Have you checked off everything on your summer to-do list yet? If the answer is no, there’s still plenty of time. This issue of Good to Be Home is chock-full of tips and activities to help you savor every last bit of the season.
You don’t have to venture far from home to have some end-of-season family fun. The guide in this issue can help you add some last-minute activities to your calendar and make memories before the busy fall arrives.
Another item you’ll want to add to your to-do list before autumn is organizing your wardrobe. Although the task can seem daunting, the enclosed tips can help you clean and consolidate so you can greet the coming season with a fresh start.
Speaking of fresh, nothing says summer cooking quite like garden-fresh ingredients. The two recipes inside include seasonal favorites like heirloom tomatoes and cucumbers to help you relish the flavors of summer.
If your yard isn’t prepared for excess rainfall, wet weather can wreak havoc in more ways than one. Check out the solutions in this issue to prevent puddles of water from overtaking your lawn.
Here’s to making the last full month of summer a memorable one. As always, it’s a pleasure to send you this magazine.
As autumn approaches, you’ll want to squeeze in more summertime moments with friends and family. Try these ideas for savoring the last glorious days of the season.
Now is a perfect time to enjoy the outdoors. Take in a beautiful summer night by pitching a tent and camping in your backyard. You can watch fireflies light up the night sky, sing songs, tell scary stories, and listen to a chorus of crickets before falling asleep under the stars. Document your family’s staycation with photos and videos.
You might want to preserve memories of your summertime activities, and a great way to do this is by filling a shadow box with memorabilia. Assemble items you’ve collected over the summer, such as shells, movie or concert ticket stubs, and photos, to store in a box, and display it on a wall, a shelf, or your coffee table.
Don your walking shoes, or take a bicycle tour of your community. Head to a local park for a picnic, or go into town for lunch or ice cream. You might also want to bring your pup along on your walk so your four-legged family member can get in on the fun.
One of the pleasures of summer is cooking and eating outside. So before the days get shorter, host a final cookout of the season with family and friends. Be sure to offer summer favorites, such as corn on the cob and watermelon. For dessert, you could make gooey s’mores over a campfire or serve a fresh strawberry shortcake.
Get in the competitive spirit by hosting an afternoon filled with summer outdoor games. Invite family and friends over to play active games like cornhole and Spikeball; large versions of indoor family favorites, such as Checkers, Jenga, and Yahtzee; or children’s favorites like hide-and-seek, hopscotch, and tag.
You and your loved ones can participate in the Kindness Rocks Project, a fun art activity and scavenger hunt where individuals paint rocks, add inspirational messages, and place them within their communities in parks, town squares, and other places. Your rocks might encourage others in your town to participate too.
The summer gardening season is winding down, which means you can start planning and working on an autumn garden. Depending on your USDA plant hardiness zone, you might be able to plant crops such as beans, cucumbers, peas, and leafy greens like spinach, collards, and kale; and flowers like mums and marigolds. You can enjoy harvesting your crops in the fall.
Tie-dyeing is best done outside when the weather is nice since this craft is messy. You could tie-dye T-shirts or coverups to wear to your last few trips to the beach or pool or create matching clothing. You can also wear white T-shirts and fill squirt pistols with watered-down acrylic paint, which should wash off skin easily, and have a family water-gun fight for a fun way to get the tie-dyed look. Just make sure you don’t wear anything you wouldn’t want to be covered with paint.
If you need more space for your fall clothing, now is the time to start thinking about switching out your summer wardrobe for warmer clothes. Use this guide to help you organize your closet and drawers for autumn.
Take a good look at your summer and fall clothing. Remove and set aside anything that doesn’t fit, is worn, or is out of style. Mend anything salvageable so it can be worn again. You can give items that are in good condition to friends, family, or a charity. In addition, if your fall clothing was stored in an attic or basement, you might want to wash it so it’s clean before you or someone else wears it. After taking inventory of what you are keeping and giving away, take note of anything you’ll need to purchase for the season ahead.
Put the summer clothing you want to keep into storage. You can keep it in fabric bins on a shelf, in under-the-bed storage bins, in plastic totes in your attic, or on a garment rack in a spare bedroom. If you need extra space, consider storing your items in unexpected places, such as on a shelf above your bedroom door, or utilize vacuum storage bags to compress them. Label your storage bins with the help of a label maker or by getting reusable chalkboard labels, and keep a written or digital record of what is in each container and where it is stored. An alternative is to mark your containers with smart QR code labels that come with an app to keep data and photos about each bin’s inventory, location, and contents.
After your closet and drawers are emptied, wipe surfaces with a damp cloth and vacuum the floors. If you like, paint your closet’s walls; white or a light neutral color will make it easier to see your items. You can get better lighting in your closet by putting up a light fixture or by hanging battery-operated stick-on lights. If you have the space, get a ottoman for putting on shoes and a full-length wall mirror for trying on outfits.
Space-saving products, such as slim velvet hangers and hangers that hold multiple items at once, can help you fit more into your closet and drawers. If you need extra shoe storage, try adding stackable containers. Drawer dividers can help organize socks and other small items. Aim to keep like items, such as your pajamas or T-shirts, together. Consider organizing your clothes by color and folding sweaters instead of hanging them so they won’t get stretched out. Protect your drawers with decorative paper liners; scented ones can be a nice touch.
There’s something special about the foods available in summer, from fresh-picked produce to sensational seafood. So now is prime time to whip up dishes with wholesome ingredients front and center. These recipes from The Row 34 Cookbook can help you make good use of seasonal favorites.
Is any appetizer simpler and more delicious than toasted bread topped with fresh tomatoes and cheese? This recipe is easy to make and even easier to eat.
Grilled salmon is the perfect summer dish; when you pair it with a creamy cucumber sauce, it becomes that much better.
©The Row 34 Cookbook: Stories and Recipes from a Neighborhood Oyster Bar by Jeremy Sewall and Erin Byers Murray, Rizzoli New York, 2021. Images © Michael Harlan Turkell.
recipe by jeremy sewall
photos by michael harlan turkell
It’s hard to find anything better than a summertime, sun-ripened tomato. There are so many varieties these days, and I like them all, but my favorite is a regular old red beefsteak tomato with a little salt and olive oil sprinkled over the top. The beauty of good tomatoes is that they need very little help to taste good. Medley tomatoes are grape and cherry tomatoes in a mix of colors, often heirloom varieties. Slice them at the last minute so they stay juicy. Burrata and grilled bread are the perfect partners to summer tomatoes—just be sure to use really good-quality olive oil and vinegar. And, if you don’t have a grill, feel free to toast the bread in the oven instead.
Serves 4 as an appetizer
recipe by jeremy sewall
photos by michael harlan turkell
This combination of rich salmon with cool, crisp cukes is sure to become a summertime staple. Dill cucumbers are delicious and easy to make—eat them with the salmon or on their own. I prefer crème fraîche in them, but you can use sour cream instead. Whether you grill the salmon over wood or charcoal—my preference—or on a gas grill, don’t over-heat it: you want the grill hot enough to give the fish some color but not so hot that it chars the flesh. I tend to move the fish around the grill to find the sweet spot. Personally, I like to cook salmon so that it’s warmed all the way through but not well done.
Serves 4 as an entrée
Are streams and puddles of brown water overtaking your green grass? Are you sloshing around in your shoes while walking across your lawn? Then it might be time to give your yard the assistance it needs to stay dry. These tips can help you stop wet weather from raining on your parade.
Before you start implementing a solution, it’s important to pinpoint the source of the muddiness. By doing so, you can choose an appropriate fix. Here are the most common causes.
The number one reason for a soggy lawn is poor drainage. Standing-water spots indicate that water has nowhere to drain from your lawn. Pay attention to where most of the mud is, which can reveal where you need to make more drainage points with the help of a professional. Additionally, you should ensure that your drains and gutters are free of debris.
If you have pets or children that play in the yard, then you know that they create their own paths and dig holes. Look around your yard for obvious signs of digging, overuse, and natural soil erosion. If you have a swing set or a trampoline, it also might be time to move it so the ground can be restored.
Rising water levels
Living near a lake or creek can be tranquil, but it often comes with the additional risk of rising water levels. Find out if your municipality has done a study on the water levels and, if the levels are problematic, whether it is working on any solutions.
When soil gets too compacted, it can become an issue. Check the topmost layer of your soil; if it is sticky and hard to penetrate, then that could be a large part of why your yard is muddy. To remedy this problem and properly drain away water, you may need to aerate the soil, as discussed in the next section.
Most times, you can fix a slightly to moderately muddy yard yourself. Try one of the following ideas before you go over budget to upend your yard.
Plant a rain garden
Turn an area that tends to flood into a rain garden full of plants that thrive in excess moisture. For example, tall grasses like zebra grass can act as natural filters by soaking up water and preventing runoff, and deep-rooted plants like perennials soak up and store water to survive during dry periods. While a rain garden won’t completely prevent a muddy yard, it can conceal a muddy area with decorative plants, making it less likely you’ll step into it.
Extend gutter downspouts
A lot of homeowners are unsure about how long their downspouts should be. The answer can be tricky because it depends on your landscaping, elevation, and other property factors. However, pools of water and mud near your downspouts undoubtedly mean it’s time to extend these pipes.
Head to a local home improvement store, and talk to an associate about your options. Popular budget-friendly extensions, such as aluminum downspouts, plastic splash blocks, and plastic tubing, connect straight to your existing gutter drain to give it extra length. It’s also a good idea to add rocks near where the water will exit to slow and disperse the runoff.
Aerate your lawn
Adding small pockets of air to your lawn, or aeration, can help prevent your yard from becoming waterlogged. Head to a home improvement store, and ask about renting a gas-powered core aerator to speed up the process. Be sure to time your aeration during the grass’s peak time of natural growth so you don’t stress seeds or budding grass.
A yard that’s completely covered in mud and puddles may require professional help. A landscaping expert can assess the problem and provide the right course of action rather than you conducting a trial by error, which can potentially save you time and money. Here are a few common solutions to discuss with a contractor.
Create a dry creek bed
Digging a gently sloping creek bed, lining it with landscaping fabric, and filling it with rocks is one of the most effective solutions for a flat yard that needs a runoff point to prevent erosion. In this setup, water typically soaks into the soil over time and doesn’t overflow, so long as the creek bed is dug deep enough, which a landscaper can calculate. As a bonus, it’s also decorative, creating a natural-looking water feature that can boost your curb appeal.
Install a French drain
A French drain is a perforated drainpipe, typically made of plastic, that runs underneath your lawn to channel water away without disrupting your yard space. To successfully install one, a landscaper needs to identify where the water pools and then dig a trench lined with gravel to lay the pipe away from your home. You’ll also need to consider your neighbors and your municipality’s codes for digging. While it may cost more than any other solution listed here, a French drain is virtually guaranteed to fix your watery lawn.
Don’t get stuck in a muddy situation—try one of these solutions to keep your lawn puddle-free.