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Are you musically inclined? I never played an instrument when I was growing up, but one of the first gifts my husband bought for me when we started dating was a silver glitter Danelectro bass. He was teaching me how to play and my lessons were coming along nicely…until we got noise complaints from our neighbors across the hall. (Uh, sorry for rocking too hard, guys!) While it might not be practical to play again until we eventually move to the suburbs, I hate to see Estelle (that’s what I named her) collecting dust up in our loft, so I may take a cue from these smart ideas that turn musical instruments into decor worthy of admiration in the meantime.

5 Interesting Musical Instrument Design Ideas: Coffee Table Conversation Piece

Coffee Table Conversation Piece
I love the space-saving musical instrument idea in this small studio by Casey Noble. Nestled inside a cool custom coffee table, the guitar has a place of honor and is protected, as the table acts as a kind of guitar case.

MORE IDEAS FOR MUSICAL INSTRUMENTS

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Happy Bastille Day everyone! I must admit, I’m feeling pretty nostalgic. I was lucky enough to watch the fireworks erupt behind the Eiffel Tower on Bastille Day last year (take me baaack), so I’m having a serious case of wanderlust today. Even if we can’t all go to Paris to join in traditions like watching the fireworks or attending the Military Parade on the Champs-Élysées, we can certainly celebrate this historic day in our own way here in America. Here’s a few HGTV takes on La Fête Nationale traditions:

Bastille Day Ideas: Red, White and Blue Decor
All Things Blue, White, and Red
Remember all those cute Fourth of July decorations you put so much thought into two weeks ago? Good news: Bastille Day gives you a reason to re-use your festive red, white and blue pieces. Just remove anything involving stars and stripes and voilà — your home is ready for French festivities.

MORE BASTILLE DAY IDEAS

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christmas in july

Get a head start on the holidays! Browse the Christmas in July hub where our hgtv.com editors have found the best ideas for handmade gifts and decorations, kids’ crafts, greeting cards and more. But first, take a second to answer the question below. HGTV Magazine is already prepping for this year’s December issue and asks for your input on the long-standing Christmas tree debate: real or fake?

Christmas decorations

The holidays will be here before you know it.

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I’m once again suggesting you take the party outsideCrafternoon style this time! My good friend Whitney threw a wonderful crafting party in Washington Square Park last week. The event was a hit and I highly recommend throwing your own crafting party in the park, or any outdoor venue you prefer. After staking out a perfect spot in the shade, the afternoon was comprised of great friends, delicious food, adorable puppies, lots of pictures and beautiful paper flowers. While bringing craft supplies outdoors may seem counter-intuitive, the open setting gives you ample space to create. (Plus it’s so nice to be out in the fresh air during these hot summer days.)

Whether you host a big crafting event or just a get-together with a few close friends, this summer party idea is great for guests of all ages. Here are a few tips to make your own Crafternoon a success:

Throw a Crafting Party

Photo: Courtesy of Whitney Penn

Pick a Convenient Craft
Make sure you pick a DIY project that is nature-friendly — in other words, nothing that requires excessive materials, cleanliness, or, of course, electricity.  Whitney cleverly chose paper flowers for her party craft, which fit both thematically and logistically. The craft itself was simple and the components were easy to transport. Plus, if the petals got a little crumpled or dirty, it just made them seem more realistic.

More paper flower crafts: Fourth of July Wreath, Wedding Bouquet

Other easy outdoor crafts: Coiled Wire Ring, Felt Bowls, Friendship Bracelets

MORE PARTY TIPS

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BRIANA: Sculptural busts go way back – like classical antiquity way back – but it seems like they’re having a moment again. Whether they’re old-school, updated with a flashy coat of paint or placed in an unexpected context (like these Mineheart pendants spotted at ICFF), they’re cropping up all over the place. What do you think of the trend? Is it cultured and cool? Or are bust sculptures too stuffy for you?

CAMILLE: Needless to say that as a traditionalist and antiques super fan, I’m all in when it comes to classical busts – especially when they represent Greco/Roman mythology. Like this bust of history’s original wild woman Artemis (aka Diana) that I scored at an estate sale in 2012.

Do you like the bust sculpture trend? Vote now on HGTV's Design Happens blog!

In fact, I did a blog post about this trend and explained a bit about the different materials used for busts here…

MORE BUSTING ON BUSTS

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Now’s the time to show your true team allegiance — are you #TeamJonathan or #TeamDrew? This Sunday at 9/8c, tune into the season two finale of Brother Vs. Brother. Will Team Drew take home another win, or will Team Jonathan even up the score? Plus, find out which skilled contestant is heading home with $50,000 and the title of Champion of Brother Vs. Brother.

Brother Vs. Brother Season 2 Finale

Drew and Jonathan pillow fight with the finale’s expert judges, Flip or Flop‘s Tarek and Christina El Moussa and Love It or List It‘s Hilary Farr and David Visentin.

Team Drew amps up the competition with a master suite redesign they call “Zen Spa.” Both the bathroom and bedroom feature a mix of earth tones and natural materials. Over on Team Jonathan, Adi and Rick create symmetry in the bathroom with his-and-her features. Plus, Adi showcases his handiwork with an impressive wainscoting project around the bedroom.

Catch this sneak peek of Sunday’s final challenge:

Show love for your favorite brother or team with DIY Team Jonathan and Team Drew temporary tattoos. Then, tune in for the Brother Vs. Brother finale this Sunday, July 13 at 9/8c.

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Congratulations to this giveaway’s random winners Melissa, Lorraine and Char. (Check your email!) Come back next month for another great giveaway.

I always feel just a little bit calmer when I step out the door into my garden. Checking on blossom progress, discovering a new vegetable sprout and even, yes, weeding mellows me out. If gardening isn’t your thing, though, there are many ways to make your yard into a sanctuary, like setting a reading bench in the shade or adding a simple decorative outdoor fountain.

For this Freebie Friday giveaway, three lucky Design Happens readers will win their choice from the three fountains below from LampsPlus.com. No backyard? These prizes would make beautiful indoor fountains, too.

Lamps Plus - Beautiful Indoor and Outdoor Fountains From LampsPlus.com

Relaxation awaits! Each of three winners may choose between (left to right) the modern Column Solar-Powered Fountain, the Aged Bronze Buddha Indoor/Outdoor Fountain and the Seven Cascades Cutaway Outdoor Fountain.

To enter for a chance to win, leave a comment below. This giveaway’s question: What summer activity helps you relax or unwind?

You may only comment once to be considered, and you don’t have to purchase anything to win; a purchase will not increase your chances of winning. Odds depend on total number of entries. Void where prohibited by law. Only open to legal residents of 50 U.S., D.C. or Puerto Rico, and you must be at least 18 years of age to win. All entries (comments) must be entered between 2:00 p.m. ET on July 11, 2014 and 2:00 p.m. ET on July 14, 2014. Subject to full official rules. By leaving a comment on the blog, you acknowledge your acceptance to the Official Rules. ARV of each prize: $149.95. ARV of all three prizes: $449.85. Sponsor: Scripps Networks, LLC, d/b/a HGTV, 9721 Sherrill Boulevard, Knoxville, TN 37932

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Crispy Chicken

Here is a skillet supper that truly uses one pan to create all the components of a great meal. Crispy Chicken Breast Filets, flattened to quicken the cooking process, are paired with sweet corn medallions, bulb onions and fresh tomatoes. It’s a delicious party menu that utilizes peak seasonal ingredients to keep the flavor high and costs low. Outside of the pan, I’ve also included a dessert of Cherry Cream Pie which is a revelation in contrast to the recipes found on the back of cream cheese packets.

Norm’s Notes: Seasoning Salt and Blends

In today’s culinary world, salt and pepper reign as the undisputed kings of flavor enhancement. The numerous variants of sodium chloride and pungent berries are prized among cooks who often adjust and combine different types to meet specific uses. However, store-bought seasoning salts and blends, popular with most home cooks, often get no love. Since many peoples’ cabinets are littered with half full cylinders of them, I think salt and pepper elitism needs to be addressed.

Seasoning salts and blends are great because they will go with just about anything you can think of, quickly enhancing the taste of foods with little effort. The main problem is many of the seasonings lose potency and pungency over time. So that seasoning you bought for that one recipe you made, for that thing, two years ago, may be past its prime. A good rule is if you haven’t used it within the current calendar year, it probably needs to be discarded, but check the expiration date to be sure. My advice is to use seasoning salts and blends often and boldly. Shake a bit on fresh cut veggies, salad, eggs, grits or anywhere you would use salt and pepper or hot sauce. If anyone sticks their nose in the air about your love of seasoning salt and blends, smile at them, shake on more, and enjoy.

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Calling all Harry Potter fans: Your favorite scar-sporting wizard is back. Even if you’re not a Potter nerd like I am, you’ve probably already heard about the new story J.K. Rowling published Tuesday on Pottermore. Loyal HP fans flooded the site, eager to read more about the famous fictional wizard. Considering it’s been seven years since Deathly Hallows was published (crazy, right?), the reaction is no surprise. The frenzy even crashed Pottermore.com for a period of time, but don’t fret! The site is back up and running!

The short story comes in the guise of a Rita Skeeter gossip column in which Rowling gives readers a glimpse at the lives of Harry and crew, now in their mid-30s. We learn sparing details, like how Harry has a new scar and “a couple of threads of silver” in his hair sorry, no more spoilers. Instead, to honor this momentous day in the lives of HP fans everywhere, I’ve compiled pictures of furniture and accessories that are reminiscent of the Wizarding World — without resorting to the obvious broomstick or wand. Here are 6 ways to translate elements of Harry’s world into decor even us muggles could actually use:

Harry Potter Inspired Decor

Top, L to R: Red and Gold Living Room (Gryffindor Common Room), Tree Canopy Bed (Enchanted Forest) | Middle, L to R: Eclectic Mirror (Mirror of Erised), Upcycled Bottles (Potions) | Bottom, L to R: Telephone Box Book End (Ministry of Magic Entrance), Stair-Step Bedroom Dresser (Cupboard Under the Stairs)

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If you like pina coladas and getting caught in the rain,” then National Pina Colada Day was made for you. And how perfect that it falls in the dog days of summer when nothing seems more refreshing than a cold, tropical cocktail in hand. So “put the lime in the coconut and drink it all up,” I say. But if you’d rather skip past the drinks and head straight to dessert, then try these pina colada baked doughnuts or pina colada key lime pie. Both look exceptionally sinful.

Strawberry Pina Colada Pops

Photo and recipe courtesy of Cornelia Guest

 Spiked Strawberry Pina Colada Pops

Ingredients

3 cups fresh pineapple, cubed
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut milk
1/2 cup water
3 tablespoons sugar
1/3 cup rum
1 cup strawberries, sliced

Instructions

Puree all ingredients (except strawberries) in a blender until smooth. Strain through a fine-mesh sieve and discard solids. Add strawberries, pour into ice-pop molds and freeze for 30 minutes. Insert sticks and continue to freeze overnight. For best results, leave ice pops in the freezer for at least 24 hours.

10 More Recipes to Try

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