Our writers and editors share their top picks for home, garden, life, food and travel. Check out sleek ideas for garden hoses, plenty of books for summer reading, eco-friendly glass straws, a Midwest hot spring and more.

By The editors of MidwestLiving.com
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Austin Day

Home and Garden

  1. Reel Sophisticated A sleek and eco-friendly storage solution for your garden hose—who knew? The Hoser, from Duluth’s Loll Designs, offers a mod minimalist take on the typical wall-mount reel. Loll, which spun out of a custom skate-ramp business, is known for creating fun and innovative outdoor furniture with recycled plastic (mostly single-use milk jugs). The Hoser is available as a square or round version, in nine splashy colors, including Sky Blue (pictured above). $125. lolldesigns.com And that purple hose? ) It's ColorStorm ($63) with a nine-pattern spray gun ($16) by Wisconsin-based Dramm. Berry (pictured) is one of six bold hues. Available at garden centers and online retailers.
Family Tree Nursery, Kansas City
Courtesy of Family Tree Nursery

2. Family Tree Nursery Family Tree is a great metro Kansas City nursery with a helpful staff for newbie gardeners like me. It’s my go-to spot for houseplants. (I just bought a fiddle-leaf fig and a string of bananas plant.) The Shawnee location has a coffee shop called Café Equinox. Tagline: Caffeine plus chlorophyll. Sold! familytreenursery.comFrom Allison Zelle , Associate Art Director

Courtesy of Minnidip

3. Adult Swim One of parenting’s great pleasures is soaking your feet in the kiddie pool—or heck, maybe even sitting in one with a drink. So why not design them with adults in mind? Enter Minnidip, a Chicago-based line of inflatable pools in poppy patterns like banana leaves (pictured). At 5.5 feet in diameter and 1.5 feet deep, the Minnidip holds up to three adults and is good for kids age 6 and older. $45. Available at Target and minnidip.com.

Life

Courtesy of Living Lands and Waters

4. Good Neighbors: Whatever Floats Your Boat The crew behind Living Lands and Waters, a nonprofit environmental organization based in East Moline, Illinois, spends most of the year living and traveling on a barge, hosting conservation efforts like river cleanups, workshops and tree plantings. Since its inception in 1998 by founder Chad Pregracke, and with the help of more than 108,000 volunteers, the group has removed 10.7 million pounds of trash from our nation’s rivers. This year, Living Lands and Waters is focused on the next phase of its MillionTrees Project. Having already met a goal of planting 1 million trees along waterways to increase biodiversity, reduce erosion, and improve air and water quality, the group is working toward its second million. livinglandsandwaters.org

As part of our Good Neighbors program, highlighting good deeds and unique Midwest nonprofits, Midwest Living has donated $500 to Living Lands and Waters.

Read here about other Good Neighbors recognized in this issue specifically for their efforts to fill community needs in the COVID-19 pandemic.

5. The Daughters Of Erietown Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Connie Schultz (her husband is Ohio Sen. Sherrod Brown) sets her debut novel in 1950s Clayton, Ohio. It’s a tale of deep desires, old secrets and family sacrifice (Penguin Random House, $28).

6. Lake Ware Wave patterns. Watery quips. Paddles. Anchors. Bobbers. If a product has a lake-y motif, Katherine Gramann sells it at Lake Effect Company. She started the online boutique in 2016 and last year, opened a lakefront brick-and-mortar shop in Pewaukee, Wisconsin. Her top-selling Chase More Sunsets line includes locally designed clothing, jewelry, water bottles and more—or just follow her Instagram (@lakeeffectco) for a splash of that #lakelife mood. lakeeffectco.com

Travel

David Nevala

7. Ahoy! Following the lead of Airbnb and Uber, GetMyBoat is a fresh take on the sharing economy. It’s exactly what it sounds like—a clearinghouse where you can find privately owned pontoons, sailboats, kayaks and other floating vessels to rent while on vacation. getmyboat.com

Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa
Courtesy of Moccasin Springs

8. Moccasin Springs Until last year, you had to leave the Midwest to soak in natural hot springs. Then Moccasin Springs Natural Mineral Spa opened in Hot Springs, South Dakota, on the southern edge of the Black Hills. Owner Kara Hagen restored springs on a property that had fallen into disrepair and shuttered in the 1960s. Soaking pools range from 88 to 102 degrees. Rent cabins or book an earth home nearby. moccasinsprings.com

9. The Death And Life Of The Great Lakes “A Great Lake can hold all the mysteries of an ocean, and then some,” writes Dan Egan. In this must-read, the reporter shares the lakes’ history and ecology—and offers an urgent forecast for their future (Norton, $18).

“I grew up by Lake Erie and am happiest by, in and on the water. This book will stick with me.” — Timothy Meinch, Travel Editor

10. Partner Pick: Enjoy The Ride When you’re ready to hit the road again, Ohio’s scenic lakes and rivers are here for you: Take in small towns and vistas along the Ohio River. Head north to the beaches of Lake Erie. Or day-trip to a state park, and hike or cast a line. Plan a trip at ohio.org.

Food

This salad looks 100 percent fancier than the one described below—but it’s almost as easy. Sliced cucumber. Sweet corn. Lemony vinaigrette. And all the herbs your garden can offer.
Carson Downing

11. Cool Hand Cuke I grew up eating my mom’s pantry salad of sliced cucumber, red wine vinegar, salt and cracked pepper. No oil. The beauty is the simplicity and tang. Of course, the formula is endlessly riffable. (For example, if I’m cooking stir-fry, I douse my cukes in rice vinegar and add a dash of sesame oil and some scallion or cilantro.) But on the hottest, laziest nights, I keep it old-school like Mom, adding a pinch of sugar to balance the vinegar’s bite. To me, nothing tastes better alongside a tangle of pesto pasta.—Hannah Agran, Executive Editor

Courtesy of Strawesome

12. The Last Straw Rehydrate through an eco-friendly, dishwasher-safe (and very durable) glass straw from Strawesome, a small biz in Milford, Michigan. Straws come in dozens of colors and styles, so every family member can have a unique look. Prices vary; from $40 for four bent straws. strawesome.com

Brie Passano

13. Mixed Drinks To Go Don’t retire your flask yet, but the era of cooler-friendly canned cocktails has dawned—and we are so here for it. The sweet-but-not-cloying vodka soda and fruity mules from Cardinal Spirits, a distillery in Bloomington, Indiana, are our Midwest faves. From $10 for four. cardinalspirits.com

14. Hungry For Harbor Country Californian Lindsay Navama really digs southwest Michigan. She blogs about her adopted home at Third Coast Kitchen, and her new cookbook shares 56 personal and chef recipes, like Blueberry Mascarpone Crepes from Luisa’s Cafe in Harbert. The dreamy picnic on the cover says it all: If you are a Mitten fanatic (you know who you are), this is the love letter you’ve been waiting for (Agate, $35.).