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The Good Life

Style: Sitting Out

By Karla Bruning

It was only a matter of time before today's style-obsessed young consumers turned their attention to the patio. Chic enough for the indoors and sturdy enough to weather the elements, the latest outdoor furniture places a premium on quality and fabulousness.

"Outdoor furniture is really taking off," says Jane Humzy, founder of Jane Hamley Wells, a Chicago-based distributor that also makes its own line in Thailand. "People are increasing their design sensibility. The textures and material are refined enough that they can work indoors and outdoors."

Humzy's company creates a whole new spin on garden seating with the Capsule Turntable lounge/gazebo, essentially an outdoor room made from teak and aluminum on a rotating base. The roughly 2.5-meter cube with slatted sides contains a built-in table and seats, and a retractable roof. "It's a statement piece," says Humzy ($19,999; janehamleywells.com ).

Freeline International, a fledgling design house in the Netherlands, brings elements of indoor design into the open air. The whimsically cocoonlike plu'MO resort chair is woven from a blend of synthetic rattan around an aluminum frame ($2,000; free-line.nl ).

Other companies are experimenting with color and substance. Tidelli in Brazil makes all-weather synthetic wickers in vibrant colors like citric green and orange ( tidelli.com ). California-based Concreteworks Studio makes refined pieces from a lightweight cement-based composite. Its unique lounge chair is hand-cast and comes in a variety of colors and finishes. Armless with no frills, it looks as much a piece of modern sculpture as a place to rest your bum ($4,000; concreteworks.com ).

Even swings are getting an update. The massive Viteo Swing from Austria has a stainless-steel frame supporting a flat bench in teak, oak or larch, with up to four individual adjustable backs ($5,881; viteo.at ). Horchow's single-seat swing is an egg-shape basket suspended from a wrought-iron stand, reminiscent of a birdcage. It has red cushions covered in weather-resistant fabric and an optional matching ottoman ($1,579; horchow.com ). So relax!

4 Hours in . . . Edinburgh

Scotland's capital is steeped in tradition and celebrated for its beauty. Here's how to make the most of it in a short time:

Feast on Scottish delicacies such as wild salmon and Buccleuch beef in the stunning décor of the Witchery by Edinburgh Castle. (Castle Hill, Royal Mile. Open daily, noon-11 p.m.)

Sip specialist single malts in a warm atmosphere at the Malt Shovel. (11-15 Cockburn Street, Old Town)

Visit the Museum of Scotland for an impressive collection that covers the country's history, from its geological origins to its contemporary art. (Chambers Street. Open daily, 10 a.m.-5 p.m.; free admission.)

See the 17th-century Royal Botanic Garden, where you can witness nature's wonders in the Glasshouses and the Orchid and Cycad house. ( rbge.org.uk . Open daily ; free admission.)

-- Amber Haq

Restaurante Arzak

San Sebastian, Spain

Chef Juan Mari Arzak and his daughter, Elena, are heirs to one of Europe's greatest gastronomic institutions. Juan's grandparents opened Arzak in the elegant seaside village of San Sebastián in 1897. Today, boasting three rosettes, it's a mecca for gourmets craving innovative cuisine crafted from the finest traditional Basque ingredients.

Ambience: The classic dining room stands in stark contrast to the daring 21st-century fare. An all-female wait staff and two male sommeliers serve attentively.

Starters: Indulge in Kefir figs and atomized fruits or the exquisite liver terrine with vegetable blades.

Best dishes: Seafood is the local specialty. Try the "lobster in a sea crust" with coriander and seaweed. Meat lovers will revel in the sublime veal cooked in groundnut milk or the succulent lamb with beer malt.

Dessert to die for: Arzak reverts to global favorites with a twist; the chocolate with taro and green tea is extraordinary.

Wine list: The cellar is a treasure chest, with vintages from Australia, Chile, South Africa and California, all highlighted by an exceptional French selection. Find any excuse to try the sweet and full-bodied Oporto wines.

Technology: TV on The Go

Love to travel but hate missing your team's matches? Whine no more. New "place shifting" technology lets you take local programming on the road. Slingmedia's Slingbox redirects your home TV signal from an antenna, cable box or satellite to your Net-accessible PC or laptop. The Slingbox connects to the TV and the Net, while SlingPlayer software is uploaded to your PC (£180; slingmedia.com ). Sony's LocationFree TV can transmit programming to a Mac, PC or PSP portable device (£229; sony.com/locationfreetv ). Orb Networks provides access to live TV through PCs, cell phones and palmtops using free software installed on a home PC, but the PC requires a video tuner card and must be on. Travelers can watch from a Web browser by logging on to the MyOrb site ( orb.com ). One caveat: don't expect superb picture quality. Depending on the connection, the video stream could look hazy at best. Still, Arsenal live!

--ALLAN MADRID

Exercise: Good Vibrations

It sounds too good to be true: vibrate your way to a better body. But converts are trading hours of weight training for a few minutes on the Power Plate, the hot new workout machine reportedly buffing the buns of celebrities from Madonna to Claudia Schiffer. All you do is stand on the small vibrating platform and wait for the burn. Start with a warm-up, standing with knees slightly bent, while the platform buzzes away at a minimum of 30 vibrations per second (the hard core can take it up to a maximum of 50). Then set the amplitude on low or high (that's two- or four-millimeter vibrations) and hold each position for one minute. No sweat? No way. You'll be sore the next day. But hurry; London's Harrods, for one, is selling 20 machines a weekend (€10,230; powerplate.com ).

--Marian Smith

Fashion: Snakes on a Runway

Fans are psyched about the new film "Snakes on a Plane" because it's got such a campy title. But designers are wrapping themselves in snakes, too--well, snakeskin anyway. Some of the new styles are directly related to the movie. Others are just part of a new reptilian Zeitgeist that's taking the fashion industry by the throat. Why the hissy fit? "Snakes are a symbol of transformation and creation," says Adria de Haume, who created the couture bracelet for her childhood friend Lin Shaye, a star of the movie. Shaye plans on wearing the jewelry at this year's Oscars, when she's ... um, nominated.

--Meghan McCain

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