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Fall always marks the beginning of gift giving season for me. Yummy baked treats for neighbors and fun holiday packages start filing out our door and into the hands of people I love and adore. It’s a season for giving and today I am excited to share a very easy and unique way to dress up holiday gifts for those special people. Hint: It involves leftover lace flowers and spray paint (two of my favorite things). Check it out!

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Floral Party Favors

This spring I am hosting a little ladies get-together, which sounds an awful lot like an activity at a resting home. It’s actually going to be a fun and fresh party, and I want the guests to take home a little treat that can keep the spirit of spring going long after the party ends. I am always racking my brain for creative party favors (aren’t we all?) and for the theme of spring I was completely stumped. I kept running through spring-y words like “flowers”, “fresh”, “fun”, when it hit me. Duh — why don’t I just send some fresh flowers home with them?! What says “spring” more than flowers? I just wanted to add a few handmade and heartfelt details to my floral party favors, and I’ll quickly teach you how to make some flower favors of your own.

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Wow, that was some kind of crazy winter, right?! For those of you still suffering through the winter that just won’t die — my humblest apologies — but for those of us in warmer climes: Yay, spring’s here! And, for me, the arrival of spring means it’s time to head outside, scissors in hand, to find any early bloomers that I can bring inside to brighten things up.

First to flower in my backyard is hellebore  (a.k.a. lenten rose). Their heavy, droopy blooms on short stems are best displayed in a vase with a small opening. Here, I have them in what looks like an expensive Wedgwood vase but it’s actually an old Avon bottle that I found at an estate sale for the irresistible price of … wait for it … 10 cents!: Spring Hellebores in an Old Blue Vase

Joining the hellebore in their winter-banishing crusade are tiny, delicate crocus placed in an antique salt shaker:
Spring Flowers on a Bedroom Nightstand

The cardinals that have reigned unchallenged in my backyard this winter have been joined by a variety of other birds, including robins. I love the idea of using bird’s nests as a spring decoration but would never want to deprive some poor bird of their handmade home so I simply DIY-ed my own bird’s nest complete with tiny robin’s eggs. You can make one too while watching your favorite show. Get crafting with my step-by-step instructions>> How to Make a DIY Bird's Nest for Spring

You can make your nest any size you like — even big enough to act as an Easter basket: Handmade Bird's Nest as an Easter Basket

This is also the perfect time of year to force a branch to bloom indoors. Good candidates for this include fothergilla, witch hazel, Bradford pear, cherry, quince, redbud, lilac and my favorite: forsythia. Here’s what the forsythia branches in my backyard looked like when I cut them; the buds were just beginning to swell: Forsythia Branches Just Breaking Into Bud

And here they are just 1 week later, adding a happy shot of color to my living room:Cut Forced Forsythia as a Spring Arrangement

 Are you as ready for warmer weather as I am? How will you spring-up your rooms?

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If most of your plants never survive longer than a few months, don’t worry, you’re not alone — “Hello, my name is Grant Dudley — and sadly, I kill plants.”  To offer folks like us a hand, Click and Grow has created an easy-to-use solution.

A Click and Grow starter kit contains everything we need to become instant gardeners: a smartpot and a plant cartridge. These kits will grow our plants without us having to water or fertilize. Just add batteries, fill their water tanks and everything else is taken care of by smart technology.

Click and Grow Pot

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It’s usually bad to be called a wallflower, right? Well, not in this case. These pretty metal wall flowers from Pottery Barn Kids make a statement that is anything but shy.

metal flowers

They’re so big and glossy, and just kind of pop, right? It’s National Garden Month but because I have a terrible habit of killing plants — I ought to be studying HGTV Gardens more — I thought indoor metal flowers would be safer for me. Don’t let the fact that they come from Pottery Barn Kids fool you. I think these 3D blooms would dazzle anywhere from a barn wedding to a bathroom. So, go on and put the petal to the metal. (Tee hee.)

[Via: Pinterest]

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Happy First Day of Spring, everyone! The season stands for new life, growth and rebirth, and I’m feeling that all around me. The weather in New York has been eerily wonderful lately, and it seems the city is collectively in a better mood. This Spring Design Trends package has me obsessed with refreshing my decor. The HGTVGardens launch put gardening back on my radar, and even my Facebook news feed is full of flower photos these days. I’m not the first to gravitate to florals (stripes and dots tend to catch my eye first), but I think the finds below are a cheery way to welcome spring, don’t you?

The Botanical Coasters would look so fresh with glasses of Sparkling Sunshine Punch resting on top of them. (Check out the floating ice flowers!) Cheers to the warmer weather and good times to come!

How are you ringing in spring?

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These V4 vases by Seung Yong Song live up to the title, don’t they? Not that there are so many different vases made out of these materials. It’s just that I couldn’t call the post ‘Concrete and Wire Vases’ and expect too many people to click, could I? That sounds kinda drab, and I’d be underselling these neat-looking vessels.

v4 vases

I love the juxtaposition of the tough, industrial materials and the delicate flowers tucked inside. The vases themselves also have the interesting contrast of their dense concrete bases and the light, airy wire forms atop them. Now the only question is, which HGTVGardens Flower of the Day would look best inside one of these?

[Via: Pinterest, DesignVagabond]

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Most of what we talk about in design revolves around the sense of sight. Although hearing (wind chimes, water features) and touch (textured fabrics, sheepskin throws) come into play a bit, I feel like the sense of smell sadly gets overlooked. Unless you’re counting the stinky trash that your boyfriend neglected to take out again, and I am not. (Ahem.) In fact, adding good scent back into your home can take what you’ve created visually to the next level.

floral arrangement

First, consider how large the room you want to perfume is, how strong you’d like the scent to be and how long you want it to last. Candles, like the ones designer Erin Valencich used in the photo below, diffusers and incense (Kim Myles loves Nag Champa) are on the stronger/longer side while sprays, sachets and potpourri are best for smaller spaces and a more fleeting or subtle effect, but they all have a place in a well-scented home. Fresh flowers — think lilies, hyacinths or roses — can be a natural way to introduce scent that’s beautiful to boot.

MORE: Kim Myles On Scent as a Layer of Design

Just as different design styles conjure up different feelings, you can incorporate specific essences into your home to achieve certain moods. Like feng shui for your nose, if you will. I definitely feel like certain scents relax me or rev me up. Lavender calms me, although there’s lavender body wash in my shower now, so perhaps that’s working against me when I’m trying to get ready for work in the morning. Gotta buy some grapefruit soap, and accent it with fresh grapefruit slices for an extra zesty kick!

MORE: Create a Candle-Filled Bathroom Spa and Other Great Ways to Bring Scent Home

erin valencich candles

I thought this article from The Chicago Tribune about using scent when selling your home had a good point about coordinating the kind of home you have with the overall scent profile you should think about creating: “A musk would be good for a house with a lot of dark wood, like cherry,” [President of AromaSys, Brad] Owen said. “White tea ginger would work for a more contemporary home.” This short piece from Allure also points out the need to consider what the room in the home is used for before you add scent. Florals may clash with food and cooking aromas in the kitchen, whereas food scents may be more distracting than relaxing in the bedroom.

Personally, I think the seasons influence my preferences the most. In the winter, I tend to like warm, spicy fragrances. Now that we’re moving into spring, I am excited to open up all the windows to get some fresh air, clean my apartment and move toward scents like linen, green grass and delicate florals. Ahh!

What are your favorite scents in the home, and how do you incorporate them?

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I am a self-professed lover of tile. Naturally, I love tiled bathrooms, but recently I’ve been seeing more tiled bathtubs which is like, Why didn’t I think of that? First there was this pretty little number all done up in blue by Anthony Baratta. Then I saw this mosaic bathtub by Mosaic Sweden and I don’t know what happened, but I had to be revived with smelling salts.

mosaic bathtub
I can’t read Swedish (I know, so uncultured!), but I think this was a project for the Stockholm Furniture Fair 2012. The mosaic’s subject matter is apt for this time of year when I am yearning for spring. The details and depth of color in the mosaic plus the dramatic shape of the clawfoot tub make this an all-around impressive piece. Just throw in a petal-packed Lush Rose Queen bath bomb for a full-flower sensory experience!

[Via: Pinterest]

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Some surprises you get with a new house can be less than positive. They can range from annoying (Surprise! The sellers left a giant oil painting of a quarterback in the attic.) to slightly more horrifying (Oh look, the faucet suddenly has no water pressure!), but luckily, there are lots of good surprises too.

Good surprise exhibit A: Discovering the new-to-us garden. Since the yard thinks its spring (It was 70 degrees yesterday…in February.), each day we’re seeing new bits of green shooting out of the ground. And almost every day, a different flower pops out. Of course, as gardening novices, we have to run to a flower book (or to the all-knowing HGTV gardening editor, Marie) to identify most of them.

Everything from crocuses…

Purple crocuses

Freshly-sprouted purple crocuses

…to daffodils…

Yellow daffodils

Yellow daffodils, after the rain

…to rambling vinca. And more is popping up every day!

Purple vinca

Vinca major

Read Liz’s previous House Diaries posts here and follow her home inspiration board on Pinterest.

What surprised you most (good or bad) about your first house? Tell me in the comments below.

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