Sunday, August 1, 2010

Done it lately? (August To Do)

 (image via here)

The get-it-done list for August... straight out of the "gentle reminders" section of my 5 years of Martha Stewart Living magazines. Started late? Check out the other months here.
  • Preserve fresh corn. Slice kernels from cobs, and freeze in resealable bags for up to three months. When ready to use, boil until tender.
  • Healthy snacks. Granola and trail mix make great portable energy boosters. Have plenty on hand for hikes and other outdoor activities.
  • Beware of poisonous leaves. Most people who brush up against poison ivy, oak, or sumac will develop a nasty rash called rhus dermatitis, which is caused by oils in the plants. Learn to identify them so you can avoid contact. If exposed to one of the plants, immediately wash your skin with soap and cold water.
  • Dress in layers. When outdoors in fluctuating weather, choose fabrics that wick away moisture. These materials dry quickly, keeping you cool in the heat and warm when the sun goes down.
  • Canine comfort. It's not necessarily the noise and lightning flashes that scare dogs as a storm approaches; the buildup of static electricity in their fur causes anxiety. To prevent a static charge, rub an unscented fabric softener sheet over their coats at the earliest signs of a storm.
  • Finish fertilizing. Be sure to stop fertilizing lawns, perennials, and woody plants by the middle of August. Any new growth that is encouraged late in the season won't be sturdy enough to survive impending cold weather.
  • Refrigerate salad plates for an hour before setting the table. The chilled dishes will keep greens and vegetables crisp.
  • Cover windows to shut out heat. Awnings our outdoor shutters provide the best shade. Indoors, draw blinds and close curtains on windows that are facing the sun.
  • Before buying fresh flowers, gently squeeze the bases of a few buds, which should feel firm, and inspect the stems for mold. When you get home, hold the tips of the stems under water and recut them at an angle with a sharp knife. Place the flowers in a vase of three parts warm water - it is more readily absorbed than cold - and one part lemon-lime soda. The sugar in the drink will feed the flowers; the acid will slow the growth of bacteria.
  • Clean sports equipment to keep it in good condition. You might find that you have items you haven't used all summer (or for several summers). Consider donating unwanted goods to charity. For instance, Boys and Girls Clubs across the country accept gently used sports equipment.
  • Keep bathroom mildew in check. Use an old terry-cloth towel to wipe down the tiles in tubs and shower stalls after each use to minimize moisture.

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