Saturday, July 31, 2010

Celebrating a Birthday!

One of the smallest members of the Cupboards family turns 3 today... Happy Birthday to Dolly!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Friday Find - Carrara Dream

I am really digging the "Friday Find" bit that's going on nowadays(pats myself on the back). Sometimes, there's nothing witty or interesting to say about certain things, yet they're still too cool not to share.

For those of you that are Carrara Crazies, brace yourselves.

Today's find is something else! A Cinderella Table made of a single block of Carrara Marble. Designed by Jeroen Verhoeven for the Dutch design house Demakersvan, the stunning piece of "design art" was purchased by Brad Pitt in 2008 and another is allegedly for sale with Sotheby's right now. The table is one of a set of six.

photos via Sotheby's

Pretty neat, huh? The table is made with a 7 axes CNC robot, so if you know anything about stone fabrication you know it'll do a whole lot more than put an edge on a counter top!

A couple years ago when Brad bought his, he paid £150,000(approx $233,000) for his Cinderella Table.

Tuesday, July 27, 2010

Starting Your Backyard Compost Pile

My mom's compost bin with some zinnias given to her by yours truly.

Now that we know what composting is, why we should do it, and where to buy pretty compost pails (Thanks Nick!) it’s time to start your compost pile! There are a few simple steps to get your compost going.

The first thing to do is pick the perfect location. The best location is somewhere that is convenient, not in full sun, and well drained.

To me a convenient location is at the top of the list. Walking half a mile to throw a hand full of carrot peels in the compost will ultimately lead to me throwing those peels in the trash. The compost heap also needs to be near a water source to give the compost a drink every now and again.

If your location is near a tree it may be necessary to put a solid base at the bottom of the compost pile so that roots can't work their way into the treasure chest.

The site also needs to be well drained so that no water is left hanging around.

Once you have the primo spot picked out it is time to start your pile. When adding waste to the compost it is important to layer. The first layer should be approx 6-8" of brown organic waste (see Monday's post for a definition of brown and green waste). Next a layer of green organic waste and a cup of 13-13-13 or 10-10-10 fertilizer(available at your local garden center). The fertilizer adds the necessary nitrogen to help break down the organic wastes. Finally cover with a layer of garden soil.

Before a new layer is added to the pile turn the existing layers with a pitch fork or a shovel.

The compost should stay moist but not saturated, to keep the microorganisms happy.

Once the compost at the bottom looks like potting soil it is ready to be worked into the garden! Good compost is gold! It turns a clay or sandy soil into a perfect growing media and reduces wasted space in our landfills. For more questions on composting send me a message on Twitter or contact your local extension agent(as a taxpayer you pay for them and are an amazing resource- so use them).

Happy composting!

My compost bin acquired for around $30 from a big box store

Freshly turned compost ready for another layer! I'm such a proud parent.


I am a senior at Auburn University majoring in Horticulture Production, president of Horticulture Forum, and a self-professed plant nerd. Sustainable agriculture and environmentally conscious nursery and greenhouse production are some of my passions.

Make sure you follow my ramblings on Twitter here!

And...... WAR EAGLE!

Composting - Where do I put my scraps?

If your compost bin or area is close to the house you may not require a counter-bin for your compost scraps... If you're like me, ours isn't close and I'm not a huge fan of running out every time I have an eggshell.

Therefore, you need a place to store those leftovers in between visits to your compost station outdoors. There are lots of options now, as with any kitchen gadget. Here are a couple of our favorites.

*I know that lots of people create their own or use something they already had. If you start to notice that your bin smells, get you a bin like these- they are set up with odor inhibitors to help keep your kitchen smelling like cookies, not yesterday's banana peels.
I've become huge fans of one-of-a-kind pieces, check out these hand-made pieces from Richard Fisher Pottery

One of the newest things that I've seen is a Freezer Bin- here is a short video about said bin from Fuccillo Design. I plan to get my hands on one of these very soon...

Have an interesting bin to share with us? Let's hear 'em!

Monday, July 26, 2010

Household Composting Basics

According to the EPA, each year Americans throw away approximately 65 tons of kitchen and yard waste. We could drastically reduce, if not eliminate these waste simply by composting. Not only is composting environmentally conscious but it is also a great fertilizer and soil conditioner for your garden.

When it comes to composting utilitarianism takes over in me. It doesn’t need to be pretty it just needs to work. However I realize this is not always pleasing to most people. From designer compost pails to camouflage compost bins composting can be as simple or as elaborate as you would like.

This compost pail from Sur la table holds 1 gallon of waste and even features a charcoal filter to reduce odors.

This fun piggy bin is available from Amazon and is a great tool to get kids involved.
This is one of my favorites. It is also from Amazon, is aesthetically pleasing and also gives plenty of air flow.

Composting is very simple you just have to know what you are doing. For organic waste to break down it is important to have a good mix of high carbon waste and high nitrogen waste. High carbon waste is usually referred to as brown waste, examples would be leaves, shredded paper, or straw. Examples of high carbon waste are kitchen scraps and animal manures. Nitrogen can also be supplemented by adding a high nitrogen fertilizer. You should have a 30:1 carbon to nitrogen ratio. This allows for optimum microbial growth and prevents any odor. A healthy compost pile should never have any foul odors. If you have foul odors it is usually a sign of anaerobic decomposition and the pile needs more carbon waste to promote oxygen flow.

Here is a helpful list of things that can be composted:

Animal Manure

Coffee Grounds and Filters


Fireplace Ashes

Fruits and Vegetables

Grass clippings

Hay and Straw


Shredded Copy Paper (One of my favorites)

Shredded Newspaper (Not the glossy stuff)

Yard waste

Don’t compost these guys:

Charcoal Ashes (They may contain harmful chemicals)

Dairy Products

Fats and Meats (These attract varmints)

Pet Waste (Can give you the clap, ok well maybe not the clap but they can carry parasites and diseases)

Plants that may be diseased

For more detailed information check out:

Backyard Composting – From the Alabama Cooperative Extension System


The EPA Composting Website


I am a senior at Auburn University majoring in Horticulture Production, president of Horticulture Forum, and a self-professed plant nerd. Sustainable agriculture and environmentally conscious nursery and greenhouse production are some of my passions.

Make sure you follow my ramblings on Twitter here!

And...... WAR EAGLE!

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Yoo-Hoo Ice Cream

I will be the first to admit that sometimes good things start outside the Deep South (sometimes). Yoo-Hoo jumped on to the scene back in the 1920's and even though it was quite a few years later that I came along, the country store that my grandfather took me as a child still had an advertisement for Yoo-Hoo similar to the one above.

Each time I drink one, a feeling of nostalgia overwhelms me. At one point, I figured it was the glass bottles, reminiscent of sliding top Coke coolers(In the South, everything is Coke, not soda. For instance, "I've got some Coke in the fridge, what kind do you want? Dr. Pepper or Sprite"). I talked to Mom this morning and we both lamented over the disappearance of glass bottled Yoo-Hoo in our local groceries. Bummer.

Since we'll find any excuse to make ice cream, it's natural that we threw some Yoo-Hoo in the machine and anxiously waited for the final product.

You get two recipes today: My Yoo-Hoo recipe(full-fat, full everything) and my Mom's(no cook).

Nick's Yoo-Hoo Ice Cream

1 1/3c. granulated sugar
7 egg yolks
6 oz. Cool Whip
2/3 c. Half and half
3 2/3 c. Yoo-Hoo
1 tsp. vanilla extract
pinch salt


Combine sugar, eggs, whipped cream, vanilla extract and pinch of salt in medium bowl and mix thoroughly. On med-low heat in medium saucepan, combine Yoo-Hoo and half & half. Slowly increase heat bringing almost to a boil. Pour a small bit of milk mixture in to egg mixture constantly stirring to temper the eggs. Gradually pour remainder of milk mix in to bowl and whisk. Check temperature with thermometer(if you choose). If you don't make it to 160 degrees you can return entire mix to heat and SLOWLY heat and stir constantly. Allow mixture to cool completely. Churn in ice cream maker- allow to freeze overnight for best results.

*I like mine with some whipped cream and a sliced banana, but that's just my taste!

No problem at all!

Darlene's Yoo-Hoo Ice Cream

4 - 12 oz. cans Yoo-Hoo
1 - 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk(Eagle Brand)
1 - 12 oz. tub whipped topping(Cool Whip)

Combine Eagle Brand milk and Cool Whip and stir, then add Yoo-Hoo. Freeze in your ice cream machine and enjoy!

Mom also wanted me to remind everyone that if you use fat-free sweetened condensed milk, fat-free and sugar-free Cool Whip, and if you can find Lite Yoo-Hoo, the ice cream is more figure conscious.

BUT, what's the fun in that?

Happy Summer!

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Can you Compost a Blog-post?

For the next couple of days, composting will take center stage on Cupboards Blog. Maybe the info will debunk some myths and encourage you to keep some of your trash out of the trash.

Monday - Composting Basics

Tuesday - Setting up your kitchen composting station

Wednesday - Composting is easy, really!

Ready, Set...

Not sure of Wood Species? Pull out your iPhone!

The marvels of the iPhone and iPad have yet to stop amazing me day after day... to think that it was only a few years ago that to talk to your best friend on the phone you were hooked to a wall in the kitchen where your Mom and everyone could hear your diabolical plans for your GI Joe's that day(So I'm not that old- At least I still remember phones with cords!).

A couple nights ago on Twitter, I was "listening" in on #WoodChat and the moderator brought up that most customers are very unfamiliar with wood species. In semi-custom cabinet land, we typically deal with five or so primary wood species, but even then some clients have no prior experience differentiating them.

Enter iPhone: Double Dog Studios has developed an app that does the identification for you. Simply named, I.D. Wood, it now can identify up to 160 species of wood and give you tons of info.

Ease of use is key- the screen shots are very clear.
The additional info is perhaps my favorite part, from the Janka Hardness scale(below) to Botanical names, origins, sustainability and common uses.

I.D Wood also includes lumber cutting techniques, a glossary of terms, lumber conversion metrics... even nail and pilot hole reference!

You can download I.D Wood for you iPhone or iPad here. Nifty!

Friday, July 23, 2010

Friday Find - Fishy Flatware

I have always enjoyed having fun and subtle design/decor elements in my home- they create a playful atmosphere and are always super conversation pieces.

Here lately, I have been smitten with just about everything that Barbara from Beach House Finds has been showing and when I first saw this flatware some time back I knew it would be perfect for a fun beach cottage.

Since we are fairly inland here, it'd work great in a fun lake house, too!

This is "Gone Fishing" from Yamazaki, a very nice flatware design house that produces stunning patterns each year. Even though this pattern is no longer in production, it is still available here.

Pretty neat, huh?

Saturday, July 17, 2010

All 5 Senses - Spa to Kitchen

A few days ago, I was approached by Candy from Art of the Spa to participate in a new Twitter chat called #SpaKitchen. The concept of de-stressing a kitchen space is certainly not new and it's certainly an aspect of every kitchen that we do. No one wants to have a kitchen that doesn't work for them or creates a poor emotional response- After all, that's part of the reason a homeowner employs a good kitchen designer, to help with those issues.

Occasionally I stumble upon a space that automatically makes me feel more relaxed and gives off great vibes. Pictured above is one of those spaces. It didn't take long for me to realize that each of my senses would be impacted positively if I was standing in this space. Obviously, visually the space is stunning- warm colors, unique mix of glass and wood for workspace, beautifully lighting and fresh fruit and flowers bring a sense of outdoors in. I can imagine the smells of citrus and orchids, the sounds of a favorite light jazz musician coming from carefully placed ambient speakers, tasting a freshly brewed Earl Grey Tea and crisp orange slices.

Perhaps the most important sense in the kitchen is often the most overlooked- touch. When I walk through our showroom multiple times a day I drag my hand along counter tops, over cabinet door profiles, and along sleek door and drawer hardware. Comfort to me is a pleasant feel, literally. In this picture, the warmth of the wood and coolness of the glass counters offer a pleasant balance in the space. Plush seating and the fragile orchids add comfort and soften the metallic feel of the stainless steel appliances. It's all about balance, and this kitchen has it.

I encourage all my customers to use certain elements of Feng Shui in their spaces, knowingly or not. It's important to balance the 5 elements(Metal, Water, Wood, Earth, Fire) creating a pleasant space. Some of the most basic Feng Shui principles are ones I stress every day: Keeping clutter to a minimum, not placing cooking surfaces beside water sources(stoves/sinks and ovens/refrigerators), making sure waste and recycling bins are out of view, creating organized and separate pantry spaces.

Our kitchens are supposed to be a place we enjoy being and creating in, and no one wants to be in a cluttered space standing next to a trash can.


The picture above is from ThinkGlass, a very cool cast-glass artisan company that creates all sorts of art from glass. My first exposure to them was in Orange Beach, Alabama at the Bella Luna Resort. ThinkGlass created a breathtaking sculpture that greets guests as they arrive to the resort.

I was amazed to find out they do counter tops and have been smitten since- I am patiently waiting for the right customer to spec them in... If I have to wait too long, they may just end up in my kitchen.

Check them out, it's worth the look.


If you'd like more information about the #SpaKitchen TweetChat coming up soon click here. We'd love to have you join us!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Thursday Thoughts - Cuddly Advertising

So it's no Axe Murderer in the shower(from Kitchen and Residential Design), but it strikes me as exceptionally strange. Ad campaigns have taken some interesting turns lately!

Makes me think of the Bear City sketches on SNL.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Voting and Kitchen Design

Today is one of the handful of days in the lifetime of a registered voter in the state of Alabama that we are able to exercise the single greatest act of civic duty. We are in the midst of a gubernatorial primary run-off and typical with primaries and even more so, run-offs, turn-out is expected to be offensively low.

The picture below is the door I walk through to go vote. It's a small, modest but well-appointed volunteer fire station is very rural East Alabama.

Sometimes I have a flair for the dramatic, so using a "black and white" photo enhances the "Mayberry appeal" of the location. When I voted this morning with Dad, we were the ninth and tenth ballots cast.

One of my biggest pet peeves is a registered voter that fails to vote complaining about the local, state or national government. Maybe I am just a bit out of line, but if you don't vote I feel like you forfeit your right to gripe. Is it always easy to take the time to vote? Of course not. I look at it as an obligation. Since I tend to have opinions on everything, I'm just making sure I don't look like a hypocrite.

As I drove to our little fire station to vote this morning, I was reminded of people complaining about one thing or the other. That thought led me to homeowners for some reason. There are plenty of people out there who didn't work with us on their kitchen. I try to talk to as many people as I can and get a sense of what they are happy/unhappy with and look for ways that we can improve our business.

One of the most startling things to me is to hear a homeowner explain the reasoning for skipping the kitchen design process, allow a builder or uncle's cousin's half-sister's ex-boyfriend build or buy and install cabinets for their home... just to save a few bucks. How do they feel now, you ask? Miserable... and they're complaining.

Ahh back to the voting analogy- a good kitchen designer is never "cheap". One may find that some are less expensive than others, but it's important to attach a tangible value to the service they provide. Kitchen designers look at kitchens every day. Good ones know the latest and greatest of products, and how your space and work for you... not having you constantly working on it.

Bottom line... If you skip having a kitchen designer, don't complain about it- go find one now and let them help you add some finishing touches to make your kitchen a better place. If you're building or remodeling and haven't worked with a kitchen designer yet, you better hurry.

Time to climb off the soapbox- If it's time to vote where you are, get there before the polls close.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Roasted Banana Pudding Ice Cream - Yum!

Hopefully everyone had a fantastic weekend. On Twitter this weekend I invited everyone to come have some home-made ice cream and warned those that didn't show that they'd be punished with pictures of what they missed. Here you go.

I have lots of Banana Pudding in my life. My grandmother makes a Banana Pudding that I swear may be the best ever- super simple recipe, but the way she does it can't be replicated. I gave up some time ago making my own, leaving the chore to those better suited.

Since I decided to start experimenting with some less typical ice cream flavors, I thought that Banana Pudding would be extra-awesome. I'm pleased to say, it is. In fact, I just ate the entire dish-full in the picture(And yes, it's 8:45am on Monday, guess I should never complain about my life, eh?).

No more babbling from me. Here's my gift to you on a sunny, summer Monday!

Roasted Banana Pudding Ice Cream

6 medium-ish Bananas, chopped in 2 to 3" pieces
1/3 c. light brown sugar
1 - 12oz. can of evaporated milk(Pet Brand is my preference)
1/3 c. half and half
2 c. sweet milk
1 - 8 oz. package cream cheese
6 lg. egg yolks
1 1/2 c. sugar
2 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 c. Vanilla Wafer crumbs

Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In medium bowl, toss bananas and brown sugar, coating completely. Lightly grease roasting pan and place sugared bananas in oven for 15-17 minutes. Bananas will brown slightly so turn once during roasting to cook evenly. After roasting, place aside on cooling rack.

In large bowl, combine cream cheese, granulated sugar, egg yolks, vanilla and mix until consistency of icing.

Combine evap. milk, sweet milk and half & half in saucepan on cooking surface and gradually increase heat until nearly boiling. Be careful, if you increase heat too quickly or don't stir, mixture will scorch. Slowly temper the milk mixture in to the egg/cheese mixture and stir constantly. Place bowl on ice bath or in fridge.

Place cooling Bananas in food processor and pulse until there are no large chunks. Mix with custard and allow mixture to cool completely in fridge. Add Vanilla Wafer crumbs at this time.

Throw that good stuff in the ice cream maker and run it! I always like to eat my ice cream the next day or at least a few hours after it makes to allow it to ripen.

Serve with some Nilla Wafers and top with some whipped cream. Viola!


Friday, July 9, 2010

Antique Tables - Made Daily!

Today's Friday Funny:

How often in the design industry do we find a product that is obviously not what it advertises or incredibly too good to be true.

Got to give these folks props for proper labeling. It means a lot when a company is almost 100% nearly true about advertising an authentic reproduction antique.

I think I will call them and see if they can give me an accurate and firm estimate on some modern traditional styled new old antique tables.


Have a great weekend!

*To give proper credit, these fine folks are in VA and make furniture from repurposed antique wood, a very green endeavor!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Move over McShower! - Porcher Soaking Tub

It's no secret that I am a huge fan of the McShower- you know, the monster showers where it appears a designer took primary inspiration on scale from a college football locker room. It's one of the few places I am all for "bigger is better". I've even said there is no use for a tub at all- just one big, run-around in(maybe even a snack bar?), huge shower.

Eh and then I was exposed to this Tetsu Soaking Tub from Porcher.
Holy Cow! This tub was officially moved to my "Dead Sexy" list of voluptuous plumbing fixtures I lust over.

Talk about a winner... My McShower just shrunk a few feet.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Wall Covering of the Day (2)

The last time I shared a wall covering it was the Aviary print by Schumacher that I had already pegged for my future laundry room. Well, not to say the grass is greener, but I really am digging this recent print by Ralph Lauren called "Out to Sea".

The version below is the "Fogged In" variety.

I am loving the colors and detail each small segment has- with a 27" repeat and in a small room you create art on the wall.

I've not really thought I would need a room with a nautical feel- especially with places I'm not really sure where are, though I could guess based on Lauren's previous designs.

Could be fun, eh?

You can buy Ralph Lauren at fine retailers around the world and on their website here.

Sunday, July 4, 2010

When you live here, who needs Fireworks?

Finishing up with Independence Day celebrations and I happened across this photo- I can't decide if it's over done, or if maybe their neighbors moved here from elsewhere... I couldn't resist- just had to share.

Either way, they obviously enjoy the 4th of July- Hope yours was a blast!

Thoughts on Independence Day

It's a shame that we celebrate our independence just once a year, and that the very holiday meant to offer a time of thanks for the freedoms we enjoy has become commercialized. Maybe I am crass- I just can't help it.

The 4th of July has always been a bit like Thanksgiving to me. Many of the things I am thankful for are afforded because we live in a free state where we can pursue what makes us happy- the place we live, the careers we have chosen, the churches we attend. Sure there may be things we don't agree with, and whether we want to think people are all treated equally, they aren't. Still, all these things, and the right to disagree, were made possible by a small group of forward thinkers who set out to do things just a bit differently.

Can you imagine trying to get 13 of the families in your community to agree to take the risk of a lifetime and join you on what seems like a wild goose chase. That's what our founders did, except it was 13 colonies- that's quite a few opinions. Think how things might be different had they failed.

In between the time at the beach, picnics and cookouts, games of horseshoes, lemonade and home-made ice cream, think about what you are doing and how fortunate you are to live where you do.

Happy Independence Day from your friends at Cupboards.

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Wholeo Dome

I am constantly drawn to stained glass, always looking for a practical way to use it in homes without being gaudy or cathedral-esque. The first time that I saw reference to the Wholeo Dome I knew that it was right up my alley.

Completed in 1974 by the artist Caroling, it now sits at the Farm School in Summertown, Tennessee.
The other appeal of the dome to me is its encouragement of meditation. I think that "slow" moments are unique to everyone, always called by a different name. Here in the South, the typical moment of calm comes on a breezy porch in a rocking chair with the sweetest glass of iced tea.

Reflecting is important- Whether you have a gazebo, a park bench under a thick cover of foliage, a courtyard or just a blanket you can take outside and sit a while, take a moment and look around- listen. You may be surprised what you're missing.

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