Wednesday, June 18, 2014

10 Things to Do on the Longest Days of the Summer

We’re heading into the for-real official, according to the sun, first day of summer marked by the longest day of the year.  According to the weather folks, the days around June 21 will also be relatively long, too. And hot.  So what to do with all these extra hours of sunlight?  A few ideas.

Cook early.  Don’t spend the mid-day in the kitchen.  Plan an easy meal that you can prep and cook early.  Pull out the crock-pot in the morning, try my Asian chicken.  I also like pasta salads for this reason - they’re easy and versatile.  You can change up the ingredients, but also tweak it a little bit for the picky eaters in the house.  

My basic recipe for pasta salad
  • Cooked, cooled pasta – I prefer short pastas like rotini or bow-tie, but spaghetti and angel hair work well, too
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Green veggie – spinach and asparagus work well
  • Crumbled/shredded cheese – mozzarella and feta are tasty choices
  • Italian/Caesar salad dressing – this is a cheat to save figuring out extra seasoning
  • Protein options (great use of leftovers): chopped chicken, cold salmon, tuna
  • Toss it all in a bowl. Chill.
  • Pour a glass of sangria.  Lunch and/or dinner is ready. Ta da!

Cook late. Wait til the sun’s gone done a little bit and toss a few burgers or fish on the grill.  Throw some veggies and corn on the cob on there, too. And then finish it off with dessert, like our Campfire Banana S’mores.

Take an early evening walk. Alone, with the family or just the dog, depending on what kind of day you’ve had.  When the sun starts it’s descent, enjoy the little bit of warmth left and the quiet of the settling day.

Catch fireflies. This, and catching crayfish during the day time, were two of me and my brother’s favorite summertime activities.  Watching the little bugs light up never seemed to get old. Be sure to punch holes in the top of whatever container your kids are catching them in, and of course, some grass for them to live off of (I don’t really know that that’s what fireflies eat.)  And then, before going in for the evening be sure to let them all go.

Eat ice cream.  In a cone.  The more fresh from the cow, the better. Or at least, not from a box and big name. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve got a pint of Ben & Jerry’s somewhere in the freezer, but there’s nothing like fresh-made, from somebody’s personal recipe ice cream. Better yet, make some of your own. I’ve got my ice cream maker in the freezer now.

Enjoy fresh fruit and vegetables.  Stop by a farm stand or farmer’s market.  Or take a basket to a pick-your-own farm for whatever’s in season now. Eat your berries and veggies as is or bake them into a pie or coffee cake or something delicious.  And you’d be surprised what your kids can learn. I’m almost embarrassed to admit one of my kids was perplexed by the fuzzy skin and big pit in the middle of a peach we bought at a road-side fruit stand.

Drink cold, sweet tea.  One of the things I love about living below the Mason-Dixon line is I never had to preface “tea” with “sweet.”  What other way would you drink cold tea?  It’s the simplest thing and I make it by the gallon (which, lasts maybe two days)
  • Tea bags: I like Luzianne for iced tea and experiment with some of the flavored teas for a different flavor.  2 or 3 large tea bags per kettle of water (Luzianne tea bags are larger, made for pitchers of tea; use about 4-6 regular size tea bags)
  • Pour almost boiling water over tea bags in a plastic pitcher (not glass!)
  • Let tea bags seep about 10 minutes
  • Add sugar (to taste, I use a lot) while the water is still hot *this is key!
  • Add ice, if needed, to fill the pitcher.
  • Pour over ice. Enjoy.
Enjoy discounted movies and bowling.  Maybe the heat is too much, after all, so head indoors for a few hours.  We don't go to the movies a lot because, well, because there's six of us.  Same for bowling.  But in the summer, some theaters offer discount movies and it's a great chance to catch up on movies.  Regal Cinemas offer $1 fun kid movies.  A number of bowling alleys, like AMF Bowling, offer either free or discounted games, but you do have to signup for the passes or card.  These are also great rainy summer day activities, too.

Hydrate. In as many ways as possible. Be sure to drink enough water on hot days. But also cool off in the watering hole of your choice – swim at the local community pool, jump in a nearby lake, run through your lawn sprinkler, or dip your feet in the baby pool still sitting in the garage.

Lay in the grass and watch the sky.  That’s all.

Happy summer!

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