Wednesday, August 10, 2011

Summer Reprieve

Summer is too hot. I’m going to roll back the calendar for a minute to early April, when our Redbud trees were just starting to bloom.

Now imagine Oregon in April: sometimes sunny, sometimes drizzle, all the flowers start blooming overnight. Everything is fresh and new. 

The temperature tries to get over 60, but it just can’t.
You wish you could ditch the wool socks you wear with your Birkenstocks, but it’s just not warm enough.
(I did say this is Oregon, didn’t I?)


Ok, back to summer again.
Now 75 degrees doesn’t feel so incredibly hot, does it?
(Again, didn’t I say this is Oregon? I do wish you would pay attention.)

Friday, August 5, 2011

Our summer garden

I love our backyard. It’s small and plain, but there are some elements here that make me so happy that I love to just sit outside and enjoy the space. When it’s nice out, the back deck is my happy place. Here’s what’s growing and blooming right now:

Cherry TomatoesDSCN9520

Thai peppers  DSCN9515

Lemon balm (it’s growing wild in patches here and there all around the property),
an artichoke, and a tomato plant that is as tall as I am.


Frank is checking out the progress of his red peppers. He says this is the kind used in making chimichurri, a kind of hot sauce/relish. That’s his plan for these peppers. I’m too much of a Scandinavian wimp, though, (Scandinavian hot sauce is butter with a pinch of black pepper) and don’t think I have the guts to try it.


Yes, Frank has long hair. He was growing it to see how long it could grow until chemo made it fall out. The plan sort of backfired though, when he didn’t lose a single hair from the chemo. Now it’s almost like a trophy, and so he continues to let it grow. I don’t care. Could be worse, like him wanting a sports car or a mistress.

Back to the yard…

My all time July favorite is this big vine-y shrub on the left: Jasmine.

Oh, I wish computers had smell-o-vision so you could breathe in the heady perfume of these little white flowers. The fragrance wafts into my open kitchen window and fills up the back of the house.DSCN9519


A little stroll down the alley behind my next door neighbor’s house brings another treat:
Gladiolus and blackberries and more wild lemon balm.
(This neighbor is the crafty lady with the colored pencil fence.)


I asked her what variety she planted and she said, “I don’t know, black ones?”

DSCN9495  DSCN9494

Did you know there are over 1100 varieties of blackberries. We have lots of commercial caneberry (blackberry and raspberry) farms here in the Willamette Valley. Marionberries were developed here in Marion County and are full bodied and sweet, like a cross between raspberries and blackberries. My favorite blackberries for eating out of hand are the hardest to find in the markets: Black Cap. They’re so mellow and sweet and will turn your mouth dark purple in an instant. They’re hard to find for raw consumption because they’re processed into food grade dye and sold to the meat packing industry to be used for marking sides of beef with grades such as “USDA Prime” and the like.

But I digress. With all those tomato plants I can’t wait until late August when we can start picking and eating and drying and canning all the tomatoes. Mmm.

Monday, August 1, 2011

Laundry tip: How to clean grease spots off a shirt

I’m a messy eater. Most of my favorite shirts get dribbled with salad dressing, splattered with grease when frying eggs, or globbed down the front with whatever is served for dinner. I’m also cheap thrifty and buy shirts at the thrift store. Would you believe people get rid of perfectly good clothes just because they weren’t able to wash out a grease spot?

With all those grease spots on the fronts of all these shirts, I figured out a secret weapon that cleans them up like a pro, without costing me a fortune or killing the shirt with bleach:

Dish soap

You know the old slogan, “Dawn gets grease {whoosh} out of your way.” They’re not kidding. If dish soap is so good at degreasing pots and pans, I figured it would work on clothes. Besides, I’ve never seen grease spots on my dishcloths.

I love this secret weapon for grease spots because it’s inexpensive and I always have it on hand. Actually, I now have two bottles; one in the kitchen and the other in the laundry room.

Here are some pictures of two of my shirts dribbled with grease from a carnitas burrito (yummm, pork carnitas) and some chocolate oops from a sundae. No, I am not sticking to my diet, thank you very much for pointing that out.

The burrito grease and tomato sauce tank top:


And the chocolate sundae oops on the t-shirt:


Both shirts are 100% cotton, which seems to be the hardest to degrease in a regular laundry washing.

All the spots are generously dribbled with dish soap, then I roll up each shirt and let it sit overnight. I did notice that blue dish soap will leave a light blue stain on pure white shirts if left to sit more than 36 hours, but it will eventually wash out.

DSCN9456  DSCN9457DSCN9461  DSCN9462

Here’s the burrito tank top:


And the chocolate sundae t-shirt. Perfect.


If you have clothes in the back of your closet that have grease spots that you haven’t been able to wash out, give this a try. It has worked for me on shirts that have had old grease spots go through the dryer. It’s worth a try and you already have the secret weapon on hand in your kitchen.

If you buy clothes at thrift stores and garage sales, don’t be afraid of buying grease spotted shirts. This is such an easy fix to that little problem.