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    created at: 11/17/2014A little bit of research about roadside attractions in America will yield a host of unique and bizarre results. So here are a couple unique sites located off the beaten path that are worth visiting in the American Southwest.   

    Devil's Rope MuseumDevil's Rope Museum – Located in McLean, Texas, the Devil's Rope Museum is an exploration of the history and use of barbed wire and other fencing tools in the American Southwest. Barbed wire was first invented in New York City by Michael Kelly in 1868 but the initial designs were so greatly improved by Joseph F. Glidden of DeKalb, Illinois that he later became known as "The Father of Barbed Wire." The museum explores the impact these tools had on American ranching and also features a sister exhibit about Route 66.

    The Golden Driller The Golden Driller– This 76-foot tall statue ranks as the fourth biggest statue in America and was first unveiled at the International Petroleum Exposition of 1953 by the Mid-Continent Supply Company of Fort Worth. It was such a hit with the crowds that the company brought it back for subsequent fairs before being donated to its current spot in Tulsa, OK. It's now a major feature in Tulsa (so I'm told) and represents the enduring masculine spirit of America's early oil workers.

    Prada Marfa

    Prada Marfa– Imagine driving through the barren Chihuahuan desert when suddenly there arises this thing – a fake luxury boutique permanently sealed off and only viewable from the outside. Located off Highway 90 about 1.4 miles northwest of Valentine, TX, this "pop architectural land art project" was designed by artistic duo Elmgreen and Dragset with the blessing of Miucci Prada herself. It was inaugurated in 2005 and features real Prada products in the window displays. 

    created at: 11/16/2014Taos Pueblo– This Native American village-turned-tourist-site is considered one of the oldest continually inhabited communities in North America. The village was founded by Puebla American Indians over 1,000 years ago and sits at the base of the spectacular Sangre de Cristo mountain range. The buildings are made of adobe that is said to sparkle like gold next the famous blue doors. There are currently 150 full-time residents and many more who spend most of their time in more modern accommodations outside the town.

    Cadillac Ranch

    Cadillac Ranch – Just outside Amarillo, Texas lies this odd art installation consisting of ten half-buried Cadillacs nose-down in the dirt at the same angle as the pyramids in Gaza. The piece was created in 1974 by members of the SF-based avant-garde art collective known as Ant Farm and funded by local millionaire Stanley Marsh 3. The art piece has been featured in numerous pop culture pieces including the Bruce Springsteen song "Cadillac Ranch". Visitors are encouraged to bring their own spray paint and join the conversation, although be prepared for people behind you to quickly paint over it with their own work. 


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    created at: 11/20/2014

    My current home has no closets. No coat closet, no linen closet, no bathroom storage...not even a kitchen pantry. Which, once you find a place for the towels and the sheets and the food processor, is okay in the summer, but since fall and winter have set, we're starting to have a serious pileup of coats, boots, hats, sweaters, and other cold weather armor. 

    So, I can definitely see the appeal of this sharp-looking DIY coat rack project by Ryan from You Have Broken the Internet. Made from those home improvement store standards - black pipe and 1x8s - it looks sharps, a bit industrial, and keeps your coats organized. I'm convinced. 

    Check out the full how-to: Handmade Coat Rack 

     


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    Self Watering Concrete Planter Nothing brings an upscale quality to a room like a little plant life. This masculine concrete planter design features an automatic irrigation system using an old wine bottle. It's simple and down to earth with a hip recycling vibe. Plus it's all made for around $10 in supplies...   

    Self Watering Concrete Planter

    Watch the video below or check out the instructions at Homemade-Modern.com.

     


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    "Sequel" is a project on Iam8bit where designers and graphic artists create movie posters for imagined sequels to some of their favorite films.   

    The artwork is awesome, but be sure to give credit to some clever naming and wordplay here. Example titles include: 

    • Spaceballs III: The Search for Spaceballs II
    • Fight Club: The 2nd Rule
    • 2084
    • Down

    See them all at Iam8bit: Sequel [via @Cabel Sasser]


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    There's a great adage in the home decor and organization field...you've probably heard it on one of those room makeover TV shows. The phrasing varies, of course, but the central idea, "When you run out of floor space, you've got to go up."

    Eric and his office mates came up with this clever DIY solution for storing a whole mess of bikes in a relatively small space - 7 on a single wall - using a super simple hanging system. The design mimics commercial wall mounts for bikes (I have three in my own garage), but is built from those DIY standbys - plumbing pipe and reclaimed wood. A length of inner tube is used to to protect the wheel rims and spokes. 

    Making one of these might not save you a ton of money over a manufactured one, but if you need to get several bikes on the wall, it's a great solution. And it looks pretty sharp, too.

    Reclaimed Wood and Pipe Bike Hangers [Instructables.com]

     

     

     

     


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    created at: 11/19/2014

    This is a post about those weekends. Specifically, how to do those awesome, work-free 48 hours right. To bring it together, ManMade partnered with Gillette Clear Gel, which provides protection against wetness and odor for 48 hours straight. Which is a good thing, 'cause it's gonna be a busy weekend. Read on for my tips on putting together a couple of days full of things memories are made of...

    Look, I like vacations as much as any guy. Week-long explorations of new cities, three-or-four day treks into the backcountry, and even quick weekend getaway trips. But vacations are expensive. And require airplanes, and gas tanks, and time off work, and luggage. But there are always those two magical days at the end of every week just waiting to be seized. Here's how to do it:

    Before we begin; this post presumes a Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, but you can have an awesome 48 hours any time throughout the week. Also, we presume you'll be spending this time with someone (could be anyone - a spouse, a partner, a buddy, out-of-town guests). And finally - it doesn't require any advanced planning. We're not going to tell you to go spend a ton of money, or simply to just "go do cool stuff." This is about making the most of the city or town you already live in ... a vacation where you stay home. You could call it a staycation. But then you'd have to use the word "staycation."

    created at: 11/20/2014

    Friday Night 
    DO: Stop by the store on the way home from work and pick up a bottle of something. Beer or wine is fine, but this is a true happy hour, so our vote is to go with homemade cocktails. Grab your staple and base spirits if you're out, but if the home bar is stocked with the basics, try a special aromatic spirit or liqueur so you can make something you've never tried before. 

    Recommended bottles:

    • Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur
    • Aperol
    • Chartreuse
    • Lillet Blanc
    • Fernet Branca
    • Cynar

    Once you get home, turn on some music as quickly as you can. Favorite albums, new Spotify playlist, internet radio station, whatever works for your space; just rock out ASAP. It's Friday, after all.

     

    created at: 11/19/2014

    Even if you haven't broken a sweat today, hop in the shower. You might need it, you might not, but it's a good transition to the weekend, like you're washing away the work week. Don't shave or make it a big deal, just soap up, rinse off, and emerge a new man ... the have-a-good time, weekend version of yourself. Towel dry and turn that deodorant dial a mere two twists to achieve #NOSWEAT confidence that will last you for the next (awesome) 48 hours. 

    Get dressed, then go experiment with the new bottle you brought home. If you're looking for recipe ideas, check an app like Mixology, Bartender's Choice, or Speakeasy Cocktails. Make one for you, and taste it before you offer it to your lady, or guy, or whomever you're serving. Once it's perfect, walk right to her, and place it in her hand. Now it's the weekend.

    EAT: It's Friday night, which means every well-meaning person also wants to check out that sweet new restaurant that you read about in your local alternative weekly. Don't go there! The crowds and hassle aren't worth it. But do go enjoy the experience of letting someone else prepare food for you. 

    Where to go? Wherever you want, but our vote is for one of three kinds of places: 

    The Hole-in-the-Wall Ethnic Cuisine Out in Suburbs: You know the spot. The overlooked joint in the strip mall that supposedly has amazing tamales, or the pho restaurant in the old Taco Bell that still has the drive-thru and those restrooms in the back of the building where you have to go outside to get there. This is the night to try a place just like that, and venture into a part of town you don't know so well. 
    The Spot that Topped the "Best New Restaurant of 2009" List: By now, all the kinks have been eliminated, and so have the long waits. Good food is good food is good food. It may not be cutting edge anymore, but it'll be delicious, and you won't need a reservation.  
    The Restaurant Just Down the Street that You've Been Meaning to Check Out but You Actually Haven't Been to Yet: That place where your friends who come over say, "Oh, hey - I saw that Korean cafe just around the corner. How is that place?" Now, you don't have to admit you haven't checked it out yet. Go there. It's probably good. Could be horrible, I guess, but at least you'll know. 

     

    SEE: Now go do something! Not the movies, but something fun.  Go find that bar with all the pinball machines and vintage video games, or walk around downtown or over an awesome bridge. Go ice skating on the city square. Have you ever been to that place in your city that overlooks the whole city? The cliff or the bluff or the top floor of the tallest bank building? Go check it out. 

    created at: 11/19/2014

    Saturday Morning
    Sleep in, but not too late. Aim to be out of the house by 10:00 a.m. If you need a nap later, there'll be time for that.

    EAT: Snag a bowl of cereal or a quick egg or two, unless you especially like going out to breakfast and want to spend the extra dough. Make a stop at the coffee shop, and - 'cause why not? - actually sit there and enjoy your drink. No to-go cups, no travel mugs, but the actual china the barista intended. Do a crossword puzzle, read the news, talk about the day's plans. Have a morning. 

    Oh, and be sure to stop by the bank or ATM and grab some cash, so you'll have it if you need it. 

    created at: 11/19/2014

    SEE: Today's the day to be a tourist in your own town. Head downtown and check out a museum. Check out an art gallery, public garden or conservatory. Go to a farmer's market that you haven't tried yet, the one that's not in your neighborhood. 

    If you've seen everything already, try to spice things up. Try an architecture tour, or download an audio guide or app that will take you around town and explain its historical significance. Challenge yourself to take a picture of a street that starts with every letter of the alphabet, or invent a hashtag like #mewithtenstrangers and see if you can Instagram it throughout the day. Try rock climbing, or take a hot yoga class. Eat a progressive lunch, where you get nothing but sides from every bodega on a block.

    Or - and I'm serious about this - if you've done everything you can think of already, see if you can find a place to volunteer. Time is a precious resource ... share it. Find a place that connects with issues you care about or has a need for your skills and strengths, and go act on them. 

    created at: 11/19/2014

    GET: While you're out and about, use this chance to treat yourself to something - not expensive, but something you've been meaning to get and have been putting off. A new journal or notebook, a fresh pair of sneakers. Check out our list of Things Every Man Should Own winter spring summer , and fall. 

    For example, I have been carrying this pathetic wallet for six years. My previous one had completely busted, and I replaced it with this sweatshop-produced velcro and nylon joint that I found at the discount store. And it didn't break (yet), and so I kept using it. I've been telling my wife I was going to replace it for the entire time I've owned it, but I just didn't. 
    created at: 11/19/2014
    And then last weekend, while running around downtown looking at public sculptures, I finally took the plunge, and stopped into the Danner store, a local bootmaker and leather craftsman. And I didn't just browse, I walked up to the dude, said "Hey, I'm Chris, and this is my old wallet. I need a new one."

    created at: 11/19/2014

    I had an awesome conversation with the staff, and walked out with a natural, heritage leather wallet made in my own state that will probably last me for the rest of my life. Investment accomplished.

    created at: 11/19/2014

     

    Saturday Afternoon
    GO: Grab a quick bite, then head to a fun neighborhood to explore. Go check out "the cool part of town." Hint: it's probably near a university, and has a record store, used book store, an Indian restaurant, and that store that sells incense and fair-trade woven baskets.

    DO: Park your car (or better yet, if your weather permits, your bike), and go after these three things:

    1. Support your local record store, and get some physical media rather than just a download. It doesn't have to be new - raiding the dollar bins is totally fine - just expose yourself to something new.
    2. Find a gift for someone. Grab it for your mom's birthday, or sneak it for your sweetheart and keep it hidden for a Christmas surprise.
    3. Lastly, and most important, go to the bookstore and head straight to the cookbook section. Look for a title that'll teach you how to cook something you've never tried making at home before. Here are some recommended titles: 

     

     

    created at: 11/19/2014

    Then, on the way home, stop by the appropriate ethnic or world food market and get the ingredients to make a dish. Flip through the pages, and find something you want to make. Try to stretch yourself - look for an ingredient you've never heard of, a vegetable that you couldn't pick out of a lineup, or a cut of meat that you can't actually name where it comes from. You know ... the tasty ones. 

    Talk to the people who work there. Find out what they like most, what they think you should make. You'll learn a lot. 

    created at: 11/19/2014

     

    Saturday Night

    DO: Head home, and take a quick rest if you need it. Text some friends and see if they want to come over for dinner. 

    Then, bust out your new cookbook and ingredients, and get going. Again, make sure there's plenty of music, and enjoy the process. These are the things memorable weekends are all about.

    DO: After your adventurous meal, spend your time however you'd like to spend an evening at home. Have some friends over to play a game. Go sledding if the season is right (always better in the dark, right?). Gorge on a whole season of a show on Netflix. Take a walk and go get cocoa or ice cream, depending on the time of year. 

    created at: 11/19/2014

     

    Sunday Morning and Afternoon

    EAT: Fuel up. Grab some breakfast, and pack a lunch. Grab your hiking boots. 'Cause today we're getting out of town. 

    DO: Where we going? Wherever you'd like, amigo. Pack up your bikes and go for a leisurely ride. Take a hike. Swim. Climb something. Pick fruit. Go to that small town with all the antique shops.

    If you're looking for a spot for some outdoor adventure, check out StateParks.com. They've got a complete list of State Parks, Forests, Memorials,  and Wildlife and Scenic areas. 

    But here's the thing with stuff like this. It might not be awesome. Sometimes you drive for an hour to get somewhere that turns out to be ... boring. It doesn't matter! Make the adventure the point of the day. Put a bunch of places within two hours (literally) in a hat, and draw one. Go check it out. Talk in the car. Philosophize. Goof off. Play a game. 

    created at: 11/19/2014

     

    What's the Point of All This?
    Memories are made from new experiences. That's why vacations are awesome - they're full of stuff you've never done before. Sure, you can have a comforting weekend - eating at your favorite places, seeing your favorite kind of movie - but if you're looking for something you can reflect back on, you gotta try something new.

    The easiest way to do this in your own town is to look at the places and the people with fresh eyes.  

    created at: 11/19/2014

    So, talk to people. I ended up having a 20 minute conversation with Jayme, the guy at the store, when I bought my wallet. Why? Cause I told him what I was up to, and I let him know who I was. Turns out, we had a lot in common, and we were both interested in the other's experiences.

    When I went to the Vietnamese market, I saw an iPod shuffle on the cash register, so I asked the kid what he was listening to. Turns out, his favorite band is Weezer, except he doesn't really "get" Pinkerton (?!). And he told me about his favorite Vietnamese dish, and the way his mom makes it, and now I'm totally gonna seek it out.

    Take pictures. Try to capture what you're doing through the lens of your phone or camera. Don't get obsessed with Instagramming everything and finding the right filters. Just snap what you're seeing. If it looks boring, try to make it interesting. That's an adventure in itself. 

    Come late Sunday afternoon, that'll be 48 hours well spent. Important moments require true confidence. With Gillette Clear Gel, guys can remain cool and collected, and have the confidence to say #NOSWEAT no matter what the situation. Happy Exploring. 

    created at: 11/19/2014 Thanks to Gillette Clear Gel for sponsoring this post. Their fast-drying formula instantly eliminates odor-causing bacteria on contact - leaving no white marks and 48 hour odor protection – without compromise- UNLIKE solids or sprays. Check out the Gillette's #NoSweat hashtag on Twitter to learn more.

    Supporting the brands that support ManMade is what helps us continue to create free original content. 


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    Cutting Zinc At EdgesMy grandparents used to have a mudroom at their farmhouse. It was where everything from the field was shed and washed, but it was also where the food was kept. Along one wall was a long zinc countertop dented and riddled with history, a piece of that old house that really made an impression on me.   This easy to follow tutorial from This Old House details how to turn a sheet of plywood into a piece of family history with a layer of zinc and a few simple steps.

    Soldering Zinc CountertopWhile the tutorial shows how to make a simple console table with Ikea legs, it's not too hard to visualize dressing up a yard sale beater with a new surface so look at the basics and let your mind run wild. Take a look at the full tutorial here.

    Folding the Zinc Corners

    Doing this project? Send us some pics of the finished product!

    How to Build a Zinc Tabletop [ThisOldHouse.com]


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    created at: 11/23/2014

    Last Saturday was a weekend day like every other, starting with the traditional pancakes and then on to the workshop for a few hours of DIY projects.  Here's a look at what I worked on in the shop:  

    Secondary Fermentation Vanilla Bourbon Porter

    1. Homebrewed Vanilla Bourbon Porter - While this isn't really in the workshop, it happened and it needed to be mentioned. The brew was completed last week and so after 7 days of fermenting it was time to transfer the beer to the secondary and add the Bourbon-soaked oak chips.  That's right, Bourbon soaked for 10 days and now they will be imparting their smoky goodness to my brew for the next 10 days. After that will be 2-3 finish days with split vanilla beans and then a month of aging before a Christmas tapping.

    Raised Panel Construction

    2. Raised Cabinet Doors - About a year ago, I started the large project of removing a wall from my kitchen and installing two skylights and an island. This project has been an incredible learning experience, but with my limited time it was way too long in the process. I finally was able to start making the cabinet doors last week, and the final products have come out great. Stay tuned for a full tutorial on making raised cabinet doors.

    Menu Message Board

    3. Message Board from my Beer Party - My beer tasting party was last week, so we had to make up a nice menu of items that paired well with craft beer. I made up a menu to match and threw it onto a frame (actually the frame was from the cabinet doors I was making). Now that the party is done, this board will be converted with some cork and chalk paint into a family message board to keep track of our hectic schedules.

    Small Stained Box

    4. Simple Dresser Caddy - The last project on my plate was to finish a simple caddy for the top of my dresser. This small box has been floating around the shop for a while, and I needed to get a coat of finish on it. My dresser is a magnet for everything in life, and I'm struggling to keep it from getting too cluttered. The benefit of this caddy is that it can still have some junk in it, but from a distance will look clean and more organized.

    There's another weekend coming along in a few days, so plan on getting out to your shop before the week begins again!


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    created at: 11/24/2014

    A super simple office project, requiring but two ingredients and ten minutes of work? We'll take it.    Petite Apartment offers this crazy basic mousepad project, which brings plenty of style. The process?

    created at: 11/24/2014

    Take your existing mouse pad, and cover it in wood grain contact paper. Done and done. 

    The results are great, and remind me of my own DIY woodgrain office projects: the magnetic tool bar and memo board. 

    Get the full mousepad how-to at Petite Apartment: DIY Faux Wood Grain Mouse Pad 


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    Brewed Homebrewed Beer LogoBrewing beer in my closet has been a recent hobby of mine, and like most my hobbies it has expanded into a bit of an obsession. Although I'm no expert on the subject, I've made enough mistakes to serve as a useful warning to others. So, in this four part series we'll walk through what it takes to make a handmade batch of frothy, fermented goodness.Milk Chocolate Stout Homebrew1. A Background On Beer

    Beer. Nature’s nectar, the life of the party, and an excuse for why my middle keeps expanding. Brewed by fermenting the sugar from cereal grains and yeast, the first batch of artisanal ale created about 7,000 years ago was likely an accident (Read about it on Wikipedia). Since then beer in some form became as common as water, and at many points in history it was safer to drink thanks to the alcohol content. Outside of monasteries, large-scale production of beer didn’t really happen until the 19th century industrialization. It is now a multi-billion dollar industry with many large-scale breweries churning out millions of barrels a year. With so many varieties clogging the shelves, it’s easy to get lost in the subject. So that is exactly where we’ll start.

    Homebrewing All Grain

    2. Homebrew Basics

    At the very basic level, brewed beer is turning water into a fermented pick-me-up by boiling cereal grains to release sugars, throwing in hops for flavor and aroma, and then adding yeast to convert the sugars into alcohol and carbonation. Flavors and textures are dependent on the ingredients, boil times, and additives. Using this  (kinda) simple process, the brew becomes beer. The concept of homebrew is an increasingly popular as equipment and ingredients become more accessible, and caught my attention a few years ago when a friend started making his own beers. Living on the West Coast exposes me to some of the very best craft brews in the country, and it was only a matter of time before I tried to make my own.

    Northern Brewer All Grain Brew In A Bag (BIAB)

    3. How to get started

    The steps for a first batch start with a visit to the local homebrew store. Most stores have a starter kit with everything but the kettle to make 2-3 gallons of beer. The best way to go is with a Brew-In-A-Bag (BIAB) kit. Talk to the local folks about a recipe that will produce your chosen beer. The all grain method is a good mix between ease and control over the process. All grain allows the entire process to happen in a single pot, without the need for complicated steps, but it also requires enough input to make it interesting. A word of advice: keep it simple. There’s plenty of time to experiment with additives and flair. With the kit, a few pounds of grain, hops and yeast it’s time to prep for brew day.

    This is the first of four parts of the Brewed series. Come back next week to get prepped for the brew day, and see a few lessons learned on my first attempt at brewing: The Dirty Red.

     


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    Table made from pallets

    I must admit. I'm not a big fan of the palette wood "revolution." It's a limiting product and it involves a lot of labor to get the result you want. However, I stumbled across this table that approached pallets in an amazing way and it totally got me buzzing for a nice pile of the stuff.    

    Typically, you'll see DIYers using faces of each pallet board to make table tops but not the sides. I love how he uses long rods to stack the layers of wood on each end of the table. This makes it really easy to glue up each board  in the right position.

    Amazing Table made of Pallets

    Table made from Pallets

    I could go on about how cool this is but I think their blog does a much better job. 

    Check out the entire process as well as a link to a post where other readers have contributed their own version of his desk. overthinkingdesign.com

     


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    Turn all your old candles into a new candle

    As a man, I fully endorse candles. If you look beyond the Yankees and Bath and Body scents you can really find some invigorating scents. My personal favorites smell like camp fires, tobacco and patchouli.     Funny enough, all of those candles I have around my home have reached the bottom of the container and the wick no longer lights. It's really frustrating when there clearly is plenty of wax left but no more wick and you paid $20 for the thing. What usually happens is the wax and wick are spread across a large surface area, so you need to transfer the wax to a new, smaller container to keep the fire going.

    Here's what you'll need:

    • Various spent candles
    • A pack of wicks and bases. You can buy them together or separate.
    • Glue Gun
    • A small mason jar, our use one of the candle containers you already have
    • Oven Glove
    • Old Cookie Sheet

    Set your oven to the lowest temperature–mine goes to 170 degrees–this will warm the candles enough to melt but won't release all of the aromatic oils into the air as it melts.

    Turn all your old candles into a new candle

    Place your candles on an old cookie sheet and put in the oven. It took my candles about 30 minutes to melt. 

    Turn all your old candles into a new candle

    Turn all your old candles into a new candle

    While your candles are melting, warm up your glue gun and put a glob on the base of wick. Place it firmly in the bottom of the empty container. 

    Turn all your old candles into a new candle

    Once the candles are melted, take a minute to pick out the old bases and chunks of burnt wicks. You don't want those back in your new candle. I used a pair of long, skinny pliers to grab them. 

    Turn all your old candles into a new candle

    Let the glass cool enough to touch with your hands and carefully pour out the wax into the new container. 

    created at: 11/23/2014

    Once you pour one candle in, let it cool completely before pouring the next scent. This will create layers of scents that change as the candle burns. I actually put my candle in the fridge to let cure. It didn't seem to cause any problems as it cooled.

    I used a pre-waxed wick that stands up straight on its own. Other kinds of wicks will require something to hold the wick up straight as the wax cures. A clothes pin or chopsticks pinching the wick over the mouth should do just fine.

    Turn all your old candles into a new candle

    Trim the wick and you're finished! 

    Bonus: If you want to clean out the old containers from wax residue you can pour really hot (just below boiling) water into the container. The wax will melt then reform into a disc that will float at the mouth of the glass for you to easily grab.


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    Super FlemishIf you're a comic book / sci-fi junkie with a penchant for period garb / historical re-imagination, this art exhibit will be right up your alley. Behold: Super Flemish - a new series of photographs by French photographer Sacha Goldberger depicting our favorite superheroes and villains re-contextualized through a 17th century lens.   Super FlemishSuper Flemish was first unveiled in September 2014 at the School Gallery in Paris before making the rounds on the internet, and apparently features real actors that haven't been photoshopped (Yoda excluded).

    Super FlemishOh yeah I should mention there are a bunch of Star Wars ones, and if you haven't watched the new trailer, you're doing it wrong. 

    Super Flemish

    Check out all the images here.


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    created at: 12/01/2014

    Brought to you by Tomcat

    You'd do almost anything to keep your home rodent­free... short of renovating it. Don't worry about pulling out the big bucks to get rid of unwanted critters. Check out this list of cheap and effective tips to mice­proof your home this winter.

    1. Steel Wool For a few dollars, you can use steel wool to quickly fill any holes and gaps in your home that might make a nice doorway for mice to crawl through.

    2. Lidded Food Containers Protect your food source by using tightly sealed containers to store your food. Otherwise, mice are attracted to bits of food and will quickly alert others of its presence.

    created at: 12/01/2014

    3. Caulk Lines A damp environment is a welcome mat for mice. Use a caulk line to quickly fix leaks around tubs and sinks.

    4. Bait and Trap 'Em Keep a solid line of defense against mice and other critters with bait stations, glue traps and other solutions from Tomcat. Tomcat can help control rodents in your home according to your household needs and preferences.

    created at: 12/01/2014

    Head over to Tomcat to see what product is best for you. 


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    created at: 12/01/2014

    We'll never be the ones to hate on the holiday standards, but sometimes, we need a fa-la-la and sentiment-free movie night this time of year. So, check out this list of classic, masculine films set in the frozen winter months that will really remind you how frightful the weather outside can be.

    The EdgeTHE EDGE

    Back when going to rent movies was still a thing, my father had this habit of occasionally suggesting some random B-movie from his childhood that my brothers and I had never seen. Whenever we resisted, he would go WAY overboard in justifying why Harry And The Hendersons was actually a defining landmark of the American cinema. So you can imagine my skepticism when the logline of The Edge read something like: "A billionaire and a fashion photographer (who may or may not be having an affair with the billionaire's wife) crash-land in the Canadian wilderness and have to FIGHT OFF A GRIZZLY BEAR." However, Old Man Dobies was completely right with justifying this movie. The film is thrillingly paced and written by one of America's greatest living playwrights, David Mamet, and features stellar performances from Anthony Hopkins and Alec Baldwin (including a great scene of Baldwin manically altering between tears and laughter). 

     

    The Lion In WinterTHE LION IN WINTER

    Alright sure this film doesn't exactly take place in an arctic wasteland, but "winter" is in the title and it's a spectacular film. The film is adapted from the hit Broadway play by James Goldman tells the story of King Henry II as he brings his wife Queen Eleanor from her imprisoned castle to his annual Christmas gathering as he tries to decide which of his three sons to bequeath his kingdom to. It's a whole weekend of plotting, betrayal, political compromises, stubbornness, spurned lovers, and the questionable bonds of family. The screenplay is awesome ("There's no other way to be king, alive, and 50 all at once.") with award-winning performances from Peter O'Toole, Katherine Hepburn, Timothy Dalton, and probably the earliest performance from Anthony Hopkins you've ever seen. Absolutely worth watching and a good one to watch with Dad. 

     

    FargoFARGO

    One of the Coen Brothers' first breaktout hits, this darkly comedic thriller tells the bizarre story of a pregnant police officer (Frances McDormand in an Academy Award winning role) hot on the trail of a kidnapping gone wrong. William H. Macy also stars as the struggling car salesmen who hires the two thugs to kidnap his own wife. The film earned seven Oscar nominations, winning two for best original screenplay and best actress. Are there extensive sequences featuring frozen tundra and Minnesotan accents? You betcha.  

     

    Grumpy Old MenGRUMPY OLD MEN

    In the early 1990's, Minnesotan legislation signed an enticing tax rebate system for the movie industry (known as "snowbate") that spawned a short series of hollywood films set in the land of ten thousand lakes. One of these little gems was the 1996 romantic/revenge comedy Grumpy Old Men. Starring Jack Lemon and Walter Matthau as two retired neighbors, it's the story of two childhood friends turned squabbling enemies (after one allegedly "stole" the other's high school sweetheart) who begin to compete for the affections of a new lady in town. It's heartwarming, it's a fun 90's throwback, and it's an entertaining exploration of aging masculinity in the suburban space. 

     

    The ShiningTHE SHINING

    All the snow getting you down? Feeling isolated? Whatever you do, DON'T WATCH THE SHINING. Based of Stephen King's 1997 novel, this 1980 psychological horror explores the ultimate cabin fever experience. Co-written and directed by Stanley Kubrick, the cult film stars Jack Nicholson and Shelley Duvall in perhaps the most acclaimed and unhinged performances of their careers. 

     

    DefianceDEFIANCE 

    This 2008 WWII film tells the true story of the Bielski partisans, a group led by three Jewish brothers who rescued Jews and successfully established a community in the harsh woodlands outside Belarus during the Second World War. Written, produced, and directed by Ed Zwick based off Nechama Tec's bestseller, the film stars Daniel Craig, Liev Schrieber, and Jamie Bell. While the movie runs a little long and feels oddly paced toward the end, it's an astounding story of survival against all odds and also explores the relationships between devoted brothers as they choose divergent life paths. Also if you're really into the whole World-War-II-In-The-Russian-Wasteland thing, you're definitely going to want to check out Jean-Jacques Annaud's 2001 sniper film Enemy At The Gatesstarring Joseph Fiennes and Jude Law. Just saying.

     

    The Grey

    THE GREY

    Hot on the heels of 2009's Taken, The Grey was a seminal film in ushering in the new RenNEESONce. While the film was mostly billed as Liam Neeson (aka Liam Neesons) using his very particular set of skills to fight off a pack of killer wolves after his plane crashes in the Russian wilderness, the film actually is about Liam Neeson fighting off wolves and an existential crises. One of the most memorable scenes happens early on when, rather than lying to a mortally wounded young man and telling him that he'll live, Neeson's character tells the young man the truth and helps ease his passing. It's riveting, heart-wrenching, and gets you totally on board to watch Neeson and his haggled compatriots face the looming dark.  

     

    At top: The Grey screencap from YTS.


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    We've said it before, and we'll say it again - every man needs an apron. Especially this time of year, when you gotta keep all that gingerbread and egg nog of your nice holiday sweater.    Lindy Jacoby offers this super simple tutorial, complete with pattern. The linen has a great texture here, and you could choose a darker ribbon for a more masculine look, or switch up the fabric to denim for that classic printmakers apron vibe. 

    The tools and materials are minimal, and make for a great weekend project that'll still be useful once grilling season returns. 

    Get the full how-to at DIY Project: Simple Linen Apron [Design Sponge]


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    created at: 12/02/2014

    While the first brew can be intimidating with so many items to collect, at this point the time has come to lay it all out and prepare for brewing. Let’s take a look at the pieces we need for a fast and easy brew day.  
    created at: 12/01/2014

    1. The Ingredients

    The old adage “garbage in, garbage out” holds very true for brewing ingredients. While it may not always be possible, try to get fresh ground grains, use fresh hops (they’ll look like pellets of rabbit food, but smell delicious), and quality yeast.

    Grains are the body of the beer, bringing the roasted flavors, malts, and other main characteristics that define the flavor. Grains can be combined to give notes of honey, coffee finishes, or a toasted wheat. The brew-store will work with your recipe to combine and grind all the grains into a single brown-bagged mix.

    Hops give the finish aroma and flavor, which can be light and crisp or heavy and bitter depending on the quantity, boil time, and other ingredients. While the actual hops look like small seed bundles, what will be available in most stores are small pellets that are stored in temperature controlled air-tight containers. Some recipes can call for more than one type of hops, and a few ounces will go a long way, so start small and stay away from a triple-hopped recipe for the first batch.

    Yeast is the heavy lifter in the brewing process. They are sensitive, temperamental, and need consistency to really thrive. While dry yeast is fine for this step, if available go with liquid yeast but make sure not to substitute another strain as this can alter the final product substantially. If going with dry yeast, make very sure to re-constitute gently in water for best results.

    Northern Brewer Starter Kit

    2. Getting Together All The Pieces

    In addition to all the ingredients, take a good look at the tools to make sure everything is set. Most recipes will require an 6-8 gallon brew pot, steeping bag, long stirring spoon,  floating thermometer, and plastic or glass fermenting container with airlock. A few extras might include a hydrometer to measure specific gravity, and a copper immersion cooler. A few things to keep in mind, the brew kettle needs to hold the water, and all grains within the steeping bag without overflowing. Also, the boil can get a bit out of hand, so if possible set up an outdoor boil to contain the mess. 

    Brew Kettle for homebrewed beer

    3. Setting Up The Space

    Efficient movement throughout the process minimizes the risk of contamination and makes it easier to get everything right for the first batch. Set up the space with everything you’ll need for the brew, and make sure sanitized tools and containers have a clean place to sit out of the way but close enough to grab without contamination. If brewing in a kitchen, wipe the countertops clean and claim the entire sink for sanitizing the goods. If brewing outside, a large flat table or counter is invaluable to keep gear off the ground. It takes a few hours to boil everything, so a few comfortable chairs for the guys are just about a necessity.

    Star Sans Sanitizer for Homebrewing Beer

    4. Sanitizing EVERYTHING

    While there are plenty of steps in this process, essentially making beer is like brewing a huge pot of tea, then letting it age for a few weeks to achieve a balanced flavor. The brewing step brings all the ingredients together, and the fermenting stage converts those ingredients into carbonated alcoholic excellence. The issue with fermenting is the unpredictable nature of yeast growth, any contamination to the mixture can produce off-flavors or strange side-effects. That is why full sanitation of anything that may come into contact with the cooling brew. Once the boil has been completed it’s important to keep everything as clean as humanly possible. That is why a no-rinse sanitizer like Star San is essential.

    On a related note, using tap water can introduce all kinds of unwanted ingredients into the brew, most notably chlorine but there are also many others which can drastically effect the fermentation. Be sure to use filtered water, or better yet grab bottled water from the store.

    With these preparation steps, it’s time to brew your first batch of homemade beer. Here are a few notes on my hard learned lessons from my first brew:

    Bottling the first homebrewed beer - The Dirty Red

    My first batch of beer was an experiment that went a bit . . . off. The “dirty red” as we’ve called it, started out right but a few mistakes were made. First, temperature variations likely stalled some of the sugar extraction from the grains, it’s important to maintain consistent temperatures during the process. Second, when removing the grains, a large hole was found in the steeping bag which introduced grains into the boil, this contributed to a large amount of sediment and possible off-flavoring. Finally, when bottling the brew a few months later (yes, way past the recipe's 2-3 week fermenting time), the long (way too long) siphon hose was set on the bottom of the barrel, sucking all the settled sludge into each bottle resulting in a very “dirty” Irish Red.  Take the time to follow the directions, pay attention to details, and always use the right tools to make your first batch a great final product!

    This is part two of a four part series on homebrewed beer. Next week we will be breaking down brew day as we turn water into 5 gallons of homebrewed excellence.


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    created at: 11/30/2014

    What's a perfect holiday season without a little bit of DIY? If you're from the south, like me, there's a lot of pride in showing from what state you hail. It's a badge you wear on your heart and... on basically everything else. Here in Tennessee, it's not uncommon to see the state shape on shirts, hats, drink koozies, posters, tattoos and more. So, I thought I'd carry that pride into the holiday season with a state pride Christmas tree ornament.

    To bring it together, I partnered with Dremel to get creative with their new Dremel Micro, a quick and powerful rotary tool perfect for precise projects like this. 

    Items you'll need

    Here's what you'll need:

    • A piece of 1/4" wood. I had my lumber guy find a nice piece of walnut for this project. 
    • Tung oil or similar sealing oil and a rag
    • Leather cord. I bought a big bag of scraps at a craft store for $3
    • A template of the state you wish to use. Here's a helpful site to get your state shape.
    • Dremel Micro tool with sanding and engraving bits (included in kit)
    • Gold paint and brush. I used my wife's leftover fingernail polish.
    • Temporary spray adhesive 
    • A jigsaw, band saw, or scroll saw. I used a band saw with a 1/4" blade to allow for tight cuts and curves.
    •  A drill and drill bit sized to accept your leather straps

    Start by printing out the state you want to create. I went with Texas as a gift for some friends in Austin. I sized my template to be about 5 inches wide.

    Use a pair of scissors to cut the state out, and feel free be approximate with borders that have lots of curves and squiggles. Those can be really difficult to cut out, and don't lend themselves to a handmade look. (Example: In the case of Texas, I grouped the Padre Islands on the Gulf into the shape instead of removing the islands all together.) When your state is cut out, spray some adhesive on the back and let it dry to a tacky consistency, then press it onto the wood. 

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Now, roughly cut away the wood to reveal your state. I cut a lot of straight lines and easy curves a this point in the process. No need to be precise here.

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Don't fret if your cuts are messy, or if, like me, you break a blade trying to cut curves too sharp! Unless you're using a scroll saw, you'll have a hard time cutting sharp curves or thin groves into the wood. That where the Dremel Micro will come in handy! Attach the sanding drum to the Dremel and use it to carve up to your template. After you've cut in as far as you need, go over all the edges and smooth out the bandsaw scars.Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament Once you've cut your state the perfect shape, remove the template and sand the wood down to 220 grit.

    Then, it's time to engrave a star over Austin. For that you'll need to switch out your drum sander to the engraving tool on your Dremel. 

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Grab a pencil and draw a star in the location you want it. You can certainly print out a template of a star if you need to, but a hand drawn one fits the look of this project better. Before you start on your actual ornament, I suggest that you practice engraving on a scrap piece of wood. Practicing beforehand helped me understand how to handle the tool best, and I was really happy with the final results. 

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Set the Dremel Micro to the highest speed and move from left to right in a steady motion. For this part, it helped to have the bit fully extended from the chuck and set my hand at a 45-50 degree angle to allow the bit to cut properly. Make passes carefully until you've removed a shallow cavity from inside the star.

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    I really wanted to accent the star on my ornament so I grabbed some of my wife's gold fingernail polish and dropped several globs of paint into the groove.

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Let the paint dry and sand over the star to remove any paint that may have bled out onto the face of the state.

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    I love seeing the handwriting of family members over the years on our Christmas ornaments at home. I thought I'd do the same for this ornament, but I'm going to engrave my message on the back of this ornament so my chicken scratch will be there for years to come!

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Using the same method as before, set your speed to the highest and move in a fluid and careful manner to carve the words.

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Once you've got the engraving on the back take your ornament over to the drill press (or hand drill) and drill a hole large enough to pass through the leather string. Mine happened to need a 3/16" bit.

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

     Once the hole is drilled, sand off any tear out and head on over to your staining/sealing station!

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    I really love the look and feel of natural oils over polyurethane and stain. For this ornament, I used a small amount of tung oil on a shop towel to apply it to the ornament. You'll need to apply at least two coats of oil before you're finished.

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

    Once the oil has cured (overnight) give it a final buff with some fine steel wool and polish with a soft cloth. Then, thread your leather string and you're finished! 

    Make your own State Pride Christmas Ornament

     Sharp, right? The engraving and gold paint really help take this project from crafty to refined. I like how sanding the edges with the Dremel gave the whole thing a slightly stylized and designed look. And, of course, you can never go wrong with walnut and leather.

    This is a seriously fun holiday project, and you could whip up a bunch over a weekend fueled by some candy canes and hot cocoa. Make some yourself, and share the results with us in the comments below.

    Season's greetings, and happy DIYing. 

     


    This post was sponsored by the new Dremel Micro tool. Get updates from Dremel by following them on Facebook and Twitter. All opinions are ours alone. Thank you for supporting the brands that support ManMade. Partnerships like these helps us continue to create free original content. 

     


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    Each Wednesday, I post some of my favorite can't-miss links, images, and otherwise mindblowing goodies from across the web.

    created at: 12/03/2014Scientist take a serious look at what's actually happening when you mix orange juice and toothpaste, and why it tastes so very, very bad.    

    Turns out, its not just the sweetness in your toothpaste that combats with the acidity in the OJ, but a specific chemical reaction that, you know, destroys your phospholipids. Oh, what are those? Check it out: 

    Someone keep snatching your craft brew? Check out this DIY beer bottle lock by Jon-A-Tron

    Last year, Spin assembled this collection of modern and indie rock holiday songs. Still sounds pretty good this season, too.

    Foodbeast offers ten solid ideas for seasoning a steak

    This serious two-tiered table project is actually built from relatively inexpensive wood and some standard techniques. Go check it out!


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    created at: 12/03/2014

    Looking to add a little of the "roasting on open fire" flavor to some of your seasonal libations? Check out this cool technique for making smoked cocktail garnishes to add some toasty, earthy notes to your drinks.    

    Creative studio The Jewels of New York suggests placing a singed, smoking rosemary sprig in the glass, to add aroma and flavor to the drink. Here, they've paired with warm, spicy flavors like mezcal and allspice dram. We could see this working in a lot of places - anything with whiskey, tequila, or rum should be a good place to start. Besides rosemary, consider other toast-able, edible things like thyme and cinnamon sticks.

    Or, to add other kinds of good, charred flavor, consider charring citrus in a grill pan or cast iron skillet, or using ingredients like smoked olives or rimming a glass in smoked salt.

    Or if you want to go all out and smoke the entire drink, ManMade has you covered with a complete tutorial: How to: Make Your Own DIY Smoked Cocktails 

    Check out the technique and get the full drink recipe at The Jewels of New York: Sleepy Hollow Cocktail

     


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