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help! we need to replace our ikea coffee table with something more grownup

After three year’s in our house, we have are slowly replacing our Ikea furniture with more permanent pieces. The one at the center of our home — and indeed, the center of our lives it seems — is our Strind coffee table. It serves us well, offsetting a dark brown leather couch with its round white surfaces and delicate metal legs. We love the bottom shelf for stacking our current selection of magazines and children’s books (both of which seems to pile up effortlessly). The wheels make it easy to push aside when it’s time for one Isadora’s gymnastic demonstrations or we just want to kick our feet up with ease. But, it is getting wobbly.

To keep the balance in the room, we’d like to stick with white and round. We’ve found a few options. Which one do you like?

The Sybil table reminds me of the 70s rec rooms from my youth. It’s pretty groovy, but maybe too heavy? As a bonus, the top level swivels for optimal drink poising. $550 at

A high gloss and metal table is the most elegant of the bunch. $565 at

Classic modern may be the way to go. The white version of the design stable seems sensible. $313 at

What do you think? Any suggestions I should consider?

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help! seplaceing for the perfect indoor/outdoor rug for our kitchen

We have a rug problem in our kitchen. Namely, we need one but everything we put there gets crazy stained. The spot — spanning from the sink the end of our new dishwasher (ah… the dishwasher) — gets a lot of traffic. Spills happen constantly. Also, no matter what kind of rug pad we put underneath, it slips and slides. My seplace is on: I need something washable that stays where you place it. Ideally it would be a bold color — like yellow or red or perhaps a combination of the two. You can sort of see our old Ikea rug in this photo below. This rug was wool — bad idea. Before that we had a cotton rag rug. Frequent washing turned into real rags.

I’m thinking of splurging on a rug by Pappelina. We have a runner from them in our upstate place. It’s works great in a mud room. The only that’s holding me up is the price — about $300 at Royal Design. I suppose it would be worth it for the kitchen rug of our dreams. But it is completely plastic. All plastic. Is that a good idea?

Another brand I’m considering is Chilewich. I’m a big fan of their products. Their rugs and mats are lovely; if only they came in brighter colors…

Dash & Albert? But they are only cotton — won’t they stain and slip?

Any other suggestions? Help!

Previous related post: Come Rain or Shine: Indoor/Outdoor Rug Roundup

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help! how do you grow tomatoes in a container?

You’ve all heard about my black thumb before (and, in case you’re wondering, I finally gave up custody of that ill-destined terrarium). But I’ve recently moved to a new pad with a pretty fantastic balcony that gets all kinds of wonderful sun exposure…and I’m thinking tomatoes. Is there anything better in the middle of summer than wandering out to your garden, picking a few fresh tomatoes for your salad? I can’t imagine.

With all of those beautiful outdoor planting containers available now (have you seen the options at West Elm and Crate & Barrel lately?), I’m seriously tempted to try my hand at growing edibles in a container-style garden. But, as ever, I have no idea where to start…or, really, if such a thing is even possible.

So, here’s the question: what do you green thumbs know about planting tomatoes in a container? Is it do-able? Any tips, tricks or rules to follow? Can a beginner even grow tomatoes, or is this a project best left to serious gardeners? Leave me your best ideas in the comments!

Photo via Farmscape Nursery

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help! how would you cook purple artichokes?

I keep seeing these gorgeous purple baby artichokes at my local fruit and veggie market. I am enamored by them, but I have no idea how to cook or serve. I’ve done some seplaceing, and most of what I have found is how to use them as decoration. They make lovely tabletop pieces, as seen here in this Food Network story about Thanksgiving ideas or this suggestion from CasaSugar on alternative wedding bouquets.

Surely they must be more than a pretty face? Any suggestions on how to cook? Do you just steam them like regular ‘chokes and take tiny bites? Sounds unsatisfying… Help!

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help! where should I eat in san antonio?

Last year, I called on Shelterrific readers to point me towards the best food in New Orleans. I ate like a queen during my trip (I’m still dreaming about Café du Monde) and so now I’m hoping to tap into your fabulous culinary expertise again. This March, I’m fleeing the chilly Chicago city limits and heading south to the land of legendary brisket for my first ever trip to Texas. I’ll be spending most of my time in San Antonio and one day in Austin. Help me out, y’all: where should I eat?

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