Daily Herald
Does this shape make it taste better?
By Deborah Donovan | Inside & out
Published: 2/7/2009 12:03 AM

Does this shape make it taste better?

Valentine's Day can be a lot of fun, although I remember at least one where the snow was so heavy that romantic dinners were ruined by the time commuters got home.

You don't want to spend a lot of money on something you will just use just one day, but Staub's Heart Fondue Pot works for entertaining all winter. The cast iron beauty is available online for various prices from $125 up to $200, although the least expensive one we found is black, not red.

Local stores carry Staub products. Visit staubusa.com or call (866) 772-8287.

Suburban farmers can get help here

Vegetable gardens are going to be very popular this spring. Even people who live in apartments or condominiums will spot container gardens on their patios or balconies or in window boxes.

Not only will this help you save lots of money, but it can guarantee you fresh and safe food.

The University of Illinois Extension has a few web sites designed to help, whether you're a neophyte or an experienced gardener taking on a few new veggies or looking for help with something that gave you problems in past seasons.

Go to web.extension.uiuc.edu/vegguide/.

Perhaps most helpful is a section that tells how to grow more than 20 specific types of vegetables, including recommendations for varieties to try.

Information about successful container gardens is at www.urbanext.uiuc.edu/containergardening/default.cfm.

Here you'll see tips on choosing a container, selecting soil mixes, combining plants, fertilizing, watering and grooming basics. It also includes special containers such as water gardens, hanging baskets, and topiaries as well as how to create whimsical containers.

And, yes, you can grow flowers if you'd rather.

Store blankets or heirlooms here

All right, this is not a bargain. But it's so cool we couldn't resist.

Pottery Barn presents the Brittanic Trunk for $1,600. Yes, it's nostalgic, but I am betting your great grandmother's trunk was not quite this showy when she sailed from another continent to these shores.

It's a solid wood frame wrapped in stainless steel with lined drawers that operate smoothly on glides. We're also talking leather and oak, which might have been on your ancestors' trunks.

It's a little over 3 feet wide, more than 2 feet deep and 18 inches high.

So if you can swing the price you'll get both storage and a real piece of furniture here.