stop! hammock time

Maybe it’s the humid weather that has me thinking of cool breezes, but I’ve been daydreaming about spending an afternoon in a hammock for the last few days. Even though I don’t have a place to hang one, I spent a few minutes reseplaceing a hammock purchase, and thought I would share my finds. For beauty, I’d go with the Large Brazilian Cocoon Hammock from Hammock Hutch. (I can picture myself swinging between palm trees as I type!) If I were looking for a classic, I’d probably purchase the well-known rope variety — I found a good price on one at Target. Finally, if I thought I might want to share my daydream with others, I’d opt for the family size mayan-style hammock from Key West Hammocks, and pack a few friends in there with me! –Erica P.

More hammock love: hammocks that last, Fatboy hammock, seat belt hammock.

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post off: what’s your dream garden?


If I had endless time, money, and an embarrassingly enormous estate instead of a tiny urban apartment, I would have a knot garden. My dream garden would be a glamorous work of art constructed of precise hedges dipping in and out of each other. I’d wander through the gorgeous garden down the elegantly laid paths of crushed oyster shells feeling so-oh-regal. Anyone else have a fantasy garden they daydream about tending to daily? Perhaps a lush rose patch (complete with gazebo), aromatic herb garden, or maybe even a hotdog tree just like in Big Top Pee-wee? –Katie D.

Photo of Sudeley Castle Knot Garden by Flickr user dublintimmy

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charming summer diy: hanging jar chandeliers

My mission this summer has been to transform my tiny breadth of a patio into a backyard retreat by any means possible. The most successful element that I’ve added to my urban terrace has been these hanging jar chandeliers. It was an easy project that only took a little bit of time and less than $30.

I collected a handful of jars (some purchased for a dollar or two at thrift stores and some from chips-and-salsa marathons) and wrapped 20 gauge wires snugly around the lip of each jar with needle nose pliers. Then I attached a U-shaped hanging wire around the top of the jar. I straightened out a few paper clips to use to hang the jars. I bought a length of chain from a hardware store and attached it between two posts to hang the jars from. Drop a votive candle inside each jar and, as the sun sets in your backyard, enjoy the romantic glow. –Katie D.

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help! how should i care for this plant?

I rescued this plant from the test kitchen where I’ve been working; we walked in one morning to find it on the counter. It was falling over in a pot that was clearly much too small for its 16-inch height — it needed a bigger pot stat and a stake to hold up the stalk. I offered to take it home and give it some TLC, but now I’m not sure what to do. So far I’ve re-potted it in a larger planter and tied the stalk to a piece of a vintage yardstick to keep it upright. Does anyone know what type of light this plant needs, or how much water it likes? Should I attempt to put it outside on the fire escape, or will it do better indoors? Help! –Erica P.

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field trip: chicago gardens, past and present

If you want a vast, yet fast, tour of Chicago gardens, try Chicago Gardens: Past and Present at the Chicago Tourism Center. The show covers dozens of topics superficially — there are tips on how to make your own dandelion wine and coffee, images of neighborhood rooftop gardens, and a photography tour of local celebrity chef Rick Bayless’ herb garden (where he grows food to serve in his restaurants Frontera Grill and Topolobampo). Visitors get a look at Chicago green spaces from conception to fruition — original garden plans painted in delicate watercolors hang alongside current photographs, illustrating a lush “before and after” of public parks. My favorite part is Danny Mansmith and Catherine Schwalbe-Bouzide’s life-size, handmade “Tree of Knowledge” installation. Visitors are invited to add gardening tips, poems, and other comments to the tree via paper “leaves.” (I added a first hand warning against amateurs trying to tend orchids.) The show is free and open to the public now until August 16. Visit the Explore Chicago website for hours of operation, directions, and more details. –Katie D.

By the way, if you need help growing an orchid, this post is still going strong.

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