American Heirlooms - March 2019


MARCH 2019


My family is interested in the heavens on more than one level, and as we’ve grown, so has our fascination with what’s happening far above us. Personally, I was drawn to the sky and the maps that makers drew when I was still in grade school. I’ve always been captivated by the precision and predictability of the skies. It’s impossible not to be swept away in the beauty of the heavens that some photographers manage to capture through their lenses, each photo an illustration of the details in the designer’s plans. I frequently bring my family along on stargazing adventures, and it’s been great to see how my wife and children have taken to an interest I’ve had since I was a child. In January, one of my daughters and I braved the cold to capture photos of the eclipse. On that January night, I was running through the near-zero temperatures to adjust the camera settings and make it back inside before I got too cold. But capturing the red hue of the sun’s rising and setting as projected onto the moon was too good of an opportunity to pass up just because of gusty winds and arctic temperatures. I’ve been shooting photos of the sky for a couple decades, and as a craftsman, you can imagine the pleasure I get from using a complicated tool to create a magnificent piece. We snapped photos of the eclipse with a Nikon D700 using an 18—135 zoom lens, securing the camera on a tripod. I explained to my daughter why I used these specific settings and what I was hoping to capture.

I’m happy to share this passion with my children, but through the years, the heavens’ beauty has come to mean so much more to me than shooting gorgeous photos of eclipses for a hobby. In 2008, the heavens became part of our lives in a way we could have never imagined. That hot summer, our 4-year-old son was playing outside when he crawled into a new vehicle out of pure childhood curiosity and was locked inside. By the time we found him, he was already gone. It was every parent's worst nightmare, and it has taken years for Bethany, our family, and me to heal from the pain.

Yet, the heavens and star gazing give us comfort. There’s something peaceful about the incredible size of the heavens, and it serves as a reminder to us that something at the magnitude of our son’s accidental death is just beyond any logic we could ever possess or process here on earth. The heavens are full of these phenomena. Even when we measure distance in light years, the heavens remain beyond the scope of true human understanding. The heavens' massive existence is a reminder for our family and gives us comfort in knowing that we can feel love and joy, just as the designer intended. –Ethan Zimmerman

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Spring is in the air, and it’s time to celebrate with another round of spring-cleaning. Banish the clutter and make room in your life for something new! Many charities see a sharp increase in donations as spring-cleaning season starts. Donating your used books, kids’ toys, and gently worn clothing allows your old items to have a second life. However, when filling that donation box, make sure you’re donating each item because it can do good and not just because you feel bad about throwing it away. Charities have a big problem with well-meaning citizens dropping off items that are better left in the trash. There are many items charities simply cannot handle. Most charities will have lists of items they can and cannot accept on their websites. Some items that you should not donate include:

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Tangled cords or phone chargers Any broken, damaged, or dirty items

These items may be unsafe to sell, costly to ship, or impossible to refurbish effectively. When a charity regularly receives items they cannot use, they have to spend hours of manpower sorting through things that end up in the trash anyway. This process can be expensive for organizations with already-strained resources. Some local charities spend over $1,000 a year on dumpster and trash removal fees for unusable donations. While charities will have no choice but to throw unusable donations in the trash, there are services you can use to make your spring-cleaning eco-friendly, even for items you can’t donate. For example, if you have torn or stained blue jeans, reach out to Blue Jeans Go Green. This program keeps denim out of landfills by turning it into insulation. And while Goodwill can't take your batteries or old flip phone, you can check out to learn how to safely recycle your e-waste.

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Expired medications

Old TVs


Loose remote controls

• Personal care items, like soap, shampoo, or makeup • Mattresses • Carpets

Your donations can be a big help to local charities. Just don’t “donate” your garbage.

Picture this: You’re the father of four children, and one day, you and your wife decide to haul your whole family from Pennsylvania to Alaska, in a camouflage limousine, for a family trip. One year later, you buy land and move your whole family into a cabin in Alaska, all while driving that same $2,800 Craigslist limousine.

shop, and when he came to Delaware for a book signing, we finally met in person. I rode in the famed limousine, and Matt did a presentation on Alaska for our craftsmen at the shop, personally signing a book for each person. From there, he ordered a new kitchen from our shop for his home in Alaska. We’re pleased to say our custom-created pieces can be found in a cabin in Anchor Point, Alaska! I highly recommend reading the “Adventures of a Traveling Dog Salesman,” and interested readers can find copies for sale in our shop. I promise you won’t be bored exploring Alaska with Matt and his family.

Sounds a bit hectic, right? But that’s exactly what Matt Snader did.

Matt has written a series of books detailing his family’s adventures traveling to Alaska and exploring the many wildlife features the Last Frontier has to offer. In his series of books, “Adventures of a Traveling Dog Salesman,” Matt details the lessons, strange antics, and family experiences — as they continue to add more children — and compacts them in a series of fun, clean, and hilarious stories. Within the many stories, readers can learn about the immersive and unique fishing opportunities in Alaska and explore one of nature’s most pristine lands through the eyes of a Pennsylvania transplant. Readers will be enveloped in the story of Matt and his numerous friends and family who come to visit, relating to their everyday mishaps and triumphs. After seeing numerous advertisements for Matt’s books, I decided to give them a try. Intrigued and humored by what I read, I sent Matt an email, but I didn’t expect much. To my surprise, he replied! We discovered that one of his friends had settled within a mile of our


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Craftsmen of today have the luxury of electric power tools and advanced technology to aid them in creating masterful pieces of furniture, but the advancement of those tools can be attributed to colonial carpenters. For their time period, colonial craftsmen were innovators who had to use problem-solving skills to create magnificent pieces of furniture. Learn more about how they did this with some of the following common colonial tools. Measurements Matter Invented in 1868, the tape measure was not available to the early settlers of America. Instead, carpenters would use compasses and calipers to measure the works they were creating. Calipers are a common tool still used to measure the distance between two opposite sides of something, but compasses had a different meaning to the settlers. Trammel points on compasses were set on two opposite ends of an object to get an accurate measurement. While these tools are still used today, they are not used in the same way or with the same frequency as the colonial workers used them.

before colonial America was established. However, early American craftsmen created dozens of various hammers that were appropriate for different

uses. And this wasn’t the only tool they tailored to specific needs. Saws were invented long before the pilgrims landed at Plymouth Rock, but the settlers also created dozens of saws for a variety of different jobs. Wide-Open Planes Today, wood is crafted to its desired thickness through a mechanical plane. This takes out the need for a craftsman to run the plane over the board by hand as the settlers used to. Traditionally, planes included a chisel stuck in a wooden block. Woodworkers would run this chisel over wood to shave down their boards to the desired thickness. The technique is still used today, but the mechanics have been upgraded. While our tools are more advanced, craftsmen of today use similar techniques and ideas as their counterparts did centuries ago. See what we can create at our shop, or give us a call at 302-623-2411.

A Tool for Every Need The invention of the hammer cannot be attributed to the settlers; it was used for centuries even

O God, Thy pow’r is wonderful, Thy glory passing bright; Thy wisdom, with its deep on deep, A rapture to the sight. I see Thee in th’ eternal years In glory all alone, Ere round Thine uncreated fires Created light had shone. I see Thee walk in Eden’s shade, I see Thee all thro’ time; Thy patience and compassion seem New attributes sublime. I see Thee when the doom is o’er, And outworn time is done, Still, still incomprehensible, O God, yet not alone. O little heart of mine! Shall pain Or sorrow make thee moan, When all this God is all for thee, A Father all thine own?


2 teaspoons granulated onion 1/3 cup canola oil

3/4 cup popcorn kernels 2 tablespoons flaky sea salt 1 teaspoon black sesame seeds 2 teaspoons white sesame seeds 2 teaspoons granulated garlic

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4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted


In a small skillet over medium heat, toast sesame seeds. Shake skillet often and cook until white seeds are golden and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a small bowl and add garlic, onion, and salt. 2. In a large saucepan, combine popcorn kernels and oil. Cook over medium-high heat, covered, until popcorn kernels start to pop. Once popping, continue cooking and shaking the pan intermittently until popping ceases, about 3–5 minutes. 3. Transfer popcorn to a large mixing bowl. Pour in butter and toss to coat. Finally, add seasoning, toss again, and serve.

Inspired by Food & Wine magazine

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Brought to you by Kenton Chair Shop 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

Photos of the Heavens Page 1

Why Charities Hate Spring-Cleaning ‘Adventures of a Traveling Dog Salesman’ Page 2

Colonial Tools of America Everything Popcorn Page 3

Don’t Let the Rain Dampen Your Spirits Page 4


As the weather warms up, the urge to get out of the house becomes stronger. However, any plans you might have can be abruptly canceled due to rain. If you find yourself stuck inside for the day, here are a few activities to keep you occupied.

Get Bakin’

A wet and chilly day is an excellent opportunity to warm yourself up with some baked goods. Bake your favorite snickerdoodle cookies or fudge brownies, and pour yourself a mug full of hot chocolate or cider to get through the stormy day.

Piece Together a Puzzle

Read a Book

A rainy day is a great opportunity to pull out a puzzle. You can also grab your friends or family members and make the puzzle a team activity. With the whole day ahead of you, you’ll have several hours to devote to one of your favorite hobbies.

If you have a bookshelf full of novels you’ve not cracked open, a rainy day is the perfect time to jump in. Settle down on the sofa with a cuddly blanket and enjoy some uninterrupted reading. The rain smattering against your windows creates the perfect background noise to delve into the pages of a new adventure.

Don’t let the rain keep you down! Instead, take advantage of the weather and enjoy a cozy day at home.


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