POSTS BY Hilary Johnson

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“MomPaul” knows a fruit bowl when she sees one. Isn’t it amazing what you can do with 128 pieces of cardboard? This week’s “What the…?” is the work of designer Sylvie van de Loo.

Cardboard Fruit Bowl by SEMDesign

The Fruit Bowl ’128′ from SEMdesign is literally 128 pieces of cardboard glued together by hand. Take a minute and check out this cool time-lapse video that shows how it’s assembled. By the way, it’s water and dirt resistant thanks to the same water-based impregnation process for sealing stone countertops and floors.

Do you have a favorite bowl for displaying colorful and healthy fruit?

Tell us in the comment area below.

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While the scape of this week’s What the…? would likely peak the interest of hardcore rock-climbers, in reality it would be challenging to traverse because it’s so small.

What the...?

Take a hand at guessing what this is, and tell us in the comment area below. Tomorrow we’ll let you know if you were right.

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When you were a kid, did you ever put a message in a bottle,  toss it into the sea and hope somebody would find it? Turns out a 7-year-old in Hawaii recently discovered a message in a bottle from a boy in Oregon one year after he threw it into the ocean. (Destiny perhaps? You know, like Kevin Costner’s film, Message in a Bottle.) So, whether you’re hoping to share kind tidings or you love glass-bottle-decor, here are some home decor and entertaining ideas for your message in a bottle… or on the label.
DIY Message in a Bottle Decor

From top left, clockwise: Invisible Ink + Message in a Bottle :: minieco; Family Photos in a Bottle :: yankeemagazine; Wine Cork Candles :: Z Gallery; Milk Bottle :: World Market; Antique Pickling Jars :: Pottery Barn

I can’t get over how cool these glass bottles are. They’re all so different and fun in their own way. I’ve always wanted to try invisible ink like those hidden-love-note hearts from blogger Minieco. Bottles don’t necessarily have to be used for written messages, though. Those display jars from Yankee Magazine show how you can fill them with a sentimental object like old-timey family photos. (Such a great idea!) And milk jars like that one from World Market work perfectly as flower vases. (I have one, and it’s easily one of my favorite decorations!) Bottles, jars, glass containers…they can all convey the message of someone’s personal decor style flawlessly.

Which of these messages in or on a bottle best reflect your style?

Tell us in the comment area below.

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For this week’s “What the…?” Angus E. Parvo had the most intriguing answer with “18th century lie detector.” (How exactly would that work, Angus?) Despite my efforts to lead you down the path of the magical dark arts, y’all weren’t phased. Karin Hope figured it out immediately with “spinning tops.”

Richard Patterson Wood Spinning Tops

These Siglo Moderno spinning tops by Richard Patterson would have entertained kids from the 1700s for hours. Today’s digital generation… maybe a few minutes max. I totally agree with Julie that “they look fabulous to display.”

If you do want to pick one up for the kids or a vignette, Patterson hand crafts each piece out of red oak, black walnut or burl walnut. Simply wrap the thin leather strand attached to the center of the tops all the way around, pull and enjoy the show.

When you were a kid, what was your favorite old-fashioned toy?

Tell us in the comment area below.

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We thank them for giving us a good fright in the first true summer blockbuster, Jaws, Shark Week and one of the coolest diving with sharks Youtube videos. But that isn’t the only reason to show sharks some love. Their streamlined bodies and striking jawlines have inspired some pretty rad home decor and entertaining ideas.

Shark Decor

1.; 2. Etsy: berkleyillustration; 3. Oh Brooke; 4. Etsy: Handamade; 5. PB Teen; 6. Etsy: Allisonbook ; 7. Pottery Barn Kids; 8. Etsy: Royalkane ; 9. Etsy: JohnBirdsong

So many clever, biting finds. Who wouldn’t want to dive into a shark-shaped watermelon at a backyard pool party. Briana found that dapper Great White Shark print on Etsy and posted it with her Daily Delight: Hammerhead Shark Wallpaper. My favorite design is the black and white great white pillow I found on Etsy. It reminds me of everyday beach decor (like the trendy starfish) with a slightly menacing twist. And who needs guard dogs when you can have fearsome fencepost sharks?

Do you like sharks or do you fear them too much to incorporate them in your home decor?

Tell us in the comment area below.

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Summer heat (and almost-unbearable-humidity) fills me with nostalgia for the cooler good ol’ days of my childhood spent swinging in a tattered, country hammock. My mom would leave my sister and me at our aunt and uncle’s farm for a few weeks every August, and we fished, chased llamas, built forts, collected chicken eggs and got into mischief all day long. But I can guarantee one thing… my aunt’s favorite time during those summer days was naptime (not hers, ours). After exploring the woods and fields all day, she could always find us curled up on the back porch in the hammock, out like a pair of bats at mid-day. So when I came across these awesome hammocks on HGTV, I was instantly transported to that 300-acre farm.

Summer Hammock

Late summer, nothing seems more enticing than a glass of homemade lemonade and the back-and-forth sway of a hammock. A down comforter for padding like this one featured in HGTV’s 6 Stress-Free Hammocks would be even more pleasant. If you’re worried that a plain outdoor bunk isn’t your style, add some pops of color and character with accents like this brilliant red throw and speckled green pillow.

Beach Hammock Seat

Whether you’re on vacation or at home, a hammock can serve as a centerpiece for entertaining. Like this hanging seat, it can become the place where you relax and catch up with friends. Or if you need peace and quiet, place it in the spot with the best view. Sit back, relax and enjoy a moment to yourself on your patio or porch. (I can’t get over how well the warm orange colors match the straw roof and sand. Can I please live there?)

Traditional Mayan Hammocks

This traditional Mayan hammock, made from hand-braided threads, would fit in any nook or garden. The way these hammocks wrap around your body makes it feel like you’re swinging in a cocoon (or at least that’s what my sister and I used to pretend.) They are also the perfect addition to a patio or backyard that needs a pop of color, as they come in a rainbow of hues. For more relaxing summer ideas, be sure to check out our 6 Stress-Free Hammocks.

But first… have you been longing for the weightless swing of a hammock?

Tell us in the comment area below.

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Do you love a fast-paced life? Do you equate the constant sound of a city to a flowing river? Do you simply consider yourself a city person? If you answered yes to any of these questions, you’ll love this year’s HGTV Urban Oasis apartment in the heart of downtown Chicago. To top it off, HGTV star Vern Yipp designed and decorated the entire flat with jaw-dropping, Arts and Crafts meets mid-century modern flair.

Urban Oasis in the Trump International Hotel and Tower Chicago

If you win the Urban Oasis Giveaway, you’ll be calling the 35th floor of the Trump International Hotel and Tower “home.” Can you even imagine? With a lobby like that, everyday will feel like a luxurious holiday.

HGTV Urban Oasis 2011

Then when you get home after, say, a long day at work, you step into this? It would feel like a dream every single day. I absolutely love the soothing green Vern used for this sophisticated high-rise pad.

Starting August 18 at 9 am ET, you can enter twice per day— once on and once on— for a chance to win this beauty. But first, don’t forget to check out what Vern has to say about decorating the Urban Oasis 2011 apartment And tour every room for details on his stellar design.

After clicking through the pictures and taking a guided video tour with our feature blogger Brian Patrick Flynn, I’ve decided the living room (with that spectacular view) is my favorite room. What’s your favorite room in the apartment?

Take the tour and tell us in the comment area below.

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From a birds-eye-view, it looks like an alien, but from the side it looks like a kidney bean. What is this strange object? A few of you thought it could “phone home,” but staff blogger Kayla guessed right, saying it has “a super-alien glow.”

Coco Design Foscarini Table Lamp

The Foscarini Coco Table Lamp, available in red and white, can bring modern character to any room. Italian designer and architect Aldo Cibic created the Coco lamp using blown satin glass for the shade and lacquered metal for the base. (Cibic was actually one of the original partners of the architecture firm that built the first Esprit shops in Europe.)

With the mix-and-match trend that’s happening right now, you don’t even have to have a modern home to sport this funky lamp. It could be especially fun in a kid’s bedroom or playroom, too.

I usually go for a more traditional style, but next to that art, I really like this piece. What do you think?

Tell us in the comment area below.

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Don’t let its alien appearance frighten you because this object’s use wouldn’t be foreign in any home.

What the...?

A phone home might help you figure this one out. Give us your best guess in the comment area below. Tomorrow the mystery will be solved.

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