open a parasol and your imagination
If you can't think of some way to use these paper parasols from Pier 1, you're not trying hard enough. They're $50 each. Think about bridal or baby shower decorations, a summer brightener in a bedroom, an actual parasol when you're out in the sun.
Real estate blunders to avoid
At 9 p.m. Sunday, tune in to HGTV and learn about the 25 Biggest Real Estate Mistakes (none of which you would ever make, of course). Experts will caution buyers and sellers about the pitfalls. Among them: falling in love with the first house you see; viewing the house only once; failing to be preapproved for a loan; making it hard for buyers to view your home; setting too high a price; and buying a house for its decor.
Cool ideas for your home and patio
Friday through April 20, the Tampa/St. Petersburg Home & Patio Show is at the Tampa Convention Center, 333 S Franklin St. You'll see green products and services, celebrity dog houses, and hundreds of exhibits. Green designer Joshua Foss, gardener Don Engebretson and wallpaper wizard Brian Santos will give demonstrations. Go to www.floridahomeshows.com for the schedule. Hours: 2 to 8 p.m. Friday; 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. April 19; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. April 20. Tickets: adults $9, free for children 12 and younger, $7 for seniors 60 and older Friday only. Discount tickets are available at the Web site.
Low bid should raise red flag
Why shouldn't you accept the lowest bid for a construction job? Here's what builders told the New York Times: If the bids are within 15 percent of each other, go ahead and take the low bid. Lower than that and the contractor may not understand the scope of the job, may be looking to make it up with add-ons later, or is cutting corners on materials or insurance. On the up side, the contractor may have a space in his calendar and is willing to bid low to keep his crews working.
How to clean resin outdoor furniture
Are your resin outdoor chairs starting to look their age? Before you make the decision to replace them, give them a good scrub. Mix 3 tablespoons of powdered laundry detergent (or oxygenated bleach such as OxyClean) in a gallon of warm water. A scrub brush will work, but avoid stiff bristles, which can scratch or gouge the plastic surface. (A Mr. Clean Magic Eraser may eliminate stubborn dirt streaks.) Let the solution soak in for a few minutes. Rinse thoroughly, then dry.
Compiled by Times homes and garden editor Judy Stark from staff and wire reports