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    created at: 06/01/2015

    It's June, baby. Which means: it's officially grilling season. Not that it ever went away, but summer's the time to move from "I'm gonna fire up the grill cause it's cold outside and I really need some of warm weather flavor" to creating entire feasts outdoors and over an open flame.

    And to be successful, you gotta stay organized, and have a place to work. So, let's build this DIY grill cart complete with a work surface, storage shelves, tool hocks and racks, and lots more.       

    If you want to learn how to make your own grill cart, you can sign for this free DIY Workshop at your local Home Depot on Saturday, June 20th, just in time for Father's Day. It's available at Home Depot locations all across the U.S., and it doesn't cost a cent to learn.

    created at: 06/01/2015

    The DIY Workshop will cover the basics of building this easy and oh-so-useful project, provide measured instructions, and offer basic tips on creating from standard lumber and home center materials. It's also a great option to learn about basic and safe power tool use. The whole thing is constructed with easy-to-find and affordable dimensional lumber, so you whip this guy up over a weekend, and be ready for grilling season! 

    The DIY Grill Cart Workshop takes place on Saturday, June 20, 2015 from 10:00 - 11:30AM. You can find more details and register at the Home Depot Workshops page. Next week, I'll be building a customized version on this project for my own home, and sharing the process with you. Stay tuned.

    Oh, and get this: If you live near Seattle, Washington, I, Chris Gardner from ManMade, will be teaching the workshop at the Seattle Bitter Lake Store #4706. If you're in the area, this is an awesome opportunity for me to meet  and collaborate with ManMade readers, and I've love to hang out with you and use some power tools for a day.

    So, head to the Home Depot DIY Workshops page to sign up, and we'll see you on Saturday. 



    created at: 03/31/2015
    Thanks to Home Depot for sponsoring this post and making ManMade a partner for the 2015 DIY Workshop series. Thank you for supporting the brands that make ManMade possible.

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    They say no man is fully finished dressing if he's not wearing a belt (or suspenders, I guess), and, for some reason, that small strip of leather or weaving ready does bring a whole look together. I've always been a coil-them-up-in-the-sock-drawer kinda guy, but as someone with more closet space than dresser real estate, I'm definitely interested in hanging them up long and easy-to-find.   

    This simple project uses nothing more than a wooden hanger and some cup hooks from the hardware store to keep your belts organized and ready to go. Just be sure to drill a pilot hole in the hanger rod to avoid splitting the wood. And it'd make a great Father's Day present.

    Get the full instructions at Belt Rack for Dad

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    B&S NotebooksI'm not saying you need an exceptional journal to become the next Hemmingway, but I'm pretty sure you'll be more inspired writing in something you love.   Bull & Stash notebooks call themselves "your last notebook ever". That's a pretty bold statement but they seem to back up the claim pretty convincingly. The thick leather cover holds heavy-weight durable paper in with solid metal hardware that keep the paper flat and easy to use.Writing B&S Notebook

    So if you have the need to tether those wandering thoughts to paper, these notebooks are worthy enough to tie them down. Take a look here.

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    A food dehydrator is on my list of kitchen appliances I should never buy myself. Like its brother, the deep fat fryer, I know I'd just get carried away, dehydratin' and frying stuff left and right.

    How to make the perfect homemade jerky


    But, that doesn't mean I don't wanna create my own tasty and natural dried foods every once in a while...particularly: jerky.  Of all kinds. So, I figured out a way to make some without any specialized tools.

    Making jerky at home can seem quite complicated, and it can be if you don't follow the right steps. But, here's the ManMade guide, complete with everything you need to know. Grab some meat and meet us in the kitchen.

    How To Make The Perfect Homemade Jerky

    1. Choose THE BEST ingredients: that might sound quite obvious, but seriously, using high quality ingredients will make a huge difference. You'll be concentrating all the flavors, so they have to be delicious to start with. If you're using some sort of meat, choose one that's nice and clean and free of hormones (some places label their meat with this info). If you're going for fish, get a wild, fresh catch. For this guide we'll be using wild sockeye salmon.

    2. Select your seasonings: figure out if you want it sweet or salty, spicy or mild and choose your seasonings accordingly. Remember that the flavours get enhanced as the jerky dries up, so keep that in mind and don't use something extremely strong or it'll be too overpowering. For this guide we are doing a spicy marinade.

    3. Clean your meat / fish well: you can ask the clerk at the store to clean it for you or you can do it at home. Make sure your protein is free of any bones, cartilage, and chunks of fat.

    4. Plan ahead: making jerky takes a bit of time as you need at least 12 hours to marinate the protein, plus cooking time.

    5. Make a big batch: make more than enough! Remember that the protein will shrink as it dehydrates and you don't want to invest all this time to end up with 4 pieces of jerky.


    created at: 06/02/2015




    • A couple fillets of wild salmon (about 15oz each)
    • Pinch of sea salt
    • Couple dashes of Worcestershire sauce
    • Couple dashes of Tabasco Sauce
    • 1 tablespoon of Paprika
    • 1 teaspoon of red pepper flakes
    • 3 tablespoons of soy sauce
    • 1/4 cup of white wine vinegar
    • 1/2 cup of freshly squeezed lemon juice
    • 2 tablespoon of honey


    1. Clean the fish and make sure there are no bones hidden in the skin. Also, remove the silvery flesh on top of the fillet as this will become tough when cooked, BUT leave the skin on, this one will get crunchy! Use a very sharp knife to slice the fillets as shown above (1/2 an inch max). Set aside.
    2. Mix rest of ingredients in a non-reactive bowl.
    3. Dunk the salmon in the marinade and coat all pieces. Leave marinating for at least 12 hours.
    4. After 12 hours or more have gone by, remove the salmon from the marinade, pat dry with a paper towel and lay flat on a baking sheet lined with parchment paper or a silicon pad - as an extra precaution, rub some oil on the paper or pad 'cause it'll get sticky.
    5. Place in the oven at 200F and dehydrate for about 2-3 hours or until nice and crisp. Make sure to flip them half way through. 

    how to make the perfect homemade jerky


    how to make the perfect homemade jerky

    And that is all! Wasn't it easy? Dudes I'm serious, once you make your first batch you'll be addicted and you'll want to experiment with tons of seasonings. Jerky also happens to be the perfect drinking snack.

    Remember, whether you use salmon or beef, the steps are the same!




    This post was originally published on ManMade in August 2013

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  • 06/03/15--11:00: How to: Make a Swedish Flame
  • Swedish Flame DIY

    What's a Swedish flame? Something you can buy at IKEA? No sir.    

    Ok, so I definitely had no clue such a thing existed, but according to Comfy Home Decor, a Swedish flame is nothing but a single log that has been cut through the middle, and lit to create a cool bonfire and cooking surface.

    Is it safe? I dunno, but I'm guessing since it's Scandinavian, they know a thing or two about battling cold and darkness.

    To make your own you need a log, a chainsaw, perhaps a bit of flammable fuel, and a safe, open space.

    If this idea indeed works, then it's the best invention ever since you don't need a whole stack of wood to keep it going. I think this is the perfect excuse to get out there this weekend and make a bonfire with friends. Who's gonna bring the marshmallows?

    To make your own, follow this easy tutorial on Comfy Home Decor 


    This ManMade post was originally published in January 2014. 

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    created at: 06/03/2015

    Hot dogs were a huge staple of my youth and often the unit of measurement to describe how hungry I was ("Yeah guys I'm down to chill, I just need like three hotdogs first"). I usually opted for the standard ketchup and mustard, but when it comes to accessorizing this traditional American classic, it's a worldwide free for all.   

    created at: 05/31/2015The team at Food Republic recently created this Ultimate Hot Dog Style Guide. With 40 entries, it features everything from the fully-loaded Chicago Dog to the Japanese Octo-Dog. I highly recommend checking out the list and trying out some new varieties. 

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    Being a party-goer is easy: you show up, eat food, drink drink, have fun, and go home. Nice. But sometimes you need to return the favor, do your part and be a good guy. Sometimes, it's gotta be your turn to host.

    How to Host an All-Out Backyard Barbecue - Part 1

    That's why we're creating the ultimate man's guide to backyard entertaining. We're skipping the burgers and hot dogs, but saving the grill-power and the open flame. This is no fancy dinner party with flowers and special place settings and specialized utensils. But it is an event for grown-ups (read: no kegs) who want to get together and enjoy a great evening of good grub, tasty wine and conversation. 

    To make it happen, we sought out a partner in Murphy-Goode, a Sonoma winery that makes great wines for occasions just like this one: good times, good friends, and good food. Read on for tons of DIY tricks and small, simple projects that make this a decidedly ManMade take on the backyard barbecue. 

    (Oh, and hey, city-dwellers, ye backyard-less wonders, these tips will work just as well on your patio, porch, fire escape, your building's roof, your driveway or parking space, the front yard, or even the local park. Just check with local authorities and your super first.)

    Now, let's light the charcoal, pop the cork, and get started.


    Inviting Guests

    You know what I hate? Facebook invites. E-vites. Meeting requests. Nothing makes a party sound like an interminable staff meeting like an appointment with a 30-minute reminder on your Google Calendar. Stop it.

    The ManMade recommendation? Don't do it. Digital invites are confusing, often require special account creation, and usually make the guest list and RSVPs public. Facebook events are designed for your college roommate's DJ nights, not for actually reaching out to your friends. I have seriously never attended a real-life event I got invited to by Facebook alone, and I doubt you have either.

    Do you need custom letter-printed paper invitations with a handwritten note? Naaaarp.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    Just call them. Don't email. Don't text. Don't use some third party thing. Just call your friends on the telephone, and speak directly to the folks you wanna hang out with. If you're nervous about it, just read this script:

    "Hey, I'm hosting a barbecue at my house in a few weeks and I wanted to see if you're free that evening cause I'd really love for you to be there."

    Tell them the date, and then, after you discuss, let them know that you'll follow up by text or email so they have the details, your address, and the start time for reference later. 

    Let Your Guests Bring Stuff If They Ask 

    Don't be a hero and do everything yourself, but don't compromise the vibe you're going for, either. If someone asks if they can bring something, say yes. And use the opportunity to allow your friends to help provide the things you don't own enough of. Don't have 20 chairs? Tell your friends to bring one for each person that arrives in their group. Most of us don't have enough wine glasses to host a large group, so tell your guests to bring one for themselves, or a set of four, and you'll wash them and give it back to them before they leave. And if someone texts you on the way and says, "hey - can I pick anything up on my way over?" the answer is always: Yes. Grab a bag of ice. 

    Unless it's a pot-luck, I avoid asking people to bring food. It's usually annoying (for them), and probably won't go with the menu you have planned out (we'll talk about that later). 

    Where to Put These People (Seating)

    A barbecue has a different vibe than an indoor dinner party; you can invite more people than can fit around your dining table. Which is good, cause people shouldn't be sitting around a table like it's Thanksgiving. Instead, use your outdoor table space to lay out your drinks and food, and just let people eat wherever they want. You want folks shuffling about; that's what a barbecue is all about (well, ok, it's about grilled meat, but also shuffling).

    created at: 08/18/2014

    Don't have an outdoor table space? Make one! Some ideas:

    • Bring indoor tables outside, cover them with tablecloths or brown kraft paper.
    • Use a folding or card table.
    • Get a piece of plywood and some sawhorses and create a pop-up table.
    • Use cinder blocks and some 1 x 8"s to make a long flat surface to place your food. 

    Raid your dining room and home office for chairs. If you still don't have enough, then embrace full-on picnic mode and invite guests to sit on the ground. Throw down some blankets in the right spot so your guests know where it's cool to sit. If you don't have the right blanket, hit up your local military surplus store. They have all kinds of rustic, masculine blankets at affordable prices, and you'll find all sorts of uses for them. 

    In Vino Festivus (Simplifying Your Drink Menu)

    We like cocktails as much as anyone, but a backyard barbecue is not the time for mixing custom drinks, buying ten bottles of spirits and a billion mixers so you can make just the right drink for everyone. A backyard barbecue is a time to keep things simple, and you don't want to spend the whole night measuring and stirring and shaking drinks. There's a perfect libation to serve that will make everyone happy: wine.

    Everyone likes wine with good food. Between a rich red and a chilled white, there's something for everyone, and, most importantly, your guests can serve themselves as they wish. We're gonna go even further and say: serve only two wines - one red and one white. That way, there's no clamoring to make sure everyone tries each vintage, and no one will hog the expensive stuff. Pick two great options that work with the grilled foods your serving, and allow your guests to help themselves. The entire drink problem is solved. 

    But when you're keeping things simple, you gotta make sure your two choices make sense for your meal. So, we consulted the winemakers and house chef - The Grill Sergeant - from Murphy-Goode Winery to select the right bottles. We'll be sharing our discoveries in Part II - Food and Drink Planning and Prep. 

    created at: 08/18/2014


    Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel

    Whose Drink Is This?

    I love eating and hanging out outside because of the movement that happens when you interact in an open space. Folks get up often, get refills, grab a snack, check out what's going on at the grill, etc. Which is great for atmosphere, but it means people often lose their spot, their plate, and set down their drinks all over the place.

    Anyone who's ever shared a bottle of wine has done the "which glass is mine?" dance with a stranger; it just comes along with territory. And they make things to help sort that out: they're called wine charms, and they're little wire and bead things that attach to the stem of the glass and they're horrible and ugly and something no man should use at his party.

    created at: 08/20/2014

    But, you know what else attaches to wine glasses? Tape. Particularly, masking tape that you can write on. You already have some in your desk or some blue painters tape from your toolbox. Just place a roll and big black marker next to the wine glasses, and folks will get the idea. Attach it to the stem of the glass to avoid losing tackiness with condensation from chilled white wine. You could even set a few up ahead of time. No jewelry necessary. 

    Oh, and this also helps having to avoid asking that person you just met what their name is again. Just glance at their wine glass. Done.

    Flora and Flames (decor with a lowercase d)

    You don't need a "theme" to your party. You already have one: you're cooking outside. But, our vote is more the "campfire in the woods" kind of outdoor cooking than the "Father's Day card with checkered table cloth and yellow and red squeeze bottles" sort of thing.

    To pull it off, you need but two things: something green and nature-y, and something on fire. If you have a grassy yard with trees, you're all set on the green part. If your space is more of a deck or fire escape (or dirt lot), get some basic potted plants. Even placing some succulents in bowls on the table conveys the tone.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    As far as fire, there are several options. A backyard fire pit is ideal, so if you have the space, go for it. Use an established pit or ring for safety, and I recommend some basic concrete pavers underneath the pit if you're setting it on something flammable. If you don't have one, you can use a kettle grill to build a small, safe wood fire, or you can always make one. Here's the ManMade tutorial, and these are some other good DIY options. Just be sure to check your local city codes for open flame laws. 

    If a fire pit doesn't make sense, plenty of other options will work just fine. Tiki torches are a great solution, adding lots of vibe and helping to keep the bugs away. If you don't have a spot to stake them in the ground, embrace the power of the citronella candle. Get lots, and use them on every flat surface you have.

    Murphy-Goode Winery

    We're excited to collaborate with Murphy-Goode for this backyard entertaining series.
    They're dedicated to creating serious wine for serious fun, and were founded as a family business with a passion for straightforward, enjoyable wine without the fuss.

    Learn more about their roots, their wines, and their commitment to doing Goode Deeds through their Operation Homefront foundation at

    You can also follow them on Facebook (MurphyGoodeWinery)Twitter (@MurphyGoodeWine), and Pinterest for more updates.


    To make your yard a festive place where people will want to hang out, bust out the string lights. You can use the ones you already have and put on your Christmas tree, or get the more outdoors-y globe lights or cafe lights. You can definitely find these online, but check discount stores, party supply shops, and garden centers, which have these for sale year round, not just in May and June. 

    created at: 08/18/2014

    The trick, of course, is hanging them. You need them to be high enough so that folks can walk around freely and not clothesline themselves, but also low enough so that they light the space. The layout depends on your yard and its features, you'll want to use your roof, any trees as you can,  but here's an easy DIY technique to extend them further:

    • Get some 1/2" metal conduit pipes in the electrical aisle at the home improvement store. These come standard 10' in length, which is perfect for this project.
    • Attach some medium-duty S-hooks to the top with wire, creating a spot to anchor the lights.
    • Place the pipes against any sturdy features you have: fences, decks, lawn furniture, trees, etc. If you can push them two feet into the ground, you'll have more support, and a solid 8' of clearance. Attach them to existing structures with zip ties, or for a more permanent solution, 1/2 pipe straps or hangers.
    • Use as many as you can to define the hangout space, but don't worry if you only have enough anchors for a few sets. Two or three strands really helps establish the party tone. When connecting multiple strands, loop the male and female plug ends around each other so the hanging tension won't pull them apart (top left).

    What To Do When the Talking Stops (Entertainment)

    The point of a cookout is to gather, visit and meet new people, and, of course, eat and drink. But it's always nice to have a general focal point or conversation starter to keep things moving throughout the night, and give folks a way to interact once the trips to the food table have slowed down.

    created at: 08/18/2014Our vote: go for the outdoor movie. It's reminiscent of a trip to the drive-in, or a movies in the park on a picnic blanket. Digital projectors are easy to rent, and have become increasingly affordable to buy. Just get one with an HDMI in port, and plug in your DVD player, Apple TV or Roku box, or laptop. Someone you know probably has one of these. We picked up this one from ViewSonic online. It's an affordable option that's plenty bright, and all the tech review sites give it the thumbs up. We'll keep using it for many ManMade projects and outdoor movie nights to come.

    created at: 08/21/2014

    Here's the thing - you don't actually have to watch the movie. It's really background entertainment. It's more about giving movement to the space. It gives people something to chat about. And having a flickering screen brings a special something to the party, like visuals at a concert, or the TVs set to low at your local pub. And because no one has to watch, it's a great chance to throw on a movie filled with scenes and set pieces that everyone knows well ... those comfort food movies that you can't help but watch on a rainy day. You could even make a YouTube playlist of some iconic music videos. Here's a list of recommended films that will work for any party:

    • The Goonies
    • Back to Future
    • The Big Lebowski
    • Wayne's World
    • Anchorman
    • The Princess Bride
    • Blues Brothers
    • This Is Spinal Tap
    • Ferris Bueller's Day Off
    • Three Stooges Shorts
    • Stand By Me
    • Caddyshack
    • Cool Hand Luke
    • The Graduate


    Once the film has served its purpose, use the projector and screen combo to do something interactive: play some video games. It's a great way to get folks that don't know each other to connect, and, if you choose the game wisely, create a opportunity for anyone to participate.

    created at: 08/20/2014

    Of course, you'll need a screen on which to project your images. Here's how to make an easy DIY option that you can hang anywhere:

    • Get some white blackout cloth, which is used for window shades and curtains. You can find it at the fabric store or online.
    • Get two lengths of 1/2" PVC pipe and fold and sew a channel along the bottom, and basic sleeve at the top, leaving some space for insert hardware. If you don't have a sewing machine, you can try a strong adhesive like E6000 or PVA glue, or you could even use a medium weight staple gun.
    • Then, insert some evenly spaced grommets along the top.
    • Slide in the PVC and cut to size, and use rope and hooks to mount it (on a wall, your roof eaves, a shed, a tree, etc). You can easily remove the PVC and fold it up for storage, and insert some eyelet screws in your ceiling for indoor use. 


    Yes, you should have some. Not so loud it's distracting, but enough to make it feel like a party. Set the volume to be loud enough that folks can hear it and recognize the songs the already know, but not loud enough that anyone has to speak up to overcome it.

    We recommend setting up the music away from the grill, just to avoid any potential damage from heat or smoke to your gear. Find a spot in a corner, near the drinks, perhaps. These days, the easiest route is a Bluetooth speaker playing tunes from your smartphone, tablet, or nearby computer.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    We used a Jawbone Jambox, which was plenty loud for our space, but there are several Bluetooth speaker options out there, many under $40. Just find one that uses a rechargeable battery, so you don't have to deal with any power supplies or extension cords. For tunes, we made a custom playlist through Spotify featuring lots of 60s and 70s R&B (think Motown and Stax records) and then fading into some moody electronic pop as the night wore on. Here are a few free playlists to help give your gathering some energy.

    Coming up later this week, we'll be sharing our menu and food preparing tips, as well as ideas for selecting the right wines for your party. Then, we'll cover some basic tips for getting your house ready for guests (no, you don't have to scrub it from head to toe), and some best practices for grilling, and tips for getting all the work done ahead of time, so you can enjoy your party, too.

    While you're waiting, check out our dedicated How To Host an All-Out Backyard Barbecue Pinterest board:

    Follow us on Pinterest!


    Stay tuned. (Or sign up for our free e-mail newsletter to get notified of new posts! It's 100% spam free!)


    Event photos by the amazing Margaret Jacobsen. 


    This post was sponsored by Murphy-Goode Winery, but all opinions are mine alone. We're grateful to our sponsors for helping us make long-form, in-depth content like this possible. And for the good wine!

    created at: 06/03/2015


    This ManMade post was originally published in August 2014. We're excited to be collaborating with Murphy-Goode wine again this year, so we're sharing again for this summer. Enjoy!

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    Raise your hand if you love process videos. Mine is definitely up - I'm always down to watch a slow tracked materials shot,  a lens flare coming in through a shop window, a cluttered benchtop scattered with tools and coffee cups. 

    created at: 06/04/2015 So is Sam, a public librarian in California who sent me a link to this cool video series by Breakwater Studios. They say, 

    Life's Work: Six Conversations with Makers, invites viewers inside the creative routines and personal stories of a collection of master craftspeople living on Canada's Eastern Seaboard, whose life experiences have shaped their work in tandem with their own two hands. Each of the six short episodes documents the artistry of such crafts as stone masonry, wood turning and carving, sculpting, felting, and metalsmithing.

    Here's the trailer: 


    You can watch all the videos with the artists on Check 'em out, and thanks, Sam!


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    created at: 06/04/2015

    “What’s right about America is that although we have a mess of problems, we have great capacity-- intellect and resources-- to do something about them.” -- Henry Ford. And it's time to put that intellect to good use (even if your resources are limited) like this US Army serviceman did while on deployment in the Middle East.      
    Christian Reed of is currently deployed overseas but that hasn't stopped him from building this flag-inspired coffee table out of available scrap wood. And he did it all in 110 degree heat with just a couple beat up and sand-filled power tools. Hooah. 

    It's pretty interesting to see a project come together on the sand, and I love Christian's method for adding the stars (he removes material in the worn wood to reveal fresh fibers below). 

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    created at: 08/21/2014

    This week, we're sharing the ultimate guy's guide to backyard entertaining. In Part I, we created the game plan: getting your outdoor space ready to go, invites, music and entertainment.

    Part II is about the centerpieces of any get-together: food and drinks. To help, we partnered with Murphy-Goode, a Sonoma winery that makes great wines for occasions just like this one: good times, good friends, and good food. Read on for lots of tips and ideas to make it happen.   

    How To Host an All Out Backyard BBQ

    Table of Contents

    Planning the Menu

    Cooking for a Crowd: A cookout is not a dinner party. No courses, no place-cards, no roast-carving. And that, friends, is a good thing.

    There are two categories of food: what you made ahead of time, and what you make when guests arrive.

    If you want to keep sane and actually hang out with your friends, try to put as much food as possible into the make-ahead category. Like, all of it.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    The goal here is avoid being a slave to the grill, running around and making sure you're not burning stuff and checking food temperatures.

    Make your food ahead of time!

    Lots of food actually tastes better the next day. The trick is to pick a main protein that benefits from being cooked ahead of time, when you can attend to it to make sure it's done properly. You want something that needs to be cooked low and slow ... on a grill. We're talking barbecue, people. More on that in a minute.

    Enjoying Wine at The Ultimate Backyard Barbecue

    To come up with the ultimate backyard barbecue wine party, we worked with Murphy-Goode, a Sonoma County winery that's dedicated to creating great wines that are at home with food on the grill and music playing in the background ... no fussy cheese pairings need apply. They're all about living "The Goode Life," and that's exactly the ManMade commitment to outdoor entertaining.

    We asked them which wines would work best with barbecue and grilled foods, and they suggested:

    1. A medium, well-rounded red that's easy to drink but has a refreshing balance of fruit and spice
    2. A bright crisp white that's versatile enough to be enjoyed with light appetizers and smokey foods from the grill

    Open wine bottles ahead of time.

    So, we went with the Liar's Dice Zinfandel from Murphy-Goode's Sonoma Country Collection, and The Fumé Sauvignon Blanc, Murphy-Goode's flagship white. Each wine is agreeable and friendly (but definitely not weak) and still full of personality. Here's a better description of each:

    • Murphy-Goode The Fumé Sauvignon Blanc: Bright citrus and lush tropical fruit aromas. Flavors of white peach and honeydew. 
      Murphy-Goode Fumé Sauvignon

    • Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel: From Dry Creek and Alexander Valley AVAs, Liar’s Dice Zinfandel reveals deep aromas and luscious flavors of black cherry, blackberry jam, black raspberry and currants.

      Murphy-Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandelcreated at: 08/18/2014

    Tips for Entertaining with Wine

    How much wine? A bottle of wine contains four generous glasses. Those are restaurant glasses, where folks pay per pour. But when there are many full bottles available and open refills, your guests will give themselves a much lighter glass. Which is a good thing for the wine, because the more space in the glass, the better the aroma is conveyed, and the more you can experience it.

    Plan for a bottle of wine for every two people you're expecting, and then grab one more of each, just in case.

    Have Enough Wine Glasses: Gathering enough wine glasses for a large group can be tricky. We've suggested asking guests to bring their own and using simple masking tape to identify them, but if you need more than your current selection, it's time to buy in bulk.

    Look for affordable glasses that come in sturdy, divided boxes, and then make sure to keep the packaging for storage. These will be your party glasses, so you don't have to find a place for them in the kitchen cabinet. Get some thicker glasses that can stand a round in the dishwasher, and store them in the box for gatherings.

    Our favorite source for sturdy glasses in bulk is the restaurant supply store, most of which sell to the public. These glasses are affordable yet designed to be used over and over again, so they stand up to the task and come perfectly clean. There are also some great options atIKEA- buy a case and keep the box -or online.

    Serving Wine: Allowing your guests to serve themselves cuts back on your responsibilities. But be a good guy and walk around offering refills once or twice. Which, by the way, will be super easy, because you know exactly what everyone is drinking.

    Enjoying wine

    A couple of tips on enjoying your wine:

    • Make sure all your whites are thoroughly chilled: Put them in the fridge the night before, and leave them there until your first guest arrives, then shove them into a big beverage tub or cooler full of ice.
    • Open all your bottles ahead of time: This way, no one has to ask where the opener is, and your drinks are ready to go. This is especially important with red wine, which will actually improve as it's exposed to air. So, bust out the corkscrew 3-4 hours before guests arrive, and open all the reds. Do this inside, to prevent any bugs or grit getting in. Then, cork them lightly and take outside for your guests to enjoy.

    Serve Plenty of Water and Non-Alcoholic Drinks

    Of course, one does not party on wine alone. Or shouldn't. And as the host, if you're serving alcohol, it's also your job to make sure your guests are drinking enough water, especially when you're outside. Wine is designed to enhance that amazingly smokey pulled pork sandwich, not to be gulped to wash it down.

    So, do three things:

    1. make a super appealing non-alcoholic drink
    2. put out lots of water, and
    3. make sure your guests are drinking #1 and #2

    If it's summer, a lemonade or limeade works perfectly. It's a classic for a reason. For our party, we created a tasty fizzy basil limeade that cut through the bold flavors of the food perfectly.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    To get people to drink water: make it cold, and put stuff in it.

    I know it might seem a little fussy - more like a baby shower than a man's all-out backyard barbecue - but the infusions inspire people to drink it and make it feel festive. They'll want to know how all those things floating in the water have changed its flavor. And if someone seems to have had a little more than their fill of wine, you can give them the infused-water as an offering without embarrassing them.

    Put in anything fresh and summer-y. Cucumbers might give off a day-spa vibe, but they taste darn good. Lemons, limes, and oranges look great, strawberries are seasonal, but we think herbs are easiest. Mint, verbena, thyme, basil, cilantro all work well for warm weather. Just be sure to wash everything first, especially citrus rinds, and use lots and lots of ice.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    Roasted corn

    The Food

    Regionally, backyard entertaining events are called a cookout, a barbecue, a picnic, a weinie roast, and the like. The common theme throughout? They're named for the food, particularly, food cooked outside.

    While standard images of hosts manning the grill all night are common, this doesn't have to be true at your house. You can infuse lots of grilled, smokey flavors into your food without having to be chained to the coals all night.

    For this type of party, stick to party food classics that everyone loves, but add a little twist to bring in the grilled and roasted element, and lots of extra flavor.

    Here's our menu, with notes. You'll see the twist and added grilled element to each item.

    Wine and Drinks

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    Apps and Starters

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    created at: 08/20/2014



    • S'mores - Duh, there's a campfire. We stepped ours up with high-quality chocolate bars with added flavors and crunch like pretzels, caramel, and sea salt.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    With this menu, only thing has to be made once your guests have arrived: the grilled corn. Well, that and the s'mores, but your guests will be able to make 'em on the spot. So, there's still a "hey - we're grilling out" vibe, but all the work has been done before your cleaned up your kitchen...and yourself.  


    created at: 08/21/2014

    In our final installment, we'll be sharing how to actually prep the food ahead of time while still tasting delicious, our favorite grilling tips, and a basic game plan for getting your house ready for guests.

    While you're waiting, check out our dedicated How To Host an All-Out Backyard Barbecue Pinterest board:

    Follow us on Pinterest!


    Stay tuned. (Or sign up for our free e-mail newsletter to get notified of new posts! It's 100% spam free!)


    Event photos by the amazing Margaret Jacobsen. 

    This post was sponsored by Murphy-Goode Winery, but all opinions are mine alone. We're grateful to our sponsors for helping us make long-form, in-depth content like this possible. And for the good wine! 

    created at: 06/04/2015

    This ManMade post was originally published in August 2014. We're excited to be collaborating with Murphy-Goode wine again this year, so we're sharing again for this summer. Enjoy!



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    Whitewash FinishI've been building a few useful desk pieces lately to give my workspace a bit more livable at the office. I built them out of pallet wood with a nice rustic feel and didn't want to cover over that character so I decided to go for a simple whitewash. Take a look at how easy it is to get a rustic finish with a bit of watered down paint.   When I needed a few things for my desk, I took two blocks of salvaged pallet wood and made them. The first, was a simple tray for keys, wallet, and other small items that never seem to stay put; and second was a simple pen holder because I've spent too many minutes searching for a stick of ink that actually works. I've been leaning towards simple, rustic pieces at the office because I like the texture and feel of wood and a minimal finish lets the character remain.Wooden Pen Holder

    The whitewash finish came along when paint was expensive and folks were cheap, so watering down the spendy coating made it go further. This faded white paintjob became known as a whitewash and is the epitome of the rustic character.

    The first step is to properly sand down the completed piece as much as necessary to give it a smooth base for the finish. I wanted to keep some of the character, so I angled the edges and sanded it smooth but left most of the saw marks and cracks.Prepping the Pieces

    Next, I sprayed on a light layer of grey spray paint for a base. I used grey, but black is another great color as a neutral. Keep in mind that the paint will fade with the white top layer, which means red may fade into something closer to pink so plan accordingly.Adding White Paint

    After the coating is dry add a small dip of paint onto the piece and spread it over the surfaces with a wet towel. The layer of the paint can be washed as thin as needed to make the piece your own and let it dry.Whitewash Finish

    While the piece is about finished at this point, a final layer of polyurethane adds durability and polish to the surfaces if they'll be subjected to the daily grind.Finished Whitewash


    1. Watch the corners of boxes as they tend to pool the paint. Don't try to get it all at once, it's better to paint in a few light layers. 

    2. Make sure the piece is fully dry before coating with a layer of polyurethane or other finish. The whitewash has quite a bit of water that will keep it from bonding to the surface.

    3. Try to finish any matching pieces at the same time to keep everything layered consistently.

    Do you have a simple finish for your rustic pieces? We'd love to hear what other easy ways there are to give pieces their own character.

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    How to Host an All Out Backyard Barbecue
    This week, we're sharing the ultimate guy's guide to backyard entertaining. We've covered preparing your backyard and getting ready for guests, as well as some easy DIY tricks to improve the space and create the right vibe. Then, we shared some ideas for the food - moving beyond hamburgers and hot dogs to create some seriously tasty grilled goodies, as well as tips for finding the right wine to bring everything together.

    We were excited to partner with Murphy-Goode, a Sonoma winery dedicated to making great wines for gatherings just like these - fun, festive opportunities to get together with your friends and have a good time.

    In this final installment, we're offering ideas to cook the food (and do all the work ahead of time), prep your home, and then...sit back, and have a great time with your guests.

    Time to relax and enjoy with your guests.

    Table of Contents

    The Day Before

    As we suggested in the menu planning section, you want to have nearly all of your food completed before the guests arrive. This works for two reasons: 1) it eliminates the stress of trying to have everything come out piping hot at once, and it allows you to try tasty, slow cooked foods that can take longer (but not more work) to cook. 2) Preparing food is really messy.

    When you cook, there's chopping involved. Spices spill, olive oil gets on stuff, your blender and your food processor and you mixer sit on the counter. You'll dirty nearly every bowl and pan in your kitchen. Doing all this the day before - and before you clean your house - frees up your kitchen for actually use during with your guests, not a place to hide from them.

    Murphy-Goode Winery

    We're excited to collaborate with Murphy-Goode for this backyard entertaining series.
    They're dedicated to creating serious wine for serious fun, and were founded as a family business with a passion for straightforward, enjoyable wine without the fuss.

    Learn more about their roots, their wines, and their commitment to doing Goode Deeds through their Operation Homefront foundation at

    You can also follow them on Facebook (MurphyGoodeWinery)Twitter (@MurphyGoodeWine), and Pinterest for more updates.


    The night before the day before (so, if you're hosting on a Saturday and doing food on Friday, we're talking Thursday night), head to the grocery store and get your ingredients and bottles of wine. Mix your BBQ rub and apply it to the meat up to 24 hours in advance to allow it to form a crust in the fridge.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    The next day, when you get home from work, start the food. Build your fire, get some smoke from some wood chunks going, and begin the barbecue. While it cooks and its still light out, hang your lights, get your fire pit and tiki torches in place, and set up the chairs. Chop or slice any vegetable that won't brown - things like onions, your cabbage and carrots for slaw, and prep your pickles. Make the sauces and dressings that will finish you meals, then cover and refrigerate everything.

    The Morning Of

    Crank up the tunes and get going.

    What to Clean?

    Your house does not need to be spotless to host guests. Don't worry about your bedroom, office, garage, kids rooms etc. No one's gonna go in there. Just shut the door and move on. People are gonna be outside.

    Do, however, pick up in the places where people will go - the path from the front door to the back, your kitchen, and, most importantly, the bathroom. Your guests will be mostly outside, but your bathroom's gonna take a beating with people coming and out. So, wipe everything down, and stock with extra toilet paper.

    created at: 08/21/2014

    Change your towels, and light a candle. It definitely gives out the whole "company is coming over" vibe, but it also helps neutralize any scents that come from heavily used guest bathroom. There are lots of quality, "masculine-friendly" scents out there.

    Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc

    (That's the Fumé Sauvignon Blanc up there. Learn more here.) 

    Finish the Food and Wine

    Get your wine ready. Place all the white in the refrigerator and open to red to let it breathe. Make sure none of your wine glasses have spots.

    Pouring wine - Murphy-Goode Sauvignon Blanc

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    Then, finish all your dishes - make the things that need to be hot hot, bring refrigerated items to room temperature if needed, and place everything in their final bowls and serving dishes. If don't have a ton of platters and such, aluminum pans in the foil and wax paper aisle of the grocery store work wonders.

    created at: 08/21/2014

    We like to design our menus so only one-two things needs to be grilled when guests are around. When you're cooking for 10-20 people, that's probably all the space you'll have on the grill anyway. So, do in pre-grilling ahead of time. For our menu, the pork, the carrots, and the potatoes and scallions can all be done ahead of time, leaving just the grill-roasted corn for when its time to eat. Which is good - cause it smells amazing and your guests will love it.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    On the subject of grilling, we presume you know your grill and its quirks and features best. But, in case you haven't ventured out much beyond burgers and hot dogs, here are some tips:

    The Ten Commandments of Grilling

    1. The only way to start charcoal is with a chimney starter - Lighter fluid is the devil. Just get a heavy-duty chimney (in the grilling aisle at the hardware store) and use a piece or two of newspaper soaked with a little vegetable oil to get things going.

    2. Safety First - Keep a fire extinguisher handy whenever you're working with fire. A long hose attached to a spigot also works well, just make sure it reaches the grill. A spray bottle filled with water is a good tool to handle flareups.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    3. A digital thermometer is the most important barbecue and grilling tool - Understanding the temperature of your grill and the food is the single best thing you can do to create great food while you're learning. Bi-metal analog thermometers (like the one that comes in your grills lid) can be off by 50° or more. They still respond to temperature change, but you need to know what your baseline is. An instant read digital thermometer is the way to go here.

    4. Cast iron cookware is a grill's best friend - We regularly extoll the virtues of cast iron on ManMade, but it deserves repeating here: cast iron makes your grill into a stove AND an oven. Use it to sear food for a great crust, or to hold smaller items that might slip through the grates. It'll still taste grilled, and can help promote browning.

    5. Use spring-loaded tongs for 95% of tasks - they're like a heat-proof extension of your hand, and can be used from everything to flipping and moving food to redistributing hot coals and turning the grill grate. 12" models can be found under $15.00. Buy two.

    Smokenator grilling insert

    6. You can create amazing barbecue at home without a dedicated smoker - With some wood chips or chunks and a low heat source, you can make awesome smoked foods. Your existing grill is, essentially, a box with a heat source - a place to smolder wood and keep the smoke surrounding the food. This is easier on a charcoal grill than a gas one, but both can work. If you have a Weber charcoal grill, the Smokenator insert is amazing device made by some buddies in California, and it will change the way you grill. Highly, highly recommended.

    7. Enjoy the grill session - speaking of heat proof extensions of your hands, most grilling tasks only require your dominant hand. Make sure there's a drink - like a glass of that Liar's Dice red zin - in your other hand at all times. It's your party, too.

    8. Wood is good - charcoal tastes better than gas, and wood tastes better than charcoal. Wood smoke is the flavor of outdoor cooking. You can create the best of both worlds by using wood chunks (for charcoal) or chips (for gas) to infuse your food with smoke. Just keep things smoldering and smokey, not ablaze. Flare ups create an unpleasant char on food.

    created at: 05/20/2015

    9. Clean and oil your grates frequently - before and after every grilling session. This not only prevents build up, but also creates a non-stick surface over time.

    10.The two-zone fire gives you the most control - whether using charcoal or gas, setting up your grill to super hot on one side and medium on the other allows you to create the perfect crust or grill marks without burning the food. Simply bank the hot coals on one side of the grill, or turn one gas burner to high while others to medium, low, or even off. And always keep the lid closed on a gas grill.

    created at: 08/18/2014

    Party Time

    Put the white wine on ice, lay out the food, and get things started. Start the music, light the candles and tiki torches, and heat the grill.

    Then, have a good time. The hard work is done, and now it's time to enjoy yourself, welcome your friends, meet some new people, and get down with all that tasty food and wine. As the party moves on, they'll be a few tasks to manage - keeping the water pitcher full, replenishing the ice, starting the fire as dusk approaches - but chances are your friends will notice these sorts of things, and ask how they can help.

    created at: 08/21/2014

    Murphy Goode Liar's Dice Zinfandel


    (The Liar's Dice Zin. Details are here.)

    created at: 08/21/2014

    Remember - the point of hosting is to provide a space to hang out, enjoy some tasty food and wine, and enjoy yourselves. Don't go overboard so you're stuck working the whole time, but do put in a little extra effort to make it a special event. Just do the work ahead of time, and you'll be good to go.


    Event photos by the amazing Margaret Jacobsen.

    This post was sponsored by Murphy-Goode Winery, but all opinions are mine alone. We're grateful to our sponsors for helping us make long-form, in-depth content like this possible. And for the good wine! The post was originally published in August 2014. We're excited to be collaborating with Murphy-Goode wine again this year, so we're sharing again for this summer. Enjoy!


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    Summer is officially upon us and so are the plethora of "summer style guides" that are inevitably kicked out. I've clicked my way through a couple and I've recently come across my favorite

     from Primer Magazine.   

    Purchase the right shorts for your body type with this guide and don't forget essentials like the canvas sneaker or a good summer scent. View the full guide from Primer Magazine here.

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    Nomad ChairInspired by the classic British safari loungers, this modern design is both beautiful and functional as a lightweight yet comfortable portable chair. Portable chairs generally have two resounding flaws. First, they're bulky and plastic so there's no longevity, and second, they look like they were designed by an 80s rocker with tacky neon and 'bold' color schemes. That's why this portable exception caught my eye. Sustainable, durable, and minimalist at heart, the design is part function, but still fully art. The nomad chair is made from beautiful turned bamboo, with leather straps and armrests, canvas seat and brass hardware. The seat is meant to age gracefully and become a piece of furniture worth passing along to the next generation. Nomad Chair Detail

    The price is commensurate with the quality (you'll drop about $525 on a pre-order chair), so I won't have one in my home or next camping trip. But I really love the thought process that went behind building a chair that people love to the point that the Kickstarter is fully funded with time to spare. Take a look at the ethos behind the chair and you'll be sold as well - if not on the chair, at least on the cause.Pieces of the Nomad Chair

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    Raise your hand if you're headed out of the country this week! Yeah... neither am I. So, in the meantime, to prep for my next international adventure, I'm gonna spend an evening whipping up this leather passport holder and wallet to keep the important stuff organized. 

    It's a very simple leatherworking project that makes a great introduction to the craft, and uses on the most basic of tools: a scratch awl, a stitching awl, a knife, and needles: 

    Check out the full how-to from Alicia Jepsen of Jepsen LeatherGoods at Poppytalk: How to Make Your Own Leather Passport Holder



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    A little loft can go a long way. Just ask Richard Dewhurst, the interior architect who designed this unique British apartment.   I obviously love the wood pile tastefully wedged in among the bricks and books. But I'm particularly impressed with the collection of picture frames that he's tastefully arranged in what could've easily become a messy storage space. Just goes to show that anything can be made to look hip with a little forethought. 

    Check out the full photo tour here.

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    created at: 07/14/2014

    Anyone who regularly uses the same water bottles several times a week - runners, cyclists, hikers, athletes, or any general person-on-the-go that likes to stay hydrated - can attest: they can get nasty. Even if nothing but water and ice ever go in, the crud can still build up, and non-H2O fluids like sports drink or add-ins make the taste, odor, and junk even worse. 

    The common-sense solution here is to use a bottle brush. Which will work, if you do it after every use and start with a perfectly clean bottle, and then rinse and dry thoroughly every time. But if the gunk has built up, or your hydration system uses any squeeze tops, bladders, tube, bite valves, etc, there's more than just the bottle cavity to clean. 

    What Is That Stuff?
    Of course, you're never actually drinking just water. Tap water contains all sorts of minerals, disinfecting agents, and there's thousands of (safe) bacteria living in your bottle and under the mouthpiece. Plus, every time you drink, you're adding stuff back into the bottle from your mouth and lips. The nutrients and moisture mix with spores from the air, and, basically, produce mold.

    There are supposed hacks that will fix this, like using Alka Seltzer or denture tablets to clean them, but I've never had much success with those, particularly with hydration bladders with long tubes.  

    So, if you've got a BPA-free system that you like and you really want to get those heavy-use bottles clean, this'll do it for just a couple of cents, with no need to replace.  

    created at: 07/14/2014

    1. First, disassemble your bottle or water system into as many parts as will break down. Take off any lids, valves, tube, etc. Use a bowl for smaller parts, but don't add them in just yet. 

    Now, add 1 teaspoon baking soda and 1/2 teaspoon chlorine bleach to each bottle or bowl. Fill with warm water and stir to combine. Place any small parts in the bowl and use a plate to weigh everything down to completely submerge. Allow to sit four 4-6 hours, or overnight. 


    created at: 07/14/2014

    2. After resting, pour out a little solution and see if it's broken down the build-up. If not, wait a while longer until the black stuff will move with some encouragement. Now, grab a bottle brush or rag on the end of a chopstick and give a little friction to remove any crud. Be sure to check the top, especially around the lid threads. 


    created at: 07/14/2014

    3. To clean small or tight parts, use a cotton swab or a toothpick/bamboo skewer to remove gunk. Be extra careful using any sharp object, so you don't puncture any flexible seals or gaskets.

    Now, rinse everything thoroughly and completely with soap and clean water. Then do it again. Make sure no bleach residue remains. You can run some bottles through the dishwasher, but if you're not sure, don't do it. Rinse a bunch, then allow everything to completely dry. 


    created at: 07/14/2014

    4. Lastly, if there's any musty smell or odor remaining (other than chlorine; if that's the case, wash and rinse again), you can swish around some anti-septic mouthwash to remove the funky odor or taste. 

    From now on, rinse and dry after each use, and you can slow the build-up. But, really, anything made from polyethylene that sees heavy use will require a deep cleaning every year or so. And if you follow the directions, and are sure to rinse carefully, this way is safe and very effective. 


    This ManMade post was originally published on July 14th, 2014. We're sharing again because it's summer!

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    Flip-Top Desk

    Keeping homework in one place is a constant battle with kids. Make this dedicated flip-top desk that looks good enough to share the adult space and hides all the school-related clutter out of sight.When my kids do homework, it tends to creep across every surface of my house. The tables, counter tops, and even floor have papers, pencils, and books that just make life hard to handle in our small space. This flip-top desk is designed for two, with separated spaces for each, and a clean rustic design that just looks great. Finished Desk

    Since the desk above came from Restoration Hardware, it was much too expensive for Janice at Home DZine, so here is her DIY version with plenty of process pictures and directions on how to save some cash and get a great piece of functional furniture all at once. 

    Making Pic

    We vote to upgrade the hinges and hardware just a bit - this project deserves the nice stuff. Not too bad for a weekend and some inexpensive pine, eh?



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    Father's Day Gift Guide

    What gifts did you receive from your father? Did he teach you to play chess? How to hike down a steep hill, feet turned sideways? How to go camping and sleep in the back of a 1977 Chevrolet Monza hatchback, looking up at the sky for shooting stars?

    If you've got a dad, grandfather, husband, or even a son (who's a dad), you probably have lots of reasons to say thank you to that person. Here's a list of things I'd love to give (or receive) this Father's Day. 

    For this gift guide, we teamed up with Duluth Trading Company, makers of quality apparel, backed by a No-Bull Guarantee. We've tried a bunch of their stuff, and are recommending some of it here, because we think it's worth recommending. Read on to the bottom to find out how to enter to win one of three Duluth Trading Co. gift cards!


    1 - A weekly standing invitation to spend time together

    There's no store that can sell you this. It's free, and yet, probably the most difficult item on this list to truly, really, commit to giving. Find a weeknight (maybe it's every other week) and make time to spend with your dad. Play ping-pong, grab a beer, go for a walk. Dads aren't around forever; you'll be thankful for every extra minute you spend with him. 

    Aeropress Coffee Maker


    2 - An Aeropress Coffee Maker

    We've gushed about this little gadget before; it costs $30 and makes (probably) the best home-brewed coffee you've ever had. If your dad is still drinking stir-in instant coffee (like mine) you might just convince him to up his game with this thing.

    Aeropress Coffee & Espresso Maker: Amazon - $29.99

    (While you're at it, grab him this 1-Liter Variable Temperature Digital Electric Teakettle - it'll make heating up water for coffee, or anything else, a breeze. $81 on Amazon


    Duluth Trading Co. Fire Hose Jeans  3 - DuluthFlex Fire Hose Jeans, or Dry on the Fly Pants

    I have a pair of each of these, and can't say enough about them. The Fire Hose jeans are made of a super tough canvas, so they're essentially indestructible. I'm going get my dad a pair so he can finally stop wearing those starched ESPRIT jeans when he does yard work. I mean, at least until starched denim comes back in style. 

    The Dry On The Fly pants are a great option if you're looking for something a little lighter. They're moisture-wicking, quick-drying, and have UPF-40 sun protection built-in. Wet. Dry. Blink of an eye. Try 'em for the golfer, climber, camper dad in your life.

    DuluthFlex Fire Hose 5-Pocket Canvas Jeans: Duluth Trading - $64.50

    Dry on the Fly Pants: Duluth Trading - 64.50


    4 - Organic Whey Protein Powder 

    This is the one I buy. It's organic, hormone-free, and comes from grass-fed cows. Yeah, it costs more. But it's going in your body (or in this case, your dad's), so I think it's worth it. And no, protein powder's not just for body builders and frat boys. You want your dad leading a healthy, active lifestyle well into his golden years, and protein is what your body needs to recover and build muscle. 

    Source Organic Whey Protein, 2 lbs: Amazon - $64.99


    Duluth Trading Co. Armachillo Short Sleeve Shirt

    5 - A Really Great All-Around Summer Shirt

    My dad wears white V-neck undershirts in the summer when he wants to stay cool. Does your dad do this? To be fair, there is something faintly (weirdly?) exotic and je-ne-sais-quois about this habit that seems to draw all varieties of ladies nearer to him. But still. 

    Here's an ultra-lightweight, comfortable, not weirdly je-ne-sais-quois-exotic-looking short-sleeve top (and, you won't be embarrassed for him when he wears it). Maybe you'll even wear a matching one! Plus, it's antimicrobial for not so much arm pit smelling problems. Dad, aftershave does NOT MASK ALL ODORS!

    (Pictured) Men's Short Sleeve BBQ Shirt: Duluth Trading Company - $39.50 

    Men's Armachillo Short Sleeve Cooling Shirt: Duluth Trading Company - $54.50


    Sunday New York Times Subscription

    6 - A Subscription to the Sunday Edition of the New York Times

    You know what's missing from most dads' lives? A few moments a week of pure, uninterrupted, peaceful quiet time. And no, mowing the lawn alone does not count.

    Get your dad a subscription to the Sunday Times; it'll change his life. I got this from my wife for my birthday this year, and can honestly say I can't remember a better birthday present. I look forward to Sunday mornings, when I can drink my coffee on the porch, browsing through the ridiculous quantity of quality content contained in those neatly folded newsprint pages. I work on the crossword while my kids watch cartoons, and outside the screen window the neighbor's sprinkler goes on. Bliss. 

    New York Times Sunday Edition Subscription: - $75 (12 weeks)


    7 - A Really, Really Good Ice Pack

    Hey, guess what!? Old people get hurt a lot! Dads have bad backs. Achey knees! Tennis elbow! Do I let that stop me when my kids want to play 'Get Off My Bed!' for the fifth consecutive night, or when they both decide to play 'Octopus!' at once, which leaves me with their tiny, heavy (heavy!) bodies disablingly wrapped around my legs? Never!

    But ice makes it all better. And the Norsk Ice Packs are seriously awesome (before you ask: yes, I have tried many, many other kinds of ice packs). I have (and strongly recommend) the Back Support & Gel Pack (but I'm sure the others are good too). I got mine by recommendation of my physical therapist, after I herniated a disc two years ago (long story).

    It's got a really well-made neoprene sleeve that WILL NOT fall apart (like many others I've tried). The gel pack is huge and stays cold forever. I realize now (too late) that it's kind of hard/weird to try to explain your deep love for an ice pack. Just believe me when I say that this is a really, really good ice pack, and if your dad/husband/friend/brother ever has need of one, he will thank you for gifting him this one.

    Back Support & Gel Hot/Cold Pack: Norsk Fitness - $45


    Buy a useful book for father's day.

    8 - A Useful Book

    Oh, look what I got you! It's rectangular, and kind of heavy, and shaped like a book! It's a book! Did you guess that it's a book!!?

    Yes, you're right, books-as-gifts are not exactly in the stratosphere of creative gift-giving ideas. But, that doesn't make them a bad gift idea. Just make sure you put some thought into your choice. By completely arbitrary decree, I forbid gifts of Game of Thrones, Hunger Games, or Fifty Shades of Grey. 

    How about a book that he will actually use? I like this one on How To Stay Alive in the Woods. It's a classic survival guide packed with lots of tips and illustrations on everything from starting fire to building shelter and finding food. And, obviously, all of this info is useful in non-life-threatening situations too.

    Or, see if you can't get him into a new hobby. Mushrooming with Confidence sounds cool (much better than mushrooming without it). What's that? He's an experienced Mushroomer? I think you're thinking of a different kind of mushrooming, my friend. That kind is not this kind. Not that I would know.

    Barring either of those, The National Geographic Atlas of the World is just stunning, and a great way to bring a sense of adventure, travel, and global scale into your living room. 

    How to Stay Alive in the Woods: Duluth Trading Company - $19.95

    Mushrooming with Confidence: Duluth Trading Company - $14.95

    National Geographic Atlas of the World: Amazon - $122


    Tortilla Press makes a great gift.

    9 - A tortilla press

    You will thank yourself for getting him this simple, effective, and time-tested tool. Tortillas are meant to be made and eaten FRESH, and all your (uh, I mean, his) Mexican dishes will taste amazinger when served on a sizzling hot, smoking tortilla. Learn to make your own masa or grab a block of it from your local Mexican grocery ('sup, El Burrito Mercado, St. Paul), and you will never look back.

    And please: keep hands and fingers out. 

    Metal Tortilla Press by Estrella: Amazon - $24 (Chris' says: "Heavy metal construction and appropriate lid/base spacing to make thin, uniform tortillas without tearing. Solid, durable.")

    Victoria Cast Iron Tortilla Press: Amazon - $30 (this one's just a little prettier, I guess, plus it's available on Prime for two-day shipping)


    Japanese Hori Hori Gardening Knife

     10 - A Japanese Hori Hori Gardening Knife

    I still remember planting marigolds with my dad in the back garden, digging in the cold dirt with my bare hands and coming up with earthworms. For those times when bare hands just won't do, the Japanese Hori Hori (translation: "Dig dig") Knife is perfect. The serrated edge is perfect for cutting, pruning, and piding plants. It's a versatile tool and both Chris and I love ours. 

    Japanese Hori Hori Gardening Knife: Duluth Trading Company - $28.95


    A Complete Grooming Kit for Father's Day  11 -  A Complete Grooming Kit

    If this gift is from you to your dad, you might not need this one (chances are your grown-ass man dad has the grooming thing pretty much down pat). But if you're reading this post with a younger dad (husband, boyfriend?) in mind (heeeey, female ManMade readers!), this might be perfect.

    My dad always said you can judge a man by the way his fingernails look. Which might be a tad bit harsh, but he has the rudiments of a good point. In any case, whether it's true or not, people will judge you if your hands aren't taken care of, so you might as well put forward a good impression.

    This kit from Duluth Trading has eight grooming tools (clippers, tweezers, scissors, nail file, etc.) to keep your digits dainty. And, it comes in a handy Fire Hose canvas roll-up carrier for easy storage and portability. 

    The Sprucer Upper Men's Grooming Kit: Duluth Trading - $49.50

    (And for the beardy, lumber-dad, throw in a bottle of Datenite Simply Great Beard Oil so your Father's Day embraces will be redolent).



    The Giveaway!

    We're thrilled to be giving away three $50 Duluth Trading Co. gift cards this father's day. Enter to win below; it's fast and easy!


    That's it! Hope you found something you're excited to give to someone special. 

    What's the best gift your dad ever gave you? What's something he loves that you learned to love too? Let me know in the comments (I'm just curious!). 



    This post was sponsored by Duluth Trading Company, but all opinions are mine alone. Thanks for supporting the brands that support ManMade!

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    Clamping The CrateGiving another man a gift is hard enough already, but then picking the right wrapping paper or gift bag is altogether impossible. Here's a DIY project to hold that awesome gift instead.As Father's Day approaches, I'm already thinking a bit about what to get my dad that doesn't require a trip to the "As Seen on TV" store. The guy that actually made me into the person I am today deserves a bit better than another tie clip or remote caddy. With that in mind, I'm working up a box full of awesome that he'll actually use, and decided I wanted to put said awesome into something better than a recycled shoebox covered in last years holiday paper. Finished Crate

    This manly, solid, re-useable crate was inspired by the guys over at ManCrates, who regularly pack small wooden crates with incredible items for very cool themed gifts. To make it a bit more challenging/interesting, I only used my table saw for the build.


    *A Note on Safety - I've removed my guard for many of the cuts on this project due to visibility for pictures, and also because it was not always compatible with the types of cut I was performing. Always use every protection device on your equipment whenever possible including ear, eye and dust protection. There's nothing you're doing that's more important than your fingertips (or worse!).

    You'll Need:

    • (1) 1x4" pine furring strip, 8ft long
    • (2) 1/3" pine furring strips, 8 ft long
    • (1) 12"x12" MDF/Plywood (for bottom of box)
      • Total Wood Cost: $6.00
    • Glue
    • Clamps
    • Table Saw

    Cut List:

    • (8) 1x3x7" side pieces
    • (8) 1x3x12" side pieces
    • (8) .25x5x7" panel pieces (I cut these to final dimension after re-sawing in half - step 3)

    Step 1:

    Measure your Box - The first step is to figure out how large the box should be and dimension it properly. I decided I wanted to make a 12"x12" cube, I wanted it to look weathered and industrial so I used very cheap rough pine.Crate Pieces

    Step 2:

    Cut Pieces - The sides of the box are made like a panel door, with horizontal rails glued to vertical stiles and a center panel in a groove). I cut eight of the 12" and eight of the 7" pieces to size and set aside.

    Re-Sawn Wood

    Step 3:

    Re-saw for panel pieces -  Re sawing on a table saw means to cut a piece in half on edge down the face to create matching boards out of single piece of wood. This is accomplished by setting the blade height to just over half of the total width of the board and cutting through the piece. After thr first cut, the piece is flipped end over end (keep the same face against the fence) and run through again. If the saw is set properly this should result in two matched pieces that are roughly the same thickness. Cut eight of these panels to the same length as the stiles (7").

    Cutting the Groove

    Step 4:

    Groove It - Generally I would install a dado blade on the saw, or groove the pieces on the router table. But I wanted to stay rough and easy on this project so I cut the groove with the standard blade. I set the blade to a 1/4" height and cut a groove down the edge. I made the groove wider than my 1/8" blade by offsetting it to one side of the edge, then flipping the board face over face (opposite face to the fence on each cut) and cutting a second groove. This left a small amount of material in the middle of the piece that I went back and cut off with a third pass.

    created at: 06/08/2015

    Step 5:

    Notch the Rails - This step made for a better joint with more surface for glue. This step could have been fully skipped with very little impact on the appearance of the boxes, but probably doubled the joint strength overall. To notch the rails, I clamped a spacer block to my fence and used my miter attachment to make a shoulder cut. This first cut is the very furthest cut, I then ran the piece over the blade at 1/8" increments to the end of the piece to make a nice notch that the mating piece would join to. This technique takes some practice to get smooth joints, but going slowly and taking the time to clean up any rough surfaces produces a nice cut.

    Gluing Up Panels

    Step 6:

    Glue-Up - Once all pieces are cut to size, it's time to glue them together. I added glue to all joints and clamped for a few hours, then after everything was dry I jointed all 4 panels into one box. While the glue was drying on that step, I measured  and cut the bottom to size. This was glued and inserted in place and I let everything dry for about 6 hours. A note on the bottom - for strength, I should have cut a groove along the bottom face of each panel and inserted the bottom into this groove. This would have been a much stronger joint than the glued panel joint I ended up with.

    Panel Close-up

    Step 7:

    Sand and Finish - I wanted to keep the general feel of the box rugged so I did a bit of sanding on edges and top and bottom, but overall kept the character of the wood intact. I plan to stencil a bit then add some color before filling the box with the father's day bounty, so stay tuned for that post next week as we gather up and put together the gift for Father's Day.



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