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    created at: 12/08/2014

    To look your best, you don't need $3000 suits, seven-step, Patrick Bateman-esque face cream routines, or eating obscure Eastern Mediterranean melon extract. It's about a routine of basic hygiene habits, a little creativity and DIY ingenuity, and some plain old common sense.  

    created at: 12/08/2014

    These tips are brought to you in partnership with Gillette Clear Gel, so you can stay cool and confident, starting with your daily routine. Unlike sprays, where the kind of coverage you’ll get tends to be uncertain, Gillette Clear Gel’s fast drying formula instantly eliminates odor-causing bacteria on contact, leaving no white marks and 48 hour odor protection-without compromise.


    created at: 12/08/2014

    1. You can make your haircut last two weeks longer - Visiting the barber every three weeks is fine if you want to spend the time and money, but there are some standard tips - using only a pair of scissors and your bathroom mirror - that will help you eliminate the shagginess. 

    First, comb your sideburns forward (towards your nose), and trim any excess right along the natural line. Then, comb them back, towards your ear, and trim. Follow along the natural curve of your ear to snip away any fuzziness, making small vertical cuts, rather than big, chunky horizontal ones. You could repeat this every four or five days to keep things clean and crisp.

    Then, if you'd like, comb or style your hair as usual, and begin to trim the back. You can use a secondary handheld mirror if you have one, but some small, short clips where the bottom of your scalp meets the thinner, curly neck hair will make a big difference. 

    Lastly, check your cowlick, part, and other transition areas, and make very small snips to naturally fade things back together. It's amazing what removing 1/8-1/4" of hair can do. 

    2. Tame it with lip balm - When you're out for the day, and your hair or beard starts acting up with crazy licks and wily moustache hairs, calm it down with something you already have in your pocket - lip balm. It's made of the same stuff as styling products - wax and essential oils - so it's safe to apply on your face. Just dab a little on your fingers, and rub it around to warm it up. Apply to the problem area, then use a clean finger or comb to smooth things out.

    Oh, you don't carry lip balm? Then get on it, sir. Dry lips are foolish and painful, not manly. 


    created at: 12/08/2014

    3. Stop wearing white tube socks  - Unless you're at the gym or playing a sport - and maybe not even then - I can't think of a single time an adult man needs to wear white cotton crew-length tube socks. The stark contrast between your shoes and your pants and the (dirty) white of sweat socks works on exactly no one. 

    If you want the comfort of thick cotton, go for a medium or dark gray, and keep 'em short. Generally, you want to stick to dark grey, blue, or brown, even with sneakers and jeans. Black only works with black pants and black shoes. Don't go out and trash every pair you have, but when it comes time to replace, go for a dark grey as your standard. And never underestimate the power of wool socks. Your feet will thank you. 

    4. Use a washcloth or sponge in the shower - Since the advent of liquid body wash, many men simply squirt in their hands, lather, and start washing. But your skin is covered with a layer of dead skin cells, so the combo of smooth hands, smooth soap, and smooth, wet skin simply glosses over that layer. No frilly loofas need apply ... just use something as simple as a wash cloth or sponge that will lightly exfoliate the dead skin and, as a result, get you looking cleaner and fresher. 

    5. Use warm and cold water when shaving -  Warm water opens your pores, and softens your beard, making it easier to cut. Keep things warm and steamy when shaving - soaking, rinsing, etc. Shaving in the shower (or just after) will make things plenty smooth.

    Once you've rinsed and wiped down, splash your face with cold water to close your pores while everything is clean, which will further prevent burn and irritation. Only then should you lightly apply an after shave or moisturizer.


    created at: 12/10/2014

    6. Your beard and facial hair shouldn't all be one length - You don't grow a beard by simply not shaving. Unless you're going for the Santa Claus look, facial hair, no matter the style, requires some care. You don't expect the barber to just buzz your hair all to one length and have it come out looking kempt, so don't expect the same of your beard. 

    So, try to fade all transition lines - your cheeks, your sideburns, your neck, perhaps even your nose and mustache, depending on your growth. Avoid a rigid, overly manicured look, and continue to use a razor on your upper cheeks and anything below the top of your Adam's apple.  

    7. Smell Like a Man - At some point, you're going to have to figure out what your smell is. Now's a good time to start incorporating it into your daily routine. According to a survey commissioned by Gillette, 83% of women surveyed said smelling bad would be the biggest turn off when meeting guy, so even if you don't notice it, someone else will.

    If you don't already have a cologne, lotion, or body wash that suits you, try experimenting. There's nothing wrong with ordering a bunch of samples online and wearing one a day for a few weeks. Keep a log of what you like and what you don't, and what reactions you get. That's usually the best way to go. Ask the people you trust - women and men - for their honest opinion. 

    Sponsored: With Gillette Clear Gel, guys can have the confidence to say #NOSWEAT, no matter what the situation. No other men’s clear gel is stronger than Gillette Clear Gel and “2 twists of the dial” is all it takes to achieve #NOSWEAT confidence


    8. Tuck In Your Shirt -  Just try it, especially if you're wearing a sport coat or sweater. It can help give shirts you already own a whole new look. 


    created at: 12/08/2014

    9. Take care of your hands, fingers and toes - Like it or not, people will judge you by your hands. Whether you care what they think is entirely up to you, but at least be aware that the state of your hands, fingers, nails and toes says something about you. Make sure you like what it's saying.

    If you're in the workshop, the garage, or at the gym, your hands are going to show it. And that's fine. But for most other contexts, you want your fingernails clean and trimmed; same goes for toes, and clean up those hangnails. Dry, flaky skin is a problem for everyone this time of year (winter), so find a basic, unscented lotion you like and use it. A basic $2.00 pumice stone can work wonders for your feet. 

    10. Trim Your Nose Hairs - I know, this is kinda weird, but it's true ... as you get older you get nose hairs, and you need to keep 'em out of sight. Nothing says, "I didn't even look in the mirror this morning" like a big 'ol scraggly hair hanging out of your nostril. Get a nose-trimmer attachment for your beard trimmer, or just some nose-trimming scissors (the kind with the rounded tips so you don't butcher yourself), and make a point of not becoming your grandfather (at least in that one department).


      created at: 12/08/2014

    Enter To Win!

    • Gillette Clear Gel branded/canvas leather backpack to hold items
    • Sample of Gillette Clear Gel and fact sheet
    • #NOSWEAT leather agenda
    • #NOSWEAT pen
    • #NOSWEAT collar stays
    • Gillette Clear Gel smartphone charger
    • Tin of Gillette Clear Gel mints
    • #NOSWEAT recipe cards to use when cooking for family, coworkers or significant others

    This post is sponsored by Gillette Clear Gel.  

    Thank you for supporting the brands that make ManMade possible.  

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    Leather Covered NotebookI don't remember when it happened, but one day I decided to write. I took a simple journal and filled it up with my thoughts, dreams and goals. A basic notepad was nice, but after a while something like that became so personal it was only natural to upgrade such a personal item.   This simple sketchbook is easy to make, has a durable cover to protect the pages, and can be refilled easily once it's filled up.

    Leather sketchbook

    Take a look at the easy tutorial and then get right down to creating a custom notebook that will soon feel like a leather bound friend at your side.

    While you're there, take a look at their DIY Leather Pencil Case, and the Handmade Pencils for a custom set of classy writing accessories.

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    created at: 12/16/2014

    Egg nog is a divisive libation, loved by its proponents and eschewed by any means from its haters. Many think the idea of warming wine and adding oranges and cloves and such is a waste of perfectly good wine, and many of us are happy to simply take a black coffee and a glass of whiskey, rather than trying to Irish up anything.    But, filled with the cheer of the holidays, we can all hold hands and gather round the yule log to sing the praises of the Hot Toddy. We're naming it the perfect wintertime drink - not just because its warm, but because every single component is conducive to the season. 

    Here's why: 

    Aged Spirits. Whether it's bourbon, dark rum, brandy, Scotch whisky, even añejo tequila, a hot toddy is always (or should be) made with barrel aged booze. It's the mellowing process whether the alcohol mixes with the toasted wood in the barrel that produces those warm, vanilla-like flavors that work so well when it's cold out.

    It's hot. As in Hot Toddy. The drink is hot, and in winter, you are not. Enough said.

    It's full of spices. The reason Christmas smells "like Christmas?" In addition to bringing in a tree from the outdoors, it's those warm, winter-y spices like cinnamon, cloves, allspice, ginger, and nutmeg. Before total globalization, these exports from the Middle and Far East were precious commodities, used efficiently in special occasion dishes, like for, say, the holidays. Remember, it was spices, not oil or gold, that fueled world exploration and international conflict for centuries. 

    It features winter citrus. Know that old tradition of getting an orange in your stocking? For generations, like spices, for those who didn't live in citrus-growing climates, a citrus fruit was a rare treat, available for export when they were at their most hardy, in late fall through winter.

    It's salubrious. That is, it's good for your health. And who couldn't use a little booze-filled boost during cold and flu season? It's like when your grandma gives you hot tea with lemon and honey, except, you know, there's whiskey in it. 

    created at: 12/16/2014

    Convinced? Let's make one. 
    These can easily be sized up to make in batch and kept warm in a slow cooker. In that case, simply add the spices directly to the crock. 

    • 1 1/2 oz bourbon or Scotch whisky (or Irish whiskey, rye, or brandy, or rum, etc, etc)
    • 1 oz. honey or 1:1 raw sugar simple syrup 
    • 3/4 oz. lemon juice 
    • 1 2-3" cinnamon stick, 1 clove, 1 allspice berry
    • Boiling water
    • Garnish: orange or lemon slice or peel

    Combine spirits, sweetener, and lemon juice in a mug. Crack spices and add, then top with boiling water. Add orange or lemon and enjoy. 



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    created at: 12/15/2014

    Looking for a new challenge in your woodworking? Have fun deciphering these vintage instructions for a DIY repeating crossbow from Popular Mechanics.   created at: 12/15/2014Originally published in August, 1951, the entire article has been preserved thanks to the work of the team at The article boasts that "this repeating crossbow has all the handling characteristics of a fine repeating rifle of the slide-action type. In the hands of an experienced crossbowman it will deliver five shots in five seconds with near-rifle accuracy over ranges up to 40 yards."created at: 12/15/2014

    Check out the entire article here and download the PDF.

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    Glow Table

    Looking to blow your guests' minds at the next dinner party? Sit them down at your very own DIY Glow Table which emits this cool blue glow in partial or total darkness.   

    Glow TableDesigned by Mike Warren, this unique table is made of Pecky Cypress hardwood with a mixture of photoluminescent powder and a clear casting resin poured into the naturally occurring voids in the wood. Simply leave the table under a light source throughout the day (outdoors is nice) and let the glow overtake you as the evening sets in. This idea struck me as pretty cool and definitely something you could take as an ideological starting point and then go wild with in whatever DIY direction you chose.  Glow TableCheck out the video below or view the full directions from

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    credit: MMortah []

    Freaking out because you haven't finished everything you need to do on your list? No worries! We have some last minute tips for you.'s okay. It happens to the best of us: we get caught up in the holiday frenzy and, you know, we forget. So, we're sharing some last minute ideas and tips that will help you (and us!!) get through it with minimal damage.

    1. Decor: Either DIY it or wait 'til the very last minute:

    It's kinda late to go on a ornament shopping spree and chances are you'll get stressed out and spend more than you need to so, you have 2 options. DIY IT: Go to the discount store, buy plain ornaments and spray paint them. Done, or WAIT: Stores have HUGE sales close to Christmas Day, so you may leave your tree ready and go hunting for ornaments a few days'll be hectic, but it'll be affordable. 


    homemade smores

    2. No time for a feast! Just make one mighty dish.

    Cooking a turkey from scratch? Preparing the gravy? Roasting the veggies? Ain't nobody got time for that! Well, you would have, if you prepared. But you didn't, you're not spending the whole day in the kitchen. So, here's an easy way out of that: make ONE mighty dish that'll drive everyone nuts. The rest you can buy it from the store and dress it all fancy in a plate.

    Try this recipe of homemade s'mores - it's wintery, easy to make, and a crowd pleaser! Make sure you feed your guests that dish right at the end so it's the last thing they remember. Happy memories for all!


    DIY mugs

    3. No time for gift shopping! Just dollar-rama-it

    Oh crap, you haven't even started with your list, have you? Ok, don't panic. Just go to the dollar store, pick up a few mugs, grab a stencil and some paint and follow the instructions in this easy DIY mug project. Stuff it with chocolates or tea and you're done! Best of all, you can make a big batch of these mugs so you can be done in one evening, rather than having to drive around the city hunting down for last minute gifts.

    If you want to get extra crafty, you could even make some rustic tote bags for all of your friends (considering that you are good at working with fabric and you know what you're doing). Here's a good tutorial for bags.


    Candle DIY

    4. If you're expecting company, make some quick goodie bags to lessen the blow of "I forgot to buy you a real present"

    This idea is for A: people that forgot to get something for their friends and/or B: people that didn't think of bringing a hostess gift.

    Get a few paper bags and fill them up with goodies - include some candles (even better if you can washi tape them to look more custom), chocolates, coffee, and some cookies. You may not excel at getting all the details together, but you are a pro at making people feel awesome.


    DIY printed tree

    5. When everything else fails, create a distraction! Like this super cool DIY printed tree

    Dang son, you didn't get a tree, which is quintessential for hosting a holiday party, what were you thinking!? 

    You should be thankful that there are some people in this world like Molly from Almost Makes Perfect that have some great ideas to save the day, like this DIY printed tree! How cool. It costs no more than $20 bucks and it totally brings the holiday cheer into your place. There, done and done - oh and bonus points of this project: no messy clean up!


    cocktail recipe

    6. Get everybody really drunk and be responsible about it

    Not that we advocate drinking like a fish, but hey, if that's the thing to save the occasion, then why not do it?! Make sure to stock up your bar REALLY well and ask your friends before hand if they'd like something in specific. A few cocktails make a big difference! Remember though, you have to be responsible about it, after all, you want to enjoy yourself, right?! 

    Here are a few tips to take care of your friends:

    • Reserve a few cabs in advance so your friends don't have to drive
    • Get your inflatable mattress out in case a couple friends need to crash your place
    • Pick a designated driver if someone brought their car
    • Use apps like Uber to schedule any additional transportation
    • Know when to say "that's it for you, buddy"

    Make sure to figure it our BEFORE you get your cocktails on, that way you can all enjoy the holiday buzz in a responsible way. 

    created at: 12/21/2013

    7. Getting bored? Play a game!

    If you notice your party is slowly turning into a snooze fest, then get a game out and bring on the laughs! Obviously we recommend something with a bit of shock factor to it - Cards Against Humanity! Or course.

    And don't forget that you don't NEED to buy a gift for everyone, you can instead give a donation in their name and get good karma points! Check out Scatter Joy for some wonderful E-Cards that will help children get the education they need OR purchase some art to help people affected by the typhoon in the Philippines on Artists Heal PH December pop-up shop

    Games, good karma, food. I think we got you covered! Now go enjoy the holidays and have as much eggnog as you can possibly drink. 

    Happy holidays!





    Happy holidays!




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    Rocking Chair

    Mid-Century modern decor has been making a comeback in recent years, and 2014 in particular saw a big resurgence in the industrial design world. The designs are often simple and sleek, with angular repetitions bespeaking an industrial creator. However, that doesn't mean the style can't be earthy or rustic.   Rocking Chair

    Eric Singer, founder of Experiment With Nature, created this custom rocking chair for his Portland home last winter that looks perfectly comfortable cozied up next to a wood-burning stove while also keeping its unique mid-century style. A versatile addition to a variety of different home decor styles. Rocking ChairCheck out the photos from his project here.

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    Linguistic MapI've always believed that it's impossible to truly understand a culture without having a firm grasp on the language. Natural linguistic differences lead to differing linguistic thoughts and perceptions of the world, and those differences can have lasting impacts on the evolution of cultures. For the brief period of time that I was a Classics major in college I put a lot of time into my Ancient Greek and Latin, with the exciting result that I was able to maneuver my way through Italy speaking nothing more than bastardized Latin. 

    Linguists tend to draw a basic language tree to chart out the evolution of languages over time, but the image above is a radical new design that I particularly enjoyed. The image is a page out of a dystopian web comic (Stand Still. Stay Silent.) that takes place in an imaginative, post-apocalyptic Nordic world, created by Minna Sundberg.

    Click here to view the full-resolution Language Tree


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    Homebrewed Beer Logo

    Once that lid is on the fermentation bucket, it seems like everything is complete. This final part of the series looks into what happens during the fermentation period, and the final step before you can sit back and enjoy a handcrafted beer.  

    Primary FermentationPrimary Fermentation As the yeast begins the very important (almost magic) job of converting the sugars into alcohol, quite a few things need to happen.  First, keep the brew away from light and at a steady temperature. Different types of yeast thrive at different temperatures, Ales prefer 65-70 degrees, Heavier Yeast likes it a bit colder (50-55). Without much of an investment, a stable closet or cellar temperature can be used to keep general consistency.  It’s very important to avoid temperature swings or extreme conditions. If the yeast is too cold, the process can stall; too hot can cause off-flavors (imagine describing your beer as “meaty”). I have a steady 65 degrees or so in my closet, which makes it an ideal location to ferment as long as I keep it out of the way. As a bonus, my closet now smells just a bit like fresh bread. Although the fermentation can be observed in a glass carboy easy enough without risking contamination, avoid lifting the lid to peer in as this can introduce bacteria and undesired flavors.

    The initial fermentation phase generally takes between 7 and 10 days, with a secondary fermentation of up to 30 days. During the first phase, the yeast is active and a significant amount of bubbling will occur out of the vapor lock. As the activity slows, the yeast will drop to the bottom of the bucket. Secondary fermentation is when the beer is transferred to a second container and additives are introduced to enhance the brew. Our recipe called for addition of charred oak chips soaked in Bourbon at the 7 day mark, and then adding split vanilla beans at day 14. This gave the beer a distinct smoky flavor with a sweet nose and dry vanilla finish.

    Charred Boubon Soaked Oak Chips and Vanilla

    Transfer to Secondary Fermenter -

    There really is no need to transfer a beer to secondary if you aren’t adding something, so skip this step if it’s not necessary. To transfer the beer to a secondary container, the process uses a simple siphon hose. With the full container on the counter, a hose (fully sanitized) is inserted into the brew and primed by dipping it repeatedly until the liquid creates a siphon. Avoid stirring up the settled sludge at the bottom of the container while starting the siphon, and keep the hose close to the surface to avoid sucking in much sediment. As the liquid is transferred, keep the outlet hose as close to the bottom of the new container, and under the liquid as it fills to keep from oxidizing the beer which can trigger some strange tastes down the line. As the container empties, there will be a bit of waste at the bottom but resist the urge to get it all – you’ll end up stirring up sediment and nobody likes a chewy ale (there are a few exceptions, but I generally like clear beer). If you grab a sample at this point, (use a wine thief) you will get a good idea of how the brew is progressing. There will likely be very little carbonation, and the flavors will be young so something may stand out more than you hoped but a bit of aging tends to mild most of that. After transfer, get the lid on as fast as possible and put it back in the dark.

    Secondary Fermentor Transfer

    To Bottle or Keg? –

    Now comes the time to decide if bottles or a keg is the right direction.  Generally, bottling is a messy process that increases the risk of contamination, and it adds a few weeks to the brewing process since carbonation has to happen in the bottles.  In terms of cost, bottling is much cheaper, and bottles can be dispersed between friends. A 5 gallon batch of beer is about 60 bottles, which can be collected and washed, or bought from the homebrew store for about 25-30 dollars. The process involves dissolving a package of “bottling sugar” in water and adding to the beer just before transfer to bottles. This addition of sugar jump starts the yeast again, and that is where the carbonation comes from. The bottles are filled and capped using a siphon hose and hand capping tool. From start to finish plan on bottling to take an afternoon of sanitation and clean-up. After that it takes a few weeks for adequate carbonation, so waiting it out can be a pain. Kegging the beer is a much easier process, involving a simple transfer into the keg and then the addition of Co2 for carbonation. This method is ready for enjoyment within a few days or so. The downside is that a keg system can cost up to a few hundred dollars, and the beer is hard to distribute. Unless a party is going down, no one needs 5 gallons of beer in their closet (although a built-in home bar is one defining characteristic of success in my book).

    Bottled Beers

    Overall, bottling is an ideal way to share the love of homebrew with your friends (bonus: it also shows off your ability to make beer) and as the cheaper method I would recommend it as a starting point to keep the complexity and costs of the start-up to a minimum. Ending up with up to 60 bottles of beer to share will make you a popular friend.

    I’ll wrap it up by detailing a few more final take-aways from my recent foray into the art of homebrewed beer:

    1. Boiling water for hours in a house produces a substantial amount of humidity and yeasty odors. If at all possible boil outside. Of course the extreme amount of sugar in the grain will attract bees, flys, and God-knows what other creatures to harass you while you craft your beer. Choose wisely between the ire of your significant other or the persistent hassle of nosy insects.
    2. There is a significant amount of sediment in that fermenting bucket. Whatever you do, don’t siphon that nasty junk into your bottles. That much sediment just screams amateur (I’m currently drinking one of those sediment-laden brews for dramatic effect).
    3. You will feel like an idiot talking to the expert at the brew store. Try as they might, it’s hard to talk shop with someone who doesn’t know the difference between BIAB and extract. Walk in ready to learn, and willing to ask stupid questions - they’ll set you right up.
    4. One of the worst things that can happen is your first beer will turn out amazing, and you won’t know why. From that day on, every beer will pale in comparison to that heavenly brew and no amount of replication will produce such great results.
    5. After the first few experimental beers, you’ll brew a nice light lager because there are only so many heavy sweet brews you can handle. Don’t be afraid to go plain Jane with a nice pale ale.

    This is the final part in a four part series on home brewing beer. Hopefully we’ve inspired you to take a leap into this awesome process. If you end up brewing a beer, you owe me a bottle; or at least a comment on how it went.  Cheers! -D

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    created at: 12/18/2014
    This sponsored post is brought to you by the Quicksilver® Card from Capital One®

    We are all busy – but knowing how to maximize your time where it counts will put you ahead of the game. Gain valuable minutes in the morning by creating a closet that's as organized as all of the toys in your garage. Here are four ways you can simplify your wardrobe right now:


    1. Invest in Closet Organizers

    Spend your next Saturday building out your closet with shelving and other organizing models to make room for all of your clothes. Be sure to build enough shelving to properly fit all your sweaters and more delicate fabric pieces that may stretch out if placed on a hanger. In addition, pick up some multi-tiered hangers for similar pairs of the same pants to save space.


    2. Devise a Grouping System

    Create a system in your closet that makes it easy to locate similar clothing items. Cluster dress shirts next to dress shirts, dress pants next to dress pants and t-shirts next to t-shirts. To further help find what you’re looking for, color coordinate your pieces from lightest to darkest.


    3. Place Accessories in Full View

    To get the most out of your ties, belts and cufflinks, it’s important to be able to see them. Purchase a set of hooks or a small rack to place over your closet door. No longer are the mornings where you have to sift through all your ties to find your favorite belt! Hey, it may even inspire you to dress up more. 


    4. Up Your Shoe Game 

    Many people neglect the bottom half of their closet, which means they’re missing out on functional space. Use a shoe rack to display all of your footwear vs. leaving them lying on top of each other on the floor. Maximize the rack by organizing your shoes in opposite directions (heel to toe).


    Now, you can simplify your life even more by earning unlimited cash back with the Capital One Quicksilver Cash Rewards Credit Card. That means every purchase from your closet organizers and hooks to shoe racks and more will help you earn unlimited 1.5% cash back. #KaCHING! 

    Learn more about the benefits and rewards here:



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    For the last couple years, I've had a framed tattered page I tore out from an old book of poetry (pictured below) that I picked up at a garage sale in Minnesota when I was a boy. I've taken it with me wherever I've moved, usually displaying it on my desk, although occasionally on a shelf or bedside table. The poem is titled SEA-FEVER and came from a poetry collection called Salt-Water Poems and Ballads by John Masefield, first published in 1902.  created at: 12/14/2014 The poem expresses the yearning for the grey seas from the perspective of a presumably landlocked rover, and was one of my initial inspirations for rafting the Mississippi River.

    I must go down to the seas again, to the lonely sea and the sky,
    And all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by;
    And the wheel’s kick and the wind’s song and the white sail’s shaking,
    And a grey mist on the sea’s face, and a grey dawn breaking,
    I must go down to the seas again, for the call of the running tide
    Is a wild call and a clear call that may not be denied;
    And all I ask is a windy day with the white clouds flying,
    And the flung spray and the blown spume, and the sea-gulls crying.
    I must go down to the seas again, to the vagrant gypsy life,
    To the gull’s way and the whale’s way where the wind’s like a whetted knife;
    And all I ask is a merry yarn from a laughing fellow-rover,
    And quiet sleep and a sweet dream when the long trick’s over.


    Nelson Mandela Next up is INVICTUS (Latin for "unconquered), a short Victorian poem written by the English poet William Ernest Henley in 1875 and publish in 1888. A poem about the indomitable spirit of humankind, it has served as a comfort for great men throughout history, most notably Nelson Mandela during his 27 year incarceration in the Robben Island prison. Ironically, the poem was composed from an infirmary while Henley was recovering from a recent leg amputation... 

    Out of the night that covers me,
          Black as the pit from pole to pole,
    I thank whatever gods may be
          For my unconquerable soul.

    In the fell clutch of circumstance
          I have not winced nor cried aloud.
    Under the bludgeonings of chance
          My head is bloody, but unbowed.

    Beyond this place of wrath and tears
          Looms but the Horror of the shade,
    And yet the menace of the years
          Finds and shall find me unafraid.

    It matters not how strait the gate,
          How charged with punishments the scroll,
    I am the master of my fate,
          I am the captain of my soul.

    created at: 12/14/2014PIONEERS! O PIONEERS is Walt Whitman's great ode to the swelling spirit of those who set out in search of a better life throughout the history of western expansion. Originally published in Leaves of Grass in 1865, the poem stresses perseverance, determination, and the strength of youth carving its own path in the face of elderly wisdom. Here are the first six stanzas.

    COME, my tan-faced children,
    Follow well in order, get your weapons ready;
    Have you your pistols? have you your sharp edged axes? Pioneers! O pioneers!

    For we cannot tarry here,
    We must march my darlings, we must bear the brunt of danger, 5
    We, the youthful sinewy races, all the rest on us depend, Pioneers! O pioneers!

    O you youths, western youths,
    So impatient, full of action, full of manly pride and friendship,
    Plain I see you, western youths, see you tramping with the foremost, Pioneers! O pioneers!

    Have the elder races halted? 
    Do they droop and end their lesson, wearied, over there beyond the seas?
    We take up the task eternal, and the burden, and the lesson, Pioneers! O pioneers!

    All the past we leave behind;
    We debouch upon a newer, mightier world, varied world,
    Fresh and strong the world we seize, world of labor and the march, Pioneers! O pioneers! 

    We detachments steady throwing,
    Down the edges, through the passes, up the mountains steep,
    Conquering, holding, daring, venturing, as we go, the unknown ways, Pioneers! O pioneers!

    A series of epic Levi's ads (directed by True Detective's Cary Fukunaga) featured excerpts of the poem, and you can also hear the entire poem performed by Will Greer here

    ODE (commonly remembered as WE ARE THE MUSIC MAKERS) is a poem written by English poet Arthur O'Shaughnessy and published in 1873. ODE is an elegiac tale one might tell oneself in the quietness between creative projects. The poem has nine stanzas all together, however the opening three are often the only ones remembered. I used to recite the first two stanzas to myself before going onstage each night, when I performed The Cherry Orchard in NYC and it's one that I still love having with me. Also, the poem holds the origin of the phrase, "movers and shakers." And Willy Wonka quotes the opening lines in the 1971, points there. 

    WE are the music-makers,
    And we are the dreamers of dreams,
    Wandering by lone sea-breakers,
    And sitting by desolate streams;
    World-losers and world-forsakers,
    On whom the pale moon gleams:
    Yet we are the movers and shakers
    Of the world for ever, it seems.

    With wonderful deathless ditties
    We build up the world's great cities, 
    And out of a fabulous story
    We fashion an empire's glory:
    One man with a dream, at pleasure,
    Shall go forth and conquer a crown;
    And three with a new song's measure 
    Can trample an empire down.

    We, in the ages lying
    In the buried past of the earth,
    Built Nineveh with our sighing,
    And Babel itself with our mirth;
    And o'erthrew them with prophesying
    To the old of the new world's worth;
    For each age is a dream that is dying,
    Or one that is coming to birth.

    created at: 12/14/2014ULYSSES is one of my all-time favorite poems and one that I almost accidentally committed to memory simply by reading it so many times. Written from the perspective of the famously harried Ulysses (Latin for the Greek hero, Odysseus), the poem was hailed by T. S. Elliot as "a perfect poem." At once contemplative and restless, the poem takes the form of a blank verse dramatic monologue as the man of constant sorrow seeks to reconcile the conflicting aspects of his aspirational personality. It's SO GOOD. Written by Alfred Lord Tennyson in 1833 and published in 1842, the poem has had a lasting impact on pop culture and was featured in both the Dead Poet's Society and in this epic sequenceof James Bond running from 2012's Skyfall. 

    This is the first section: 

    It little profits that an idle king,
    By this still hearth, among these barren crags,
    Match'd with an aged wife, I mete and dole
    Unequal laws unto a savage race,
    That hoard, and sleep, and feed, and know not me.
    I cannot rest from travel: I will drink
    Life to the lees: All times I have enjoy'd
    Greatly, have suffer'd greatly, both with those
    That loved me, and alone, on shore, and when
    Thro' scudding drifts the rainy Hyades
    Vext the dim sea: I am become a name;
    For always roaming with a hungry heart
    Much have I seen and known; cities of men
    And manners, climates, councils, governments,
    Myself not least, but honour'd of them all;
    And drunk delight of battle with my peers,
    Far on the ringing plains of windy Troy.
    I am a part of all that I have met;
    Yet all experience is an arch wherethro'
    Gleams that untravell'd world whose margin fades
    For ever and forever when I move.
    How dull it is to pause, to make an end,
    To rust unburnish'd, not to shine in use!
    As tho' to breathe were life! Life piled on life
    Were all too little, and of one to me
    Little remains: but every hour is saved
    From that eternal silence, something more,
    A bringer of new things; and vile it were
    For some three suns to store and hoard myself,
    And this gray spirit yearning in desire
    To follow knowledge like a sinking star,
    Beyond the utmost bound of human thought.


    Honorable Mention: THE MAN IN THE ARENA

    This isn't a poem, per se, but still a masculine passage that has served me manyfold as a result of of committing it to memory. It's often referred to as "The Man in The Area" and is taken from Theodore Roosevelt's 1910 speech at the Sorbonne in Paris titled, "Citizenship in a Republic." The sentiment is one that he expressed a many different ways throughout his life, even repeating the metaphor in numerous ways, yet it is best expressed in the passage reproduced below:

    "It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

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    Brown SistersIt began in 1975 when Nicholas Nixon whimsically asked if he could take a photo of his wife and her three sisters. A year later, they were all together again when he suggested they recreate their poses for a new photo. They liked the idea and have been doing the same thing every year, FOR FORTY YEARS.   created at: 12/21/2014The series which has been on tour for the last couple decades was recently shown at the MoMA this past October and will be coming out soon as a book titled, The Brown Sisters: Forty Years

    created at: 12/21/2014My family used to send out a yearly Christmas card (with everyone in roughly the same position) that we could compare year to year, but wrangling six hyperactive children is a bit more of a hassle so our friends received a Valentine's Day card instead. The only real fun part about taking the pictures was getting to look back over the years and see how everyone changed. I find the level to which Nixon took this idea to be incredibly inspiring, and I'm still thinking about how I can document the changes in my life in new and artistic ways. Thoughts?

    created at: 12/21/2014Check out the full gallery on

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    Framed Flat ScreenWhile that flat screen looks much better than the massive tube model that used to be there, hanging it on the wall doesn't make it blend in. This simple reclaimed lumber frame makes it into something worth starting at.   It's always bothered me to have a room designed around the TV. While we watch plenty of shows (Nashville and Blue Bloods at the moment), I like to turn off the screen and have the room still function as a space to relax and connect with my family. Hanging our shiny new flat screen on the wall freed up the floor but the black shiny plastic just didn't match up with everything else. What to do? Frame it up with some reclaimed wood.

    Flat Screen Wooden FrameThe folks over at Remodelaholic did a great job detailing how they took a few pieces of scrap and framed up their tech. A few things to remember, don't forget a hole for power cables, and leave plenty of venting along the bottom and top to avoid overheating the TV. Plasma televisions especially need to be vented properly to avoid melting down.


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    Transferring A Print To Wood

    I've seen plenty of tutorials out there detailing how to transfer prints onto wood. This simple project will turn your prints into something uniquely yours.I don't know about you, but sometimes I feel that a frame doesn't do a great print justice. An exceptional picture needs an incredible display and transferring it to wood makes it really stand out on the wall. I've transferred a few prints myself with varying levels of success, so don't plan on it looking as good as the tutorial from themetapicture right from the start. But with a bit of practice you'll be proudly putting some one-of-a-kind prints on your wall.

    Transfer Photo To WoodWhile most get into extensive details, this tutorial goes the other direction and highlights great photos showing how it works from fresh print to finished product.  The minimal descriptions are a bit saucy, but filled with enough detail to be useful so look past the sailor's mouth and you'll find a good weekend project.

    Transfer Prints To Wood


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    Building a BoatI've wanted to build a boat ever since I sunk my small dingy on the Trinity Lake as a kid. Once I have the space, I will fashion a sea-worthy vessel and take it out to brave the ocean, or at least a sizeable pond.   The exceptional craftsmen over at Merchants and Makers know what quality is. Their articles highlight some incredible craftsmen that carry on traditions for generations (for example, check out their piece on Wheelwrighting). While I love to read about craftsmen, a piece that really inspired me was from an interview with Yvonne Green, Principle of the Boat Building Academy in Dorset. I've always loved the extreme detail that goes into a handmade boat, from the materials to the techniques there's something incredible about being a maker that can build a boat. Boats are so complex, and require so many different skills to construct; which essentially makes it my unicorn, the something I must one day create.

    Boat Building AcademyOnce I have the time, I will build an 18ft stitch and glue sea kayak. This boat has been on my mind for years. As an avid water rat, slicing through the water in a svelt kayak is one of my favorite pastimes, doing it in a custom handmade boat would be the closest to Nirvana that I can imagine.

    Guillemot Stitch and Glue Kayak

    So go ahead and read the interview, and then leave a comment on the boat you plan to build one day.

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    DIY TobogganI grew up in a house on a hill that was so steep that the city eventually took out the road behind it because of the number of car accidents. As a result, it became the prime sledding route of the neighborhood. The best part of course was the that this ferocious hill ended in a perpendicular road, so that you were forced to bail out of your sled at full speed before flying into oncoming traffic. So you can imagine the number of hours I spent careening down the hill as an adventurous young boy who enjoyed flirting with disaster.

    Growing up, we generally used cheap, plastic sleds from Costco or the like, but I'd always been interested in the hardier frame and elegant look of a wooden toboggan, and I recently came across this relatively simple design from Koubiacof

    DIY Toboggancreated at: 12/21/2014Check out the full instructions here.


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    Netflix HacksThe holidays are a perfect time to catch up on all those movies and TV shows you've been waiting to binge watch. But as everyone knows, it's hard to find something everyone in the family wants to watch and it's easy for things to spiral out of control when facing the paralysis of endless options provided by Netflix. No more.   The team at CoolMaterial.comhas compiled this fantastic list of 7 Netflix Hacks You've Probably Never Heard Of, and they're all worth checking out (despite the dangling preposition).

    I've personally applied the Chrome extension, Netflix Enhancer, which allows you to display the IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes score as you scroll over each title, and it's definitely changed my Netflix experience for the better. Another great hack is the website A Better Queue which allows you to browse films by their Rotten Tomatoes score, if you're into that thing. There's even a link to Netflix's hidden settings that allows you adjust buffering issues, etc. 

    Check out the full article here.

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    Custom Branding Iron

    Marking my gear with a sharpie has generally been my preferred method of marking things as mine, but in the past few months I've been seeing some pretty impressive ways to skip the marker for something a bit more classy.   I've been marking my stuff since the first day of school, when I walked into that classroom with everything (including my tighty-whities) proudly marked "Skinner". As I've grown up, fewer items get marked but I still find myself looking for a discreet way to personalize my things. While this brand won't work on plastic, fabric, or metal surfaces, the majority of durable goods I have around could use a bit of custom personalization, especially my hiking gear that tends to get passed around in the woods. This branding iron project is a great starter into working with metal, with only a few basic tools necessary to get the job done right. The small amount of materials needed and small space required all point to a perfect afternoon in the garage.

    Custom Wood Brand

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    Winter GlovesWe're well into winter, but it's never too late to invest in some great winter gloves. With options ranging from practical work gloves to your fancier New Year's Eve party options, this helpful list from has affordable entries for every man.   Under Armour Gloves

    There are unique athletic gloves for the winter months (like the Under Armor Infrared Escape Running Gloves pictured above) or hip driving gloves a la Ryan Gosling (Coach Leather Driving Gloves currently on sale and pictured below).

    Coach Leather Gloves

    Check out the full list by Amos Kwon on

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    Make your own Vinegar

    Right now, you can find more tutorials on how to use vinegar to clean your toilet than you can find to use vinegar with a delicious dinner. This is a travesty for such an amazing and delicious liquid! Unlike most condiments, vinegar is one that you can make yourself and will taste better than anything you can buy in a store. I guarantee it! Here is a simple tutorial on turning leftover wine into homemade vinegar.   

    Vinegar is a versatile condiment. When reduced it can become a sweet sticky sauce for chicken and pork. It adds a depth of flavor and bite to soups and marinades. Think of wine vinegars like a concentrated version of your favorite vintage. If you recipe calls for wine, sub it with vinegar and see how amazing the flavor can be! 

    Making your own vinegar is a great way to give some use to wine leftover from your latest dinner party. You will find that any kind of wine, whether cheap or very expensive, will make a vinegar better than anything you buy in a store.

    Here's what you'll need:

    • 1 bottle of red wine - I used 1.5 L of Cabernet Sauvignon 
    • 1 Growler or large crock -You want something with a lot of surface area at the top
    • 1 piece of cheese cloth or paper towel with a rubber band
    • 1 bottle of unpasturized vinegar - I used Braggs apple cider vinegar. It still has the mother starter in it.
    • funnel
    • measuring cup

    Vinegar is made by allowing an active culture, called "the mother," to feed on the natural alcohol in the wine which, in turn, adds a significant amount of acid to the vinegar. Adding Braggs apple cider vinegar–which has a mother in it already–to your wine shorten the time it takes to make your condiment.

    Start by thoroughly cleaning your growler, funnel, measuring cups and other things that may touch your wine. This will help prevent any unwanted bacteria from forming in your vinegar. Once you've done that, fill your growler 2/3 full of wine. For my growler, that was about 4 cups. Make your own Vinegar

    Next, fill the rest of your growler with the apple cider vinegar. About 2 cups for my batch. Be careful to stop filling up your growler before it reaches the neck of the bottle. You want a lot of surface area for the oxygen to penetrate the vinegar and keep the cultures working.

    Cover your growler with cheesecloth and secure with a rubber band. This will keep out the fruit flies and other pesky insects from getting into your vinegar.

    Make your own Vinegar

    Next, grab a sticker label and write what kind of wine you have in the growler and the date you created it. This will help keep you organized when you have 20 bottles of vinegar brewing in your basement. 

    Make your own Vinegar

    Once you've labeled your bottle, place your vinegar in a dark place to sit for several months. Mine is sitting in the closet next to my water heater. The ambient heat will actually help the fermenting process. I've found that when I've followed this recipe, the wine will turn into a decent, useable vinegar in about a month. You can let it sit for as long as you like, the longer it sits, the more it intensifies in flavor.

    Whenever you have a leftover bottle of red wine, you can add it to your vinegar growler. It will feed the mother and add complexities over time. 

    Make your own Vinegar

    Whenever you're ready to use some of your vinegar, pour it through a coffee filter to remove any sediment. I like to bottle my vinegar in leftover liquor bottles with cork stoppers. Just like wine, the cork stopper will allow the vinegar to continue to age and breathe in my pantry. 

    Go Beyond Wine Vinegar
    You can also apply this to any beverage containing alcohol or sugar. Fruit juices, beers, ciders and liquors can be turned into vinegar. Imagine a craft beer malt vinegar or a bourbon vinegar. The possibilities are endless! 

    I'm still new to vinegar making, I'd love to hear your experiences. Have you made any wild and unique ones?


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