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4/3/2014
Japanese barberry could use a good press agent about now. Not only is this popular plant currently classified as invasive in 20 of the 32 states where it is established, but research shows that it may play a role in the spread of Lyme disease as well. And odds are, it’s in your yard. Widely used throughout the Midwest, Japanese barberry was brought to the United States in the late... More
4/2/2014
As winter very slowly turned to spring, our Instagram followers found beautiful colors in sunsets and other Midwest landscapes. Here are our five most-liked Instagram photos for March: #1: Kansas sunset reflections by @kim_horgan (http://instagram.com/p/lUuSO6Gzcq/). #2: Sunset over Lake Michigan near Holland by @tototoophoto (http://instagram.com/p/mIGmXaGzSt/). #3:... More
3/28/2014
Guys may dominate the hardware scene, but there’s at least one gleaming piece of machinery that makes even the ladies grow as weak-kneed as any man staring at a ’69 Mustang: the KitchenAid mixer. Seemingly indestructible, elegantly unchanging and an object of desire whose allure still hasn't peaked nearly 100 years after its debut. In fact, the Greenville, Ohio, plant that builds... More
3/21/2014
My mom’s beautiful flower gardens owe much of their splendor to seeds she saves year to year in assorted containers at the top of a kitchen cupboard. Toppling them over in a search for a missing lid last weekend, I was immediately drawn to their familiarity and promise—the dry white-tipped wisps that shoot into sturdy marigolds and the shriveled pea-shaped nasturtium seeds. Having... More
3/17/2014
It’s one of the simplest sets on New York City's glitzy Broadway: a few high-backed wooden chairs neatly arranged around the stage’s perimeter, a light pole holding an old-fashioned telephone and a small tree pressed against a dark backdrop. Then the house lights dim, the orchestra swells and the blank canvas slowly comes to life. Glowing oranges and reds shed light on a vast... More
3/7/2014
My fitness tracker wristband registered 22,576 steps the first day of last month’s Kitchen and Bath Show in Las Vegas—roughly 12 miles for me. But who’s counting when you’re on a treasure hunt for smart design? Overall, our editors noticed an upbeat mood as manufacturers focused on modern styles, innovative technology and handcrafted finishes. In detail, there was more... More
3/3/2014
Arctic air and deep snow didn't stop our Instagram followers from exploring the Midwest in winter. Here are our five most-liked Instagram photos for February:  #1: A woodsy scene in the Minnesota River Valley photographed during a hike by @intothegreatwideopen (http://instagram.com/p/knSeCrmzd_/). #2 Stunning sunset in Egg Harbor, Wisconsin, by@krissygeh (http://... More
2/28/2014
If you are like me, the words Hula-Hoop make you think of kneeling down to pick a pink circle of plastic up off the grass, trying to swing it around your waist only to watch it twirl to the ground, then picking it back up again. The Hula-Hoops of my childhood were weighted down by gravity to an astounding degree. Hooping, the modern term for using a Hula-Hoop, is popping up as a... More
2/24/2014
Before we leave the month of presidents’ birthdays, let’s ponder for one moment longer one of history’s most-pondered people: Illinois’ own Abe Lincoln. We never seem to tire of this roughhewn Midwesterner who already has countless towns named after him, his face carved into a mountain and enough books written about him to form another small mountain. In fact, the Ford... More
2/17/2014
Even in this era of Google Reader and text alerts blasting headlines at us throughout the day, you still sometimes get your news via your parents calling on the phone to read the hometown paper aloud. So it happened a week ago when my dad called from outside Lincoln, Nebraska, and said, “Did you hear what happened to this young farmer you met who was using the horses?” Last... More