Your Home Office: Carpet or No?

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Choosing the appropriate type of flooring for your home office is not always the easiest thing to do. After all, there are many things that you need to consider, and depending on your situation things can change drastically. Maybe decide to pick up one of those canister model vacuums as well. With that being said, you have two basic options available to you. You can either choose carpet or hardwood floors. Of course, there are other options, but these two are the most popular.

If you are going to choose carpet, you need to remember that there are several different types available. For instance, you could buy standard carpet, or opt for a thinner option that is often times used in commercial offices. The only problem with buying office carpeting for a home office is that your room may double as a bedroom or other area. For this reason, your best bet is probably to stick with more traditional options.

On the other side of things, hardwood floors always look nice in home offices. If this is something you are considering you will want to keep one very important thing in mind. Hardwood floors are much more susceptible to damage. For this reason, make sure that you exercise caution when placing furniture or any work related supplies on the floor. Additionally, you should also lay a mat for your chair; this is especially true if you have a rolling chair. Not doing this is one sure fire way to scuff up the hardwood floors below your desk.

Now that you know the pros and cons of having carpet of hardwood floors, you have to make a decision on what is best. Before you do this, head to a local flooring store and see what they have to offer. This will give you a good idea as to what is available in your area. You can also get a better idea of price as well.

One last thing that you may want to consider is keeping your floors the way they are. This is a very good idea if you only use your room as a home office. After all, does it really matter if the carpet is a bit worn or the hardwood floors scuffed? You might as well put the money towards something that would be more beneficial to your home office.

Overall, both carpet and hardwood floors look good in any home office. Take everything into consideration, and then decide based on the pros and cons that you come up with.

 

Essential Spices for Every Kitchen

Spices may not appear on many food pyramids, but eating would be pretty boring without them. You’ve probably already got salt and pepper covered, so here are some other ways to improve your home dining experience.

Absolutely Essential for Every Kitchen, No Matter What

These are the two spices that are so useful not even the most committed of take-out devotees should do without.

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1. Garlic: If you don’t cook, you probably have little use for fresh cloves, but ground garlic, whether plain or mixed into a garlic salt or garlic and herbs mixture, is the perfect addition to give any meal or snack a little more taste. You can put it in everything from scrambled eggs to spaghetti sauce, on pizza, or on a piece of toast with melted cheese for simple DIY garlic bread. If the leftover Chinese is seeming a little bland, just stir in a pinch of garlic and heat. It goes with virtually every savory dish.

2. Cinnamon: Similarly, ground cinnamon can add class to any sweet food. Put it in cookie dough, or sprinkle it on just before baking. Use it to top cakes, pies, or even just your bowl of ice cream. Mix it with sugar and sprinkle it on toast. Add a pinch to make your hot chocolate, tea or coffee more interesting. You can put it on or in pancakes, with or without sugar, and it’s one of the keys to excellent French toast. It can even be used as a flavor booster in sweet or fruit-based curries and other entrees.

Spices for the Occasional Cook

Here are a few additional spices you might want to have on hand if you’re cooking on a semi-regular basis, but you prefer to stick to the basics.

1. Ginger: For cookies, stir fries, and everything in between. Ground ginger is a key ingredient in most curries, and you can make an simple, tasty sauce for cooked veggies by mixing soy sauce, sugar and ginger. Together with cinnamon and the next three spices, it forms the Holy Quintet of baking – the five spices that can be added to almost any baked dessert for instant deliciousness.

2. Nutmeg, Cloves and Allspice: In addition to baking, these spices (plus cinnamon) are the essential elements of pumpkin pie spice (and work well in many fruit pies as well). Nutmeg and cloves are also great on eggnog, in curries, and mixed with a bit of paprika and ginger in mac and cheese sauce.

3. Cumin: An exotic spice that is perfect for curries, stir fries, soup, and chili. Personally, I like it in scrambled eggs.

4: Basil and oregano: Whether you buy it dried or fresh, these two leafy spices are definitely required for top-quality meatloaf, spaghetti sauce, and most other Italian-inspired pasta sauces, as well as Advanced Spice-Sprinkling on many of the same dishes you already learned to add garlic to.

Really Cool Spices for Aspiring Gourmets

Finally, in this category we have a few spices that I’m personally fond of for anyone who loves to cook but doesn’t really know where to get started. (Hint: look through a few cookbooks for recipes that sound appealing, write down the required spices and pick out the ones that appear frequently or in your most favorite dishes.)

1. Sage: My mother never cooked with sage because she’s allergic to it, but I adore it. It’s the final, Expert-Level addition to the foods you enjoy with garlic, basil and oregano. If baking is your thing, these four go well together in breads and biscuits as well.

2. Cardemum: This is a great spice for desserts and baking. Shortbread, scones and sugar cookies all benefit from a little pinch. Put a little bit on ice cream, in milk shakes, on eggnog, or in tea. (But be careful when you’re buying to get it ground, unless you really want to dig little chunks of spice out of their seed pods and grind them yourself.)

3. Cinnamon Sticks: If you spend a lot of time cooking, you may prefer to use cinnamon sticks rather than the ground stuff in hot drinks, curries, and other dishes with enough water to let the flavor diffuse. Grittiness is greatly reduced, and cinnamon sticks are reusable, unlike ground cinnamon, which may run out quickly if you’re using it frequently. And it can make any dessert look much more elegant for all those fancy dinner parties you’re going to want to be throwing.

Hell’s Kitchen: Adults Weeping like Infants = Awesome Reality TV!

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The primary by-product of my TV addiction is that I am a fairly good judge of what makes the grade in the Reality TV genre. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a snob or anything, I’ll totally watch a whole season of a sub-par reality show (Joe Millionaire, anyone?) but the point is that I dole out my enthusiasm and praise sparingly.

Last night, the third season of Hell’s Kitchen got off with a bang….or a snivel, as seemingly 80% of the contestants melted in tears at various points during the broadcast. This, I know from experience, is unheard of in the genre. The producers must have blisters from the high-five fest that surely followed the initial screening. What makes this premier episode even more amusing is that Mr. Ramsey (the notoriously fastidious/ornery chef) barely had to look cross-eyed at the contestants before they literally pissed themselves with tears!

To back up a bit, the basic 5 components that I need to check off before dubbing a “Reality Show” successful are:

1. A contest of some sort – however ‘token’ it may be (e.g. the fictitious modeling contract in ANTM)

2. One or two clinically insane contestants (they don’t have to be formally diagnosed, but the dementia must manifest during opportune times).

3. A minimum of one dullard/lazy bum to serve as a catalyst for all the ‘A’ types who want to win, yet have to prod the lump into pulling some kind of effort for the sake of the team. (This contestant type is sadly expendable, usually within the first voting-off/out cycle).

4. Crying. Lots.

5. Physical harm (e.g. Survivor contestants falling into fire, Apprentice sycophants spraining ankles, ANTM hopefuls coming down with ‘exhaustion’ and ending up in hospital, Top Chef’s assaulted while resisting an impromptu head-shave, etc.).

While the above list may seem a bit callous to the uneducated (in the school of obsessive TV watching) reader, I assure you, nothing is more boring that watching ‘real people’ (a.k.a. unattractive folks) waddling through their basic, ordinary day without a whiff of drama (e.g. avoid the house-hunting or ambush/trading house/budget decorator show garbage on HGTV or TLC).

The trailer montage for the rest of the season of Hell’s Kitchen (dangled like catnip last night) references ambulance trips, confrontation, more tears, tempers and complete meltdowns. If it is a true harbinger of things to come, Hell’s Kitchen is shaping up to deliver on all counts.