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Monday, July 2, 2012

Dan's ten "house things" he can't live without...

I wrote about my ten "house things" I couldn't live without here, and then added ten more here!
As we approach the 4th of July I thought it would be the perfect time to show you Dan's ten favorite "house things" since many of them involve the grill!   After giving it a lot of thought he said these were his choices...

1.  Big Blue -
Without a doubt Big Blue is number 1 on his list!
I can't tell you how often we mention that we couldn't do everything we do around the property without Big Blue:  from mowing the meadows (it even has headlights for mowing in the dark and yes, it happens :), moving huge pieces of granite and huge iron planters, using the scoop to mix dirt for new plantings, plowing snow off of the driveway, transporting new shrubs and plantings around the property, carrying brush and yard clippings to the compost pile, using the scoop as a rain barrel, ...and on and on!  Oh-  and most importantly "tractor therapy" for Dan!  It's a real phenomenon (I didn't make it up;) ; it's where you get on the tractor and mow and zone out and meditate on life!  (hi MCC!) 
Big Blue is a New Holland  four-wheel drive, 45-horse power diesel tractor.  It has a 72-inch finish mower, turf tires, a scoop, adjustable forks that are interchangeable with the scoop, an 84"blade for grading the gravel drive and snow removal, and an 8-foot aerator attachment.

2.  the workbench -
This workbench was in the barn when we bought the property.  You can see Dan's old workbench we brought from Dallas on the right- we love our workbenches!.  While this space looks a mess, it is actually pretty organized: an organized mess, if you will- but it's where all the magic happens!  Many "shop meetings" happen around this table as we discuss ideas and pick & choose parts for different projects!  The TV has cable since it is important to keep your "workers" happy so that they'll keep working during football season-  just sayin'!

3.  favorite shoes
Specifically his:
Now, the funny part, considering how much Dan loves and wears his Mucks, is that he resisted even considering them for at least two years as I went on and on about how much I love my Bogs.  Somewhere along the line (probably after listening to me telling him how fabulously warm my feet were when we were on some walk where it was 13 degrees out and his poor toes were freezing) he caved and got a pair.  From the first wearing he was a convert.  They are super toasty for our cold New England winters and can take on the mud and muck of "mud season" with a simple washing off with a hose!
(on a sidenote- he looks sooo cute wearing them!  If I could only get him to wear a long coat he'd look just like Mr. Darcy walking across the moor; okay, well if you squint :)  Dan is well aware of my love of Mr.Darcy! )

and his...
L.L. Bean leather slippers!
He's been wearing this brand and style for years. The tie is constantly coming undone and drives me crazy, but he loves them.

I dare say it's time for a new pair!

4.  charcoal barbecue grill -
In our 1950's neighborhood in Dallas all of the original houses came with permanent natural gas grills in the backyard!  While I loved the gas grill for its convenience factor I was always missing the authentic flavors you get from cooking on a  real charcoal burning grill.  Purchasing a small charcoal grill made all the difference!
Our current grill is a Kingsford grill.  Dan was very specific that I tell you exactly what he told me he likes about it....
First, it has a thermometer on it.  Just like an oven you want to know what the temperature is inside the grill before you put food on.  The grill grates are cast iron which are best because they heat up and retain the heat (think cast iron skillet).  Dan uses a paper towel dipped in extra virgin olive oil (vegetable oil is fine too) and extra long tongs to wipe the grates right before the food goes on to keep it from sticking.
He loves all of the exterior shelves this grill has for holding plates, cooking utensils, timers, etc.  It also has an internal shelf for indirect cooking.  Yes, you are correct- the front shelf is a bit wonky; last year when hurricane Irene came through she tossed the grill across the yard.

5. hardwood charcoal -
Do NOT, I repeat do NOT, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, EVER (did I mention ever;) use lighter fluid to start briquettes or quick-start briquettes which have lighter fluid already in them.  Ever. 
You can always smell and taste the lighter fluid on your cooked food.  
Dan swears by this brand:  Cowboy Hardwood Lump Charcoal .
(note:  he recently purchased Trader Joe's brand and didn't care for it- it took forever to light, but it did retain its heat for a very long time.)

6.  charcoal chimney starter -
If real hardwood charcoal is new to you this is how you light it.... using a chimney starter.   (My good friend Ina ;) taught me this years ago...  I've told you we've met Ina, yes?!! :) 
Dan uses two chimneys at the same time for maximum effect.  First, you fill the top section of the chimney with your hardwood charcoal. Then,  you wad a piece of newspaper and place it in the bottom section and light it.  In approximately 20 minutes (about the same time it takes to heat the nasty lighter fluid briquettes) your coals are hot and you pour them into the grill.

7.  grilling thermometers -
I do not say this lightly when I tell you that a grilling thermometer saved our marriage :)!!  Years ago when Dan was first learning to grill I would work to prepare all the other dishes and have them all come together at the same time, and Dan would waltz in with under-cooked chicken, or steak, or ....  time and time again.  Not good.  This digital remote thermometer from Williams Sonoma saved the day and the marriage!!  When looking for a link for this thermometer I realized that there are now many more options out there since we first purchased this one years ago, so we might have to go shopping ourselves!  He has also been using a simple instant read thermometer a lot lately.

8.  beer :) -
a.k.a.:  yardman juice, stonemason juice, chef juice, lampmaker juice, football-watching juice, window-washer juice, etc... !
(note:  to those of you with glass front refrigerators and under the design topic "how to decorate with beer bottles!" ;) I found that by turning the bottle labels around to the back of the refrigerator the bottles take on a "vintage" look!  I did this by accident one day and loved the look.... sorry Coors!)
(on another note:  I was thinking about this the other day-  I grew up in San Antonio, Texas, and every year in elementary school we would take field trips to the Pearl Brewery !! WHO OUT THERE HAS EVER HAD A PEARL BEER?!!  Yep- we'd go tour the brewery!  Isn't that a hoot?!   I'm guessing that wouldn't be politically correct today :)

9.  headlamp -
Dan has several of these lights:  an Eddie Bauer  and an Energizer .  They comes in super handy for all sorts of situations- like grilling after dark:), hanging chandeliers at night (are you seeing a trend here?!) , working inside of dark cabinets, etc... .

10.  black licorice -
Specifically Darrell Lea Liquorice (that is not a mis-spell; it's Austrailian- you know how they talk funny!! :):)   Luv all my Aussie friends!
While black is his favorite, he really likes all flavors.
We find it at Trader Joe's!

Dan and I wish you all a very Happy 4th of July!!!


  1. This Texas gal has heard of Pearl beer it's right up there with Lone Star! Loved Dan's top ten.
    Have I missed the final unveiling of the barn room? Can't wait to see what you've done to it!

    Happy 4th from Dallas.

  2. For a second there, I though you posted a pic of my husband's workbench...only his tv is on the left side and is smaller. We brought his workbench when we moved to North Carolina from SoCal and the top is made from an old bowling alley.

  3. My husband would love these! He just bought a "Big Green Egg" and I don't think we've turned the oven on since. (May have to get him a headlight for his birthday). On my husband's list would be his green egg, his record player, his bike, his toddy (best iced coffee)& his digital thermometer!

  4. Bwahahahahaha! You're killing me with this. Your Dan is so much like my Dan. What is up with these guys hanging on to shoes like that? My Dan has some shoes and a few belts that Goodwill would pitch!

    And the grill is hilarious! Looks just like Dan's. Although I am the grill master (mistress?) he banned lighter fluid years ago. Must. Have. Charcoal. ( and/or wood chips) Too funny.

  5. Not that any of us need to tell you, but you don't get much better of a man than DAN! I'm sure most of your readers are like me and smile when you write about the projects you tackle together - and the rythme you have as a couple.
    For Dan - the image of big blue sitting in front of the house is probably like having a vintage caddy in the drive. Perfection!

    Happy Fourth from your Canadian neighbour.

  6. OK, first, I LOVE the photo of Dan's "baby" in front of the house! LOL!!!

    I think our husbands are kindred spirits, boots, charcoal grill, chimney, & organized chaos on the workbench! Ron has a John Deer, with a wagon, he'd love what Dan has . . . he's looked at them!

    Happy 4th!!!

  7. That's a great list - and your husband has quite a few items in common with The Great Dane - notably the tractor (his is smaller than yours), black licorice, headlamps and that certain organised-chaos of a work bench!

  8. Yea Big Blue!!! I think that first photo will be printed up and hung on the wall in our garage. My husband can dream...

    By the way, we were driving through Oregon last week and saw a "Big Blue" and thought of you three (er... four counting Ella).

    Have a wonderful Fourth of July!
    Karla in CA.

  9. First, I enjoy the idea of posting your husband's favorites. Somehow they say a lot about the man. Secondly, I was amazed by the similarities of our two husbands, particularly the work bench! Sans the TV, my guy's looks identical. We also have the LL Bean slippers, headlamp (used this weekend, the beer (mine brews his own), and the black licorice.
    The main difference: I can't convince mine to use charcoal.
    Great list.

  10. Really enjoyed your post, great idea! I had to laugh at the slippers. We are in the midst of moving and after 20 years, I let go of my L.L. Bean Rubber Mocs...with a whole at the bottom. After seeing the slippers, I think I need to retrieve the mocs out of the bin.

    Black licorice...a must have!

    Happy 4th..

    Jeanne :) your blog! We are on the search for a home up your way and I have very specific requirements. Your spot sounds ideal...

  11. I can say without a doubt that not one single thing on your husband's list would be on my husbands :) A few might end up on mine though -- I would love to take a spin in big blue.

    and I Love that aussie licorice!

    Pop over to I'm doing a giveaway for $50 giftcard to Novica.

    Happy 4th.

  12. My husband covets Big Blue. I know you aren't supposed to covet your neighbor's things, but since we're so far apart, I guess it's OK. Leo likes to zone out on his zero-turn mower just like you described. Happy July 4th to you, Dan, and Ella!

  13. Happy 4th of July Joan and Dan! I love reading your 10 things lists! Being from Australia and living in Surry, NH now, it's probably high time I invested in some Bogs. I bought a pair of wellies from Target last year (because the melting snow did a number on our driveway!) but they are ruined already. :( I have to tell you though, I grinned ear to ear reading about Dan's favorite licorice! Darrel Lea was always my favorite licorice back home, and I've tried all the 'aussie' licorice here but they never compared to DL's version. I'd all but given up on licrorice until one day when I wandered through the candy aisle in Target and almost squealed out loud when I saw the DL licorice! So, if Dan ever needs an urgent supply, you can always get some at Target in Keene! :) Just remember to leave me a bag!


  14. Happy 4th of July Joan and Dan! I love reading your 10 things lists! Being from Australia and living in Surry, NH now, it's probably high time I invested in some Bogs. I bought a pair of wellies from Target last year (because the melting snow did a number on our driveway!) but they are ruined already. :( I have to tell you though, I grinned ear to ear reading about Dan's favorite licorice! Darrel Lea was always my favorite licorice back home, and I've tried all the 'aussie' licorice here but they never compared to DL's version. I'd all but given up on licrorice until one day when I wandered through the candy aisle in Target and almost squealed out loud when I saw the DL licorice! So, if Dan ever needs an urgent supply, you can always get some at Target in Keene! :) Just remember to leave me a bag!


  15. Must be a man-thing, but Dan's workbench looks just like my Don's workbench...complete with cable tv. Because you can't live in SEC country without access to college football 24/7. And yes. Pearl beer was consumed at some point during our college days in Auburn, Alabama. Along with Budweiser, Coors, PBR and Corona. Good times!

    Love your blog!

  16. Oh my gosh!!! LOVED this! Made me laugh...we have a lot of the same things around here and that workbench in the garage is almost's his pride and joy!! Happy 4th!

  17. This is a great list and inspiration for us to each make a list here at the beach....happy 4th!!! stay cool,

  18. Joan and Dan,

    What a fun list...I even picked up a gift idea for my hubby, so thank you!
    Enjoy your 4th of July.


  19. Ha ha, such manly things, Joan!! :) I've never seen a headlamp.....definitely handy. Hanging chandelier at night? Dan is a trooper for sure! Great list.....I like. Have a wonderful 4th!

  20. What a dear post. I do believe Dan and Brian and two peas in a pod. Except big blue and licorice. He WANTS big blue and he doesn't want licorice...but this list seems so familiar and I love that you let us in on it! Happy Fourth!

  21. ...loved reading this...the workbench that came with the house...looks just like my daddy's...the worn shoes look just like my husband's...and the wear-on-your-head light gear has been taken over by our three year old is perfect for treasure hunting when the lights are out...wonder what that farmer could not live without...hugs laney

  22. My husband's must used tool is the headlamp. Who would have thought?!

  23. Fun, fun and more fun! Thanks, Dan!

  24. Love this list! I have those slippers and hate that they come untied but still think they are most comfortable I have ever worn.

    I have a headlamp like that, wore it during a storm while taking down wallpaper. Very handy for climbing off of the vanity in the dark.

    Have a great day!

  25. I do believe our husbands were separeted at birth. Every single thing on your list ( except big blue, which my hubby WOULD like to have) can be found at our house. Including the miners flashlight. That does come in handy doesn't it? Very funny and cute post. I had to call in my hubby to take a look and he nodded in great enthusiam and said...." must be good man there." ha ha
    Happy Fourth

  26. Dan and my Bob think alike! We just replaced our big blue with a mean green machine. Actually it is also in the tractor shed. Also loves his LL BEAN slippers, he just got his last replacements two Christmas' ago, the Cowboy Charcoal, he swears by it! I am going to look at the roasting thermometer...I usually use a pampered chef instant. This is a great list, just as your two others are awesome lists!

  27. Ha! Your Dan and my Steve have a similar list! Might I suggest a gator for another man toy...if you have a lot of property! Ella would love that too! I will send a pic of Beau on the gator!

  28. Cute list ! I made note of it for my husband who will see how much his world will change when we live in a house in the country :)

    I have those slippers and they are ancient and I will not ever throw them away.

    My husband just gave the The Look when I showed him Big Blue. My poor City Boy, he has no idea what we are getting into :) I can't wait !!
    besitos, C

  29. I am with Dan on the Aussie licorice from Trader Joe's. So you know Bunny W. AND Ina??? I am so jealous.

  30. My husband would love your husbands ten things list...especially Big Blue!! I grew up in Denver and we used to go to the Coors plant every year for a filed trip....I'm wondering if they still do that? It was all about the Rocky Mountain Spring water...

  31. I can tell my husband and Dan would get along just fine, since they both love big yard equipment, boots, a workshop and beer...Oh, and Bob has a head light, too, but it's a hat.
    Fun post! Now,Bob's checking out Pearl Brewery.

  32. My husband LOVES Pearl beer! We are from Australia but now live in Dallas, Texas :) Happy Independence Day!

  33. I can relate all the way to the work bench and even the boots and shoes. Happy 4th!

  34. Hi, Joan

    Dan has great taste. : ) Your home is beautiful and wish you a very happy 4th of July.


  35. the perfect list!! so funny though more of them would be on my list than my husbands!! Love big blue!!

  36. Aside from the black licorice we're right there on everything else. But we do have a webber that we love but everything else is spot on!

    Enjoy your Fourth!

  37. Joan, Dan, and Ella: OK....Mike is in the minority of the husbands mentioned, here. The headlamp is used mostly for early AM triathlon transition areas, and the beer to celebrate a good race! Have a wonderful 4th! Cindy

  38. So jealous of big blue! My English-philosophy major lawyer husband did not get the tool gene from his electrician grandfather. In our house, I have the workbench and he buys the tools! Has Dan discovered Festools yet? The circular saw is the bomb!

    Happy fourth to your family and hope dear Ella doesn't have the 4th of July terrors.

  39. AWW thank you so much for sweet words on my blog:) do you have twitter or fb to follow with??

    I hope you come and visit me soon, I have more Swedish inspiration for you:)
    Have a great day.

    LOVE Maria at

  40. Happy 4th of July to you and yours, Joan. I loved seeing Dan's top ten--and great photos to illustrate everything too! Question on Big Blue: do you find the turf tires sufficient in the winter? We just welcomed our new (orange) family member and the tires were one point of debate.

  41. when you have a good man you know it!!.....

  42. Great list! I'm smiling because our list is quite similar, except Big Blue is a big orange Kubota! Although it seems Dan does a lot of his work after hours, you might want to pick up a 'safari hat' for him - basically a baseball-style cap with a light veil to cover the neck to avoid sunburn. My guy swears by his:


  43. Love the top ten and how you have re-arranged the beers in the fridge.

    Having been to New England during a bug season, I really can relate to getting those nasty bites.

  44. Loving his list and a busy man for sure! My husband loves his grill and the workbench...full of tools and lots of mess!! Happy Thursday ~

  45. we might just be married to the same man.....smiles.

  46. Wow - Big Blue is really big! I can see that would top a lot of men's lists. Now I have a craving for black licorice.

  47. Joan, after reading your post we decided to try the charcoal you use. Somehow, we had never heard of this. Anyway, we used it for the first time on the 4th while grilling for a few friends, and now we are hooked! We'll never go back to the old kind. Thanks for a great post!

  48. I am thinking, your husband and mine may have been twins who were separated at birth. No 'big blues' but his massive garage complete with a hydraulic ramp to its basement has plenty of necessary toys. :)
    Hope you had a wonderful 4th of July. -Brenda-

  49. Julia at home on 129 acres- My apologies... I didn't respond back to your question. Yes, Dan says the turf tires work very well in the winter on snow.

    Emom- Well, that explains why projects take forever to get done around here;)... he must be at your house working!!!:)

    Jill- I am thrilled! Thank you so much for telling us. Isn't it amazing how different and better food tastes?! happy grilling!

  50. Thanks for popping over to my blog to make sure I saw your message, Joan. I appreciate Dan's input on the turf tires.

  51. ha, my husband thought he was giving me the best Christmas gift ever (our first as a married couple) when he gifted me with a pair of Muck boots. To his credit...I now cannot live without them!

  52. Hi, I have been away from the Internet for a while, and am now enjoying catching up with your posts.

    The entry for the work tables drew my attention, as I have always prized various worktables and surfaces. I had my great-grandfather's work bench (with vise) for many years, but was finally forced to give it up when I moved to Taiwan. Also, in the basement of my last house were two large enameled-steel tables which were so perfect that when I live in a house again I will seek out similar ones.
    --Road to Parnassus

  53. Tragedy! Darrell Lea has been placed in receivership this week. Can I suggest that you stock up on the licorice!

  54. Anon- Thank you for letting us know, though I do believe this information has sent Dan into tailspin, as he's mentioned it to me no less than 4 times since I read him your comment;) We will definitely have to stock up!!

  55. Darrell Lea is my favorite! I like the Strawberry twists! I have a bag sitting right in front of me :)

  56. I just found your site and want to know if you want to trade houses in the fall. We live in So Cal about 15 minutes from Disneyland and 10 minutes from the beach. I have a beautiful yard that I hardly ever what to leave, with a sweet English garden. Jeanie C.


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