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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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 Everything looks a little shabbier and more outdated after gazing at all that pristine, styled perfection.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.
You can't miss the media blitz trumpeting this weekend's arrival of the Parade of Homes and the Home & Garden Show, both signs that spring is finally within reach.
The timing couldn't be more perfect. I'm sick of the inside of my house and am ready to focus on the outside, even though the inside is still in desperate need of my attention. I'm ready to throw open the windows, trade my painting tools for garden tools and start dreaming about making my yard into a backyard oasis. When it comes to dreams, I don't mess around. I dream big -- otherwise why bother? -- and I let the dreams stay with me through all the home shows, garden displays and magazine spreads. Reality will kick in soon enough.
Dream 1: The 12x12 cement slab is converted to a huge paved patio -- half of it covered -- that will become our outdoor "living space." Bugs are not allowed, but a fire pit is.
Dream 2: Said patio also includes a living room's worth of furniture, complete with a chair for napping. Outdoor naps are pretty hard to beat. And if my table should all of a sudden appear with legs that aren't corroded, all the better.
Dream 3: We'll say goodbye to our trusty grill to make room for an outdoor kitch
Dream 4: My salsa garden is now a flower bed filled with daisies and some of my other favorite blooms because I now have a larger vegetable garden -- and time in my life to maintain it.
Dream 5: Privacy will become a reality, thanks to the line of shrubs I will plant and the fact that our trees will grow eight feet this spring. Wait, this is a dream: someone else will plant the shrubs for me.
Dream 6: Our past-its-prime siding will be replaced and I will finally paint my front door the turquoise I've been eyeing.
Dream 7: I will be able to maintain my new living space, along with the flower pots, beds, herb garden, etc. the entire summer. I will NOT give up by the end of July.
Do you have spring fever? What are some things you're looking forward to accomplishing this summer? Dream on!
The success of Hennepin County's Fixit-It clinics has prompted a company east of the Mississippi to do likewise.
Fixity is a small St. Paul business founded in 2011 for the purpose of giving people a place where they can bring many household items that are on the fritz. At best, they can be repaired. At worst, recycled. The whole Idea is to keep landfills from being loaded up with old toasters and lamps.
Fixity's cool company image is at right.
The repairers on Fixity's staff usually charge a nominal hourly fee for their expertise. But on Saturday, March 2, they're opening their shop for their first-ever F.R.E.E -- Fix and Repair Everything Event -- from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. at the Linwood Recreational Center, 860 St. Clair Av., in St. Paul.
Volunteer handy-people wil be at your service, helping you learn how to repair zippers, small appliances, VCRs, lamps -- or at the least, give them their best shot.
According to a news release, Fixity "hopes to strengthen and generate more community aware in 'the art of fixing.' " Katherine Hayes, Fixity's founder and owner, said she wants people to see the value in repairing something for likely less than its replacement cost. Plus, it's cool to learn skills, right?
For more information about the event, visit Fixity at www.gofixity.com.
A recent school project for my oldest asked for my advice to her. In addition to the typical "work hard, fight for what you believe" nuggets, I told her that learning was a lifetime experience, and to never, ever, feel bad about needing her parents. Even when she's 40. The good thing? I practice what I preach.
Home-improvement projects bring out the best and worst of a person, and also have a funny way of pointing out exactly how much you have yet to learn.
What's that smell? I had no idea that painting and staining in the lower level could have such an effect on the upper level laundry room. The burning off of the fumes took me by surprise, and filled my house with a smell that made me paranoid that the house would catch fire. It didn't, but I called the repairmen to check it out anyway. Once you've convinced yourself the house will burn down, you need a pro to tell you otherwise.
Sometimes the best-laid plans ... Much to our disappointment, our basement floors were too bowed to put the laminate in that our daughters desperately wanted. This, of course, ruined all of their hopes and dreams for what their rooms were to become. I told them I would settle for them to become clean.
Stick to your gut. People questioned the wisdom of painting the basement purple, but I absolutely love it. Ditto with the (very) bright blue bathroom. Everyone knows that if mom's happy ...
There's never enough time. It is difficult to put an extra coat of poly on baseboards, or
Plumbing is more difficult than it looks. I've taken apart toilets several times, but have yet to successfully put one back together. Although I've not learned to put a toilet back together, I have learned to have a ready supply of towels and buckets as I try. And I WILL try again.
No one likes the grunt work. My kids always want to help paint, but the washing of the walls, hole patching and sanding don't have the same allure. Painting is the ultimate payoff, I tell them. If you want to have the fun, you need to put in the prep time.
Mr. Clean's Magic Erasers are miracle workers. I'm a longtime fan of these cleaning powerhouses, but have a newfound love for them after they removed Sharpie from walls.
Don't be afraid to ask for help. And bonus points if you do it before the nervous breakdown. For me, this is more difficult than putting a toilet back together. I'm fiercely independent (with some control issues), and want to be able to stand back and say "I did this." But I'm learning that it's OK, even at 40-plus, to say "I did this with the help of my parents."
What are some lessons you've learned? Please share!
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