Bookworms Unite!

Summer is an ideal time to form a book club (you know, since you might actually have a minute or two to read for pleasure), and it’s super easy to organize. Here’s how.

Call on your crew. Put out the word to your bookworm buddies that you’re starting a club, providing as much detail as possible up front—think what, when, where, and why. To get things rolling, choose the first book yourself, preferably a new release that’s been getting a lot of buzz. Set up a calendar invite so everyone stays in the loop, and aim to meet once a month (more than that might start to feel like another item on the to-do list).

Set the scene. If it’s an alfresco affair on your patio, make sure to set out enough outdoor furniture for everyone to have a seat. Scatter throw pillows on your chairs to make seats more comfortable. If you’re hosting at night, set out a basket of blankets and wraps in case it turns breezy.

Play up the theme. Serve snacks that the characters from your book might have eaten, or recreate the setting with your decor. If the story is set at a beach house, for instance, incorporate shells or sea glass into your tablescape or serve snacks in beach pails. Make a playlist of summer songs to stream as background music.

Schedule the next session. At the end of the first gathering, decide on the next book and ask for volunteers to host the next meeting. Don’t rush to dismantle your party space, however. Keep a cozy spot or two for when you curl up to read your next assignment.

6 Ways to Bring Summer Into Your Bedroom

 

Adjust your ceiling fan

 

 

Make sure that the blades on your ceiling fan are rotating counterclockwise at a high speed to circulate a cool breeze throughout the room. (There should be a small button or switch on the base that changes blade direction.)

 

 

 

Break out the cotton sheets

 

 

Make your bed with light-colored cotton or cotton-blend sheets. And when you wash your linens, add a liquid fabric softener.

 

 

Welcome the breeze

 

 

Soften window frames with light, breezy curtain panels that filter but don’t block the light. Then install screens in your windows and enjoy falling asleep to a warm summer breeze—no pesky bugs invited.

 

 

 

Switch to a light comforter or blanket

 

 

Stow your heavy winter comforter in your linen closet or under your bed and opt for a lightweight quilt or blanket.

 

 

 

Swap out wool carpets and shag area rugs for sisal

 

 

Lightweight and easy to clean, natural-fiber rugs, like sisal, jute, and coir, feel just right underfoot in summer. If the back of the rug isn’t rubberized, use a rug pad underneath to prevent slipping.

 

 

 

Go green

 

 

Bring a bit of the outdoors in with a potted plant. Choose an easy-care vine, such as English ivy, or flowers with delicate foliage, like geraniums.

 

How to Throw the Best Barbecue Ever

 

Spruce things up.

 

Make sure the mood is festive with easy decorations. Have the kids draw a big welcome sign for the front door or gate to the yard. Plant a tiny flag on all the burgers. Hang paper lanterns in the trees, hang streamers, throw gingham cloths on the table, and make table arrangements with glossy leaves and flowers from your yard or garden. (Or pick up some inexpensive daisies at the grocery store). If your party will stretch into the evening, string twinkly lights overhead!

 

 

Knowing how much to buy.

 

Calculating how much grub to purchase is one of the trickiest aspects of planning a party. Offering appetizers? Plan on making six per person. In terms of chips and dips, buy one pound of chips and a half-pint of dip for every 10 people.  If you’re grilling hot dogs and burgers, and will have plenty of sides, purchase four to six ounces of protein per person; pick up eight ounces per person if you’ll be serving steak, chicken pieces, or ribs on the bone. Will there be any vegetarians at the party? Consider grilling marinated eggplant slices, portabella mushrooms, yellow squash, and thick slices of French bread. You may also want to pick up some mini- pizzas and breaded chicken fingers for any finicky youngsters on your guest list.

 

 

Raise a glass.

 

Have plenty of icy water on hand, and fill your cooler with a mix of beer, wine, soda, and juice boxes. Creating a signature cocktail for your party is another nice touch. One idea: Cut up a watermelon and puree in batches in a food processor, then strain juice through a fine-mesh sieve. Add a couple of tablespoons of sugar to the juice, thin slices of lemon, vodka to taste, and crushed ice. Serve in a pretty glass pitcher or glass decanter with a spigot.

 

 

Be prepared.

 

Picnics can be messy affairs. Have plenty of paper towels and wet wipes available for mopping up spills and messy hands. And keep a few stain removers at the ready. They’re great for cleaning up everything from grass stains and dirty smudges to any ketchup or barbecue sauce mishaps your grill-master might encounter.

 

 

Keep pests at bay.

 

Mosquitoes and flies like warm weather as much as we do. If you’ll be entertaining at dusk, when mosquitoes are most active, place citronella candles on each table or tiki torches near paths, and have insect repellant on hand for guests to use. Wherever possible, place mesh or glass covers on food on the table, and make sure all trash bins have lids. You might want to set a fan up near the barbecue area, as a steady breeze can blow flying pests off track.

 

 

Plan activities for the kids.

 

If your barbecue will be a family affair, set up a kids’ table outfitted with supplies for simple art projects. Cover the table with brown paper (perfect for creating a crowd-sourced masterpiece) and set out a basket filled with colored paper, crayons, washable markers, balloons, and stickers. Include some sidewalk chalk if you have a protected driveway where little ones can play hopscotch or four squares. Bubbles are fun, too.

 

 

Have a post-party cleanup strategy.

 

To make pick up easier, enlist a few family members or close friends to help you collect used plates and glasses periodically during the party. Once guests depart, clear the buffet table, store leftovers, extinguish candles and torches, empty ice chests, clean the grill and store, and bag any refuse. Bundle up your table linens and aprons and wash with a liquid laundry detergent with a stain remover and brightener built in. By the time the loads done, you’ll be patting yourself on the back for throwing a fabulous party!

 

Celebrate the Summer Solstice with These Tips

 

Play 18 holes instead of nine.

 

If the sun’s still shining, why not play a full round of golf? Bonus: Skip the cart and take off on foot—you’ll cover close to five miles round-trip!

 

 

Blaze a trail.

 

Spend the Summer Solstice hiking, enjoying nature—and raising your pulse rate. A quick internet search can help find a trail near you!

 

 

Sign up for an outdoor fitness class.

 

Take in a sunset tai chi class or practice your sun salutations under that big orb in the sky. Not only will your body get a great workout, but your mind will too. Studies show that outdoor workouts can increase energy and positive thinking.  And remember to give all your gear a post-workout spruce up with a liquid laundry detergent that eliminates odors and fights stains.

 

 

Ride the waves.

 

If you live near the beach, hang 10 on your way home from the office. The salt air will clear your head and an hour of surfing can burn 500 to 800 calories. No board? No worries. Body surf or just build a sandcastle and enjoy the ocean breeze.

 

 

Hit the road.

 

Is there a historic site, botanical garden, lakeside park, or seafood shack you’ve been meaning to check out? Grab your favorite travel buddies and go exploring. Drive there in a convertible to score extra points. 

 

 

Pack a picnic.

 

Head to a local park or lake, or simply set out a blanket in your backyard and enjoy dinner under a shady tree. Don’t forget candles, a corkscrew, and battery-operated speakers for your digital music player. 

 

 

Wash it away.

 

Grass stains? Ice cream mishaps? Red wine spills? No matter how long your day—or how hard you play—a good detergent can handle even the toughest stains and keep your clothes fresh and super soft. 

 

101 Series: How to Fold a T-Shirt

Whether you’re putting away fresh laundry or packing for a summer getaway, it’s useful to know how to properly fold a T-shirt so that when you decide to wear one of your favorites it looks absolutely fresh, clean—and not wrinkled.

While we all have short-sleeve and long-sleeve cotton tees in numerous colors, it’s the white T-shirt that is a wardrobe staple. As with any white article of clothing, the trick is to keep it that way, without bleach’s damaging effects, using a detergent that doesn’t contain chlorine bleach. Once you’ve washed your tees and put them in the dryer, set a timer to alert you when the drying cycle is almost finished. At that point, remove the tees from the dryer while they are still warm and fold them right away to prevent any wrinkling.

How to fold: On a clean, flat surface, place the T-shirt either horizontally or on a slight angle with the front facing up. Then, using your left hand, pinch the top of the shirt that’s farthest from you, just outside the neck. Following straight down from that point, using your right hand, pinch the middle of the shirt. Now, while still holding on to the fabric, cross your left hand over your right hand and bring the bottom hem of the shirt up to the neck, and pinch with your left hand. Uncross your hands while lifting up the T-shirt away from you. One sleeve will be hanging. Now put the shirt back on the surface face down, start with the hanging sleeve, and fold the side that is away from you over the loose sleeve. Voilà!