Made in McGregor: Erin Napoli Designs

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In any small community, it takes many different people coming together to succeed. I am always looking for ways to support the community that supports my family and myself.  With that said, I would like to shine the spotlight on a local artist and business; Erin Napoli of Erin Napoli Designs.

Erin Napoli Designs

Erin and her husband Jon officially established their business, Erin Napoli Designs, in 2016. Erin and Jon design and hand craft items such as decorations, signs and paper goods right from their home in McGregor. Jon handles most of the cutting and sanding items and Erin does the design, paint, and brainstorming for the business. Along with crafts, they have worked with many different businesses around the area to create one of a kind pieces. I especially liked the cornhole boards they made for Big Sandy Lodge!

 

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Strong Ties to McGregor

Erin has deep roots in our community. Reaching back into history, Erin’s grandfather graduated back in 1937 from McGregor High School. Erin herself graduated in 1999 from McGregor High school. After graduating, Erin moved to Duluth to gain a degree in graphic design. As time went on and their family grew,  Jon and Erin decided to make the move back to McGregor. They made this decision based on a desire to provide their son with the same experiences Erin had growing up in the area. This also provided an opportunity to be closer to their family here in McGregor.

Carving Out A Living

Erin and Jon hand craft all their items. This means that every piece of wood is designed, cut, sanded, and painted by hand locally. Erin and Jon are able to take a raw chunks of wood and transform it into a piece of art to be enjoyed. To me, there is no better gift than a piece someone poured their creative heart into. Whether you are decorating a home, buying a gift for someone, or looking for custom items for your business.  I can think of no better option than a hand crafted piece from Erin Napoli Designs, made right here in McGregor.

Community Over Competition

In talking with Erin about their business, she said something very powerful. I asked Erin something she would want people to know about her business. She stated that they love collaberating with other local crafters and small businesses and that they believe in community over competition. I thought that statement holds a lot of weight when living in a small community like ours. In my mind, community over competition means that instead of fighting our way through life to earn a living, we can support and work with other people and businesses in a way that everyone can succeed.

When you consider the hand crafted quality and community spirit that Erin Napoli designs brings, it is easy to see why it is a great business made right here in McGregor.

You can view all of their pieces available at Erinnapolidesigns.com

Also check them out on facebook: Erin Napoli Designs

 

 

The Hunt is On

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The time is six a.m. on this brisk November morning and my objective is clear; get to stand quietly. Coffee has been consumed, breakfast bar was inhaled, and I join the leagues of men and women donning blaze orange in preparation for a day of tradition. Excitement pulses through me as I dream about a successful hunt. It’s the Minnesota deer hunting rifle opener and the rut is on.

Over the hill and through the woods, to deer hunting stands we go. The frozen ground crunches beneath my boots and pierces the still of the morning as I “stealthily” make my way to the deer stand. I can imagine thousands of hearty northlanders hiking through the woods like a pulse of warmth through the veins of our great state.

Rung by rung, I ascend the rickety metal stand and perch atop my station. The dark is just beginning to subside and my snow dusted sight lines reveal themselves. Last check has the temperature at 20 degrees with little to no wind; a great forecast for opener. I load my rifle, uncover my scope and settle in.

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The scene is set; legal shooting hour has arrived and I peer through my scope down a sight line. All is calm and silent as sun begins to crest the wood line. A brilliant show of pink and orange is painted across the sky greeting those who chose to sit this morning.  The familiar crunch and rustle of a grey squirrel interrupts the calm of the moment. This particular sound is known to have poked at many-a-hunter as they listen for deer sauntering through the woods. A low rolling thud floats through the air; growing pains from nearby Big Sandy Lake as the ice expands.

The powerful bark of a distant rifle booms like a starting shot of a hundred meter dash. This boom is joined with more shots. As the first hour passes I count eleven shots various distances away from me. I listen enviously hoping that my rifle will get to join the cold steel chorus. More time passes and the buck fever I recently contracted begins to subside.

Another hour passes and the tips of my toes begin to warn me that if something doesn’t change soon, my morning hunt will end. I muscle out another half hour and begin my descent.  Retracing my steps through the woods and back over the hill, I return to the excited faces of my children.

“Did you catch a deer daddy?” my five-year-old asks.

“Not this morning honey, hopefully tonight.” I reply. Already plotting my next hunting session.

The coffee pot grumbles and spits out a pot of fresh coffee. As I wait to pour a cup, I reflect on a new experience. This morning’s hunt is different for me. Usually I trek much further north to a classic Minnesota deer camp. I usually join a rosy-cheeked gang of iron rangers, but due to conflicting schedules, opted to stay local and hunt. Normally my morning would start out crawling out of a bunk surrounded by tired-eyed hunters; great friends and family and friends. Then we would share a breakfast, discuss morning hunt plans, and head our separate ways to various locations for the hunt.

I compare my current rifle open experience with my traditional deer camp experience and can see the value in both. I cherish the time spent with my friends and family deer hunting. I also have gained a new appreciation for the quiet solitude of a solo morning. All week long I was somewhat disappointed in not being able to make the trip to our deer camp. I thought that missing out on the experience of deer camp would make for a poor hunt and a lonely opening morning. This feeling was quickly erased as my kids pelted me with questions about my hunt and suggestions for how to “catch a big buck”.

I did not successfully harvest a deer in the opening hours of deer season, but did not leave the stand empty handed. I left with the realization that no matter what your deer hunting situation is, the important thing is making the effort and getting out there. Even by myself, solo in the woods, I did not feel alone. With every thud of a rifle in the distance, I realized that I was participating in a long standing tradition and was in good company with hunters across the state. This will be a wholesome lesson to pass on to my kids when they come of age to hunt themselves.

The message will be simple; whether you have the comforts of a well insulated and heated deer stand, or the barren rusty old ladder stand, it’s important to get out and hunt. Whether you slay a massive buck or end up cold and meatless, the effort was not wasted. The rewards of your hunt may not be as instant as a giant buck harvested on opening morning, but will reveal themselves overtime.

Be safe and good luck to all the hunters out there.

DIY Animal Catch Pole

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Here is a basic diy walkthrough of how to make an animal catch pole without breaking the bank. This catch pole is light and easy to take along wherever life brings you.

Materials I used ( some with links to amazon where I bought them)

STEP ONE

Cut your pipe

I laid out the pvc and used a sawzall to cut approximately six feet of pipe. You can cut at whatever length you desire.

STEP TWO

Drill Baby Drill

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The next step is to drill a small hole for the wire to fit through on the end of your catch pole. I used an 1/8″ bit and reamed it out a little bit. My hole was approximately a half inch away from the end of the pipe.

STEP THREE

Hulk SMASH!

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Take your ferule from the kit (or one from your local hardware store) and either put an end on it or a loop. This is done by sliding the wire through the small hole and smashing with a hammer. I looped it for a nice option to store the pole when not in use.

STEP FOUR

Thread the Needle

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push the end of the wire back through to the other end of the pipe. Then slide your clothesline tensioner on to the wire and check for a good fit.

STEP FIVE

Pull handle

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I made my catch loop out on the end to approximately as big of animal I anticipated catching. I made my end loop approximately 2 feet which was a little big looking back at it but you never know when you will need to wrangle bigfoot. Cut the approximate length you think you may want (personal choice depending on arm length) Then dry fit your tensioner and make another loop on the end.

FINAL STEP

Set it and forget it

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Mix up the JB weld and do a light layer on the stepped ends of the clothesline tensioner. Slide the end of the tensioner inside the pipe and let sit for 24 hours to insure proper curing of the JB weld. I used a hammer to tap the end of the tensioner into the pipe a little tighter. As long as you have 1″ (inside) diameter PVC pipe it will fit like a glove. As you can see in the picture I removed the small clip on the clothesline tensioner as it was just getting in the way. It comes off easy.

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Once the JB weld has cured you have the finished product! This pole has worked great for me!

Easy Talkin’ Turkey Craft

Lets face it, Halloween is over. Taking down all the spooky ghosts and jack-o-lanterns is always a bummer. Here is a great easy craft to cure the post Halloween blues!

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For this craft these are the tools I used (and the corresponding materials on amazon):

Optional:

STEP ONE

To the Batcave!

Find some time to sneak away to the craft area and cut up some 2×4’s. I cut eight blocks, four at five inches and four at three inches. I cut them different lengths because like snowflakes, no two turkeys are alike!…. or maybe they are? img_1576

STEP TWO

Scroll scroll scroll your boat…

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I hand sketched out various peanut shaped pieces and cut them out on the scroll saw. I did one with a beak poking out and the rest just smooth. None of them are exactly alike. You could also try and just use bigger popsicle sticks instead of cutting these out but I think the end product looked great with them.

STEP THREE

Lay it all out on the line

I laid out all the various blocks and figured out precisely where and how I wanted to lay out the popsicle sticks and heads. This is all personal preference. You can make as big or small of a fan as your big-ol’-thanksgiving-craft-lovin’ heart desires.

Now from here I glued on the heads first and stapled them with the air nailer, as well as glued and stapled the popsicle sticks on the back.

If you do not have an air stapler:

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You can just glue them instead. The staples are just for added strength to keep it all together for many thanksgivings to come.

STEP FOUR

Brown them’ Birdys 

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Grab the little gobblers in your life and slap some brown paint on the main body of the turkey. no need to be fussy or picky on where the paint ends up because you will be painting the feathers later.

STEP FIVE

Strut’ Your Stuff

Paint the remaining posicles various shades of reds and yellows and browns. Add a small beak and wattle…

If your like me and my wife, you don’t know what a wattle is and need to google what the red little dangly thing is called on a turkey. Well, heres the official description:

“Wattles are some of the most distinctive and memorable physical traits in turkeys. If you look at a turkey’s neck for even half a second, you’ll probably notice a long, meaty lump taking up precious real estate right below his chin. Wattles are particularly noticeable in male turkeys.” -some guy on the internet

Then dot the eyes and your finished. I like to add sunglasses on my little craft guys to make them look extra cool.

OPTIONAL

Get Googly With it

We like our googly eyes around these parts so we added a some to a few of the turkeys!

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Now just to round up your flock and enjoy!

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It takes a (Spooky) Village

Two hot dogs walk into a grocery store… It sounds like a joke, but on this particular Halloween night, that actually happened. My son and I have a running tradition on Halloween to wear the same costumes. So, when he decided he wanted to be a hot dog, the deal was sealed. With trip to goodwill, and a little luck, we became brothers-in-buns; forever linked in our budding family Halloween costume history.

Our particular group was made up of two hot dogs, a unicorn, a Frankenstein, a pumpkin, and a narwhal. If your wondering what a narwhal is, join the club. My wife says it is some type of unicorn-whale hybrid.  Our first stop on our candy getting mission was Care Free Living. Some of the residents had lined up for handing out treats to the kids. Smiles erupted in the room as a Frankenstein, little hotdog and unicorn marched in with parents in tow. After collecting our goods and wishing Happy Halloween. We headed to our next spot.

We had some hot-off-the-press info that Ukuras Big Dollar was handing out candy to sweet-toothed trick-or-treaters, so we decided to include it in the treat acquisition plan.

I couldn’t help but laugh thinking about the fact that most hotdogs don’t fare well at the grocery store, and let my son know that we need to watch out for hungry shoppers. As we strolled into Ukuras, we were greeted by a big black spider residing over a large bowl of treats. The kids sang their trick or treat song, collected the goods, and off we were onto the “Trunk-or Treat” event at the school parking lot.

We visited spooky themed trunks, each manned by various hearty Minnesotans who stood bundled; handing out treats. One trunk was a cookie-monster that spit out treats from its mouth. Another trunk was intricately designed after a haunted house.  After some deliberation, we decided that the pirate themed trunk was the best. At this particular trunk, you must “walk the plank” (a board on some patio blocks… very cool idea) to recover the Halloween booty.

The final phase on our Halloween adventure was to hit the streets. We piled in and out of our vehicle, stopping to hit a few houses and back in to warm up. The narwhal in our group hasn’t quite reached the age of 1 yet so the pumpkin and I took turns sitting in the warm car with her. (Nothing to see here… Just a giant hot dog holding a squirmy narwhal driving down the street.) The little unicorn’s legs started to tire and buckets were full of goodies so we decided to pack up for home.

As we drove west on 210, a picturesque sunset was taking shape over the credit union.

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At this moment, I couldn’t help but feel a sense of appreciation. I appreciate the person who organized the trunk or treat and who took time out of their day to paint all the little rocks like jack-o-lanterns to hand them out to strangers in a parking lot. I appreciate every person who froze standing in front of their trunks.  I appreciate the person who set up the trick-or-treating event at Care Free Living. I appreciate every person that opened up their doors and handed out treats.  I appreciate every person that put out Halloween decorations around town. I appreciate the time and money spent on decorations and setting up and tearing down after all the trick-or-treaters are gone. I appreciate the totality of work that lead up to my family having a great Halloween filled with laughs.

So from two hot dogs, a pumpkin and a sleepy little narwhal we just wanted to say thanks, and we can’t wait for next Halloween in McGregor!

 

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Old Boot Leather Craft

ITS TIME

You’ve worn those boots far past their expiration date. You’re ready toss them in the trash and move on into a new pair.

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As you can see in the picture above, this pair of Rocky work boots has served me well the two years I owned them. The safety toe I have to used for work is exposed and the boots are no longer in working condition. I own two pair of Rocky Original Ride work boots; one with safety toe, and one without. My personal use pair I have had since 2013, and with a little saddle soap and elbow grease, have maintained their usability.

The work boot pictured above has been rode hard and put away wet.

Amazon links to the boots (I highly recommend):

Rocky Work Boots

Rocky Safety Toe Work Boots

THE PROBLEM:

Wasting Good Leather

I always cringe when it comes time to throw out a pair of boots. I typically will wear boots and any other footwear or article of clothing until I resemble something of a scarecrow showing up for garden guard duty. When I wear out a pair of work boots, typically just the toes are worn out (probably due to the fact that I’m always kicking A** in life… Right guys? Hello?…).

THE SOLUTION:

Salvage the Good

Most of the time there is a good chunk of leather left on my boots that is near brand new. In the case of this particular work boots. 3/4 of the boot leather had barely seen the sun and could be saved. The leather you salvage from whatever old boots you may have laying around can be repurposed for any type of leather accessory you can dream of. I have two projects in mind; a cell phone case, and a gun holster. I opted to run this article on the cell phone case because it is something I would use every day.

I used to carry my iphone on a clip on plastic holder that attached to my belt. It seemed like at least once a day, I would bump it and send it tumbling into the dirt. On one particularly expensive summer day last year, I was riding my motorcycle on the highway. I must’ve bumped my little clip and before you know it it was on the highway under the tires of a semi… lesson learned. Since then I haven’t quite found the right place to keep it. I involuntarily upgraded to the Iphone X and it is a bit big to just shove in your front pocket. I also do not trust any of the clip on belt cases any more so it is time to get my hands dirty and create exactly what need.

The tools I used and a few corresponding amazon links to them are as follows:

STEP ONE:

Separate the good from the bad.

I used a stitch ripper from the leather kit to pull the stitches apart to separate the top good conditioned leather from the cracked bottom leather. I also used an razor knife that came with the kit to saw through some of the parts of the boot that were glued.

STEP TWO:

Measure twice, cut once

I layed out my phone and did my best to estimate how much leather I would actually need to fit. I then proceeded to scrawl out a straight line using my razor knive with the help of a square. Once I was fairly sure I didn’t short myself, I used some scissors and cut down the line.

STEP THREE:

Close the Incision

After cutting the boot in half, the different layers of leather and inner fabric on the boot were open and loose. I took some fabric adhesive and slathered it on a popsicle stick and rubbed around the adhesive with a popsicle stick. You can use whatever glue or adhesive you have laying around but I recommend not skipping this step for whatever project you do. Once glued, I clamped the layers to themselves as they dried. Be sure to clue and clamp all sizes and wait the recommended dry time.

STEP FOUR:

Get your groove on

You will need to stitch up the now-glued ends of your leather. I used the grooving tool first followed by this spikey-pencil-of-death tool that you can roll across your groove to mark where you will make your stitch holes. You do not need apply much pressure as the goal of this tool is just to mark where you will puncture the leather with your awl. Lastly on this step, take out the days aggression with this pointy awl. Find your marks you made and tap a hammer on the awl through the leather and onto a block of wood that you slid under. Be sure to go deep enough to accommodate whatever size needle and thread you use.

STEP FIVE:

Snitches get Stitches

(no real significance, it was the best stitch related title I could dream up)

I hand stitched both sides of the leather boot about 1/2″ in from either end of the soon-to-be case.

I have a hard time really explaining how to stitch leather so here is a link someone far better with words and the internet than I am.

How to Hand Stitch Leather

Optional- Tap the completed stitches with a flat smooth hammer head and heat with a propane torch. I used a nylon leather thread that came with the kit. Heating the thread with the torch shrank the thread and tightened up the stitch. Be careful not to burn the thread or the garage down because your wife (if you have one) will be flaming-hot-cheetoes mad.

 

STEP SIX: 

Flex dem’ leather working muscles

Choose the “uglier” side of the leather and mark out your belt loops. I layed my belt across the case and scratched out a template for where I would stitch. Continue on to stitch the two belt loops and then cut out the insides of the stitch. When you measure out your belt loop holes, leave about an extra 1/4 inch. That will help leave some space when you cut out the centers.

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STEP SEVEN:

Cut, Punch, and Fasten

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I chose to use copper belt rivets from a local hardware store. I used a punch to cut out a hole the size of my rivets. I then put the rivets through the leather and pounded on them with a hammer.

Here is a link on how to install a rivet similar to the ones I used. (it is using metal as an example but the same principles apply to this application)

How to set a rivet

STEP EIGHT:

Make it Snappy

I grabbed the Fasteners Kit and selected two snap buttons for closing the top of the case.I followed the included directions in the kit and cut, hammered, and snapped my way to the end product.

Like a phoenix rising from the ashes of boots of yesterday, the finished case appears!

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This was a skill building project that anyone with an old pair of boots and a little motivation can do. Much like the boots I ran into the ground, I intend on using this case for many years!

UPDATE:

I used all the same principles outlined in this article and made a matching holster for my Ruger Single Six!img_1531

Reflections of a Novice Trapper

Disclaimer: At the end of this article will be a photo pertaining to animals that some readers may find graphic. If this is you, please do not continue reading.

The breeze gently floats across my driveway this brisk Minnesota morning. I can hear the distant chatter of geese waking up on a small bay on Big Sandy Lake. Armed with a mug full of coffee and two precise goals for the day, I begins to gather my thoughts in my dual purpose garage (it functions as a Mancave, fur shed, meeting of the minds, quiet time for dad zone etc..).

Goal No. 1

Prepare for the 2019-2020 Minnesota Trapping Season

My tasks to achieve this goal are as follows in order of importance:

  • Gather all my different traps and tools needed
  • Prep my traps and tools (boil, dye, and wax as needed for scent control)
  • Scrawl out my trap ID tags and attach them to my traps.
  • Compile a list of locations and times for setting traps.
  • Prepare for intense negotiations with my wife to settle on time allotment for trap setting, tending, and fur processing (any tips or free mediation services are welcome).

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I fall into the South Furbearer Zone as designated by the MNDNR. You can find the zones with this link on Page 49 of the regulations book.

Goal No. 2

Reflect and Share Thoughts

As I type this article, two of my leaky-nosed kids shuffle into the garage. They are equipped with breakfast rations supplied by mama bear and they are excited for this particular edition of Sunday-Mornings-With-Dad. In attempting to complete all of my goals, they get to watch a few minutes of “How to Train Your Dragon” on Netflix.

After securing comfy spots, blankets, water cups, and making sure any other basic little-human needs are met. I return to the keyboard with a clearer focus of why I am sharing this snippet of my life with the world; I believe whole-heartedly that someone out there may appreciate the following reflections.

My Short Time as a Trapper

I am now 29 years old and have always enjoyed the outdoors; camping, hunting, fishing. I am always on the hunt for new skills and activities I can learn and pass on to my young kids. A few years back, I completed an free online Trapper Education Course and Field Day put on by the Minnesota Trappers Association; a non-profit organization in Minnesota. At the time that I took the course, my wife and I had only two children. We were proud owners of a 2014 model and a newer 2016 model both with various different upgrades and trim packages. With the kids being young, I figured it was a good time to start gaining skills with hopes that when it came time to take them along on my outdoor adventures, that I would be a full-bearded mountain man; able to tame a mountain lion and speak the native language of a Minnesotan coyote.

The Trapper Education Course was put on by a passionate man named Shawn Johnson, a member of the Minnesota Trappers Association. It was an early spring morning when he shared with us his knowledge, experiences, and home somewhere north of Duluth. A group of novice outdoors-men and women stood around attentively listening to Shawn. His enthusiasm was palpable that day and flowed like the Mississippi river after the 2012 flood; strong and unstoppable. Throughout the morning we learned how to make various sets, how to skin a beaver, and most important of all, the ethics of trapping.

I took away from that course, a very basic knowledge of trapping and a nagging excitement to get out there and try it for myself.

Fast Forward to 2018-2019 Trapping Season

I read the regulations, got my license, gathered all the basic tools, and watched all the how-to videos YouTube could provide for beginner trapper. That first season out, I successfully harvested beaver, muskrat, and a river otter. Some of the tanned fur sits to the right of me hanging on a rusty old nail in my garage (as seen in the earlier picture). My use for this fur will be to make an honest attempt at crafting hats, gloves, and other accessories for friends and family.

In addition to the fur draped on that rusty nail, hangs the main reflection of this article. On that rusty nail hangs pride and memories shared by my children and I. Each piece of fur hanging on that nail are forever entangled with the memories of setting and tending traps with my young children. Each piece of fur hanging on that nail represent lessons for my kids and for myself about hard work, perseverance, and the undeniable fact that if you challenge yourself with something difficult and outside of your comfort zone, and work at it day in and day out, you will succeed.

This reflection, for me, is powerful. It stokes the deep burning fire inside of me as a father and outdoorsman and propels me to get out and experience the wintertime wilderness in Minnesota.

I understand the harsh appearance trapping may have at a glance to someone that has no experience or knowledge of trapping. I also understand that there are people that do not share the same views on animals and conservation as I do. I hold a respect for anyone with difference of opinions on the subject, but as I sit here preparing and reflecting for my second season trapping, I cannot restrain the excitement.

Much like the equipment getting prepped to battle against the weather, wits, and overall challenges mother nature produce, I prepare myself.

I prepare to experience the outdoors with my children. I prepare to create rich memories with them that will last my lifetime, and hopefully trickle down throughout their generation, and the generations to follow.

 

 

Simple Coffee Mug Storage

Don’t let your kitchen get Mugged!

At our house, we love coffee. A crucial step to starting my day is always stumble over to the coffee maker and fire up a cup. I am a bit of a coffee cup fanatic and am not afraid to say that we hoard coffee mugs. Christmas mugs, Halloween mugs, hunting mugs, etc.. all occupy a healthy chunk of our cabinet space. Being a mug hoarder, as well as a lover of neat and tidy kitchen has created a problem.

THE PROBLEM:

Getting Mugged of my organizational kitchen zen.

THE SOLUTION:

Hang em’ High

Here we have a snapshot of my now-organized coffee station at my house. Don’t mind the crumby mess on my toaster! Blame it on the KIDS!!! Before we hung the mug, my morning routine included opening the cabinet and rummaging through various cups and bottles and mugs to find the exact one I was looking for. Now, with this sweet java-refueling setup, I select whatever mug I would like with ease. I completed this project in 5 minutes and you can too!

The Tools I Used:

  • Drill and 1/16″ drill bit
  • Cup Hooks I used (I recommend searching for whatever color/size matches your needs)
  • Measuring tape.

DRILL DRILL DRILL:

I marked out the spacing under my cabinets to see exactly where to screw the hooks. I recommend hanging a mug on and holding up to see where you would like it to sit. My mugs were spaced approximately 5 inches apart. I drilled in only approximately 3/8″ into my wood.

PRO TIP- Measure the exact depth of the screw on your hook and put

 

 

Bar Stool Rescue

I recently spotted a bar stool in a scrap pile headed for the junk yard. The stool itself was looking pretty rough and had clearly been sitting out in the elements for awhile. After securing permission from the owner of the scrap pile, I looked at the main parts of it and decided to breath a little life back into the stool as it was structurally pretty sound. 

Being the rookie internet-reviewer-craft-writer-abouter guy I am, I forgot to take pictures of the stool in its complete beginning stages. So this article will start a bit into the project.

Tools and material I used:

 

STEP ONE:

The Teardown

This is the part where I show you the process of removing the seat off of the frame and breaking down the stool hardware. Too bad I forgot the pictures, so here is a drawing I made that is just as good. stool pictureI removed all the moving parts of the stool laid the bits out. I actually had to use a hacksaw to remove one of the bolts holding the seat down. The best I can do is to show you what the old seat looked like. Its pretty nasty and there’s a chance of contracting some type of disease if used in its current condition.

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STEP TWO:

The Rebuild

The first thing I did on this stool was clean off all the metal and begin to paint. I painted first because the paint drying was the longest part of the whole project. I just laid down some cardboard and used the paint spray to quickly coat the stool base.

The next order of business was to cut out a new seat. I had some old 3/4 plywood I could use. I went with 3/4″ because it is very sturdy and readily available in the scrap wood pile. I used the old seat and traced it out and cut with my Jigsaw. The base doesn’t have to be perfect because it will be covered with foam and fabric.

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After cutting out the new seat, I laid the old metal bracket on the new seat and drilled holes accordingly.

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After establishing and drilling the holes, I installed new bolts. The remaining old bolts were rusty and jam packed with tetanus so I slid new 3/8″ bolts I had laying around into the holes.

Next it was time to lay out the new stool base.

img_1230I used a razor knife to cut all around the seat in a circle. This doesn’t have to be perfect as it will be covered up with sweet camo fabric soon enough. I also used the hacksaw to trim the bolts down and filed them smooth to avoid any sharp edges.

Next its time to lay out and cut the fabric. Be sure to leave enough to cover the seat by a few inches all the way around.

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I then pulled the fabric tight and used the crown stapler to secure the fabric into the wood. I used 1/2″ crown staples.

Once the paint dried, I attached the new seat to the base and finished the project.

Being that I already had invested in the tools, the remaining costs of having an awesome stool in Mancave the was minimal compared to buying a new barstool.

Here are just another two pictures of a stool we did the same basic steps on for an old antique vanity my wife and I revitalized!

Summertime Get Together

It’s early morning at my house on Big Sandy Lake (I live across the street from the lake but have lake view). The moon is a sliver hanging precariously in the sky somewhere over Bell Horn Bay (or Bill Horn). My newly-acquired pond in the yard has a crust of ice on it. It is inevitable, summer is over, fall is on the way out, and winter is coming.

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It’s Friday October 25th, and my family is home sick with various chills, coughs, and sniffles. I am sandwiched on a couch between two leaky-nosed kids watching “Its The Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown” on Amazon Prime. Seeing the ice forming on my small pond makes me think about the past summer and how much fun our family had enjoying all that the area has to offer.

One particular moment stands out among the rest for me.

The memory starts approximately noon on a hot mid-august Saturday. My kids have eaten lunch and are determined to go swimming. The only question is where? We have frequented a few of the local beaches Big Sandy has to offer, and I am motivated to explore the lake for more great spots to swim. Having lived in the area for roughly two years we have not explored even half of the lake yet.

But this summer, particularly this moment, I am armed with information from a seasoned skipper (My neighbor) well versed in navigating the lake.

My three sunblock-covered children, my wife, and myself all pile into our 16′ 1957 aluminum boat and prepare for our voyage to the sandbar on Moose Gut island.

It is a wavy day on the lake as we motor our way close to the sandbar. My wife has her hands full with our then nine month old daughter. She is squirming around like a slippery northern trying to escape the grips of a hungry fisherman. The two other kids sit happily munching on snacks. The wind is blowing somewhat hard on the port side of our small boat. The 15 hp Yamaha chugs along churning through the waves as we approach the bustling summertime hotspot. Various boats and pontoons are posted along the sandbar and some classic rock floats across the breeze. I locate a spot and do my best to fight the wind and land our boat in between a pontoon and the tree line. I am about 15 yards out from landing and a stranger wades out without hesitation and grabs onto our bow and guides our boat into the small nook space left to park. I thanked him and began plucking kids out of the boat and placing them in the water.

My kids and I swam and played in the beach and conversed with other sandbar dwellers. As the hours past, boats came and went like an old timey drive in diner. Water toys, stories, and sunburn were all shared that beautiful afternoon on Big Sandy Lake.

As we putted back to the dock, I couldn’t help but feel a strong feeling of happiness; happy to have had a great day on the lake, happy to have created a great memory for my family and myself, and happy to live here on Big Sandy Lake.

My two leaky-nosed kids and I sit feeling sluggish on the couch under a blanket fighting the chills, but the memory of our afternoon at the sandbar somehow helps ease the symptoms.

Circled in the picture is the location of the Sandbar. See you there!

Sand Bar