Despite the fact that I have historically not been a lover of super hot weather, this year I have a goal to do my best to celebrate some of the many amazing things summer has to offer. This time of year in East Texas is glorious in many ways. Almost everything is in bloom, there are a ton of fun events happening, and of course it means lots of parties and get-togethers with family and friends.

Are you planning any shindigs this summer? The "summer solstice" is just another name for the official beginning of summer, which takes place this year on Friday, June 21. So, that makes it a perfect date to celebrate. You may already have epic BBQ or swim parties planned--great! In case you're looking for a few more ideas or something more out of the ordinary, here's a few thoughts if you'd like to add to your party or just mark the season with yourself or a few to whom you are close:

Host a Midsummer's Eve Party. Again, this could be as casual or upscale as you'd like it to be. It could be all about the beer, the pool, and the Q. However, you can also make it a touch more enchanted, if you're having families over or you'd like to impress your date. Decorate the outside table with hanging lights, put votives in mason jars on the table, put some white flowers around the table (or just greenery if you're aiming for less flowery cuz it's only for your guy friends who wouldn't appreciate white flowers on the table.) The point is to add a touch here and there to add a more celebratory touch. If there are kids coming over, they'd love the extra magic and pixie dust. Trust me. You'll be their favorite Mom, Dad, Aunt, Uncle, Brother, etc. for life.

Catch fireflies with the kids. Or with the adults for that matter. For many of us, seeing fireflies or "lightning bugs" out in the trees was pure magic--and always meant "summer is here" to me as a kid. Pro-tip: Get a clean mayo jar and punch holes in the lid. Lay fresh grass in the bottom so they have a place to rest and from which to twinkle. Don't forget to set them free after their brief visit in the evening. There's nothing sadder than trapping them for too long.

Serve some of summer's best produce as appetizers. One of the best things about summer is that many of the fruits and vegetables that we love are at their peak. That means, even if dessert is simply fresh strawberries and *real* cream, it's enough because the berries naturally taste so good. Or cherries! OMG. Other foods in-season in the summer? Here's a handy guide that's Texas-focused.

Make old-fashioned lemonade from scratch. So, there are lots of good frozen options if you're in a pinch, but there's nothing quite like the lemony elixir we make at home. Looking for a good recipe? Here's one to start with, but certainly you can tweak it and make it your own.

Other ideas? Hang a few hammocks around so your friends and family can stare up at the stars and relax. Build a campfire and do the traditional S'mores that everyone will want more of. Tell ghost stories. Keep several watermelons in the fridge and when everyone is hitting that heat point, serve them as cold as possible. One of the most refreshing things ever.

What are your favorite ways to celebrate summer? We'd love to know. Or shoot me an email at taraholley@classicrock961.com.

Happy Summering. ;)