It’s summer, and for me, that means staying as hydrated as possible during these long sunny days spent outside. I don’t always do the recommended eight glasses of water a day though; sometimes I drink less, depending on where I am and what I’m doing. Did you know that oft-repeated and generally accepted slice of wisdom is actually nothing more than a myth with no medical basis?
Proper hydration relies on several factors, including your age and physical condition, level of activity, intensity of the weather, and what else you’ve been eating or drinking that day. It just makes sense that if you’re hiking at high altitude on a hot summer day, you’ll need to drink more water than when you’re just sitting in front of your computer in an air-conditioned office all afternoon.
CamelBak gets it, and the company teamed up with the University of Connecticut’s Korey Stringer Institute to create a hydration calculator that helps you determine your ideal level of hydration. (My average results recommended 1.5 liters of water per day, which is actually less than eight glasses.)
You know what else CamelBak gets? That most of us with these types of water pitchers — the ones that filter water from the tap — don’t like waiting around for them to fill up when we’re thirsty.
So from this company, a true innovator in the industry and the maker of my favorite hydration pack when I’m out adventuring, comes a household item that anyone will find useful.
Remember the Three Sisters Garden? It’s been going strong since spring, and this week, the first of those plants are starting to peter out… The corn’s been picked, the beans are seeding, and the squash are firming up their winter coats for storage.
With our warm weather this season, my winter squash have all matured earlier than usual. First week of July and they’re already done, leaving the kitchen all Thanksgiving-looking with thick-skinned orange, yellow, and green gourds piled on the counter.
In the garden, I repeat a lot of my favorite crops every summer (the tried-and-true varieties like Dragon Tongue bush beans and Mexican Sour Gherkin cucumbers), but I always grow a few new types of winter squash. I haven’t repeated a winter squash yet in four years. They’re easy to grow, hardy in our climate, and interesting to look at (and by interesting, I mostly mean bizarre if you look at my history of winter squash selections).
This year, the title of “Most Bizarre” goes to these gorgeous Turk’s Turban squash.
I have a beautiful old feijoa tree in my yard, and every spring it attracts flocks of starlings that dance through its leaves. The starlings are hungry for the hundreds of candy red flowers that appear before the fruits set in late summer.
I liken these flowers to nature’s litter — swaying in the breeze, dropping from the tree, and covering the ground with soft, fragrant petals that brighten up the brown bark mulch.
The five little things that made my week…
1. Summer solstice drive along the Eastern Sierra Nevada. Despite the drought, the wildflowers were in full bloom!
I remember the first time I ever saw one of my chickens take a dust bath. I had no idea what a dust bath entailed, but there she was, sprawled on the ground, throwing her body upside-down and sideways, furiously flapping her wings and shaking up the dirt.
At first it was alarming, and I thought she’d been stung by a bee or infested with fleas. But as she settled into a cloud of dust, I realized she was happy as a clam at high tide. Or a kid in a candy store. Or… a chicken in a dust bath. (That’s got to be a saying somewhere!)
I’ve often thought green garlic was a culinary secret that only gardeners appreciated. Green garlic (also called spring garlic or baby garlic) is simply a young, immature bulb that hasn’t yet divided. It looks like an overgrown scallion or a small leek, and in fact it tastes like a cross of the two, with a heady essence of garlic. Two of my favorite things, together in one plant!
I finally broke down (or rather, my 10-year-old bender finally broke down) and bought a Ninja Ultima blender — seriously, best investment for the kitchen this summer. This thing doesn’t just blend, it pulverizes! Anything and everything I put in it!
Needless to say, I’ve been on a juice and smoothie kick the last few weeks. I’m not one of those green juice gals though. I love the fruits we’ve been picking from our garden (right now, our citrus and bananas are out of control) and the farmers’ market berries I’ve been buying every other week. I’m even making my own version of the Nutty Dang, my favorite smoothie from my favorite coffeeshop in Rincón, Puerto Rico. (In fact, that was the first drink I attempted in the Ninja… but with a heaping scoop of Greek fro-yo instead of milk.)
Most days though, I’m blending up baskets of berries to pair with the bottomless lemonade coming out of the backyard. Strawberry lemonade is my favorite, though you can also make this with blackberries, raspberries, blueberries, mulberries, or even a mix of all. It’s the kind of drink you want to sip on a hot summer day and share with friends outside.