If you haven't seen the Victoria water lilies at Como Conservatory in St. Paul, do it now. These massive tropical beauties (named after Britain's Queen Victoria) will be blooming for the next couple of weeks. In addition to pads that can reach 6 feet in diameter, the lilies produce softball-sized blooms that open in the evening. You can find them in the water gardens outside of the visitor center. One caution: Look, don't touch. The thorns underneath the leaves are sharp enough to puncture rubber.


Minneapolis-based Blu Dot is making its first foray into lighting. The modern furnituremaker has introduced three lamps: the Stilt, which has wooden legs that open to form a base ($199 for table lamp, $349 for floor); the boxy Watt ($149 table, $299 floor), and the chunky Rook, right, which can sit on three legs or just one ($199). The lamps should be available online and at Roam, a modern furniture store in Minneapolis, by the end of August.


Are you a mess? If you can admit it, you may be able to win an iPad or an iPod Touch (preloaded with apps to help you get organized) as well as some help from the pros at Barrett Moving & Storage of Eden Prairie. To enter, submit an essay (500 words or fewer), photos and/or videos (two minutes or less via a YouTube link) from now through Sept. 15. Winners will be judged on the creativity of the entry -- and undoubtedly their messiness.

For complete contest rules, go to


A garden tour and five-course tea is on the menu at the St. Paul Hotel on Saturday. The Garden Tea features tomato and mozzarella salad, grilled asparagus, pancetta, smoked salmon, mint-infused truffles as well as other delicacies. St. Paul Hotel gardener Sara Orvik will be in the hotel's 6,500-square-foot garden to answer questions. 11 a.m. Saturday, 350 Market St. Tickets are $35. Call 651-228-3860.


A Minneapolis man restored his Craftsman-style bungalow and filled it with period-perfect antiques and reproductions. Then he re-engineered his career to match. He now spends his days designing Craftsman-inspired furniture and accent pieces, reinterpreted for modern living.