We are back with another tasty addition to the Mason-Dixon family of recipes. Our Mason-Dixon Pulled Pork with Southern Slaw focuses on bringing together the sweet, savory, and salty deliciousness of tender pulled pork with creamy, crisp cole-slaw. If you are new to brining meats and want to explore more, check out our Simple Guide To Brining Meats. If you are interested in more recipes from our Mason-Dixon collection, click here to see our Mason-Dixon Smoked Chicken recipe.
Pulled Pork Prep Times
Prep Brine: 20 minutes
Brine Time: 8-24 Hours
Prepare Pork: 1 Hour
Cooking: 2 Hours / lb.
½ cup of salt
½ cup dark brown sugar
1-2 Qt. of water
2-3 bay leaves
3 TBSP dry rub
1 orange (quartered)
4 cups apple cider vinegar
1 TBSP ground cumin
1 TBSP garlic powder
1 TBSP onion powder
1 TBSP chili powder
1 TBSP cayenne powder
1 TBSP salt
1 TBSP ground pepper
1 TBSP smoked paprika
¾ cup dark brown sugar
*Reserve 1 TBSP of rub for later
Combine brine ingredients and stir until all sugar is dissolved, then add bone-in pork shoulder. If the pork shoulder is not fully submerged, add additional water until covered. Pro-tip: A small saucer or plate can be used to rest on top of pork shoulder to keep it fully submerged in brine solution. Allow pork shoulder to brine for 8-24 hours.
We love getting out in nature. As fortune has it, we were lucky enough to get to Colorado last summer. We covered our trip to Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain in a previous post. Today we are going to stroll down memory lane and recall all of the amazing fun that we had in Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods. We will talk a bit about the history of the site, and cover some of the amenities and attractions that the site has to offer. If you are interested in an amazing outdoor adventure that won’t cost your family a dime, then keep reading!!
History – Garden of the Gods
As we mentioned previously, Garden of the Gods is in Colorado Springs, Colorado. The two-hundred and eighty acre site was originally purchased to be a summer home for the head of the Burlington Railroad, Charles Elliott Perkins. Thankfully, he preferred the splendor and beauty of the land he purchased and chose not to build his summer home on the property itself. Instead, before he passed, he arranged for the land to become a public park. The land was conveyed to Colorado Springs in 1909 by the Perkins Children on behalf of their fathers wishes, with a few stipulations.
Perkins insisted in his grant that the park was to remain free to the public, forever. In addition, Perkins wanted to create a family-friendly attraction, so he allowed no alcohol to be manufactured, sold or dispensed on the site. Lastly, to preserve all of the natural beauty of the land, he included a clause that no buildings or other structures can be built unless they are for the care of the property.
Garden of the Gods still adhere to these stipulations today. The Garden does have a rather impressive Visitors and Nature Center, which are located across the street from the site itself. Inside you can view interactive exhibits on geology including a new dinosaur species. You can also familiarize yourself with local flora and fauna. They even have a display filled with taxidermized local wildlife. Lastly, you can learn more about the history and people of the indigenous tribes through an exhibit that guides you through the life of the Red Rock People and early American explorers. Keira loved getting her picture taken while she sat on top of the metal bison in the local wildlife display.
In addition to the exhibits the Visitors and Nature center, there is a small café and gift shop. The café offers healthy and exciting lunch options for children and adults. I can’t wait to go back for their Chicken Pesto Chango! We’ve visited a TON of gift shops during our Colorado adventures and Garden of the God’s is by far the best gift shop. If you intend to take home a little something for your family and friends this is the place to get it. The American Indian pottery and jewelry displays alone are worth the venture into the gift shop.
Getting Around – Trolley Ride
You can sign up and pay for all of your adventuring at the Visitor’s Center in Garden of the Gods. They host various different adventure programs where you can enjoy rock climbing, photography classes, and guided hikes through the park. They also offer bike rentals, electric bike rentals, Segway tours, Jeep tours and Trolley Tours. Of course, you are free to bring your own non-gas-powered modes of transportation. You can also walk, but the site is rather expansive. For the cost and convenience, we picked the Trolley tour. Lost was our tour guide, and she was amazing. We were impressed by how energetic she was and her stories were funny and relevant. She was full of knowledge and she had a unique Colorado style about her. Her take on Garden of the Gods definitely made the whole process fun and her energy was contagious.
Getting Around – Hiking
After the trolley tour with Lost we ventured down the hiking trails. There is a large section of paved trails that break off into dirt paths. The rock formations along the paths are incredible! Seeing the rocks from the trolley is impressive, but when you are standing next to them, you get a deep appreciation for just how massive these formations are. Climbing on top and posing for pictures is a popular activity on and around the rocks.
During our trail hike we went back to some of the rock formations that Lost discussed during her tour. How these rocks stay balanced and their interesting formations was fascinating. The rocks look like they could tip over at any minute… but they don’t because they have been in this position for ages. In addition to the rock formations, you can explore small staged cliff dwellings that reproduce the way people lived in ancient times.
If you plan on spending any time around the rocks, bring a good first-aid kit. The chances of skinned knees and elbows are very high. Also, make sure you bring lots of water. Hydration in high desert is not a joke… It does not take long to dry out at that elevation. Lastly, make sure you have everyone slathered in sunscreen and that everyone is wearing a good hat. The sun is closer than you think, so things get hot quickly! Also, sturdy walking shoes are a must. Pro-tip: We recommend taking a park map with you when you venture down the paths. There are park guides and rangers traveling around to assist if you become lost. To avoid this issue, you should remain on the paths at all times.
Visit the Garden of the Gods website to find out more. While you are there, check out their calendar of events and plan your trip. Garden of the Gods remains free to the public and is one of our favorite places to climb amazing rocks!
If you enjoyed our Colorado Springs – Garden of the Gods, subscribe below.
As with most of our guides, we like to keep things pretty simple. Our Simple Guide to Jointers and Planers is no different. We will make every effort to keep the new woodworker in mind. In addition, we will talk through some value options that can help people who are on the fence about buying a machine make the right decision. Personally, I can’t imagine my workshop without a Jointer and Planer. Both of these tools have so many uses and make relatively complex processes a snap. Keep reading to find out more. And if you have questions about saw selection or what sander is right for you, check out our Simple Guide to Electric Saws and Simple Guide to Electric Sanders.
Simply put, planers create a single flat surface in your workpiece. By moving the wood through the planer on a set of rollers, rotating blades cut the board down to a consistent height. Planers are great time savers, and in some cases can take a pretty rough looking piece of lumber and turn it into something useful. In addition, they are great for getting lumber to a specific dimension when precision really counts. For example, we sometimes create six-pack beer carriers from recycled pallet wood. Pallet wood is notoriously janky, with odd widths, lengths and thicknesses. All it takes to get the wood to 1/2″ thickness is a few runs through the planer!
In our shop, I use a ‘lunch box’ style planer like the one above from Porter-Cable. I am not sponsored by them, but I do love their products. This style of planer is a great value for beginner woodworkers and DIY enthusiasts because they provide high durability and most of the features you want in a high-end model. They call these models lunch boxes because you can carry them around by the handle. They are highly portable, if not a bit heavy. Mine has been very dependable and is capable of handling every type of wood I have put through it. The hardest wood I have milled with it is American Ash. With a fresh blade, it didn’t have any issues. I did experience a bit of gouging when I tried to run it through with a duller blade.
This model has a max width of 12″ and an opening of 5″ high. While I have never worked with wood over 3″ thick, myself, I have used this planer to reduce boards to as thin as 1/2″. I have used my planer to level out rock maple end-grain chopping blocks. Some folks will advise against it because it can cause tear-out or even kick out your workpiece. I have never had this happen. I believe that if you are cautious about making sure that you only plane off about 1/16″ at a time, the machine can handle it. Your mileage may vary.
Maintenance & Upkeep
There are three big maintenance pieces that I want to address for anyone considering purchasing a planer. First, you will need to plan on buying blades occasionally. Unfortunately, there is no safe and easy way to sharpen dull blades. The good news is that replacement blade sets can be found relatively cheaply on Amazon. Secondly, you will find yourself waxing the infeed and outfeed regularly. The rollers pull / push the workpiece well, but friction needs to be reduced wherever possible. We recommend Paste Wax for this polishing. Lastly, the large screw that serves to raise and lower the planer bed will need to be cleaned of sawdust and lubricated with grease occasionally.
If you are looking to upgrade from a basic model, the Dewalt option has some interesting bells and whistles that are worth considering. First, this model has three blades. The three blade system reduces the wear-and-tear significantly, which means less blade changes. Secondly, this model allows you to control the feed rate. If you are working with harder woods, or just really need a cut to come out smoothly, being able to slow down the feed rate is a huge bonus. Lastly, this model has a dust collection system. This feature is sorely lacking in the Porter-Cable model. Every time I fire up my planer, I am left with a huge pile of shavings on the floor.
When you are ready to move out of the hobby / DIY space and take your shop to the professional level, you will be looking for a planer that can handle 15″ boards. These models provide additional width, superior adjustability, enhanced dust collection, and helical cutter heads. If you aren’t familiar with helical cutter heads, they are basically a gift from the gods. Offset blades spin around to create a significantly more reliable cut. In addition, as blades dull, you can choose to rotate the four-sided blade to a fresh and sharp side. This saves a ton of effort and money maintaining blades.
Jointers perform a similar role as a planer, but they work against a fence, which creates a 90 degree angle and a flat surface. In my experience, jointers are particularly useful if you will be doing any glue-ups. Matching planes for two boards is very difficult without a jointer. However, if you run a board through the jointer a few times, you will have a perfect match for those two boards. Your glue-ups will be much smoother, with less waste and zero frustration. A jointer can perform many of the same functions as a planer, but with a smaller 6″ work surface.
Let me start by saying that I was very on-the-fence about purchasing my jointer. I wasn’t sure I was going to need it. In addition, I didn’t know if I would use it often enough to justify the price tag. To be honest, I am still on the fence about using it often enough to justify the price tag. However, there is no doubt that I need it in my shop. The jointer has become an indispensable part of my shop. While it’s role is highly specialized, nothing can quite reproduce the work that it does as well, or as efficiently.
Maintenance & Upkeep
Similar to the planer, jointers are going to need replacement blades occasionally. The frustrating part is that most of the work occurs at the fence, so blades wear much faster in the first third of the blade. As with planers, there aren’t any good options to sharpen the blades, so replacement is advised. Blades are even cheaper than for the planer, because they are half as long. In addition, the jointer will also need to be waxed regularly to keep your workpieces moving smoothly. We generally keep Paste Wax on hand for this purpose.
If you are looking to upgrade from the basic 6″ benchtop model, consider looking into an 8″ benchtop model. This will allow you to surface wider boards. In addition, the model above features a helical cutter head. Like we mentioned before, that’s a pretty serious upgrade, especially when you consider that a jointer gets the most work done next to the fence. By managing your blades well, you can really make them stretch by replacing the heavy-use area blades smartly.
When you are ready to take things to the professional level, you’ll be looking for a model similar to this one. Shop around and explore different manufacturers. Some are known for precision, others durability. Find a brand that works well for you and your needs. There are models out there that will joint up to 12″ boards. Figure out your price point, your must-haves, and then get out your check book!! With a larger model like this, you can reliable joing significantly longer board that would prove challenging on a tabletop jointer.
We hope you enjoyed our Simple Guide to Jointers and Planers. We really enjoy woodworking and sharing all of our tips and tricks with you. If you aren’t ready to make your own boards, but would like to support our shop, we have charcuterie boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of boards and blocks on the site.
If you enjoyed our Simple Guide to Jointers and Planers, subscribe below.
Saws are a critical part of any woodworking shop. The ability to make the most precise cuts, from multiple different angles and depths is critical as projects grow in complexity. There are a few simple tools that will help you to grow your potential project list. Our Simple Guide To Electric Saws will provide you with the basic knowledge you need to understand these tools and how they work. In addition, we will provide some project ideas that suit the particular saw type. And if you have questions about sanding tools, click over to our Simple Guide to Electric Sanders for more information.
Types of Saws
We want to keep this guide rather basic, so we will cover the real workhorses of the shop. Personally, the goal is always to expand my ability to do more types of projects, with the smallest number of tools possible. By focusing on equipment with broad capabilities, it allows me to spend money on wood and other supplies – not tools! To get the most value out of your purchases, we will focus on the big four: Miter Saw, Circular Saw, Table Saw, and Band Saw.
Your Miter saw is going to end up making a lot of cuts for you. Also known as a chop saw, this tool is capable of making straight and angled cuts. Most also have a swiveling blade mount that allows you to adjust another axis, often referred to as a double-bevel saw. Blade sizes vary, but the standards are 7-1/4″, 10″, and 12″. As you might have guessed, the bigger the blade, the larger piece of lumber you can handle. Also, as your blade size increases, so does your price tag. No surprises there, right!
In addition, you will also need to decide whether you want your miter saw to have a slide, radial arm, or fixed blade. Fixed blade models are known to be highly dependable, as there are less moving parts. Sliding and radial arm models will provide you with more versatility in your cuts, at the cost of more complex moving parts. This usually means more maintenance and potential repairs. That said, I would advocate for the sliding or radial arm models because they open up so much potential for great projects.
Having a miter saw in your shop will open up your project potential in may ways. First, it will allow you to safely and precisely create repetitive cuts. Next, it will allow you cut on precise angles up to 90 degrees. What size board dimensions you can safely and reliably cut will depend on your blade size, but you will definitely be able to execute any project that involves 2×4 wood. You will most likely be able to work with 4×4 lumber as well. With your miter saw, you can now tackle projects like wooden bird feeders, Adirondack chairs, and simple utility shelving. In addition, you could easily create wooden picnic tables, or even hanging barn doors. Comprehensive project plans are available from many different sources. Pinterest has a wealth of ideas, and many of the plans you can find there are free of charge.
Circular saws are handy, portable, and can make a wide variety of cuts. They are very useful for making long, straight cuts in large workpieces. They can also cut angles (bevels) in wood, with limited ranges based on the saw’s manufacturing. Because they are lightweight, they are also easy to maneuver. This comes in particularly handy when your workpiece is bulky, or the cut is out of the working range of a miter or table saw. Generally speaking, most offerings on the market for circular saws are going to be 7-1/4″ blades. There are not too many bells and whistles available for circular saws. Some models have laser guides and emergency stops, but generally look for high amperage and a quality brand name that you trust.
Circular saws are most useful for cutting thin pieces of wood. This makes them ideal for any project that involves plywood. As I stated before, there are myriad plywood projects available on the web. With your circular saw, you can also complete projects like wooden bird feeders, Adirondack chairs, shelving, picnic tables, or even hanging barn doors.
Table saws are true woodworking tools. This is an area where your options start to really open up. Job-site saws, such as the offerings below from Ryobi, Dewalt and Bosch can be accessorized with wheels and stabilizers to make them highly mobile, or they can be fixed in place within your shop. PowerMatic (and many others) make fixed units that offer superior dust collection, precision cuts, and powerful reliability that job-shop table saws cannot deliver. But like most things in life, if you want the premium features, you pay a premium price.
Table saws allow you to make highly precise cuts repeatedly. The fence, a metal divider that runs parallel to the blade, provides a consistent guide to move your workpiece along. In addition, table saws can accommodate many jigs and sleds to make super-precise cuts simply, or allowing you to get consistent and repeatable results on the same cut over and over. Lastly, table saws open up the possibility of using a Dado stack. Dado blades or Dado stacks are illegal in Europe. Basically, this tool allows you to ‘stack’ multiple cutting blades together to notch out wood to a reliable width. Dado stacks are particularly useful for creating box joints in woodworking.
With a table saw in your shop, you can make all of the projects that I mentioned above. In addition, you can start to make chopping blocks, cutting boards, bee furniture (bee boxes), and even cabinets. Jigs and sleds can also be fun to make. Just be careful you don’t fall down a rabbit-hole – making jigs and sleds is addictive!!
Some people will tell you that a band saw is not necessary. However, I felt that our Simple Guide To Electric Saws would be incomplete without mentioning this very versatile saw. Much like table saws, there are a wide variety of band saw options based on your particular needs. If you want something portable, the offerings from Dewalt and Bosch below are perfect for you. If you would prefer a fixed model on a budget, the Ryobi model would be a good starter. And lastly, if you want to set the shop up with a high quality fixed model that will last through years of daily use, choose a model from PowerMatic, ShopFox, or Grizzly.
Band saws are great additions to a woodworking shop because they offer such a high level of maneuverability. By moving the workpiece against a blade, you are able to carve out just about any shape your mind can conceive. This flexibility allows you to create very precise, twisting, turning cuts that other saws simply cannot achieve. Band saws may have limited applications in your creative process, but when you need to use a band saw, no other saw will be able to do the work safely and reliably.
With a bandsaw in your shop, you can cut out any shape that your mind can conceive. Your abilities aren’t just limited to 2-dimensional signs and designs. With the ability to turn your workpieces and cut from all angles, you can even start to create 3-dimensional art in wood or soft plastic.
We hope you enjoyed our Simple Guide to Electric Saws. This guide was far from comprehensive, but we hope it gave you an overview of the various types of cutting tools that are available to you. Every woodworker has their own style and preferences, so we are optimistic that you will take what you have learned today and use it to tailor your shop’s tool selections to your individual needs and wants.
If you enjoyed our Simple Guide To Electric Saws, subscribe below.
Our Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip is a perfect way to start off just about any meal. The simple, fresh ingredients combine into an easy to prepare, flavorful appetizer or side dish. These crostini also look and taste great, so they are a perfect compliment to any charcuterie or grazing board. If you are looking for inspiration, check out our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board.
Preparing the Crostini
Because it all starts with a baguette or similar sized bread, making a crostini is quite easy. Pick up a thin baguette at your local grocery store. Simply use a bread knife to cut the baguette into thin slices. Our crowd likes them cut at 1/2″ thick, but find what works for you. As long as the bread holds up to dipping, there is no such thing as too thin. Place the baguette slices on a cooking sheet or in an oven crisper.
If you will indulge me for a moment, I need to get a shameless plug in for my oven crisper. These things are life-changing. I am not exaggerating, not even a little bit. They make reheating food a snap. And if you are like me and love crispy, crunchy tater-tots, you absolutely need one of these in your kitchen.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and bake the crostini for 5 minutes. Flip the baguette pieces over and cook for an additional 5 minutes or until they are slightly browned. Cooking times may vary depending on the thickness of your bread. Also, if you like your bread a bit on the darker side, you may want to leave your crostini in a bit longer to bring out those charred flavors.
It is worth mentioning, that not everyone will want their bread toasted. This dish still tastes great when served with just the baguette slices. If you prefer your breads soft, or simply don’t have the time or energy, consider skipping the crostini and making this a no-cook night!
Preparing the Olive Oil Herb Dip
This herb dip is super simple and contains a great blend of aromatic spices. Because it calls for ingredients that are probably already in your cabinets, it is a perfect choice for busy weeknights.
You may have noticed that we chose to serve our Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip on a lovely Birch board with turquoise epoxy inlay. While we don’t serve everything we make on a charcuterie board, we certainly think it adds a touch of class to any event. We have boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of boards and blocks on the site.
If you enjoyed our Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip, subscribe below.
Pairing the proper wine for your meal has been a staple in entertaining for as long as wine has been around. One subtle aspect of enjoying wine that people often overlook is glassware. In our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses, we will share with you everything you need to know to enjoy your favorite vintage to the fullest. With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, now would be a great time to check out our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board. This simple, elegant, and quick treat is sure to delight your special someone.
Wine Glass Design
To keep things simple, we will focus on red wine, white wine, and champagne. There are millions of variations within those three categories, but we will keep it short and sweet for now. There are 2 distinct parts of a wine glass, the Bowl and Stem, that help us identify what type of glass to use for optimum flavor and taste. It is worth noting that the foot of a wine glass is a component, but is not noteworthy other than they vary depending on the size of the glass. They are simply there to provide stability (which is an important job), but add nothing to enjoyment of wine.
Depending on the type of wine you’re drinking the ideal shape and size of the bowl will differ. There are even stemless wine glasses, which are basically just the bowl. The bowl doesn’t just give you something fancy to hold in your hand. It also operates as a decanter. Decanting is the process of exposing the wine to air, allowing the flavors to develop further. As you might have guessed, larger bowls allow far more air than the smaller ones, which is a huge bonus for red wines. Red wines will benefit from the additional air flow, which helps the wine to “open up”. The amount of wine poured into the bowl will also impact the aroma of the wine. For proper flavor and taste, wine should be poured to the widest point in the glass.
The length of the stem is another key indicator to help differentiate between Red and White wine glasses. White wines glasses generally have a longer stem because white wine is best served chilled. This is also why you hold a wine glass from the stem as opposed to the bowl. The longer the stem on your glass, the further away your warm hand will be from the wine. Red wines are usually served at room temperature. Because of this, red wines are not impacted by temperature changes like white wines are.
Choosing A Glass
When selecting a wine glass I often search for the glass that will bring out the best in the wine that I am drinking. Wines have complex flavors and the wrong glass can bring out the wrong notes of the wine. Red wines have three different categories and each category has an ideal glass specifically designed to bring out the very best in the body of the wine. We will cover three types of red wine glasses in our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses.
Full Bodied red wines include Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Syrah, Malbec. As the name indicates, these wines are known for strong, rich flavor. When poured into the wrong glass, these wines can have a strong alcohol aroma to them. With a proper pour, Bordeaux Glasses are designed to put distance between your nose and the wine. This distance also allows air to flow throughout the glass. This air flow will contribute greatly to a positive tasting experience. Often these types of wines are served from a decanter to ensure there is sufficient air flow to bring out the full body of the wine while also eliminating any off-notes.
This category includes wines such as Cabernet Franc, Carignan, and some Pinot Nior vintages. Old world wines taste best when served in Medium-bodied glasses. These glasses are like the Bordeaux glass but a smaller version. Medium-Bodied glasses help to soften the flavor of the wine. The shape of the glass keeps the alcohol aroma in the glass, similar to the larger Bordeaux glasses.
Light-bodied wines include some Pinot Nior vintages or Gamay. Burgundy wine glasses tend to have a shorter lip. This shorter lip allows the wine to reach your full palate. These glasses have a very distinguished shape. Burgundy glasses are easy to spot because the center appears wider than the top or the bottom.
As you may have guessed, white wines also have a variety of glasses that will bring out the best in flavor and taste. White wines are the opposite of the reds. They should be as close to your nose as they can be. Because of this, you are able to smell the sweet aroma that white wines are known for. Therefore, the bowls are shorter, bringing the wine closer to your nose when you drink. Whites wine glasses have 2 distinct types that we will cover in our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses.
Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Rieslings and Rose wines are examples of high acid white wines. High-acid glasses are generally smaller than full-bodied glasses. Their shorter design allows for the wine to touch the middle of your palate as you sip. These glasses bring out the best in the wine.
Chardonnays are a classic example of a Full-bodied white wine. The opening of a full-bodied glass is wider than a high-acid glass, but not as wide as a red wine glass. This design allows the aroma of the wine to flow past your nose, greatly enhancing aroma.
There are some other noteworthy types of glasses. A Champagne Flute for example. Some prefer to drink their champagne from a Burgundy glass, but most enjoy their celebration bubbly from a traditional flute. The Flute bowl is long and narrow with a long stem. The rim is small allowing for the sweet aroma to please your nose.
There are also universal glasses you can purchase if you would like to enjoy your wine without the fuss of selecting just the right glass. Stemless wine glasses also come as universal glasses and have increased in popularity over recent years. I have used universal glasses and stemless glasses. If you look closely, you may even see one photographed with a charcuterie board every now and again. In my experience, I find they do not take anything away from my experience.
We hope you enjoyed our Beginner’s Guide to Wine Glasses. In addition, we are sure that you will use the insights you have gained to enjoy your wine to the fullest! Please take time to check out our other articles and recipes. In addition, we have charcuterie boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of lovely boards on the site.
If you enjoyed our Beginner’s Guide To Wine Glasses, subscribe below!
Everyone has come across a tip or trick at some point in their life and thought to themselves “I REALLY wish I had known that when I got started”. Well, it feels like a good time to share some of those “ah-hah” moments with you all. In our Simple Guide To Electric Sanders, we will cover the basic knowledge that I wish I had known walking into the hobby. We hope that our insights will help you to fill your shop with the right gear to fuel your woodworking passions for years to come!
We will start with the workhorse of the sanders, the Random Orbital Sander. If you are planning to enter into the woodworking hobby with charcuterie boards, cutting boards, and chopping blocks as your main types of projects, you are going to want to buy the best Random Orbital Sander that your budget will allow. You are going to spend many hours standing over a workpiece trying to get the finish just right, so why not make that time as comfortable and effective as you can?
When I started into the hobby, I had an old Random Orbital Sander that I had bought from Wal-Mart in my toolbox. After upgrading recently, I can’t believe I waited this long. The added benefits of a solid ergonomic design, including anti-vibration and hand placement have made sanding a much less laborious chore! Again, you will spend hours sanding, so make them as comfortable as possible.
Sandpaper Grits 40 (40-1000 for Epoxy)
I burn through a lot of 40 grit paper on my Random Orbital Sander. It is probably worth your time to buy a large pack of 5″ discs to have in your shop. I also picked up a selection of other discs ranging up to 1000 grit. I rarely use them because I am working with a lot of live-edge materials. However, if you are going to be adding epoxy inlay to your workpieces, you will want to sand your way through a grit progression that gets you to 1000 grit finish. We cover all the details in our Beginner’s Guide to Epoxy Resin. Having this broad range of sandpaper available is going to go a long way towards ensuring that your finished epoxy works glisten!
The Detail Sander is probably my second most-used sander in the workshop. Because I am working with a lot of live-edge materials, I often require additional maneuverability. Live-edge lumber has odd contours and tight spaces. The design of the Ryobi Corner Cat really works nicely for this type of work. The tip of the sander can get into really tight spots, and is great for corners (as the name suggests). The sides of the sanding pad can also be used to great effect. By following along the contours of a live edge, you can quickly knock down any rough spots. The best part is, the surface area of the pad is generous enough to sand larger planes, as well.
I usually run three grits through my Corner Cat Sander – 40, 120, and 240. I generally use 40 grit to knock down any heavy discoloration left behind by bark. This grit is also good to grind down branch collars and knots. It also makes quick work of the notoriously hard-to-sand end grain. You can sand these surfaces with a Random Orbital Sander, but I find the ROS kicks a bit more. In addition, it seems to wear out pads really quickly.
As I work through the grit progression, I use 120 grit to round off sharp contours on the live-edge pieces. By gently turning the sander while moving along the live edge, I am able to impart a safe edge that still holds true to the natural form of the workpiece. In addition, 120 grit does a great job of eliminating any router burn marks. Router burn occurs on the chamfered edges if I linger too long in one spot.
As you may have guessed, 240 grit is used to give the wood that silky smooth finish that everyone loves. I sand along all of the wood surfaces until everything is smooth to the touch. In addition, I love to use 240 grit to round off any sharp corners in the wood. Lastly, I run the sander along the live edge to ensure that it has a completely splinter-free edge that is not too sharp.
The Finishing Sander (also called Sheet Sander) is probably the sander that I use the least. However, it definitely has a place in the shop. These types of sanders have a similar level of maneuverability as a Detail Sander, but cover a slightly larger area. As such, I tend to use my Finishing Sander when I am working with a thicker piece of live edge. If I am working with 4/4 to 6/4 lumber, the Corner Cat does a fine job. However, with anything thicker, the added surface area of a Finishing Sander makes it so that you can sand your workpiece with a single pass. This saves quite a bit of time and effort.
You will want to stock up on all three grits of sandpaper for your 1/4 Sheet Sander, as well. Because of the nature of the tough work that happens at lower grits, I find that I go through 40-grit paper faster than the others. While this is not surprising, it can be annoying. Because most kits are sold as an even number of sheets per grit, I find myself ordering 40 grit separate. Your mileage may vary!
40, 120, 240
40, 120, 240
We hope you enjoyed our Simple Guide to Electric Sanders. As we continue to expand our capabilities in the workshop, our selection of tools is sure to grow. As we acquire more tools and master their many uses, we will continue to provide tips, tricks, and guides. Our guides are meant to save you time and effort.
Please take the time to check out our selection of charcuterie boards, end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop. If you would prefer, you can click here to see our selection of boards and blocks on the site.
If you enjoyed our Simple Guide To Electric Sanders, subscribe below.
Fresh Strawberries and delicious chocolate make such a great couple! This tasty and simple dessert is a staple in our house because they are so easy to make, and we can customize them to match everyone’s preferences – even weirdos who don’t like chocolate. I still can’t get over the fact that Andy doesn’t like chocolate. How?!?! Anyways, I hope you enjoy our Simple Chocolate Covered Strawberries recipe. And if you are looking for more ideas for Valentine’s Day or any intimate affair, check out our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board for more inspiration.
Do you need a double boiler? The short answer is no. You can stack two pots together, or use a metal bowl if you want. Just be careful not to spill hot water or melted chocolate all over the place. A double boiler does make all of this significantly more convenient. It is also safer and easier. And who knows, maybe you will find other uses for your double boiler, like making candles, or melting home-made caramel.
Drizzle spoons are the coolest thing we have added to our kitchen arsenal in quite some time. They make decorating the strawberries an absolute breeze. We have found many other creative uses for them , such as adding an artistic flair to dips and dishes by drizzling on ingredients that create flavor or color contrasts. That said, you don’t need drizzle spoons. regular spoons, forks, or whatever you have handy will work to get lines of yummy chocolate on your strawberries.
There are so many choices when it comes to chocolate. We chose to keep things simple for this recipe, but feel free to get what you like. Regardless of what type of chocolate you choose, try to stick to chips or mini-chips. Larger chunks of chocolate can provide a bit of a challenge to melt fully.
So, we have all of our ingredients ready to cook. We also have our pots, pans, and drizzle pens ready to go, so let’s start cooking!!
Fill 3 cooking pots 1/2 way with water. Bring to a simmer, then reduce heat to low. It is important to maintain a low simmer.
Fill each double boiler 1/2 way with white, milk, and dark chocolate chips.
Place double boilers on top of simmering pots.
Stir chocolate with rubber spatula until it is silky smooth. Continue to stir periodically through next steps to avoid burning.
Hold strawberries by the stem and dip into chocolate. Set on plate or tray to cool. Move to fridge to set up.
Continue to stir chocolate in double boilers.
Once strawberries have cooled, use drizzle pen to create contrasting crisscross patterns across the surface of the chocolate.
Place strawberries in fridge until ready to enjoy!
You may have noticed that we chose to serve our Chocolate Covered Strawberries on a lovely, dark walnut board. While we don’t serve everything we make on a charcuterie board, we certainly think it adds a touch of class. We have boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of lovely boards on the site.
If you enjoyed our Simple Chocolate Covered Strawberries, subscribe below.
We love to cook. That said, we understand that not everyone does! We also have nights where we simply can’t. In order to solve this issue, we have created a number of recipes that require very little preparation. This is why we created our No-Cook Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board. Don’t worry, this board still have plenty of flavor and fresh ingredients to please your palate. Our goal is to simplify your busy life and allow you to spend more time socializing and enjoying yourself, as opposed to working in the kitchen. All of the ingredients in this recipe can be bought, ready to eat.
Prep Time: 30 minutes
With the exception of the Brie Heart, all of the preparation time for this meal is spent either slicing or arranging fruits, meats , or cheeses. Buying ingredients pre-sliced can save even more time, but can get costly. Do what works best for your timing and budget.
You will need a platter that measure approximately 20″ L x 8″ W. We chose to place this spread on one of our Crown Jewels Collection boards. Click here to see our selection of charcuterie boards. If you don’t have a charcuterie board, don’t worry – the food will still look and taste great! You will need a sturdy metal cookie cutter for the Brie Heart and a paring / chopping knife for the rest of the preparation. A small vase for the flowers will help them to stand upright, or you can lay them on the board – Your call!!
It wouldn’t be a Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board without a few roses! Cut the stems down to 4-6 inches and bunch 4 together inside of the small vase. Place 1 rose at each end of the board.
Making Brie Hearts is very simple and gratifying. Not to mention, TASTY! Start by placing the cookie cutter in the center of the cheese. Press down firmly and evenly until the cookie cutter penetrates to the bottom of the cheese. Move the cookie cutter from side-to-side to loosen the cheese. You can also twist the cookie cutter a bit, but be careful not to lose the heart shape. Once the brie inside of the cookie cutter is dislodged from the rest of the wheel, lift up. You should be left with a heart-shaped void in the Brie. Spoon in your favorite preserves and place it at the top of your board. Remove the heart from the cookie cutter and place on the board.
Olive Oil w/Herbs
Add a bit of savory flavor to your Olive Oil with generous amounts of Italian Seasoning. You can also add a pinch of Garlic Powder and Crushed Red Pepper for extra pop. To complete this delicious dipping oil, drizzle Balsamic Vinegar to taste. If you want to take your bread offering to the next level, consider our Crostini & Olive Oil Herb Dip recipe. It has a wider variety of dried herbs and also includes the option to bake your bread for added crunch.
Slice & Garnish
Slice the remaining ingredients and place them as seen on the board above. Once everything is in place, tear off cilantro leaves and place them throughout the dish to give an added pop of fresh color and aroma.
Ready To Serve
Your No-Cook Valentine’s Day Charcuterie Board is ready to serve. Whether you are dining by candlelight with your partner, enjoying a night in with friends, or grazing with the family, this board is sure to delight. If you enjoyed this tutorial, subscribe below and follow us on social media for updates. We will be creating no-cook board ideas for every holiday. In addition, we are constantly posting new Recipes, Charcuterie Boards and Home & Garden tips. Make your night complete by serving up Chocolate Covered Strawberries as a perfect dessert!
You may have noticed that we chose to serve our Valentine’s Day No-cook Charcuterie Board on a lovely piece of birch with epoxy inlay. While we don’t serve everything we make on a charcuterie board, we certainly think it adds a touch of class. We have boards for all occasions and tastes in our Etsy shop. We also have a selection of end-grain and edge-grain chopping blocks available as well. You can click the E in the sidebar, header, or footer of this page to go directly to our Etsy shop, or you can click here to see our selection of lovely boards on the site.
If you enjoyed our Valentine’s Day No-Cook Charcuterie Board, subscribe below!
Over the summer we stayed in Manitou Springs so that we could visit Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain. Manitou Springs is a quirky little town nestled in Colorado Springs. We have visited the town twice, and have enjoyed ourselves immensely both times. As you might expect, the town features unique shops full of gift items, local art, and tons of cool mementos. In addition, they have a robust nightlife scene with plenty of dining and evening activities. Above all, most of the restaurants feature live music and outdoor seating with amazing rooftop views of the surrounding mountains.
We stayed at Magnuson Hotel – Manitou Springs. The hotel was very clean in the lobby and pool area. There were restrictions on the pool due to COVID, so each family could sign up for a time slot. Things were pretty booked up despite the pandemic, so our appointment was the next morning. After unloading our bags into the hotel room, we traveled up the bustling main street in search of something for dinner. Because of COVID we opted to make this a quick grab-and-go meal and then we headed back to the hotel for the night.
The next morning, we enjoyed a quick breakfast because our hot tub and pool time was quickly approaching. Kiera had a blast showing off her gymnastics moves in the pool. This meant that Andy and I could enjoy time relaxing and watching Kiera’s performance. After our allotted time by the pool, we were relaxed and ready to go! We cleaned up, packed up, and got ready for our ascent. We hopped into the 4-Runner and headed towards Pikes Peak.
Helpful Hints – Preparing For Pikes Peak
Wear Sturdy Shoes! I recommend a pair of hiking boots that have good traction and grip. Shoes designed for climbing will serve you well in the rocky terrain. Avoid shoes with a flat sole. I wore a cute pair of slip-on shoes and Glen Cove taught me a lesson.
Bring Sunscreen. Because you are 14,115 feet above sea level, you are much closer to the sun. Even if there is a blizzard at the summit you are still that much closer to the sun and more likely to get sunburn
Bring a coat. I have been to the Summit twice during the month of July, and both times the temperature was below freezing and it was snowing on the summit.
Drink lots of water. No matter where you are, it is important to remember that you are in high desert. Because of this, you will want to stay hydrated. I recommend bringing along extra water for everyone in your vehicle in case there are any travel issues along the way.
The views along the highways in Manitou Springs are stunning. Because the roadway has plenty of twists and turns around natural rock formations, you get to see the landscape and mountain scenes from many different angles. The surroundings are a true wonder of their own, but we also enjoy pointing out the mountainside cabins along the way and daydreaming aloud about what the winter is like living in that cabin on the mountain.
Helpful Hints – Before The Park
The air is thinner at the summit. Therefore, it is not recommended for anyone under 6 months of age or anyone with a history of cardiac or respiratory problems to go to the summit.
CHECK YOUR GAS TANK!!!! The climb to the peak is a 38-mile trip, but it uses 86 miles of fuel. Make sure you fill your gas tank before reaching the park.
Stay hydrated! Double-check your water supply and make sure you have enough.
Plan for the trip to last 2-3 hours
Things To Do
Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain has many activities available. You may want to plan ahead though, because some of the activities are seasonal or require booking in advance. There are 20 points of interest along the journey to the summit, so there is sure to be something for every interest. The summit itself is an absolute must, so when you reach the gateway and receive your pamphlet, you will see all 20 points of interest marked A-T in red dots. You can also visit their website here. The website also has digital downloads and can provide you a few other pamphlets with facts and information.
Pikes Peak –Visiting Centers, Rest Stops, and Picnic Areas
There are 3 Visiting Centers along the journey to the summit. The first is Crystal Ridge (point E ). The second is Glen Cove (point K). Last but not least, the summit itself (point T). Each of the visiting centers offer a unique experience, so it is worthwhile to stop at all 3. Crystal Ridge sits along a lake and offers fishing, hiking and kayaking. Its also home to several Big Foot sightings. Glen Cove is at the timberline of the mountain. This stop is mandatory, as this is where the break checks occur on the descent. Glen Cove offers plenty of activities in nature while you wait for your brakes to cool if need be. Finally, there is the summit. This is not only the summit of Pikes Peak, but also where they keep the world famous Pikes Peak elevation donuts.
Rest areas are spaced so that one is at the bottom, one in the middle and the other at the summit. Each Visiting Center has a small café and gift shop. The gift shops all have the same novelty items and are priced the same as well. Each of the locations offer stunning mountain views, each with their own unique perspective of the mountain. In addition, other rest stop points include C and G. While they lack the café and gift shop, these locations do offer rest rooms, great views, and picnic areas.
Pikes Peak –Fishing, Hiking and Skiing
Between mile 6 and mile 8, you can stop and visit Crystal Lake, South Catamount Lake, and North Catamount Lake. We did not visit either of the Catamount lakes, but Crystal lake was a part of our journey. Fishing is available May through October, and requires a CO fishing license.
Pikes Peak Hill Climb begins at point of interest F. This point falls east of Crystal lake and west of South Catamount lake. If you intend to hike your way up the mountain this is your starting point (YES – It is on my bucket list!)
Cass & Kiera chillin’ with ‘Squatch
Bigfoot, Andy & Kiera
If you intend to stop and enjoy skiing on your way to the summit you can park at point of interest J. Pikes Peak skiing area is a little before mile 12 and is 10,600 ft. in elevation. If you are hitting the slopes, remember to stay hydrated. Have fun on the slopes!!
Devils Playground and Shuttle Service
If you’ve made it to Devils Playground, you’re 12,780 ft. in elevation. The views from this height are quite awe-inspiring, so we recommend stopping to see the view. Plus, it is highly likely that you will want to stretch your legs at this point! Try to plan your trip so that you will be reaching Devils Playground in the morning on later in afternoon. If you arrive in the afternoon, as we did, your views down the mountain will likely be obscured by clouds. And if you are particularly unlucky, as we were, there is a high likelihood of afternoon thunderstorms.
The rocks that tower above the parking lot are a popular climbing attraction for visitors but is also a popular spot for lightening to strike during the afternoon thunderstorms. Park rangers will ask guest to come off of the rocks if danger levels are extremely high, but use your best judgement and follow any other posted rules if you visit the rocks
At Devils Playground you have the option to continue your journey in your own vehicle or to take the shuttle. Quite white-knuckled at this point, I was very happy to park the 4-Runner and finish the journey to the summit on the shuttle. After stretching our legs and seeing the spectacular views from Devils Playground, we jumped on one of the shuttles that depart every 5- 10 minutes. As expected, the shuttle drivers were super friendly and our driver was eager to talk about the mountains. He also had cool stories about points of interest remaining along the way to the summit and throughout the park.
Helpful Hints – Shuttle to Pikes Peak Summit
No pets on the shuttle
No bicycles on the shuttle
ADA Shuttles are available
You will be cold at Devils Playground and Summit – Bundle up!!
The Summit- 14,115 ft.
As expected, the Summit is the main attraction and the most popular tourist location at Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain. If you are cold and you didn’t bring enough warmies, go buy yourself a sweatshirt or a blanket in the gift shop. To stop her teeth from chattering, we ended up buying Kiera a blanket at the summit. She was convinced that I had lost my mind when I told her it snows at the summit, even in July.
As we said before, the views are spectacular from the summit. But remember, you really want to see them in the morning hours before the clouds and storms move in. Going in the afternoon is risky because there is a greater chance of overcast or cloudy skies, which will lead to poor visibility. The summit is also where they make the elevation donuts. We got 6 to test the theory of taste at the top compared to the bottom. Overall since they were not smothered in chocolate Ki and I weren’t very impressed. Andy made up for our lack of interest on the remaining donuts by eating them all as we descended the mountain.
In May 2021 the Pikes Peak Summit Complex will look a lot different than it did when we visited in July. The new summit visit center will be an upgrade from the current Summit House because it will be much larger and have more observation decks. One new feature that we are excited about is the addition of a train that will take you from the base of the mountain all the way to the summit. While driving up the mountain is fun, but I prefer the option of sight seeing . Therefore, taking a train allows for plenty of sight-seeing for everyone, not just the passengers. It is also a far more environmentally friendly idea than individual drivers going up and down the mountain. I am sure all of the wildlife that calls Pikes Peak home will appreciate that!
Helpful Hints – Pikes Peak Summit
Visit during the morning hours for best visibility.
The air is thinner and that can make it more difficult to breath.
No smoking at the Summit.
Stay on designated paths.
Do not feed the wildlife.
Bundle up its cold!
Hydrate! (I say this a lot)
We personally cannot wait to repeat the experience and visit the summit again. We talk about our climb up Pikes peak often. Because we all have fond memories of our trips to CO, we regularly compare our experiences there to other trips. Also, Kiera is always excited to tell her friends about her mountain adventures. And we are not sure why, but Andy enjoys taking panoramic photos and telling his friends about the sights and experiences. Me personally, I love all of the above plus the added bonus of creating these awesome moments with my family. If you are planning to stay in Colorado Springs, Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain is totally 100% worth the trip! Trust me, you will not regret it!
If you enjoyed Pikes Peak – America’s Mountain, subscribe below!