Top Stories

  • Extreme Earthships in Extreme Places

    Updated: Fri, Apr 4, 2014

    What is an Earthship, you ask? Good question. It's a highly sustainable building created entirely from recycled and natural materials, typically integrated together in a seamless whole: think a mud wall with glass bottles inserted into it for light and ornamentation. These structures are designed to be self-sustaining, with rugged, beautiful architecture that makes them eye-catching as well as practical and environmentally friendly, and they're part of a larger architectural and social movement focused on using building materials wisely and treading lightly on the surface of the Earth.

  • Get Down With Rainwater Collection

    Updated: Fri, Apr 4, 2014

    Right now, the wet stuff is pouring outside; it's raining so hard that it looks a lot like someone is sitting on a cloud and upending bathtubs over the side, watching the water cascade down in sheets. It's great for my garden and the well, but I can't help but think about all the water I'm wasting. In a drought-prone area like California, it pays to think ahead to when the water table is dipping low and the garden is withering away because I can't use up precious water keeping things alive. If I had a rainwater collection system, though, I could sustain myself and my garden through lean times -- and leap for joy on days like this one! Texan Richard Heinichen has become a bit of a crusader for rainwater collection, and it makes sens

  • The Rabbit Hole of Decor

    Updated: Thu, Apr 3, 2014

    Lewis Carroll's classic novel has been captivating minds for generations, and it's been inspiring decor for almost as long. There's something about those rich, lush, captivating scenes set in Wonderland that's inspiring for readers and interior decorators alike, whether people want formal black and white tiled hallways to evoke the Queen of Hearts or charmingly mismatched china at their tea parties. I'm always on the lookout for cool Alice-style decor, and I narrowed down five fun examples from our partners at Hometalk. First off, this totally chic, vintage, and fun tea party set up by Janel Hutton for her daughter.

  • Your April Garden Checklist

    Updated: Thu, Apr 3, 2014

    I know it's spring outside because the wisteria planted by my front door has begun to burst into bloom. It started with a single delicate spray of flowers at the end of March, but now, the whole plant is starting to flush blue, and it looks stellar. At the same time, it's erupting with new shoots, showing me that despite the heavy frosts of December, it recovered okay and it's ready to keep on looking fabulous. The same can't quite be said of the rest of my garden, which is looking a little ragged right now, a reminder that I need to get on my April garden checklist -- and I can't use the heavy rains of March as an excuse any more! Soggy soil or not, it's time to get started, because my garden is growing at a runaway pace and it do

  • Plums: Blossoms of Spring

    Updated: Wed, Apr 2, 2014

    Around the world, the first sign of spring after the appearance of delicate crocuses poking their way through a crust of snow is plum blossoms, which burst out earlier than every other fruit tree for a showy display in late winter. Of course, that's rapidly followed by a rain of blossoms that stick to the roofs and sides of every vehicle in sight, but for fans of these beautiful flowers, that's an acceptable price to pay for these beautiful blooms. Plums also feature distinctive deep red to purple foliage which emerges after the flowers -- making these trees absolutely stunning well into summer, when those flowers will eventually set fruit, if you've got a fertile tree. Plums are fantastic eaten out of hand, dried, or used in jams

  • Dress Up With Wainscoting

    Updated: Wed, Apr 2, 2014

    Ever walked into a home and felt like it's just a little more classy than your average house? Chances are that sleek interior look was helped along by crown molding, or wainscoting, both of which add depth and texture to rooms, and are available at surprisingly low price points. If you're interested in upgrading a builder-grade home, restoring a historic home, or adding something fresh and dynamic to your residence, you've got to check out your wainscoting options. You might think that wainscoting fits within a pretty narrow range of design schemes, all involving either molding or embossing -- the photo above is a good example of classic wainscoting, and this slideshow features tons more. And you can definitely go that way.

  • 10 Innovative Uses for Chicken Wire

    Updated: Tue, Apr 1, 2014

    With a name like "chicken wire," you'd think this popular metal fencing product is a bit of a one-trick pony, but it's actually anything but. Sure, you can use chicken wire for building safe enclosures for chickens and patching damaged chicken fencing, but it's good for a whole lot more than that. Especially when it comes to those random scraps and end pieces that aren't big enough for a serious livestock project, but are perfect for more esoteric uses. 1. Mini cloches Cloches protect tender plants from frost and hard weather, and they can be a pain to make, especially when you don't need anything very large -- like if you just need to protect the contents of a few pots.

  • Are There Dangerous Chemicals In My Garden Hose?

    Updated: Fri, Mar 28, 2014

    Every now and then I read something that reminds me of the ubquitous and far-reaching dangers in the world around me. It seems like I can't even enjoy the simplest things in life these days without being reminded that everything is trying to kill me. Case in point for me this week came on Grist, when a reader asked Umbra about the dangers of garden hoses. Is your Minneapolis concrete garden path a highway to hell? Garden hoses? I thought to myself. What could be wrong with garden hoses? As it turns out, potentially a great deal, because plastic hoses could leach chemicals into the water -- that same water you're using on your organic fruits and vegetables that you might not be bothering to wash because you think you know what

  • Pretty in White

    Updated: Fri, Mar 28, 2014

    One of the great things about Hometalk is that I get to live thousands of redesigns, home decor experiments, and more vicariously. I can see what DIY remodelers are up to and follow projects from start (ripping out gross old flooring or despairing at the site of an ancient electrical system) to glorious, smooth, show home-ready finish. I must admit that one of my favorite parts is checking out the interior design from this bunch of smart, very aesthetically talented individuals. I've been drawn towards white decor lately, which gets a bad rep for being cold and standoffish. In fact, nothing could be further from the truth; artful white decor can be extremely warm, or it can be sleek and sophisticated, but it doesn't have to be cold

  • Cooking to Health

    Updated: Thu, Mar 27, 2014

    Medical school is already a whirlwind of classes, intensive training, and first-hand experience with patients and other health care providers. Yet, as our understanding of medicine grows, it's getting more and more complex. The latest innovation, coming out of Tulane University, is the addition of cooking classes to the medical school curriculum. Wondering what med students are doing in the kitchen when they should be surrounded by the tiled walls of the OR? Growing evidence strongly indicates that dietary choices can have a profound effect on human health.

  • Green Building Pitfalls

    Updated: Thu, Mar 27, 2014

    Thanks to growing social awareness of how much trouble the planet is in, more and more people are building green and demanding enviromentally-friendly options in their housing. An entire industry had risen around green construction, including contractors, products, new materials, and certification programs to set and enforce standards in green construction. A green home or remodel is everyone's dream these days, it seems like, but Fine Homebuilding has some cautions: it's important to know what you're getting involved in before you start, because otherwise, you could get in serious trouble. Cost. Building green will cost you more money, up front. The materials are more expensive, and often the contractors charge extra for their spe

  • 6 Fun (and Unusual) Spring Veggies to Grow

    Updated: Wed, Mar 26, 2014

    Now that spring is here (FINALLY) and the garden is ramping up, you might be thinking about getting started with easy, high-yield spring veggies. These lists usually include things like spinach, lettuce, and kale, all of which are in fact easy and tasty to grow, but who says your garden, and your plates, have to be like everyone else's? We rounded up some fun spring vegetables that don't present a huge challenge to gardeners, yet aren't necessarily grown as often, for you to check out this year. Orach, also called purple orach, is a spinach relative that has the same spicy, great flavor, but it has bright purple leaves. It looks great in the garden and you can use it in salads and all the same dishes you'd use spinach in.

  • Seamless Hardwood Floor Repairs

    Updated: Wed, Mar 26, 2014

    Old hardwood floors are enchanting. They're made with tough old growth wood, featuring a tight, even grain that modern wood just can't match, and you can tell they were installed with craft and dedication by flooring experts who knew precisely what they were doing. While they're easy to admire, they can be tricky to restore and repair for the very reasons that make them so desirable: they're not at all forgiving of mistakes, and their timeless beauty clashes jarringly with modern materials.

  • 10 Disturbing Water Scarcity Facts

    Updated: Tue, Mar 25, 2014

    Friday, 21 March marked World Water Day, a consciousness-raising global event to make people aware of ongoing water scarcity, particularly in the Global South. While many of us in places like the United States take an ample supply of hot and cold running water in our comfortable Minneapolis bathroom remodels for granted, we enjoy luxurious circumstances in comparison with many other global citizens, and the wasteful way we use water is coming with a high-long term price. In honour of World Water Day, we've rounded up some distressing facts about water scarcity and inequality worldwide: 1. A child dies of water-related illness every 21 seconds Limited access to potable water increases the risk of developing infectious diseases