Maintain your home-sweet-home this July with our simple daily tips to make it shine, indoors and out.
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If you plan to give out handmade Christmas gifts this year, get started now! For quilters, crafters and even cooks it's not too early get a jump on the holidays. Make your recipient list, order supplies and make a plan of action.
Summer flowering plants will be on sale by now so take advantage and select heat-lovers that will bloom well into fall. Arrange your group of plants on the ground at the store before you buy them to ensure a nice mix of colors, shapes and heights.
Paper plates have come a long way; with elegant looks and sturdy designs, high end paper plates can easily be mistaken for the real thing. Perfect for picnics and children's parties, you can find recyclable or biodegradable options in many colors and patterns.
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Did you know that outdoor grills use less energy than kitchen stoves? They also keep heat out of the house, lowering AC costs. Propane and natural gas emit less carbon dioxide than charcoal and reusable plates are the ultimate way to celebrate our nation's history in eco-friendly style.
More: Spice Up Your Barbecue Routine
One or two changes can boost your home's look. Break up your outdoor update by planting shrubs or flowers one month. Then, decide whether to repaint shutters or pressure clean the outside of your home the next month.
More: Street-Side Makeovers
Clean the house. It's best to start with the bathroom first, followed by the kitchen. These jobs are the "wet work" and can be the most difficult and tedious. If these jobs are saved for last, they probably won't get your best effort.
Every few months walk along your fence and shake it for signs of instability. Repair, reinforce or replace damaged portions. Check the finish or if unpainted, clean with a wood soap product. Remove any plants creeping up the wood so they don't pull fence posts apart over time.
More: Wood Fence Maintenance Tips
With water issues worldwide, it's a good idea to let your grass go dormant during dry summer periods instead of watering regularly. Your yard will get green again in the fall; for now use water resources for new plantings, old trees, and vegetable gardens or newly divided perennials.
When it comes to summer decorating, nothing says sunshine more than a beach theme. This look has come a long way — it's not all sand dollars and fish nets these days.
More: The Latest in Beachy Trends
Check your home for gaps and cracks where cool air can escape such as attic doors, baseboards and old weather stripping. Fill, repair and replace as needed –and save up to 20% on heating and cooling bills.
"Go where he will, the wise man is at home." --Ralph Waldo Emerson
What's the best way to spend a $100 budget? A brightly colored market umbrella, says design expert Katie Leavy. Avoid tacky yard ornaments, or anything with a short lifespan, explains Joan Grabel of Park Slope Design. Go for something large and stylish with a big impact.
Patch your driveway or fill any potholes with gravel. While you're at it, boost your home's curb appeal. Our best suggestions for increasing value: add a fresh coat of paint, update external lighting, fill a patio or porch with pots of fresh flowers.
More: How to Pressure Wash Your Driveway
No need to travel to cultivate great international style. Our favorite new rooms from Rate My Space prove that you can get a great ethnic look right here at home.
More: Curate a Global Style
If your flowers are looking uninspired by now, try one of our six favorite plants — from purple Alternanthera to red and green Coleus - for adding late-summer color.
More: Rejuvenate Your Outdoors
Grass is a natural air conditioner in summer months staying an even 50-75 degrees Fahrenheit, even when sidewalks and streets are as hot as 100 degrees.
More: Reduce Indoor Cooling Costs
Set aside at least two full days and round up a team of helpers
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Happy National Ice Cream Day! In honor of one of the most delicious days of summer, we suggest you celebrate with a scoop of your favorite treat.
In addition to cleaning downspouts and gutters regularly, be sure to check for any leaks by running a garden hose into the gutters; seal any holes with waterproof caulk. Ensure downspouts extend at least 3 feet from the foundation of the house.
If your tomato blossoms drop but no fruit forms, temperatures are likely too warm. Try a "heat set" tomato for next year's crop. If you see dark spots and brown scars developing, make sure you're watering regularly and consistently.
More: 6 Common Tomato Troubles
"Home is a place where you grow up wanting to leave, and grow old wanting to get back to." John Ed Pearce
Give the bathroom a deep clean. Want to double the effectiveness of your cleansers? Add heat. Douse the hottest tap water possible on tiles, showers, sinks and tubs and let sit for a couple of minutes before applying disinfectant spray.
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According to the National Hotdog and Sausage Council, Americans buy more than 24 million hotdogs in stadiums—and 837 million packages of hotdogs—every year.
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Once a season, take everything off shelves, tabletops and dressers to dust. Now is also the time to get to all the places you've been neglecting, including ceiling fans, above kitchen cabinets and baseboards and doorways.
Americans prefer living in a hot climate over places with cold weather by nearly two-to-one, according to a Pew research study. Topping the list of places to live for hot-weather lovers are San Diego, Tampa and Orlando.
More: Bring the Beach Home
If you have heavy pots or planters on a wooden deck, slip decorative "feet" underneath them to keep them off the wood. This way excess water won't sit on top where it could rot the wood.
If you're trying to get the kids out of the air conditioning and into the great outdoors, why not get them invested in your garden? Seeing the progress of plants growing will inspire them to keep up the work.
More: Create a Garden Studio for the Kids
If your yard is shady but you still want colorful plants look for impatiens, coleus and begonias. Plus, get more planting ideas for vibrant color — even in the shade.
More: Plant a Colorful Shade Garden
Warm weather helps paint dry faster, plus ventilation for inside projects won't be a problem. Buy a quart of paint before committing to several gallons. Paint a piece of foam board and move it around to see how it looks at different times of day.
More: House Painting Season Tips
Tomatoes are the world's most popular fruit. According to Burpee, more than 60 million tons of tomatoes are produced every year. That's 16 million tons more than the second most popular fruit, bananas.
More: What to Do With Your Tomatoes