guest post // 10 things to do before the summer ends

Hello everyone! 

I'm Olivia from the little gunnell family blog. Julie and I have actually never met, but we've known each other for a couple of years through our mutual friend, Megan. Megan is my best friend from high school, and Julie and Megan became friends at Gordon College. Thanks to Facebook, we are now friends, too! 

Anyway, a little about me: 
I am a stay-at-home mom, lucky wife, and student. I got my associate's degree (of science in English) from BYU-Idaho where I attended before I was introduced to my husband, Dalin. We had a very quick, whirlwind-type of relationship and engagement (something I never expected personally), but hey--when you know, you know. We are both Mormon and were married for eternity on August 19, 2011 in the Boston, Massachusetts temple. Our third anniversary will be here next week and (lucky us!) we will be in Boston once again for it! Every day, I am constantly reminded that marrying Dalin has been the greatest blessing and the best decision I ever made. I am now finishing up my bachelor's degree in English from Brigham Young University (we're currently in Provo, Utah). In August 2013, I gave birth to our beautiful daughter, Tenley. She is now one and a huge blessing in my life. I'm so excited to be done taking classes on campus so I can be home with her all the time now! One last thing, I am pregnant with our second baby (a boy, we think) and due in February. We're thrilled that our family is growing and feel so very lucky and grateful! 
This was right about the time we found out I was pregnant with #2 in early June!
Now, enough about us. 

Can you believe that the end of summer is nearly upon us?! I believe the first day of fall this year is September 23, but already the air here in Provo (and I know even more so back home in the Northeast) is cooling down, especially at night. The smell is delicious (we leave our window open all night long) and we like having to cuddle a little more into our sheets and blankets than we did a few weeks ago. Is anyone else so ready to break out the sweaters and boots?? I love long-sleeve shirt weather (probably because I own so many!) so I am really looking forward to seeing those leaves change their hue. 

Still, I love summer for the days at the beach (or at the pool here in Utah), the special foods (watermelon, shave ice, popsicles, you know;-), and the light clothing. I would add the freedom, but we just barely got out of school so this wasn't a summer with much spare time for our family! But since there are only a few weeks of summer left, I have been thinking up some ways to make the most of it. Here are those ideas:

1. Host an End-of-Summer or Back-to-School Barbecue! Believe it or not, this can be done without spending too much money. Choose maybe a dozen friends (six couples or so) and invite them over for a nice evening BBQ. You can have them bring the sides and desserts, while you provide the main dish, or you can do it all with a smaller group. Buy the steaks or hamburger meat and some hotdogs (don't forget the buns!), make a salad (fruit or veggie), slice up a watermelon, and/or make a dessert. Have someone bring soda, or, if you want to be fancy, buy and mix up some frozen pink lemonade and put lemon slices with it in a punch bowl. It's a small touch but it shows you made an effort. Other ideas for sides you can encourage your friends to bring (or if you're ambitious...): potato salad, baked beans, corn on the cob, or salsa and chips.

2. Check Out the Local Farmer's Market. These are not just for fall! They generally start in August and there is just nothing like farm fresh produce in my opinion. Our local farmer's market offers veggies of every kind, boxes of peaches, homemade salsa, pastries, fresh berries, flowers, warm kettle corn, and several crafts made by local businesses. It is a fun place to walk around, try samples, and get some fresh produce for your home. These are fun to go to with friends, but even more so with family. Plus, they are guaranteed to get you ready for fall. 

3. Plan Family Pictures. Fall is a great time to take family photos with the changing leaves, cute clothes (sweaters!), and dimmer lighting. Talk to your family (or if you're single, your roommates--at BYU-Idaho the six of us took roommate pictures together for fun!) and pick a time, a cool location, and a photographer. Going professional can be expensive but they do all the editing for you and they always turn out so much better (for me anyway) than when I do them myself. If you want to keep things low-cost, find a friend or extended family member with a few photography skills and ask them to take them for you. 

4. Eat Some Seafood. Seafood is definitely at its best and cheapest in the summer. If you don't live near the ocean, (like us in Utah), look up some good seafood restaurants (Red Lobster maybe) or opt for sushi. If you don't like seafood, try it again, or something new. Lobster is my favorite food of all time, closely followed by steamers. Living in the west like we are now though, I usually order snow crab legs instead of lobster because it tastes very similar (with butter you can't tell at all), is cheaper, and I think it tastes better than the lobster does out here. 

5. Have a Game Night. These are probably the easiest kind of nights to host. If you don't have a lot of games, borrow some, or have your friends bring their favorites. If you want to have snacks, go with chips and salsa, veggies with dip, or some home-baked cookies. You can keep it simple. Chances are, you probably won't end up playing more than three games so don't stress too much--just make sure you have games planned that the whole group can play together. Charade games are always fun. Look up Reverse Charades or Extreme Charades for two different versions that will have everyone in tears from laughing. 

6. Be a Tourist. Take a trip to a nearby city. Find a museum in your town or one nearby. Look up attractions in your area. If you are somewhere for school or in a new place (or even if you aren't!) you may find a new place that will become one of your favorites. 

7. Donate School Supplies. A lot of kids will be starting school in the next few weeks! Donating to an elementary school means lots of crayons, markers, and notebooks which can be very cheap. If you have kids, make school supply kits for a class and donate them! You might even ask a teacher or the school in advance what is most needed. Teachers always love extra support! 

8. Read a Book. If you have some free time (especially if you are going to school in the fall), read two or three books you've been wanting to read while you still have the chance. If you need inspiration, ask your friends or read an old favorite. I never get tired of reading Harry Potter when September starts ;-). I just pretend I'm heading off to Hogwarts with everyone else. 

9. Serve Someone. Make a nice dinner or surprise someone with dessert. Mow a lawn, or pull weeds. Sweep a porch, or wash windows. There are so many little things you can do (alone or as a family) that take less than an hour and will make someone grateful to you forever. It isn't hard to be nice! If you are a little more on the shy side, do an anonymous act of service for someone. Send a card or a gift basket. You will guaranteed make someone's day (maybe even their month) by helping another out.

10. Plan a Halloween Party. Okay, this may seem a little early, but my in-laws host an awesome Halloween party every year and they let their guests know far in advance which weekend it will be on and what the theme will be (they always have a costume contest). Plus it's good to find out who is available when during October so you can make sure the most people possible can attend. If you aren't one for hosting, you can always attend one! 

I had a lot of fun coming up with this list and I'm sure I'll think of more things to add as soon as I finish. Thank you, Julie, for having me on your blog, and please comment or share ideas of your own so I can add them to my personal list! 


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