It’s that time of year again to get the summer party started. Outdoor areas dressed out for backyard grilling and chilling take center stage this time of year. Are you ready for spending quality time in the backyard on the patio, porch, courtyard, or deck entertaining and enjoying the summer? I know I am! First things first~ here’s a few tips for getting the summer essentials prepped and ready to go.
Butcher blocks and cutting boards ~ to deter bacteria from finding a home in the cracks and on the cutting surface, wash the block or board with mild dishwashing detergent and warm water. Allow the butcher block or cutting board to completely dry. Cover the butcher block or cutting board with a thin layer of coarse salt to draw residual moisture out of the cracks. Wipe of excess coarse salt and use a clean cloth to apply mineral oil, rubbing with the grain. Let dry overnight.
Grill Degreaser ~ baking soda and a steel wool pad. Apply elbow grease and voilà!
Keeping outdoor cushions neat and clean ~ keep the comfort and color, lose the mold, mildew, and dirt with a solution of 2 teaspoons borax, 2 teaspoons dishwashing liquid, and 2 quarts warm water. Mix and pour solution in spray bottle. Liberally spray each cushion down with solution and allow to sit for 15 – 20 minutes. Hose off cushions with water hose and hang from clothes line or stand up to dry.
Flavored ice cubes ~ the heat and humidity will melt those ice cubes soon enough, but with flavored ice cubes watered down beverages retain their deliciousness. This is so simple- fill ice trays 3/4 full with the beverage of choice and freeze. Take the taste to the next level by adding fresh mint to iced tea or punch cubes, rosemary sprigs to lemonade, pearl onion or halved seasoned green bean to Clamato for bloody marys, or a blend of cream, a sprinkle of cinnamon, and strong coffee for iced coffees. Grab the blender (or food processor) and purée watermelon slices or fresh strawberries for a summer kick over watermelon or strawberry flavored ice cubes.
Weeds no more ~ Weeds between patio pavers, bricks, and deck boards are unsightly summer sights. Let the sun shine in and down on weeds that have been sprayed with a solution of 1 gallon white vinegar, ½ cup of dishwashing liquid, and 2 Tablespoons salt. Fill a spray bottle with the mixture, set to stream, and spray the mixture on the weeds. This works best on a warm and sunny day. The heat from the sun aids in the process.
Mosquitoes and the West Nile Virus they carry ~ talk about buzz kill! Keeping these pesky uninvited guests away is outdoor priority number one. Citronella candles, tiki and table top torches, and decorative lanterns come in a wide assortment of styles, sizes, and price points.
Is that a bee in your bonnet? ~ No, it’s a dryer sheet! Strategically placed in an apron pocket, under table linens, or pinned to the corners of a tablecloth, dryer sheets help to keep bees at bay.
Freshen up with a twist ~ enjoying the summer good life can get messy, sticky, sweaty, and smelly. Hand sanitizer and wet wipes work well, but I also like to make individual “freshen up with a twist” packs. Place two damp paper towels in a Ziploc bag – one with a drop of liquid soap (I love the fresh scent of Mrs. Meyer’s Clean Day Lemon Verbena Liquid Soap) on it for cleansing, and the other for rinsing. Include a slice of lemon for an extra twist of fresh. Lemon softens your skin and is a natural odor eliminator. Place the packs in a gallon Ziploc bag, seal it tight, and place it in a lunch tote or outdoor fridge to keep them nice and cool.
Getting things ready for spending time outdoors entertaining and enjoying the best of summer goes with the backyard territory. My friends, summer is making its presence known. Ready, prepped, go!