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    Ernest HemingwayIf there's one thing you should read by Ernest Hemingway, it's his bizarrely specific hamburger recipe (just kidding, go read For Whom The Bells Tolls. Do it now). But what's less known is the number of other unique recipes the simplistic author kept at his disposal.   

    Bacon TroutIn October, the boys at Huckberry tasked Chad Brealey of Salt, Fresh, & Field(click on that link) to head to the Canadian foothills with his fly fishing rod and catch, clean, and cook some bacon-wrapped trout just like Hemingway himself would have done in the 1920's. 

    Bacon TroutIt's a fun/quick read and the recipe sounds incredible, plus you'll get to use that cast iron skillet you've been waiting to bust out. Check out the article and recipe here.


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    Phoenix, AZ photographer Ernie Button has been experimenting with this amazing shots of dried single malt Scotch whisky under a microscope. Really? Really.    

    So... what's going on here? Ernie says, 

    The idea for this project occurred while putting a used Scotch glass into the dishwasher.  I noted a film on the bottom of a glass and when I inspected closer, I noted these fine, lacey lines filling the bottom.  What I found through some experimentation is that these patterns and images that you see can be created with the small amount of Single-Malt Scotch left in a glass after most of it has been consumed.  The alcohol dries and leaves the sediment in various patterns.  It’s a little like snowflakes in that every time the Scotch dries, the glass yields different patterns and results.  I have used different color lights to add ‘life’ to the bottom of the glass, creating the illusion of landscape, terrestrial or extraterrestrial. 

     

    extraterrestrial, indeed. And now we're inspired. And thirsty. 

    See the full collection of images at Ernie's web site: ErnieButton.com - "Vanishing Spirits: The Dried Remains of Single Malt Scotch"

    H/T: @CapreeK


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    created at: 12/02/2014

    You owe it to your friends and family to be a good gift giver. Rule number one: cool it with the gift cards ... there's always a better solution. Below is our list of ideas to spark your true gifting spirit, sponsored by our friends at the Murphy-Goode Winery (who believe in serious wine, serious fun, and doing good).

    Every gift says something to the recipient. Another $25 to spend at Amazon says, "I'm lazy" and doesn't capture season's spirit. No one will be moved because you stopped by that end cap before exiting the grocery store.

    ManMade Gift Guide 2014 - Sponsored by Murphy Goode

    Instead, give something that shows you actually care. Here are some gift card-alternatives with enough appeal to give to nearly anyone on your list.

     

    1. Instead of a coffee shop gift card, give an Aeropress. This surprisingly simple device manages to create one of the best, most complex cups of coffee you can make at home. It uses air pressure to create an espresso-like concentrated brew, which you can drink straight, mix with additional hot water for an Americano, or add milk for a latte. And it's crazy easy to clean.
    Recommended:  Aeropress Coffee and Espresso Maker – $22.06

     

    2. Instead of a book store gift card, give an actual book. Yep – they still have a purpose in the eReader days, and yep, books are still the best holiday gifts ever. If you know your recipient to be a screenswiper rather than a page turner, don't go for a novel; instead, give something that demands thumbing through, like a great standard-setting reference book that will be revisited for years to come, or a visually-heavy art book that's best experienced on paper. 
    Recommended: 

     

    3. Instead of a chain restaurant gift card, give a 12" cast iron skillet. The ManMade archives are filled with expressions of our love for cast iron cookware. You'll empower the recipient to make some amazing meals, rather than just buying them. These things work on everything from the stovetop to the oven to the grill to a campfire, and properly cared for, they'll last for generations. 

    If you suspect your recipient already has a 12" cast iron skillet, that's great news! They have great taste. Supplement their collection with an 8" skillet, a griddle, a Dutch oven, or one of those sweet cornbread pans.
    Recommended:  Lodge L10SK3 Pre-Seasoned Skillet, 12-Inch – $33.31

     

    Sponsored: Give a Murphy-Goode Wine Club Membership

    Murphy-Goode Wine Club

    With a Wine Club membership, your friends will get 20% off all wine all the time. Members get convenient access to outstanding wines year round, including limited production wines and those made specifically for wine club members, reserve wines, pre-releases, and library wines.

     

     

     

    4. Instead of a hardware store gift card, give a Japanese pull saw. If you've got someone who loves tools, get them one they can't find at the standard big-box home improvement center. Japanese-style saws, like a ryoba or a dozuki, cut on the "pull" stroke rather than the push, as in a Western saw, and will cut anything from a 2x4" to a length of fine hardwood to a fallen tree limb.
    Recommended:  210mm Harima Ryoba Saw – $53.99

     

    5. Instead of an electronics store gift card, give an analog game. The folks on your list don't need the latest gadgets (at least not from you). So skip the handheld technology and give a good old-fashioned game. They're still fun, and they give you an excuse to hang out with friends. Murphy-Goode has some fine rules for classic games like Liar's Dice and Texas Hold 'Em. And if you're looking for some fun, proven board games that adults can enjoy, try, we recommend:

    • Bang! 
    • Carcassonne 
    • Ticket to Ride
    • Settlers of Catan
    • Lost Cities

     

    created at: 12/02/2014

    6. Instead of an iTunes gift card, give a Thumbdrive of Happiness. I gotta give credit to Linda Holmes of NPR for this one. I heard this suggestion on her "Pop Culture Happy Hour" podcast a few holiday seasons ago, and I think it's a great one. Presumably, you have a bunch of flash drives still lying around. So fill one up with great free stuff like:

    • A bunch of songs you love
    • A document with links to the best articles and blog posts you read this year
    • Your favorite episodes from the best podcasts
    • Images you love
    • Video playlists that crack you up
    • The best pieces from your favorite magazines

    The gift here is not access but your thoughtfulness and ability to curate. We're all awash in free information and there's nothing like someone bringing us stuff we haven't seen before.

     

    7. Instead of a clothing store gift card, give a serious pair of ragg wool gloves. Gloves are the sort of thing that tend not to be replaced unless you lose one. So give a stylish pair made of ragg wool, a weave of two strands of dyed wool with one undyed strand that, somehow, visually communicates "warmth." Style is all in the details, and these have got 'em.

    Recommended: Our Warm Up with Wool Gloves post from earlier this year.

      created at: 12/02/2014

    8. Instead of an Amazon gift card, give something that person would never buy themselves. An Amazon card used to be an invitation to buy a book ... or a CD (remember those?) Nowadays, an Amazon gift card is a chance to buy any blessed thing you can possibly imagine. So instead, give something the recipient wouldn't buy themselves.

    Not something they can't afford, or don't want, but one of those things you know they want, but would never treat themselves to. This, of course, depends on knowing the recipient, so look back on interactions you've had and get creative. In a time where you can have nearly anything you can buy delivered to your doorstep in two days, give something that you can buy, but they never would. If that doesn't spark an idea, there are nine others on this list that might. 

     

    created at: 12/01/2014

     

    9. Instead of a fast food/fast casual restaurant gift card, give a really sharp lunch tote. Look, Chipotle may be tasty and convenient, but a Chipotle gift card is just not a classy idea. What's convenient and classy? Smart, nutritious homemade lunches that you can look forward to all morning. They're less expensive and healthier and, if you pick up one of these masculine waxed canvas and leather totes, a whole lot more stylish. 
    Recommended: Waterproofed Waxed Canvas Lunch Bags from Kaufmann Mercantile – $48.00

     

    created at: 12/04/2014

    10. Instead of a movie theater gift card, give a movie theater gift card. Actually, this is a good one. Who doesn't want a free chance to go to the movies? So, why is there an exception to the rule to the gift card rule? Cause it's not a, "here, you buy yourself something," it's "hey, now you can really indulge your love of film." Just be sure to choose a theater that shows the kind of films they enjoy, and you're good.

    What are your favorite non-gift-card gift ideas? Share with us in the comments!

     

    created at: 12/02/2014

    This post was sponsored by Murhpy Goode, but all opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that make ManMade possible.

     

     

     


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    3D stars

    As we dust off our Christmas decorations, there are plenty of great memories being pulled out of the weathered boxes. But some of the holiday hangings just don't have much cheer left in the faded colors or scratched finishes. Give an early gift by making a set of these 3D stars that bring a touch class to the room.   While I'm not usually a fan of making much out of cardboard, the instructions transfer well to larger posterboard, or thin metal for a much more durable set of stars. Take a look at the full DIY steps and resources here.

    Star Pattern

    Overall, the simple project can be finished in a nice coat of paint to match up with the room and likely stick around long after the holiday. We have had a set of metal 3D stars in the kitchen for years, and they tend to go with just about any theme.

    Plan on doing this project? Show us the final results!

     


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    created at: 11/28/2012

    As a kid, I loved making those paper ring garlands to help count down the days to Christmas. They weren't much, just strips of red and green construction paper, one looped inside another and held together with a swipe of glue stick, but, buddy, I loved the ritual of ripping those suckers off as soon as I woke up every morning.

    So, for this holiday season, I wanted to embrace the idea of a countdown craft, but update it to something a bit more adult, a bit more masculine, and reusable season after season.   Counting things is no longer a novelty, so I decided to make something bold and typographic, that I could glance at across the room and realize just how many days I have left to finish making all my presents. And so - a modern rustic holiday countdown typographic advent calendar. Let's go. 

    Materials and Tools:

    • 1/2" birch plywood
    • 8.5 x 11" sticker sheets, or vinyl letters
    • Spray paint
    • 2x 8d nails and hammer
    • Computer and printer
    • 8.5 x 11" brown kraft paper
    • Hole punch
    • Picture hanging hardware

     

    created at: 11/28/2012

    1. Begin by cutting your plywood to size. If you don't have a table or circular saw, have the associates at the hardware store make your cuts for you. I cut mine at 12 x 14.5". 

     

    created at: 11/28/2012

    2. I sketched my design in my trusty notebook (hooray for graph paper) and determined I wanted my number cards to be 4" wide, with 1.5" on each side and 1" in the middle. So I made a mark at 3 1/2" and 8 1/2", and hit my tool box to grab some nice big nails. And...I didn't have any. I try to use wood glue whenever I can, plus wood screws or my pneumatic nailer, so I'm not really a hammer and nails kind of guy. So, I hopped on my bike for a sunny but very, very brisk ride to True Value and snagged a nice big 3 lb. box of 8d galvanized nails with a lovely dark metallic color and nice big heads. Hopefully they'll last me a couple of years. I got home, defrosted my fingers, and hammered those suckers in. (See how cold my hands look?)

     

    created at: 11/28/2012

    3. For the text, I opted for "Sleeps Til Christmas" a nod to another favorite, The Muppet Christmas Carol.We sing that one a lot in my family and it, well, warms my Christmas heart and makes me smile. And I'm not ashamed to admit it.

    Feel free to adjust your text to whatever works for you and your traditions. I printed the image out onto a full sheet of sticker paper and cut out the letters with an X-acto knife. Alternatively, you could buy vinyl letters from the craft or office supply store, and apply them directly or make a stencil if you want to use a different color.

     

    created at: 11/28/2012

    4. Take your stencil outside and tape off and cover all exposed wood. Use light strokes to spraypaint the stencil, directly above the stencil. That way, no paint will sneak underneath. Also, when spray painting wood, be careful not to use too much paint, or the fibers will start to soak it up, all osmosis-like, and make little fuzzy lines on the outsides of your letters. 

     

    created at: 11/28/2012

    5. While the paint dries, create your number cards. I made mine 8x4", so I could print them two to a sheet. If you pair 0 and 1 (rather than with 9), you can print off the first two cards twice and have a 0,1,2, and 3 for both the "tens" and the "ones" column.

    I chose a nice tall gothic font here, since I wanted it to have a rustic, woodcut-type vibe to match the natural, unbleached paper and the exposed woodgrain.

     

    created at: 11/28/2012

    6. Print out your letter and cut to size. I rounded my corners with a favorite tool, the Crop-A-Dile Corner Chomper. Snag one next time they're 50% off at the craft store. Then, use a hole punch to make a hole along the center, 1/2" from the top.

    Once the paint has dried, attach a sawtooth picture hanger to the back. The included nails will probably be longer than 1/2", so just hammer them down to the sides to create a "staple" to hold everything down tightly. Make sure it's nice and level, so your number cards won't hang all wonky-like on the final product. Trust me - I learned this one the hard way.

    Then, hang it up, and let the countdown begin. Happy Holidays! 

     

     


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    created at: 12/07/2014 I developed pretty intense insomnia during my junior year in college. Admittedly, I was a way-too-involved workaholic at the time, but even when my life chilled out a bit more, I still had lots of trouble sleeping. Like, intense months of sleep issues. So I've spent a lot of time investigating ways to improve my sleep schedule and here are some of the top tips I've found…      

    Start a nightly routine. 
    This can be anything simple that you repeat each night. Put your room in order, take some time to journal, read a book, take a bath, etc. Taking a shower/bath before bed has the added benefit of cooling your body down when you get out which can help induce drowsiness. 

    f.luxAvoid "blue light." 
    In a pre-industrial era, bodies naturally produced melatonin as the sun went down and they light got dimmer. However, thanks to Edison and our post-industrialism work schedules, we tend to stay up much later continually bathing ourselves in light right up until we head to bed. If you can, you should start dimming the lights an hour or two before heading to bed to allow more melatonin to kick in. Most importantly, you should avoid the light of computer screens, phones, and televisions – what's known as "blue light." Thankfully since I'm going to bet that almost all of us do this anyway, there are some great (FREE) devices that can help with that. f.luxis a software that I use that syncs with your computer's clock to start slowing shifting the hue of your display to warmer tones as the sun goes down. It can look a little jarring if you're not used to it, but it makes an incredible difference. 

    created at: 12/08/2014Limit caffeine intake (duh).
    If you're at all like me, this might sounds like I'm telling you to try cutting breathing out of your daily routine. I'm a die-hard coffee addict, but I ended up cutting caffeine out of my diet entirely for 4 months (before I eventually caved). Here's the deal with caffeine. Your body naturally produces adenosine molecules which bond with your body's adenosine receptors throughout the day. This bonding causes drowsiness and slows down your nerve cells, which also allows more oxygen into your brain's blood vessels while you sleep. However caffeine molecules look nearly identical to adenosine; they bond to the receptors but don't cause drowsiness. In fact, caffeine increases neuron firing which stimulates your pituitary gland, and from there it's a whole adrenaline party, and good luck getting to sleep. The bummer about this is that caffeine has a half-life of up to 6 hours, which means that half of the initial caffeine intake is still happily operating in your system up to 6 hours later. All this is to say, you should try limiting your caffeine intake in the afternoon, and if you're having serious trouble sleeping, try knocking it out all together. 

    Sleep ScheduleStick to a sleep schedule.
    Our bodies have a natural circadian rhythm, which means that are bodies perform their processes best around certain times of the day. Going to sleep at the same time each night will foster a solid sleep-wake cycle and help your body perform at its best. However...

    If you can't sleep, get up.
    Lying in bed worrying about how you can't sleep, how it's going to throw of your day tomorrow, etc., is never going to help. In fact, Harvard Med and the Mayo Clinic tell you to get up and walk around. Read a book, watch something, get a snack. Your body will get drowsy again and it's better to wait it out than to stress yourself. It's also recommended that you move to a different room so as not to associate your potential sleep anxiety with your bedroom.

    created at: 12/08/2014Exercise daily.
    We all know exercise has its benefits so I won't list them here, but seriously it helps you sleep and you should do it anyway. Just as a general note: similar to the effects of caffeine, adrenaline from workouts tends to stay active in your body for a couple hours. However, studies still indicate that people who had trouble sleeping still saw improved sleep from working out right before bed over those who didn't work out at all.

     


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    created at: 12/08/2014

    Looking to do some marathon gift opening hyperlapses or Christmas light display stop-motions this holiday season? Check out this easy and affordable way to mount your smartphone to a basic tripod. 

    created at: 12/08/2014

    The trick involves materials you most likely have on hand, with a little hacking of some standard hardware. 

    See the full how-to from Inspire to Make in the video below: 


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    Hi ConsumptionWith the holiday music beginning its rapid descent upon us, I figured it was time to put together a good holiday gift list for myself and maybe even come up with something to share with all of you. 

    That's when I stumbled upon this fantastic gift-guide for outdoorsy types from the guys atHiConsumption and realized the work was already done for me.  

    Life StrawThe list features quality items from all along the financial spectrum. On the lower end you have things like the Life Straw (pictured above) for $20 or the Zippo A-Frame Hand Warmer for $15, while the higher end sports items like the GoPro HERO4 (pictured below) for $500 so you can easily record all your epic adventures. 

    GoPro

    Check out the full list hereand tell us what outdoorsy gift you're hoping for.


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    created at: 12/09/2014

    Had as much "Last Christmas" as you can take? Us too.

    But we still want you to enjoy some of the sounds of the seasons, without all the glitz and overproduction and reminders of shopping days that come along with that radio station in town that converts to 24/7 holidays starting the day after Halloween.   

    For some (ghosts of) Christmases Past, ManMade assembled some of our favorite modern rock holiday music into some free playlists. We've been listening to them all week in the ManMade offices, and...they still get our bells ringing. 

    So, feel free to check 'em out. They're streaming, so you just have to press play, no accounts or logins or downloads required. Enjoy!

     

    ManMade's 2012 Rock and Roll Holiday Mixtape

     

    ManMade's 2010 Modern Rock Holiday Mixtape

     

    ManMade's 2011 Modern Rock Holiday Mixtape 

    Season's Greetings! 


    [top image: (cc) Chris Marchant


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    DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    What better way to add a touch of the masculine, industrial look to your holiday gift-giving than with some hand stamped, hand brushed aluminum gift tags? This easy tutorial will have you throwing out those name tag stickers and kraft paper tags for these rugged and reusable name plates.  

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    Here's what you'll need from Santa's Shop:

    • A small sheet of aluminum - I picked up the thinnest and smallest piece. This one cost about $8.
    • Pencil
    • Ruler
    • Tin Snips
    • A Metal cutting tool of some sort. I used a jig saw with a metal-cutting blade. You can certainly try your luck with tin snips or an electric cutter.
    • Hammer
    • Metal Letter Punch kit. I found a cheap (and poor quality) set online for about $10.
    • Electric drill with a 5/16" bit
    • 320 Grit sandpaper
    • fine steel wool (optional)

    Start by measuring and marking 2x3" name tags in a grid. This will help with cutting your lines with a saw. I clamped my sheet to the edge of a table and cut away. use a piece of wood about as wide as the sheet to assure even clamp pressure. This will minimize accidental bending.

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    Once your pieces are cut you'll probably have to hammer them flat. The jig saw is a nutty tool that can shake all over a flimsy piece of metal.

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    Next, mark the 45 degree angles for the top of your tags. Use a pair of tin snips, or a hack saw, to cut these pieces.

     

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    Tip: I went back with the snips and clipped the sharp corners off, this helped with sanding later. 

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

     Next, you want to soften all the edges so none of your gift receivers cut themselves. To do this, place the tag on the edge of your workbench and use a sheet of 320 grit sandpaper to buff out the edges. With a downward and forward stroke, round over every edge on both sides. This will bring all the edges together into a round shape ... and not into a sharp blade shape–ouch!

     

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    Drill holes at the tops of your tags and carefully remove the shavings and pieces that will still be stuck to your tag. If you have a small metal file, use it here to remove the tear out.

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift TagsI happened to have this cheap letter punch kit, so I decided to add "TO" and "FROM" on each tag. If you don't have a punch kit like this, you could use a Dremel with an engraving bit to write your message. You could also use a small nail and hammer holes in the form of the letters you want.

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    To create the brushed look, I rubbed the tags in a circular motion on a piece of sandpaper that was taped down to my table. After writing up this post, I realized using fine steel wool would do a much better job. I recommend you use that instead! 

     

    Manmade DIY Aluminum Gift Tags

    There ya have it! The coolest part is these tags are reusable. You can write on them with a permanent marker and remove with rubbing alcohol when you're finished. Whether or not your loved one will actually give them back to you to reuse depends on how good you make these look!

    Here's a few upgrades you could definitely do to these tags:

    • Leather strips to tie it to your gifts
    • Gold plated metal (from your local craft store)
    • Copper tags (if you can age it, even better)
    • Dip the edges in plasti-dip (dog tags anyone?)

     Swell. Happy Holidays!

     


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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: 12/10/2014This close-up photo of the grooves of a vinyl record, showing how it actually works. The needle makes its way through the grooves, which are the actual waveforms of the music, etched into the left and right channels. Here's an even closer peek: 

    created at: 12/10/2014

    Cool, huh? Found on piccole risposte senza domanda

     

    I have taken this cooperage tour. It was a blast, and smelled amazing. 

     

    created at: 12/10/2014 NPR Music has shared their 50 best albums of 2014 

     


    A stolen bike in Minneapolis was chased and the thief was caught in real time via this Facebook page. 

     A new stop motion piece by PES; this time in a sandwich shop.

     


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    A group of MIT students designed and built a handmade roller coaster in their East Campus to demonstrate the physical principles like g-force and the engineering considerations that make these kinds of things actually work...and safe.

    created at: 12/10/2014

    This feature on Monograph.io explores some of the physics at play here, which I don't begin to understand, but I'm into the idea here, and I love that this sort of thing that happens to 18-22 year olds when their natural talents and skills start to really take shape as undergraduates. 

    Check out the full piece for videos, animated gifts, and lots of design and process shots. 

    2014 MIT East Campus Coaster [Monograph.io]

     

     


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    Pumpkin Buttered Rum

    I'm always looking for a great seasonal drink to match the theme of our get-together. This winter weather calls for a few creamy, spiced, and even buttery drinks to help brighten up the season. Here are 5 drinks guaranteed to usher in some holiday cheer.  

    1. Pumpkin Buttered Rum (at top) – Exceptionally warm drinks are one of the best parts of the holiday season. While butter seems like a strange ingredient, the creamy texture makes it like a liquid pumpkin pie. This hearty drink goes down smooth, but fills up well so guests can spend more time roasting chestnuts without tracking down a refill. Gingerbread White Russian

    2. Gingerbread White Russian– Another favorite flavor of the season would be gingerbread. My grandmother made some of the most amazing gingersnap cookies growing up, and so the taste of ginger tends to bring me right back. While her cookies didn’t pack an imbibing punch, this holiday mixer certainly does.

    Pumpkin Spiced Irish Coffee

    3. Spiced Irish Coffee– A bit of whiskey in my coffee is a great way to round out the evening. Sitting around the flickering fire with a cuppa’ Irish Joe essentially guarantees a warm memory of the night.

    Holiday Spiced Sangria

    4. Holiday Spice Sangria– Besides the amazing taste, sangria is easy to whip up which makes it ideal for a big group. This holiday concoction blends cinnamon spice with sweet pomegranate, apples, and fresh cranberries. The combination is a drink just about too beautiful to drink, but go ahead and grab a glass of this liquid holiday magic. White Christmas Martini
    5. White Christmas Martini– Like a White Chocolate Milkshake in a glass. This creamy drink has just a few ingredients and with a honey-sugared rim it looks as good as it tastes. While you’re there, take a look at the Cherry Almond Cocktail.

    With so many great drinks out there, we're bound to miss a few good ones. Go ahead and chime in to let us know about your favorite holiday drink so we can all spread that Christmas Magic a bit further this season.

     


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    created at: 12/08/2014 Okay, so this is less of a "how-to" and more of a "buy-this-contraption-and-shoot-fireballs-from-your-wrists" kind of post. Behold PYRO, whose actual tagline is "Shoot Fireballs From Your Empty Hand"...    

    created at: 12/08/2014 No longer simply the realm of Marvel characters, the PYRO was designed by Adam Wilbur of Ellusionist.com and it appears to deliver. It consists of a wristwatch-sized gauntlet of sorts with a separate trigger that can shoot up to four fireballs (made of flash cotton and paper) roughly ten feet in the air before you need to reload. And each pack contains enough ammo to use more than fifty times. The video below feels a little over the top to me, but I can sympathize with his excitement. 

    Kinda.


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    created at: 12/11/2014

    This is the third part of our four part series on homebrewing beer. So, with everything collected and prepared, it’s time to get the fire going and begin the first batch. Here’s a peek at what I’m brewing.   Vanilla Bourbon Barrel Porter

    Ingredients:

    10# Pale Malt   -   1# Black Malt   -   4oz Crystal 30   -   2oz Honey Malt   -   1.5oz Northern Brewer Hops   -   1pkg British Ale   -   1# Charred Oak Chips   -  1 Bottle of Bourbon   -  2 Vanilla Beans

    In this recipe, we’re working in a few additives to the fermentation process which will give a bit more variety into the brew. The smoked bourbon barrel flavor is brought in with Charred Oak Chips soaked in Bourbon, and a few split vanilla beans add a clean vanilla finish. Adding items during the fermentation process brings up the risk of contamination, so don’t dive into this complexity for a bit until the process is a bit more familiar. Those come in near the end, so let’s rewind and begin there.

    created at: 12/08/2014

    1. Heat the Water – Fill the brew kettle up with bottled or filtered water to the pre-boil volume, which is usually quite a bit more than the final 5 gallons thanks to the copious amounts of steam that will be billowing off the boil. This huge kettle will take a while to heat up to approx. 160 degrees. It’s important to keep the temperature from spiking too much past the 160 mark because heat above 180 can alter or kill the enzyme activity in the boil. Once the water reaches a steady 160 degrees, it’s time to add the grains.created at: 12/08/2014
    2. Adding the Grains – While the water boils, all of the grains should be put into the steeping bag. Make sure the bag is tied off to avoid any loss of grains into the boil. Adding the bag to the kettle displaces quite a bit of water, so be sure to be careful when SLOWLY lowering it into the heated water. Steeping the grains will take 60-90 minutes depending on the recipe. As the boil rounds out, it will be time to lift out the incredibly heavy steeping bag and set it aside after rinsing (called saccharification). On a side note: Check out this recipe for turning spent grains into flour. At this point, bring it all to a boil.Bringing Wort To a Boil
    3. Bringing it To a Boil – Once the water reaches a boil, add hops to the kettle. Keep it boiling for about 60 minutes, being sure to avoid boil-over. If using dry yeast, this would be the time to re-hydrate it by mixing with a cup of warm water and giving it about 10 minutes to get settled in. Sometimes two hops are used in recipes; the second is usually added during the last 15 minutes of the boil, right along with the yeast.
    4. Transferring Beer To Glass Carboy
    5. Cool Down and Transfer– After the 60 minute boil, the last step is to cool down the entire brew as quickly as possible to avoid contamination. Since the boil step is over, any bacteria or other funk that make it into the mix at this time can completely ruin the batch. Anything that touches the beer must be sterilized. An optional item to cool it down is a wort chiller, which is essentially a long copper coil that’s lowered into the pot that pumps water through the tubes and cools down the entire pot within about 15 minutes. If not using a chiller, keep it covered for an hour or so, then get ready to transfer. Grab a strainer and slowly pour the beer through it into the food safe fermenting bucket (or glass carboy). Another option is to siphon the beer over using a sterilized hose with siphon lock. Try to minimize the amount of froth involved as this can introduce oxygen to the fermentation process which can produce off-flavors in the finished product. Once the transfer is made, seal the lid on tight and set on the airlock. The airlock is a seal that allows air to escape but doesn’t let it back in. Put a bit of vodka into the tube to provide a sterilized seal.

    Be sure to store the fermenting beer in a dark area with stable temperatures around 60-65 degrees (a closet works well). With that, we’ll wrap up this part of the series and look ahead to the final article – Fermenting and Bottling your first homebrew.


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    created at: 12/09/2014

    Wrapping a gift isn't hard, unless you overcomplicate things. We say keep things simple and straightforward: avoid accessories, too many ribbon colors, and anything involving glitter or the word "raffia." We advocate a simple package, wrapped cleanly and correctly, with a little DIY customization to show you care. 

    wrapping paper DIY

    So, we present the ManMade guide to wrapping gifts, sponsored by our friends at the Murphy-Goode Winery, who believe in serious wine, serious fun, and doing good ... and giving really awesome presents. 

     

    Gift Wrapping 101: The Basic Box

    This is the hassle-free way to perfectly wrap a present every time. No weird corners that don't match. No three-feet-of-tape-because-you-didn't-cut-enough-paper. Just keep it simple and do it right. 

    how to wrap a present

    1. Start by placing the gifts in the middle of the paper's width.
    2. You should have enough room on the top and bottom (the paper should be at least twice as wide as your present).
    3. With the present still in the paper's middle, fold one of the flaps in and secure it to the bottom of your present. Use clear tape of any kind. TIP: electrical tape looks cool too!
    4. For the sides, fold the top part down and secure it to the side of the present. Repeat the same step on the opposite side. Remove any excess paper with scissors for the cleanest look and sharpest corners. 
    5. To finish, fold the side flaps down so you form a triangle, then fold the triangle down and secure it with tape. Repeat on the other side.

    Voila! Add a gift tag and you're done. 

    With the basic box down, here are a few other ideas you can whip up in minutes ... your gifts will look darn fine when you're done. 

    A Printable Bottle Tag

    wine tag DIY

    wine tag DIY

    The gift of drink is a classic, and this type of presentation is as easy as it gets. Simply print this bottle tag, cut it out, fold the flap, place it on top of a nice bottle of wine and bring it to the party. Done and done. See? You'll even have enough time left to drink a glass of vino yourself and get in the holiday spirit. (If you need a bottle of wine to go with that gift tag, we like the Murphy-Goode Dealer's Choice Cabernet Sauvignon)

    Easy Fabric "Furoshiki" Wrap (Using a Handkerchief) 

    furoshiki wrap DIY

    Furoshiki is the fancy Japanese word for "wrapping in a cloth". This method is widely used to wrap anything from food to gifts. You can use a vintage handkerchief, a square pocket (for small presents), or even a dollar store bandana as your wrapping. Here's how to do it:

    Furoshiki wrap DIY

    1. Start by placing the present in the middle of the cloth.
    2. Take the top and bottom corners, bring them to the center and tie a knot.
    3. Do the same with the other 2 corners.
    4. Repeat this until you have a nice little bundle of knots at the top.

    That's it; you're done in minutes. Easy, yeah?

     5 Minute Hand Drawn Wrapping Paper

    handmade wrapping paper

     If you're feeling artistic, you can use a paint marker to quickly decorate plain wrapping paper.  

    handmade wrapping paper

    Simply grab a marker, a couple chopsticks, paint dabbers, or even a pencil, a small piece of paper, and some paint. Dab your tool and make dots of different sizes on the paper. You can play around with the sizes to make a snowflake pattern like the one above.

    Let it dry for about 5 minutes and you're good to go. Note that we added this decoration after wrapping the gift, so we could place the accent in the right spot.  

     

    Sponsored: Give a Murphy-Goode Wine Club Membership

    Murphy-Goode Wine Club

    With a Wine Club membership, your friends will get 20% off all wine all the time. Members get convenient access to outstanding wines year round, including limited production wines and those made specifically for wine club members, reserve wines, pre-releases, and library wines.

     

    Personalized Tote Bag

    personalized tote bag DIY

     Gift bags are great, especially if you're giving multiple gifts. For the same price as a patterned paper bag at the discount store, you can score a reusable fabric tote at the craft shop. A simple typographic accent serves as a gift tag. 

    personalized tote bag DIY

     To make one, simply get a fabric pen from the craft store or use a permanent marker to add some detail to this basic canvas tote. 

    Test your design on a sheet of paper before applying to the fabric. Also, make sure to insert a piece of cardboard inside the tote bag so that any excess ink gets trapped there without bleeding onto the back of the tote.

    And ... there you have it. Lots of DIY options to up your wrapping game this season. Have fun and happy holidays! 

    Murphy Goode Wine

     

    This post was sponsored by Murphy-Goode, but all opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that make ManMadeDIY possible.

     

     


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    created at: 12/09/2014

    Wrapping a gift isn't hard, unless you overcomplicate things. We say keep things simple and straightforward: avoid accessories, too many ribbon colors, and anything involving glitter or the word "raffia." We advocate a simple package, wrapped cleanly and correctly, with a little DIY customization to show you care. 

    wrapping paper DIY

    So, we present the ManMade guide to wrapping gifts, sponsored by our friends at the Murphy-Goode Winery, who believe in serious wine, serious fun, and doing good ... and giving really awesome presents. 

     

    Gift Wrapping 101: The Basic Box

    This is the hassle-free way to perfectly wrap a present every time. No weird corners that don't match. No three-feet-of-tape-because-you-didn't-cut-enough-paper. Just keep it simple and do it right. 

    how to wrap a present

    1. Start by placing the gifts in the middle of the paper's width.
    2. You should have enough room on the top and bottom (the paper should be at least twice as wide as your present).
    3. With the present still in the paper's middle, fold one of the flaps in and secure it to the bottom of your present. Use clear tape of any kind. TIP: electrical tape looks cool too!
    4. For the sides, fold the top part down and secure it to the side of the present. Repeat the same step on the opposite side. Remove any excess paper with scissors for the cleanest look and sharpest corners. 
    5. To finish, fold the side flaps down so you form a triangle, then fold the triangle down and secure it with tape. Repeat on the other side.

    Voila! Add a gift tag and you're done. 

    With the basic box down, here are a few other ideas you can whip up in minutes ... your gifts will look darn fine when you're done. 

    A Printable Bottle Tag

    wine tag DIY

    wine tag DIY

    The gift of drink is a classic, and this type of presentation is as easy as it gets. Simply print this bottle tag, cut it out, fold the flap, place it on top of a nice bottle of wine and bring it to the party. Done and done. See? You'll even have enough time left to drink a glass of vino yourself and get in the holiday spirit. (If you need a bottle of wine to go with that gift tag, we like the Murphy-Goode Dealer's Choice Cabernet Sauvignon)

    Easy Fabric "Furoshiki" Wrap (Using a Handkerchief) 

    furoshiki wrap DIY

    Furoshiki is the fancy Japanese word for "wrapping in a cloth". This method is widely used to wrap anything from food to gifts. You can use a vintage handkerchief, a square pocket (for small presents), or even a dollar store bandana as your wrapping. Here's how to do it:

    Furoshiki wrap DIY

    1. Start by placing the present in the middle of the cloth.
    2. Take the top and bottom corners, bring them to the center and tie a knot.
    3. Do the same with the other 2 corners.
    4. Repeat this until you have a nice little bundle of knots at the top.

    That's it; you're done in minutes. Easy, yeah?

     5 Minute Hand Drawn Wrapping Paper

    handmade wrapping paper

     If you're feeling artistic, you can use a paint marker to quickly decorate plain wrapping paper.  

    handmade wrapping paper

    Simply grab a marker, a couple chopsticks, paint dabbers, or even a pencil, a small piece of paper, and some paint. Dab your tool and make dots of different sizes on the paper. You can play around with the sizes to make a snowflake pattern like the one above.

    Let it dry for about 5 minutes and you're good to go. Note that we added this decoration after wrapping the gift, so we could place the accent in the right spot.  

     

    Sponsored: Give a Murphy-Goode Wine Club Membership

    Murphy-Goode Wine Club

    With a Wine Club membership, your friends will get 20% off all wine all the time. Members get convenient access to outstanding wines year round, including limited production wines and those made specifically for wine club members, reserve wines, pre-releases, and library wines.

     

    Personalized Tote Bag

    personalized tote bag DIY

     Gift bags are great, especially if you're giving multiple gifts. For the same price as a patterned paper bag at the discount store, you can score a reusable fabric tote at the craft shop. A simple typographic accent serves as a gift tag. 

    personalized tote bag DIY

     To make one, simply get a fabric pen from the craft store or use a permanent marker to add some detail to this basic canvas tote. 

    Test your design on a sheet of paper before applying to the fabric. Also, make sure to insert a piece of cardboard inside the tote bag so that any excess ink gets trapped there without bleeding onto the back of the tote.

    And ... there you have it. Lots of DIY options to up your wrapping game this season. Have fun and happy holidays! 

    Murphy Goode Wine

     

    This post was sponsored by Murphy-Goode, but all opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that make ManMadeDIY possible.

     

     


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    created at: 12/08/2014 Okay, so this is less of a "how-to" and more of a "buy-this-contraption-and-shoot-fireballs-from-your-wrists" kind of post. Behold PYRO, whose actual tagline is "Shoot Fireballs From Your Empty Hand"...    

    created at: 12/08/2014 No longer simply the realm of Marvel characters, the PYRO was designed by Adam Wilbur of Ellusionist.com and it appears to deliver. It consists of a wristwatch-sized gauntlet of sorts with a separate trigger that can shoot up to four fireballs (made of flash cotton and paper) roughly ten feet in the air before you need to reload. And each pack contains enough ammo to use more than fifty times. The video below feels a little over the top to me, but I can sympathize with his excitement. 

    Kinda.


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  • 12/15/14--07:00: How Bourbon Is Made
  • Ever wonder how America's great bourbon is made? Like, from what it's made, and how does it become liquid, and if it's distilled, why is it brown?Bourbon - Gear PatrolThese guys went on a five-day blitz through twelve distilleries and cut together this video as a visual guide through the entire process.   

    The team set out on their adventure across the Kentucky Bourbon Trail to discover what's been fueling the bourbon boom and to see what it takes to make a truly great American whiskey. Some of their stops include Maker's Mark, Buffalo Trace, Jim Beam, and Woodford Reserve. Check out the video above or click here to read the full article about their trip.Bourbon - Gear Patrol

     


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    HOLIDAY TRADITIONS

    Each year I find myself looking back at the traditions I had as a kid during the holidays.  What exactly makes this season so great? Like most great experiences, it's actually little things that add up to something special. It's the music, the cold weather, the family coming together, and the smell of a pine tree in the living room.  Here's a look at a few holiday traditions everyone should embrace.  

    Bricks from above Home Alone- New York

    1. Christmas movies. My Netflix has exploded with Christmas classics. We watch some every year without fail, and I can quote them verbatim.

    • It's a Wonderful Life - Anything with that old-timey b&w look is automatically a classic. I have watched this movie every year for the past 25 at least. Also, Clarence getting his wings is a pretty satisfying end to the story.
    • Home Alone - It's a childhood nightmare/dream to be left alone. No bedtime, no chores, but also no food and plenty of mishaps. This movie has so many one-liners and classic moments we still find myself fully watching it every year. The lost in New York sequel has my all-time favorite scene in it, bricks smacking the idiot. Hilarious.
    • A Christmas Story - I almost shot my own eye out years ago with a bb gun, and my mouth has been washed out with soap for the exact same reason. I never had bottle-cap glasses, but this story I get.
    • Christmas Vacation - Clark and his stupid antics let me put my stressful holiday issues in perspective. As long as I don't have a feline-related fire, or a septic explosion, there's nothing happening that a bit of Irish eggnog won't fix.

    Pumpkin Roll - The icing on the holiday season

    2. Pumpkin related excellence - Even though Thanksgiving is behind us, there's no reason pumpkin and spices has to be left out. Food is a huge part of family get-togethers and this Pumpkin Roll is a huge part of it. Try out Pumpkin Biscottis and Pumpkin Scones to really get into the sugar/carb coma of Christmas. This is what Christmas tastes like to me. 

    National Lampoons Christmas Lights

    3. Light Gawking - Like Clark Griswold, there are plenty of people around you that go all out with the Christmas decorations. When I say all out, I mean more lights than a Times Square New Years, and an electrical bill that rivals Canada's GDP. Don't let the display go to waste, grab a hot cuppa Joe, a candy cane, tune in the radio, and make the rounds.

    4. Something New - There's always room for some new memories. Look around for a new opportunity to experience the season. Last year, we went ice skating for the first time, before that we headed into the woods to cut down the Christmas tree ourselves. This year embrace something new and figure out a way to keep the magic alive this Christmas season.

    What holiday traditions make this a time of year worth enjoying for you? We love to hear how others make it merry.


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