1. Don’t move to Westport Simply build an Adirondack chair (right) using $40 worth of redwood fencing from Home Depot, a box of screws, and a drill.
2. Get your backyard sizzling You can make a mortarless brick barbecue setup with 130 bricks, a piece of outdoor-grade plywood, a grill, and a paint can full of sand.
3. Sit on it It’s easy to fashion cushy outdoor-concert seats from old table placemats, duct tape, and some cheap sponges or foam.
4. Light up your life Grab some needle-nosed pliers and brighten your outdoor spaces with lanterns made from old coffee tins and wire.
5. Go heavy on the condiments In your new backyard barbecue pit (item 2), try grilling up some Mustard Chicken or Ketchup Shrimp, or use the recipe below for Portobello-and-eggplant burgers with red-pepper-mayonnaise sauce.
Eight Portobello mushrooms, cleaned and trimmed
One eggplant, sliced 1/2-inch thick
Salt and pepper
Eight sourdough or whole wheat buns
25-30 large basil leaves
And for the sauce:
Half cup mayonnaise
Half cup roasted red peppers
Three large basil leaves
Juice of half a lemon
Two cloves garlic, peeled
Throw the sauce ingredients into the blender and purée. To make the burgers, sprinkle the mushrooms and eggplant with olive oil, salt, and pepper (both sides). Get your grill medium-hot and cook the mushrooms, gills up, four to six inches from the coals for seven to eight minutes. Cook the eggplant four to five minutes, flipping halfway through. Toast the buns. Put one mushroom and a slice or two of eggplant on each bun. Top with a few basil leaves and a spoonful of sauce — and munch.
6. Swing like an Appalachian The bench seat from an old pickup truck cab, along with some chains and sturdy joists, makes a great swing for your front porch.
7. Send postcards from paradise Fill a small gift box with sand, mini cocktail umbrellas, tiny shells, or some other summer memory. Reinforce the box with tape, and use a permanent marker to write a message on the back. Address the front, and mail your pals an instant summer vibe.
8. Be a fashion designer Vintage pillowcases make good starting materials for light cotton summer skirts, curtains, or aprons. All else you need are scissors, needle and thread, and a sliver of creativity.
9. Green your acres Cut off the bottom of a plastic water bottle. Use the bottle upright as a mini-greenhouse to incubate seedlings and protect them from garden critters. Leave the mouth open to release excess heat and humidity. When the plant grows too large for its petroleum-based shelter, cut the bottle down to a ring and leave in the soil as a supportive cuff.
10. Prepare for the dog days Weave strips of old jeans or synthetic bikinis (drool-resistant!) into fun chew toys for your copilot.