Monday, June 29, 2020

Greenworks 60V Gen2 String Trimmer: Clean Up That Messy Line

Here's a story that most of us are familiar with. You have spent a few hours doing yard work. All that's left is trimming the edges of the yard and then blowing off the hardscape, and you're ready for a shower and a cold beverage. You start your string trimmer, get a small percentage of the way done, and then your string line runs out. You're faced with the dilemma of spending the time fighting with the trimmer to refill the line. I know I'm not the only one who has filled up a dual spool trimmer line, gotten it tightly wound, and then went to put it on the trimer head, only to have the line jump bounce out, unwind itself, and get tangled.  At that point, I'm thinking that the edge of the yard doesn't look that bad and can be taken care of the next time I mow. My neighbor doesn't say anything, but I see him eyeing those sloppy edges.

That happens to me every. Single. Time. It never fails. When the trimmer string needs replacing, it's at the tail end of my yard work but never as I swipe that last blade of grass.
Gen 1 (top) and Gen 2 (bottom)

Enter the Greenworks 60V Gen 2 String Trimmer. Any loyal Renaissance Dad reader

Wednesday, June 24, 2020

Patio Bar Rehab for Less Than $200

I tend to be a glass-is-half-full kind of guy, which is especially beneficial in the year 2020. So while there are so many things going on right now that are not great (one of my favorite current sayings is, "Look out the window and see which chapter of Revelation we're in today"), some things have been beneficial. I have gotten to spend a lot more time with my family. I have walked hundreds of miles on all of my conference calls/phone calls/virtual meetings. And I have been extremely productive with house projects.

One project that I have been putting off for a few years is refurbishing my patio cabinets. The cabinet doors wouldn't close and were hanging off the hinges, the drawer bottoms were falling apart, the veneer was peeling off, and I was getting weekly calls from the '80s asking for their mauve back. So once I finished painting my downstairs, laying bricks around the border of my yard, and installing new banisters in my stairway, I figured it was time for me to slay this beast.

Saturday, May 30, 2020

Gazpacho: An Authentic Spanish Soup

The idea of cold tomato soup never quite appealed to me. I pictured in my mind a frosty can of condensed, gelatinous sludge. Gross.

But when I studied in Spain, my host family made gazpacho. Being the courteous young man that I was, I went to Spain planning on trying everything at least once (this only backfired one time when I ate a slice of pickled pigs cheek, which was as disgusting as it sounds. No offense to anybody who likes pickled pigs cheek). So as I took the first bite of gazpacho, I had low expectations. But boy was it delicious. I was sold, and upon returning to the States, I started making gazpacho for anybody I could convince to try it.

Monday, May 25, 2020

Quarantine Home Projects: Get the Kids to Help

For the past ten weeks or so, my job as a principal shifted significantly, as did the jobs of quite a few people in the world. I went from interacting with hundreds of people every day, shifting gears every five minutes, and bouncing around my school for 11 or 12 hours per day, to mainly doing one of two things: sitting in front of my computer monitoring online classes or doing my normal email tasks, or having my headset in on a webinar, conference call, or phone call. Rather than sit all day, I walk during conference calls. I spent so much time on the phone walking around either the park or my school that I completely wore through my shoes, and then could not find anyplace to purchase shoes because of the quarantine order. Needless to say that at the end of the work day I was ready not to sit on my computer or in front of a screen.

Monday, April 27, 2020

Kale Chips: Getting Kids to Eat Vegetables

When I was a kid, I had no idea what kale was. In fact, I'm pretty sure that kale didn't exist back then. The first time I saw it, I was an adult, and I thought it was some kind of lettuce. The first time I tried it, I thought it was pretty disgusting lettuce. Although I know it's an important source of vitamin whatever and pure essence of kale, I really wasn't sure why God decided that we needed it.

But lo and behold, if you add a little salt and oil and bake the kale, it goes from disgusting to magical. It is so tasty that your kids will not want to stop eating it, and you will need to hide some away if you want any. Here's the recipe:

1. Wash the kale and pat or spin it dry.

2. Pull the leaves off of the stalk. Some pieces will be larger than others; that's okay.

3. Drizzle oil over the leaves and toss them around. Spread the oiled leaves on a cookie sheet in a single layer. Do NOT allow the leaves to overlap.

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Unclog Your Drain in Three Minutes (with No Drain-O or Chemicals)

Long hair was not part of my childhood. I have four brothers, and we spent much of our young lives with buzz cuts. It was cheaper for my mom to cut our hair, and we spent so much time in the pool that it was just easier not to have hair when you're in and out of the pool all day.

Fast forward to today. As a dad of two girls with long hair, there are so many things that I didn't experience growing up. Gobs of hair wrapped around the vacuum cleaner beater bar, hair bands and clips on every surface and under every chair and couch cushion, hair getting stuck to my beard (not that I had a beard as a kid...). Okay, so many of the things that I didn't experience growing up have to do with hair. More specifically, long hair.

And with long hair comes drain clogs. But before you grab that bottle of harsh chemicals to try to speed up your drain, here is a quick three-minute fix to unclog some of the slowest drains.

Monday, March 30, 2020

Hope for the Future Found in My Garden

Every person has the first big world-shattering event that they remember. For me, it was when I was in second grade. My teacher was Mrs. Loving, who also happened to be the older sister of Marlon Brando (hence my love of The Godfather). We were sitting in class, working on our handwriting, and Mr. Clark, the fourth grade teacher, came into our room, whispered something to Mrs. Loving, and left the room.

Thursday, March 19, 2020

Ten Things for Your Kids (and You) to Do Now That They're Not in School

In case you didn't notice, the world is going crazy right now. And whether you're a toilet-paper-hoarder, a COVID-19-conspiracy-theorist, or a hide-in-your-bathroom-with-a-glass-of-wine-person, your life is probably pretty different right now than it was two weeks ago, especially if you have a child. And especially if your child's school has been shut down for the next two weeks or longer.

So I decided to take my educational expertise, my Renaissance-Dad skills, and my parenting foibles, and come up with a list of things for you to do with or for your kids in order to keep your sanity for the foreseeable future. While events, sports, movie theaters, and other businesses are shutting down right now, there are plenty of low-cost and free things that you can do together as a family, as well as things that kids can do to keep their brains sharp while school is not in session.

Outside activities:

Wednesday, February 26, 2020

Greenworks 60V Mower: Generation 1 vs. Generation 2

Six years ago to the week I posted a review of a Greenworks 40V Twin Blade lawnmower that I had been using for quite some time. At that point, I thought it was the best mower that I had ever used. Three-and-a-half years after that, I got to test out the new version, a 60V Self-Propelled single blade lawnmower. I was such a fan of my 40V mower, I didn't see the need to upgrade. But the 60V mower won me over with its long run time, wide cutting path, and its overall power.

Last fall Greenworks announced a second generation of their 60V mower. Just like last time, my first reaction was to stand by my trusty old mower. But looking at the list of new features made me want to see how the 2nd generation 60V mower stacked up to the 1st generation as soon as it became available.

Monday, February 10, 2020

Grill Tool Rack Made From Scrap Materials


In case you missed the point in the post about my Weber Performer, I love grilling. There is something about fire and vegetables and meat and cooking that is peaceful and relaxing. The perfect burger sizzling away, corn on the cob roasting, slices of grilled pineapple warming over the flames... I'll have to finish this post later. I'm getting really hungry.


I'm back.

Thursday, January 23, 2020

Renaissance Dad's Ten Favorite Products of 2019

The year 2019 has come and gone, and as we enter 2020, I can't help but think that the Jetsons steered me wrong. While I don't think there was ever a specific year mentioned, I'm disappointed that 2020 hasn't given us flying cars, food conveyor belts, or sassy robot maids. While there will be many amazing things in the coming year, I certainly won't be holding my breath on that list.

But this has caused me to pause and think of 2019 and some of my favorite things that I discovered or rediscovered during that year. I made some fantastic discoveries in 2019, and I would like to share my ten favorite products of 2019, in no particular order. Please note that none of the companies gave me products or money, but I am simply so happy with my experiences that I wished to share them.

1. Home Master Artesian Reverse Osmosis System - I didn't want to change out my reverse

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Homemade Limoncello: Put Your Lemons to Good Use

Years ago I had a parent of one of my students bring me a gift. It was in a tall, skinny bag. She told me that I probably wouldn't want to open it at school, which meant that it was a great gift. It was a bottle of homemade limoncello. For those of you who don't know what limoncello is, it's like adult lemonade. It's like liquid sunshine in a glass. It is fabulous. So if you happen to read this article, Tammy, this one's for you.

Ingredients

-16ish organic lemons (you use the rinds, so it is very important that the lemons are organic. The trees in your yard or the neighbor's yard are probably perfect)

-a bottle of vodka (if you can find 100 proof vodka, that is preferred. If not, choose your favorite. I like Skyy vodka because the blue bottles are great for storing the limoncello)

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