For the wine connoisseurs, select your favorite bottle for guests to write on with a gold or silver permanent marker. When you open it is up to you – but it could be a neat memory to open the bottle on your first anniversary. Once the bottle is empty, rinse with soap and water, let it dry and display it on a mantel or bookshelf as a keepsake.
Want a deck with a commanding view of the natural surroundings? This composite deck is ideal for homeowners who want a long-lasting, low maintenance material compared to natural wood. Keep in mind that PVC decks can fade, buckle and harbor mildew after prolonged periods of hot or cold weather. But you can use a manufacturer’s suggested brightener to enhance the appearance and regular cleaning with soap and water will reduce buckling and mildew.
This modern double vanity bathroom is the way to do black and white. The black tile floor is a honeycomb pattern, repeated on a smaller scale in the gorgeous glassed-in shower with black and white tiled soap inset and built-in shower seat. All the appliances have brass faucets. Twin brass-framed mirrors below glass sconces overlook a white marble-topped double sink vanity that sits on six drawers in black with brass drawer pulls.
Japanese beetles invade gardens and planting beds in early summer, feasting on choice crops like roses, marigolds, raspberries and a host of other plants.
Easy Solution: When you spy Japanese beetles, create a soapy solution (dish soap works well) in a container. Hold the container beneath the beetles and gently knock them into the suds. They’ll quickly drown.
You can commune with nature and enjoy spectacular sightlines in an open deck design like this one made of Ipe wood, which is low maintenance (use only soap and water for cleaning). It will need UV protection to prevent it from drying out. A natural finish like teak oil is good for preserving the color of the Ipe (avoid colored finishes) and may need to be applied 2-3 times during the first 18 months of deck usage.
Problem: You see webs on your houseplants. The leaves look discolored and/or curl and drop off. Hard-to-see spider mites, which are actually spiders, are the likely cause. Solution: Knock the mites off with a gentle spray of water from the kitchen sink, or put big plants in the shower. If the pests keep coming back, use an insecticidal soap or neem oil. Shown here: Dracenea 'Song of India'
Keep a hand held pressure sprayer on hand for times when you need to apply insecticidal soap or neem oil to battle houseplant pests. Most hand-held sprayers hold up to 2 cups of liquid. The nice thing about a pressure sprayer is that it can deliver a very fine mist capable of reaching into the smallest crevices on plants, which are the very spots pests like to hide.
Create interest and texture with a collection of everyday and vintage bathroom items. This Victorian Gothic wall cabinet is filled with vintage cosmetic jars, ivory grooming implements, shells, sponges, towels and soaps. “If you have glass-fronted shelves, use it as an opportunity not just for storage but for display of interesting objects,” says Susan Sully, author of the book “Past Present: Living with Heirlooms and Antiques” in which this home was featured. Sully also recommends painting the back of a cabinet a dark color to make light objects really stand out.
Aphids appear in great concentrations in early spring, when plants are pushing new growth. These sucking insects love to feast on tender, juicy new growth.
Easy Solution: Knock aphids off plants with a spray of water. Or mix your own spray using 3 tablespoons of liquid soap and 1 cup of water. This solution must touch the aphids’ bodies to kill them. Apply every few days as needed. Rinse the solution off plants after a few hours.
The name whitefly is fairly descriptive of what these pesky insects look like: tiny, white, flying bugs. Whiteflies cluster underneath leaves usually starting in mid- to late summer. When you disturb plants, the insects fly up, forming white clouds. It’s dramatic and horrible at the same time. They love tomatoes, perennial hibiscus, fuchsia and anise hyssop. The adults and young suck plant sap, damaging leaves as they do so and releasing sticky honeydew. Controls include ladybugs, lacewings and a naturally occurring tiny parasitic wasp. You can also control whiteflies using horticultural oils, soaps or bioinsecticides containing fungi that parasitize whiteflies.
No luxury feature is spared in this incredible custom kitchen, right down to drawer and cabinet compartments lined with leather. Spot the carved lion's head above the custom mural, which depicts the homeowner's own house among vineyards. Rich oak cabinetry built in France covers side-by-side Sub-Zero refrigerators, four freezer drawers, and two dishwashers beside the apron sink. Flanking the mural are two pilasters where the homeowner hangs her kitchen towels and hides her dish soap. In the island is a second sink, a Kohler Pro Cook, which doubles as a pasta cooker. For the grand-kids, a flat-screen TV pulls down from above the cabinets.
Over 4,000 different types of aphids exist and attack plants. If their numbers are low, they might be unsightly, but won’t actually harm plants. It’s when populations boom that their feeding damages plants, causing leaves to curl or flower buds to fail to open. As aphids feed, they release a sticky honeydew, enriched with plant sugars. These sugars grow mold, attract ants and create another layer of problems. Ants will actually guard aphids to protect them from predators so the ants can harvest the honeydew. When you spot a cluster of aphids, remove them with a spray of water from the hose, or kill them with insecticidal soap or a sprinkle of diatomaceous earth. Birds and predatory insects eat them, including ladybugs and lacewings. Avoid using pesticides in your garden and let these natural controls help take care of aphids for you.