Best Chili Ever Recipe

Chili is about the easiest thing to make in the kitchen but it never seems to taste the same every time I make it. Probably because it’s a kitchen-sink type of thing; I’ll toss in whatever is left in the fridge, usually just before we’re about to hit the grocery.

However, today’s chili was exceptional and I figured out that it’s not just the added ingredients, but they way they’re cooked. I’ve known this for a while, processes like drying the dish up with spices when tomatoes are added or holding the garlic until after things have sautéed.


Here’s my process:

  1. Cast iron pot
  2. Warm oil to medium, then crank the heat down by 1/3
  • 2-3 min: onion
  • 2-5 min: 3 celery + 3 carrot
  • 2-3 min: 1 red +1 green pepper

Then add the following in succession

  • 1 slab of Better Than Bullion
  • 2 tins of tomatoes, chopped
  • 2:1 Chili powder:oregano + cumin
  • Handful of frozen corn
  • 1 slab of honey

Let that stew for a few minutes then

  • 1 tin of black beans, rinsed
  • 1 tin of kidney beans, rinsed
  • *bonus if you soak dried beans, but who has time for that!?

Bring to low boil, then simmer. The longer the better! I’ll turn the pot off if we leave the house, then crank it back on before we eat.

Guaranteed amazing. Be sure to bake some fresh bread, too, or have some kind of porous carb to soak up the goods.

Justification for ingredients: Onion, celery and carrot are simply amazing with any soup. Corn adds a nice yellow color and contrast to the deep reds, plus it’s sweet enough to balance the acidic tomatoes. Honey serves this purpose as well. In addition, peeled carrot will make things sweeter. Sometimes I’ll purée one tin of tomatoes but always chop them, nobody likes massive chunks of canned tomatoes.



Promo video piece collaboration

We shot with a bunch of cameras for this. Two Sony a7s on tripods with two of us roaming about wielding additional a6500/a7s. The final cut is from the production agency, they did a great job!

Short promo for Jon’s Window Cleaning

Here’s a little excerpt from a full day of window cleaning! We mostly shot images for Jon’s forthcoming website, but during the shoot we setup one of the Sony a7s cameras with the built-in timelapse app and paired it with some DJI Phantom II footage. We used a GoPro Hero 4 with 1080p, it was super challenging as there’s no live-view and vertical gimbal control. Fun time with  Jon’s Window Cleaning!

DIY Modern Shed Build on a Slope

My DIY modern shed with sliding door on a slope

Here’s my version of the Modern Shed. It’s based on the Petaluma Studio and Modern Shed by Brock Hammill designs, except my foundation was a bit different with being on a slope. I created drawings in Sketchup which guided the dimensions based on amount of materials I had. The overall footprint is 12′ x 16′ and total cost was around $500. Sliding barn door was made with angle iron and a piece of ipe wood leftover from my neighbors house. The slider is based on an instructable and uses two skateboard wheels. Technically, it’s still open-air but I’m planning on hanging plexi for the window openings. The roof overhang makes for really dry conditions inside. My favorite part is the tree-climb roof access!

I’m offering a $3 digital download for my design files click here for Paypal link

Here’s the completed design:

Inspiration and design references:

  1. Modern Shed by Brock Hammill – this photo was always at the back of my mind during the build. Love the sliding barn door, modern roof/wall construction and rad paint colors.
  2. Petaluma Studio by Joseph Sandy – intensively studied these photographs during the design stage of my shed.
  3. David van Alphen’s Modern Shed – Great series of images and construction. My build was a bit larger than this. When something wasn’t working right with the Petaluma series, I’d reference this shed.
  4. Another modern shed build from dirt digging sisters: diy modern shed
  5. DIY Modern Shed project
  6. Avalon Restoration by Thomas Kayser
  7. Modern shed dimensions from – referenced these in the Sketchup design phase
  8. I was building on a slope so this How to Build a Post and Beam Shed Foundation on a Slope was super useful
  9. Instructable on how to build a sliding barn door with skateboard wheels

Building process:

Fun facts:

  1. I cut a telephone pole in thirds and used them for the rear post foundation. Cutting lap joints on the posts with a chainsaw was really challenging.
  2. The back wall was really heavy, we lifted it with a tractor and the whole thing nearly fell down the slope.
  3. The front roof-overhang area stays really dry, plants have a hard time growing beneath it.
  4. Rain splashes against the ground and makes the shed dirty.
  5. Still don’t have windows installed but I’m planning on clear plexi because it’s super easy to cut.

Previous shed had to go:


  1. Paint whatever you can before building.
  2. Have a plan drawn out. As with cooking, try to have everything prepped before starting.
  3. Buy an air gun nailer.
  4. Check craigslist for old decking boards or posts that people are tossing.
  5. Buy good quality paint, I used Sherwin Williams Exterior.

Sketchup Design:

I’m offering a $3 digital download for my design files click here for Paypal link

Adventures in Beekeeping: Installation and First Inspection

We installed a 3lb package of ~10,000 bees on 4-8-2017 into a 10 frame deep hive we purchased from a commercial beekeeper in Middletown, Delaware. The comb was already built out in every frame, which gave us anxiety about American Foul Brood and varroa mite leftovers. My dealer assured me the comb was fine and to just dump my new bees in, no problem. On the plus side, the old brood comb should make establishment easier for the new colony.


Installation: 4-8-2017

Our only fail was with the queen cage; I put it candy-plug side down. This can be an issue when nurse bees accompany the queen, who could suddenly die and block the candy plug hole which would trap the queen. Fortunately, our cage didn’t have a nurse bee, so the anxiety around our plug-down mistake was a non-issue. Otherwise, the installation was super quick and a total rush! We gained a ton of confidence by attending the CHESCO Beekeeping conference this Spring in West Chester, Pennsylvania. We also have a few local mentors and I’m constantly texting Chris from Tesla Bee Supplies, where we purchased the package. The bees actually came from Oreland, CA, then arrived at the Wilkes Bare, Pennsylvania Mann Lake dealer where Chris picked them up and distributed. I’ve heard negative things about Mann Lake bees, but fingers crossed, ours are doing ok at least after a week.

Our bees two days after installation

First Inspection: 4-14-2017

We went in with a plan; ensure the queen has been uncaged, find her, check for eggs, remove the queen cage and add a gallon of syrup. Apparently you must use syrup, not sugar-water. There’s a difference? The ratio we used was 1:1, water to store-bought sugar. We just picked up a one lb. bag from Food Lion. Krissy and I both got suited up. I managed to snag a full XXL beekeeping suit with veil on Craigslist for $35. Score! My veil came from Forest Hill Woodworking near Lancaster, Pennsylvania.

We settled on this hive inspection checklist from I should also mention that the Beekeeping Techniques Facebook group was super helpful. Most nights I’d be reading posts before bed, trying to learn from others mistakes.

Here’s a little video documenting our first inspection. We’re super goofy about finding the queen right away, ha.

Final observations:

Found the queen right away, but we need to ensure she’s laying. I’ll give it another 5 days or so and go in to look for eggs. They took a whole gallon today after I’d initially topped off the internal feeder 6 days ago, but I’m curious how long we’ll need to feed. Apparently it’ll be obvious when they’re done with the syrup. The other thing, I found some ants roaming around, we’ll see how that plays out. Oh and our mentor suggested adding popsicle sticks below the commuter-style top to provide more ventilation. They didn’t make any effort to seal the top because of this 1/4″ gap. A telescopic cover is in the works with these plans from,

My partners in crime catching some afternoon shade