Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Savoring Favorite Childhood Summertime Memories

I recently have been reviewing old family photos and reminiscing some favorite holidays and moment when my children were young and carefree.  Seeing their sweet faces and smiles of joy dressed in costumes, playing in the summer garden, swimming in the pool, building sandcastles on beaches and playing with bubbles in the bath tub at the end of the day at various summertime vacation locations made me think of my own childhood summers.

Of all the summer fun my sister and I, my favorite memory is of our annual birthday swim and slumber parties.  My sister and I enjoy our birthdays five days apart, at the end of August.  This meant two huge parties in two consecutive weekends.  These were epoch parties in that we swam for hours and hours, rode bikes in our huge semicircular driveway, played all kinds of pretend games in the huge garden, had water balloon fights and then all camped in our enormous back yard.  Italian immigrants on 7/8th of an acre built our brick house in the 1930’s.  They planted all the herbs, fruit and nut trees indigenous to their area of origin in Italy.  These huge trees provided ample shade in the 110-degree weather, jungle gyms for climbing and a continuous feast.  Our grandparents bought us a tent and sleeping bags in pinks and oranges, made just for girls enjoying a summer camp out in their backyard.  I have yet to uncover photos of these memorable parties and I will one day.  It gives me a sense of well being as I picture those parties in my mind at a time when I was carefree and simple.  I look forward to the new memories I will make this summer with my family and friends and will try to keep the theme of carefree and simple since that seems to bring me happiness and contentment.

Joy's Summer Memory: 
I grew up in Minnesota  - the land of (over) 10,000 lakes. Like many families, my family had a cabin on a gorgeous lake in central MN. From the time I was 10 years old, every weekend of every summer we were at the cabin swimming, reading, tubing, skiing, boating, snorkeling, (some but not much fishing). I have to say my sister and I became serious tubing champions over the years. My dad has sort of a tubing routine which we have learned where to hang on super tight or where you (meaning me) can kick your sister’s tube. However the highlight of every summer was the 4th of July. We usually had some family or friends come up for the day, grilling, and enjoying the lake goodness. The day always ended with a fire and s'mores while waiting for the fireworks. There was a huge show on a nearby lake and many shows on our lake. No Fire danger in MN!!  If you ever get the chance to do a family vacation – consider going to rent a cabin in MN and enjoy the beauty and family fun that MN lakes can offer! 
Health Tip:  Herbal Insect Repellant

If at all possible, it is best to try to avoid using DEET-based products to keep from getting insect bites during the summer.  DEET-based products occasionally give me hives, which is telling me it is bad for my body.  Instead, I make my own using essential oils and 190-proof grain alcohol, found in liquor stores.  Here is a list of oils from which to choose.  Be sure to test each out for skin allergy by a placing a small amount on your skin before you cover yourself and to see which oils work with your personal chemistry.

Basil    Lemon Balm  Catnip Myrrh Clove   Neem  Citronella       Palmarosa
Eucalyptus     Peppermint    Garlic  Pine     Geranium       Rosemary       Lavender

2 1/2 teaspoons total of any combination of these oils

1-cup 190-proof grain alcohol, found in liquor stores

Place ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously.  Transfer to small bottles, can be a small spray bottle for storage.  To use, shake vigorously, then rub a small amount on exposed skin, dab or spray on clothing.  You will not smell good to the mosquitoes but to your friends and family without using toxic poison.

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