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How to Makeover Your Backyard–And Win $5,000 to Do it!

Wish you could take your outdoor space from plain to Pinterest-perfect? You can—and we’re here to help! In the July/August issue of Every Day with Rachael Ray (pick up your copy on June 9th!), we teamed with with the pros at Porch to share four drool-worthy backyard upgrades and tell you how to get each look. This cozy, built-in fire pit with lush landscaping cost the homeowners $40,000, but for those who don’t have that kind of cash to spend (read: most of us!), we explain what’s involved in getting an expert to do a less involved project and how to create an inviting yard in a weekend—on a budget. All you need to pull it off? A few stylish-yet-inexpensive pieces:

 

photo via Alderwood Landscaping

This Wood-Burning Fire Pit measures almost 30 inches in diameter, so there’s plenty of room for a crowd to gather around. $99, Garden Treasures, lowes.com

Use this Outdoor Rectangular Pouf Footstool to sit by your pit; it’s surprisingly lightweight and comfy. $50, Threshold, target.com

Load up the Hartman Adjustable Firewood Storage Rack. It allows air to circulate around your wood to help prevent rot and mold. $60, Crosley, bedbathandbeyond.com
 
 
We’ve got three other transformative upgrades in the issue, and the deal of the summer: Our friends at Porch and Cost Plus World Market have teamed up to give one lucky winner $3,000 worth of expert work and $2,000 to decorate their space.
 
The collaboration between these two companies seems like a match made in heaven. Porch is a site that helps consumers get connected with home improvement professionals that they can trust. Simply browse by job type (from home cleaning to kitchen remodeling), leave a note about your budget and time frame and hit submit! You’ll be contacted by a reliable professional to get your project going. Once your space is clean and remodeled, head over to World Market, where you can find original and handmade decor, kitchenware, furniture and more from around the world.
 
To enter the sweepstakes, click here. And hurry! Contest ends June 30 (and summer ends September 23).

TV Kitchens to Love: Mad Men

Mad Men

 

Cutting-edge Scandinavian design with the most up-to-date technology–for the time.

Show creator Matthew Weiner, set decorator Claudette Didul and production designer Dan Bishop decided that, because lead character Don Draper earns good money, his apartment should
“look beyond the taste of a normal person.” Don’s wife, Megan, would have hired a professional decorator, Weiner says.

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Have You Entered Our Love Your Cucina Giveaway Yet?

We’ve partnered with PotsandPans.com, who is hosting giveaway of nearly $1,000 worth of Rachael Ray’s Cucina line kitchenware!

 

 

Simply enter via the PotsandPans.com Facebook page and one winner will get to choose his or her favorite color of pots, pans, bowls, knives and more! Rach’s line was inspired by her travels in Italy, and every piece has the handmade, rustic look that she loves about the ceramics there.

 

 

But wait, there’s more! 10 additional contestants will have the chance to win a Cucina skillet in the color of their choice.

 

For more globally-inspired recipes, visit the PotsandPans.com Pinterest page. Good luck! Contest ends May 13th.

TV Kitchens to Love: Modern Family

Modern Family

 

The cluttered epicenter of an on-the-go American family

The kitchen in Phil and Claire Dunphy’s house is not meant to be relaxing or peaceful. “This set reflects true family life, where it feels lived-in and highlights the busyness that every day brings,” says production designer Claire Bennett, who took over for the original designer, Richard Berg, before Season 5. The photo below was snapped at a rare moment of organization.

 
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TV Kitchens to Love: Castle

Castle

 

A masculine kitchen for a single guy– and his daughter… and his mom

The entire kitchen was built around the $1,300 Kohler faucet because production designer Alfred Sole fell in love with its innovative look. From there, Sole worked with the actors who play mystery writer Richard Castle and his live-in mom, Martha, to create a space they felt comfortable in.

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DIY March Madness Pillow Cases

If March Madness means your television is turned to college hoops all month long, show your school pride by giving your couch a spirited makeover: Temporarily transform your favorite team tees into game-day decor. Don’t worry– your shirts are still wearable when the season’s over. What a slam-dunk DIY project!
 

 

1. Gather your supplies

Clear off a workspace and have your supplies handy. Slide the pillow form into the T-shirt, making sure the logo is centered. Lay the pillow flat on your work surface with the front of the shirt face down.

 

Supplies:

Square pillow form

Team logo T-shirt

Colorful felt

Peel-and-stick Velcro tape

Safety pins

 

2. Pin it down

Fold the next of the shirt over and down the back of the pillow and secure with safety pins. Fold both sleeves in, making sure the design on the front of the shirt remains centered and smooth. Finally, fold up the bottom of the shirt and secure with more safety pins.

 

 

3. Make your backing

trim the felt so that it is 1 inch smaller than your pillow on all sides. Remove the backing from one side of the Velcro tape and secure it to the felt, placing it 1/4 inch from each edge. Remove the remaining tape backing and turn up the 1/4-inch runover of felt so it wraps around part of the Velcro.

 

4. Put it together

Flip the felt back over and center it on the back of your pillow, making sure to cover up all the safety pins. Press down on the adhesive Velcro to secure the edges.

 

When the season’s over, remove the Velcro and pins and your tee is as good as new!

 

 

Should You Spend $20 on a Roasting Rack?

You’ve got one chance to roast your Thanksgiving turkey to golden, crispy perfection, so you better believe we insist on splurging on a hefty roasting rack.

 

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Customize Your Thanksgiving Playlist with Spotify

We couldn’t imagine a Thanksgiving day without a few tunes to help get us through the hours of prep, the overwhelming amounts of family members and the incredulous food coma. Whether it’s The Beatles blasting while you baste the turkey, or some low-key Nora Jones to help ease your indigestion, music is as essential to the holiday as the turkey. This year, music app Spotify is making our lives even easier with their Time for Turkey playlist creator.

 

Photo courtesy of Spotify

 

On the morning of, simply head over to the Spotify website, select the weight of the bird you’re cooking, choose whether or not you’re stuffing it and your favorite music genre. Spotify will create a custom playlist that is guaranteed to keep you motivated and last throughout the day and . It’s as easy as (pumpkin) pie!

 

We wanna know: What’s your favorite music to cook to? Tell us in the comments below!

 

 

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The Year’s Easiest Halloween Decorating Idea

For this year’s Halloween party, brew up some tabletop fun: Spray-paint plastic trick-or-treat buckets black, inside and out (flat-finish paint looks spookiest), to transform them into cauldrons. Coat flat-top wooden candle holders (available unfinished at craft stores) with the same paint and attach the cauldrons to their tops with hot glue. Now all that’s left to do is choose witch, er, which snacks to serve. (Not recommended: eye of newt.)

 

 

 

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How to Throw a Rest-in-Peace Potluck Party

The Best Pumpkin Designs

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Should You Spend $40 On an Immersion Blender?

The answer is yes! Find out why you should definitely splurge on this life-saving kitchen tool.

 

 

It’s small, but mighty.

Think of it as a blender or food processor on a stick: just as powerful but way more nimble and easier to store. Use it to turn cooked veggies into bisques, to blend herbs and nuts into pestos or to smooth out gravy right in the pan. Unlike those stationary blades on traditional blenders and food processors, an immersion blender can reach into the depths and edges of your pots, pans and even tall glasses, leaving no chunks behind and allowing you full control over texture. Just point and pulverize.

 

It reduces mess.

Forget transferring batches of hot soup from pot to blender and back to pot (yikes!). Immersion blenders do it all right in your cooking vessel, no matter how much you’re making, saving you a step–and the time it takes to do the dishes!

 

 

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Healthy Soup Recipes

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