytale-like memories that will carry on anytime you think of the Fourth of July.

Finally, when dusk starts to settle in it is time for the long-awaited fireworks. The best spots in town fill up within in minutes to watch the show, but really it's pretty good from nearly anywhere you choose. Family pets are hurried inside to avoid any mishaps or runways and then the sky lights up with beautiful colors and designs.

The last fireworks are always the best because the town always makes sure to have a very grand finale. By the time they end, it's late at night and everyone is tired but in a good way. Some people might be sunburnt and some might be getting a tad grumpy, yet no one seems to really care that much. It ends up to be a great day had by all, and hopefully, nobody forgets the true meaning and importance of this summer holiday.

Cover Image Credit:

https://www.pexels.com/photo/4th-of-july-american-bright-candles-461917/

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