"1. Gifts of the sea. Let summer trips inspire a keepsake project. Put together a display from shells and souvenirs you've collected from the shore. Or create a still life and give it to a friend. Rocks polished smooth by waves can be as unique and beautiful as shells. Coat stones from the beach with baby oil and place them in a bowl. They'll look as though they just washed up on shore.
2. In stitches. While browsing through late-summer tag sales or vintage clothing stores, you just might discover a pair of wonderfully broken in jeans. Make the most of the soft denim by converting the pants into a skirt. Personalize your new garment by sewing on a wide hem made from a vintage print or a simple eyelet border. For a fun alternative, make a modern-day poodle skirt in honor of your pet. Cut a simple dog or cat shape out of a cheerful fabric-small prints or felt work best. Attach it to an A-line or wraparound denim skirt with an easy-to-use adhesive like HeatnBond Ultra Hold Iron-on Adhesive, available at jo-ann.com. Hemstitch by hand to finish or add a satin stitch with your sewing machine.
3. Walk in the woods before dusk and listen to the birdsong (this might require driving and gas being so high, this could be difficult for some).
4. This one’s for the record. Throw a backyard party with music you play on a vintage record player. Put on songs to which you dance with a partner— tunes from the ’40s, ’50s, and ’60s are best—and watch the effect. Find players on Ebay. On a sultry late-summer night, host an outdoor cocktail party. Play classic jazz like the Dave Brubeck Quartet or vocalists like Tony Bennett, both available on vinyl at footlight.com.
5. Take a relaxing lavender bath. Let the hot water run over a nosegay of fresh lavender leaves and blossoms. For an even more aromatic experience, add some Lavender Bath Syrup from Sweet Grass Farm; order from sweetgrassonline.com.
6. Refreshing. Invite a couple of friends over for lavender lemonade. Brew 2 cups of lavender-infused leaf tea, cool it, and then add the juice of 4 lemons and honey—lavender, of course—to taste. Serve over ice. Order culinary lavender from Penzeys Spices: 4 oz.
7. With cherries on top. Let them eat cake—without turning on a hot oven. Transform a store-bought cake into a sumptuous treat by topping it with fresh cherries. You can also use strawberries, blueberries, or blackberries. Summer’s harvest produces so many fresh berries from which to choose. Just remember: To get the most flavor, use berries as soon as possible—a few days at most after you buy them. And select containers without juice stains—signs of crushed, bruised berries, which might indicate overripe fruit.
8. Freeze fresh fruit juice in Popsicle molds for an icy treat.
9. Posh picnic. Skip the paper plates the next time you picnic. Gather up your assorted favorite china in a sturdy basket. It’s fun to mix and match dish styles and enjoy the transfer ware or vintage plates that you found at a tag sale. If you have one treasure with a pattern you absolutely love and want to create a picnic set, check out Replacements, Ltd. It offers a huge selection of china patterns—even old and discontinued ones.
10. Take a drive down a country road. Then pull over on a road less traveled and take a walk. If the path is grassy, go barefoot (again, gas prices might be a challenge)!
11. Ex libris. Visit your own bookshelves and reread a favorite novel, or pick up a classic you’ve been meaning to start but haven’t gotten around to yet. Particularly nice for summer weekend reading: Travels with Charley, by John Steinbeck, My Antonia, by Willa Cather, The Adventures of Tom Sawyer, by Mark Twain, and The Collected Poems of Emily Dickinson.
12. Stop by the farmers’ market for fresh herbs—look for lemon verbena or sorrel—then use them to heighten the flavor of your favorite grilled vegetables.
13. Do a favor. Create personalized place settings for a summer luncheon. Start by digging into that drawer filled with old note cards, spare buttons, and ribbons for materials. Not only will you clean out the drawer, you’ll have the makings of an original favor for each guest. Finish by writing each person’s name on his or her favor. Order crafts pens or markers from polymerclayexpress.com or pearlpaint.com.
14. Color theory. Spruce up a neglected room with a coat of paint. Try summery colors like Pratt & Lambert’s Snapdragon or Benjamin Moore’s Pure Joy and apply to just one wall. It will be easy enough to change when you’re ready for the rich palette of autumn.
15. Play croquet, Wiffle ball, or badminton. If you don’t have the equipment, invite a neighbor who does—or look for a used set at a yard sale."