Sidewalks have been icy this winter, and they probably won't get any better as we head into the freeze-thaw stage. Still, you need to be cautious with de-icing chemicals, which can harm your plants and grass. Use it only when needed, apply it sparingly and try mixing with sand.


Gear up for the battle of the crockpots, and combine some hot art with hot food. The Northern Clay Center's 2nd annual Clay Center Chili Cook-off is open to all who want to compete in the two-hour event, starting 6 p.m. Thursday. Chili cookers will compete against all entrants in categories for beef/pork, turkey/chicken, vegetarian and wild foods, and are asked to bring one gallon of their special mix for the judges' consideration. You can register your chili at the sales gallery at 612-339-8007. Want to eat only, and enjoy works in the center's Artists of the Month Series? It's $5 at the door for competitors and diners. If you buy a pottery bowl, your chili is free. Northern Clay Center, 2424 Franklin Av. E., Minneapolis;


Every retailer and its subsidiary seems to have a home organizing line. Walmart does now, too. The retailer's new Canopy line of storage items (including the set of two media baskets for $12, shown) includes lidded boxes, underbed storage and customizable pieces for drawers, floors and shelf organization, as well as items from hampers to hangers. The line is priced $2.50 to $24, with most pieces in the range of $12 or less. See for Minnesota locations.


Alert, major eye-candy ahead. Watch the progress as this homeowner has renovated a Brooklyn limestone, taking it from gutted to gorgeous. You can check out individual rooms by using a key on the right-hand side of the screen. Don't miss the how-to post on how this blogger artfully staged a grouping of photos and paintings over her desk.


And you thought your bathroom was bad? Check out the DIY Network's annual Toilet Bowl marathon 8 p.m. Sunday for a half-hour special, "America's Ugliest Bathrooms." Yes, there are beautiful "afters," not just the pitiful "befores."


Odds & Ends Furniture in St. Louis Park (formerly Scratch N' Dent Furniture) said it has added a special-order service to its discounted overstock furniture business. Manager Nancy Newcomb said this gives customers access to all the pieces in a line, even though the discounter may carry just one. Discounted prices apply to the special orders, too, Newcomb said.

• Carole Peterson, who operates two Les Junc occasional sales, said she is closing the Anoka location, which opened in July, and consolidating its stock into the Zimmerman store, which has been operating since 2006. Peterson said the closing is a casualty of her juggling act: three children, two stores in different towns and a home.

Antiques Riverwalk in Minneapolis will offer free identification and description of up to two antiques or collectibles. For details, turn to Collecting on page E4.


Singer and actor Jennifer Baldwin Peden always kept a flower garden, but when she wanted to branch out to include vegetables her husband, Tom Peden, dug in to help - and discovered he had a green thumb, too.


The home of Buffalo shop owner Teresa DeJarlais is featured in a six-page spread in the March issue of Country Living. DeJarlais houses her shop, the Atelier, her monthly occasional sale and her home in a 1902 brick building on Buffalo's Central Avenue. The issue, arriving on news stands next week, shows pictures of her loft-like space, which she restored and decorated completely in salvage and flea-market finds. (DeJarlais' digs were the subject of a Home + Garden cover story in April 2009; to see a gallery of photos, the story and a video of the space, go to www.startribune .com/lifestyle/homegarden/42588317.html.)