Sunday, June 26, 2011

How to Stay Cool in the Summer Heat - Link-up Party!

Welcome to the fourth week of our Fun in the Summer Sun event!

Each Monday until September 7th
Mama to 4 Blessings along with Harvest Moon By Hand,
Adventures of Mommydom, Sweet Diva, and Sweet Phenomena
will be hosting Fun in the Summer Fun link up events.

Here's the line up:
1st Monday of each month: link up your "Kid-friendly summer activities"
2nd Monday of each month: link up your "Kid-friendly summer crafts"
3rd Monday of each month: link up your "Kid-friendly summer recipes"
4th Monday of each month: link up your "How to stay cool in the summer heat"


During the past week we've had temperatures in the upper 50s and 60s - very unusual for this time of year...even for Minnesota.  Trying to stay cool this week wasn't a was trying to stay dry with all the rain and thunderstorms. 

So, we ended up doing what we do on some of the hottest days of summer: we stayed inside where it was a comfortable 68-70 degrees.  Thinking of the traditional ways to stay cool on hot days (e.g., playing at the beach, running through the sprinkler) didn't sound interesting to the girls when it was 59 degrees and overcast outside.

Here are some ways that we stay cool...even when the temperatures aren't over 100 degrees like they were a few weeks ago:

Visited the zoo, conservatory, and Japanese gardens - alternating between being inside (with air conditioning) and outdoors (in the "heat")

The day we visited the zoo, there were many volunteers who had hands-on learning stations and stations where there were small animals that you could see close up.  We were very excited to see the new area for the polar bears - 15 year old brothers. 

One of the polar bears enjoying being outside.

The zoo also is holding thee polar bears from the Minot zoo since there is flooding in the area.  They are quarantined for 30 days, and then they will see if the Minot zoo can take them back (if it isn't damaged) or if the bears will be able to be let outside.  We're going to check the zoo again in a few weeks and see if there will be more polar bears out. It'd be nice to see them.

Since I homeschool the girls year round (with a modified schedule during the summer), the zoo was a wonderful way to learn about animals and plants.

Olivia listening to a volunteer talk about the
gecko he was holding.
This was inside near the tropical exhibit.

After spending some time inside seeing a quail, tortoise, and other small animals, amphibians, and reptiles, we headed back outside to walk through the Japanese garden.

Then we finished the day by heading back inside to the conservatory and the summer flower display.  It was a spectacular ending to a wonderful day!

Overlooking the summer flowers in the conservatory
under the glass ceiling.  The fragrance from the flowers
could be smelled even before entering the room. 

The flowers were so beautiful - the lilies and roses were very fragrant, and seem to invite visitors in to enjoy the flowers.  Many of the flowers seemed to be so large for their type - particularly the lilies and hibiscus.
This hibiscus was at least 5-6" wide. 
The plant was covered with beautiful flowers
just like this one.

Ate cool dishes (rather than hot ones)

Even though it hasn't been particularly hot recently, one of the best ways to stay cool during the summer is by eating "lighter" or "cooler" dishes.  Making salads with fresh, organic vegetables from the garden is one of my favorite ways to cook on hot days. 

Below is a recipe that I made this week that we all enjoyed (except Olivia who doesn't like spicy food).  It is from Ross Turnbull, Executive Chef at the Princeville Resort (on the island of Kauai in Hawaii).  It isn't a salad, but it reminded me of a place that gets hot (Hawaii) and the lighter, "cooler" fare they serve during the hot months.

Pineapple Salsa.

Pineapple Salsa


2 Cups diced fresh Maui gold pineapple
1/2 Cup fine diced red bell pepper
1/2 Cup fine diced red onion
1/2 Cup fine sliced scallions
Pinch fine chopped habanero pepper
2 Tbsp fresh chopped cilantro
2 Tbsp fresh lime juice
1 Tsp extra virgin olive oil
1/2 Tsp fresh chopped mint leaves
Hawaiian sea salt and black pepper to taste


Combine all ingredients in a plastic bowl and allow to marinate one hour before serving.

Drink lots of water and fresh lemonade to stay hydrated

I've made quite a few beverages during the past week - all with lemon in them:  honey gingered lemonade; cranberry lemonade; watermelon lemonade; and rhubarb strawberry slush. 

Out of the beverages, the favorite one was rhubarb strawberry slush that used rhubarb from the garden and strawberries that we picked at a local berry patch. 

Below is a picture and recipe for the Rhubarb Strawberry Slush that we enjoyed. What I like about this is that the frozen rhubarb-strawberry juice can be frozen and used anytime throughout the summer - particularly the very hot days when a refreshing beverage would be needed.

Rhubarb Strawberry Slush
(Taste of Home magazine)

Makes 22 Servings/Prep: 40 minutes + freezing


8 cups diced fresh or frozen rhubarb
1 package (16 ounces) frozen unsweetened strawberries
3 cups sugar
8 cups water
1 package (3 ounces) strawberry gelatin
1/2 cup lemon juice
11 cups ginger ale, chilled
Rhubarb curls, optional


In a Dutch oven, bring the rhubarb, strawberries, sugar,and water to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 5-8 minutes or until rhubarb is tender. Press through a sieve; discard pulp. Stir in gelatin and lemon juice until dissolved. Transfer to a freezer container and freeze, stirring occasionally, until firm. May be frozen for up to 3 months.

Note: I froze the liquid in a 9"x13" pan.  After it froze, I took it out of the freezer and let it thaw a bit.  Then,  I cut it into 24 pieces.  Next, I placed the pieces onto a cookie sheet and re-freeze.  At this point, they were placed into plastic bags and kept in the freezer to use for individual servings.

To use frozen rhubarb mixture: In a punch bowl or several pitchers, combine equal amounts of rhubarb mixture and ginger ale. Or for one serving, combine 1/2 cup rhubarb mixture and 1/2 cup ginger ale in a glass. Garnish with rhubarb curls if desired. Serve immediately. Yield: 22 servings (1 cup each).

Note: If using frozen rhubarb, measure rhubarb while still frozen, then thaw completely. Drain in a colander, but do not press liquid out.

Set up a birdbath

Birds enjoy taking a quick dip on a warm day just as children do.  Either use a birdbath that's available at a local store or make your own by inverting a garbage can lid in a base of flat stones or bricks.  Fill it with some water and a few small rocks (for a landing place).

The birdbath is near a birdfeeder (with seed) and hummingbird feeder.
There's a bird drinking water from the birdbath, and
a robin in the background in the flower garden (it has a small pond in it).

The birdbath is near the hummingbird feeder and birdhouse that the wrens are using, so we can watch and hear the birds.  The baby wrens were born within the past couple of weeks, and both wren parents are flying back and forth non-stop to find tiny insects and worms to feed the babies. 

Now it's your turn!  What are some ways that your family stays cool during the summer?


Tiffany said...

Great recipes, I can't wait to try them! The pictures are wonderful. I love Japanese gardens.

We visited one in Portland that was on a street corner in the city. You never knew by looking from the outside that there was a Japanese garden behind those walls.

I'll have to go to the one here; haven't been since we moved here.

Ticia said...

A bird bath is a good idea.......

I'm having a hard time conceiving of weather like that......

The Adventurer said...

Was that a leopard gecko inthe picture? My kids have one and love to play with it. Lots of fun activities going on. HOppe the weather warms up for you:) Thanks for linking up to the Field trip hop.

Sparklee said...

Wow, that is a beautiful hibiscus flower!

I was happy to see the rhubarb recipes. We keep getting rhubarb in our CSA share and I didn't know what to make with it! (Luckily my German friend made a wonderful cake with most of it! But I still have some left!)

It's hard to imagine temps in the 50's and 60's! It's in the 90's and climbing here!