Welcome to Homegirls. You'll find a sassy sampling of décor and design tips, frank conversation about everything from holidays and homekeeping to home improvement and our picks and pans of new products, stores and events.
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Lately I've had a lot in common with my tulips. I've been hunkering down close to the house, covered with a soft white blanket, peeking out every once in a while to see if it's safe to leave my comfort zon
Could this weekend finally be our shining moment?
With a forecast heralding 70-plus degrees, I'm almost giddy about what the weekend holds. Here are the top spring-weather priorities in my house; let's hear yours:
Fresh air. Eager to rid the house of the stale winter smells (special thanks to our dog, Stella), I start cracking the windows in my house as soon as the weather hits 40 degrees. Come Friday, everything will be wide open which will probably lead to ...
Cleaning windows. Last year I took advantage of my kids having a bonus day off of school because they didn't use all their snow days. This year I'm not so lucky. But that won't stop me. I'll be armed with window cleaner, soapy buckets of water and old toothbrushes to wash away the last of winter's charm. With spring finally here, I want to be able to see it.
Airing our dirty laundry: Or at least our bed linens. One of the first things I did when we moved in almost 14 years ago was put in a clothesline. It's like an old friend: we've both seen better days, and even though we go months without seeing each other, once spring comes it's like we were never apart. Plus, is there anything better than crawling into bed under covers that have spent the morning basking in the sun?
Assessing the damage: How did everything fare over the winter? Do my trees all have buds on them? Are the lilacs that we had so much hope finally going to look like something besides a bunch of twigs? What shrubs will we have to replace? Will our yard always look like one of the 10,000 lakes? Will my sump pump EVER stop running?
Prioritizing the priorities: I've been wanting to move my garden for years, but I've also been wanting to plant shrubs along our property line to add privacy. Edging needs to be replaced, dirt needs to be brought in to fill around the house. Do we want to replace the rock with mulch? And what about my front door? Will I finally find time to paint it, and the trim around it? (Again, special thanks to Stella for making that necessary.) So many decisions, so little time, and even less money.
The great clean-up: Thank goodness my town still does spring clean-up, so this weekend will be spent kicking things to the curb, literally. Fair warning to the basement, garage and my children: judgment day has arrived. But then, at the end of the day, it's ...
Patio season opener: Time to sweep off the patio, wipe down the chairs and replace the legs on the table. The grill will be out, and so will the spring and summer menus. Good bye, pot roast; hello, grilled steaks. Who's with me?
What are your top priorities this spring, besides just basking in the fact that it's finally here?
We're all starving for a little color after this exceedingly long gray winter.
I'm already dreaming of the palette for this year's containers flanking my front door. Will I go dramatic, with orange-red blooms and some black foliage to set them off? Or more fresh and springy, with bright pink and lime green?
Maybe I'll even paint my boring brown door a fun new color. I tried that once on my first house, after admiring a taupe-and-mulberry color scheme on another house in the neighborhood. But the color that looked mulberry on the little paint chip ended up looking bright purple once it covered my whole door. I grew to like my purple door, but the next owner painted over it immediately. Back to boring brown.
If you're curious how a bold color might look on your front door, check out this gallery at Curbly, the St. Paul-based DIY website (http://www.curbly.com/users/diy-maven/posts/10559-eye-candy-6-colorful-front-doors)
Color can do a lot to perk up and unify a landscape, as well as the house itself. One of last year's Beautiful Gardens contest winners used bright cobalt-blue containers to create a unifying color scheme in her garden. Even a vintage clothesline pole, used as a trellis, got a coat of cobalt spray paint.
If you could use some help with your exterior color scheme, considering entering the "Shake It Up" Exterior Color Contest now underway via DaVinci Roofscapes, a Kansas City-based roofing company. The winner will receive a $5,000 cash grand prize to help add color to the home exterior.
To enter, you can "Like" the DaVinci Facebook page and submit a digital photo of your home's exterior, along with a brief description (250 words or less) of how you want to "shake up" the exterior of your home with color. (Deadline is April 21). A color expert will choose five finalists, then work with an artist to create renderings and product lists showing how the five finalists could transform their home exteriors. Then the five photos and artist renderings will be posted on the contest site from May 13-26 for online public voting, with the cash going to the home with the most votes.
What color are you craving this spring? And how do you plan to use it on the home front?
Ever seen this flower before? Here's a hint: You're not likely to find one blooming in a local back yard.
It's a chocolate cherry orchid, one of the many tropical plants on display at this year's annual Macy's Flower Show.
The theme is "The Painted Garden." A team from Bachman's has spent many months planning and growing exotic plants, followed by nine full days of installation, to transform Macy's eighth-floor auditorium into a Southeast Asian-inspired garden getaway. Think of it as a passage to India without the airfare.
This year's show is a kaleidoscope of brilliant color, designed with color-block plantings that take their cue from sets painted to celebrate Indian architecture.
The centerpiece of the show is a giant Asian elephant statue covered with a blanket of dried and fresh plants and flowers and bearing a howdah (Indian carriage) filled with dozens of tropical blooms.
Bachman's designers Karen Ortiz and Leah Schmidt used 20 different kinds of plant material to create the blanket alone.
You can experience this year's flower show firsthand starting Sunday, March 24, when the show opens for its two-week run. (For information on hours and related special events, including classes and the Bouquet of the Day, visit www.macys.com).
In the meantime, if you need your flower fix, look for a video tour of this year's show that will be posted Saturday on startribune.com.
And if you know your stuff when it comes to plants, see how many of the 20 plants you can identify in the elephant's blanket.
I have a love-hate relationship with the Parade of Homes. As a house junkie, I love looking at gorgeously staged rooms, trophy kitchens and state-of-the-art fixtures and finishes.
But I always come home a bit discouraged with my own humble dwelling. Everything looks a little shabbier and more outdated after gazing at all that pristine, styled perfection.
The most luxurious homes are the best -- and the worst. They offer great eye candy, but the contrast between somebody else's dream home and my reality can be pretty stark.
I know the Parade is supposed to be for people who are thinking about building a home, and are looking for ideas and resources. But I also know there are a lot of gawkers like me who just like to fantasize about living in the sorts of homes they never will.
My own personal "Dream Home" is probably a cozy cottage or a warm Mediterranean-style home with a red-tile roof. But that doesn't mean I can't appreciate Dream Homes with a very different aesthetic.
I got a sneak preview of one of this year's Dream Homes last week, the day before the Parade opened. It's sleek, modern and high-tech, with state-of-the-art everything and a black, white and gray color palette. It felt cool and calm, even with people running all around arranging wine bottles in the cellar and elegant vases on the tabletops.
What would it be like to actually live in a house like that? Would such a clean, uncluttered space inspire a cleaner, less-cluttered life? Or would we soon overrun it with knick-knacks, disorganized bills, newspapers, magazines and tufts of dog fur?
I know the answer to that question, unfortunately!
How about you? Do you check out the Parade of Homes just to gawk? What kinds of houses do you like to look at?
Consider me inspired. I spent some time yesterday wandering the Home & Garden Show, always a fertile place for ideas on the home front. I had spring fever, so I lingered in the display gardens, where this year's theme is classic TV shows.
A garden inspired by "I Dream of Jeannie"? Yep. And "Miami Vice" and "Gilligan's Island." The nine TV-inspired gardens are a blast to stroll through. Don't miss 'em!
But even if you're not planning something that elaborate for your own landscape this year, you'll still find plenty of ideas and resources for beautifying your home, both inside and out.
Greengirls, the Star Tribune's garden bloggers, will be at the show to dish the dirt.
Want to be in the know on what's new? Tonight at 6 p.m., you can learn about the hottest garden trends, from edible landscapes to the latest water features, presented by Greengirls Connie Nelson, Mary Jane Smetanka and Helen Yarmoska -- on the Lifestyle Stage.
Stick around after the presentation for free seed packets and gardening calendars, which will be handed out between 7 and 8 p.m. in the garden area.
If you can't make the show tonight, the Greengirls also will be making the show this weekend, handing out free sees and gardening calendars, and answering your toughest garden questions. On Friday, March 1, 5:30-6:30 p.m., the Greengirl of the day will be Helen Yarmoska. And on Saturday, March 2, 11 a.m.-noon, it's Martha Buns.
Come say "Hi," pick up your free seeds, and check out a garden fit for a genie -- or a shipwrecked castaway.
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