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 Gardening and landscaping

Verrrry Pinteresting

Posted by: Kim Ode Updated: February 6, 2012 - 1:40 PM


Sorry! I should have had this blog post up awhile ago, but there are so many distractions these days. Deadlines, Pinterest, answering emails, Pinterest, returning a reader's phone call, Pinterest, writing cutlines, Pinterest.


If you don't know what Pinterest is, then you were someone like me up until about 10 days ago when my college-age daughter texted me saying that I needed to get a Pinterest account.

Huh? I had never heard of this thing, so she sent me a link to peruse, which looked for all the world like a particular well-organized bulletin board to which people had "pinned" things they like. The first thing I see is a kitchen "chandelier" made of big wire whisks. Cool. Then a recipe for roasted cauliflower. Hey, I've been on a roasted cauliflower binge this winter (I know, I know - hold me back) so this post felt familiar and, well, supportive.

I was hooked. Me and a rapidly swelling group of millions.

According to a report on CNN, Pinterest is the breakout social network of 2012 that took everyone by surprise. It was launched two years ago using a nontraditional strategy: Instead of wooing technies to create buzz, it went straight to the cooks, crafters, fashionistas, readers -- in words, users -- and let them start pinning all the things they like to this virtual bulletin board.

Did it work? Consider: In the final four months of 2011, unique visitors to the site grew by 400 percent. One big reason is the highly visual nature of the site. Call up the home page at http://pinterest.com/ and check out the crazy quilt of images. If you're intrigued, you click on "request an invite," which is all marketing. No one is denied.

What I've found fascinating is who has since signed on to "follow" me on Pinterest  - women AND men of all ages. My first impression of this as a crafters' site quickly was disabused. My daughter says the site is huge on campuses.

I'm just getting started; my boards are few and links scarce. But I already know what I'm liking about this. For starters, it's all about "like," instead of the "what's hot, what's not." There's no bashing of weird crafts or bad fashion. You don't like it? Move on.Think positive. Post positive.

I'm not really on it as much as I may have indicated in the first paragraph here. (My boss reads this, too, you know.) But it's a nice way of winding down at the end of the day, or giving a little love to things or places or recipes or whatever that deserve some attention.

I mean, look at the photo posted here of tiny cheesecake-stuffed strawberries. Crazy? Maybe, but so cuuute!

Some friends say that Pinterest could replace their Facebook fascination, mostly because it's not about people, but what people like --which is FAR more fascinating, right? And trolling the boards gives you a sense of accomplishing something, however virtual, because you're getting concrete ideas that just might improve your live, even a little.

In any case, "pin" now has entered the language as a positive verb.




Cool winter containers

Posted by: Lynn Underwood Updated: November 11, 2011 - 3:53 PM

Don’t wait too long to fill your pots with spruce tree-tops.

A couple years ago I waited until after Thanksgiving. I had dug out my  frost-covered petunias and begonias and left the soil in my front door planters. They sat there for weeks.  I finally made it to the garden center and bought a couple of bundles of freshly cut, fragrant evergreen branches

  I took one branch and poked it into the dirt. It traveled about an an inch and then hit what felt like rock hard cement. The soil was frozen solid. So I found a big bucket, filled it with hot water and poured it into the pot. The spruce tops still weren’t strong enough to puncture the frozen dirt. After three more buckets of sloshing, heavy hot water, I could finally plunge the branches into the soil, which had turned into mud. Don’t let this happen to you.

I’m buying my spruce tops this weekend - well before Thanksgiving. And I plan to make my pots look better than the ones decorating the neighborhood PDQ.

Here’s some tips for creating cool winter containers:
• Mix in other evergreens such as golden-green cedar and blue-green juniper for color and texture.
• Insert red dogwood and curly willow branches for interest and height.
• For splashes of crimson red - trim stems of crabapple berries from a tree in your yard.
• Add a circular shape to the mix with dried Autumn Joy sedum.
• The final flourish: A string of tiny white lights.

What’s your recipe for a pretty pot that will brighten the landscape until the snow melts?


Utility decorating

Posted by: Martha Buns Updated: October 26, 2011 - 11:08 AM


Every year at this time my counters are overrun with not-yet-ripe tomatoes. It's a mixed blessing of garden bounty and culinary obligation, as I feel compelled to turn the tomatoes I've carefully tended into something other than compost. But with nearly every square inch of my limited counter space covered with tomatoes when frost threatens, there's been little maneuvering room left for cooking my way through them as they ripen.


So this year I was inspired to take decorating with green tomatoes beyond the usual centerpiece bowl on the table. If vertical gardening is good for the back yard, I figured vertical storage could save me precious counter space, right? Out came the stackable cake pedestals on the dining room buffet, saving me at least two plates' worth on the counter. Encouraged by that bit of storage success, I plopped still more smaller green tomatoes in three matching bowls to form part of a fall-toned mantel arrangement. (I used glass partly for effect, and partly so I could more readily check on ripening progress, since the ones on the bottom ripen first.)

I briefly considered and then abandoned further tomato decorating forays. Even though they'd match the green bathroom, well, sometimes enough is enough. And I suspect that my husband's response, when prompted to actually notice what I'd become convinced were enchanting and ingenious decorating solutions, didn't seem to indicate he was succumbing to raptures. Ah, reality checks.

I'm thinking the excess squash can just hang out in the basement until it's time to become supper.

What storage dilemmas have you decorated your way out of?





Stylish pumpkins -- is white the new orange?

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: October 25, 2011 - 12:11 PM


Pumpkins aren't just for carving and pies this season. They've turned into a design statement. And style-savvy nesters aren't automatically opting for traditional orange, with a cornstalk or two. 


They're going ghostly and minimal -- as in white pumpkins. 

Pale pumpkins have been popping up at pumpkin patches and stands for several years, but now there's a bumper crop of them in style magazines and websites.

New York trend forecaster Stacy Garcia sees white pumpkins as a soothing reaction to trying times. "With so much unrest and difficulty in the current economy, people are looking for peace at the holidays -- even at Halloween. White is calming and centering."

Plus white is neutral, so it's practical, matching all decor styles and transitioning beautifully into Thanksgiving, she notes. Garcia offers ideas for using white pumpkins in home decor at her blog (www.stacygarcia.com/blog-news/white-pumpkin). 

New England tastemaker Matthew Mead opens his latest "book-azine" "Autumn" with a White-Magic Halloween party featuring white-on-white food and decor, including pasty pumpkins. ("Autmn" is sold on Mead's website: www.holidaywithmatthewmead.com).

You can buy naturally pale pumpkins -- hybrid white ghost varieties -- at many places that sell traditional orange pumpkins. (Expect to pay a premium.)


Or, you can paint your own, going shiny or matte -- whichever suits your mood and decor.


If you're feeling especially ambitious, you can craft a sophisticated black-and-white silhouette pumpkin. HGTV's website offers instructions ( www.hgtv.com/handmade/how-to-make-a-silhouette-pumpkin/index.html)

Do you like white pumpkins? Or will you be sticking with traditional orange ones this Halloween?


Graduation panic on the home front

Posted by: Kim Palmer Updated: March 16, 2011 - 2:39 PM


Hosting a big fat open house for graduation seems to be a Minnesota tradition. And it's a tradition that seems to ignite a frenzy of home improvement.


Over the years, I've listened to friends and neighbors fret over their home's flaws, soon to be exposed to all the world when  their child graduates from high school and they have to host THE OPEN HOUSE.

I've heard of folks who bought new furniture, repainted the entire first floor, even one who had a new deck installed because she was afraid the old one had rotted spots that might collapse under the weight of all those guests.

My next-door neighbors completely re-landscaped their back yard, the year BEFORE graduation so that the plants would be lush and mature by the time THE OPEN HOUSE took place. Their new back yard was so gorgeous it shamed me into doing some long-overdue pruning in my own back yard. Then, the day of their party, it rained. Not just sprinkles but a downpour that kept the party confined indoors. All they could do was show guests the drenched landscape through the window.

My own home has many unsightly features. The wood floor is badly scratched and worn, the carpet is stained, and the interior and exterior both need painting. I vowed last year to address all those decor sins in time for my son's graduation this June.

But here it is, already mid-March, and none of them have been addressed. My son's hockey team gobbled up all our spare time, and my daughter's study abroad gobbled up all our spare money.

Now I'm feeling panic. Perhaps THE OPEN HOUSE will need to be a picnic somewhere else.

If you've hosted a grad party, what have you done to get your house ready for its closeup? And if  you haven't faced that hostess moment of truth yet, what do you want to do between now and then? 


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