Are we there yet? Spring is officially 11 days away and we can't wait.
We need reminders that color and warmth and lightness exist after a winter we'd rather forget.
Here are five easy ways to perk up spirits, brighten up the house and even add some color to still-frozen gardens.
1. Crocuses will soon be pushingtheir purple and bright yellow heads out of the ground, but if you want to look out the window and see flowers now, go for the big-headed stems from Sandy's Back Porch garden center in Belleville. The dinner plate-size flowers are ceramic. Petals are painted in vibrant, outdoor, fade-resistant shades. With long steel stems and twin stakes to help them stay upright, these lovely floral arrangements can stand alone to be admired in a garden patch, or do double duty as a bird feeder. Prices are $24.99 and $36.99.
2. Living room looking a bit dull? Put away all the extra throws and quilts we've been burrowed under and add some color. World Market in Shiloh has a large selection of multi-hued accent pillows ready to toss on a sofa, bed or porch swing. Ribbon, lace and embroidery add texture, with patterns from paisley to Jacobean prints to florals and tweeds. You'll find rectangular and square pillows, with most priced at $29.99.
3. It may not be time yet to break out the sundress, but one way to ease a winter wardrobe into spring is with pretty, lightweight scarves. Basket Case in Lake Christine shopping center in east Belleville and downtown Lebanon have a varied selection of scarves in pastel shades, solid and patterned. Prices range from $18 to $24 and co-owner Sue Hoelscher or one of her staff will be glad to show you how to wear it. Sue said she can't wait for spring and warmer-weather clothing to arrive in the shop.
"Orange and denim are going to be big," she said. Plus, palazzo pants are making an appearance and maxi dresses will return.
"They're both comfortable to wear and can be worn casual or dressed up."
4. Even on the rainiest spring days, add some sunshine to your walk with a compact Totes umbrella from Target in Shiloh. Each is $14.99 (the owl umbrella is $12.99) with a telescoping handle, automatic open and shut, plus a Velcro strap to keep it closed when not in use. Perfect to slip into a tote or keep in the car, ready to pop open when you need it. Look for them near the belts and accessories.
5. In the metro-east, you can't say the word spring without adding "training." Ben's Crafts & Florals in downtown Belleville is gearing up for baseball season with an expanded area filled with merchandise for fans of both the St. Louis Cardinals and the Chicago Cubs. Show your Cards spirit with a special arrangement of red and white silks flowers in a baseball-shaped vase. It's $26.97.