Friday, December 31, 2010

Captain Obvious - You Don't Want the Flu

I have been battling some sort of head cold/sinus issue/miserableness for the past couple of days- in all likelihood I should go to the doctor and get some meds. Tough call though, because influenza is running rampant in these parts and that's the last thing I need.
via CDC

Ahh, there we are... bright, alarming RED! 

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention(CDC) put out a poster of preventative tips. If you aren't doing these already, even if you're in a low-risk area(that could change), it's time to keep an eye on the signs of impending sickliness. 

The CDC says Take 3 actions to prevent the flu:
1
1

Take time to get a flu vaccine.

  • CDC recommends a yearly flu vaccine as the first and most important step in protecting against flu viruses.
  • While there are many different flu viruses, the flu vaccine protects against the three viruses that research suggests will be most common.
  • The 2010-2011 flu vaccine will protect against an influenza A H3N2 virus, an influenza B virus and the 2009 H1N1 virus that caused so much illness last season.
  • Everyone 6 months of age and older should get vaccinated against the flu as soon as the 2010-2011 season vaccine is available.
  • People at high risk of serious flu complications include young children, pregnant women, people with chronic health conditions like asthma, diabetes or heart and lung disease and people 65 years and older.
  • Vaccination of high risk persons is especially important to decrease their risk of severe flu illness.
  • Vaccination also is important for health care workers, and other people who live with or care for high risk people to keep from spreading flu to high risk people.
  • Children younger than 6 months are at high risk of serious flu illness, but are too young to be vaccinated. People who care for them should be vaccinated instead.

3
2

Take everyday preventive actions to stop the spread of germs.

  • Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.
  • Wash your hands often with soap and water. If soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand rub.*
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose and mouth. Germs spread this way.
  • Try to avoid close contact with sick people.
  • If you are sick with flu–like illness, CDC recommends that you stay home for at least 24 hours after your fever is gone except to get medical care or for other necessities. (Your fever should be gone without the use of a fever-reducing medicine.)
  • While sick, limit contact with others as much as possible to keep from infecting them.

2
3

Take flu antiviral drugs if your doctor prescribes them.

  • If you get the flu, antiviral drugs can treat your illness.
  • Antiviral drugs are different from antibiotics. They are prescription medicines (pills, liquid or an inhaled powder) and are not available over-the-counter.
  • Antiviral drugs can make illness milder and shorten the time you are sick. They may also prevent serious flu complications.
  • It’s very important that antiviral drugs be used early (within the first 2 days of symptoms) to treat people who are very sick (such as those who are hospitalized) or people who are sick with flu symptoms and who are at increased risk of severe flu illness, such as pregnant women, young children, people 65 and older and people with certain chronic health conditions.
  • Flu-like symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny or stuffy nose, body aches, headache, chills and fatigue. Some people may also have vomiting and diarrhea. People may be infected with the flu, and have respiratory symptoms without a fever.


Be careful out there! And stay healthy!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

New Year in Alabama- The MoonPie Descends Again!

If you happen to be in the Southeastern United States and are still without plans for a party on New Year's Eve, join the fine folks in Mobile, Alabama as the celebrate the 4th annual MoonPie drop.

Why a Moon-Pie you ask? Well, MoonPies are one of the unofficial foods of Mardi Gras(usually thrown from floats)- since Mardi Gras starts in our fair state why not one-up New York and drop something that tastes better than a glass ball.

via WSFA

The festivities begin in downtown Mobile with a parade at 6:30pm CST and continue through the night- headlining music is the O'Jays(love me some Love Train). When the MoonPie drops at midnight, there will be a laser and fireworks show that rivals anything else in our time-zone.

With 20,000 people showing up last year, this year's events looks to be even bigger and better. 

 via Press-Register

via Press-Register

The 12-foot MoonPie is perched alongside the 34-story RSA BankTrust building, Mobile's tallest skyscraper. 

Check this video from last year's event- 


So there ya go... Get to Mobile with a cooler full of RC Colas and have a good time. It's the Southern thing to do. 

via Press-Register

Wednesday, December 29, 2010

Baby, It's Cold Outside - Morso Wood Stoves

If it isn't cold where you are, count your blessings. Most of the country is either bundled up or under snow, even in parts where cold weather(below freezing) doesn't usually strike that often or this early.

Because I value the way things were done in a less complicated time, it makes sense that heating with a wood-burning stove would be right up my alley. 

Morso, based in Denmark, has been producing fine heating implements for over 150 years. It's easy to rely on a company that has been on the cutting edge of stove production when you've been leading the pack for that long. 


In addition to being the best in the world, Morso stoves are made with 98% recycled material. The company has made considerable efforts to create less of an appliance for the home and more of a piece of heirloom-type furniture.

Take a closer look at the factory in Denmark:



 Morso 1442 Squirrel Convector



And my personal favorite... 

Morso 1410 Standard Squirrel Multi-Fuel

As you can see, there is a stove for each style of home- Morso even offers lines of contemporary and wall-mounted stoves. 

Stay warm! 

Sunday, December 26, 2010

How to Wrap a Cat for Christmas

So it's the day AFTER Christmas, and those of you that may be celebrating today or later may be able to use this helpful video while gift wrapping.



I'm not sure that I've laughed at something so silly in quite a long time- couldn't resist sharing. After all, isn't that why you read this blog? Always glad to help! 

Merry Christmas!

Friday, December 24, 2010

What You Should Know About Christmas Trees

Merry Christmas Eve(and Christmas, too)!


I'm taking the rest of the day to cook a ham, have dinner with the folks, and wrap a few presents. 

Hopefully the holiday season find you and yours in good health and spirit- share some special time with those that you care for and remember, you can always diet after the first of the year.

Merry Christmas from your friends at Cupboards! 

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Nick's New Favorite Last Minute Gift - Spiced Pecans


It is officially time for you to start panicking if you haven't finished your holiday shopping- Of course, I'm always glad to lend a helping hand to those of you struggling to find the right gift for the hard to buy or last minute guest.

Recently, I met Alison Lewis and an Alabama Bloggers Lunch- she is the real deal in the professional foodie world and it's likely that you've made some of the recipes that she has written. (Add her site to your favorites right now)

A couple weeks ago she posted a recipe for Lightened Up Spiced-Sugary Pecans. Let's put it this way, it's sugar and spice and everything nice. I'm on my fifth(don't say a word) batch and am still in complete awe. Granted, I kicked up the cayenne(you'll see) in mine to add an extra bite, but they are spot-on just as the recipe calls.

Pictured is how I am taking them to a small family gathering and doling them out to unsuspecting folks- they'll be angry they only get a pint jars worth.

Tie some raffia, a bow or tree ornament on them(I used twine because we live in the country and my family appreciates it like that) and they'll be the hit of the holiday. I promise.

Here is Alison's recipe:

Spiced-Sugary Pecans

Prep: 10 minutes
Cook: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 cups
Ingredients
1/2 cup white granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or smoked paprika
1 egg white
1 tablespoon water
16 ounces whole pecans (almonds and walnuts can be substituted)
Preparation
1. Preheat oven to 300F.

2. Combine sugars, cinnamon, salt, and cayenne or smoked paprika in a small bowl, mixing well.

3. Whisk together egg white and water until frothy. Add pecans, tossing to coat; drain. Sprinkle nuts with sugar mixture, mixing well.

4. Place pecans in a single layer on a large cookie sheet coated lined with parchment paper. Bake at 300F for 30 minutes, tossing occasionally. Remove from oven and separate as they cool. Store in an airtight container for up to 1 week.

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Hope this helps- Happy Holidays! 

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

#LetsBlogOff - The Gift Conundrum

What do you give when money is no object?

The minds behind Let's Blog Off do their best to stump me again with a pre-holiday topic that took way more thought than it should have. 

This weeks question:  If money were no object, what would be the perfect gift? Whether it’s for yourself or for somebody else, what thing would you give that you won’t or can’t give now?

I literally tried to go in 10 or more directions: feed the hungry, educate the masses, work to cure terminal diseases(even getting myself a rockin' Bugatti concept car). Each time I was unfulfilled in my quest to answer gift conundrum. So I thought, "What's a small thing that makes me and those close to me truly happy?"

I ended up with a strange answer. Rest.

Before you #LetsBlogOff readers start scoffing at me for picky something like (in my mushy voice) love and family, hear me out. I can attach a dollar value to rest(well, kind of).


Through the years of being in the home design and home building world, I've(thankfully) been introduced to the concept of 'slow home'. Now I think that the slow home movement has many different interpretations and I know that my thoughts don't exactly mirror everyone elses but that's the brilliance of design and choosing someone to help one develop the feeling of 'home'. Slow home really embodies the principles of efficiency and  support. It's about building a positive space that will sustain and reward your family(and being there to enjoy it). It's the kind of space that you won't want to leave.

The definition(two of) of rest according to Webster: relief or freedom, esp. from anything that wearies, troubles, or disturbs. Mental or spiritual calm; tranquility.

Now, when you go home are you really able to rest? Have you created a space that encourages mental and spiritual calm?


Your home should be a haven and too often we are all guilty of introducing disturbing elements in to our own personal spaces. These 'things' could be items, emotions, etc. If you're like me you probably take some work home with you and it's more than likely that there is a television in your bedroom(there's one in mine too, and I need to take a dose of my own advice and ditch it).

There is no solution to slowing every one's lives down enough so everyone is happy and chipper, but there is a way(albeit far-fetched) to give everyone a little boost of good cheer when they open the door to their home. What is it? It's called hiring a good, qualified designer.

 I like DIY just as much as the next guy, and there is a sense of accomplishment that comes with creating something that adds to your home. I'm not saying that's bad, just that it's worthwhile to have someone to help you along the way.

So that's my gift to you(with my bottomless pocketbook): A new look at home courtesy of a good interior designer. Think your mental/emotional/spiritual health would be better if you lived in these photos? Of course it would.


Now on to my little holiday gift rant/comments: Everyone that I would buy a gift for this year needs nothing. I need nothing. I know that it's special to get a little extra treat at the holidays but how awesome is it that we've been blessed to the point that we don't need anything? As the years go by, it's almost a guilty feeling I get when I open gifts usually knowing up front that it's something I could live without, knowing there are those less fortunate than we are so close in our own communities. I know that retail drives many of our lives and saying that gifting is bad would put a serious dent in lots of our livelihoods, but I just can't shake the notion that the spoiled are getting more spoiled and those going without are going with even less. 

I know that's a little sermon-y for you, but it's how I feel. This year, I'm going to be thankful for the gifts that I don't have to put under the tree like family and friends, the fine food we'll eat, and a few slow moments to reflect on just how blessed we are. 

Sure wouldn't hurt if I had a set of keys to that Bugatti Galiber under the tree.


Hmm... I'd make that look real good. 
__________________________________________________________________

Let's Blog Off is cool and fun, just because I say so. It's an every other week gathering of some of the greatest minds/bloggers I've ever run across. Think you couldn't hang with us? Think again my friend. If I can play along, anyone can. Click the box below and check it out.


Make sure that you read the other folks that have spent the fives of tens of minutes sharing their thoughts. Leave them a comment and tell them what you think.

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Identity Theft and Password Security

With tons of holiday shopping going on, seems like a good time to revisit some well-worn tips on personal security. Protect yourself people! 

Identity Theft and Password Security
[Source: OnlineMBA.com]

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Future of Kitchen Counters? Maybe.

We have some really great readers and social media friends that keep me updated with a pretty constant stream of gadgets and fun stuff they think would go well on our blog. A really awesome twitter friend sent me this yesterday and I knew it would be a good one...



So what do you think? Is this something that you would have in your home? What's your favorite feature?

The suggested recipes is golden in my book. A dilemma at my house is that I've got plenty to eat but nothing goes together. I love the idea of adding ingredients on hand and having Oasis suggest a meal. Genius!

So let's hear it- what say you?

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Wordless Wednesday - White, White and White

Recently in the middle of an all-white kitchen remodel... totally re-energized my love for an all-white kitchen!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Pantone-ing the Kitchen - Honeysuckle Inspiration

With the recent release of the Pantone Color of the Year for 2011, I thought it'd be a nice time to take a closer look at the shade of the moment, Honeysuckle.



Just my take, but when I heard "Honeysuckle" I was excited at the idea of a calm, fresh yellow as the color of the year. Boy was I surprised when it was not yellow. At first I thought it was just me, but I quizzed lots of other locals and honeysuckle flowers here are indeed primarily yellow- I felt less like a bad designer and completely out-of-the-know.

It's amazing how the color of the year takes off. Remember last year when turquoise went bonkers and it was on every store shelf? Home goods and fashion accessories alike. Fortunately, the folks at Pantone are smarties and choose good colors. 


This is how girls will dress for the next 12 months... hope you like it! 

Good Pantone colors aren't just for dresses and throw pillows. Check out some pinker inspiration in the kitchen... 

 via

Lovely! Why use color as an accent? Use it as the base color! Love, love the rustic table in the center. 


 via

 via

I really like the idea of a strong accent color as a glass backplash- 3 above are great examples!

 via

I don't always encourage a big "remodel" as a DIY project, but if you get the help of a qualified professional, painting your cabinets white doesn't have to be your only option.


Accent walls are always yummy, and this looks nice with the dark wood and counters. Don't be afraid of color in the right application! 

Maybe you want to take Honeysuckle(or a variation of) in to the bathroom...


So that's my take- had lots of pink on the mind and Honeysuckle will likely be a success!

Friday, December 10, 2010

Friday Find - Nick's 2010 Christmas Music

Time to share the music that is echoing through the lovely kitchen vignettes at Cupboards- Crank up the volume and enjoy!









And an oldie but a goodie- and not really a Christmas song per se, but from perhaps my favorite band playing at Christmastime...



And instead of Auld Lang Syne...


Hope your holiday is as MERRY as it can be!

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

#LetsBlogOff - Permanent Island Getaway

The minds behind the Let's Blog Off series nearly got me this week- It's currently right around 6am on Tuesday and I should have had something written long before now but I didn't. Not to say I didn't try.

The topic this week: You're given an island. The only thing to consider is once you move there, you can't leave. Who and what would you bring? What are the rules?

And my head just spun.


Mind you, I just wore shorts to Thanksgiving celebrations and now the weather has changed so quickly I look like I'm dressed to run the Iditarod. Thinking about living on an island really isn't the weather shock I needed right now. Nonetheless, I started jotting down some things and niceties that I'd like to have on "Nick's Island". Going nowhere.

For inspiration, I looked at Sotheby's and duPont Registry at the private islands that were for sale to give me a boost. Nada.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Aria Ventilatori - Ceiling Fan Luxury

There are a rare few occasions that a usually overlooked standard home product stops me in my tracks. This is one of those occasions.

Aria Ventilatori is a hand-crafted line of Italian ceiling fans. It takes only one glimpse for the steam-bent blades and flared tips to make you want to lay on the floor and stare at the fan!

Offering two distinct designs, Aliseo and Maestralino, Aria Ventilatori brings a luxurious and detailed touch to a very specific part of a room's design.

Check them out!


        

Friday, December 3, 2010

Friday Find - Bianco River Silestone


Sometimes, it's not necessary to clutter up a Friday Find with lots of words and fluff and let the pretties speak for themselves. It's no secret that I love Cararra Marble (see here) but to be completely honest, I like the idea of a counter surface that is much less finicky. Enter Bianco River by Silestone

Perhaps the only color of Silestone that really makes me happy, Bianco River is available in a leather finish as well as the standard Silestone finish. I like it... a lot.

Would look quite nice in my abode.


It's available through fine retailers(like us)- check with your local store or we'd be happy to answer any questions you might have!

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Bake-N-Blog: Holiday Edition

I was really excited to participate in the Bake-N-Blog: Holiday Edition- never mind that I waited until 2 days before I had to be done to get my act together. Here's my Bake-N-Blog story... from the beginning.


Back during the summer, really awesome Staci Edwards decided it would be a great idea to go through Ming's Cupcakes, bake 'em and blog about it. Graciously, I crashed the event and baked and blogged about Guinness Chocolate Cupcakes. Because it was such a fun time and there was a great turn out, Kelly at JAX does design took her turn at promoting and here we are... a Holiday Bake-N-Blog. 

Now, Kelly reached out to me only minutes after announcing the Bake-N-Blog(well maybe not minutes, but it makes me feel special nonetheless) to make sure that I would participate. I think I was the only dude that did it and you know how ladies are around handsome fellas that cook(me, duh). 

So I agreed to make some cookies and Kelly reminded me(more than once) to get registered and pick out a recipe. Two days ago I decided I should get my act together.


It was Monday and I was not totally focused on getting my recipe and baking. In fact, all I could think about was how good a pepperoni Hot-N-Ready pizza from Little Caesar's would be for dinner. 

It was getting down to the wire and I was not sure that I could choose a recipe from the bazillion that Kelly posted, go to the market for any ingredients I might not have, watch Monday Night Football and eat my pizza. 

What was I going to do? I did what any Bake-N-Blog girl(or me, cause I'm the only dude, I'm sure) would do... I conned a professional in to baking for me. 


It certainly doesn't hurt that I'm related to the Auburn University Pastry Chef. Of course, all I had to do was mention that I was getting some Hot-N-Ready's and it was on! The chef picture above is my little sister, Tiffany- she does pretty good stuff and recently has developed a pro page of her own where you can see some of her treats. Go look when you have a chance. 

Since I had full intention of doing little more than watching her cook, I let her choose the recipe. She chose a Chocolate Thumb-print with a Earl Grey/White Chocolate Ganache. This is perhaps the longest cookie name I have ever run up on. 

This is the scene:


Notice the VERY important Hot-N-Ready pizzas very handy to the cooking area. 

So Tiffany and I cooked the cookies(I did help, some). It was nice to eat my pizza, drink a Diet Coke and lick a zillion calories worth of cookie batter. We did stray on the recipe a bit in the middle with the ganache- 10 tea bags to steep 1/2 cup of cream was too much in my opinion, so we just used 6. That leaves me just 3 Earl Grey tea bags... sad day. Also, we didn't sprinkle the cookies with sugar as the recipe suggests- to me, it was just for looks. The cookies are already super-rich and needed nothing else. 

They pose well for pictures and seem to be a perfect snack for Santa. The Earl Grey and White Chocolate go great with the very chocolaty goodness of the thumbprints.



Chocolate Thumbprints
from Martha Stewart Living magazine
Makes 60-ish

2 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup plus 1 tablespoon unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa powder
2 teaspoons coarse salt
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
1 1/3 cups sugar, plus more for rolling
2 large egg yolks
2 tablespoons heavy cream
2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract

1. Preheat oven to 350◦ Sift flour, cocoa powder, and salt into a small bowl. Cream butter and sugar with a mixer until pale and fluffy. Reduce speed to medium, and add yolks, cream and vanilla. Scrape sides of bowl. Beat in flour mixture until just combined.

2. Roll balls using 2 teaspoons dough for each, and roll each in sugar. Place 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheets. With the handle of a wooden spoon, press gently in the center of each to create and indentation. Bake, rotating sheets halfway through, until cookies are set, about 10 minutes. (If indentations lose definition, press centers again.) Let cool slightly on baking sheets. Transfer cookies on wire racks, and let cool.

3. Spoon warm ganache into center of each cookie. Let stand until firm, about 15 minutes. Cookies will keep, covered, for up to 3 days.

Earl Grey-White Chocolate Ganache
from TS

½ cup heavy cream
8 ounces white chocolate, cut into small pieces
10 teabags Earl Grey tea
2 Tbsp butter, softened

In a small saucepan, start heating heavy cream on low. Add tea bags. Let steep on low until tea flavor has been extracted, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Remove tea bags. Add warm cream to white chocolate and stir until chocolate melts. Add butter and continue stirring until incorporated.


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Lots of fun baking with my sister(she just ate one piece of pizza) and appreciate Kelly for getting the Bake-N-Blog organized. Here are some links that you'll want to check out.

Staci Edwards - Original Bake-N-Blog instigator.
Tiffany the Famous Chef - Check her page and click that 'Like' button, why don't ya?
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