Planning the Perfect Pub or Bar Crawl

The concept of bar hopping has been around since taverns, night clubs and other after-hour hot spots have been in existence.

Bopping around from one venue to the next has grown into a planned experience hitting up all the best spots in one extended journey. These pub crawls began in Britain with a number of businesses in close proximity banding together to offer specials for wandering drinkers of adult beverages. The trend quickly spread to the states and began exploding in big cities like New York and San Francisco.

As an organizer of one of these events, planners should prepare to offer their mobile drinking partners the best possible experience when going from pub point A to bar location B, cocktails at club C, etc. Here are some significant suggestions to consider when plotting a course for partiers crawling from place-to-place.

We’ll skim over the obvious tasks of planning the route in advance, ensuring there’s plenty of food and water available along the way and get right down to the nitty-gritty. 

Mixology and Technology

Although we just mentioned going from a pub to a bar and then a cocktail venue, unfortunately, this isn’t a very good idea. It’s important that plotters of these parties remember mixing different types of alcohol may lead to kneeling before the porcelain potty which is always unpleasant.

When it comes to technology, encourage guests to put devices aside in pockets or purses, but definitely bring them along in case of emergency or becoming separated from the crawl. They’re also great to have on hand for those selfies, videos and pictures of shots or shots of pitchers but shouldn’t be omnipresent as a continuous distraction.

A Theme with a Scheme

Attaching a theme to your traveling party scene is almost paramount for success. For added fun consider putting competition into place or challenge participants in some way associated with the event. Competition and drinking go hand-in-hand when you consider pool tables, dart boards, even karaoke concerts available at these venues as a way for attendees to outshine their fellow attendees. 

Give a Heads Up

Ensure your event is a success by giving the locations a heads up your party is heading for their locations on a specific date, at an approximate time and the number of participants. Tying into the theme concept, when your crawling partners in crime will be consuming a certain selection of craft beers, sipping on cocktails in common or taking shots of a specific brand, this way the venue will have enough of these liquids on hand.

For larger groups, some of these spots may set aside an area for you and your guests to imbibe with pride. Perhaps they’ll bring on extra staff to accommodate your crowd so be sure to tip your server and bartender. Cheers to you and your crew having the best crawl experience possible!

Antiquing: The Art of Exploring Antique Stores

Searching for the perfect addition to your home decor can be challenging and fun,

and antique shopping is one of the best ways to find a unique item. Antiquing, or the process of exploring antique stores to locate a treasure, can be done nearly anywhere, as most communities in the U.S. have at least one antique or thrift store where you can uncover cool old stuff.

People have almost always collected older items, but the current round of antiquing was kicked off by popular T.V. shows where buyers had their finds analyzed and valued.

You may choose to go antiquing in a group, and hit some of the more popular towns in your area where antique stores are clustered. Or, you may go out on your own to see what you can unearth. You don’t need any special resources to go antiquing, but having a smartphone and internet connection can open up more information about the items you’re looking at, including their age and approximate value.

What’s the Difference Between an Antique and a Collectible?

True antiques are at least 100 years old, and each item usually has some historical background that makes it more interesting. Alternatively, collectible or vintage items are less than a century old and often come from a specific era (think 1950s poodle skirts or 1960s character lunch boxes). Either an antique or a collectible can have great value, or be essentially worthless, depending on condition and whether there is a demand for the item.

Where Should You Go Antiquing?

Nearly every state has stores that sell antiques, but there are certain areas in the U.S. that are better known for antiquing. The Northeast and the upper Midwest have clusters of well-known stores, and there are also some cities in the south, like Clinton, Tenn., or Charleston, S.C., that offer a good antiquing experience. Typically, the parts of the country that are the oldest also yield the best antique items.

The best part about antiquing is the hunt. Along the way, you can find jewels in the rough as well as fun places in the towns where you’re surveying antique stores. Antique shopping can be enjoyed nearly any time of year and can be a fun experience to pass the time or bond with friends and family members.

Nature & Relaxation Meet at Outdoor Yoga

While yoga is a personal experience unique to each individual, taking it to the great outdoors heightens the senses bringing it to a whole new life.

There’s more to the outdoor yoga experience than you may have realized.¬†

Where it all Began

Yoga Six tells us that the earliest signs of yoga come from stone carvings found in India dating to approximately 3,000 BC. The practice began as part of a spiritual journey. But what began spiritually has over time become known for its ability to improve physical and mental health. Today the practice of yoga has spread across the entire world. It is now seen by many as a way to lose weight and sculpt the body, live a healthier lifestyle, and lower levels of stress. Different methods and environments including outdoor yoga have been developed in the evolution of yoga. When you walk through a park or take a stroll on the beach, you are very likely to see one or more people enjoying the practice of outdoor yoga. 

How is it Different? 

While most yoga is done indoors, taking it outside is easy to accomplish and provides a lot of added benefits. Sara Panagiotopoulou tells us in Yogi Approved that the fresh air you get from being outdoors allows your body to create more white blood cells, thus improving your immune system. Being outdoors also has a way of putting your mind in a very specific place where you can connect to the sounds of nature as you perform the practice of yoga. This purposeful connection of the body to nature can really help lower stress levels and provide added physical and mental health benefits. 

Finding the Best Places

Just watch this YouTube video on the Yoga with Adriene channel where she is performing outdoor yoga on a beach. It provides the perfect opportunity for peace and tranquility. Those looking for outdoor yoga experiences in cities large and small will have no trouble either. New York City Central Park offers a number of outdoor yoga classes, and Chicago residents even have the chance to do outdoor yoga at a beach setting. One review of Beach Yoga Chicago said it best by writing: “What a wonderful community to be a part of. I mean it’s Yoga on the Beach!” 

Having a Great Time at Karaoke Night

Everybody likes to sing, and karaoke night gives you the opportunity to belt out some of your favorites, with or without friends.

The term “karaoke” comes from a combination of the Japanese words for “empty” and “orchestra” — meaning, songs without vocals. In the early 1970s, a Japanese drummer invented the karaoke machine that could play these musical tracks, and the experience of singing popular songs in bars became widespread in the 1980s. The singing pastime has become so well-known and popular that people around the world celebrate National Karaoke Week in April.

There’s even a Karaoke World Championships, held since 2003. Last year’s sing-off was held in Helsinki and featured singers from 13 countries.

What Do You Need to Do Karaoke?

Karaoke singers typically fall into two groups: Those who go out seeking karaoke, and those who find themselves at a bar where it’s offered and decide to participate. While some more structured karaoke venues promote the use of costumes and props, most are more laid-back. You don’t need anything except your voice and your courage to perform in front of others.

The host of the karaoke must have the music tracks without voices to play. This used to require a specialized machine that played CDs, but today most karaoke tracks are played via computer and no special equipment is needed. Software services exist that provide the tracks for a monthly fee. Depending on how large your venue is, you will likely need microphones and a sound system to ensure performers’ voices are as clear as possible. After all, listening to others do their best is a big part of the fun.

Choosing the Right Song

With such a wide variety of songs available as karaoke tracks, the toughest part of doing karaoke is choosing what to sing. The best songs for karaoke are well known, upbeat and don’t pose significant challenges like super high notes. Pick short songs that don’t drag on. It’s also best if there are not long gaps without words in the song, so you won’t be standing awkwardly in front of the crowd without singing.

The Weird and Wonderful World of Karaoke

These days, bars around the U.S. compete to see who can come up with the most wacky karaoke options. Some karaoke bars offer private rooms so you can keep your off-key warbling to your own group, while others add live bands, costumes and even strippers to the experience.

Karaoke in all styles is just plain fun. Whether it’s a night out to a full-fledged karaoke bar, a trip to the stage at your favorite watering hole or a fun home party with friends, anyone can have a good time singing.

The Resurgence of the Bicycle

In modern times there has been a resurgence of bicycles as a mode of transportation, resulting in a savings, pocketbook and environment.

For some, it is a way to get to work. For others, it is either a pleasant afternoon outing or a needed method of exercise. And still, for some, it is a way to accomplish a fete, and/or participate in a competition.

History of the Bicycle

Bicycling has a history dating back to the early 19th century. Known as a Laufmaschine, or running machine, the first actual verified use of a bike came in 1817 and is attributed to Baron Karl von Drais in Germany. It was built of two wheels with a bar between. The rider would walk or run to gain momentum, then relax with his legs on the bar and ride until he needed to rebuild steam.

Some historians believe that a much earlier bicycle concept was drawn by Leonardo da Vinci, with a sketch having been discovered among some of his manuscripts in the 1970s. Others feel it could have come from one of his students, as they did not see the hand of da Vinci to have drawn the rather poor quality sketch, or perhaps it was a copy of a lost work originated by da Vinci. And yet there is also a theory that the “sketch” was actually a doodle by a 1960s monk.

After Drais’ invention of his Laufmaschine, an evolution began from a walking machine to a riding machine with French carriage makers, Pierre Michaux and Pierre Lallement, attaching pedals to the front wheel, and adding a seat to the support beam. The term bicycles was first used in England in 1868 in The Daily News as a description of the French terminology of bysicles.

The Modern Bicycle

Today’s bikes have evolved tremendously into a variety of equipment for transportation, pleasure, and sport including touring and racing bikes. We have seen bicycles built for two, unicycles, tricycles for kids and older adults, stationary bikes for exercise in the home or gym, and more. Cycles are the main transportation in India and China, while Copenhagen is considered the most bike-friendly city in the world.

Cyclist competitions take place throughout the world with one of the most famous events being the Tour de France, where riders spend 21 days of cycling throughout the French countryside over a 23-day period. Cycling in the Olympics dates back to 1896. Four modern-day disciplines are planned for the 2020 Summer Games in Tokyo including Track, Road, BMX, and Mountain Bike.

If your bicycle is sitting in the garage gathering dust, it is time to get it out and on the road. You’ll find a renewal of a fun form of exercise while charting a path less traveled. But, a word of warning, take it slow and pace yourself. A 10-mile ride absent some shorter warm-up trips is going to inflict pain in those under-used muscles.

Find Your Inner Artist Through Ceramic Painting

Pottery and ceramics date back thousands of years, when man found that wet clay could be formed into a bowl shape.

When left to dry, or better, placed into a fire, it would harden and hold water. Today, while some pottery is still hand thrown, placed in a kiln to dry and used as mugs, bowls, vases, and the like, ceramics has developed into an art form expressed by everyday people.

The Evolution of Ceramics

Outside of the artists who design and color their own pottery, the hobby of painting ceramic pieces evolved in the 1930s during an otherwise dark period in American history. Kilns, molds, and glazes emerged for use by the at-home hobbyist. Similarly, clay tools and brushes followed. The results stemmed from the desire of everyday people, not necessarily artists, to be able to mold a piece of clay and further create their own design through the colors and glazes affordably offered.

Mold and glaze manufacturers developed a certification program for individuals, mostly store owners and employees, to be able to teach the ceramic arts. The idea boomed for decades with ceramic shops offering molds and/or precast products to private individuals to create and paint. The aspiring artists didn’t need to invest in a kiln as shop owners offered the service of kiln-firing, which in-turn kept customers returning to their stores.

Paint Your Own Pottery

In the mid-80s, the demand started fizzling out, in part because the demand for new molds and different ideas dwindled. But, the concept didn’t take long to re-emerge in the early 90s with the idea that it may be more fun to paint with friends in a group atmosphere than alone at home.

Creative shop owners once again started carrying ceramic supplies with pre-modeled clay designs, paints, glazes, brushes, and tools, but this time with the focus of creating the artistic atmosphere in their shops. Through classes and parties, individuals young and old, could come in, pick their piece and jump right into painting. The all-in-one price was based on the size of the molded art, the paint it would take to cover it, and the equivalent to an equipment-use fee.

Today there are paint-your-own ceramic stores in cities, large and small, throughout the country. Some are independent while others are part of a franchise. With many you can go in and work on your project most anytime during their regular hours, no group needed. Others continue to promote the class and party atmosphere. And, yet some still sell supplies, so you can work at home and return your work ready for the kiln.

If you are looking for a new way to express yourself, or a relaxing hobby to put down the electronic devices and slow down our day, check for a paint-your-own store near you.

Old School Fun at Your Local Block Party

You could meet your neighbors by going door-to-door with casseroles or plates of baked goods,

but the block party has become a popular way to get to know and socialize with those who live near you in a fun, party atmosphere. While block parties or neighborhood gatherings are held around the world, the idea first took hold in the U.S. during the World War I era. Neighbors in New York met to sing, mingle and honor local boys who were serving overseas. In the 1960s, block parties became more popular as families moved to the suburbs and wanted to connect with their neighbors.

From large urban areas to small rural communities, block parties are a way to form bonds, talk about neighborhood issues in a friendly way and enjoy food and games. Residents can customize the block party to meet their needs and bring people together.

What Do You Do at a Block Party, Anyway?

Many block parties have a theme that dictates the type of food and activities. Sometimes this will be related to a holiday like the Fourth of July, where people gather for a cookout and fireworks, or will revolve around food, like a taco night or ice cream social.

Keeping the kids entertained is an important part of a block party where families live. Running a sprinkler, setting up games like ladder ball or holding a water balloon toss can keep those of all ages interested. Neighbors may also decide to hold a clothing or book swap, where people bring what they no longer need and let others help themselves.

Emphasizing Safety

National Night Out, which encourages neighbors to get together in the evening to increase safety, is another common reason why many areas organize block parties. Started in 1984, NNO has grown to involve more than 38 million people in 16,000 communities who gather on the first Tuesday in August to build relationships and talk about safety in their communities.

For those block parties where neighborhood safety is on the agenda, police officers and firefighters may be invited to attend. These public safety officials can bring equipment and talk to residents about ways to stay safe and work together.

Finding the Right Space

Because every neighborhood is different, the right place for a block party might be one neighbor’s large yard or an area park. In many cities, residents can apply to block off a street or two in order to hold a larger gathering. Any space you choose should have room to set up tables that hold food and games as well as chairs and blankets for hanging out.

Positive Social Outcomes

Social relationships like those formed at block parties can have positive outcomes, like reducing crime (since neighbors are looking out for each other) and improving mental health. Besides being fun, block parties help individuals increase their social capital by encouraging people who live near each other to form stronger bonds.