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 Holidays

Unmentionables from the Easter Bunny

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: April 3, 2012 - 1:34 PM

 

Easter is only a few days away, but I hadn't given much thought to Easter baskets. With two kids in college, we're not exactly flush with cash for goodies and trinkets. 

 

You might think it odd that someone with college-age kids is thinking about Easter baskets at all, but they're a long-standing tradition in my family. My parents hid Easter baskets for me and my two sisters until we were well into our 20s. 

The contents of the Easter baskets changed as we grew up, from candy and little toys to candy and makeup. But one item was in every Easter basket, year after year:

Underwear.

Yup. My mom bought each of us a pretty pair of pastel undies and tucked them into a basket, surrounded by jelly  beans and foil-wrapped chocolate eggs. I think the original idea was that we would wear the Easter underwear to church that morning, along with all our other new Easter finery, which in those days included ribbon-trimmed hats and little white gloves. 

My kids never dressed like that for Easter, but I kept up the Easter underwear tradition -- although I did update it a bit to account for modern underwear preferences. Instead of the lace-trimmed Granny panties my sisters and I received in the '60s, I always found some colorful boxers for my son and some cute bikini briefs for my daughter.

Both kids now think it's hilarious that the Easter Bunny brings underwear, and joke about it while hunting for their baskets.  

I haven't bought this year's Easter underwear yet. But I've got something to go with it -- homemade sachets for the underwear drawer. I made them last night on the spur of the moment. I was cleaning out my patio pots, ripping out the dead stalks to make room for spring planting. 

I was just about to rip out one plant when I remember what it was: lavender. The leaves were withered and silvery, but still amazingly fragrant. I couldn't throw away all that perfectly good lavender. I had to do something with it. But what? Then I remembered the little scented sachets that my English grandmother used to place in her dresser drawers. 

There were some tiny fabric bags with drawstring tops in my gift-wrap stash, so I dug them out of storage and filled them with lavender. One for my daughter, one for my mom and one for me. (I don't think my 19-year-old son is ready for lavender-scented boxers.) 

What do you put in Easter baskets? Do you have any odd family traditions?     

 

Can people set their calendars by your decor?

Posted by: Martha Buns Updated: March 14, 2012 - 4:52 PM

 

 It's nearly St. Patrick's Day, but so far my house gives no hints of it. While I have a sliver of Irish heritage, it's apparently not enough to make me deck the halls with four-leaf clovers. And Easter season prompts me to break out the hot cross bun recipe, but it's been years since I've dyed eggs.

 

I know people whose homes are rotating odes to the holidays, complete with Easter egg trees and Fourth of July bunting, building to a Halloween spectacle worthy of Martha Stewart. The seasonal splendor ranges the gamut from a tad tacky to major art form. While I can appreciate the effort and artistry that goes into some lavish displays, for some reason I haven't joined in. The ideas look great in magazines -- those eggs dyed with onion skins look gorgeous -- but so far I've expended all my holiday decor energies -- and available storage space -- in one big surge at Christmas.

It wouldn't necessarily take a shopping expedition to give a nod to the upcoming holiday: Gather some of your green holiday ornaments in a glass bowl, group green glass bottles on the mantel, or tie green ribbon around canning jar votives.

Maybe I'll buy some bells of Ireland or other green flowers to mark Saturday's holiday, and scrounge some green ribbon to dress up the vase. At least it's one form of holiday decor I don't have to find a storage home for.

How many holidays do you decorate for? And what's your storage solution for seasonal decor items? What are some of your quick decor fixes?

Seduced by flowers

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: February 14, 2012 - 2:51 PM

 

A lot of flowers will change hands this Valentine's Day. And whether you're on the buying or the receiving end, here's a bit of science you might want to know:

 

From a woman's perspective, a guy with flowers is hotter than a guy without flowers. This news flash come from recent studies at the University of South Brittany in France.

Women are much more likely to find a man attractive and accept a date with a stranger if they are in the presence of colorful flowers.     

The guy doesn't even have to buy the flowers himself. Apparently the association between flowers and romance is so strong that all he has to do to spark female interest is be NEAR the flowers. 

Here's how the studies worked: Female students watched video of a man talking about himself -- half in a room decorated with vases of flowers, half in an identical room without flowers. The women who watched the former rated the man as more attractive and were more willing to go on a date with him.

In a second study, the same experiment was repeated, only this time the women were led into a room and told to sit down where a man was waiting. They were told he was a fellow student taking part in the experiment, but in reality he was an actor. The man was instructed to talk for five minutes about the experiment, then to ask the woman on a date, using the exact same words.

Half the women who watched the video in the room wthout flowers accepted the man's proposition. But the figure rose to 81 percent for women who had recently been in contact with flowers.

Women under the influence of flowers are kinda like guys wearing beer goggles. 

So if you're a guy, maybe you don't have to spring for the big overpriced bouquet of roses. Just bring your Valentine to the Como Park Conservatory.

What do you think -- are flowers the way to a woman's heart? How about a man's?

 

Cohabiting with college students

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: January 17, 2012 - 12:00 PM

 

College students returning home for the holidays are a little bit like Christmas decorations. When they first arrive, everything feels warm, lively and nostalgic.

 

But by mid-January, we're all starting to feel that it's time to get back to "normal" -- our new normal, which is independence for them and a calmer, less-chaotic household for us.

Our 21-year-old college senior has a fondness for going out at 11 and coming home at 3 or 4 a.m. No matter how quietly she tries to slip into the house, her arrival always wakes me up -- and leaves me awake for hours.

"Why do you have to go out so late?" I asked one evening. "Because I want to spend time with you guys," she said. "When you go to bed, I go out with my friends." Which is sort of sweet ... I guess ... but doesn't make it any easier to get a decent night's sleep.     

Our 19-year-old college freshman is less of a night owl. But he's reverted to carpet-bombing the floor of his bedroom with clothes. "How can you stand it like this?" I fumed, as he sat on his bed, staring at his laptop, seemingly oblivious to the debris all around him. "If it doesn't bother me, why does it bother you?" he replied. "Just close the door and don't look at it."

It seems like his entire wardrobe is on the bedroom floor. But then I look at the laundry room, which has turned into a small mountain range of cloth piles. The washer and dryer seem to run around the clock, but the mountains never diminish. How can two extra people increase laundry volume tenfold?

On the cultural front, I'm getting a little too much exposure to loud, obnoxious rappers. Every time one of the kids uses my car, they leave the radio or CD set to something that blows my eardrums when I turn the key in the ignition.

In just a few days, they'll both be back at school. I'll miss them -- a lot. But I'll also savor the peace and quiet of living in a household inhabited by two middle-aged grown-ups. 

Did you have college kids home for the holidays? How do you manage to cohabit with them? 

Houseguest hotline

Posted by: Kim Ode Updated: January 16, 2012 - 12:31 PM

You want to be a welcoming host. You want to be considered a thoughtful hostess. You want to maintain your sanity, and your smile until that final wave good-bye. As with many things, there's a knack to this.

We're in the early days of having a month-long guest. My husband's sister is here for all the right reasons: newborn granddaughter about 10 blocks south of us, aging parents about 10 blocks north. So we won't be seeing all that much of her.

But we're her home base, meaning that she's here every night and every morning, and bits and pieces of the day. We're fortunate in that we can give her a basement bedroom and bathroom -- except that this was "my" bathroom. It's humbling, and a little embarrassing, to realize how much I like "my" space, even as I move all my stuff up to a perfectly functional bathroom upstairs.

Casting about for any tips for successful hosting, I think I'm on the right track, having provided a cozy bed, plenty of extra bedding, and a spare bathrobe. Here are some other ideas gleaned from that wonderful place called the Internet:

-- "Speaking of cold feet, one of my favorite hosting tips is to have a variety of warm slippers in a basket by the door. You can buy slippers for cheap at Walmart or Target. Since everyone is going to be taking off their snowy boots, having a cozy alternative in which to walk around the house is a thoughtful touch."

--"Let themhelp around the house. Don’t put them to work, of course, but I’ve learned after having 25 overnight guests this year alone, people will be more relaxed and feel less like an intruder if you say yes to their inevitable question, “Can I do anything?” Let them do something small, like set the silverware at the dinner table, or stir the soup bubbling on the stove."

-- "Give your guests a key so they feel free to come and go on their own. After all, you won't be spending 24 hours a day with them. If you have a security system, show them how to work it.

-- "When somebody is visiting you, this usually means they have gone out of their way to come over, sometimes coming from out of the city or out of the state to see you. Other than their transportation costs, they shouldn't have to pay for anything out of pocket, including entertainment and meals. Of course, if they suggest going out to the fanciest restaurant in the city, then, by all means, allow them to chip in."

--"Make time for your guests to enjoy their privacy. Having guests doesn't mean you have to entertain them 24 hours a day. They may want some time to just relax and rest."

I think we'll survive, partly because we all genuinely like each other. What tips do you have for hosting houseguests? Pitfalls to avoid?

 

 

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