7 QT: Beat the Heat (or Sweat Trying)

1.  It is unusually hot here in the Willamette Valley.  Temps in the 98-103 range.  Thankfully, it's a dry heat...at least compared to my experience of humidity growing up in St. Louis.  When you stand in the shade here, it is cooler. There are occasional breezes which refresh.

The trade-off is that many houses here don't come with central air, since it's a rarely needed feature.  Our house is one of them.  We are keeping curtains drawn and sitting near all of our fans to stay cool...and I can't lie, eating a lot of salads, sandwiches, and cereal because I can't bear to increase the heat by doing much cooking.

But on the cooking front, the crock pot has been very helpful. It doesn't heat up the kitchen much, and I've taken to throwing in some frozen chicken breasts in the morning, dousing them liberally with sauces or salad dressings until they are covered (and maybe adding a bit of water), and letting them cook on low for the rest of the day. By dinner time (and we eat on the early side, usually around 5), they are thoroughly cooked and shreddable, and are great in salads, quesadillas, or rice.

2. Popsicles have been an afternoon treat.  Our lovely neighbor Kristi gave us a cute little popsicle mold, and we've been freezing fruit juice.  It's worked out nicely.

3.  I have an article up at Real Housekeeping today about another stay-cool method which was a big hit: using a box fan to "inflate" a duvet cover.  Head over to check it out!

4.  Yesterday we went over to a friend's house to enjoy their air conditioning and their big inflatable backyard pool. All went well and the kids were having a blast.  At the end of the playdate, Max was climbing up the ladder of the play structure and fell.  He cried a little bit and came over to sit in my lap.  As I was inspecting him for injury, I noticed that one of his knees felt oddly bumpy. It looked like a bone had popped out of joint!  He was walking on it gingerly but seemed otherwise cheerful about the whole thing.

I decided to take him to the urgent care to get it checked out.  Our hostess-with-the-mostess watched Ruby and Ben while I took Max to the doctor.  It was one of the most efficient visits I've had: from check in to check out was 50 minutes!  But part of that was due to the fact that by the time the doctor saw him, everything seemed to be back to normal.  All's well that ends well.

It also reminded me just how tough my kids seem to be when the injuries get serious.  Ruby didn't cry once when she had to get stitches for a cut on her chin.  She was totally cheerful and chatting up everyone in the waiting room and the doctors and nurses.  When Max throws up, he is so matter of fact about it all; no crying, no fear, no nothing.  He's also got good aim for buckets, which is nice.  He's more rational and calm about throwing up in the middle of the night than he is when you tell him that he can't watch another show.  Kids!

5.The clubhouse is installed and now awaiting siding.  Allen found some for free on Craigslist, and he should have enough to do the whole thing.

Start 'em early
Safety first!

Helping Daddy 

Like the "mailbox"?

6.  My garden is coming along nicely!  There are lots of green cherry tomatoes and my arugula is doing quite well; I've enjoyed adding them to some of my salads lately.  And finally, FINALLY, my marigold and black eyed susan starts are taking off. It reminds me of the Frog and Toad story about the garden.  Apparently, all of my shouting "NOW SEEDS, START GROWING!" was getting me nowhere after all.  ;)
I can't wait for those to ripen...

The scarlet runner beans have taken off!

Look! My first cuke!

Thriving and happy petunias
Only my buttercrisp (?) lettuce hasn't done very well, and I discovered today that the pot it was in did not have good drainage. I've also found a very persistent snail taking up residence in a tomato pot.  

7.  I posted it on FB, but we did get rid of the bamboo.  And by "we" I don't mean myself; I mean my mother in law and her husband. They wanted the bamboo--I think for a neighbor or client--and they came and dug it all up.

After a few hours of hard work, tada!

There are still lots of roots left in the soil so we'll have to be vigilant, but it's a whole different look than it was!  Thanks, Karla and Spencer!

I have more pictures and things to write about, but I'll end here for now.  Have a good weekend, and stay cool!


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