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Posts from the ‘How-To Manuals’ Category


Spray Starch Optional: How To Iron Shirts & Pants

Dear Reader:

In this installment of my how-to guides you’ll learn how to iron a shirt and a pair of pants. Some of you may scoff and say “pfft this is basic knowledge”, but you wouldn’t believe the number of men who –

  1. Don’t own an iron.
  2. Don’t own an ironing board.
  3. Think that wrinkled clothing is acceptable.

I won’t even begin to mention seeing a well-dressed man wearing suit pants with hanger-crease. Why are you even using a wire hanger? I hope that you find these how-to videos useful.

Be well,

The Natty Urbanite




How to Wrap a Gift

Whoever invented gift bags and environmentally-suspect coloured tissue paper is a God-send in my eyes. However, there is always a place for a well-wrapped gift [and not just under my Christmas tree]. Before you get all Martha Stewart there are a few essentials that you need in order to perfectly wrap a gift.

  1. Sharp scissors
  2. Invisible tape
  3. A ruler [if you’re really anal]
  4. Good quality wrapping paper [not the kind that tears from staring at it too hard]
  5. Ribbon, pre-made bows and other decorative fandangles.

Below are three great videos on how to wrap all sorts of gifts.


Clink Clink: The Manhattan

The modern gentleman needs to know how to make a few solid cocktails. Rye and Ginger is not a cocktail. This is the first cocktail recipe in a series called Clink Clink, in which I’ll share some of my favourite drinks.

My friend Erik Sjoholm introduced me the beauty that is Maker’s Mark bourbon and I love using it to make my drink of choice – the Old-Fashioned. At 416 Snack Bar in Toronto the bartenders there make it just the way I like it. Below is the recipe.

1 sugar cube
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce Maker’s Mark
Orange peel

1 – Place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar) in a lowball glass.
2 – Splash on the bitters.
3 – Muddle the sugar and add ice cubes.
4 – Twist the orange peel over the ice to release the oils.
5 – Drop the peel on the ice.
6 – Pour in the bourbon.
7 – Stir and serve.


How to Make a Bed

Every man should know how to properly make a bed. Below are two instructional videos on how to do just that. If you’re in love with hospital corners as much as I am, the second video is for you.



How to Order at Starbucks

I’m clearly not the average Starbucks customer because, the most complicated I’ll ever get with my order is by asking for no foam. Ok maybe I’m lying. However, there seems to be an art to ordering a fancy coffee drink beverage at Starbucks. So I asked the barista on duty and he simplified it for me. Below are his tips. Number one is mine.

1 – Get off your cellphone [I’m sorry but your bbm can wait] and properly greet the person at the till.

2 – State the size of the beverage.

3 – State the type of milk that you would like.

4 – State your specifications for temperature, sweetness or foam/whip.

5 – State the kind of drink.

That’s it! Here’s an example:

Gentleman: Morning, how’s it going?

Surprised Cashier: Ahh, great thanks and you?

Gentleman: Super, thanks for asking.

Surprised Cashier: What would you like today?

Gentleman: I’ll have a Grande, non-fat, four pump hazelnut, no foam, extra hot, Americano Misto please.

If you’d like to thank me for making your life easier, buy me the drink I used in the example. It’s what I normally order.


Don’t be This Guy

Workopolis has launched an amazing new marketing campaign entitled The Candidate. It follows a fictional character, George Turnbull [pronounce Jhoorge] as he attempts to find a job. It’s an amazing lesson in what not to do, or better yet, who not to be. See all the videos at after the jump.

The video I’ve chosen stars some of my past co-workers and my special girl, Racquel!



Nosh on This: Pulled Pork

It’s my belief that pulled pork was responsible for 89% of all slow cooker sales last year. Even Google took note; typing in the letters P and U actually resulted in food recipes rather than Puerto Rican Mamacitas.

A special reader asked me for a good pulled pork recipe. This one’s for you! Thanks for dedicating a few minutes of your work day to reading the blog.

3 lbs pork shoulder
1 can Dr. Pepper, not diet
2 cups barbecue sauce [not too sweet]
1 large onion, diced
6 cloves garlic, chopped
6 sprigs thyme [leaves removed from stem]

1. Trim fat off the pork and place in a slow cooker.
2. Add onion, garlic & thyme.
3. Pour soda over the roast, cover and cook on low for six to eight hours [until the meat easily falls apart].
4. Remove roast from cooker and pull apart.
5. Strain the juices left in the slow cooker and set aside.
6. Return meat to slow cooker and stir in barbecue sauce.
7. Thin the sauce with some of the reserved juices and cook for another 30 minutes to an hour on low.
8. To serve, place a heaping scoop of the meaty goodness onto the bottom half of a kaiser roll, add a few dashes of hot sauce and top with the other half of the roll. Pair with a nice cold beer.
9. Put on a pair of stretchy pants and eat to your brain’s delight.


Packing a Beach Bag

Ahhh another Labour Day long weekend! At this time of the year some folks host BBQs, a lot of people head out of town, others pack away their white pants and people like me head to the beach. Here’s a guide to packing the perfect beach bag.

  1. The Tote. Get a decent-sized bag that can fit all your necessities. Ensure it has large straps so that you have the option of slinging it over your shoulder in case you have to carry a couple of Venti cups that are actually filled with booze.
  2. Distractions. I easily get bored [lithe body-watching gets tired after a few minutes]; I need a variety of activities so that I can jump from one to the other and back. My recommendations for stuff to bring include two magazines, a book, iPod, inflatable beach ball and dollar-store binoculars for a close-up of the new lithe body that just arrived on the scene bird watching.
  3. Food & Drinks. Depending on my mood I may bring a cooler, but prefer to outsource the task of bringing one to someone who drives. Taking all those things on the subway is just a headache. Ensure to bring a variety of food – mayoless sandwiches [heat + mayo + time elapsed = poor man’s colonic], crunchy snacks and fruit. For drinks opt for juice boxes, cans of soda and bottles of wine. The Venti cups offer a gentlemanly way of breaking the law of drinking in public. That is, unless you live in New Orleans.
  4. Sun Protection. I’ve asked my dermatologist and she believes that SPF 40 is more than enough. If you’re tanning a few minutes of baking is enough to give your skin that sun-kissed glow. After tanning slap on some sun screen and once home, slather on aloe vera gel. And don’t forget to protect your eyes by wearing sunglasses.
  5. Towels. Beach towels, simply put, are a pain. They take up an inordinate amount of space and once wet they are extremely heavy. I prefer to use a sarong/large scarf to sit on and to dry off I use a swim towel – as big as a placemat but more convenient.
  6. Ziploc Bag. This is to provide water-proof packaging for your cell phone, iPod, camera and wallet.

Looking forward to seeing you on the beach!


Nosh on This: Bacon Jam

Every modern gentleman needs an arsenal of good dishes that he can labour over whip up to impress both comrades and lovers. This is the first recipe in a series called Nosh on This, in which I’ll share some of my favourite easy dishes.

My friend Jess [yes the one who knows how to entertain] introduced me to bacon jam when she made it for my inaugural New Year’s Day brunch. It sounds weird, but it’s heavenly. I’ve added a simple spin [addition of allspice] to the original Martha Stewart recipe; here it is for you to enjoy.

The Stuff You Need

  1. 1 1/2 pounds sliced smoked bacon, chopped
  2. 2 medium yellow onions, diced
  3. 3 garlic cloves, smashed and peeled
  4. 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  5. 1/2 cup packed dark-brown sugar
  6. 1/4 cup pure maple syrup
  7. 3/4 cup brewed coffee
  8. ½ tsp dried allspice berries

How to Use the Stuff You Bought

  1. In a large skillet/stockpot/whatever works for you, cook bacon over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until fat is rendered and bacon is lightly browned.
  2. Remove bacon and drain on paper towels. Pour off all but a little of the fat [around 2 tsp] from the pot; add onions, garlic and allspice berries and cook until onions are soft.
  3. Add vinegar, brown sugar, maple syrup and coffee and bring to a boil.
  4. Give it a good stir, ensuring that all the good stuff [browned bits] is scraped from the bottom/sides of the pan.
  5. Add bacon and stir to combine.
  6. Transfer mixture to a slow cooker and cook on high, uncovered, until liquid is syrupy, approximately 3 1/2 to 4 hours.
  7. Use a hand blender to pulse the cooked jam until coarsely chopped. Let cool, then refrigerate in airtight containers.
  8. Serve with cheddar or brie on buttermilk biscuits, toasted baguette or crackers; or eat it straight-up with a spoon Nutella style.

Epidermal Treats

My first visit to a fancy day spa [full disclosure it was a birthday present] was something else. The massage, manicure, pedicure, whirlpool and sauna were pure ecstasy. But the last treatment, a facial, was that “something else”. This wasn’t my first facial, but what was a first, was the comment made by the aesthetician.

Ukrainian Aesthetician: Ack your skin is so dry it like shattered glass!!

Me: Have you been outside? It’s February in Toronto.

I pride myself on taking care of my skin. But winter is an evil termagant and this year it slapped my skin good and proper. She “repaired” my skin by slapping on some whale spunk blue-green algae and some stuff from some lab in Switzerland. However, I knew what she was trying to say – many men fail to take care of their skin.

From puberty hit my mother and then dermatologist, instilled the virtues of washing, toning, exfoliating and SPF-moisturizing. These steps comprise my morning routine [it’s not half as intense as Patrick Bateman’s]. However, I’ve met many men who simply wash their face with whatever soap they use to shower. Using a bar of soap on your face excessively cleans your skin leaving it very dry. This dryness will lead to flakiness and over time the skin will lose its elasticity and small cuts [from shaving or angry lovers] can turn into sores.

Below is a basic skin care regime [mine].

Step 1 – Cleanse [Daily, Morning and Night]

Invest in a decent cleansing gel [face wash]. Not all cleansers are created equal. I recommend doing your research and even going to a department store’s cosmetic department [I recommend The Bay in Canada, Lord and Taylor in the States, Harrods in the UK] and speak to an aesthetician who can analyze your skin, most times for free, and tell you what products you should look for. Note, they will try to sell you on their brand so be prepared for the pitch. I use The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash.

Step 2 – Exfoliate [Twice a week]

Exfoliation helps dislodge debris that normal washing can’t touch. Don’t scrub too hard and never use an exfoliate that has large rough granules. These will create micro-cuts on the epidermis and do more harm than good. Exfoliation also softens hair follicles for a closer, less-irritating shave and allows the skin to better absorb moisturizers. I use LUSH’s Brazened Honey.

Step 3 – Tone [Daily, Morning]

Toners are especially useful in helping to rid your skin of environmental debris and pollutants that can be detrimental to its health. It also helps to refresh; revitalize your face by closing the pores and improve blood circulation. I use The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Toner.

Step 4a – Moisturize+SPF [Daily, Morning]

The human body has approximately 19,000 skin cells per square inch. A man’s skin typically has large pores and very active sebaceous glands, which are critical for keeping the skin naturally moist. Showering and shaving opens up pores allowing moisture to escape, but a light moisturizer with an SPF replenishes the skin’s moisture content, prevents razor burn and provides a critical shield against the sun. I use Ombrelle SPF 30.

Step 4b – Moisturize [Daily, Evening]

Yes a pre-bedtime regime is important! This nightly routine removes the day’s dirt and gunk. After cleansing use a non-SPF moisturizer that works while you sleep. I use JĀSÖN 32,000 IU Vitamin E Oil.

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