While planning my stay-at-home summer bucket list I’ve been thinking about the summers of my childhood. My childhood summers were mostly spent playing with my brothers and cousins, hanging out at my grandparents’ house next door, running through the sprinklers, watching sitcoms like I Love Lucy and Bewitched, occasional trips to the park and long afternoons reading in my room to escape the desert heat. In other words, they were perfect.
With summer on the horizon and many of our usual pursuits questionable right now, I decided that creating a stay-at-home summer bucket list would be a good idea. I don’t want to merely endure the next few months feeling sad about what I’m missing out on. Instead, I want to embrace this opportunity to enjoy a fun and relaxed summer at home.
The past several years have been quite busy for us as we plan and host many live music events, including a big music, arts and film festival each August. All of these events have been cancelled this year and any travel plans are most likely on hiatus, as well. I could allow myself to wallow in disappointment but I’ve never found that to be helpful. Instead, I’m choosing to look at this in a positive light. I’m going to try to recapture a bit of those lazy summer days of my childhood. But unlike childhood it will require a bit of planning. That’s where a stay-at-home summer bucket list comes in.
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Stay-At-Home Summer Bucket List
I’m going to list way more than I’m likely to actually do this summer so I will have lots of options. I also hope some of these ideas will appeal to you and help you create your own summer bucket list.
1. Buy inflatable pool
I admit I’m a bit envious of those who have their own backyard swimming pool. David grew up with a pool and we’ve kicked around the idea of putting one in. That is not on the agenda for this year, however we CAN buy an inflatable pool. It’s not the same, of course, but it will still be nice to sit in the pool, sipping a cool beverage and reading a book.
2. Set up outdoor game area
We have a croquet set, horse shoes, frisbee and cornhole. Do we ever use these? Only at our annual three-day music festival/camp-out which should have been last weekend. But I think this will be the summer we pull all of these out of the garage and use them.
If you’ve been with me long you know that one of my favorite things to do in the summer is to lie back in one of our zero-gravity chairs, listen to music and enjoy the stars while sipping whiskey. It is truly one of my greatest pleasures and I will be making it a priority this summer.
4. Outdoor movie nights
We have a projector and pull-down screen which we use for karaoke during our annual Happyland Music Festival. Since going to the movies is out for now I think we need to create special outdoor movie night experiences. Our son had the brilliant idea of hanging the screen on our huge balcony (which David is currently remodeling) and having our movie nights up there. I’m on the lookout for comfortable seating and am also considering splurging on a popcorn machine.
5. Game nights
Whether it’s a game of Monopoly or Scrabble with the three of us, several hands of gin rummy between David and myself, or Cards Against Humanity via Facetime with our daughter and son-in-law, game nights will be a fun activity this summer.
6. Backyard barbecues
We have some friends who have been social distancing as carefully as we have. We have talked about the possibility of outdoor barbecues with them (maintaining social distancing, of course). And of course, we can just do them ourselves. I bought a big box of frozen burgers for the grill last week and I’m looking forward to homemade potato salad soon.
There is a location nearby where I think we might be able to picnic without any crowds.
8. Back road country drives
I love to take a drive on a country road for no reason. I don’t know that David will see the point but I’m perfectly happy to do this alone. With music on the stereo or perhaps an audio book, I can happily enjoy the scenery for an hour or so.
9. Cocktail parties with friends via Zoom
We did this recently for the first time and it was so much fun. I figured it would last about an hour but it ended up being almost four hours! We miss our friends but this was an enjoyable way to catch up. And we now all have a retirement plan that involves buying a cruise ship – ha!
10. Take walks around the local park
We are blessed to have a jewel of a park in our town. It has a beautiful little lake and a walking path around it.
11. Visit an area lake
I’m not sure about this one but I’m hoping we can drive to a lake and maybe take a picnic lunch. There have been times in the past when we’ve gone midday during the week and no one else was there.
12. Have a film festival
Choose several related films (location, director, or some other unifying factor) and watch them over the course of a weekend. Perhaps invite friends to do the same at their homes and discuss them afterwards via Zoom.
We are also trying to figure out if we can do the film festival portion of AdaFest virtually.
13. Make consistent use of our stereo system
We have a nice stereo and a growing collection of vinyl albums. Our son has a huge collection at his house next door. I’d like to listen regularly as well as organize our collection and add to it.
14. Read 20 books
I’d love to recapture the pleasure of spending hours immersed in a book this summer. This is a challenging goal but I’m going to allow myself to stick to fun, summer reads as well as a few old favorites from childhood.
15. Make homemade peach ice cream
The peach capitol of Oklahoma is nearby and every year I look forward to the delicious peaches. I want to make peach ice cream several times this summer.
16. Binge watch the entire I Love Lucy series
17. Create a sourdough starter
Many years ago I was given some sourdough starter and I used it to make the most delicious bread for years. I let it die unfortunately but I’d love to start another. I’m going to give it a try with my friend Victoria’s The Art of Sourdough Course.
18. Make s’mores
We have a little fire pit by our pond and I want to use it to toast marshmallows for s’mores.
19. Create a summer playlist on Spotify
I love to create playlists and it’s about time to make one for Summer 2020.
20. Spend at least one day completely unplugged
No Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, email, YouTube or anything else online. Just an entire day living like it’s pre-Internet days.
21. Plant a garden
I’ve started working on this. I’ve got one of my raised beds about half weeded. I also made a greenhouse and have some seeds starting in it.
22. Cook ten new recipes
I have oodles of cookbooks and not long ago my mom gave me her recipe boxes. I’m going to choose ten new recipes to try. I’ll share them here on the blog.
23. Watch home videos
We took lots of videos of the kids when they were young but we haven’t seen them in many years. They are on VHS (and the earliest on Beta!). I think David has a VHS player at work. We need to get them all transferred to DVD.
My brother has the projector and home movies of us when we were kids. I might ask to borrow those for a weekend and watch them, as well.
24. Paint a picture
Years ago I took a handful of painting lessons and painted three or four paintings. I’ve been wanting to get back into it. David bought me a nice easel for Christmas and I have all the materials I need. No more excuses!
25. Send at least one card or letter per week
I’ve got plenty of stamps and stationery. I do need to organize my supplies a bit better but I’m going to sit at my library desk once a week and write a letter. If you’d like to receive one, email me. The first 5 to email will receive a letter or card sometime this summer.
26. Virtual travel
I must admit that not being able to travel is the hardest part of this whole situation for me. We cancelled our beach vacation in March. I had hoped to go visit my aunt in California this summer but that’s off the table. Even our weekend getaways to OKC are on hold for the foreseeable future.
The best I can come up with as a substitute is to watch travel documentaries and movies set in places we’d like to visit, read books set in other places and maybe cook some international foods. I’ll also pull out all of my travel magazines and stack them on the coffee table for easy browsing.
Hulu has seasons 7 and 8 of Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations which will definitely be part of our “virtual travel” experiences. And all 12 seasons of Anthony Bourdain: Parts Unknown will be coming to Netflix June 1st!
27. Plan our European vacation
We may not be able to travel just now but half the fun of a vacation is planning it. We have long planned to take a 2-3 week trip to Europe next year to celebrate our 40th anniversary. I’m still hoping that will happen and this seems the perfect time to start planning it in detail. I’ll get a three-ring binder and start collecting information for our trip.
28. Make banana splits
We don’t eat banana splits very often but usually at least once during the summer we pick up banana splits from Braum’s, a regional ice cream and dairy store, and have them as our dinner. We could pick them up to go but I think it would be more fun to make our own.
29. Finish a puzzle
I started one weeks ago but honestly…these old eyes of mine need better lighting. I’m on the lookout for an adjustable lamp for our puzzle/game table.
30. Create a vision board
This is something I’ve always wanted to do. I have LOTS of magazines and I think this would be a fun project. Have you ever made one?
31. “Attend” an online concert
We love to attend concerts. Fortunately lots of bands are doing virtual concerts these days. I’m going to seek out one or more we would both enjoy and then make it an event with plenty of fun snacks and cocktails.
32. Update passwords
This may not be a fun activity but it’s something I’ve been meaning to do. I bought myself a cute little password notebook a few months ago but it’s still empty. I’ll make this an ongoing project, doing a few here and there throughout the summer.
33. Movie themes
The three of us have been watching a comedy film together each Sunday night. David and Chris watch a Marvel movie every Monday. I’d like to continue this throughout the summer.
34. Complete a first draft of a writing project
I’ve got a writing project in the works and my goal is to complete the first draft by my birthday, August 27th.
35. Complete online courses
I have purchased several online courses in recent years. Some I have done but would like to go through again. Others I’ve started but not finished. I’m going to create a syllabus for myself and set aside time each week to work on some of these.
36. Have a weekend staycation
I’ll make sure all the household chores are done, stock the fridge with delicious but easy to prepare foods, plan a few fun things to do and then spend the weekend pretending we are at a bed and breakfast.
37. Create a post-quarantine bucket list
I don’t want to dwell on the things we can’t do but it’s still good to have things to look forward to. At the end of the summer I’ll create another list — this time with things I’d like to do when life is a bit more “normal”.
So tell me, is there anything on my at-home summer bucket list that you’d like to put on yours? What did I miss? Let’s do our best to make the most of this season and someday we may look back on the summer of 2020 as a truly special time.
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