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  • 11/25/15--06:00: A Closer Look: The Distiller
  • Gin DistillingHere is a story of a Brooklyn man who was tired of his job and decided to start a distillery instead. Click through for your dose of maker inspiration.   We all love the background story of a maker that chose to turn his passion into a living. It's a dream, or at least a quiet whisper in the back of every maker's head "if I could make my passion my job I would be thrilled". Brad Estabrooke talks about his journey to become the first Gin Distiller in Brooklyn since prohibition, and a few lessons on what it takes to follow your dream.

    Are you moving towards that small voice in your head? Life's too short to spend it wondering what the other path would have looked like. We'd love to hear from you, on what your dream would be. If you took that step, what would you strike out to do?


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    Titanium RingWorking with titanium is not for the faint of heart. The metal is hard enough to snub many of your tools, but if you have the patience it can really be rewarding. Take a look at this project write up making a ring from a sheet of titanium.   Finished Ring

    I don't plan on making a ring from this metal in the near future, but I love to read about the process and methods it takes to make a great finished product. Here's a video of the project, and you can go here to see all of the steps in the process.


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    Why you should buy a ratcheting screwdriver

    You know we here at ManMade always have praise for specialized, high-quality, long lasting tools. Chris went in-depth on screwdrivers earlier this year, and I second his opinion: 
    "a high-quality set of wood handled screwdrivers are a true joy to use." But let me also put in a plug for the less-glamorous cousin, the ratcheting screwdriver. It probably won't last a lifetime, and it's certainly not hand-crafted, but it can be a joy to use, in the right circumstances, and I think every guy should own one (or two, or three).

    Throw one in your toolbox, another in the trunk of your car, and a leave a third in your desk drawer at the office. Make sure you get a model that stores a collection of bits in the handle, and you'll be prepared for (almost) any screw-related challenge. 

    Now, you might be tempted to just go out and buy the first ratcheting screwdriver you see on an endcap at the hardware store (they're all the same, right!?). But don't be. A crappy ratcheting mechanism is, well ... crappy. And as with any tool that has moving parts, you want one that's well-made, or it'll fall apart on you.

    Who Needs One

    Contractors – and professionals who are constantly whipping out a screwdriver – love these. They save a bunch of space in a tool belt or toolbox. But they're also really handy to have around the house - the convenience of having all your bits in one place is hard to beat (no more running back down to the basement to grab a different-sized screwdriver). And the ratcheting action simplifies jobs like adjusting door hardware or screwing in something over your head (like a ceiling fixture).

    What to Look For

    - Comfortable handle with a little weight to it

    - Quality build (metal components, smooth gearing)

    - Easy access to the ratchet toggle (ideally you should be able to toggle with one hand)

     

    Double drive action

     

    ManMade Recommended

    For regular use: Megapro 13-in-1 Ratcheting Driver ($28 on Amazon)

    This one is the best-reviewed model we found. With an extra-long shank, a good collection of ultra-durable bits, and super-smooth ratcheting action, it's a tool that will last a long time. I'd recommend this one if you think you'll be using the tool on a daily basis, or plan on investing in a multi-use tool like this one in place of buying a dedicated screwdriver set.

    MegaPro 13-in-1 ratcheting screwdriver

     

    Bang for your Buck: The Kobalt 13-in-1 Double Drive ($10 at Lowe's)

    This is the screwdriver pictured above (and the one I one). It's not as well reviewed as the MegaPro, but I think for intermittent use, it'll hold up just fine. I've had mine for a few years (again, not daily use) and haven't had any problems. 

    Kobalt Double Drive 13-in-1

    The Kobalt also has another feature I really like: the double-drive action. Basically, this means there's a fearing mechanism in the tool that allows you to, say, drive a screw in with a twist of the handle in either direction (left or right). In other words, it can drive a screw twice as fast as a normal ratchet. I find that feature incredibly helpful and find myself happily using it all the time. At a third of the price of the MegaPro, you can afford to buy three of 'em.

     

    Bonus

    stubby ratcheting screwdriverI don't even know how it got in my toolbox, but the tiny ratcheting screwdriver pictured above comes in really handy. It's about the size of my palm, and stores six bits right inside the handle. For tight spots, or for just throwing in your pocket when you're running out to fix something, it's pretty awesome. 

    I'm not sure it matters which one of these you get, but it is kind of nice to have around. The Stanley Stubby Ratcheting MultiBit screwdriver costs $5 at Amazon and has a ton of good reviews.

     

     

     

     


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    created at: 11/25/2015

    The holiday season is upon us and it's time to stray from the usual gift-giving fare. So here are 11 truly unique gift ideas that are worth some serious consideration.   

    A key to consider in gift giving: I believe the best gifts are ones that the person in question will love and something that they wouldn’t normally purchase for themselves. That second part to me is key. Whether because of a bad economy or simply because a lot of people I know don’t necessarily indulge themselves with gifts, I think buying something that’s just a little out of the ordinary is always the way to go. Ok, here we go...

     

    Instead of cologne, give: Art of The Shave Full Shave Kit

    This might be the most standard gift on this list in terms of how hard it is to go wrong here. Quite a few different different brands have emerged from the woodwork in recent years, and the one that has the best branding in my opinion is the Art of the Shave campaign. Click through a couple online, or just opt for a nice aftershave if it’s on a budget. Not only is this gift practical but also it’s something he’ll do regularly and feel that quality jump in his daily life.

     

    Instead of socks, give: A Good Pair of Ragg Wool or Leather Gloves

    Leather gloves are a great style accessory that can up the ante for any outfit, from a jean jacket to a full suit. I’m personally a big fan of these Gasper Gloves made popular by Ryan Gosling’s unnamed character in Drive, but they are admittedly more of a fall/spring item than they are meant for the dead of winter. Some hip ragg wool gloves on the other hand are great for any season. Fox River has a good collection that are worth checking out and aren’t too pricey.

     

    Instead of a movie theater gift card, give: A Favorite Criterion Collection Bluray

    The Criterion Collection is a video distribution company with the MOST AMAZING selection of DVD and Blu-rays. They’re sort of like a Library of Congress thing with a curated selection of the best of classic and contemporary cinema. Each special edition release comes with specifically commissioned artwork and totally unique special features, and usually a long essay about the film written by a famous critic or film theorist. This is kind of like the movie version of buying somebody a special edition vinyl record by their favorite band.

     

    Instead of a fruit basket, give: Bonsai Tree

    Bonsai trees are like the ultimate DIY greenery. They communicate a love for nature and the outdoors coupled with the extra measure of dedication and care necessary to shape these small plants in a way that reflects the DIY ethos. Not to mention they’ll inherently class up the interior of any man’s living space and add some nice natural accents.

     

    Instead of flowers or a poinsetta, give: A Sequoia Seed

    For those who think bonsai trees are for sissies and want to flock to the other end of the spectrum, it actually doesn’t get any bigger than a sequoia. Start with a seed and let him know you believe in his ability to foster and care. Not to mention if it actually gets big enough, it’ll be super badass.

     

    Instead of a smelly candle, give: Campfire Cologne

    This could almost be a stocking stuffer due to its size but I put it here because it’s a great way to ditch the seasonal candle idea while still spicing up a man’s home.

     

    Instead of a Amazon gift card, give: A Magazine Subscription

    Magazine subscriptions have all sorts of holiday deals for the upcoming year and you can usually get a yearly subscription for good price. Poke around the topic with the man in question and see what sort of things he’s interested in. Choose something that he already loves or is aspirationally interested in learning more about and you’ll be all set. It’s a gift that continually comes back and offers him a way to broaden his horizons and maybe even think of you and your friendship.

     

    Instead of a tie, give: A Pull-up Bar

    It’s practical or aspirational; either one’s a good statement.

     

    Instead of a wallet, give: A Brass Compass

    You have to be careful giving this gift because if it happens in a movie the man in question always ends up crash-landing on an island or something. That said, a gift like this is always high on my list because of its connotations of adventure and exploration. Also it’s not usually something most men would think to buy for themselves. Stanley London offers a wide variety of brass compasses in all sizes and ages of distress, and most can be customized with up to 20 lines of text.

     

     

    Instead of books, give, books. Specifically: A Coffee Table Book on a Favorite Topic

    Who are we kidding? Books are always awesome gifts. Most design-oriented men have coffee tables in their homes, but the look isn’t really complete without a killer coffee table book (or collection of books). And even in the realm of book collections, coffee table books hold a specific subsection with their own do’s and don’ts. This is a great opportunity to purchase a quality collector’s edition that might be more of a statement than a book intended for actual reading, although if you know the man in question has interest in an esoteric topic, this is a great place to flex that knowledge. Click here for HiConsumption’s 30 Best Coffee Table Books.

    Instead of a sweater, give: Saddleback Leather Bag

    If you can afford it, this is the leather briefcase or backpack to purchase. A 100 year guarantee of quality. Enough said.


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    Marking Gauge

    Every shop needs a bit of extra temporary workspace. Build these solid shop horses to bone up on you joinery and come out with something you'll use often in the shop.   Most of us have carved our shops out of a small corner of our homes, where daily life pushes in and space is precious. A pair of sturdy shop horses are perfect when you need to pop up a temporary surface but everything needs to stash back away at the end of the day.

    Cutting JointThis shop project is a great way to hone the skills on Mortise and Tenon joinery with large forgiving cuts, and simple design lines. Designed like traditional Japanese trestle table legs, these should hold up to serious shop abuse. The cuts are made by hand, which allows for much greater control and a quieter shop as well.Finishing Up

    Take a look at the detailed tutorial for all the steps and plenty of pictures to make your own set that will help out for years to come in your home shop.


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    created at: 11/30/2015

    A travel mug is a simple device. So simple, that it's so notable when so many get things wrong. And then you use the perfect one, and you realize all the care and design that goes into the things we use everyday, and it's amazing. 

    There's a travel coffee or tea mug that keeps your drink warm for hours, you can throw in a bag and never worry about it spilling, and provides a safe and pleasant drinking surface from which to sip. And it costs $20. And that mug is the Contigo Autoseal Stainless Steel Travel Mug with Easy Clean Lid.

    Look, we didn't know it was possible to get that excited about a coffee cup, either. But think about it: this is something you use every day. Something that gets taken with you everywhere you go before 10 am, something that gets all rubbed up against your face dozen times a day. So, it's important to get the right one, and buddy, this is the right one.

    created at: 11/30/2015

    Why's it so great? Namely, cause it works, every time. There's a double-wall vacuum-insulated stainless steel tumbler that keeps your drinks HOT. I like to sip slowly on my coffee all morning; I'm not as interested in the quick caffeine boost as I am in extending the pleasure of hot coffee as long as possible. I often won't finish an almost full mug for about two hours, and its still hot at the last sip. A piping 195° F, the same temp at which I brewed it? No. But warmer than a standard ceramic mug would be after a mere five minutes. 

    And this is important, because it allows me to measure how much I'm drinking. I don't have to keep topping it off and warming it up, only to find myself jittery and grinding my teeth because I was tired of cold coffee. With this, I measure what I want, I drink it at my pace, and I know exactly how much coffee I've had, and I've enjoyed it the whole way through.

    created at: 11/30/2015

    Okay, so most travel mugs are double-walled and insulated. What makes the Contigo better than the others? The lid, my friend. The lid. This thing has been designed to the hilt. It's on its 7th or 8th version, and they finally nailed it. (I've been a Contigo fan since 2.0). The Autoseal refers to the default closed position, which, if screwed on properly, will not let any liquid out. You open the seal with a super ergonomic button on the far side of the lip. You can lock the lid to prevent the button from being pressed in a bag or by strangers on the train. 

    created at: 11/30/2015

    All this contraptioning means there's a bit going on under the hood, but the lid features a flip-up tab that exposes the goods for easy cleaning. Rinse, reseat, and done. 

    created at: 11/30/2015

    The seal really does work 100%, and with the locking mechanism, I have no concerns about placing it next to expensive devices in a shoulder bag or briefcase. 

    I've now own four generations of Contigo mugs in the last seven years. Each one is better than the last, and they finally figured out how to make them fit in your car's cup holder. They cost ~$20 each, and I figure I use them 300 days a year for about 20-24 months. That's a lot of hot coffee, a lot of paper cups not thrown away, and a lot of money saved cause I make my coffee at home and take it where I need to go. 

    created at: 11/30/2015

    One tip: do be careful when opening the seal after it's been closed for a bit. As the temperature changes, the pressure builds up inside, and it can spray a few drops of hot liquid. Just open away from your face, and you'll be fine. Once you learn it, the rhythm is very natural.

    You can't do better for $20. Every one you know wants one of these in their stocking. Enjoy your hot, truly spill-proof beverages. 

    ManMade Recommended: Contigo Autoseal West Loop Stainless Steel Travel Mug with Easy Clean Lid, 16-Ounceor20-Ounce

     

     


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    Head to any discount store or the cookware section of a higher-end grocery store, and you'll all kinds of cool acacia and olive wood and walnut cutting boards and serving strays with rich, striking grain patterns. 

    The DIYer will, of course, then say: we should totally make something out of those.    Anna got creative with a round serving tray and some hardwood dowels to create this mid-century inspired side table. 

    created at: 12/01/2015

    She came up with a leg bracket system that's pretty similar to one of my first DIY projects ever, way back in 2007. There, I used steel rod rather than wood doweling, which might be a good upgrade here if you're worried about stability or the legs breaking. 

    Check it out at Homemade By Carmona: DIY Modern Side Table

     

     


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    There are times to try new things. Times to taste different flavors, experiment with products, seek out something you've never encountered before...And sometimes, you just want to know what the best option is. The easy choice. The go-to. The everyday variety you know will work when you need it, and rely on every time.  

    created at: 12/01/2015

    Throughout the rest of the year, ManMade is seeking out the best affordable bottles of a variety of spirits that work well in your home bar, but know you can grab at the store the next time you head to a friend's house or a party.       

    Of all the spirits in our Best Value in Booze series, there's the least to say about vodka. When it is at its best, it's colorless, odorless, and tasteless. It's filtered and distilled as many as seven times, and its very design is to not be distinguishable by its bold character.

    created at: 12/01/2015

    Plus, vodka is often perceived (and we say: rightly so) as a starter spirit. Something that will disappear inside a mixer, or simply get you messed up. A thing young people drink when they're more interested in alcohol content than the sipping experience, before the drinking man learns to appreciate other clear spirits like gin or blanco tequila.

    So, how to judge a vodka? Well, good vodkas certainly do perceptible differences between them, but mostly, what they do add other than flavor or aroma: texture, body, and astringency. Good vodkas shouldn't remind you of the smell you experience right before the doctor gives you a shot. They should be experienced as somehow slightly sweet and vanilla like.

    created at: 12/01/2015

    Our vote for best value bottle is this guy: Russian Standard. You can barely see the name on the label, but its there amongst all the Cyrillic. It's actually a pretty new brand, from the late 1990s, and comes from Saint Petersburg.

    It's made with soft winter wheat from the Russian Steppes geographic region, which is distilled four times before filtering through charcoal and spending two days in "relaxation tanks." It's mixed with water from glacial lakes, particularly Lake Ladoga. 

    And, the results are (and I hate this word when referring to spirits): smooth. Smooth as in - not harsh, pleasant on the palette, and with just the right amount of warmth. It tastes like alcohol in its most basic form, which, of course, it is. It takes to the cold particularly well, and comes out of the freezer fresh and bracing. I mean - I admittedly would never drink 2 oz. of just cold vodka, but when I tried it, I sorta saw the appeal. That's a big endorsement from a gin guy. 

    created at: 12/01/2015

    It comes in at less than $20 a bottle (usually $17-18), and gets high ratings everywhere. It won the number one, top pick Chairman's Trophy at this years Ultimate Spirits Challenge, and ranks highly on nearly every shootout I can find.

    When I drink vodka, I'll drink this. And be very happy to do it. Go check it out. 

     

    Cheers.
    For more in our Best Value in Booze series, check out these great bottles!

     


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    A little festive holiday decor can go a long way, especially if done right. Check out these 10 Christmas Decoration Hacks to make your holiday decor blend seamlessly into your home without any lasting intrusion or marks on the walls.   

     

    Learn the value of temporary hooks, painter’s tape, and even a hot glue gun.

    Click here for the full article  and let us know your best holiday decoration hacks!


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    created at: 12/02/2015

    Look - there's no shame in admitting it: we at ManMade love the holiday season. The lights, the smells, and, most importantly, the sounds. No, not the soft rock mall music or the umpteenth crooner cover filler track, but the good holiday songs. The ones that give you energy, make you feel festive, and happy that it's December.

    And so, in 2015, we're sharing our ManMade Musical Advent Calendar, where we offer a new favorite holiday song every day, by bands you actually care about.    

    Tuesday, December 1st: "Season's Greetings" by Robbers on High Street

    Jangly, catchy, and just the right amount of sentiment. There's a little jingle bells and glockenspiel going on, but this is just straight good pop songwriting. 


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    Cracked Log LampThere's something amazing about integrating natural materials into our modern world. These cracked log lamps add some interesting life to the room. Take a look.   I love to see designers take ordinary objects and turn them into something more. It's even better when the designs are useful at the same time. These cracked logs were destined for the fireplace before Duncan Meerding got hold of them, but now they're amazing. Helen Edwards at Recycled Interiors took some time to talk with him about his inspiration and approach.Cracked Log Lamp

    While there are some things that belong outside, I think I could really find a place in my house for something as amazing and eye catching as this piece. Take a look at the rest of the article here, then figure out what you have in the shop that deserves a second life.Cracked Log Lamps


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    created at: 12/02/2015

    Look - there's no shame in admitting it: we at ManMade love the holiday season. The lights, the smells, and, most importantly, the sounds. No, not the soft rock mall music or the umpteenth crooner cover filler track, but the good holiday songs. The ones that give you energy, make you feel festive, and happy that it's December.

    And so, in 2015, we're sharing our ManMade Musical Advent Calendar, where we offer a new favorite holiday song every day, by bands you actually care about.    

    Wednesday, December 2nd: "Last Night It Snowed" by Ass Ponys 

    A celebration of that first day it really feels like winter, from a group outta my hometown, Cincinnati, Ohio. Starts off mellow, ends up real blasty. To be played on all snow days from now until forever. 

    Check out all the songs in the ManMade Musical Advent Calendar here! 

     


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    Each week in 2015, ManMade is sharing our picks for the essential tools we think every creative guy and DIYer needs. We've selected useful, long-lasting tools to help you accomplish a variety of projects, solve problems, and live a hands-on lifestyle that allows you to interact with and make the things you use every day. 

    created at: 12/02/2015

    For those of you who have followed along with us in the series all year (this is tool number forty-eight), let's all celebrate: this is an easy one. A flush cut pull saw is a simple device that's totally affordable and almost impossible to screw up. It's small yet super functional, and performs quite well. It's designed to do just a few things, and do them well. Get the right one now, and you're set for life.   created at: 12/02/2015 There are two main characteristics that separate flush cut saws from their rip and crosscut brethren. First, the blade is intentionally flexible, which allows the saw to move in a plane different from the handle, allowing you to press the blade against a flat surface or into a tight space. Secondly, the teeth have no set whatsoever, meaning they sit directly parallel with the blade. (This is not true for any other well-made saw). This allows you to cut flush with the surface and the teeth will not scratch the surrounding material, no matter what. 

     

    created at: 12/02/2015 So what do you use it for? Well, lots of things, like trimming a pegged or wedged tenon flush, or trimming wood plugs inserted into a counterbored hole to hide a screw without banging up the finished surface. Honestly, I keep mine in a handy place, and I grab it all the time for simple, short crosscut tasks, like finishing up a shoulder or curved kerf left from a stopped cut by a table or circular saw. This is also the saw I throw in my to-go toolbox or tool belt when working on something away from my shop. 

     

    created at: 12/02/2015

    Most of these saws will cut like a Japanese-style pull saw, slicing on the back stroke rather than the fore. This allows for great precision in tight places, and keeps your joinery and your fingers safe.

    It's lovely when things are so simple and do what they're supposed to do. Especially for $25. 

    created at: 12/02/2015

    ManMade Recommended: 


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    created at: 12/02/2015

    Look - there's no shame in admitting it: we at ManMade love the holiday season. The lights, the smells, and, most importantly, the sounds. No, not the soft rock mall music or the umpteenth crooner cover filler track, but the good holiday songs. The ones that give you energy, make you feel festive, and happy that it's December.

    And so, in 2015, we're sharing our ManMade Musical Advent Calendar, where we offer a new favorite holiday song every day, by bands you actually care about.   

    Thursday, December 3rd: "Tiny Tree Christmas" by Guster 

    This one comes from "The Christmas Gig" a compilation put out by Target stores in 2010. Several tracks, including this one, were used in the store's tv ads that season. A great instance of what happens when an enormous company entrusts their ad agency to do something awesome and unique. Nearly every song on their gets heavy rotation at my house every December.

    Be sure to stay for the breakdown at 1:59. Things only get better from there. Hand claps!

    Check out all the songs in the ManMade Musical Advent Calendar here! 


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    created at: 12/03/2015

    If you’re not one to go overboard on the whole Christmas cookie thing, there are still great ways to contribute to the seasonal snacking department that don’t require a whole day of preparation. This simple recipe for Cinnamon Roasted Almonds can be concocted in under two hours including prep time, and it still combines that notorious seasonal taste with what I’m guessing is at least a slightly healthier option.   

    The added benefits: Cinnamon Roasted Almonds are great to have out as a dish for a seasonal get-together or tied up in a to-go bag as a gift, and they’ll make your home smell great and inviting.

    Check out the recipe here and let us know what you think.


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    created at: 12/12/2011

    Pop quiz! What is grenadine?

    Until a few years ago, I woulda said, "Um...it's that cherry stuff they put in my lemon-lime soda as a kid."

    And I would have been wrong.

    See, the "grenad-" in grenadine, and the "grenad-" in grenade are actually the same etymological root, and refer to a fruit that has little to do with cherries:  the grenade-shaped pomegranate. "Really?" I thought, when I decided to investigate it. "There are pomegranates in that bottle of Rose's that's been in the fridge for years?"

    No, there is not. But there is plenty of corn syrup, citric acid, food coloring, and other artificial ingredients.

    created at: 12/12/2011

    Realizing I'd never had the real stuff, I set out to make my own. And I've been doing so ever since. It lasts for months in the fridge, is relatively inexpensive (given the fact that it costs less to make two cups of it than to buy a single cocktail at a bar or restaurant), and it tastes amazing. And seeing as it's currently pomegranate season, and the holidays always offer an excuse to go that extra mile, there's no better time to make some yourself.

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups pomegranate juice
    • 2 cups natural cane sugar
    • 5" strip of orange zest

    created at: 12/12/2011

    1. You can prep and juice the arils from two whole pomegranates in the blender, then strain the mix through a fine strainer to remove the seeds, or go the easy route and buy a 16 oz. bottle of pomegranate juice, which will be with the fancy smoothies and such in the produce section.

    created at: 12/12/2011

    2. Place the juice in a medium sauce pan, along with the sugar and orange zest, and bring to a boil.

    created at: 12/12/2011

    3. Continue boiling for five-six minutes, until the mixture has reduced to a syrup-y consistency, about two cups.

    That's it. Really. If you wanna go the second extra mile (the third?), you can add a bit of "pomegranate molasses," which mixologist Jeffrey Morganthaler favors in grenadine for an extra boost of pom flavor. I say, instead of sourcing the stuff in high-end grocery store, just pour off all but 1/2 cup of the liquid, and continue to reduce until you have two -four tablespoons. What's left is your "molasses," which you can stir into the mixture for a bit of extra body.

    created at: 12/12/2011

    Seriously, it's super easy, and worth every penny, as well as the eight minutes it takes to make it.

    If you're the type to make food gifts, it's great one, though be sure to keep it refrigerated until you hand it to your friends and family.

    Update: Here are five easy, festive cocktails using the stuff, and which will thusly prove why you should make it. Right now!

     

    This ManMade post was originally published on December 12, 2011. We're sharing it today because tis the season!


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    There are times when you need a large outdoor cooker: big hunks of protein cooked low and slow, hosting for a crowd, cold smoking some seasonal goodies. But some times, you just want to get your food as hot and as close to the fire as possible to create the crust and depth of flavor that only cooking over an open flame can provide.     

    If you have a large grill and/or are looking for an inexpensive way to expand your outdoor cooking arsenal, check out this DIY tabletop hibachi. It comes from the makers of ShapeCreate, a new moldable concrete that works like clay, but dries just as hard as traditional concrete mixes. Imagine the possibilities, DIYers.

    The project page indicates "Full How-To Guide Coming soon!" but a quick look at the images details exactly how this thing comes together. We'll update this post as the full tutorial comes together, but if you're looking for something to try this winter that you can enjoy with the ice and snow are gone, this one looks promising. 

    Learn more at ShapeCreate.com: Outdoor Tabletop Hibachi

     

     


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    created at: 12/02/2015

    Look - there's no shame in admitting it: we at ManMade love the holiday season. The lights, the smells, and, most importantly, the sounds. No, not the soft rock mall music or the umpteenth crooner cover filler track, but the good holiday songs. The ones that give you energy, make you feel festive, and happy that it's December.

    And so, in 2015, we're sharing our ManMade Musical Advent Calendar, where we offer a new favorite holiday song every day, by bands you actually care about.    

    Friday, December 4th: "We Need a Little Christmas" by Agesandages

    "We Need a Little Christmas" is typically a zippy little number which comes from the Broadway musical Mame, where Angela Landsbury originated the title role. Here, Portland-based Agesandages cuts the tempo in half, highlighting the rather sad sentiments of not just wanting a little Christmas, but needing it. Needing it "before my spirit falls again."

    So climb down the chimney, put up the brightest string of lights I've ever seen
    Slice up the fruitcake, it's time we hung some tinsel on that evergreen bough
    For I've grown a little leaner, grown a little colder
    Grown a little sadder, grown a little older
    And I need a little angel sitting on my shoulder
    we need a little Christmas now

    Damn.

    This recording gives me chills every time I listen to it, and often tears. I listened to it on repeat last December. Currently a top five all-time favorite for me. Take it with you into the weekend.

    Check out all the songs in the ManMade Musical Advent Calendar here! 

     

     

     


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    Unless you live in the Minnesotan tundra, now’s the perfect time to get ahead of the snowfall and make a childhood dream come true with this steerable sled project from Popular Mechanics. (just kidding Minnesotans, you’ll figure it out). While you’re at it, why not do it with your child? This DIY guide comes with photographic step-by-steps and mentions which ones require the presence of an experienced adult and which ones can by done by a child on their own.   

    Try it this weekend, and frankly, you’re never really too old for sledding so there’s no reason not to do it even if you don’t have a kid.

    Check out the tutorial here and let us know some of your favorite sled designs.


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    You spend so much time picking out a memorable gift that will impress, but then wrap it up in a boring box? Make that box stand out as much as what's inside with these simple projects.   Gift Tags1. Custom Gift Tags  - These small items stand out because they're unique, durable, and completely custom. They're pretty straight-forward to make as well. Take a look at our Brushed Metal tutorial here.Wooden Gift Box

    2. Custom Wood Box - There are so many reasons an amazing wooden box is a great way to deliver a gift. The weight, craftsmanship, and general feel of lasting quality leave an impression that just won't happen from a re-used shoebox. Take a look at our Gift Crate tutorial here. Another simple option is the Bandsaw Box here.

     

    Map Wrapping Paper

    3. Unique Gift Wrapping - Good wrapping paper is just so hard to find. Why not try to mix it up a bit with a few truly unique ideas that will stand out. The first is wrapping the package in a map.  This can be a really personalized option as you can get a map of a memorable trip or other special location. Another option is adding a leather string to tie it all together.   This small accent adds a bit of personality to the gift.

     

    For more great wrapping ideas, check out our 5 classic gift wrap techniques here, and get a bit creative on the wrapping this year. 

     


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