As a disclaimer, the storm knocked out my internet yesterday, but it’s up and the post is done.
This weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to the Capital Jazz Festival (more to come). I swear getting ready for a two-day (it’s actually three but if I tried that I would pass out) outdoor music festival is a serious process. There are tons of these things: Bonarroo, Coachella, Rock the Bells. I think it is because I am a super J on the Myers Briggs scale and I put a lot of effort into preparing for this event. I wasn’t always a J. I used to be solidly in the middle of P and J but my family is comprised of mostly P’s and someone needed to create some semblance of order. Below are my tips to properly prepare for summer outdoor events.
This year I gave in. Every year, it rains (to quote Mary J). And every year, I wear cute sandals that make my feet disgusting or cute sneakers that get ruined. I sacrificed my adorable Nike ballet slippers on Saturday and finally gave in. I wore rain boots. Boy, did my little feet feel protected from the evil elements and potential trash. I always see some ridiculous celebrity at Coachella in shorts and cowboy boots or something similar. I think, “Who wears shorts and boots?” Me that’s who.
I love a cute flirty dress. Outdoor concerts are not the place for a cute flirty dress because of sheer logistics. You are carrying chairs and coolers, sitting low to the ground and surrounded by mud and dirt. This is all negligible if you are in the premium seating. But ten hour concerts are not conducive to straight back seats, which is why I do lawn. I usually opt for a dark pair of capris or shorts (I wore white once and it did okay). I also opt for a simple shirt: either a polo or razorback tank. I see the cutest clothes at the event and think, nice but no. There are opportunities to be rain soaked, grass rubbed, food spilled and it’s best to stick to basics.
Of course, you must pack a lunch. With this I struggle. I can never figure out what to eat and am obsessed with not having my food spoil in the sun. Cooler or not. I stick with lots of snacks, fruit and salads: pasta, chicken, tuna. I really like a spicy Thai tuna salad that is available in a can. A can. I usually raid the salad bar at Whole Foods but decided this year to make my supper. Boy did I want fried chicken. Man, I cannot make proper fried chicken. It is the quintessential picnic food. I attempted some Safeway chicken that made my stomach angry. Typically, I usually buy frozen Chicken tenders, bake them in the oven the night before and pack. Amazingly I like Safeway brand the best as it lacks that floury taste frozen tenders usually have. My mom has the palette of an eight year old, so we tried many frozen tenders before finding the perfect ones. Otherwise, don’t do as I did. Buy fried chicken from the deli in the afternoon when it is freshest and refrigerate immediately. I purchased mine in the morning and it probably sat too long.
Pro tip: I hate filling my cooler with ice because when you reach in it makes your hands cold. I buy ice blankets that can be frozen the night before. For my mom’s trick, I also freeze a couple of bottles of water and place in the bottom of the cooler. I place stay cold items on top and cover with the ice blankets. My items stay cold and by the end of the night when the water melts and the food is gone, the ice bottles turn into cold, refreshing water.
So what you take for a weekend in the sun, according to me:
- A zippered tote. I got mine from a tradeshow as I was once a booth diva (babe is so degrading). However, the ever popular LL Bean makes ones that can be monogrammed and customized.
- Lots of plastic. I am talking about tablecloths, tarps, clear furniture covers. This will sit on the ground underneath your blanket for minimal cleaning and cover you in the event of rain.
- Insect repellent arm bands. My latest discovery due to a friend’s addiction to Groupon. They sort of work and keep you from being stinky.
- A cute rolling cooler. I decided that I am upgrading soonest because carrying my cooler gets exhausting. So exhausting.
- Lots of paper towels, plastic and paper utensils if you like them. I don’t care about the plates and cups but others must have them.
- Wipes. I adore individually wrapped wipes. I usually stock up when I am in New Jersey because there’s a Bed Bath and Beyond in Menlo Park that has an entire section devoted to tiny toiletries. I have yet to see a similar set up in the D.C. area. My wipes are sanitizing wipes, Cottonelle wipes, glass lens wipes, and face wipes for sweat.
- Miniature bottles of wine and liquor. Of course this is only if allowed in the event. Pack straws to stay classy.
- Lots of store plastic bags. This came over time when I realized that I would stupidly stuff containers and food back into my cooler.
- Sunscreen. I often forget it and then my skin hurts.
- Towels. I usually use my really raggedly Wal-Mart ones. Seriously, never buy them for actual bathing. They can be used to protect your car, wipe off sweat (though I hate this usage personally) or dry off from the rain.
- A big blanket. I scored a really durable canvas one from Target in the clearance section one fall. However, if you are cheap like me and don’t quickly find a $7 one, head to Ikea and purchase some $3 fleece throws.
- An umbrella. For rain, of course.
- A nice outdoor chair with a roof. I still remember the first year that I saw them at Capital Jazz. I was instantly jealous and needed one immediately. In fact, I headed to Sports Authority that month and copped one on sale. That chair is my outdoor everything.
What I know I need next: the aforementioned roller cooler in an adorable pattern. And, a portable phone charger. After 11 hours outdoors, my iPhone is usually on 5% and that’s only by charging it until I reach the venue with no interruptions, ignoring calls, texting only, not playing games and sending a tweet an hour.
I am also considering carrying less food. I always have leftovers, which I discard. I am completely fascinated by friends who come to these events with a deli sandwich, big bottle of water, chips and a cookie. They are so unencumbered. I once attended an all day wine festival with stuff I already had in the kitchen that included: three bottles of water, a fruit cup, strawberries, grapes, chicken tenders (from frozen), chips, cheese, crackers and a chocolate chip granola bar. In fact the entire thing fit into regular lunch bag. I wonder if I could make that happen again. No trips to the grocery store, no fixing pasta salad. Just ease. But I am a J, so I am sure that won’t happen.