Laundry timesaver, plus avoid missing socks and underwear

sad-twin-missing-sock

Does your household suffer from that common plight of missing socks? If you’re like me, you have a drawer full of pitiful, mateless,  mismatched halvsies.

If hunting down strays before you do the wash and sorting out all the socks and underwear drives you bonkers, read on. I read a great tip on a parenting-related blog in relation to kids. Granted, our kids have four hairy feet or fins, but some advice transcends parental status. This is something that would benefit any household of people who wear socks and/or underwear.

Chances are you fit into one or both of those categories! #nojudgement

Here it is: Keep a couple extra mesh laundry bags handy in or near your hamper. I’d avoid the great big laundry bags made to carry several loads and stick with some smaller ones designed more for delicates, like this set of 3 Ikea mesh laundry bags. Put your dirty socks and underwear this bag. If you really want to go all out in your laundry organization, have one bag for each garment type.

Come laundry day, just zip or tie up the bags and toss them in the washing machine. In case you’re wondering, yes, you can dry them right in the same bag, too. Ta da! No more missing socks, and what a time-saver come time to sort.

If you’d like to avoid the whole sorting thing, you could do like some people and just have black socks and white socks, plus a few dress socks. If that’s your sock drawer scenario, all you have to do with the clean, dry socks is dump ’em in the drawer and fuggedaboudit.

What are some of your favorite laundry tips?

Low-fat, low-cal crunchy cucumber salsa recipe

chopped-cucumbersWe are fortunate to have an abundance of local farmers markets in our area. Plus, our tomatoes and peppers are finally coming in and we’re enjoying homegrown produce at home. We didn’t grow any cucumbers this year, though, so I need to hit the farmers market for some! I ran across this on Facebook and tried to pin it on Pinterest, but it limits descriptions to 500 characters. Also, the poster on Facebook linked to some spammy weight loss products site, so I don’t want to point anything in that direction. My guess is she copied it from somewhere else, too.

So, I’m putting it here for myself and for you readers. This sounds delicious!

Crunchy Cucumber Salsa

Only 16 calories per 1/4 cup.

First Combine:

2 cups finely chopped, seeded peeled cucumber
1/2 cup finely chopped, seeded tomato
1/4 cup chopped red onion
2 Tbsp minced fresh parsley
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
4-1/2 tsp minced fresh cilantro
1 garlic clove, minced or pressed

 

Then combine:

1/4 c reduced-fat sour cream
1-1/2 tsp lemon juice
1-1/2 tsp lime juice
1/4 tsp ground cumin
1/4 tsp seasoned salt

In a bowl, combine the first 7 ingredients. In another bowl, combine remaining ingredients. Pour over cucumber mixture, toss gently to coat. Serve immediately with chips.

Easy peasy! Don’t be intimidated by cooking. It’s really not difficult to make healthy, delicious salsas. If you’re unsure of how to chop or mince ingredients, check out YouTube and search for how to chop vegetables. For instance, this series featuring Norman Weinstein is great!

Make sure your knives are sharp – that’s the biggie. A sharper knife is a safer knife, plus it will do its job better.

If you have a food processor, here’s some help on how to chop veggies in a food processor:

If you have some tips or techniques to share, post them in the comments below!

Makin’ bacon, the first BLT sandwiches of the season

There is nothing like the first BLT of the season made with homegrown tomatoes. Among the veggies in our garden this year, the Early Girl, Mr. Stripey, Cherokee Purple, Beefmaster and Roma tomatoes are the most welcome. Our spring and summer have been unseasonably cool, and tomatoes like hot days and warm nights. They do their magic during those warm nights. We’ve had an abundance of rain this season, though, so much that I’ve only watered our veggies and flowers a handful of times the whole season! This week, the tomatoes finally began to ripen.

Last night and today, BLT’s have been dinner, along with chunks of a particularly succulent and sweet seedless watermelon.The results were, well…Just take Emma’s word for it.

Picture of dog panting and drooling for BLT sandwich

Yeah, baby! It is time for fresh tomatoes plain or with Tzatziki Sauce (we get ours from GFS, Gordon Food Services), a splash of balsamic vinegar, light Italian dressing, or served up on sandwiches. Miracle Whip is our condiment of choice for the latter.

I cooked the bacon in the microwave the second time around, because it is less messy and the grease is absorbed as it cooks. Just layer a few paper towels on a plate, arrange slices of bacon side-by-side on the plate (no overlapping) and cover with another few sheets of paper towels. Cook on high for 4-6 minutes and let cool a bit. If your microwave doesn’t have a turntable, you will probably need to turn the plate part way through to make sure it cooks evenly.

There are also some great microwave bacon cooker kitchen gadgets if you want to save on paper towels and lessen the amount of bacon grease you consume. Nordic Ware makes one that’s both a bacon cooker and meat grill. There’s also The Original Makin’ Bacon Microwave Bacon Rack, which suspends the bacon during cooking, letting the grease drip down into a reservoir below. I’d like that one myself, since it lets you cook more pieces at a time, certainly more than I could using a plate and paper towels.

What’s your favorite thing to do with an abundance of fresh garden produce, especially tomatoes? We are going to have a BUNCH of Roma tomatoes coming ripe at once and I want to use them up. I don’t know if I want to bother with canning, but I might try it. It would be good to make some tomato sauces for later. Hmmmmmm. At least it’s been a cooler summer so canning wouldn’t be so doggoned hot. I thought about setting up a hotplate out under our gazebo and putting my big Ball 21-quart waterbath canner out there so it won’t heat up the house.

These are MY happy feet

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These are my happy feet. I used to go barefoot in my yard all the time, and still do sometimes. However, when I’m really working outside, I wear my work shoes, complete with my custom orthoses. This footwear can stand up to shoveling in hard clay, kicking around, crawling on my hands and knees through all manner of ground and rocks… Whatever I throw at them. Also, they protect my tootsies from nasty, pointy surprises lurking in the mulch and groundcovers.

Snow, ice, and dog hors d’oeuvres

Back in late January, our temperatures plummeted. At one point, our city was the coldest one in the US at -20F. We beat out Alaska and Minnesota! Just because it gets cold doesn’t mean the dogs get a free pass and don’t have to go outside, though. The more cold-hardy of the two goes out in her own fur coat, but our greyhound mix, Emma, wears a sweater or a doggie coat. She has a metal plate in her leg from a bad break, so she’s especially susceptible to the cold.

Here’s a shot taken of the more robust winter dog after the snowstorm, when we took a frigid walk down the street. Poor Emma only made it a few houses down the street before my husband had to turn back toward home with her. Stella and I soldiered on, because Stella was still playing in the snow and I wanted to get to a better vantage point for the gorgeous sunset.

Photo of my dog walking in the snow

Our rugged individualist.

 

Just as spiritedly as she played in the snow, she suddenly stopped and looked up at me before starting to limp. Her feet had reached their limit! I thought I was going to have to carry her back home, but right then my sweet husband came driving up in our car, figuring we might need to be rescued. It was below zero out and terribly windy. We gladly got in the car even for that half block drive home!

This is the sunset I wanted to photograph. Aren’t those clouds gorgeous?

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.

The magnificent sunset of January 25, 2014.

 

More snow fell this past Monday evening through Tuesday morning and, after it, a layer of ice. This has made for some interesting time outside for our two dogs who, at only about 42-45 pounds, alternate between skating atop the ice and breaking through spots. It also serves to make piles left by the dogs and other animals quite prominent in our landscape. While walking one of the dogs today, I noticed this:

 

Iced deer poop hors d'oeurves

Culinary perfection to my dog: Iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres

 Yes, the deer who frequent our yard at night left their usual calling cards. This presents iced deer poop hors d’oeuvres for Stella, who has a disgusting fondness for these morsels. We have to keep her away from this feast. Dogs!!

Ohio garden in the winter

Here are a couple of photos of our snowy, cold garden pond and yard, taken this morning at about 9:15AM. Yay, sunshine! It is bitterly cold, but we have had sunny days this week. That’s been wonderful, a break from winter’s normally grey and dismal days. These shots were both taken using the Snow setting in the Camera ZOOM fx app on my Samsung Note II.

Winter garden and pond

Winter garden and pond with ornamental grasses

 

If you have winter photos of your garden, post a link in the comments below so others can check them out!