So Long, Summer

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Seasonal Storage Solutions

Need a way to store summer fun for the season? Try one of these seasonal storage solutions:

Divided Utility Shelves – Organize everything from camping gear to sporting equipment on divided shelves.

Sports Organizer – Look for a purpose-built storage system for sporting equipment, like this Rubbermaid Sports Station.

Storage Totes – Pack seasonal toys and sporting equipment in clear storage totes so you can easily find what you need next summer! Totes may be stacked or stored on a utility shelf.

Deck Box – Keep gardening gear and hoses organized in an outdoor deck box during the off-season.

Vertical Wall Hooks – Store awkward items, such as bikes, skis and sporting rackets using vertical wall or ceiling hooks, like these from SafeRacks.

Pegboard and Hooks – Create a do-it-yourself storage system using a pegboard and hooks. The moveable hooks allow you to repurpose it to whatever you need to store.

Underbed Storage – Use underbed storage bins to swap your summer and winter wardrobes, freeing up extra space in your closet.

Wall-Mounted Racks – Take advantage of vertical storage space by hanging seasonal gear on wall-mounted racks.

Ball Claws – Keep balls under control by storing them using wall-mounted ball claws. The ball claw system features styles for basketball, soccer, football and volleyball.

Canvas Utility Totes – Store bulky or irregularly shaped items, like sleeping bags, outdoor cushions or nets, in canvas utility totes.

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Nine Ways to Green Your Home

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Net-Zero Home Design

Trying to reduce your environmental footprint? Consider integrating these green design principles into your home.

Net Zero: The idea is to balance the energy your home uses with an equal amount of renewable energy created. Not to be confused with living off the grid, net-zero homes may use energy from the grid one day and then sell an equal amount back the next.

  • Solar Power – Find out if solar power makes sense for your home with this solar cost/savings calculator.
  • Solar Hot Water – Upgrade your hot water tank to a solar system for considerably less than solar power.
  • Real-Time Monitoring – Install a smart energy monitoring system that lets you optimize your energy savings.

Energy Efficiency: Net zero works by minimizing the energy requirements of the home. This is done by eliminating costly energy leaks and switching to high-efficiency systems.

  • High-Efficiency Heating – Upgrade your heating or cooling system to a high-efficiency system.
  • Energy-Efficient Windows – Install energy-efficient windows to minimize heat losses or gains.
  • Insulation Upgrade insulation to support your heating and cooling system.

Water Conservation: Strictly speaking, conserving water does not contribute to your net-zero profile, but it does follow the same principle of minimizing environmental impact by reducing consumption.

  • Low-Flow Water – Install low-flow showerheads and faucets, and switch to dual-flush toilets.
  • Rainwater Collection – Conserve water by harvesting rainwater for use in the garden.
  • Xeriscaping – Minimize your water requirements by planting drought-tolerant plants.
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Weekend Warriors

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Five Home Projects for When You’re Short on Time

Want to spruce up your digs but don’t have a lot of extra time on your hands? We’ve got five projects you can complete over the weekend.

Fire it up – While it may not seem like it now, cooler weather will be here soon. And when it does, you’ll be the envy of all the neighbors when you’re warming up beside your very own fire pit. Just be sure to check your local laws regarding open burning before you start cooking up those tasty s’mores.

Curb appeal – Nothing says “welcome” like a spruced-up front yard and entryway. Easy upgrades include adding walkway lighting, painting your front door, installing a porch swing and planting a container garden.

Do-it-yourself storage – If you spend a lot of time in the yard, you know how many tools you need to keep it looking tidy. But where to keep all those rakes, shovels, boots and gloves? How about in your very own garden shed? And it only (supposedly) takes eight hours to build!

Add a little artistic flair – Tired of staring at that blank wall? This weekend, gather up all of your favorite photos and art that have been hiding in the closet and create the perfect gallery wall in your living room, bedroom or hallway.

Budget makeover – Want a new kitchen but money is tight? Paint the cabinets. If you do all the prep work correctly, it shouldn’t take more than a weekend, and when you’re done—voila! A “new” kitchen!

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Got Stains?

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How to Get Out the Most Common Spills and Scuffs

Don’t let spills and scuffs stress you out! Here are some tips for getting out the most common stains.

Scuff Marks Removing the black streaks left by rubber-bottomed shoes takes a bit of elbow grease. Try rubbing the spot with a white eraser or a tennis ball. If that doesn’t work, try a commercial product like Goo Gone or a baking soda paste.

Pet Stains and Odors — Cleaning up the messes left behind by our furry friends requires using a bio-enzymatic cleaner that breaks down the organic materials. Next, use a pet odor neutralizer to eliminate the odor and break the habit!

Grease and Oil — Getting any oil-based stain out can be a challenge. Many household products, from crayons to lipstick, are considered oil-based stains. Look for a solvent cleaner that breaks down the grease for easy removal.

Red Wine and Dyes — Treating the spot quickly is the key to removing stains from wine, juices, medications and other foods with dyes. Gently blot the stain, being careful not to rub, and clean with water or a mixture of mild detergent and vinegar.

Ink and Marker — Cleaning ink and permanent marker off of walls, floors and even carpets and upholstery is every parent’s worst nightmare. Gently blot with rubbing alcohol for hard surfaces and white vinegar for carpets and upholstery.

Coffee and Tea — Counteracting the tannins is the key to removing the brown, yellow or tan discoloration from coffee or tea. Try one of these tricks to get that unsightly stain off carpet, upholstery or even clothes!

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The Great Grilling Guide

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10 Creative Tips to Spice up Your Summer Grilling

Tired of the same old chipotle steak spice slathered on your favorite cut or the endlessly overdone herb chicken? Try one of these savory seasonings to spice up your summer.

Yogurt and Herbs — Instead of marinating your meat in oil and vinegar, try yogurt combined with fresh herbs. The acid in the yogurt tenderizes while the herbs add flavor.

Coconut Curry — Infuse chicken with flavor by marinating in coconut, curry and fresh lime. Best served with coconut rice, this recipe can be as hot or as mild as you like!

Jerk Seasoning — Give your meat a serious kick with Scotch bonnet peppers and other jerk spices including allspice, cinnamon and nutmeg.

Blackened Cajun — Use high heat and short cooking time when grilling blackened chicken to avoid dry, overdone chicken.

Chili Lime — Combine the classic flavors of chili and lime for an easy, make-ahead marinade for chicken or beef kabobs.

Balsamic Vinegar — Try this simple recipe for grilling vegetables that combines balsamic vinegar, olive oil, soy sauce and salt.

Coffee Dry Rub — Give your barbecue a little pick-me-up with finely ground espresso and other seasonings, like this version by Bobby Flay.

Lemon Pesto Marinade — Shortcut prep time by using a ready-made pesto sauce added to olive oil, lemon, garlic and pepper, or make your own.

Beer and Brown Sugar — Take your favorite brew and add a little brown sugar and seasonings for a new twist on a classic combination.

Kansas City-Style BBQ — Try your hand at authentic Kansas City-style barbecue (known for their spicy and sweet sauces) with this recipe for ribs.

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Build a Backyard Retreat

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Ideas for Building the Ultimate Backyard Oasis

Whether entertaining friends and family or unwinding after a long day, the ultimate backyard retreat should be an extension of your home. Whatever your lifestyle, here are a few ideas for building the ultimate backyard retreat.

For Entertaining Design a flexible space to accommodate a range of gatherings with:
· Different spaces for dining, relaxing, visiting and cooking.
· Shelter from the elements with an arbor, retractable awning or patio umbrellas.
· Don’t forget about outdoor storage!

For Relaxing — Create an outdoor oasis that you love spending time in with:
· A water feature as the center of your Zen garden.
· Benches and walking paths that draw you into the space.
· Flowers and foliage that attract birds and butterflies.

For Playing — Build a space that is fun for the whole family that includes:
· Outdoor recreation such as a swimming pool, sports area or zip line.
· A kids-only area with a tree house or a backyard clubhouse.
· A backyard spa featuring a hot tub or outdoor sauna.

For Cooking — Treat your backyard as an extension of the kitchen by adding:
· A food prep area, closed storage, grill with side burner, refrigerator and sink.
· Outdoor wood-burning oven and/or smoker.
· A kitchen garden to grow all your favorite herbs within easy reach.

For Nighttime — Make your backyard oasis comfortable after dark by including:
· Outdoor lighting for the conversation and task areas and landscape lights along pathways.
· Patio heater or fireplace to extend the outdoor season.
· Fire pit for a gathering place for marshmallow roasts and ghost stories.

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Design a Kitchen Garden

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5 Design Principles of a Traditional Kitchen Garden

French for “kitchen garden,” a jardin potager is an ornamental vegetable garden that combines edible herbs and vegetables with flowers and other aesthetic elements to create a garden that is both functional and beautiful.

Here’s how to design a traditional kitchen garden.

Build Raised Beds — Design your kitchen garden as a series of raised beds or garden containers with gravel or mulch paths in between to allow easy access. Build your raised beds to allow for a minimum of six inches of soil depth, up to three feet or higher.

Design Plant Groupings — Decide which vegetables you want to grow and plant in companion groupings with one group in each raised bed. This will allow for easy crop rotation, which helps keep the soil fertile and protects against diseases and pests.

Add Color and Form — Plant edible herbs and flowers in between your vegetable clusters, making sure to arrange by height. Include natural pest controllers such as marigolds, nasturtiums, lavender, clover and chrysanthemums.

Include Vertical Elements — Use tepees and trellises to support plants and add an aesthetic element to your garden space. Vegetables that benefit from vertical gardening include tomatoes, peas and beans, cucumbers, squashes and melons.

Create Enjoyment Areas — Don’t forget to build in a place to sit and enjoy your beautiful kitchen garden. Build an arbor to create a shaded area for afternoon tea or tuck a park bench into a quiet corner.

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