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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It was worth the snowy drive last night to get an early peek at "Make Room," the inspired room vignettes at the American Craft Council show (http://www.startribune.com/lifestyle/homegarden/202743811.html), opening today in St. Paul.
Ten interior designers each chose a favorite item of fine craft -- a handwoven rug, a piece of handcrafted furniture or an art piece -- .then created a "room" to complement their find.
The idea was to put craft in context, and encourage visitors to fall in love with a piece, then imagine how they might bring that piece home and incorporate it into their decor.
Here are just a few examples of the diverse and intriguing designer "rooms" on display at RiverCentre through Sunday, April 21:
The graphically geometric room at right was designed by Lucy Penfield of Lucy Interior Design
This room (below) , inspired by the "well-traveled collector," was created by Andrew Flesher, Andrew Flesher Interiors
A colorful handwoven rug by fiber artist Kelly Marshall inspired this room, below, by Lisa Ball, Design By Lisa
Greg Walsh, Walsh Design Group, drew inspiration from multiple craft artists to create the organic, moden room below:
Robb Whittlef of Historic Studio describes the room below as "Eccentric Minimalism." Check out the retro 1960s floor tile, recently removed from Liberace's last house in California, which Whittlef is helping to renovate
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.
Looking for a great old fixer-upper? Look north -- to the Old Highland neighborhood in North Minneapolis, to be specific.
That's the advice from This Old House magazine, which recently released its annual list of "Best Old House Neighborhoods" -- 51 in the United States and 10 in Canada. (www.thisoldhouse.com/best-places.)
Minneapolis' Old Highland also made the magazine's "Top 6 Editor's Picks" and "Best Place for Fixer Uppers" list.
What makes Old Highland so great? The 30-block Victorian-era enclave boasts architectural diversity, craftsmanship and "preservation momentum," along with walkability, safety and community.
Much of the housing stock was built in the 1880s, when architects were designing residences for well-to-do merchants who operated nearby businesses. The neighborhood got its name for its location, high above Bassett Creek and Oak Lake.
Old Highland fell into decline during the 1970s when middle-class residents migrated to the 'burbs, and were replaced by absentee landlords. But residents fought back, forming an active neighborhood association.
"This area has always been stigmatized as a rough part of town, so it wasn't on my radar," resident Amy Narum told the magazine. But after moving into her partner's duplex, "I quickly realized that people here are really friendly and really close."
Old Highland (bordered by Plymouth, West Broadway, Aldrich and Girard) has a website, www.oldhighland.org.
What's your favorite "old house neighborhood" in the Twin Cities? And what do you love about it?
Not Lowry Hill.
Not Summit Avenue.
Nope, the best "Old House Neighborhood" in Minnesota is Prospect Park in Minneapolis. That's according to This Old House magazine, which just released its annual list. (St. Cloud made the cut last year.)
Prospect Park, known for its "Witch's Hat" water tower, is tucked between the University of Minnesota campus and St. Paul.
And it's a treasure trove of well-preserved old homes, according to the magazine. With nearly 800 dwellings, 92 percent are considered historic, in architectural styles ranging from 19th-century Stick Victorians to midcentury bungalows.
This Old House also liked Prospect Park's "mazelike streets," century-old trees and plethora of private gardens. The houses themselves are relative bargains. "It's common to find a fully restored 2,000-square-foot home built around the turn of the century for less than $400,000," the magazine noted. "Bargain hunters may find deals as low as $150,000 for a 1,200-to 1,500-square-foot house in need of updates."
I lived in Prospect Park -- twice -- during my early 20s, first in a nondescript duplex, then a grander four-plex with a front porch and ornate leaded-glass windows. Neither was architecturally distinguished. But I did love the neighborhood's leafy charm and easy proximity to the U.
Do you agree? Is Prospect Park the best "Old House Neighborhood" in Minnesota? If not, what is?
Earth Day is right around the corner (April 22), which means my computer is filling up with information about green this and eco that. I've got info on green cleaning products, energy-efficient lighting, water-conserving showerheads and eco-friendly bedding, to name just a few.
But a wire story offering tips on greening your sex life caught my attention.
For starters, sex has never struck me as something in need of greening. It's sort of the ultimate low-tech, organic activity. And, frankly, with kids, pets and dueling work schedules, finding time and opportunity is a more pressing sex challenge for me and my spouse than making sure our conjugal relations are Earth-friendly.
I figured it was just the desperate musings of a lifestyle reporter struggling to come up with a new angle for yet another Earth Day story. (I've been there.) But then I turned on the radio to hear Lori and Julia dishing about green sex products available at local pleasure emporium the Smitten Kitten (www.smittenkittenonline.com).
Well! Clearly, green sex is a trend that I had overlooked. I did some sleuthing and even found a website, Planet Green, offering the Top 10 Green Sex Tips (http://planetgreen.discovery.com/go-green/sex/sex-top-tips.html). Apparently many sex toys contain toxic chemicals called phthalates, a substance used to soften hard plastics (and now banned from use in children's toys). Who knew?
There are vegan condoms for those who want to avoid a milk enzyme that is often added to latex. And apparently the jury is still out on whether latex condoms are biodegradable.
If you want to green your entire boudoir, you can stock up on renewable bamboo sheets and organic-fiber lingerie. Then there's the delicate problem of finding an environmentally appropriate partner. If he or she is hot but drives an Escalade and refuses to recycle, that can be a real libido-killer. (Planet Green suggests trolling for love at the farmer's market or the Whole Foods checkout aisle.)
I might just go home to my hubby tonight and do something crazy with hormone-free dairy products. Or I might just go to sleep.
How about you? Do you care abour your bedroom's carbon footprint?
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