Jewels of the lake

If you've walked the Minneapolis Chain of Lakes, you've probably gazed at the grand houses ringing their shores. Next week brings a rare chance to peek inside some of those distinctive homes. The Preservation Alliance of Minnesota is hosting its first Open House benefit on Lake of the Isles. The alliance has partnered with Karen Melvin and Bette Hammel, the photographer and author behind "The Legendary Homes of the Minneapolis Lakes," to gain access to several architecturally significant houses, including two Prairie School-style homes, one of which was designed by Purcell and Elmslie, as well as a Mediterranean home and an Italianate home.

The open house will be held 1 to 4 p.m. Saturday. Tickets are $35, which includes access to three homes, or $75, which includes access to the fourth home and a small catered reception after the open house.

To buy a ticket, visit or call 651-293-9047, ext. 2.


Halloween spirit

Do you love to drape spider webs and rubber bats across your front porch? Are visitors afraid to cross your "lawn of the dead"? Is there a ghost peering out the kitchen window? Show us how you turn your mundane yard and home into a creepy Halloween nightmare. Send photos to Deadline is Oct. 25.

Fall lawn workshop

Want a better-looking lawn next spring? Fall is a great time to start. Gertens is offering a free workshop on fall seeding. Turf pros will explain how to use cold temperatures to your advantage, by applying grass seed in the fall; the seed remains dormant until the snow melts in spring, producing a lusher lawn.

The workshop will be held at 10 a.m. Saturday. Registration is requested, at Gertens is located at 5500 Blaine Av., Inver Grove Heights.

Party primer

Some people just seem born to entertain. The rest of us need a little guidance.

Susan Spungen is here to help with "What's a Hostess to Do? 313 Ideas and Inspirations for Effortless Entertaining."

Spungen is a former food editor at Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia and a culinary consultant and food stylist on the films "Julie & Julia," "It's Complicated" and "Eat, Pray, Love." Her book takes readers through all the steps involved in throwing a successful party, from sending out the invitations to setting up a bar and gracefully breaking away from a conversation. The book even covers such post-party issues such as using up leftovers and cleaning silver.

The book provides tips and ideas for a variety of types of parties — cocktail gatherings, sit-down dinners, holiday feasts and more. Recipes for 121 party foods are included.

"What's a Hostess to Do?" is published by Artisan Books and sells for $17.95 in paperback.

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