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.

Contributors: Kim Palmer, Lynn Underwood, Connie Nelson, Kim Ode and Nicole Hvidsten.

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Posts about Weekend chores

Everyone needs a good editor

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: February 13, 2013 - 9:30 AM

My children are never too thrilled when I correct their grammar or spelling. It's an occupational hazard of a journalist, I tell them; everyone needs an editor.

As we're nearing the end of The Basement Project, I tell them the same thing: Everyone needs an editor. This time we're not talking about the content of a school paper, we're talking about the contents of their bedrooms. New flooring has given us the unique opportunity to sort through, pare down, edit -- whatever you want to call it -- and make their rooms a little less cluttered.

Before TBP, their rooms were typical teenage rooms chock-full of stuff. New stuff, old stu

There's a point when you CAN have too many books.

There's a point when you CAN have too many books.

ff, school stuff, sports stuff, kitchen stuff, moldy stuff and unidentifiable stuff. Now as we start putting things back and establishing a new sense of normal, I'm asking them to think about everything before they put it back. Do they really need three years' worth of clothes? How about those third-grade notebooks? Are three bookshelves and a kitchen cart really necessary to hold all of your stuff, or is that just a sign you have too much stuff?

Oldest daughter is on board. She wants to start streamlining what's going back into her room. She's asked for a couple of organizational tools (she knows I'm a sucker for those) and has announced that she doesn't need all the furniture to go back into her room. I was elated, and am happy to help in this transformation. Not only is it some bonding time, but it will make preparing for college much easier, at least from a material standpoint.

Second daughter is a tougher sell. She is a pack rat by nature, and wants to save everything "just in case." She also dismisses any offers to help -- "I don't want anyone touching my stuff" -- which makes it all the more difficult to sell her on the concept. It's hard to be the editor when you're not allow access to the content. I can help you make sense of things, I say. She says she doesn't need that. I can help you be more organized, I say. I'm fine, she says. Fine, I say, until the next time you can't find uniform shorts or a cell phone. It's a vicious circle.

So how do you convince someone that they need an editor when the promise of a room that's easier to keep clean just isn't enough? How have you successfully pared down your stuff or the stuff of your teen? Can you really have too many books?

DIY: How far will you go?

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: January 30, 2013 - 8:10 AM

I like to dream big.

There are stacks of dog-eared magazines, websites bookmarked and books bought all with the hope of helping my house stay out of the dreaded "outdated" category. And although my hopes are high, my budget isn't. I'm constantly looking for things I can do myself (or under the guidance of my handy parents) to give new life to my aging house. But where do you draw the line?

Cabinets: While browsing in my local hardware store, I happened upon Rust-Oleum's

This DIY kit is on my short list.

This DIY kit is on my short list.

Cabinet Transformations kit, which promised refinished cabinets for about $75 or so. Considering I live in a sea of 1990s honey oak, this had my attention. The looks were appealing, the instructions didn't scare me and online research yielded some pretty cool results. The verdict: This is now on my short list, but I'll try it in my bathroom first. MUCH easier to hide mistakes in a master bath than the kitchen.

Countertops: Rust-Oleum appears to want to conquer your kitchen, as it also has a Countertop Transformations kit. This kit will take those laminate countertops with stains, burns, chips and knife marks and turn them into countertops with the look of natural stone. At this point I'm sitting on the floor of the hardware store, reading every bit of information I can find on this (thank you, smart phones). Could it really be this easy to get "new" countertops? Reviews are mixed. The verdict: A little too bold for me, but would love to hear from anyone who has tried it.

Tiling: I have various family members who have embraced DIY ceramic tiling, and I'm officially jealous. This is the one skill I'm dying to learn. I would tile the world -- or at least my kitchen backsplash, a wall in my bathroom and the floors in the bathrooms and laundry. The verdict: This is at the top of my DIY bucket list. I've been meaning to sit in on one of those classes at the home-improvement stores, but fear I might need a private tutor.

Flooring: If it were up to me, I'd have hardwood flooring throughout the entire house. Alas, I'm the only member of my family who feels that way. We tried to install TrafficMaster's Allure flooring in my basement, but that was an epic fail, and it wasn't entirely the fault of the flooring. I know people who have had great luck installing laminate and hardwood floors, but I don't know them well enough to "invite them over," which is code for "please help me." The verdict: Not a path I'm ready to travel.

Painting: There's nothing I won't paint. There are so many things I cannot do, it bothers me to hire someone to do something I actually CAN do. Granted, a professional probably won't leave little dabs of paint on the ceiling. And I would certainly call in the big dogs if I wanted a special effect or had cathedral ceilings. The verdict: All DIY.

What are your limits, and what are your successes? Please share!

Festive, or past its freshness date?

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: January 22, 2013 - 1:17 PM


Driving home last night, on a dark subzero evening, I saw something that made me stop and circle the block for another look.


It was a holiday light display, a fiesta-bright rainbow of color that lit up the lawn. 

Yes, January is more than half over, and most of us have taken down our holiday finery, probably even weeks ago. But this festive remnant in south Minneapolis looked awfully warm and cozy on such a frigid night. It cheered me up, just looking at it.

Most people, me included, are generally sick of holiday decorations by mid-January. Some folks even look askance at those procrastinating slackers who haven't yet gotten around to undecorating.

Are there "rules" about when holiday decor becomes a stale eyesore? One newspaper, the Capital Gazette of Annapolis, Md., conducted a reader poll. The results: While a majority (55 percent) said they undeck the halls between Jan. 2 and Jan. 6, and almost 29 percent do it even earlier, there was still a good-sized chunk of folks who take their time -- 13.5 percent said "Whenever" and 2.6 percent said "Never." (http://www.capitalgazette.com/news/when-do-you-take-down-your-holiday-decorations/poll_4605187c-5028-11e2-a08c-0019bb2963f4.html)

Most people seem to agree that the Christmas tree, at least, should come down by Twelfth Night (12 days after Christmas). But there seems to be a little more tolerance for outdoor holiday decor that sticks around well past the New Year. Maybe that's especially so here in Minnesota, where January is often too cold, snowy, icy or all-around miserable for mucking around with outdoor decorations.

The Huffington Post took a stab at writing "guidelines" for taking down holiday decor. While holiday-specific decorations like Santas and candy canes should probably come down promptly, more generic winter decor, such as lights, can be left up longer without raising neighbors' eyebrows. (http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/12/29/take-down-holiday-decorations_n_1174822.html)

On "Today," Kathie Lee and Hoda also weighed in -- with Hoda confiding that her family once left their decorated tree up until February. (http://www.today.com/id/40819956/site/todayshow/ns/today-today_home_and_garden/t/when-do-you-take-down-christmas-decorations/#.UP7SQWeUBI2)

How about you? Do you have a different timetable for indoor and outdoor holiday decor? And what do you think of neighbors who leave their holiday decorations up until Groundhog's Day?



Organized exercise

Posted by: Lynn Underwood Updated: January 4, 2013 - 2:03 PM

It’s a new year and everyone has a new mission list.

What’s at the top of mine?  You guessed it -- get organized and get more exercise.

Ugh. Still, I’m committed to making a dent in those messy closets, stuffed toy totes and overflowing files. As well as block out time to burn more calories every day. But how will I squeeze in “Nashville” and “The Good Wife?”

I came up with a brilliant idea: declutter and work out at the same time.

Task: Drive to a store to buy a label maker, a must-have miracle gadget, says every organization expert.
Workout: Park really far away and walk to the entrance and then back to the car three times.

Task: Pull out towels, hair products, boxes of saline solution and Kleenex out of the hall closet and organize it all  in labeled totes.
Workout: Do jumping jacks for one minute.

Task:  Bend over file drawers, culling income tax records from 10 years ago to make room to file new paperwork from three years ago.
Workout:  Bend down and touch my toes 20 times.

Task: Sift through toy bins to determine what to keep and what to donate.
Workout: Do 10 squats by bending my knees and lowering  my body into a squat position as if  I were sitting in an imaginary chair.  Make sure I keep my knees above my ankles.

Task:  Clean the basement storage closet  of  “what was I thinking” ugly home accessories that will never, ever  grace a coffeetable again.

Workout: Stand an arm’s length from the workbench top and do 20 standing push-ups.
Task: Lug boxes of storage stuff down the basement stairs.
Workout: Run up and down the stairs 5 times.

That’s my plan and I’m sticking to it —  at least until Feb. 1.

What are some of your strategies for making your home clutter-free in the winter of 2013?


2013: A year of possibilities

Posted by: Nicole Hvidsten Updated: January 2, 2013 - 6:08 AM

As we were doing the big New Year's Eve countdown, my oldest wondered why everyone made such a big fuss, and why on earth anyone would want to be packed into Times Square.

Times Square is all about the experience, I said. And the rest? It's all about possibility.

Possibility, of course, is why there are New Year's resolutions and why Slim-Fast is now front and center with the discounted holiday candy. It's also why stores have begun taunting us with "let us help you get organized" advertisements. They know we're coming off a hectic holiday season, and they're marketing possibility.

Me? I'm a sucker for all things organization. Never met a plastic tote I couldn't fill or a closet system I didn't covet. I believe the world would be a better place if everyone had a label maker and have such a love of filing that I need a filing system for my filing system. Yet at the start of every year, I find myself being swayed by the promises of organized living. I am their target market. Just think of the possibilities.

This year I started by cleaning out the Christmas bins, combining ornament boxes and finally getting rid of anything cracked or broken. I now have my Christmas card list on a spreadsheet and have double-checked this year's addresses with my list, and checked it twice. Yes, I'm off to a great start.

They say out with the old, in with the new, right? Nowhere is this more true than with toys. So buoyed by the promise of possibility, I tackled my son's room -- land of the Legos. Out went the toys and books he's outgrown -- and a very large bag of garbage -- and in with this year's crop of toys and books. Yes, I now have momentum. The possibilities seem endless.

I now have designs on the basement. Saturday is paint the bathroom day; trips to home improvement stores have been planned. Drywall will be patched; there will be more painting. Shelves will be culled, treasures uncovered, lost things found (here's hoping we unearth a cell phone) -- there will most definitely be plastic totes and shelving or cubbies involved. Yes, the possibilities are indeed endless.

Do you find yourself revitalized at the start of a new year? What are you hoping your possibilities are?


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