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help! is there any fixing this couch leather?

The cat above is our girl Griffin, who is going on 18 years old and has an inoperable tumor. We’re more than willing to sacrifice a little beauty for her comfort, which is why we’ve not tried to bar her from her favorite spot on the couch. But she uses her toenails to help herself up — which is evident in the condition of the leather. We tried to get her to use steps to the couch, but she wasn’t having it. We’ve tried a blanket, but it’s difficult to tuck in because of the way the couch is sewn, and Griffin manages to get her claws under it anyway. I’ve recently started to wonder what the best way will be to minimize all those tiny claw marks. (They’re in a small area, just in the middle of the couch.) Should I trim off the little edges that stick up? Use saddle soap? Give up and pretend it’s a Ralph Lauren-esque “weathered” look? What do you think? –Mary T.

From our partners

help! i need picnic recipes

We’re always happy to help out a reader in need, but we know some of our best ideas come from you guys. That’s why when reader Marisa T. sent over an email asking for help planning her self-catered wedding menu, we decided to open the discussion up to all of you. We’ve tested some reader picnic recipes before during our Picnic Recipe Contest and ended up with a delicious 2nd place winner, an outstanding 1st place entry, and a knock-your-socks-off grand prize winner. We bet you have even more to offer.

We’re getting married in May and will be self-catering our home/ garden reception, and I’m looking for picnic-type side dishes. Can you point me in the direction of recipes that can be served at room temperature, can be prepped ahead of time (at least a day, preferably more) and that can sit out for a couple of hours without getting yucky or unsafe? –Marisa T.

Leave your suggestions for Marisa in the comments!

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help! what kind of cupcakes should i serve our one-year-old?

Dear readers, can you believe it’s been almost a year since Isadora was born? These days she’s giggling, crawling, dancing, standing, clapping and babbling with gusto. Every day is more fun. We’re having a small party to celebrate her — and our — monumental first year. Just a small one, mostly for us. But we are planning on giving Iz her first taste of a sweet treat — I’m thinking cupcakes. But what kind to bake? These carrot ones with cream cheese icing from Martha Stewart are the current front runners. I’m also wondering if I can take this chocolate and zucchini cake recipe and use it in a cupcake pan? Is there a difference between cake batter and cupcake batter? I imagine you would cook cupcakes for a shorter time. Any other suggestions? Remember she doesn’t have many teeth, so anything with nuts is out! Thanks for your help! — Angela M.

From our partners

help! can i broil with my bowls?

KATHLEEN wrote in with this question the other day: If my bowls are marked dishwasher and microwave safe are they also safe to put under the broiler? (I want to use them to make French Onion Soup!)

First off, Thanks Kathleen. Now we are totally craving French onion soup! We think it’s this image from ilmungo that is doing it to us (luckily, she shares a recipe on her flickr page). In response to your question — the answer is no. The broiler will heat your bowls to a a higher degree than both the microwave and dishwasher. There may be a paint or a glaze or something on there that cannot stand high temperatures. Our recommendation is just to find a very simple ceramic or porcelain bowl, that will keep your soup nice warm.

Any other suggestions for Kathleen? Let us know if you agree with our advice!

From our partners

help! i need a mirrored bedside table

Samantha wrote in with this question: Do you have any suggestions for finding mirrored bedside table with etching or some sort of provincial French flair?

We know we’ve seen something like this recently, but the only thing that immediately pops into mind is this parked mirror table from Pottery Barn. Help us help Samantha — leave your suggestions in the comments! Thanks!

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