The long holiday weekend got me a little off-track. I realized this morning that it’s July 6, and I haven’t given you any ideas for experiences to consume this month. Here they are — better late than never.

Celebrate ice cream. July is National Ice Cream Month (thank you, President Reagan). Celebrate summer’s ultimate cool-down treat. Try making your own ice cream with the kids, hosting a sundae-making party for your friends, or attend an ice cream festival. There’s one in Tom’s River New Jersey on July 17 or one in Chicago from July 29-31. Use a search engine to search for the name of your state and the words "ice cream festival" to see if there is a festival near you.

Cook with the sun. This is a great idea if you have kids who are home for the summer and need to put their brains to use. Build a solar oven out of a pizza box. Make sun tea. Make sun-dried tomatoes in your car. Challenge a group of older kids to see if they can find a way to actually fry an egg on the sidewalk or street on a really hot day. The kids will barely realize they’re doing something educational.

Donate some food and time to an animal shelter. I read yesterday that many shelters saw an increase in the number of dogs and cats over the Fourth of July weekend. Dogs and cats get freaked out by fireworks, behave abnormally and run away, trying to get away from the noise, and not all pets get reunited with their owners. Shelters are always in need of donations, but maybe even more so this week. In addition to food, shelters welcome old sheets, towels, and blankets in any condition for bedding. Before you drop off your donation, call and see if you can spend an hour (or longer) helping at the shelter when you bring your donation.

Make something out of free fruit. Head over to Neighborhood Fruit and find out where there is a fruit tree on public land or in someone’s backyard that you can freely pick from. Grab a basket and pick to your heart’s delight. Then come home, find a new recipe that you’ve never made before, and start creating.

Cook a local meal once a week. There is an abundance of local fresh fruits and vegetables available just about everywhere this time of year. Once a week, plan an entire meal around what you can get locally. Challenge yourself to see if you can get everything on your plate from a close source. I can almost guarantee you it will be one of the most delicious meals you eat all week.

For more on experience consumption, check out my original post Why I’m optimistic about 2010: Experience consumption as well as the ideas for January, February and March, April, May and June.

Robin Shreeves ( @rshreeves ) focuses on food from a family perspective from her home base in New Jersey.