Jay Johnson -- There's nothing better than taking a walk around your neighborhood. Notice how the houses are constructed, take notes about garden details, and gaze into lighted windows at night to see your neighbors' interior decorating.
Armed with a video camera, I enjoy taking video walks around neighborhoods and this month's featured video finds me walking with designer Irwin Weiner ASID (his is the South African voice, mine the hopelessly Midwestern twang). It's fun taking these neighborhood walks with an experienced design professional; Irwin pointed out many details I would have missed. I have a tendency to be "gee whiz!" about most houses, but his eye is better trained than mine, and I appreciated his insights into what worked and what didn't work in the houses we saw.
I hope you're having a pleasant end to your family's summer. There are still many wonderful days left to take a neighborhood walk and get some great ideas for your house and garden by looking at what others have done (or should have done) for theirs.