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15 Summer Projects and Activities There's Still Time For

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1. Gardening

If you haven’t planted your autumn crops yet, don’t worry—there's still time! Plant carrots, kale, turnips, squash, and beets for a late fall harvest. The idea is to find plants that mature quickly in the cool season, so you can have them before the winter weather hits. If you have a greenhouse, you have even more options.

2. Invite Over Some Hummingbirds

Hummingbirds are always an adorable delight to have in your backyard. If you want some tiny visitors of your own, just offer them their favorite food. Bird feeders can be made with spare bottles, jars, or even Frisbees. Fill your receptacle of choice with sugar water and add a straw for easy access. Hang your new creation on a nearby tree with wire. You can even decorate the feeder with bright colors to attract the birds.

3. Make a shadow box

Shadow boxes are a great way to display souvenirs from your last summer vacation. First, decide on a theme or vacation to draw inspiration from. Next, add shells, tickets, photos, buttons, or anything else you can think of to your box. Once you’re done, you can mount it on your wall and guests can learn about your last voyage without the lengthy slideshow.

4. Learn standup paddleboarding

If you want to try a new ocean sport while the weather is still warm, check out standup paddleboarding. The sport offers a fun, but relaxing activity that can be done in any body of water. The only gear you need to get started is a paddle and a board (although a flotation device and sunscreen are strongly recommended as well). Once you get up on your board, keep your knees bent, toes forward and your back straight. Stroke four or five times on one side and then switch to the other, if you want to stay in a straight line. Once you get moving, it will be easier to stay balanced. The sport is great exercise without being too strenuous.

5. Start a compost

Composting is an environmentally conscious way to create natural fertilizer. Start with flat ground and a basic material like wood to fence the area in. Lay some hay at the bottom of the area, then fill it with material like food scraps, cardboard, dryer lint, and other perishables. Egg shells, fruits, and vegetables are acceptable, but it's best to avoid meat and bones because they will attract unwanted guests. If you want to keep flies way from your new compost, use clipped grass to cover any new rinds or shells. And since fall is fast approaching, remember you can add leaves to your compost as well.

6. Have a picnic

Summer is the perfect time to dine outdoors—and if you go late enough, fireflies will even provide free entertainment! Bring a shower curtain to put under your picnic blanket in case the grass is wet. Mason jars make great containers for salads, vegetables, and other snacks. For an impromptu speaker, try putting your phone into a plastic cup to amplify the sound.

7. Host your own outdoor movie

All you need is a white sheet and projector to make the movie magic happen. Add some string lights and pop your own popcorn to add to that drive-in feel.

8. Make creative ice pops

Summer flavors are fresh and sweet. Experiment by mixing lots of new ingredients, like summer fruits and flowers. Hibiscus, lavender, and rose make great tasting popsicles, and you can add the actual petals for aesthetically beautiful treats. If you want something a little different, try adding yogurt or chocolate hazelnut spread for a creamier dessert. If you want to get really crazy, add gummy bears or other candy to the mix.

9. Organize a game with your friends

Find a day when all your friends are free and plan your favorite game. Some options include: kickball, soccer, SPUD, capture the flag, or a water balloon fight. All of these games require limited equipment so you don’t have to worry about setup or planning before you play. If you want to make it really serious, pick up some blank t-shirts and fabric markers to make team uniforms.

10. Make giant bubbles

All you need are two wooden dowels, string, and a bubble solution. Tie two pieces of string to connect the sticks and create a square of negative space. Just hold the dowels parallel and dip your bubble solution. If you want to make your own bubbles, mix glycerine, baking soda, corn starch and dishwashing soap with water. Stir until everything is dissolved, and then let sit for an hour. Now you have your own bubble mix and wand for giant bubbles.

11. Press Flowers

Grab flowers from your garden and press them to preserve their beauty before the cold weather gets them. Wash and dry your selected flowers and place them on tissue paper. Use heavy books to press your flowers. The process usually takes a few weeks, but with denser flowers like roses, it could take up to a month. If that's too long, you can also microwave your flowers to dry them out faster. Use your freshly-pressed flowers to make bookmarks, magnets, and greeting cards.

12. Find new uses for mason jars

Paint your mason jars with glow-in-the-dark paint and use them to illuminate a dark walkway. For more traditional light, fill your jar with candle wax and add your favorite scent. Decorate your glassware and turn them into rustic flower vases. If you’re feeling handy, buy some hose clamps from the hardware store and use them to hold up mason jars in the bathroom. Now you have a place to put your toothbrush, and the jars slip out when it’s time to wash them. The possibilities are endless!

13. Make summer wreaths

Wreaths don’t have to be just for Christmas. Greet your guests with summery shells, ribbons, and flowers. Start with a base; it can be wire, a picture frame, or a plain grapevine wreath. Next decide how you want to decorate it. You can add bows, flowers, fake fruit, sea shells, sea stars, or any other summery things you can think of. You can also cut paper into different shapes and add them around the sides.

14. Make moss graffiti

This is a great project for your backyard fence or the side of your house. Mix moss, water, water-retention gel and buttermilk in a blender. Once the ingredients are a pulpy green goo, put your solution in a bucket and grab a paintbrush. Find a good location and paint your design with the mixture. Mist the design about once a week with a spray bottle. After a few weeks, you’ll have moss growing in whatever shape you painted.

15. Make 5-minute ice cream

This is a great project to use if you want to teach someone about freezing points, but are also hungry. First, put cream, sugar, and vanilla in a plastic bag. Next, put that bag into a bigger bag filled with ice and salt. Shake the bag rigorously for five minutes and voilà! This works because the salt in the bag lowers the freezing point of the cream. Thanks to the sandwich bag, you don’t have to worry about having salty ice cream (unless that’s what you want).

All images courtesy of iStock unless otherwise stated. 

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George Washington’s Incredible Hair Routine

America's Founding Fathers had some truly defining locks, but we tend to think of those well-coiffed white curls—with their black ribbon hair ties and perfectly-managed frizz—as being wigs. Not so in the case of the main man himself, George Washington.

As Robert Krulwich reported at National Geographic, a 2010 biography on our first president—Washington: A Life, by Ron Chernow—reveals that the man “never wore a wig.” In fact, his signature style was simply the result of an elaborately constructed coiffure that far surpasses most morning hair routines, and even some “fancy” hair routines.

The style Washington was sporting was actually a tough look for his day. In the late 18th century, such a hairdo would have been worn by military men.

While the hair itself was all real, the color was not. Washington’s true hue was a reddish brown color, which he powdered in a fashion that’s truly delightful to imagine. George would (likely) don a powdering robe, dip a puff made of silk strips into his powder of choice (there are a few options for what he might have used), bend his head over, and shake the puff out over his scalp in a big cloud.

To achieve the actual ‘do, Washington kept his hair long and would then pull it back into a tight braid or simply tie it at the back. This helped to showcase the forehead, which was very in vogue at the time. On occasion, he—or an attendant—would bunch the slack into a black silk bag at the nape of the neck, perhaps to help protect his clothing from the powder. Then he would fluff the hair on each side of his head to make “wings” and secure the look with pomade or good old natural oils.

To get a better sense of the play-by-play, check out the awesome illustrations by Wendy MacNaughton that accompany Krulwich’s post.

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"American Mall," Bloomberg
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Unwinnable Video Game Challenges You to Keep a Shopping Mall in Business
"American Mall," Bloomberg
"American Mall," Bloomberg

Shopping malls, once the cultural hub of every suburb in America, have become a punchline in the e-commerce era. There are plenty of malls around today, but they tend to be money pits, considering the hundreds of "dead malls" haunting the landscape. Just how hard is it to keep a mall afloat in the current economy? American Mall, a new video game from Bloomberg, attempts to give an answer.

After choosing which tycoon character you want as your stand-in, you're thrown into a mall—rendered in 1980s-style graphics—already struggling to stay in business. The building is filled with rats and garbage you have to clean up if you want to keep shoppers happy. Every few seconds you're contacted by another store owner begging you to lower their rent, and you must either take the loss or risk them packing up for good. When stores are vacated, it's your job to fill them, but it turns out there aren't too many businesses interested in setting up shop in a dying mall.

You can try gimmicks like food trucks and indoor playgrounds to keep customers interested, but in the end your mall will bleed too much money to support itself. You can try playing the bleak game for yourself here—maybe it will put some of the retail casualties of the last decade into perspective.

[h/t Co.Design]

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