Your home is elegant and masculine, embodying your stylish charm. Eventually you’ll want to invite people over. Have you thought about what to serve them? DO NOT put out chips. Pretzels are no better. It takes so little effort to put together a fine spread that looks good, guests will enjoy, and make you a look like a grown ass man.
Throw away your big plastic bowls. Replace with a big thick rectangular chopping block. On said chopping block, you will assemble a delightful mix of edibles according to your budget, your preferences, and the predilections of your guests.
You want a balanced mix of soft and crunchy and chewy textures, salty and sweet, and sour, spicy, and tangy flavors. Have some juicy items and some dry, some oily, and some fibrous. Have some bright colors even if you would never eat it – someone else very likely will.
Start with dry crackers. Get them with a subtle flavor like rosemary or black pepper or olive oil or just plain sea salt. Buy some whole, pitted olives – get some purple ones and some green ones. Get whole blocks of cheese. You can be fancy if you want to, but just cheddar and swiss is fine. Lots of grapes – purple or black will look best. Clementines are inexpensive, a lot of people like them, and they add color. Make sure you peel them and remove the stringy white pulp. Seasonal berries for color. Have some vegetables but not baby carrots and celery sticks. Cherry tomatoes, small whole radishes, small sweet peppers. Anything miniature. Dates add sweetness.
What you have created is “crudités”. If you add cured meats, you created a “charcuterie board”.
The secret to improving the quality of your life is simple, inexpensive, and highly effective. It can improve your health, your home, and your social standing.
Go to pretty much any grocery store – it doesn’t have to be high end, Walmart and Target grocery departments are fine. Get yourself a bag of lemons. They are about $1/pound. REAL lemons, not plastic ones. Now look for a potted herb. It really doesn’t matter what kind. They should be under $10. I recommend Rosemary and Thyme because they are practically indestructible. Basil is great too but requires daily watering (this is not a bad thing as I will elaborate on momentarily).
When you get home the lemons DO NOT hide in your refrigerator and do NOT hide in a cabinet. Your lemons will be prominently displayed in some form of attractive vessel in full view of your living quarters. First let’s clarify what qualifies as an attractive vessel – this is anything that is nice to look at and won’t be damaged by holding some fresh lemons. It could be a clear glass bowl. It could be a plain white or black bowl. Metal is a good choice, as is wood. I advise against plastic. Personally, I keep about 6 lemons in a silver bowl on the bar in my living room. These lemons perform several functions:
They look nice. They are a beautiful bright but natural color with an interesting texture and glossy finish.
They smell nice. It’s subtle but natural and you’ll become accustomed to the aroma. Proponents of aromatherapy claim that exposure to natural lemon scent reduces symptoms of anxiety and depression, and has respiratory benefits. If you’re an aromatherapy skeptic, you can’t deny that lemons smell better than a lot of things in your home, and a subtle natural smell is far superior to a lab-generated artificial smell.
They are preservative free and you can consume them. If you ever need lemon juice for a recipe or cocktail, why use it from a container when you can get it straight from the fruit? Look on the label of any lemon juice container and you’ll see in addition to the juice there will be a chemical preservative. Do yourself a favor and reduce your consumption of preservatives whenever you can. Sacrifice one of your lemons – that’s what it’s there for.
Lemons are easy. Herbs take a little more work, but they provide even more benefits. Just like the lemons, they a) look nice, b) smell nice and may have aromatherapeutic benefits, and c) are preservative-free and edible. If they are in your home, you can easily add them to whatever you are eating – whether it is home-made or not. Pick some herb leaves and put them on your food – the herbs will train your taste buds to prefer fresh authentic foods over highly processed foods. Put fresh herbs on your frozen pizza. Put fresh herbs on a microwaved lean cuisine. Not only do they taste good, fresh herbs have antioxidant properties that can help you look and feel healthier.
In addition to the same 3 benefits of having fresh lemons, they offer a 4th benefit because they are a low-effort responsibility that builds a good habit. Since the herbs are potted, they need to be watered. Regularly. By YOU. Rosemary and Thyme can be watered as little as once a week. Basil needs it daily. I recommend watering all the herbs daily for a few reasons: First, it’s easier to remember to do something EVERY DAY instead of trying to remember to do something and what day it’s supposed to be done. I assume you brush your teeth every morning. Attach your plant-watering to your teeth-brushing. Water your plants right before brushing your teeth or right after brushing. This builds a habit so you do it automatically without thinking about it. Ok, so now I get to explain how having the responsibility of keeping plants alive is beneficial to you. There’s a practical answer, and a metaphysical answer. I’ll start with the practical.
The practical benefit is it makes you look like a responsible adult. It signals to anyone who comes over (or sees in a Zoom conference) that you can AT LEAST KEEP PLANTS ALIVE. You have the capacity for consistent follow-through to allow a life form in your charge to survive. That’s a good subconscious signal to any employer, colleague, or potential romantic interest.
The metaphysical answer will sound a little fruity, so I’m asking you to bear with me. The second benefit is something called “mindfulness”. It’s in the same category as meditation and probably yoga. Volumes of research allege the measurable benefits of regular meditation. Russell Simmons and Joe Rogan won’t shut up about how much they benefit from regular meditation. I’m promoting a short-cut. Instead of a 20-minute sensory-deprivation experience, just spend 10-seconds per plant giving it water every morning. While you water your plant, notice how wet or dry the soil is, how green or yellow the leaves are, how firm or limp the stems are. These 10 seconds dedicated to caring for and observing your plant is called “mindfulness” – you are focusing on only one thing and suppressing all peripheral sub-routines in your mind. It’s like microdosing your meditation. Maybe you’ll be more receptive to try full-on meditation, but even if you never do, microdosing your meditation still provides benefits of mental well-being.
Whether you use them or not, the lemons will need to be replaced within 2 weeks. They lose their function when they start drying out. If the herbs die, there’s no shame in replacing them and trying again. Maybe try a different variety. The point is to practice these simple, inexpensive habits to make subtle but significant improvements in your life. You’ll be a better man from it.
Imagine if everything in your home was selected by you intentionally. Imagine if everything you live with inspired and motivated you. If you woke every morning to an environment that filled you with pride and satisfaction. Yes, I’m talking about your furniture. Go ahead and roll your eyes, then try this: Think about something you care about. Maybe it’s the stock market, a sports team, music, motorcycles. Whatever it is, I bet you know its history, its details, what differentiates it from others. Now imagine applying this attention to the contents of your home. You wouldn’t put any half-assed stock into your portfolio. Why settle for any old chair? Or desk? Or bed? You might not think it makes any difference, but I’m telling you it does.
You are a product of your environment. If you live among random things of limited value to you, it affects you. You care a little less about things. If you live among items with purpose, substance, history, and a personal connection to you, you’ll find you pay more attention to details in other parts of your life. Details matter. It’s what separates high achievers from the general population.
Maybe you think you can’t afford to live like that. Not so, my brother. It needn’t cost a lot to live with intention and integrity. Yes, it’s more expensive than salvaging discarded furniture from the curb, or taking hand-me-downs from friends and relatives. It may be fun to recount the “score” of free furniture, but is that how you want to live long term? Live with integrity and intention. Of course a large budget will get you originals, but many original designs are licensed and reproduced to be more affordable. What’s important is to know what you’re buying and why. Who designed that piece? Why? When? What about it resonates with you? Its simplicity? Its elaborate embellishments? What is it made of? How was it made? Where was it made? This information adds to the furniture’s significance to you.
With a little effort and an Internet connection, you can begin to learn about different periods of design. If you have more money than time, you can pay me to curate suggestions for you. Let me start you on your journey of enlightenment. Go to the Website https://www.1stdibs.com/shop/styles/ all major styles are listed here. Click on each style to see a well curated selection, and see what you love or hate. Take notes. Compare the styles you like and what they have in common. You may never buy these exact items, but you can learn from them. When looking at a similar item from a national retailer, you may recognize the original inspiration and how well (or not) its execution stays true to its roots. Rule of thumb: the closer it looks to the original, the better.
The exercise of pondering furniture will inspire you to think about what attributes you appreciate and why. Such introspection leads to a more productive mindset that carries over to other aspects of your life. Have a point of view and express it where you reside. Good craftsmanship and well executed design will rub off on your mindset. Simpleminded people drift through life oblivious to their surroundings. And “surroundings” includes furniture. Think about what motivates you, look around at what surrounds you, care about it – the same way you care about your finances or whatever else you commit your free time to – and take control of it. Give a fuck about your furniture. You’ll be a better man for it.
Multi-functional oak boxes with dovetail joints and oblong holes on either side for easy handling. Can use as occasional tables, portable seating, and plyometric training. Made in the USA. Clear coat finish in two sizes: A: 13″W x 17″L x 10″ H $800 USD B: 17″ W x 17″ L x 10.5″ H $850 USD
It’s functional, it’s masculine, it’s a timeless design, it could help you get lucky, and it could save your stuff, yourself, and your loved ones. Every man needs a full-sized, fully primed, commercial fire extinguisher.
The commercial fire extinguisher is designed to perform an important and unambiguous role: to extinguish a fire. For the love of testosterone do NOT get a “mini” or “designer” or “clever” or “cute” version. I’ve seen extinguishers festooned with patterns, “fun” colors, disguised to look like booze bottles. Don’t subject yourself to such indignity. The industrial design of a standard fire extinguisher is tasteful, masculine, and timeless. It’s not supposed to blend into your surroundings or match your furniture. And it’s not supposed to express your sense of irony. Its purpose is to signal that you are mature enough to plan ahead, resourceful enough to equip yourself with professional tools, and masculine enough to take control of a potentially dangerous situation.
Sizes and specifications vary. Get one at least 15” tall. They’re priced around $85 for a 195 psi steel cylinder. An aluminum cylinder holds up to 850 psi for more like $200 but if you have the money and like the idea of “upgrading”, it’s a nice option. Whichever cylinder you get, make sure it’s type ABC, since that’s what is most likely to ignite your home. (A is for combustible materials like paper and wood. B is for flammable & combustible liquids. C is for energized electrical fires). Dry Chemical extinguishers fight ABC fires. CO2 extinguishers fight B and C fires. You don’t need a class D extinguisher which fights ignitable metals. If you have magnesium and titanium debris in your home, you’re living in a shop and you need to get a proper residence. If you cook a lot, you may want a K-class extinguisher in your kitchen as it’s specifically for extinguishing ignited cooking oil, grease, and animal fat. K extinguishers smother a fire with potassium acetate which is highly effective but smells really gross.
Grainger and McMaster-Carr’s websites have extensive options to browse and let you sort by price, class, size, manufacturer and other metrics. I advocate you stick with established American manufacturers like Kidde, Buckeye and Amerex.
Once you own a fire extinguisher, MAKE SURE YOU KNOW HOW TO USE IT. Your local fire station probably has classes. If they don’t, ask at the station if anyone has a few minutes to show you some techniques. Firefighters take public outreach seriously, and are very willing to oblige the citizenry. Make sure you practice so if you ever need to, you can skillfully wield it. And get it inspected and recharged every year. You need this thing to function when you need it.
In addition to saving your ass and your stuff, there are other fringe benefits this extinguisher can bestow upon you. It’s no secret that (many) women revere firemen as brave and strong. It won’t hurt if your fire extinguisher subliminally extends her idealized sentiments to you, if you catch my drift. Wall-mount it by your front door so it has prominence and permanence. You don’t want it to look like you’re holding it for someone else. When you bring a lady home, you want her to see it and recognize it’s definitely yours. And if her mind imposes valorous qualities onto you, that’s a happy bonus.
Let the standard commercial fire extinguisher serve as an example of how to live your life: with purpose, with integrity, and without superfluous trappings.
Never say “Man Cave”. To me or to anyone. And don’t ever ask me to design one. I will design a gentleman’s lounge, a bachelor pad, a study. But I refuse to design a room for a grown man to act juvenile. It’s embarrassing and frankly, unmanly. If you need a place to “escape”, that room should inspire you to venture uncharted territory – professionally and personally. It should help make you a better man. It is a man’s retreat, not a romper room. How does a tacky lamp or beer-can sculpture strengthen your conviction or improve your swagger?
Your surroundings should make you smarter, stronger, braver, and more manly, not regress into kitsch and childishness. Certainly have fun with the place, but be clever, not tacky. There is strength in subtlety.
Think of James Bond in a bespoke tuxedo. His gold cufflinks are microphones. His Cartier Pen a covert weapon. To the uninitiated, he appears a successful, worldly man. But the double agency of his jewels and tools empower him. As your room should empower you. Whether the room starts as raw space or just plain, it must be appropriately attired. Pants/Shirt/Jacket: Flooring/Wall Finishes/Ceiling. Be generous with the finishes. Consider how the walls meet the floor, like tucking the shirt into your pants. Consider a baseboard: material, color, scale affect the attitude of the room. All elements must harmonize. As you apply finishes to the room, you are dressing it. The room is forming successfully when it commands your attention, even unfurnished.
Let’s get some furniture in there. What you put in the room are your covert instruments. Furnish the room with intention. Your primary purpose for the room is what you should indulge the most on. If it’s a study, invest in an incredible desk. This is where you may stretch your budget. If the room itself and primary furniture is high caliber, you can be thrifty on other, less visible elements.
The effort you put into the space will be empowering. Be serious. Be clever. Be playful. Be the best of you. The more time you spend there, the more you’ll feel better about who you are, and who you are becoming. You are not a man child. This is not a man cave.
A man’s decorating doctrine should focus on the trinity: the bedroom, the bathroom and the bar.
A clean and organized home will speak volumes of your physical and mental success. Address the basics, incorporate your character into the direction of your furniture style and break the stereotype by concealing your television or at least leaving it off when entertaining. Use one end of your dining table as a library table styled with books and objects that represent your interests.
Before having guests over, invest in new (matching) sheets and a new bedcover. Place low wattage bulbs in your table lamps and place a decent read next to the bed – even if you don’t usually read. A textbook or literary classic if you’re faking it. A real book you are actually interested in reading, even if you haven’t started it.
Stock your bathroom with fresh towels, a PUMP soap dispenser with a pleasant smelling soap (e.g.: lavender), and a (matching scented) lit candle. A small civilized arrangement of fresh cut flowers would likely blow your friends’ minds and increase your chances of someone staying over. It also shows you pay attention to and care about the details. It’s a good idea to “curate” your medicine cabinet because people *will* look.
Put together a “top shelf” bar tray with a proper basic base of white rum, vodka, bourbon, tequila, and brandy. Mixers should include dry vermouth, sweet vermouth, triple sec and bitters. Accent with small bottles of seltzer and soda water, some fresh lemons and limes, cocktail olives and cherries. Barware should include six to eight of each: short glasses, tall glasses, [champagne] coupes, and wine glasses (pick your favorite style and use for both red and white). Tools should include a cocktail shaker, strainer, jigger, corkscrew, a bar spoon and “simple” paper cocktail napkins. Place all out on the largest tray you can find. Put this tray on that library table we talked about. A quick image search of “bar tray” on the internet will give you the right idea of what you’re after.
When you throw your next mixer, you will be prepped and ready.