post revisit: how to fix a fruit fly problem

There’s a battle waging in our kitchens right now: The Fruit Fly war is in full summer swing. We figured since it was on our minds, it was probably on yours. Here’s a way that has worked for Megan in the past. What about you? got any good tips on how to eliminate the pesky gnats?

I admit it: I had a fruit fly problem. Fruit flies seem to go hand in hand with summertime, delicious ripe fruit, and a busy kitchen. This summer, though, I’ve taken control, and my fruit fly problem is now more like a minor annoyance. The first step is to remove the source of food. This means, for me, keeping my ripening nectarines and tomatoes wrapped securely in plastic bags until I’m ready to use them. My onions (apparently, they love onions) are now being stored in the fridge. Second step: sanitation. I clean my drains daily with baking soda and white vinegar — those pesky little buggers like to lay their eggs in the goop that resides in drains (barf). The third step — and this one’s the most rewarding — is to build a trap. I’ve tried funnels and plastic wrap over jars of overripe fruit, but I’ve found the best trap is plain old apple cider vinegar in a dish with a few drops of liquid dish soap. The soap apparently breaks the surface tension of the vinegar, causing the fruit flies to fall in and drown rather than sip and fly away. After a few days of changing the traps, you’ll notice the numbers dwindling. Does anyone else have more fruit fly solutions?

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the door series: custom made screen doors in austin, tx

I love the idea of creating a front door with personality and pop — as you can see from all the ones feature in the door series thus far — but often the fun ends as soon as a screen door is installed. If you pick one up at Home Depot, it will do a great job adding a layer of weather-proofing, but it will do nothing to for your decor. The best you can hope for is one that blends in. That’s why these custom made screen doors featuring grill work from Austin designer Susan Wallace are so wonderful. Each one brings out the personality of the home and its owner in a way that says, come on in! For example, the one above is on a building that originally “freed” slave quarters and literally fronted the railyard.

I love the way this curved Tudor door plays against the brick.

And this gorgeous flower pattern is so warm and cheery. It works wonderfully with the yellow and orange color combo.

See more of Susan Wallace’s iron work on

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would you try this on your home? burnt wood siding

At some point in the next year or two, we’re going to need to take the stucco down off of our little upstate cottage and replace it with real siding. I would love to do wood shingles, but the area is known for termites and that just seems about as smart as setting up a pest delicatessen. I spotted this chic new solution over at Houzz. It’s charred wood siding, a technique that is become popular from Japan. You literally take wood siding and char it with a torch. Afterwards, you douse it water, and then brush lightly. The result is a surface that is supposedly resistant to rot and pests and lasts for 80 years with little maintenance. (Click over to Houzz to read more.) I’m suspicious; it sounds to good to be true. I love the way it looks though, and matched with some brightly colored trim, the effect could be stunning.

What do you think? Would you put burnt wood on your home?

Photo by ThoughtBarn for Houzz

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the door series: a yellow burst on a classic brownstone

Walking around New York City, you see a lot of gorgeous doors on classic brownstones. Most are stained a gorgeous wood, and don’t so much as attract attention as blend in with the block. This lovely curved jolt of sunshine is on East 65th Street. The owners decided to break tradition and paint their opening a bold, primary yellow. The effect makes the surrounding brown stone appear slightly purple-hued, making me wonder if a Muppet maker or Spongebob’s creator lives within. Like the other doors in this series, this one scores points for putting its best hue forward. What do you think of this: Gaudy or delightful?

More in The Door Series:
A Craftsman Teal Dream

A Pop of Southwest Pink

Handsome in Hudson

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a dad explains: why a d.i.y. playset is 100x better than one you buy

Here’s a guest post from our resident dad, Chad. He’s earned some major “Dad of the Year” points with this latest project. Take a look!

We’ve been staring at an empty back yard for a couple of years now as our little toddler has grown into a full-fledged climbing monkey. Obviously we need some kind of playground of our own, but they all seem too gianormous and expensive. After spending months reseplaceing the many options, I still found myself waffling on what to get: Do I bite the bullet and buy one of the top of the line play sets, from Rainbow, Gorilla or Superior. They all offer installation and various add-ons, like a tire swing here or a climbing wall there. Would she care if it had only one swing or a trapeze bar? Yellow or blue slide? One thing was for sure, with an average price tag of about $3,000, this playset decision wasn’t to be taken lightly.

I think the reason I was obsessed with building a set for our daughter is because of my own childhood memories. I didn’t have a swing set as a child but I did know kids who had them: They were rusty, creaky and prone to tipping over. Instead of getting one of those, my father made me a club house when I was five years old. It was on eight foot stilts and sat in our backyard. I can remember watching him cut the wood as his sweat dripped onto the planks under the hot sun. It wasn’t perfect and it didn’t have a tire swing or a rope ladder, but it had a trapdoor and he built it for ME. I helped by holding the nails and standing on the 2x4s as he cut them. I watched the saw rip through the wood as he told me to measure twice and cut once. I drank a gallon of Orange Crush as he built what would become my very own Millennium Falcon, my Alamo… my hideout from the world.

Watching my father build that playhouse taught me some pretty basic life lessons — like the value of hard work and the satisfaction of doing something on your own. It also taught me the value of having friends who are willing to help out for a six pack and the joy of just hanging out for the afternoon working on something simply because they were good friends.

So back to my decision on whether or not to build or buy our playset. I asked myself: What do I want to teach my daughter? What do I want her to think of as she is swinging on this thing? That ten workers in an afternoon can come over and bang out a swing set if you have enough money for the premium deluxe package with the periscope? No, I want her to remember what it was like to help me measure and cut the wood. The excitement she feels as I drill each ladder step into place.

When the raw wood was delivered and sitting in my driveway I started to doubt my choice. When the box of bolts and plans arrived I started to worry. “What have I done?” I thought to myself. Then Isadora came out and walked across the wood pile using it as her own personal balance beam. Grinning, she asks, “Are we building my swing set today?” Yes. WE are.

Click through to the next page for details on how I pieced this thing together.


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