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Jan 19, 2018

Banjo on My Knee: A Primer on Listening to Bluegrass and Old-Time String Music

For the sake of this article, let’s just assume for a moment that you’re convinced of the merits of listening to bluegrass and old-time string music...

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Jan 18, 2018

How to: Properly Hold a Chef’s Knife

If you think of the elements of cooking that feel the most like a chore, cutting vegetables can rank pretty high on the list (just under scraping off blackened cheese from a sheet pan.) But when you’re holding your knife correctly, it can be one of the most satisfying parts of the cooking process...second only to eating.

Practically speaking, you’ll significantly reduce your kitchen prep time while making sure that all of your digits stay intact. So, more efficient and safe.

Who doesn’t want to save minutes and fingertips?

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Jan 18, 2018

That Time When I Found My Grandfather's Letters from WWII

“… my landlady, by the way, doesn’t like the Germans because when some playful Nazi pilots lived in her house some months ago, they threw a hand grenade into her chicken coop, and they had to eat the winter’s supply of chickens all at once.”

This is one of my favorite lines from our family's treasure: my grandfather’s back-and-forth correspondence letters during World War II. Frank T. Waters was an editor of the military newspaper, Stars and Stripes. At several instances during the war, he sent correspondence back home to his mother, family, and friends sharing daily life overseas and fighting the biggest war of the 20th century.

Going through these letters is a truly amazing glimpse of a soldier's life during war-time Europe in the 40s. I counted 207 letters, official correspondence, orders, postcards, etc, so far. Reading these, I discover my grandfather was smart, curious, and pretty funny. Here are some of my favorite bits:

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Jan 17, 2018

As a Grown Man, This Quote Scares Me More than Any Other

It happens. Going about your life, you come across memorable sayings. In movies.. books... pasted on top of inspirational images on your friends Facebook feed. And every once in a while, one of them sticks.

If forced to pick one, I suspect my greatest fear is regret. You know the image: an old man sitting in a chair, thinking back over all the the chances he never took. And that's why this quote hit me. It goes like this:   

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Jan 17, 2018

ManMade Essential Toolbox: Why You Definitely Need a Pocket Hole Jig System

Kreg Jib Pocket Holes

Joining wood can be as much art as it is skill, and beautiful joinery really defines a piece of furniture. But for the times when you just need to quickly join a few pieces of wood securely, try using pocket-hole made with a Kreg Jig tool.

A few years ago, I picked up a small single-hole Kreg Jig for drilling pocketholes. It was simple, easy to use, and produced a nice strong joint that made completing projects much faster. Since then, I've used that small jig for at least a dozen projects, from end tables to shop-made cabinet doors and it's dependably provided a fast joint that holds up well over time.

Pocket Hole Kreg Jig and Step Bit

The way a pocket hole

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Jan 17, 2018

I Can't Stop Looking at These Amazing Images of the Planet Jupiter

Last night, my wife poked me in the ribs, and showed me this image. "Guess what that is," she said.

"Oil paint mixed with water?" I guessed.

"No...those are clouds hovering over Jupiter."  

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Jan 16, 2018

8 Things I'm Totally Obsessed With This Month (January 2018 Edition)

These are thoughts, the artwork, the news stories, the tools, the food, the conversations, and whatever else we just can't get out of our heads this month.     

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Jan 16, 2018

Fact: Writing Haiku Will Make You a Happier Person. Here's Why.

If you’ve attended elementary school in the last 30 years, you’ve heard of haiku: three-line poems with a 5-7-5 syllable pattern, usually about nature, often cutesy. I’m happy to report that despite some grains of truth, you’re wrong. Haiku is a lean, muscular form of thinking, and the discipline of writing haiku is a rich addition to a full life.

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Jan 15, 2018

On Coffee Makers: Don’t Put a Machine Between You & the Most Important Drink of the Day

When I was a kid, my parents' old Mr. Coffee broke. Because money was tight, it wasn't replaced for some time. I remember waking up one morning and finding my mom making a cup for herself by perching the brew basket from the broken maker over a mug and pouring boiling water from a kettle.

For me, seeing this bit of kitchen MacGuyvering became a truly paradigm-shattering moments. Until then, I thought coffee required an electric drip machine — that it was the only way coffee could be made at all. But seeing this patient pouring of water over grounds, it became clear that the machine wasn't necessary. Some things you really can make yourself. 

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Jan 09, 2018

This Isn't the Only Way to Install a Screw Hook, but It Is the Best

Okay, friends. This is one of my all-time favorite DIY hacks. I learned it more than fifteen years ago from a book I got from the library, and committed it to memory. I only need it about once or twice a year, but it works every. single. time. I'm always super grateful to have it on hand, and so today, I'm sharing so you too can stop busting your hand and banging your knuckles every time you need to install a hook somewhere.   

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