Celebrating Summer with Picnics, Fireworks, & Food

Do you have something special you like to do outdoors?  Picnic? Fireworks? Boating? It's the Fourth of July weekend in the states. Full of celebrating the red, white and blue with great friends and awesome food and some family traditions.

by Angi Morgan
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Fireworks, picnics, camping, grilling, eating out doors, hikes, bike rides...I absolutely love it all. My problem is getting away. Fortunately, we're surrounded by small town firework shows.

When we do get to camp...we now have a pop-up camper with air conditioning (mainly for the dogs...and if you believe that...). I did plenty of years of tent camping and sleeping on the ground.

Tips for camping: Have two coolers. One for food with blocks of ice (which can be made with old milk jugs). And a second cooler that you open more often. Your food will stay colder, longer. Another huge time saver is to prepare your food prior to leaving the house. If you are planning on hamburgers --season and shape the patties at home, then freeze them. Clean up is easy and prep time is almost nill. There will be lots more time for singing around the campfire instead of slaving over it.

In the summer I love spending time with my horse, Jedi. He’s probably the most sadly neglected “pet” on the planet in terms of actual riding time, but I do see him most days and he looks on me as his personal treat dispenser. I love to groom him and shine him up even when I don’t have time for a ride, but the hours I do get out on the trail are heavenly. A little about my boy:  he’s a ten-year-old Arabian gelding my daughter Jennifer rescued several years ago from a local horse dealer. He was a day away from being shipped out for slaughter, and he was so cute Jen couldn’t leave him. She searched for his papers and background but never had any luck, even though he was clipped and had four relatively new shoes on even then, so wasn’t abused or sick. She named him Jedi, and I bought him from her two years ago--my mystery man. He’s snorty and a little spooky and lots of fun. And he loves gummy spearmint leaves!  

The summer is my favorite time of year for so many things—but exploring the woods and trails on horseback tops the list! Here’s a picture of sweaty Jedi and me after our last trail ride a week ago, and I added a picture taken for fun by a professional photographer practicing on some lovely subjects. Can you see why I include horses in every book I write? 

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My idea of the best outside dinner is a t-bone steak on the grill and fresh corn on the cob.  I also love strawberry pie..especially if Mr. Wonderful made it.  The best hot dog I ever ate was the night we celebrated my first sale.


My favorite summer activity is the Concert in the Gardens series my local symphony puts on at the Botanic Gardens.  Picture it: sitting outside in the Botanic Gardens, listening to great live music and watching the fireflies come out as the sun goes down.  They have a pretty decent mix of concerts--we've gone to hear movie soundtracks with laser light shows, a 4th of July patriotic show, a Journey cover band, and the 1812 Overture.  There's really a concert for every musical taste.  And the best part?  Every concert ends with fireworks!

It's become something of a tradition for Mister and I to pack a picnic dinner and attend a concert.  Unfortunately, we won't be able to go this year, since Baby Girl has just arrived.  We'll definitely take her next year though! :)


by Rick Minick
Do you love fireworks as much as I do? I have been very fortunate to view some really great shows. Once, my family went to Handsome's office, and on the balcony, we set up our chairs and viewed the fireworks shooting across a small lake toward the building. They exploded almost in our faces and we felt the boom on our chests.

Another time, Handsome and I happened to be in San Francisco for a conference. We went on a dinner cruise in the bay with colleagues. A local radio station sponsored a firework show. Many boats parked in the bay to watch. Absolutely one of a kind and quite thrilling.

When 1999 turned into 2000, my family hosted close friends in a celebration at our house. Not far away is a country club and for this special New Year's Day, they put on an extraordinary event. Because the trees were bare and the fireworks were that good, we could stand in my dining room and watch the firework show and hear the boom-boom-booms. I probably won't ever be able to do that again!


Every summer, I take my daughter to western North Carolina to summer camp, and then we spend a week visiting friends and enjoying the mountains. It's how I get rejuvenated!

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by Rick Minick
Living in the Land of 10,000 lakes, I head to the lake for the summer holidays. My parents started the cabin in 1951 and as our family grew, they kept adding bedrooms. We can now sleep over twenty friendly people. My father's family all had cabins on the lake, so we get to see cousins, aunts and uncles. My sisters and their families will be scattered between two cabins. On July 4th, we celebrate Julymas. (A July Christmas tradition involving gifts and rolling the dice and lots of laughter.) There's tons of food and perhaps drinks, water toys and fireworks. I can't wait! 

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My favorite summer activity is going to the beach. I'm lucky enough to spend a good chunk of each summer by the water. I love walking along the sandy path and sometimes I just sit on a beach chair. Either way, I love watching the waves and listening to them crash onto the shore. It's so relaxing and it helps me put my life back in perspective.


There's always been something magical about drive-in movies for me. I love the cool night and the energy of a bunch of people watching a movie together, yet not quite together with the freedom to talk and move around that you can't get in theatres. Don't forget the crunch of gravel when someone walks by and also the concession stand. Yes, don't forget the concession area. 

Where I live in Texas, we have to drive about an hour to Granbury to experience an authentic night at the Brazos Drive-In. You can read about our adventure taking our boys to their first Drive-In here. Gotta say, I think the nostalgia was lost on them. Maybe if we had a truck...

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Nothing puts me in the mood to celebrate the 4th of July like watching a flick or a TV series that features the patriots we so respect. Here are two series and two flicks I’ve enjoyed and recommend. 
First, two series, both of which are excellent and will make you proud to be an American: TURN, Washington’s Spies. It’s now in season 2. I love the George Washington character in this one. You can see season 1 on Netflix or on DVD. From the History Channel, Sons of Liberty, an excellent portrayal of the role of Sam Adams and Paul Revere as well as others. It’s also available on DVD. I dare you to watch it only once!
Then there are theses movies: The Patriot with Mel Gibson, a grand epic that tells the story of a man who wanted to remain neutral but was compelled to join the fight for independence when the British slaughter his young son and burn his home. The Last of the Mohicans with Daniel Day Lewis tells of Hawkeye, raised on the frontier and resentful of the arrogant English, who protects a British general’s daughter for the sake of love. It shows the motives for independence that were deep in the American conscience years before 1776.

So, get the popcorn ready and have a wonderful 4th of July!

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Happy 4th of July! I fully intend on spending the holiday weekend on my couch, channel-surfing and binge-watching my favorite shows. 

My first experience with binge-watching happened during a marathon month of writing The Moonstone and Miss Jones. I had four chapters written and exactly thirty days to finish the manuscript. My reward to myself after grueling 12 hour writing days was to binge-watch LOST, a series I hadn't tuned in for when it originally aired. I credit JJ Abrams with saving my sanity and inspiring my creativity during that month of marathon writing.

Here's a brief list of some holiday marathons you might be interested in: 

Star Trek: The Next Generation (6 a.m.-9 p.m. Saturday, BBC America) Jaws franchise (Noon-5:30 a.m. Saturday, AMC) NCIS: LA (Noon-8 p.m., Esquire) Twlight Zone (8 a.m.-3:30 a.m. Sunday, Syfy) Buffy the Vampire Slayer (Noon-9 p.m., Pivot) Sex and the City (1-6 p.m. Oxygen) Saturday Night Live (10 a.m.-8 p.m., VH1) Law & Order: Special Victims Unit (Noon-11 p.m., USA) 


I LOVE Watermelon! And Fireworks. It's also my anniversary. Yep you heard right. I got married on the Fourth of July. So thank you for celebrating with me. :-)
Happy Fourth of July everyone! 

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by Angi Morgan
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  1. A fun post thank you. I do love to head to the coast in summer.


    1. I will at least be next to a pool tomorrow. The lake sometime in August. And the beach in September. :)

      Hope you make it to the coast, Mary!

  2. Reading. Spring, Summer, Autumn or Winter!

  3. Such fun comments from everyone--so many grand traditions. Can I tell you the most helpful thing I learned from this? Miss Jillian was on chapter five of a book with four weeks in which to finish it. That is EXACTLY where I am at this moment. So--if you can do it, Jill, and come out with the books you do--then I can do it too. Thanks for the Fourth of July encouragement you didn't even know you were giving!

  4. I love chilling out and reading in the A/C! Hope everyone has a wonderful and safe holiday weekend!

  5. We are going to take it easy this year. Have a family picnic and watch some patriotic shows on TV. 1776 for one. Happy 4th of July to all

  6. I love spending time with my grandkids.

    Happy 4th of July!


    1. So far I only have one grandchild--but I'm with you. Spending time with her is THE best! Happy Fourth, Rita!

  7. Loved the tidbits about the authors. Not much of an outdoor person but I do love watching water. Just don't ask me to throw a line in.

    1. Totally with you on this, Billie. I'd much rather watch the water than hope for a fish! Thanks for stopping by--happy Fourth of July weekend!

    2. I. Hate. Fishing.
      Long story --short version is as kids we couldn't swim while the adults were catching dinner. HATE FISHING !

  8. My favorite summer pastime? Making watermelon preserves.

  9. Reading :D that is my favourite activity every season :D

  10. I enjoy reading outside on my porch!

  11. My favorite summer activity is about the same as every other season - reading a great book. I enjoy walking in my neighborhood and if it's hot, jumping in the pool afterwards to cool off.

    1. awesome !!
      Reading's always a greta pasttime.

  12. Wow! You guys had lots of comments!
    Sorry I was absent. I was hugging it up with hubby on our big anniversary and trying to meet my deadline. Hope you all had a happy Fourth!

  13. Reading is my pastime now I used to piece quilts but haven't done that in a while, will have to try and get back into it this winter. Entering under the name of Virginia