Sunday, July 10, 2016

Summer, this week

 













This was our sixth week of summer break.

I didn't take very many photos during the first half of the week. I wasn't feeling very well; I had some bad reactions to insect bites that I got while watching fireworks. I have very bad reactions to bug bites. I've been to the hospital for them in the past and have needed all kinds of treatments, including steroids. Anyway, this time I was staying at home, braless because most of them were on my back, and taking a lot of Benedryl. Good times.

We did make it out to the library both Tuesday and Wednesday. Tuesday was a special crafting event where the kids learned to make catapults from a variety of simple components like plastic cups, balloons, popsicle sticks and bottle caps, for launching pom poms at paper targets.

On Wednesday, we saw one of my favorite summer library programs, a wildlife rescue group. They bring various rescued birds like hawks, falcons and owls and talk about ways to keep wild birds safe. My favorite bird was the long-eared owl, which pants like a dog when it's hot. It looked and acted exactly like a fat little dog. Its handler sprayed it with water to help it stay cool and it shook its head like a dog too, with the ears flapping back and forth.

On the Fourth, I baked a flag cake, as I often do on that holiday, but with a twist this year. I made it a poke cake instead. Have you ever had poke cake? It's a cake that you poke full of holes with a fork, then pour over unset Jello which goes through all the holes, making streaks inside the cake. I used a recipe which appears in my Betty Crocker calendar for the month of July (you can also find it here if you're interested).

In the garden, we have tomatoes ripening every day. So far, it's the cherry tomatoes with the slicing tomatoes (ours are Early Girl) still just starting to ripen. We have two kinds of cherry tomatoes, Sweet 100 and Husky, and both are good but I think I prefer the Husky. They have that really rich, umami flavor that I love in a tomato. Sweet 100's are nothing to sneeze at, though; I'll happily eat any kind of fresh-off-the-vine tomato.

We've been eating our lettuces as fast as we can before they go bitter. It's the best thing ever to eat a salad with your own lettuce and your own tomatoes.

The apples are almost ripe. I'd say another three weeks and they'll be just ripe enough to eat. I won't eat them that newly ripened, but the kids will. I'll wait another week or two after that.

The monsoon season has been disappointing so far. We've hardly had any rain at all. Lots of darkening afternoon and evening clouds, along with some thunder, though. It's been very hot and sunny most days but I'm really hopeful about good storms still to come this summer.

The small Bears will start swimming lessons again tomorrow...back to my shady knoll under the pine tree, back to towels on the clothesline, back to the daily sunscreen wrestling match.

I didn't do anything crafty this week. I think the Benedryl slowed me down. I read a lot, though. My library piles have been huge this summer. Going to the library once a week, sometimes twice, has been good for my brain.

Toward the end of this past week, we took off for a camping adventure. I'll tell you more about it soon.

I don't know about you, but I'm feeling increasingly weary of the news, so I've been keeping away from the computer lately. I'm sorry if I've been missing any of your blog posts. I hope you're having a good weekend and staying cool. In my neck of the woods, which feels like it was moved to the surface of the sun, we've got iced tea chilling in the fridge and the swamp cooler a-blowing. Back soon.

25 comments:

  1. I'm so jealous of your tomato haul. We've had an absolute rubbish year here for tomatoes and they've all gone out the window!
    Ellie
    Xxx

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  2. Sorry to hear about your bad reaction to the bites, sounds nasty. Your flag cake looks so yummy! I've never heard of the pouring in jelly (we call it jelly) mix before.
    I know what you mean about the news. I totally avoid it, it's all too depressing. Stick to blogland instead :)
    Jillxo

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  3. You've had another busy week, Jennifer. Keep away from those bugs! Yikes!

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  4. Impressive tomatoes, mine are sadly lacking this year so far I am still hopeful. Hope you are feeling better from your insect bites thy can be quite nasty. Delicious looking flag cake, I have never come across a cake like this before, I bet the Grandchildren would love it. Sadly a lot of doom and gloom in the news, heartbreaking.

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  5. Sorry you've been feeling rough Jennifer, I hope it passes very soon. Lovely tomatoes, well done you. I had two little ones so far, hopefully a few more to come but they're never very keen on the climate here. I LOVE the library photo, I'm very much in love with libraries. Hard to explain it, but libraries and book shops are absolutely blissful to me. I know exactly what you mean about the news. It's been appalling here since the referendum, and then the terrible events in the US. Sometimes it's very hard to see the way forward, things seem to be going so very wrong in so many places. And the news can be utterly overwhelming. I had to remind myself last week that most people are good and decent. I hope you have a good week and that you're feeling completely yourself very soon. CJ xx

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  6. Your flag cake is brilliant Jennifer! Hope next week is a better one, keep cool!

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  7. You poor ting with those bites, I hope you are healing up now and they are not bothering you. Little Buddy starts up his lessons again this week. HE had a week and a half off, I bet his teacher will be thrilled with what he can do. Your cake is wonderful, very patriotic! I have been reading but falling asleep mid page as I am so, so tired this summer. The heat is higher than normal and it is wearing me out as I am in and out of it a lot during the day at work. Here is hoping you have a wonderful week.
    Meredith

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  8. It's hard to believe we are six weeks into summer already!
    Sorry about your bug bites, sounds miserable...
    I've made poke cake before. I like your patriotic theme!

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  9. I am sorry to hear you have been unwell from insect bites Jennifer. This happens to be sometimes too - last year a mosquito bite I got in Canada was a problem for months afterwards. Treatment did include steroids. I try so hard to avoid bites now. You are doing some nice holiday things and I love your cake. Very festive and patriotic! I'd love to have a home grown salad, and I'm sure your tomatos are Yummy. Can't wait to hear about your camping in the woods.

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  10. Poor you; I do sympathize over the insect bites. L has the same problem and can often end up with cellulitis. I love your flag cake; it looks so pretty. I wonder if I could do the same with our Union Flag?! I'm a huge fan of libraries too and it breaks my heart when I read about small ones being closed - we have several under threat in our area. No tomatoes here yet but I did notice some flowers yesterday, so fingers crossed. I can't wait to read about your camping trip. xx

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  11. 6 weeks seems to have flown by! My husband and kids have strong reactions to mosquito bites -- they'll be complaining that they are being bitten while I am blissfully unaware of anything going on at all. :) I think if media would begin to focus on all that is good rather than only bad, there would be a shift in thinking, a shift in what is important. Giving hate and evil a bucket to stand on isn't helping anyone in this world and I'm fed up.

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  12. Oh Jennifer I hope you are now fully recovered from the insect bites. I used to suffer as a child and would bathe in flowers of sulphur (a natural remedy) which helped the inflammation and took away the itching. The worst occasion was when I was camping out at the foot of Mount Masada close to the Dead Sea, but we won't go there! Now I'm obviously much less appetising and seem immune even to horse fly bites which are common on a sweltering day at the allotment, although I do keep a phial of tea tree oil handy just in case. (Adding a few drops of the oil to a basic unscented body lotion is my after bath bedtime deterrent on a hot night so I can sleep with the windows open.) Visits to the library and a pile of new books to immerse yourself in is my idea of heaven too. I am so enjoying your relaxing summertime posts.

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  13. I am loving your summertime posts they make for a wonderful relaxing read. I am sorry to hear that you have had a reaction to insect bites, I hope they are not so painful now. Enjoy your camping adventure or perhaps you are back now? We have had one too this week.

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  14. I agree about having a salad with lettuce and tomatoes from one's own garden. It's one of life's frugal luxuries. I'm sorry to hear about your allergic reaction to the insect bites. Benadryl is a life saver, but it does end up making you feel wiped out.

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  15. It's hard to imagine your SO hot summer compared to our attempt of one. If we have a warm sunny day it's a bonus! Your tomatoes are looking fabulous. I've just been tying mine back as the constant rain seems to have made them top heavy with leaves. Hopefully the few green tomatoes will ripen. Hope you have a good deluge of rain soon and you are feeling better. B x

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  16. Your insect bites sound awful, I hope the pain and itching is easing quickly. I love the idea of a poke cake, never heard of it but I just know it would be a big hit chez nous. Enjoy the time under the pine, reading and watching the children swim. I keep to reading blogs these days, staying away from the news almost completely. Just a peek at the news app for a glimpse at the headlines is all I allow myself. I look forward to reading about your camping trip. We are going camping tomorrow, I am really exited. xx

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  17. Oh goodness, how sorry I am to hear about your insect bites. I react badly to bites too, and have had to have antibiotics in the past because the bites became infected, but I have never been hospitalized. Hope you feel much more comfortable very soon Jennifer. I can't imagine how hot it must be where you are. I think I would just lie down and melt. X

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  18. Ugh. Biting and stinging insects are an aspect of summer that we wish didn't exist. But I just bought a can of OFF to take up to the mountains next month... one never knows if the mosquitoes will be bad or not.

    Your cake is splendid! I like that idea of jello streaks... and so pretty.

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  19. Hi Jen, so sorry you are unwell hope you are feeling better soon x

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  20. Hi Jennifer. I'm sorry to hear about your bug bites but glad to know you are now healing. The fact that there are not many mosquitos up here in the mountains is a wonderful reason to live here. I grew up in Iowa where I was a constant welt from bites as a child. One big welt!!! Otherwise your week looks like a lovely one. I've made a cake exactly like yours, in fact it was two years ago for the 4th of July. Delicious. I'm looking forward to hearing about your camping adventure.
    Blessings,
    Betsy

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  21. Look at those tomatoes...they are making my mouth water :) Hope you are feeling better.

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  22. So sorry to hear the bad reaction you have to bug bites. I can't take Benadryl - all it does it drug me up and make me fall asleep!
    That owl sounds so cute - never heard of that kind. Will have to look it up.
    How wonderful that you have ripe tomatoes already. My plants are tall (about 5') and have some green tomatoes, so not too much longer now.
    Will be looking forward to hearing about your camping adventure. Hope the kids enjoy their swimming lessons.
    I stay away from the news - haven't watched it on TV in many years and I avoid it online as much as possible. Too depressing.

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  23. Hey Jennifer,
    So sorry you've been ill. But braless is some sort of compensation I guess. I have 17 books in my to read pile. I feel twitchy if it dwindles below ten. I haven't blogged for ages; I keep running out of hours in the day. I must rectify it. I have enjoyed this series of posts very much, lovely girl.
    Leanne xx

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  24. I do enjoy these posts of yours, I think they're a great idea. Your local library does sound fantastic, it seems to offer so much for people to take part in. Is it the main city library in Albuquerque? Also, your stars and stripes cake is brilliant, very effective. Happy belated Fourth of July to you!

    I'm sorry to hear about the insect bites and I sympathise. I recently had a really nasty reaction to one and ended up on antibiotics with an infected leg - the itching was just awful. Anyway, I hope yours are better now. xx

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    Replies
    1. Thanks, Gillian. Your leg situation sounds so terrible. I hope yours are better now too. This library is not the main branch; that's downtown and I've only been there once or twice. It's nice but huge and hard to find parking nearby. This is a smaller neighborhood branch close to our house but not technically our own neighborhood branch, which is even closer to us. We go to this one in the photo a lot in summer because its weekly summer reading programs are at a better time of day for us when we also have swimming lessons going on.

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