With all this facing us, Jeff and I are already making plans and trying to be proactive. We realized after last year that the heat really took a huge toll on some of our plants so we will be moving a few of them to different locations. Our Arctic Kiwi will be the first to be moved here within the next few days while the weather is still cool and wet. It will find a new home in a more shaded part of our garden next to the hot tub enclosure. We will put the trellis up on the outside wall of the hot tub enclosure for additional support. This will help the plant since it will not get fried by the intense sun and it will also help provide some additional shade from the plant for us while we are using the hot tub. :) We also will be going back to watering the gardens at night so that the water has a chance to sink in and get down to the roots without evaporating off.
Our hot tub will be used a lot this Summer but not heated up. We have found that the sun does a great job of heating it up for us all on it's own. We use it more to actually cool off in. There is something so wonderful about sitting in it on a hot day with the bubbles going and it helping to cool you off. I know the grandboys are going to love doing this with us. I swear those little guys are part fish!
Another thing we are planning on doing is having me make some curtains to go on the back screened in porch out of shade cloth. The sun can get quite intense and in the past we have used blinds that have rolled down to help cut the sun and heat. Unfortunately those blinds got ruined in a windstorm so my hubby suggested making curtains. If I find that the shade cloth is too expensive, then I will either use sheets or cheap muslin to make the curtains from.
Speaking of shade cloth, we are planning on putting some of this up over parts of one of our garden beds. Some of our gardens will have the heat loving plants in them but there are other plants that we like to grow that still need to have some partial shade to keep them from frying. I am currently researching and trying to find the best deals on shade cloth as possible. My talented hubby will build a structure to keep the shade cloth over the more tender plants.
I plan on doing lots of canning this Summer and I know how unbearable the heat can get in the house from that. Luckily for me I found a NuWave 2 induction burner at the thrift store recently and I will be using that out on the back screened in porch to do my canning on. I will also be using my dehydrator out there. I am thinking that I may also use my slow cookers and big roasting oven out there as well and try not to use the stove and oven in the house as much. When I do need to use them, I will try to make big batches of things so we can just reheat them in the microwave. We are also planning on using our BBQ grill a lot!
Speaking of Summer meals, we do a lot of salads and I drink lots of iced tea and iced coffee. I try to prep our meals when it is cooler. I'll make up big bowls of various kinds of pasta salads and get our salad greens all washed and torn so they are ready for us to use. We grill extra chicken and venison steaks so that they can be cut up and used in salads also. I'll cut up fruit and have it ready to go and also cut up carrot and celery sticks, make quick cucumber pickles and cucumber and tomato salads. I also enjoy flavored cream cheese on bagels and have found that I can mix up some of my own cream cheese spreads at a fraction of the cost of the premade ones. I save the leftover morning coffee and make iced coffee drinks with it in the afternoon. I also am a huge fan of sun tea and I have some going most of the time. The grandkids love homemade slushies made with Koolaid just as much as their daddy and uncles did at their age so I try to make those as a treat when they come over. :)
Our dryer will be getting a vacation for the most part during the hot Summer months. I dry most of our clothing and bedding on the laundry lines. There are only a few things that I put in the dryer and some of those can be dried outside and then just "fluffed" in the dryer for about 10 minutes to get any wrinkles out.
I make it a practice to draw the curtains closed on the sunny side of the house in the heat. I am amazed at how much it really does help to keep things cooler. One of the other things that we have found really helps is putting big sheets of cardboard in the windows of the rooms that we do not use on a regular basis. Our pantry is actually located in the big closet of the front guest bedroom. Using the cardboard in the window has helped keep things much cooler in there and the heat does not build up as quickly. When it does get too warm in there, I simply open the door to that room at night and let the cool air from the swamp cooler flow into it and cool it back down.
Since I get overheated easily, I try to get all my errands run in the mornings when it is cooler and combine things so that I only have to go and spend 1 or 2 days a week outside the home. This saves time as well as gas. I keep 2 insulated bags in the back of my car to put all the refrigerated and frozen things in that I buy at the grocery store. I also keep a cardboard box and blanket back there year round. If I have too many items to fit into the bag, I put it in the box and then throw the blanket over it. It really does help to keep it cooler. I also try to remember to throw some of the blue ice packs into each of the insulated cooler bags before I leave the house and will also throw a bottle of water or 2 in there for me to drink while I am out and about.
On the days that I will be home, I try to get out into the garden early in the morning to pick things and do my weeding or I will do it later in early evening when the sun is not as intense. I also try to get my walks in when it is cooler, for my sake and for our Caesar so that there is no chance of him burning his paws on the hot pavement. I spend the hottest part of the day inside doing chores or even just sitting and reading or working on my points programs and getting caught up on blog reading.
The town that is half way between us and both sets of our kids that live in the area has a pool that is free to use. We will meet our kids there and go swimming with them and the grandkids. We sometimes will pack a picnic lunch or dinner to eat in the shaded park there as well and the grandboys can play on the playground equipment or play basketball with the G-pa and uncles. ;) Sometimes we will make a trip down to the river and spend the morning or late afternoon there as well. I pack food for that as well.
I'm always looking for more ways to stay cool, protect my gardens and have frugal fun while staying close to home during the Summer. I really am hoping and praying that we will not have the fires to contend with again this year. It was awful last year for everyone, but especially for those that lost their homes and for those who were trapped inside their homes due to breathing issues. It's ironic that I am writing this right now, curled up in my robe and under a blanket with the pellet stove running to keep me warm. I know it will be all too soon and I will be wishing and longing for a day like this. ;)