I’ve been obsessed with macrame for a few years now, ever since I lucked into two vintage macrame lawn chairs (FOR FREE!). There is something about macrame that screams 1970’s to me — in a good way — like reruns of “Three’s Company”. Maybe I’ve always wanted to be Mrs. Roper… So now, you’ll find me thrifin’ in a floral caftan (not really), scouring the aisles for little pieces of fiber-woven nostalgia, notably plant hangers. I scored the lovely jute number you see in the photo for 3 dollars, bagged with a larger unfinished hanger. Thinking that it may be a good source, I seplaceed Etsy for more and found quite a few lovely examples, like this and this. But honestly, I had no idea that vintage plant hangers would fetch $20+, so I guess the next step would be learning the craft. This vintage leaflet looks like a good resource: and for the bargain price of $3.25. Have you ever worked with macrame? Any books or tricks of the trade you can share? — Megan B.
This idea is so simple and brilliant (pun intended) that you should just head over to The Art of Doing Stuff right now. All it takes is a couple of orphaned light covers from a thrift store and some leftover Christmas lights to transfer your own backyard or patio into a slightly more elegant space. I can’t wait to try this for myself! — Mary T.
I’ve been watching my strawberries ripen on the vine S L O W L Y over the last few weeks, and it’s like torture. A few more weeks, and it’s harvest time, though. And what better to store my patiently awaited bounty in than this adorable red ceramic berry basket I spotted at Sur la Table? The design is based on the dare-I-say iconic fiberboard baskets we get at berry stands, but with much more permanence — and those air holes are perfect to keep those berries sweet and fresh — not mushy and moldy. Best part? It’s on sale for $3.99, which means I can grab enough to help contain my soon-to-be overwhelming blackberry harvest. — Megan B.
When the dog days of summer hit, there is literally nothing that sounds better to me than lying in a shaded hammock, reading a magazine and sipping iced tea in a perfect summer breeze. Take a moment and picture it. Yep, it’s that good. Trust me… your midsummer naps will never be the same.
It’s not nearly as unattainable as it sounds. This is the modern age! No more are hammocks limited to those of us with plantation-style backyards, or two perfectly-spaced mature trees. Even the smallest of outdoor spaces, and virtually any budget, will set you up for total hammock nirvana.
The easiest, of course, is the stand hammock. You’ll need a 15×8 area to set one up, and to allow room for swaying blissfully in the breeze (though 20×10 would be more comfortable). But if you have the space, the rest is child’s play. Get creative – use a side yard, ditch a dilapidated patio set, or repurpose a long front deck to house your hammock. The least expensive stands are metal, while wood is a pricier (but prettier) option. Metal also wins on durability, though; a wood version is more vulnerable to the elements. Be sure to check the assembled dimensions before you buy. And also check weight restrictions…if you want a two-person hammock, be sure your stand can handle it. Last, buy the stand separately from the hammock, and you’ll likely get a better quality version of both.
If you happen to have those two perfectly-spaced trees, of course, all you’ll need are a pair of hammock straps – webbed straps with carabiner attachments. You’ll see chain kits out there, but chains are very damaging to trees. The flat webbing is a much kinder option. You can also go with screw-in hooks, just make sure you’re using a hardwood tree like an oak or pine. Softer woods may not hold the screws over time, and being dropped on your backside does not make for good naps.
The actual hammock is the next piece of the puzzle. Decide whether you want a two-seater or a single (I say, the more room, the merrier). Next, you’ll have a bevy of materials to choose from. Rope is the classic, of course. It’s also the least expensive and easiest to keep clean (since dirt and water can’t stick). It’s also the least comfortable. Cotton rope will yield more comfort, while polyester rope yields greater durability – it’s a toss-up. For my money, I prefer the quilted canvas versions. The colors do fade in the sun (though you can find versions in Sunbrella fabric that would reduce that considerably), and they have to be hosed off a few times a summer, but the comfy factor is unparalleled. Do yourself a favor and spring for the matching pillow.
If neither of those options work for you, don’t fear – no one goes hammock-less on my watch! Consider a hammock swing. Sure, it’s not the sexiest thing on the block, but there’s an excellent case to be made for function over form in this case. And you can hang them using either a stand or an eye hook drilled into your roof eaves or the ceiling on your porch. Enlist someone handy for an aerial installation – you want the hook installed into a stud so you don’t go flying! Again, I love the upholstered versions, and they happen to be much easier on the eyes than their rope counterparts. But they’re pricier as well – you can score a rope version for under $100. There are nylon versions out there too, but they’re so unfortunate-looking, I can’t even bring myself to show them to you.
A few final tips from a hammock old-timer: I recommend buying a couple of carabiners to attach your hammock to its stand or hooks – it makes it so much easier to attach and detach for shaking off and for storage. You can even install a large eye-hook in the ceiling of your garage or under your roof eaves and store the hammock there during the winter months, leaving the stand assembled and pushed out of the way. Also, be sure to double check length measurements of both the hammock and stand before you buy. Most are a standard size, but it’s always good to double-check.
And last, grab that magazine and iced tea before you settle in…once you’re in the hammock, you’ll be amazed at how quickly being anywhere else in the world sounds like too much work. — Becki S.
Last week, Angela asked for help solving the issue she was having with squirrels rummaging around in her porch planters, and many of you suggested using cayenne pepper to deter the digging. At my house, our biggest problem involved squirrels poaching birdseed from the feeder and scaring the birds. We solved this with a squirrel baffle years ago, and we considered our pest issues solved, that is until a black bear lumbered into the backyard last week and bent the birdfeeder (steel pole and everything) in half. Needless to say, we had a birdfeeder-heavy Fatherâ€™s Day at my house. While bears arenâ€™t a normal occurrence or your typical garden pest, we would get a stray bear or two every few years in my hometown in New Jersey growing up and it got me thinking. Usually our biggest pests were squirrels, rabbits, garbage-crazed raccoons and the occasional misguided skunk, but we did have to mind the occasional bear. At my auntâ€™s in Arizona, her biggest problems involve coyotes drowning in the pool. Each region seems to have its own pest issues, and some that wouldnâ€™t occur to me growing up on the Northeast, so do tell: What kinds of pests issues do you have in your neck of the woods, and how do you keep them at bay? â€“ Sarah C.
In this photo: Flickr member [Christine]â€™s birdfeeder met its demise at the hands of a bear