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5 Midwest Art Fair Finds

Fueled by a local craft brew and an overflowing gyro from a food stand, I wandered from tent to art-filled tent at the downtown 2014 Des Moines Arts Festival. Pastel paintings of gorgous florals, curvy glass-blown vases and, yes, even sculptures of copper wire rabbits on bikes caught my attention as I weaved through the laid-back crowd. (I could picture the painting and vase in my living room; the wire rabbit—not so much.) But like works in a museum, they were all fun to see.

Why Woody and Buzz Love the Midwest

Who would you rank as Hollywood’s greatest best-friend pairings? Butch & Sundance? Thelma & Louise? It doesn’t take long to reach Woody & Buzz. Pixar’s Toy Story franchise has now enchanted a couple of generations with the angsty cowboy and his idealistic astronaut pal. And it turns out that the Grammy-winning musical soundtrack to their partnership springs from a handful of Midwest kids whose own big imaginations rode off in a cowboy direction right on the shores of the Great Lakes.

Building a Dream Garden

Digging, planting, building: Julie Schnedler’s sixth-grade students in Mediapolis, Iowa, were busy last month in their school’s outdoor classroom.

The Mediapolis Education Foundation won $5,000 for the project from Midwest Living's Dream-It Do-It Community Challenge. The money was used to buy plants, mulch, soil, tools, a weather station, wood for planters and a watering system, Julie says.

6 Fun Radishes to Grow

I’m no radish expert, but I am a sucker for these crunchy, water-packed little veggies that taste like the first days of summer. They remind me of my childhood, when I'd help my dad pull dirt-covered cherry red radishes from the garden and then taste their crispness at dinner that evening. So now, 20 years later, they've become a staple in my own garden.

Green Up Your Garden

Sitting on my back deck each evening, I ponder the amount of brown in my garden. Are my yews ever going to green up or am I going to have to take a hedge trimmer to the front half of the entire row? And how could my supposedly invincible Rugosa roses be half dead?

I know fellow gardeners are lamenting the same look: Everywhere I drive, the evergreens are brown, and woody plants like roses and spiraea just twigs.

Dark Hue Statement Plants

I’ve gone to the dark side, of plants, that is. But in the plant world, even the dark side is pretty. And rich. And dramatic. And just the punch my embarrassingly bare front porch needs this time of year. According to Dana Rizzo, horticulturist for the Missouri Botanical Garden, the industry is seeing an influx of these black, bronze, deep purple and burgundy flowers and foliage. “Dark hued flowers allow gardeners to show an extreme contrast in their designs,” she says. “Deep black foliage plays well with limes and yellows.

Just Add Water

I'm fixated on Pinterest, particularly anything DIY focused. I even have a board titled “I want to DIY.” As much as this board's collection of projects inspires me to try DIY, I've been too concerned that I'll produce a “Pinterest fail”—a project that comically looks nothing like the goal. But I promised myself this year I would start. Let me walk you through my first project, a simple watercolor, in hopes that it inspires those of you who have never attempted a DIY project to take that leap of faith in yourself. 

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