American Heirlooms - April 2020


APRIL 2020


Editor’s Note: This is part two in our two- part series on organizing. Our March edition featured an introduction to Ethan’s techniques on creating a clutter-free space. I once spent about a week over Christmas vacation cleaning the shop’s “supply room.” It had become a catch-all and was hardly a safe place to go alone. There were pulsating masses of stuff waiting to trip you up and suck you in. As we cleaned, we took pallets to the dumpster and a pallet’s worth to the recycling place. We even found supplies that we were preparing to reorder again! In the end, we labeled bins and emptied the aisles so you could walk through, and anyone could find what they wanted. The payback was not only in the stuff we did not have to order , but in the time everyone saved by not having to search for supplies. Interestingly, once we had the bins and labels, maintaining that room did not take much effort. This made the vacation we spent cleaning productive across multiple shop positions for many months. And time is one resource that is in short supply around here! One of the most valuable tools in organizing your space is using a label maker to categorize shelves, bins, or folders, as we did for our “supply room.” This allows you to store and organize the items you may not need at this moment but still might need in the future.

In regards to files specifically, David Allen’s solution is to use a label maker on 3-cut manila folders and drop one manila folder in a file folder instead of using the plastic tabs that come with it. The labeled manila folder is much faster to organize, so you won’t procrastinate and have another pile of work to look at and say, “I’ll file that when I have more time.” Another tip when doing this is to deploy a “general folder group.” You can add willy-nilly to this whenever you have another paper you want to keep but don’t need right now. We have always had separate logs for customer information, orders to fill, and vendor details, but the breakthrough for us was establishing the general file, which allows space for all the in-between categories. This technique took literal inches off my stack of desk papers. I started out with two drawers, and I now have eight drawers within my general files. (When doing this, I also used David Allen’s suggestion of having filing cabinets that open and close like a German car door. The reasoning is that if it’s not fun to use, the habit will be short-lived!) The general file idea was then borrowed for the clunky, physical items we have around the shop. This is a cabinet with shelves and bins for those small parts and samples that don’t fit as well in a manila folder. It's freeing to store these items now, knowing anyone can find things in seconds when they’re needed.

Other techniques we have used include always taking notes when ideas occur, regularly reviewing our space, purging outdated and no longer useful materials, and emptying both digital and physical inboxes almost every day. And while this may seem like a lot of work, becoming organized doesn’t have to be overwhelming. It can be a powerful way to add structure to your daily life and free your mind for more important or creative tasks. If you’re interested in keeping your mind free year-round, I recommend picking up Allen’s book, “Getting Things Done: The Art of Stress- Free Productivity.”

–Ethan Zimmerman

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Arguably one of the most used wood types, white oak offers consumers a variety of benefits. Its diversity begins with the cut, which can influence the style of the grain. A flat sawn cut is the most economical way to slice white oak, and it creates a smooth pattern. For more apparent and high-end grain styles, white oak should be quartersawn. However, rift-sawn is the most sought-after cut, due to the intense straight grain style achieved from this cut. Rift-sawing also produces the strongest boards. Beyond a beautiful cut, one of the biggest benefits of a white oak piece is its durability in outdoor environments. White oak possesses a higher concentration of tyloses, which act as dams in the cells of the wood and block harmful pollutants from damaging the grain. This makes white oak more resistant to water and decay and popular among homeowners who want outdoor furniture that will be durable in rain, humidity, and storms. But white oak’s value is palpable beyond the decks it sits upon across the globe. In Japan, white oak is used extensively in martial arts weapons, and many animals rely on the white oak’s acorns, which are smaller and less bitter than the red oak’s. Regular attendees at the white oak acorn buffet include many forms of waterfowl, deer, and medium-sized rodents. Did you know that there are over 2.5 million acres of garlic in cultivation worldwide? It’s no wonder: Garlic boasts a fascinating history, has unparalleled health benefits, and is used in so many different types of cuisine around the world. Plus, garlic just makes recipes tasty! National Garlic Day is April 19, so here are some facts to help you brush up on your knowledge and celebrate it to the fullest. History Humans have been using garlic for a variety of purposes for over 5,000 years. It originated in central Asia and rapidly spread to many civilizations and cultures around the world. Its nutritional and remedial benefits quickly made it popular in recipes, medicine, and even magic potions. Ancient Greek warriors ate it to instill strength and courage. Egyptians worshiped the plant and even used it as local currency. It’s still loved by many today, though it is primarily used for cooking. Health Throughout history, garlic has been used to treat wounds, cure asthma, combat diseases, and even fight gangrene. Today, its recognized health benefits are a little more practical but no less astounding. Garlic contains vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants that can boost immunity, reduce inflammation, lower cholesterol, promote

healthy hair and skin, and fight fungus and bacteria. The best way to take advantage of these benefits is by eating it raw, but if you can’t deal with the lingering breath, following proper cooking methods can still yield healthy results. How-Tos When buying garlic, avoid shriveled or soft bulbs. Its shelf life is roughly eight weeks if the skin is unbroken, and around two weeks for individual cloves. Garlic works well in recipes that call for its relatives, like onions, shallots, and leeks. When cooking with garlic, the finer you mince and mash, the more flavor you’ll get. You should also let your garlic rest between chopping and cooking, and add it to the pan near the end of the recipe to better preserve its nutrients and flavor. Garlic breath can often be combated with a little bit of lemon juice, but if you’d rather let it linger and savor the flavor, your secret is safe with us!

Illinois, a group of school children voted it as the state’s tree, while it also serves in that capacity in Connecticut and Maryland.

The white oak is a staple across many homes and yards in the U.S., and when you consider its numerous benefits to society, nature, and woodworking, it’s easy to see why this mighty piece of lumber continues to be so valuable.

Because of its durability and presence along the Eastern and Midwestern regions of the U.S., many states celebrate the white oak. In


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Since the advent of plastic in the mid- 1800s, household items have largely transitioned away from wooden products, and kitchen utensils are no different. But with recent research suggesting the adverse side effects of plastic, it may be time to ditch these tools. The first item to replace should be your cutting board. Wooden cutting boards were very common prior to the invention of plastic. But since then, many consumers have been led to believe that plastic cutting boards are a safer alternative to wood. But more recent studies have found this to be a myth. Plastic cutting boards are easier to sanitize than wooden cutting boards, but wooden cutting boards are more durable than plastic, which often has cuts from knives

lining its surface. Bacteria can hide in these cut marks where it’s very difficult to clean or remove. In fact, according to a 1980s study from the University of California, Davis, wooden cutting boards protect against harmful bacteria and foodborne illnesses better than other cutting board materials. Wooden cutting boards not only protect you and your family but also get you the most bang for your buck. Maple, walnut, and beechwood cutting boards are durable, strong, and hard. This means they resist wear and tear from food materials and knife slices. ( PRO TIP : The soft nature of cherry and bamboo can protect your knives, but you will likely have to replace a cherry or bamboo wood cutting board more often than other wooden materials.)

Finally, wooden cutting boards offer a variety and options for many different homes, cooks, and usage styles. Butcher block styles, specific edgings, grain types, and wide girths are just a few of the examples of how you can customize your cutting board to your preferences. If you are looking for an easy way to update your home’s look, consider wooden cutting boards, blocks, and serving platters. As we reported in our March 2020 edition of this newsletter, the faux look is on its way out, and the classic wooden style is becoming more popular. To achieve this look, you can start right in your kitchen. Your wallet will thank you, and your body and meals will reap the benefits.

Flume Gorge

Inspired by

This crowd-pleasing dish is sure to be the biggest hit at your next gathering. And it’s good for you, too!


1/4 cup balsamic vinegar 3 tbsp shallots, thinly sliced

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6 cups fresh arugula 1/2 cup walnuts, toasted and chopped 1/4 cup dried cranberries or cherries

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1 tbsp honey

1/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil Salt and pepper to taste

6 beets, peeled and quartered

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1/2 avocado, cubed

2 oz crumbled goat cheese

DIRECTIONS 1. Heat oven to 450 F and line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. 2. In a medium bowl, combine vinegar, shallots, and honey. 3. Gradually whisk olive oil into the mixture and season with salt and pepper. 4. In a small bowl, toss the beets in dressing until they are coated. 5. Place coated beets on baking sheet and roast them for 12 minutes. Set the beets aside and allow them to cool. 6. In a large bowl, toss arugula, walnuts, and berries with the remaining vinaigrette. Season with salt and pepper. 7. Top salad with beets, avocado, and goat cheese.

Copyright Nature Friend Magazine used by permission

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Brought to you by KCS Builders of American Heirlooms and Penns Creek Furniture The Swiss Craftsman


P.O. Box 280 • Kenton, DE 19955 • Phone: (302) 653-2411

Inside this Issue

Part 2 of Our 2-Part Decluttering Series Page 1

Celebrate National Garlic Day

Wood Profile: The Diversity and Strength of White Oak Page 2 The Lifetime Value of a Wooden Cutting Board Beet, Goat Cheese, and Arugula Salad Page 3 The Best Locations for Spring Blooms Page 4


Spring is here, which means beautiful flowers are finally showing themselves after a long winter. Here are some of the best places in the U.S. to see flower blossoms and welcome the season. Great Smoky Mountains The Great Smoky Mountains National Park stretches across North Carolina and Tennessee, and while its scenery is beautiful year-round, the park is especially alluring to nature enthusiasts during the spring. Through this season, miles of lady’s-slipper orchids, irises, cardinal flowers, and lilies dot its lush green landscape. It’s dubbed “Wildflower National Park” throughout this time of year, and you can experience it by car or on foot. The park also offers expert-led tours that weave through the flowers during their peak bloom. Crested Butte Crested Butte, Colorado, is best known for its winter sports and summer hikes. But recently it has drawn the attention of flower enthusiasts for its unique pink, orange, and gold alpine wildflowers that appear in the spring. This natural phenomenon even inspired the creation of the annual Wildflower Festival in midsummer, which features nature walks, art, photography, culinary experiences, and more. For a truly unique experience, you can even ascend the town’s

titular Crested Butte to spot some rare alpine sunflowers next to the picturesque West Elk Mountains.

Antelope Valley The California Poppy Reserve in Lancaster, California, is a 1,780-acre park that features sloping hills covered with fields of vibrant orange, yellow, and red poppies in the spring. Warm temperatures and heavy rainfall across Southern California during this time of year create a brief period of thick blooms as far as the eye can see. And while the poppies can be enjoyed from the comfort of your car, the best way to experience them is to walk the leisurely Antelope Loop Trail for a breathtaking, up-close adventure. Spring flora is gorgeous and naturally attracts large crowds of people every year. If you plan to visit any of these destinations, just remember that their ecosystems are delicate. Respect park signs, stay on designated trails, and do your part to make sure these flowers return year after year for future generations to enjoy.


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