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When it comes to decorating a dining table I’ve always stuck to a simple formula. One thing in the center of the table.

Sometimes it’s a large platter. Sometimes it’s a simple candle. Sometimes it’s a huge clam shell (which by now you’ve probably noticed is our new kitchen’s fruit bowl). I guess I never really thought about my table decorating technique until I started seeing cute little dining table vignettes in every publication from Domino to Pottery Barn. You know what I’m talking about, those perfectly asymmetrical arrangements with some plates and a cup full or spoons- or a casual stack of napkins and a collection of glasses.

Well, I never thought I could pull of such a breezy “accidental” look, but when I actually thought about it there was nothing particularly difficult about the execution. So yesterday morning when my momma-in-law and I went on a mini-shipping spree, I decided to recreate the look on a budget. First we hit up Target, where I grabbed a $14 linen runner that’s identical to a spendier version I saw at Pottery Barn a few weeks ago. Next we ventured into Sur La Table, where I enthusiastically snatched up some gorgeous beachy glasses with woven straw sleeves (that slide off for easy dishwashing). Did I mention the glasses were originally $5.99 each but I got 6 of them for $12 since they were on sale for $1.99? Go team! Then I picked up two glass Pellegrino bottles at the grocery store for around $3.

So for less than 30 beans (plus an old vase, some free backyard greenery, and three mercury candle holders I already had) I ended up with this:

Dining Table

What do you think? I love it because it just seems so fresh and unexpected, especially to a girl who used to have a bare table with one measly candle in the middle.

I’m sure most of you already have everything you need to create this look for absolutely nothing. Try a stack of plates with some linen napkins, or a bottle of wine with some wine glasses and a bowl of apples. I even think a few bottles of Tang would be super cute grouped with some glassware and a few branches from outside in a vase (or even a ceramic pitcher). So go ahead and make a little vignette of your own. But don’t forget to send us the pics!

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How To Unclog A Backed Up Kitchen Drain (It Worked!)

Ok, so remember how we didn’t have a kitchen for 113 days? And remember how excited we were to cook? Well, we were SO psyched to have our kitchen back (and better than ever) that we invited a few of our fabulous-chef-friends over to show our kitchen a little action. The four of us quickly whipped up some veggie hummus from scratch to nosh on while we cooked the main event: a delicious thai curry chicken and veggie dish over jasmine rice. Amazing.

Hummus

But somewhere between the appetizer and the main course our kitchen rebelled. As in both sides of the sink refused to drain. And then we noticed that the dishwasher was filled with about 3 inches of nasty standing water as well. We had a full-on clog.

Clog

So we proceeded with dinner sans sink and it was fun and fantastic. In fact, it was so good it was almost worth the 4 hours we spent the next day taking apart the pipes, snaking the drain, and breaking up the nasty veggie ball that had clogged up the works the night before. (We may never eat zucchini again).

Sink Man

But we’re happy to add drain-snaking to our metaphorical toolbox, and to pass along a great clog-busting tip: boiling water. We dumped gallon after gallon of boiling h20 down the drain and about the 5th or 6th time the clog fully broke up and the water rushed down the drain like a mini tornado. Victory!

And we learned a valuable lesson: the garbage disposal has to be ON if stuff’s flying down the drain. Or it’ll just slip right through without getting chopped up and hang out about 5 feet under the floor in the pipes and have a little dinner party of its own.

So now we know.

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