Author Archives: Lauren Cabral

How To: Make a Campfire

There's a skill to making a good campfire. Follow this easy how-to for best results.

How to Make a Campfire


Building a fire was once an essential survival skill. But even in these times of portable heaters and grills, a campfire can come in useful. Follow these steps from Smokey the Bear on your next camping trip to build a long-lasting fire that will keep you warm on cool summer nights—and give you an excuse to roast marshmallows.

Scoutlander Log Cabin FireDetermine the type of campfire. There are basically four to consider:

Tepee: Lay kindling over tinder, like a tent.

Lean-To: Drive a long piece of kindling into the ground at an angle over the tinder, then lean smaller pieces against the longer piece.

Cross-Ditch: Criss-cross the kindling over the tinder.

Log Cabin: Surround your pile of tinder with kindling, stacking pieces at right angles. Top the “cabin” with the smallest kindling (illustrated right).

Gather wood. You’ll need three types: tinder (small twigs, dry leaves, or grass), kindling (sticks smaller than 1″ in diameter), and fuel (large pieces of wood). Loosely pile a few handfuls of tinder in the center of your fire ring or pit, then either lay or criss-cross the kindling over the tinder, depending on the type of fire you wish to build. For a cooking fire, using the Teepee or Lean-To method of adding kindling. For a longer-lasting fire, use the Cross-Ditch approach.

Light the fire. Ignite the tinder with a match or lighter.

Continue to fuel the fire. Add more tinder as the fire grows. To keep the fire going, blow lightly at the base of the fire and add kindling to the firewood.

And, of course, don’t forget to put out your fire! Visit to learn how to safely extinguish your campfire.

Want more How To? Browse all projects in 30 Days of Easy Summer DIY

Picnic Tables at “Summer-Friendly” Prices

Picnics are as much a part of summer as swimming pools and mosquitos. So we’ve rounded up some great picnic table bargains to help you dine outdoors in style. Be sure to take advantage of these deals now, though—just like summer, they’ll go by faster than you’d like.

Picnic Tables

Madison Outdoor Picnic Dining Set from Hayneedle, $2,000

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House Envy: Historic Federal in TN

House Envy


LOCATION: Johnson City, TN

PRICE: $279,000

HOUSE STATS: 4,190 sq. ft., 3 bedrooms, 1.5 baths

House Envy

The House. It’s a sort of countrified Federal, constructed neither of wood nor brick, but rather of native Tennessee limestone. As the listing reports, the home has survived mostly unchanged since its 1801 construction, and numerous Federal characteristics mark the home as authentic to its period—the symmetrical layout and the architectural grace of the main staircase, as well as the narrow proportions (and thin mullions) of the windows. But there are rural touches as well. So in a way the home’s hybrid design tells the tale of its own creation at a specific moment in American history.

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Umbrellas: Stylish, Versatile, and On Sale!

patio umbrellas

Pottery Barn's 6' Round Solid Umbrella with Eucalyptus Pole, $79 (reg. $99)

Umbrellas are good for more than just keeping you dry in a rain storm. They’re also ideal for adding a practical and stylish feature to your pool deck or patio. Below are some of the best places to find umbrellas on sale in a variety of designs and at reduced prices—for a limited time only, so hurry!

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Bob Vila’s Smokin’ Hot June Give-Away

With grilling on everyone’s mind, we decided to really heat things up this month by giving away four Weber 18.5″ Smokey Mountain Cookers and companion cookbook, Weber’s Smoke—A Guide to Smoke Cooking for Everyone and Any Grill, as part of Bob Vila’s Smokin’ Hot June Give-Away. Read the rest of this entry »

Adirondack Chairs: Modern Takes at Reduced Prices

The Adirondack chair dates back to 1903, when Thomas Lee couldn’t get comfortable. While vacationing with his family in the Adirondack mountains, Lee decided to construct patio furniture for his family. All 22 members of the Lee clan approved, and since then many other families have done the same. The design is so comfortable that its popularity hasn’t waned in more than 100 years. Be sure to take a look at these modern spins on the classic Adirondack and snatch a few while the prices are low.

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5 FAN-tastic Deals & Steals

Temperatures are rising and now is the perfect time to invest in a fan or two for your home. Stay cool with these hot deals on all kinds of fans for every room in the house.

Dyson Fan

The AMO1 10" Table Fan is on sale for $239.99 at

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DIY Deals: Storage Solutions

There’s no way around it: being unorganized can lead to a lot of headaches. That’s why we have focused this week’s DIY Deals on clever storage solutions to bring order to your home and life. Oh and there’re savings, too!

Pottery Barn Samantha Entry Way Storage/Organization

Samantha Entryway Collection, $229-$549 at Pottery Barn; save $60 on shipping

Get free or reduced shipping on storage and organizing products ordered online at Pottery Barn. Consider the Samantha Collection (shown above), with its cubbies, bench, shelf compartments and hooks—perfect for a front entry, laundry, or mud room.

Visit the sale section of the Crate & Barrel website to find great organizing tools at discounted prices; plus, most wares are shipping at a flat rate of $4.95.

Gladiator-GarageWorks Rack Shelving

Gladiator-GarageWorks's Rack Shelving is now 15% off its regular price of $199

Gladiator-GarageWorks is offering 15% off all products purchased online (plus free shipping on orders over $299) with promo code DONOW6495 through 5/17. Among the discounted products is the company’s heavy-duty metal Rack Shelving in Hammered Granite finish.

Bed Bath & Beyond’s Special Purchase section has great, while-supplies-last sales on items like canisters and spice racks, always useful in the kitchen.

The Container Store Platinum Door Rack

The Container Store's elfa Door and Media Rack, now $74.90 (reg. $93.90)

The Container Store is holding its Spring Organization Sale through Sunday, 5/6. Save big on an extensive selection of closet, cabinet, pantry and drawer organizers, plus clothing, shoe and accessory storage products. is discounting items up to 75% for a limited time only. Check out the garage rafter storage lift, $192.99 (reg. $219.99); we found it exceptionally clever.


IKEA's HEMNES sofa table, $139 (reg. $179) through Sunday

At IKEA, select HEMNES solid wood living room furniture is 20% off through Sunday, 5/6.

For more on storage and organization, consider the following Bob Vila articles and slideshows:

Quick Tip: Garage Storage
Pegboard Storage: A Classic for All-Time
Easy Laundry Room Storage Solutions

Bob Vila’s Ultimate Kitchen Give-Away

Bob Vila Ultimate Kitchen Give-Away

We know that the kitchen is the most popular room in the house—and, as such, the one most homeowner’s dream of updating.  That’s why we partnered with our friends at Amana to launch this month’s Bob Vila Ultimate Kitchen Give-Away.

Beginning today and every day this month, you can enter here for a chance to win a complete suite of Amana stainless steel appliances, including a French door refrigerator, self-cleaning range, Energy-Star dishwasher, and countertop microwave (combined value, $3,386 MSRP). You can also increase your chances of winning by entering daily on the Bob Vila Facebook page.

The Amana 25 cu. ft. French Door Refrigerator makes it easy and convenient to access the full fresh food compartment, outfitted with adjustable and EasyGlide glass shelves, clear door bins, dairy center, bottle caddy and more.  The refrigerator offers TempAssure freshness along with a temperature-controlled Chef’s Pantry Drawer and two humidity-controlled Garden Fresh Crisper Drawers. An EasyFill internal water dispenser with a PUR water and ice filter is also included. ($1,899 MSRP)

Amana’s Self-Cleaning Gas Range features easy touch electronic controls and delay-start options that let you prepare meals based on your schedule. It also features an extra-large window and hidden bake burner to facilitate cooking with minimal clean-up. ($779 MSRP)

Amana Tall Tub Dishwasher

The Energy Star Tall Tub Dishwasher allows you to save money and conserve water and energy while cleaning dishes.  The unit features heated dry, delay start, and high temperature wash options, along with a triple-filter wash system that leaves dishes spotless. ($429 MSRP)

Amana 2.0 cu. ft. countertop Microwave Oven

The 2.0 cu. ft. countertop microwave—the largest in the Amana line—easily accommodates a 9″ x 13” dish.  The appliance comes with 1,100 watts of power, 10 power levels, and a variety of auto-cook selections, including 7 sensor options that monitor humidity levels and adjusts cooking times. ($279 MSRP)

For official rules and entry, click here. Be sure to enter Bob Vila’s Ultimate Kitchen Giveaway daily on the site and on Facebook to increase your chances of winning.

Looking for more fabulous kitchen appliances?  Be sure to visit Amana.

The “Bob Vila’s Ultimate Kitchen Giveaway” sweepstakes is open only to permanent legal U.S. residents. No purchase necessary. Void where prohibited. Contest Period runs from 12:00 a.m. (EST) Tuesday, May 1, 2012 through 11:59 p.m. (ET) Thursday, May 31, 2012. One entry per household per day on and/or Facebook. Alternative means of entry for Drawing is available by faxing your name and address to 508-437-8486 during the applicable Entry Period. Odds of winning depend on the number of eligible entries received. See Official Rules.

DIY Deals: Lawn & Garden Tools

It takes time and effort to maintain a beautiful lawn and the right tools definitely help. Here’s a sampling of retailers offering some great weekend savings on garden tools and supplies.  Consider checking them out; your lawn—and wallet—will be glad you did.

Take advantage of Sears Days, an online and in-store sales event, offering a variety of lawn tools at considerable savings, including the Craftsman WeedWacker Gas Trimmer for $69.99 (reg. $94.99) and the Craftsman 3-in-1 Landscaping Kit for $199.99 (reg. $244.99). Through Saturday, 4/28

WeedWacker Gas Trimmer, available at Sears, $69.99

Home Depot is currently offering free shipping on all string and hedge trimmers. Purchase a Black & Decker 36V string or hedge trimmer and get a free battery ($89 value).

The Gardener’s Supply Company is holding a Gardening Sale this weekend. Save up to 74% on a variety of gardening supplies, including the Sav-A-Drop Nozzle, on sale now for $14.99 (reg. $24.99).

Shop True Value this weekend for great discounts on a variety of garden tools and supplies, including 40% off the Green Thumb Twin Wheel Garden Cart ($49.99, reg. $89.99); Green Thumb 75-ft. Garden Hose ($16.99, reg. $28.99) and the Suncast 175-ft. Hose Hideaway ($34.99, reg. $54.99).  Pick up a $5 coupon online for additional savings on any $25 purchase. Coupon expires July 8.

Suncast Hose Hideaway Reel, available at True Value, $34.99

Celebrate Arbor Day at with 10% off all pruning tools and tree care products this week only. Choose from a wide selection of Fiskars, Corona and Felco tools, and pick up a 5-pack of Jobes Tree Spikes for just $6.48 (reg. $7.20).

For more on lawn and garden, consider the following Bob Vila articles and slideshows:
5 Ways to a Greener Lawn
Landscaping Made Easy
7 New “Must-Have” Annuals