After a friend's surgery, we wanted to surprise her by making something hearty and somewhat healthy for dinner. Something like soup. But not our old standby, chicken and noodle.

Imagine visiting a museum where none of the paintings and pictures on display had frames. You’d likely think that the art felt naked, vulnerable and incomplete — and for good reason. Truth is, a quality frame both protects and completes the image, making it appear valuable, important and unique.

It’s one of the most important and intimate rooms in your entire home. It can make a big first impression on visitors and be instrumental in helping you feel clean and refreshed. But it can also quickly turn into an eyesore due to clutter, dirt, mold and outdated components. So maybe it’s time to give a little TLC to your bathroom.

Many of us work in open-plan offices where our allotted cubicles are small but our own, so to speak. We personalize them with baubles that mean little to others but a lot to us. A colleague, for instance, has a little blue glass dolphin that reminds her of a sun-drenched vacation on the Greek island of Paros. Another has a snow globe of San Francisco, a city where he used to work. There are pictures of his kids, then small, now grown.

It’s a chef’s major pet peeve: you open that lower kitchen cabinet door and a heaping cluster of cooking utensils comes crashing to the floor in a cacophony of clanging metal, with skillets, saucepans, pots and lids scattered about the floor. The sound is loud enough to wake the dead, and the frustration level you feel is boiling point high.

Every winter, it’s a fight between you and Jack Frost, but he doesn’t have to win. Homeowners need three key items to attack the snow: de-icers, an ergonomic shovel and, for larger areas, a snowblower. But just don’t pick up any bag of rock salt or the first shovel in reach. We contacted home experts to explain how to be smarter consumers when preparing to battle the snow.

When Amy Haney walked into her newly redecorated family room, she was awed by what a big difference a few design changes could make. "It made me love our house again," says Haney, who called on local decorator Kristi Margiotta to transform the main room in the family's 8-year-old home. Margiotta breathed new life into the Old World-style room by adding a fresh coat of paint along with new furnishings, lighting, pillows and window coverings.

We are nearly a month into the new year, and you may be thinking about what updates to make in your home this year. The design world is here to help with a list of styles that will be big in 2018.

Contrasting dramatically with the recent decorating trend of cool and sleek industrial designs, velvet is all warm and cozy with a plush texture and feel-good personality.

If you’ve got spaghetti-
like clusters of cords congregating in the corners of your home and wires snaking out from nearly every visible AC outlet, it’s time to admit you have a problem. And unless you get control over this cable clutter, your home’s aesthetic appeal — and safety — will be at risk, say the experts.

Growing up in central Pennsylvania, eating local meant picking pecks of fresh cherries from the orchards outside of Gettysburg, more pickles than would seem just or legal to a non-German, and on Jan. 1 of each year savoring some lovely roasted hog maw, aka sausage, potatoes and cabbage stuffed inside a pig’s stomach. Happy New Year!

A 2010 trip to see New England’s fall colors opened Deb Koesters’ eyes to something far more stimulating. She and welding artist husband Dick were at Snow Farm, a craft learning workshop, in Williamsburg, Massachusetts, when she discovered wet felting quite by accident. She initially enrolled in jewelry-making, only to find it “too fiddly.” So she switched to wet felting. “It was so much fun, I was mad that I hadn’t learned it earlier in life,” she says.

Celeste Butler isn’t just sewing a quilt. She’s telling a story and preserving history. “I’m passionate about what I’m doing,’’ she says, “and leaving that legacy behind for my children and grandchildren.’’

What’s the one word that sums up who you want to be or how you want to live? It’s the hottest question on social media this time of year as users challenge each other to name a word — and discover something about themselves in the process.

Velvet, ah yes. Faintly nostalgic. Luxuriously silky. Subtly reflective. And smart enough for the office. That's right. Traditionally velvet has been reserved for evening, but it's especially modern when paired with denim. You can't beat velvet's casual panache if you're looking for glamour …

Picket fences mean something special in Charleston, South Carolina. They’re called “Badges of Honor,” and represent the sacrifice homeowners made during the Civil War by donating their wrought-iron fences to the cause. When homeowners refrained from returning their fences to iron, it signaled where they stood during what was known in the Confederacy as the War for Southern Independence. We learned about the significance of shutters, Robert Smalls and a lesser-known tea party during a two-day stay in Charleston.

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Inspired Living Omaha is a premium publication of the Omaha World-Herald, delivering to Sunday subscribers. Spotlighting home, design, fashion, food, entertaining, design, travel + more. To start your subscription, call 402-346-3363 or e-mail us at customerservice@owh.com