Keeping it cool

So if you’ve ever been to Oklahoma from mid-July through August, you know that this is where Hell sends the souls who need extra punishment. It is so hot that I think I might die from it!

I did some garden cleanup on Saturday. I thinned out cucumber vines to remove all the dead-from-heat leaves and vine segments, and I thinned out the tomatoes to remove the branches that were infected with spider mites. Hopefully both will be happier for it.

While I was out there, I made note that I needed to get some additional compost/mulch/soil to fill in where the garden has settled. We use a raised bed design, and since we just reconfigured it this spring, I knew there would be some settling from all the fluffing we did in moving the soil.

So I headed to my favorite garden store to pick up some manure and mulch for top dressing until I can dig it all in this fall.

Mr. QP's "City Truck" has never been this close to the country before!

While there I was considering the crystals that anyone of a certain age will remember seeing at the State Fair. People would put them in a vase, fill with water and maybe some food coloring, and plant something like a philodendron or spider plant to drink up the water. A person can still find them in the floral department of certain craft stores, but they are VERY expensive for large scale use.

I asked about the crystals and got a three-pound jug for about $33 dollars. I’ve since found them on Amazon for a little cheaper, but I wasn’t going to drive all the way back down there to return it and save a few bucks. That wouldn’t be very nice for my local merchant!

Speaking of my local merchant, he gave me the idea I bring to you today. He mentioned that people (he specifically said military) put the crystals in the towels they wear around their necks because the crystals hold so much water. Because Mr. QP works outside all the time, my wheels were immediately turning about how this might be a fun way to help him stay cool.

First I did some testing to see how much water they would hold. It turns out that 1 Tbsp of the crystals will easily hold 1 cup of water. What’s even more interesting is that it makes about a cup and a half of hydrated crystals – who can tell me how that math worked out?

I also froze some because I wanted to see if we could freeze the neck cloth I was thinking of making. It does freeze and thaw well, but there was a problem in that it’s solid like ice, and not flexible like gel.


After measuring Mr. QP’s  neck and deciding on the circumference of the circle, I got to cutting. Mr. QP’s neck is approximately 16”, but I work on the principle that you can always cut it smaller if needed. I cut a 4 ½” strip from my manliest fabric and then cut it in half so I had two pieces. I’m making two so he can rotate them from the fridge.

Next I folded the fabric in half lengthwise and used a half-pint jar to mark a kind of curved edge on the ends. I sewed from each end toward the middle, leaving some space to turn the tube.

Mr. QP (hereafter known as John because that is a pain to type!) suggested that I sew in some ribbon or ties to keep it around his neck. That’s all well and good, but I have a very small selection of ribbon, and none of it is manly or would look good with the chosen fabric. We decided he and I could both handle a button. And this is when I learned that the automatic button-hole maker on my sewing machine isn’t working – crap!

So I made my own stupid buttonhole and sewed on a button. The volume of the tube looked like it could handle two cups of hydrated crystals. It can’t, which is another chance for you to learn from what I say, not what I do. I put in 2 Tbsp of the dried crystals and then went to the machine to topstitch around the edges. I did this first because I had to sew up the turning hole, and second because I like to make things hard on myself. You could just sew the hole closed and skip the topstitching.

I got all the crystals to one end and then started sewing about 1/8 inch from the edge at the other end. In hindsight, I should have started closer to the middle to allow more wiggle room when shifting the crystals to the other end. Also, I wouldn’t have a big ol’ stop-and-start right there by the button where it's so obvious.

So as I got about halfway I stopped the machine, raised the presser foot for maneuverability, and wiggled the crystals down to the starting end. My big issue was just making sure that I wasn’t going to stab any crystals with my needle.

After sewing it all around, the magic begins!

Starting to absorb the water!

I put the tube in a bowl and added two cups of water. I gave it about 5 minutes to soak up all the water it wanted. It only absorbed about a cup. But the tube was firm and not dripping, two of the goals of this kind of neckwear. I put the tube in the fridge, and then had John test it out.

I just realized it looks like a poo in a bowl. Oopsie!

He confirmed that it was definitely cold, and he intends to use it tomorrow. Yay! I’ve done something useful today!

My devastatingly handsome husband modeling his brand new neck cooler!