Metro-East Living

Shopping: Spring is blooming right around the corner

Decorate your back yard for the big Easter egg hunt with tall whirly-gigs from Dollar Tree.
Decorate your back yard for the big Easter egg hunt with tall whirly-gigs from Dollar Tree.

Just a few days before the official start of Spring and I can see it’s already here. Daffodils are up, tulip trees and forsythia bushes are budding and hostas are poking out of the ground. Yes, I know the weatherman is predicting cooler temps for next week, but just these signs have brightened up my outlook.

I’ll try to brighten up your with the results of my shopping trip this week:

Open house

Today and Saturday, downtown Belleville retailers and businesses are hoping you’ll spring into action and enjoy the annual Spring Open House. Up and down East and West Main Street you’ll find sales, bargains and unique merchandise at 20 locations that are part of what “shopping small” is all about. For example:

Turned Treasures not only will offer a 10 percent discount on classes, but you’ll get to see demonstrations at 11 a.m. and 1 and 3 p.m. Saturday.

Rising Stars will have a special drawing for a limited edition Nora Fleming mini hand-painted platter ornament.

Stop in Splatter Mania and Sips Party Loft on Church Street to see the artwork you (or your kids) can make.

Happy Hop Homebrew & Gourmet and Crystal & Spice Shoppe will offer food samples.

The great outdoors

Sandy’s Back Porch in Belleville is holding a free Garden Design with Hostas workshop at 10 a.m. Saturday with hosta enthusiast Bruce Buehrig. Learn how to use these big leafy perennials in a shade garden and how to take care of them.

I stopped in Shadycreek Nursery and Garden Center off Illinois 3 in Columbia to see what was new. I didn’t get past the bins of elephant ears. I’ve planted ones the size of croquet balls before, but I’ve never seen bulbs as big as coconuts! You pay for what likely will be an enormous tropical plant by July: $16.95 for the biggest bulbs; the smallest (still pretty big) were $9.95.

Not into elephant ear plants? The window sun-catchers on the wall as you walk in the entrance will bring color into a room for just $6.99.

Plant a tall whirlygig from Dollar Tree in your garden. Each is just $1 and they come in big-flower shapes and colors. They’d be great to decorate the yard for the big Easter egg hunt.

Make a fashion leap

This is my find of the year so far. I don’t know how my fashion radar did not pick up The Clothes Line Boutique in Waterloo, 100 S. Market (on the corner of Market and Mill, across from the public square). It is worth the trip south to do some shopping there. The dresses, tops and accessories are not only pretty but so reasonably priced.

Owners Missy Toenjes and Brooke Koerber carry an excellent selection of styles for a wide array of ages and sizes. I saw lots of shifts, tunics, looser-fitted tanks and pretty dresses, some with embellishments in solid as well as patterns. Floral patterns were everywhere on Tuesday, though, including a mint-colored, multi-floral sleeveless dress for $39 and a fuchsia/floral tank for $34.

Missy and Brooke also know how to decorate a shop so it’s appealing and comfortable to browse. See what’s new at Plus, there’s a Girls Night Out from 5:30 to 8 p.m. Saturday. Stop in for snacks, drinks and giveaways. Call them at 939-8255.

A few doors down from Gallagher’s restaurant in Waterloo, at 118 W. Mill St., is Philomena + Ruth. This is another find for me in this town — a shop that opened in 2015 and is just a few blocks from The Clothes Line. It is an eclectic place, where you can buy everything from hair bows made from vintage fabric ($5) to metal garden markers. Pick three for $18, or pick three and put them in a little pot for $19.99. Check out the cool jewelry while you’re there.

Basket Case in Belleville and Lebanon wants to reward you with a pair of free Silvery Moon earrings for your Brighton same-day purchase of $75 or more. The offer is good through Sunday.

Home brighteners

Across the street from Gallagher’s and Philomena + Ruth is Mill Street Treasures in Waterloo. One step into the shop and you’re instantly transported to Easter and spring. If you need inspiration for decorating, this is the place. A mix of vintage-looking new items and antiques, I liked a yellow-painted sign on a piece of old board that reads “You are my sunshine.” It’s $19.99. I also found a selection of decorative pillows with hand-stitched flowers on them for about $15.

Also, the shop is celebrating with a Spring Open House now through Sunday. Enjoy food samples and merchandise specials. Check it out on Facebook.

Give your patio, deck or porch new life with a metal set of table and chairs from West End Upscale Resale Shop in Belleville. It’s not an exact match. The four chairs are a bronze color with a winding leaf pattern, while the table has a glass top and the metal is painted black. But the green, black and white floral pattern seems to tie it all together. Price is $275. The shop is around the back of Ace Hardware on West Main Street. To see the ever-changing selection, see its Facebook page.

Just for fun

Kid-essentials for digging or gardening in sunny weather should include sunscreen, a funny brimmed hat and matching gloves from Target. Pick from Minion or Capt. America headgear ($5.99) and gloves ($3.99). I saw them at the West Belleville store off Illinois 15, but check other locations as well.

Also at Target are luggage you won’t have any trouble spotting on the airport carousel or in the overhead bin. Made by French Bull, you’ll find travel totes and convertible overnight bags in multi-color or turquoise/blue/gray/white zigzag patterns for $39.99 and $49.99. A 21-inch rolling duffel in a turquoise flower pattern is $99.99. Upright roller bags for kids (with pull-up handles) decorated in daisies or plaid are $39.99.