Showing posts with label Summer. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Summer. Show all posts

Monday, June 12, 2017

How to Beat the Heat While Living in a Rental

The first heat wave of the season is approaching my area and I am preparing. If you live in a rental you may have less control of things that keep you cool such as: energy saving air conditioning systems, insulation of the building, and assorted repairs and maintenance that improve your ability to remain cool. I live in such a rental. The apartment is poorly maintained and poorly insulated. If I do nothing except turn down the thermostat in order to fight the heat, my utility bill jumps by over 4 times. While I am preparing for this predicted heat wave, I thought I'd review some of the ways I am able to beat the heat.

Block Out the Sunlight that Heats Your Living Area


I have been determined to find ways to take control of my utility bill despite having no control with the physical aspects of this apartment. Over the winter I discovered the YOJA thermal room darkening curtains.  I used them to keep the cold out. Now I'm using them to keep the heat out.  

The amount of energy savings from blocking the sun from the inside of your home is amazing! Before I purchased the YOJA curtains, I used a large piece of cardboard in order to test my theory that blocking the sun would be effective. It was so effective that I purchased the curtains. 

Whether you live in a rental as I do, or whether you in your own home but are focused on doing the most you can for the environment, give this experiment a try. See how much cooler your home is by darkening the windows. You can test it in just one window, with a large piece of cardboard. After a few hours of blocking the window, place your hand between the window and the light blocker you placed there and feel the difference.


Eat Light/Eat Fruit

melon slicer and corer

Eating heavy meals during a heat wave makes me feel miserable. So I turn to very light meals, cold salads such as my couscous salad, and fruit. 

Keeping a bowl of sliced fruit in the refrigerator is a handy way to have a cool meal or snack ready. Cutting fruit can be a chore, so finding ways such as Susan's pineapple slicer/corer. This kitchen gadget makes having refreshing pineapple a breeze.

There are kitchen gadgets to help slice and serve whatever fruit you choose to keep in your fridge for these heat wave days.


Strategically Placed Fans


Get to know which windows provide cooled air and which provide hot air, and the timing of those changes through the day. For example, my bedroom window is east-facing and is above a parking lot. Through the night and before sunrise, a window fan blowing air in from that window is cooling. But as the sun comes up, heat bounces off that parking lot, and allowing the fan to remain in that window is the equivalent of blowing oven air into my apartment. As the sun rises higher in the sky, the cool air comes from the opposite side of my apartment, through the balcony doors. Later, beginning early afternoon, the sun has moved and heats that balcony and the oven is on the west side of the apartment.  

During moderately hot days, just moving the fan and adjusting whether it is blowing in or out, can change the temperatures in my apartment by as much as 5 - 10 degrees. Especially in the mornings and early evenings. Clearly, during super hot days, the windows stay closed and I use the fan to circulate the air within the apartment.


Take Brief but Cool Showers or Baths


I try to remain conscious about how much water I use, but I do "rinse" off two to three times a day during the worst of the heat wave. I use chilly water. I can feel that it lowers my body temperature and I feel much more comfortable afterwards.  I also like to use my favorite peppermint soap during heat waves as it has a cooling, minty quality that is very refreshing. 


Use a Cooling Towel - They Really Cool 


What is a cooling towel? A year or two ago I found a fantastic product called a cooling towel. This cloth can be wet and wrung out and it evaporates in such a way that it feels cool to the touch.  I hang it around my neck and use it to wipe my face in order to keep cool. 

I originally purchased one for camping and hiking but found it to be extremely comforting during a very hot day when our power went out for nearly the entire day.  I now have three of these towels; one in my hiking bag, one in the apartment, and one that remains at my summer camping spot. 


cooling towel



Stay Hydrated - Drink A LOT of Water


I'm not certain that drinking water makes you feel cooler, but I am certain that during high temperatures it is important to remain hydrated for your health. I feel as though drinking fruit-infused water or mint water (I just float a couple of leaves of mint in my ice water) makes me feel cooler.  

I fully believe that having a favorite container with you at all times helps make drinking water more convenient. 

Barbara shared her favorite water container with us: the Contigo water bottle. My favorite way to ensure I drink enough water daily, and that it remains cold ice water, is to fill my Bubba tumbler with ice water after I've finished my morning iced coffee.

Whatever your favorite delivery system, water is an important way to feel better in the heat. What if you don't like the "taste" of water Using a fruit infuser is a way to improve the taste of water, if you need that help. 

fruit infusing pitcher



Beating the Heat, Saving Money, and Going Easy on the Environment


These hints are ways I beat the heat in order to save money and to increase my comfort in an apartment that I have little other control of otherwise. However, when I move into my own home, I will continue to use these means of remaining cooler while keeping the air conditioning running as little as possible - in order to decrease my impact on the earth where I am able.  

No matter your reasons for looking at an article written to beat the heat without turning the air conditioner on full blast, I hope you have found something helpful here.




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Sunday, July 10, 2016

3 Ways to Light Up Your Yard Without Using Electricity

By now we're all pretty familiar with solar string lights for the backyard, however there are additional creative ways you can incorporate solar lighting.

Here are three creative ideas to help you light up your yard at night by using the power of the sun during the day:

Table Umbrella with Solar Lights Via Amazon

Find Additional Solar Umbrellas Here
1. A Table Umbrella with Solar Lights 

In the evening, your backyard celebration will surely include people sitting around a patio table either chatting, eating, playing games or just relaxing. 

Most of the time we light a table using candles (sometimes bug candles). You can still light up that bug candle to keep those bugs away, however, a solar patio umbrella is a better way to naturally light up the entire table. Although lights attract bugs, we've battled that very effectively by putting a huge mosquito net over our patio umbrella. We've used this net when we have a sit-down dinner outside in our backyard as well. 

The top of a solar umbrella has a rechargeable solar panel that charges all day. At night, your umbrella will light up via an on/off switch. On average you'll find most solar umbrellas have approximately 24 to 40 lights. Of course that will vary depending up the size and manufacturer.


If you haven't heard of Luci Inflatable Solar Lights, you're going to love their many multiple uses and applications.

These compact solar lights that deflate to approximately 1" in size make them ideal for not only backyard gatherings, but also to take camping, hiking, as emergency lighting, pool lights, indoor mood or night lighting, and much more.

In terms of backyard gatherings, these waterproof inflatable solar lights are a great way to provide lighting in a pool at night. Just toss a bunch of them in the water and your pool will have multi colored night time funky lighting!

The goodness doesn't end there: The lights are made by USA based MPOWERD, a socially-conscious company who aims to provide lighting to poorer countries around the world where access to electricity is non-existent or limited. One example of their mission is the difference they've made providing portable inflatable solar lights to the victims of the Nepal earthquake in 2015.


If you're looking for a funky way to light up your backyard patio table and are especially eager to add colorful interest, then you're going to love these little gems!

They're appeal are the colors they emit at night and of course, the lovely mosaic glass also looks decorative during the day.

You can set this crystal glass mosaic solar light to single color mode or set it to cycle through all colors. You can also set it to emit a clear light through the funky colored mosaic tiles to give off a lovely constant pattern as you see in the photo displayed here.

Again, like all things solar, they charge during the day in the sun, and have an on/off switch for you to use it or not use it at night.

There you have it, three ways to light up your yard at night without flipping that electricity switch.

Happy Summer Savings :)




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Sunday, July 6, 2014

Time for Luau, Tiki and Tropical Parties

Having Fun with Fruit and Veggie Displays
I live in the Midwest but that doesn't mean I can't attend a Hawaiian Luau or Polynesian Tiki party. Themed parties are great for transporting your guests to another time or place for a short time. We get to let loose and embrace our imaginations!

Mid-Summer is the perfect time for luau or tiki parties. Whether there is an actual occasion or not, is not important -- it's Summertime!

As usual, I ran over to Squidoo to see what advice lensmasters have shared about hosting a luau or tiki party -- and there is a ton of information! Here's a virtual lei for you to wear as we take a look at some of the lenses (articles) that could help anyone hosting one of these type of parties.

Aloha! Time to get Your Luau On

Lensmaster themeaparty has a wonderful lens full of luau party ideas titled Luau Summer Party Ideas. I love the little history lesson included explaining the origin of a luau.

Additionally, there are suggestions for drinks, decorations, food and more -- all necessary items for any party. Check this one out!

Luau Style Party Games

Halloweenkitchenwitch has a lens full of luau game ideas that can be incorporated at any tropical party in her lens Luau Party Games. The rules and how-to's for games like a hoolahoop or limbo contest, carnival style luau games and a "Pass the Coconut" game.

Whether your party is for kids or adults, there are some awesome games suggestions here.

Expert Advice for Tiki Parties

EditorDave is an expert on tropical parties. He and I have in common the fact that we lived on the island of Guam -- not at the same time. He shares lots of his first hand experiences from attending the Guamanian parties (referred to as "fiestas") as well as hosting lots tropical themed parties over the years.

In his lens "Tiki Party Props and Decorations!" he shares some of his favorite ideas for achieving that tropical look for a tiki party. He is spot-on if you want some authenticity added to your party. I always say, learn from those who have done! They are the best teachers.

Share Your Own Experiences

Do/have you hosted a tropical theme party? You have some great money or time saving ideas you can share with readers? Hop on over to Squidoo and join for free. Them, start writing your ideas. Don't forget to add lots of pictures from the luau(s) you have hosted. Pictures bring ideas to life!

As the Party Planning Contributor at Squidoo, I would love to help you promote and share your new lens about tropical parties or any other theme or type of party you write about. It's a blast! See you there!





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Monday, June 30, 2014

Full Circles in a Kayak

It is funny, isn’t it, how things tend to come full circle?  Rather, not quite full circle, but a spiral, gently sloped upwards, returning to almost the same spot but one step better. One step forward in the adventure of living.

I have often thought that the act of living is represented in this spiral. You are either moving forward or backward in this spiral, but you are moving.  There are still the ups and downs, but you are moving. At this point in my life, I am moving up with little bits of synchronicity happening along the way.

I experienced this in full effect yesterday.

I went on my second adventure with my new kayak.  While unloading at the launch area, a wonderfully knowledgeable gentleman gave me some very good tips about paddling and about equipment.  He recommended lessons and recommended that I check out Shank’s Mare, in Pennsylvania, along with a few local places.

“Shank’s Mare” is a phrase I haven’t heard since my childhood, growing up in Northern Indiana – when I had many Amish friends. When asked how they were getting somewhere, they often replied “Shank’s Mare”; which meant they were walking.

Imagine my surprise hearing this Indiana phrase here just a few minutes outside of the city of Baltimore. 

This gentleman was referring to Shank’s Mare Outfitters.  He highly recommended that I check it out.  You can bet that I found it on the internet as soon as I returned home, and will indeed go up there and see what it’s all about.  Turns out that it is a lovely 1890’s era general store turned meeting place for hikers, kayakers, and cross-country skiers.  It is located between York and Lancaster Pennsylvania, in Wrightsville, PA on the banks of the Susquehanna River.

As we stood talking, the gentleman gave me stern information about kayak safety; wear a floatation device, be lit at night, take care with the weather, and so on.  Very similar warnings that I had just read the night before in How to Kill Yourself in a Kayak by magicman007.

Upon our return home, after my hours spent paddling around the back side of Gun Powder falls park – the free section near Hammerman Beach area – a young lady approached us in the parking lot.

Her company is relocating her to the area, and she’s trying to find a suitable apartment near areas suitable for water sports, specifically kayaking. She wanted to know what we thought of this apartment complex and where did we go kayaking? Somewhere close? Yours truly went from someone who often explores the area solo to a personal tour guide to a young lady from Ohio.  I drove her past a few areas, including through the Hammerman Beach area.  Her excitement was palpable and she occasionally clapped her hands quietly, when turning corners and seeing the water views.  She took off her flip-flops and stood in the wet sand while we talked about the area in general.

If she teared up, like this Midwest girl did when deciding to live here, I didn’t see it. I was too much in awe of the coincidence of the Ohio girl driving past the Indiana-turned-mid-Atlantic girl at the exact moment we were unloading the kayak.  And how lucky I was to show one of these mid-Atlantic gems to someone in person.

I hope she enjoys the mid-Atlantic region as much as I do. 







Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)



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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Patriotic Party Time

Happy Independence Day! 
As Independence Day approaches, I am both excited and a bit sad. It's always been sort of the halfway point for summer and I am NOT ready for Summertime to end. So, I am choosing to focus on the holiday and summer parties instead. Come along for some great ideas and suggestions from our Squidoo lensmasters.

Patriotic Parties Rock!

A patriotic theme is perfect for Memorial Day, Labor Day, and of course, Independence Day. However, it's also perfect for almost any summer celebration. You could use a patriotic theme for events like:
  • Family Reunions
  • Graduations
  • Retirement Parties
  • Picnics
  • School Reunions and so much more.
It really is a perfect theme all summer long. Let's look at some ideas for patriotic parties from lensmasters. 

What Say You, Squidoo? 

Starting with lensmaster angelastvs, we get a great overview and party suggestions. From decorations to games to food, she has included lots of ideas in her lens titled: Patriotic Party Planning

Partybuzz has some great ideas for a budget-friendly party. In her lens, How to Plan a July 4th Party on a Budget, she shares some of the ideas she uses with her own family parties. From centerpieces and decorations on through activity ideas -- all are easy on the wallet. 

Finally, Michelle_L shares ideas from her own 4th of July party. Grilling out, crafts and more food and decorations are suggested in this fun lens titled: 4th of July Party Ideas -- Recipes, Crafts and Decorations.

What About You? 

Do you have some summer fun family traditions incorporating a patriotic theme? For example, I shared my family's patriotic buffet at the beginning of summer. We'd love to hear about them! Join Squidoo and write your own suggestions and recommendations for free! As the Party Planning Contributor on Squidoo, I'll help you anyway I can as well as promote your party lens(es). 

It's all about sharing and helping. Happy Independence Day, America! 



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Monday, June 23, 2014

Summer Heat Safety

Saturday, June 21, 2014 was the first day of summer here in the U.S. Here in the Baltimore area, we have already had a couple of days of high heat and humidity with the accompanying heat and air quality warnings. This small heat wave has reminded me to be prepared for the summer weather, especially during my outdoor mid-Atlantic adventures. 

Harpers Ferry looking down on the Shenandoah
Approximately two summers ago, I wanted my son to see Harpers Ferry, WV. It was an extremely hot day, perhaps the hottest that year, but we still went.  He had been assigned to this area for a few years and I wanted him to see some of my favorite places before he moved away. 

Harpers Ferry is a historic town tucked in where the Potomac and Shenandoah Rivers meet.  As we walked from the bottom area, near the train station parking lot, up the steep, old stone stairs, I began to feel weak.  My son and the Mister were still just marching along in their way. It is typical that I bring up the rear but this time was different.  I started to need extra rest breaks.  I started to feel light-headed and woozy.

My son took over.  He kept instructing me on things such as take a sip of water, sit down, take another sip of water, head down, drink more water, and all the while he was dribbling water on my head. At least I think that he was.  Maybe it was the Mister. Or maybe they were telling me to do it.  It’s all a little foggy.

Wow. I felt horrible. I felt cold and hot at the same time, my vision was funny, I felt nauseous, and I felt as though I would faint. At some point I felt hot and did not feel like I was sweating as much.  I was not familiar with these signs. My son was.  Thank goodness. I am familiar with the signs now and I take the heat seriously.

Please learn the signs of heat sickness, it may save your life. The CDC gives us great information about symptoms and treatment. 

With their close attention, time sitting in the shade, water on me and in me, I began to feel better enough to walk back to the bottom. We got into the Jeep and ran the air conditioner.  I quickly felt much improved.

Even if you are experienced with outdoor adventures, are aware of the signs of heat exhaustion, and typically are prepared you can still become overcome by the heat.  Off Grid Survival gives us a clear example of a seasoned hiker who could have had a tragic outcome when hiking on a hot day. Thank goodness he was found and successfully treated. 

I have considering purchasing a hydration pack (basically a water bottle that you carry on your back like a backpack) but I’m pretty fussy about my water tasting like rubber or plastic.  Squidoo writer nextyear reviews a camelbak pack that does not taste rubbery.

Ramkitten teaches us how to hike in the oven-hot heat of the GrandCanyon.  I am fairly certain if I follow her tips for Arizona in the summer, I should be fine in the Mid-Atlantic heat.

Finally, for those of us who take our furry family members with us on the trails or other outdoor activities in the summer heat, Ruthi reminds us how to keep our dogs safe in the summer heat. 


Summer is here.  Let’s be safe and have fun.


Image Credit: Image is mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved 





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Monday, June 2, 2014

Assateague National Seashore Visitor Center

Last week I wrote a review about the fantastic book I bought at the Assateague National Seashore Visitor Center.  Wild Horse Scientists  by Kay Frydenborg turned out to be a great purchase and I have paged through it several times since I wrote the review.  I also find myself continuing to think about the Visitor Center.

During my travels I have stopped at many visitor centers.  I have grown to think of them as places to quickly pop into, look for helpful pamphlets, ask a quick question if I have one, and skedaddle as soon as I use the restroom.  Over the years, I have begun doing my information gathering on the internet prior to the trip and tend to skip the visitor center altogether.

Following my stop at the Assateague National Seashore -Barrier Islands Visitor Center, I have begun to rethink my blasé attitude about visitors centers.  Some of them have so much more to offer than I thought.

In the United States, summer and summer vacations are upon us. Safe and happy travels to you, one and all. And don't forget to check out the visitor centers. 




Image Credit: Images are mine ©Dawn Rae – All Rights Reserved (Click on photo for larger view)



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Sunday, May 25, 2014

Kick off the Summer with a Party!

Historic Falls Park, Pendleton, IN
I do love the summer! Here in the Midwest, we might not have a gorgeous ocean and beach but we do have our own great summer sights. The flowers, the creek falls, the kelly green grass, the blue sky, the vitamin D filled sunshine and 3 fun holidays to boot wrap up our summer season!

Memorial Day starts everything in late May, Independence Day is midway and the end of summer is signified by Labor Day every year.

Memorial Day/Weekend Party or Get-Together

Since we are smack in the middle of Memorial Weekend today, I thought I would take you through our celebration last year (this year's is tomorrow.)  Each year, my family gets together for and on Memorial Day. It's our "Kick Off to Summer Party" and one of my favorites.

I know I have mentioned it before but here I go again... I am a military brat -- specifically the U.S. Navy. My dad was career Navy. My parents actually met when both were stationed at the Naval Air Station in Pensacola, Florida. Both my grandfathers were U.S. Navy veterans as is my only brother.

Suffice is to say, we are a patriotic bunch! So, because the Memorial, Independence and Labor Day holidays are patriotic in nature, that's the theme we use for all three. It's a lot of fun and we leave some of the decor up all summer -- red, white and blue is very appropriate for a summer season boasting 3 patriotic holidays.

Stars & Stripes -- Red, White & Blue

The color combination is timeless. The primary color scheme is used by Countries for their flag, sports teams and schools for their colors, in home decorating (especially in the cottage, vintage and nautical decor themes) and so much more.

Last year, I decided to use a "vintage feel" with the patriotic theme and loved the way it turned out. I wrote about it here: My Patriotic Buffet Table for our Summer party. Burlap, baskets, bandanas and mini flags come together to create a festive, fun and whimsical buffet table for our party. What do you think?
My Patriotic Summer Buffet Party


Summer Parties

The summer is filled with parties, occasions and get togethers in addition to the holidays mentioned above. Do you have a traditional get-together each summer or a special occasion you'll celebrate this year? Could be anything, like:

  • Graduation Party
  • Neighborhood Block Party
  • Birthday
  • Wedding
  • Baby or Bridal Shower
  • Class Reunion
  • Family Reunion
  • Annual Luau Party 
  • Summer Picnics

Think about sharing your ideas and experiences with others that want to hold a successful event. Do you have a favorite pot luck dish you always make or take? Are you throwing a shindig to celebrate your daughter's graduation or your son's wedding rehearsal dinner? Are you the "Picnic King/Queen"?

Being the Party Planning Contributor on Squidoo, I can point you to a great outlet for sharing your experiences with others here on the world wide web. Best of all -- Squidoo is FREE!!! You might even earn a little you can put towards your next big party!

Let me know (in the comments) if you write an article about a party so I can help you promote it! Most of all, have a wonderful summertime!



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