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Woman could face jail time over garden

A Georgia woman could face jail time and a large fine over her garden.

>> Read more trending news

Atlanta city code enforcement officers told Lexa King that her flower garden is overgrown.

King told WSB-TV’s Rikki Klaus that she’s been growing her garden for about 30 years. She beams when she talks about the azaleas in her yard.

"And since I pay the taxes and since I pay the mortgage and since I pay the insurance, I figure I'm the one that gets to say," King said.

Code enforcement officers see the situation, and her garden, differently.

"They said it was messy, said it was overgrown,” King said. "I said, ‘Well, this is a matter of your interpretation.’”

>> Related: Man plants 2,000 tulips for 45th wedding anniversary

In December, King said, an anonymous complaint led to an arrest citation. It details "overgrowth" in her yard and said she's violating a city code that prohibits "excessive growth."

"We asked him for a definition of excessive, which he could not provide," King said.

Klaus asked King whether she plans to cut the shrubs back.

"Not unless I'm absolutely forced to," King said.

King said she's fighting a bigger battle to protect the quirkiness of Atlanta’s Candler Park neighborhood.

"This is not about me. It's not about those azaleas. This is about our neighborhood and the way of life that we have here," King said.

Neighbors said they've been writing to City Council members on King's behalf.

"We're hoping for dismissal of these charges before Lexa King appears in front of the Municipal Court of Atlanta to be sentenced for her crime of azaleas," neighbor Scott Jacobs said.

Klaus researched the penalties of a court citation. King could face up to 60 days in jail and a $1,000 fine.

Her hearing will take place in August.

Klaus contacted code enforcement for reaction to this story. She’s still waiting to get a response. 

Cicadas pop out of the ground early in some parts of U.S.

The big green bugs that make a deafening sound are back.

Cicadas have popped out of the ground early this year and are starting to show up in Ohio and other parts of the Midwest, as well as the South and East Coast.

First you see their skin. Then you hear their call. 

>> Swarms of cicadas expected soon in Southeast

It's the unmistakable sound, and evidence the cicadas are back. 

"I think they're really gross," said Ashley Gilbert of Kettering, Ohio.

"They're a little scary, kind of prehistoric looking so they're a little startling," said Melissa Todd of Riverside, Ohio. 

The fragile brown casings could be from Brood X – some of these 17-year cicadas reportedly are arriving four years early – or the annual dog-days-of summer cicadas that have arrived several weeks ahead of time. 

>> Read more trending news

According to the Gardener's Network, Brood X cicadas span the following states: Georgia, North Carolina, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, New York, Delaware, Illinois, Indiana, Kentucky, Maryland, Michigan, New Jersey, Virginia and West Virginia.

Whichever kind they are, cicadas don't bite and don't cause much harm to trees. Their loud sounds and startling movements is all most will have to deal with.

– The Cox Media Group National Content Desk contributed to this report.

Mystery tenant from 'haunted' Zillow listing revealed

Earlier this month, an odd Zillow listing for a house in Cayce, a small town south of Columbia, South Carolina, started circulating – and immediately sparked some spooky speculation about who might be living upstairs.

>> Watch the news report here

“Upstairs apartment cannot be shown under any circumstances,” the listing read. “Buyer assumes responsibility for the month-to-month tenancy in the upstairs apartment. Occupant has never paid, and no security deposit is being held, but there is a lease in place. (Yes, it does not make sense, please don’t bother asking.)”

Other mildly disturbing details included a door to the upstairs apartment stained with blood-red paint, an odd sculpture in the backyard and a gaping hole in the ceiling.

The internet went wild with speculation that perhaps a serial killer – or the devil himself – was the mystery tenant. 

The State debunked any notions about evil occupying the home May 13. 

The newspaper revealed that the mystery tenants are artist Randall McKissick, 70, and his three cats.

According to The State, the Columbia native was a world-renowned artist and illustrator in the 1980s and 1990s. His work was shown internationally – in Paris, Johannesburg, New York, Atlanta and Chicago among other places. 

One of his pieces still hangs in the Coca-Cola headquarters in Atlanta.

About 10 years ago, McKissick fell on hard times. The man whose friends call him a creative genius went through a divorce and eviction and suffered crippling anxiety. Those troubles, coupled with the rise of computer illustration, made McKissick quit painting. 

“I lost the spark. I don’t know how to get it back," McKissick told The State.

A childhood friend allowed him to rent a room in his upstairs home free of charge. But the owner, Michael Schumpert Sr., had a car wreck in December, and his family now needs to sell the house. Schumpert's son, Michael, wrote the listing.

>> Read more trending news

“We don’t really have much choice but to sell the house; my parents need to sell it,” the younger Schumpert told the newspaper. “But it’s been in the family for so long, we don’t really want to. And we want Randy to be able to stay there.”

The house is now off the market, but McKissick's two daughters are still looking for a new place for him to stay. Amber Albert told the paper her father's perfect home would have room for his cats and some studio space, so he might get his spark back and start painting again.

“I just want to paint again,” he said. “I just want to find that spark.”

Read more here.

FIRST LOOK: Tesla's solar roofs are here

Tesla is officially taking orders for its solar glass roof, which is said to be cheaper than a regular roof with an "infinity warranty."

>> Read more trending news

Elon Musk tweeted on Wednesday that the solar roof can be ordered in "almost any country." The roofs will be deployed this year in the U.S. and overseas in 2018. 

The roofs will come in textured, smooth, Tuscan and slate. 

The roofs are made with tempered glass and are more than three times stronger than standard roofing tiles, according to Tesla's website.

Learn more here.

Dry conditions could mean more venomous snake sightings, experts say

The ongoing drought could bring danger slithering right into Floridians' yards.

The dry conditions mean the most venomous snakes in Central Florida are on the move.

>> Watch the news report here

Herpetologist Bob Cross said low water levels in many lakes and swamps means snake sightings are more likely to happen in neighborhoods.

“It’s very frightening to think that they’re that they’re that close to a house,” said Longwood resident Candy Bauer. "I don't feel the same about my backyard."

>> Snakes dumped in Walmart parking lot

She found a cottonmouth in her backyard this week and called Cross to relocate the animal.

“Usually when people saw that, it’s a harmless water snake," Cross said. "But in this case, the lady was right."

>> Read more trending news

He said the dry weather is forcing the cottonmouths and other snakes to seek water elsewhere.

"He’s going to be traveling like the gators,” Cross said.

>> 'Firefighters saved my life,' rattlesnake victim says

He said a bite from a cottonmouth would cause severe pain and swelling.

"We'd be calling 911 and a helicopter for you," Cross said.

The snake found in Bauer’s yard will be sent to a facility in DeLand which will use it to produce anti-venom.

Donald Trump's childhood home sells for 'yuge' profit

A real estate prospector just profited big-league from the sale of President Donald Trump's childhood home.

>> PHOTOS: Donald Trump’s childhood home

According to CNN, the 2,500-square-foot New York Tudor has a new owner just three months after Michael Davis bought the property in Queens' Jamaica Estates neighborhood for $1.4 million. Last week, an unnamed bidder reportedly shelled out $2.14 million for the home where Trump lived until he was about 4.

>> PREVIOUS STORY: Donald Trump's childhood home goes on auction block

The house, built by Trump's father, Fred Trump, has "a brick and stucco exterior and an old-world charm interior featuring arched doorways, hardwood floors, five bedrooms, 4 1/2 baths, library, living room with fireplace, formal dining room, basement and more," Paramount Realty USA said in the listing.

>> Read more trending news

Read more here or here.

Girl tells teacher about weed her dad grows in the backyard

Kids say the darndest things.

>> Read more trending stories  

Dax Holt, a former producer at TMZ, recorded a conversation he had with his daughter, Skylar, about an awkward exchange he had with her teacher.

“When I got to your school, your teacher said, ‘I heard you have a lot of weed at your house,'” Holt told Skylar. “Are we growing weed at our house?”

“Yeah,” said Skylar.

“A lot of it?” asks Holt, to which Skylar responds, “Yeah, just a little bit, but it’s going to grow a lot.”

“Do you want to show people what you’re talking about?” Holt asks.

Skylar then leads him to the backyard to point out the “weed.”

Watch the video below:

My child's teacher: "so Skylar tells me you guys have a ton of weed at home."Me: "umm"Teacher: "she said you're growing it"Me:Posted by Dax Holt on Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Private Quarters: Midcentury modern designer redo on East Lake Home Tour

Katherine Madeira and Chris Drobny were unfamiliar with mid-century modern style and Atlanta’s East Lake neighborhood when a designer’s house caught their attention on Facebook.

A friend shared a post that Brian Patrick Flynn, whose projects include HGTV’s 2016 Dream Home, had his split-level ranch on the market. They viewed the home the day before an open house and their offer was accepted. Then they negotiated to buy the home’s budget and designer furnishings, light fixtures and window treatments, realizing that the style fit them. The DeKalb County location, near communities such as Kirkwood, Decatur and East Atlanta, also appealed to Madeira and Drobny, who previously rented in Old Fourth Ward.

“We lucked out. Who gets to buy a house already renovated and designed, and you get to buy the furniture and you don’t have to do through the work?” Madeira said. “It was just amazing.”

The renovated house is one of six residences featured on the 2016 East Lake Tour of Homes on Sept. 10-11.


Residents: Katherine Madeira and Chris Drobny, dogs Kerrigan and Fiona, and cats Sushi and Sake. Madeira works for SunGard Public Sector, which provides software solutions for public administration and public safety; Drobny is a Microsoft consultant.

Location: East Lake neighborhood, DeKalb County

Size: 1,640 square feet, three bedrooms, two baths

Year built/bought: 1955/2015

Architectural style: Mid-century modern

Favorite architectural elements: Custom wall and ceiling details, such as wood planks, fabric, designer wallpaper and a silver geometric wall feature dividing the upstairs from the main level.

Designer: Brian Patrick Flynn, the former owner

Interior design style: Mid-century modern

Favorite piece of furniture: Custom dining room banquette with a wood table that extends to seat 10 or folds to create two four-top tables.

Favorite outdoor elements: Four separate outdoor living spaces and a “designer dog run” with a faux lawn. “Having dogs, that was a huge selling point. We wanted a yard. For being intown, it’s a really big yard. We had so much space, we got another (dog),” Madeira said.

Resources: Furniture from West Elm, Crate and Barrel, Pottery Barn, World Market, City Issue

How to decorate your home with Atlanta's biggest decor trends

Our homes, like our wardrobes, can evolve to stay in style. Keeping them in vogue while keeping them comfortable is not easy work, but it is always worth it. Your home is your sanctuary. It should be a true reflection of you and your family while remaining a cozy retreat. Look no further to see how to decorate your home with Atlanta's current biggest trends.

Colored stainless steel

Stainless steel is sleek and goes with everything. Unfortunately, like every trend, stainless steel has its pros and cons. One of the biggest cons is the required maintenance. Scratches and fingerprints are a huge complaint of stainless steel owners. Black or colored steel may deter this issue some. It will not be eliminated completely. "Metals are neutrals in the overall scheme of things," Carl Mattison of Carl Mattison Design. "The standard gray stainless steel look will not go away anytime soon. Converting to the possible trend of colored or black finished steel is more a personal design preference. Create a design that works with it... go for it!"

Granny florals

Roses are red and violets are blue, and they are all hot this year. Before going all-in on today's latest trend, Mattison recommends trying bold patterns, such as florals, in small ways. "By incorporating pillows and linens first you can see if you like that look and it is not too permanent," he said. "Next, if you decide the look is for you, go ahead and incorporate wallpaper, but try smaller rooms like powder and sitting rooms over large spaces so that the home does not become a greenhouse."

Formal dining rooms

Formal dining rooms have gone back and forth over the last few decades. One year they are a must, the next they are wasted space. However, as with most trends, it is all about personal taste and what works for you. "Formal dining rooms are always good for resale as they can be used by the new owner any way they desire," according to Mattison. "They are simply additional square footage no matter what. They could be a sitting area, a lounge, a reading room, a library... or yes, even the old formal dining room. In a historic district like Grant Park, a formal dining room is often desired but with connection to the kitchen being key through possibly a butler pantry or other walkthrough area."

Mismatched cabinetry

Two-toned cabinets definitely offer the kitchen a splash. Be careful. If not done correctly, it can be a DIY disaster. Rachel Oliver of Rachel Oliver Design recommends getting out of your comfort zone with an island. However, she warns to take precautions when it comes to the cabinetry. "The right style of kitchen can handle upper cabinets being a different color from the lower, but that takes planning and a little bravery," Oliver suggested. "Be careful not to make it look like patchwork."

Statement mirrors

Mirrors are great for decorating. They offer the illusion of more space and create an interesting focal point. It makes sense to make a statement with a mirror by choosing one with intricate detail, bold colors, or an odd shape. Statement mirrors and art pieces can be wonderful if grouped together or left alone. A typical rule in decorating is be leary of going overboard with anything. "A large mirror that fits an entire wall most likely does not need anything else around it," Mattison recommended. "However, smaller mirrors grouped together on one wall create a pattern that is pleasing to the eye. Keep things like that to multiples of 7 or less."

Raw natural materials

Raw materials are a must for 2016. Unfortunately, things like marble, concrete and brass can be pricey. Reclaimed wood is stylish, natural and inexpensive. "There are many companies that carry reclaimed wood for super prices," Oliver said. "Dining and console tables are very popular and affordable. Ditch fake plants and add fresh cut greenery or easy-care houseplants for a pop of natural elements."

Sunrooms and outdoor living spaces

Some experts claim that the popularity of outdoor living spaces are on their way out, but like dining rooms, it's all about personal preference. In Southern states like Georgia, outdoor living spaces are essential and can serve as extra square footage. "In some climates, especially the South, outdoor living spaces are still important as we really have three seasons we can use them," Mattison said. "An outdoor space where a large ceiling fan can be installed is most important as the fan can create a breeze we don't often get, cooling the area by as much as 10 degrees."

Celebrate beautiful Atlanta historical architecture with this Instagram account

Atlanta isn’t exactly known as a place that preserves its history. Our city has raised and knocked over countless buildings in its decades-long cycle of reinvention.  

However, not everyone is on board with this plan. According to Cristina Moscoso, a consultant and photographer; Daniel Tana, program manager of the American Architectural Foundation; and Derek Anderson, an architectural historian married to Moscoso, people like historical homes and architecture.

“Atlanta is a really good place for preservation because people are becoming more interested in preservation,” Anderson said.

The three of them started an Instagram account called Architectural Splendor to capture the beauty of historical houses.

The Wrens Nest (1870) is located in the West End Historic District in beautiful SW Atlanta. It was the home of author and folklorist Joel Chandler Harris, famous for his Uncle Remus stories. While the house originally looked much simpler than it does today, Harris remodeled and expanded in the 1880s to give the home its current Queen Anne style. Patterned shingles and decorative mill work were used to avoid smooth-walled surfaces, and the large porch that was built to wrap around the ground floor became one of Harris’ favorite writing spots. Photograph by Derek Anderson A photo posted by Architectural Splendor (@architecturalsplendor) on Aug 15, 2016 at 8:04am PDT

These photos are taken by Anderson and Tana on their trips around the country.

Moscoso said she edits and posts the pictures to Instagram. The descriptions tend to be more detailed than an average Instagram account, reflecting the depth of expertise the group brings to the project.

“That’s kind of the beauty of Instagram,” said Tana. “You don’t have to read anything if you don’t want to.”

Anderson said people in Atlanta (and nationally) are becoming more interested in preserving the history built into a city’s walls.

“When I talk to friends, they want to buy in Atlanta historic districts,” he said. “We’re kind of in a period where due to the continuous loss of historic buildings, people have said enough is enough… (Historical structures) are what make a cool city that people want to visit.”

Anderson, who said he drives around Atlanta looking for good examples of historical architecture to photograph, recommended Grant Park, Druid Hills, and Cabbage Town as neighborhoods with history. Some lesser-known areas he mentioned include Adair Park and Collier Heights.

“I personally think this is a good experience for people,” Tana said. “I hope to just open people’s eyes and get them curious.”   

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