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    5 Easy to Make Can Stoves

    I've cooked a lot of meals in the outdoors, and every meal has come about the same way - with a bit of heat. Make a stove out of an empty can and an ounce of alcohol for a light, compact system that will keep you cooking well in the wild.   One of the main downsides of hiking is the weight. Lugging a massive pack down the trail is just a pain, and it really takes the joy out of the views with about 50lbs strapped to your torso. Along with some other weight-saving ideas, the can-stove is a great way to strip off the weight and make it a trip worth taking. It's also just a good skill to know how to turn a soda (or beer) can into a portable stove with just a few simple tools.

    Can stove tools

    The article over at bikepacker details how to make 5 different types of can stoves, with various pros and cons of the construction and use. Take a look and find one to make just for the fun of it, and also as preparation for that pending zombie apocalypse.

    Here's a quick glimpse at the process for making a simple can stove:

    Can Stove

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    created at: 04/01/2013

    Look - I'm not implying I only have fifteen things in my kitchen. I love to cook, to the point that I ask for new tools and gadgets for Christmas and birthday presents. But, I also cook three meals a day at home, and for 90% of them, it's with the same basic handful of utensils and cookware.   When visiting some of my favorite restaurants with open kitchens, I started to notice the same handful of items on display - hanging on walls, at the prep station - as the ones that are so much used at my house they rarely leave the drying rack.

    So, countertop appliances aside (blenders are great) and excluding standard utensil-caddy stuff like mixing spoons (I like bamboo) and dish towels (get some), here's ManMade's guide to the fifteen tools every kitchen needs, all selected with an eye toward buying quality items that'll last as long as you can stand by a stove. They might not be the only things you need, but they're darn close. And, if you wanna cook like a chef, shop like a chef and choose the restaurant supply version of many of these. They're made to take a beating.

    created at: 03/28/2013

    1. Spring-Loaded Tongs: Hands down, the most used item in my kitchen. They're like a heatproof extension of your hands, providing for dexterity and precision tasks that a spoon or spatula just can't match. I keep a pair of silicon and steel-tipped ones on hand for nearly every meal, using them for most flipping, stirring, and mixing tasks. Recommended: Oxo 12-Inch Locking Tongs [$10.99 at Amazon]


    created at: 03/28/20132. Enamel-Coated Cast Iron Dutch Oven: An investment piece, but one of the most versatile. These things are heavy, stout, and efficient. Goes from stovetop to oven to grill to refrigerator, and if you take care of it, will last for life. A round model in the 7-quart range will accomplish most takes like braises, stews and soups, deep frying, and searing. Recommended: Le Creuset [pictured] are the standard here, but all French models are worth the investment. For a more affordable option, the Lodge Color Dutch Ovens [$64.99]   get great reviews as well. 


    created at: 03/28/2013

    3. Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls: Unless you're using the microwave, forget the breakable glass or colorful plastic, and opt for affordable, built-to-take-a-beating restaurant-style mixing bowls. These guys can take heat, so you don't have to worry about them melting if they get too close to the flame. Find some with a nice lip and a low bowl shape for easy tossing and handling. I even use mine on the range for popcorn, or on the grill as a lid or to heat sauces. If you buy them all from the same manufacturer, they'll store nicely inside each other, taking up little space. Recommended: Crestware 8-Quart Stainless Steel Mixing Bowl [$10.00]


    created at: 03/28/2013

    4. Butcher Block Cutting Board: Unless you're dealing with raw meats or other contaminating ingredients, don't waste your time or budget with a bunch of flexible plastic cutting mats, or glass or stone boards that will ruin your knives. Just get a large, heavy hardwood model, and use it for all your tasks. If you have the tools, these are a great project to make at home for much less (they also make great gifts), but if shopping, look for one at least 16x20 and 1-2" thick made of hard maple, cherry, or walnut. Bamboo is cool too, but hardwood will last for decades. These are a popular project for woodworkers (I can't count how many I've done), so check out local handmade shops and fairs or Etsy for cool ideas. Otherwise, you can't go wrong with pro models from John Boos or OzarkWest. Recommended: Boos Reversible 15.5 x 20" Maple Cutting Board [$83.95]


     created at: 03/28/2013

    5. 8-Inch Chef's Knife: Forget all the fancy block set of micro-serrated blade and late-night ginsu infomercials, and just get the few knives you need. To start, invest in a quality 8" chef's knife for the majority of your slicing and chopping tasks. Trying them out in the store is best since different models fit different hand sizes, but a great all-around option (affordable) are the Victorinox Fibrox Series from the same folks who make Swiss Army knives. Recommended: Victorinox 40520 Fibrox 8-Inch Chef's Knife [$44.95]


    created at: 03/28/2013

    6. 10 or 12-Inch Cast Iron Skillet: I've made the argument before that every person should own a cast iron skillet, and I still stick by it. See that post for reasons and versatility, but seriously: what else do you own that can go from campfire to freezer to charcoal grill to blazing hot oven to electric cooktop, and then allow you to serve your dinner out of it? My vote is to buy old, unseasoned (or poorly seasoned) cast iron from the flea market or secondhand shop and season it yourself, providing for an unbeatable, long lasting cooking surface, but if you're just trying to move away from using Teflon for everything, starting with a pre-seasoned skillet is better than nothing. Recommended: Lodge Logic 12" Skillet [$30.30] 


    created at: 03/28/2013

    7. Microplane Zester/Grater: These guys originated as woodworking tools for rasping and shaping edges, but chefs soon realized they were the perfect thing for finely grating hard cheeses, chocolate, citrus, aromatics, and spices. I prefer the non-handled models, because you can flip the case over and use it to catch your shavings. I also prefer handle-style graters to box graters in general - I only ever use two sides of that thing anyway. Get a large, fine, and zester size Microplane. They take less room to store, and cost less money. Recommended: Microplane 40001 Stainless Steel Zester [$9.50] 

    created at: 03/28/2013

    8. 1 1/2 Quart Stainless Sauce Pan with Lid: For all those liquid-heavy tasks where the dutch oven would just be overkill, a heavy-bottomed sauce pan works perfectly. Boiling water for grains or rice, reheating leftovers, making potatoes, simmering sauces, etc. Recommended: Cuisinart MultiClad Pro Stainless Steel Saucepan with Cover [$41.07] 

    created at: 03/28/2013

    9. Instant Read Thermometer - If you cook proteins like meat or fish, there's nothing worse than overcooking them to dryness, or not cooking them to safe temperatures. Pro chefs can do this by sight and touch, but most of us home cooks cannot. An instant read thermometer costs less than $20, and avoids either error. Also great for coffee making and food crafts like cheese, jellies, pickles, and candy. Recommended: CDN DTQ450X ProAccurate Quick-Read Thermometer [$14.95]  

    created at: 03/28/2013

    10. 1 Qt Measuring Cup: Perfect heat-resistant complement to the baking set in your utensil drawer. Great for boiling water in the microwave, catching draining liquids, as a small mixing bowl for salad dressings or sauces. I'll usually eat soup in one, too. Recommended: Pyrex Prepware Measuring Cup [$9.60]



    created at: 03/28/2013

    11. Half Sheet Pan and Cooling Rack: Forget the dark, non-stick surfaces and airbake technology, and invest in a few restaurant style half-sheet pans and accompanying racks. You can do everything from roast vegetable to bake cookies to your Thanksgiving turkey on one of these, and the rack makes a perfect surface for resting a steak or draining homemade french fries. Buy these together so everything fits perfectly and stores nicely in very little space. Recommended: Norpro Stainless Steel Jelly Roll Baking Pan [$16,11]...but check the restaurant supply store first.

    created at: 03/28/2013

    12. Non-stick skillet: As much as I love the crust and caramelization created by stainless and cast iron, there are some notoriously sticky ingredients that really do benefit from non-stick: eggs, fish, pancakes, crepes, and the like. While I definitely don't recommend a whole set, keeping one around for special tasks is helpful. No need to be a hero. But do know these don't last forever, so there's no reason to spend hundreds of bucks on one. Recommended: T Fal Ovensafe Non-Stick Fry Pan [$29.05]

    created at: 03/28/2013

    13.  Mandoline Slicer: Many wouldn't consider these an essential, but you'll see them in every chef's knife kit. They make such quick work of repetitive tasks, and allow you to make cuts you couldn't do with a knife, such as super thin slices for homemade potato chips. They're super helpful for food craft projects such as canning and pickling, and if use it safely, will find a way into your daily rountine as well. Just use the hand guard, or better yet, a cut-proof glove. Recommended: Benriner Japanese Mandoline Slicer [20.74]

    created at: 03/28/2013

    14. Mesh Stainer: Another great restaurant supply store find. After grabbing a few of these, I rarely get out a colander anymore, and especially love that these help save the liquid, the solids, or both. I prefer medium mesh options for nearly everything, and love the little arms that attach to the side of my quart measuring cup or stainless bowl. $10.00 very well spent. Recommended: Food Service Medium Single Mesh Strainer 8" [$10.45]

    created at: 03/28/2013

    15. Stainless Steel 3 Qt. Saute Pan: The last piece to complement the cast iron and non-stick. Stainless is great for searing and developing deep caramelization flavors. I like using this over cast iron when high heat retention isn't as essential, or when I want the ingredients to stick a bit, such as browning veggies or onions. It's like color guarantees you won't burn the flavorful bits at the bottom, and it's high, straight sides make it great for cooking things that start out big but reduce a lot, such as greens or cabbage, or for making quick work of sauces. A great everyday workhorse. Recommended: All-Clad Stainless 3-Quart Saute Pan [$124.90]


    Remember: If you're out on your own for the first time, or just trying to build a quality kitchen arsenal, buying the better quality thing once is better than having to replace everything every few years. 

    What would you recommend? Share your ideas, and the pieces that you'd sub them out for, in the comments below. [This ManMade post was originally published in March 2013]




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    Medallion Playing CardsTired of staring at the same boring face cards every Friday night? Upgrade that deck with some much more compelling designs. They may not help you bluff any better, but at least you can give up that ante in style.   I've spent a few evenings raking in plenty of chips from my friends, and plenty more giving them all back. But no matter how the night goes, a few hours around the felt is time well spent. Upgrading a few items along the way will only make the time a bit more fun, and where better to begin than the cards. Monarch Playing Cards

    I snagged a set of Steampunk Bicycle cards last year for gifts, and after they came in the mail I went ahead and got a set of my own. There's something special about using a set of well-designed cards, they just seem to make the game just a bit more classy, and for a just a few $5 chips you can upgrade that game in just the right way.

    Take a look at the entire collection here, snag a few sets for gifts, and don't forget to get a few classy decks for yourself. Have a favorite style? We'd love to hear what deck you're using for poker night now!Monarch Cards

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    A properly blowtorched steak is more delectable to the taste buds than it is manly-sounding to the ears. I thought this was a fun gimmick when I first encountered it, but it turns out, blowtorching a steak to perfection is actually not that uncommon. Chefs often do it to thinly sliced steaks after preparing them sous vide, which is wonderful rabbit hole entirely worth travelling down.   

    But first, check out the video below featuring the skills of David Arnold, founder of the New York-based educational nonprofit Food and Drink Museum, as he explains the maillard reaction, the process by which proteins and sugars chemically interact to produce that tasty, crisp, roasted outer layer of the steak. You need high levels of heat to get that delicate balance of taste and texture, and a blowtorch is a perfect tool for the job, especially if you use something to slightly diffuse the heat such as a Searzall

    Read more about the blowtorching method at

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    created at: 04/29/2013

    Every man's home or office needs a good place to stash the booze. Unless you have to hide it away in a desk drawer somewhere, I prefer to go the way of Mad Men and have it on display in the classiest way possible. Unfortunately, a nice bar cart can cost hundreds of dollars, so I decided to do a little hunting for an old Cosco cart I could repurpose into my own classy moonshine wagon.

    I lucked out and found a perfect cart at a yard sale for ten bucks. You see these kind of carts all of the time, and some need a little more work than others to fix up, but they are pretty easy to come by if you make the garage sale rounds. 

    created at: 04/29/2013

    Once you have a cart, all you need are a few accessories from IKEA and a couple cans of spray paint to make your own fully stocked bar cart. Here's what you will need:

    • Cosco Cart 
    • Set of 2 IKEA drawer pulls
    • IKEA wine glass rack
    • 3 IKEA silverware canisters
    • set of super strong magnets (like these)
    • 3 small zip ties
    • Spray paint
    • Your favorite liquor bottles
    • Glassware
    • Awesome decorative tchotchkes

    created at: 04/16/2013

    Start by cleaning your cart and prepping it for a new coat of paint. If your cart has any rust, go at it with some steel wool and sand paper to smooth out the surface. Wash down the entire surface area with soap and water and let it dry thoroughly. Here you have two options for painting - disassemble and paint individual pieces, or mask and paint as a whole. I wanted all of my screws to stay silver, so I chose the disassemble option and broke down my cart into 4 legs and 3 shelves by removing all of the hardware.

    created at: 04/16/2013

    Prior to painting the cart, I drilled new holes for the drawer pull handles that I wanted to add on each side. First, carefully measure the distance between the holes of your drawer pulls and mark where you are going to put them on the top shelf of your cart. I started with a small drill bit to get an indentation started in the metal, and then finished making the screw hole with an awl and a hammer. The drill is really just to get the hole started, and the awl will do the rest of the work. Once you have a small hole, the metal is easily bendable and you can easily increase the size of your hole by spinning your awl.

    created at: 04/16/2013

    created at: 04/16/2013

    Next, take your cart to a well ventilated area for spray painting. I went with navy blue, and I needed just over a single can of spray paint for full coverage. (Get two cans to be safe and avoid having to run back to the hardware store in the middle of the project.) Spray evenly across all surfaces of the metal, and let it dry fully before reassembling or unmasking.

    created at: 04/16/2013

    Once your cart is back together, add the drawer pulls to the top shelf. If you want to add a wine glass rack without screwing any more holes into the shelves, and your cart is metal, use high powered magnets. IKEA sells a wine glass rack for a few bucks, so I lined the top of it with 10 magnets (each is rated to hold 4 pounds) and adhered it to the bottom of the second shelf of my cart.

    created at: 04/16/2013

    created at: 04/16/2013

    Next put together your wince rack. Get your 3 IKEA canisters and line up the holes on the sides. Connect them through the holes using small zip ties. The zip tie is practically invisible once you tighten it and trim the excess, and can't be seen at all when the wine rack has bottles in it.

    created at: 04/16/2013

    created at: 04/16/2013

    Lastly, you are going to want to stock your bar with all of your favorite bottles of booze. I am a gin man myself, but I like to have a variety of spirits on hand. I stocked my cart with Sailor Jerry's Dark Rum, New Amsterdam Gin, St. Germain, Espolon Tequila, and a bottle of Bulleit Bourbon. I stocked my wine rack with a few bottles of red wine and made sure to have enough glassware to host a small gathering.

    created at: 04/16/2013

    In order to really make your bar cart stand out, you will also want to put a few choice items on the shelves. Dress it up with some other garage sale finds or special mementos from around your house. Then sit back and pour yourself a drink. Cheers!

    created at: 04/29/2013

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    If there's a category of things I constantly have too many of, it's books. Stacks on stacks on stacks. I have to purposefully keep myself from entering used book stores since I know I already have literal piles of books at home begging to be read, not to mention stacks of books I've already read that I don't intend to hold on to. If you're past the book lamp or clock, here are 7 next-level DIY projects for those books ready to be recycled.   

    Book PrintPage As Canvas

    I've always been a sucker for literary or text-driven art, and this is a nice way to blend them all into one project. Simply find a book big enough (e.g. a dictionary) or paste some choice pages together and your home printer aught to be able to print out your chosen images on top of it. 

    book envelopesVintage Literary Envelopes

    Up your thoughtful-card-sending game with nothing more than an exact knife, a favorite book, and some good clean folds. Go the extra mile and make it favorite of the receiver's or choose a poignant passage relating to him/her. 

    Frame Book Covers

    This is one is simple and makes a great date idea. Go out to a used bookstore and look for the most attractive book cover you can find. Maybe it's an old favorite, an inside joke, or a book you've never heard of. Take them home and frame them above. Better yet, choose books for each other and finish the date off by framing them together over a bottle of wine…

    Book SucculentsBook Planters

    It doesn't get more hipster than this, but the final project is really a beautiful (and surprisingly cheap/easy) design to showcase your love of books/nature/design. I'll be making one of these later this week and I'll let you know how it turns out in the comments. 

    Desk of Books

    You don't need to go this big, but hey, get inspired! There are lots of designs available with a Google search. Heck, build a whole house out of books.

    Book Charging Dock

    Similar to the bedside lamp, just a little more practical. And, you know... pick better books.

    Coat Rack

    I really like the look of this with all of the mismatching books and hooks in particular. I think this could really add some cozy charm to a more rustic home as well. 

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    Have you ever stumbled across an old wooden crate at your local flea market and wondered "what can I do with that"?  Here's one option - turn it into a unique and functional accessory for your around-the-town cycling.

    What you'll need:

    • A vintage crate
    • nylon brushes
    • an old T-shirt
    • wood glue
    • finishing nails and other joining hardware
    • a natural wood sealing oil or polyurethane
    • 2 mending plates
    • 4 bolts and 4 lock nuts.

    The first step in the process is likely the most fun - finding a suitable crate.  The first place we look are flea markets, and summer in New England means a flea market somewhere nearly every weekend within a 2 hour drive New York.  Our favorites are old beverage crates because they usually have an attractive and recognizable print on the side, and were built to hold a decent amount of weight.  

    When selecting an older box, look for dry-rot, water logging, evidence that afew termites or ants made it their lunch in the past, or other obvious signs of structural weakening of the wood.  Upcycling can fix a number of defects, but you'll be in better shape if you're starting with good strong wood.  

    We recommend using only nylon bushes and dry cloths for cleaning the surface of the crate.  Anything harsher, either chemicals or a wire brush, should be used sparingly.  Whatever you choose to use, make sure it evaporates quickly and completely.  You really want to avoid getting the wood wet since most of these old crates are incredibly dry and will soak up any liquid like a sponge.

    The next step for us is to seal the box, both for aesthetics and for weather proofing.  At Eleanor's, we use our own concoction of all natural organic oils that harden in the wood and create a natural barrier to the elements.  If you're going to be sealing a single crate, grab a can of Formby's Danish or Tung oil.  It's premixed with thinner and does the trick.  Polyurethane will do something similar, but the end result is a bit 'glossier' than we like.  This is not a job for Wesson - most natural oils will go rancid with time, and will never truly bond with the wood.

    Grab you're old T-shirt or another soft, clean rag with minimal nap that you never plan on using again.  Ball it up so it looks sorta like a lump of pizza dough, and get it good and wet with your oil/thinner mixture.  Generously apply the oil to the surface of the crate.  

    Pro tip: Blott when you get close to designs.  Most of the designs are just surface stamping, and wiping will smudge the ink.

    The crate will darken.  Depending on the state of the wood, it may darken a lot.  You can always run a little test on the inside of the box if you're concerned about the final look.  If oil is going to darken the wood too much, try a polyurethane weatherproofing mix.

    Let the crate dry for at least 24 to 48 hours.  Repeat the sealing process until oils no longer absorb into the wood and being to pool on the surface.  Wipe off any excess oil, unless you like the shiny look.  We end up with anywhere between 2 and 6 coats.

    Once dry and sealed, you're ready to attach the finished product to your bike. We use a standard metal rear-rack assembly available on our site or at most bike shops.  Attach the rear rack to the bike according to instructions.  


    Grab the mending plates, bolts and nuts that you picked up at your local hardware store or home center. Place the oiled crate on the newly installed rack and drill four holes aligned with the holes in the mending plates.  The easiest way to do this is to mark the position of the plates with the crate on the rack, then remove and flip it over, laying the mending plate on underside of the crate to mark the hole position.  Most mending plates have uneven hole positions, so use the plate as your template.

    You're almost done.  All that's left is to tighten down the mending plates.  It's important that you tighten the nuts the same way you'd tighten lug nuts on a car.  Use a round-robbin process so you get an even, snug fit.

    There you have it.  A hip, one-of-a-kind porter crate for your bicycle.

    If you're not interested in going to all the trouble yourself, but like the look, have a look at the vintage upcycled bicycle crates available at Eleanor's.  We ship anywhere in the US.  Likewise, if you do make your own bicycle crate, we'd love to see the final results.  Send us a picture to, and we'll post it on our stylish cycling blog.


    This ManMade guest post was written by Alison Lucien of Eleanor's NYC. 

    Alison Lucien knows her accessories.  An alumna of Norma Kamali, Steve Madden, and Saks Fifth Avenue, with ten years of fashion-industry experience behind her, she understands that the right bag or earrings can take a vintage dress from kitsch to cool. And the same goes for bikes. She rode her vintage Schwinn—which she brought all the way from her Ohio hometown—to work for years, but she couldn’t find high-quality, fashionable accessories to add style to her ride. Lost in a sea of unflattering spandex bike shorts, tired of heavy metal racks and baskets, she was inspired to start Eleanor’s - Stylish bicycle accessories for ladies.  Launched in April 2012, she named her new business after her and her husband Dustin’s grandmas—ladies who shared a moniker and an enthusiasm for bicycling.  Online, you’ll find unique, versatile items for fashion-savvy bikers. Helmets that are cute, not clunky. Clothes you can bike to a party in and still be the best-dressed person there.  Gear that says “chic French girl”—not “Tour de France.”


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    Music is a strange thing, instruments by themselves are just well-made sculptures, but in the hands of a creative, they come to life. Here's an instrument that comes to life like you've never seen.   I have no idea how long it took to perfect this marble-powered machine, but it's amazing how such a hulking machine can make sure precise music. Take a look:

    Now you'll never look at a bag of marbles the same way again.

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    created at: 08/13/2014

    There are two routes home cocktail enthusiasts tend to take when choosing a muddler: the mini-baseball style that sits on the check-out counter and the local liquor store (which suck), and then there's the handmade, lathe-turned muddler made from some exotic South American hardwood that can cost you as much as $60 or $80.

    Or, you can get the performance of the second for the price of the first. 

    Bartender and author Jeffrey Morganthaler figured out this helpful trick: just make one - err, two - from a hardwood French rolling pin with tapered ends. You can buy a 20" solid maple pin for $11.46, cut it in half, sand the edges, and you're done. Jeffrey says, " You’ve got a narrow end for lightly muddling herbs, and a wide end for mashing the heck out of some limes for a tasty Caipirinha. There you go, cheapskates! The good news is that you can allay some of your shame with the knowledge that this is seriously one of the best muddlers you’ll ever use. Enjoy."

    Sounds pretty good to me. I've even turned my own muddlers, and I think I'm gonna do this next time I do an Amazon order. 

    Build a Better ($5.63) Muddler []


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    Artist, writer, and teacher Andrew Salomone came up with this creative way to print an eight-page book from a single sheet of paper. The process is simple: understand the folding layout, organize your info thusly, and then, in this case, carving a linoleum block to print. But this technique could be applied to screenprinting or even a simple inkjet or laser print.

    Get the full how-to at Makezine: How to Print a One-Page Book by Hand



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    created at: 03/08/2016

    We've written before about the tiny house movement, especially people who have opted to live in the minimalist spaces that have mobility, but this is whole new take on the lifestyle. Bruce Campbell (not this guy) of Oregon, has lived in a renovated Boeing 727 for over 15 years and is now looking build another in Japan...   Campbell's current 727 has the standard amenities you might find in a luxury mobile home: bathroom, laundry, a bed/couch, a kitchenette, etc. He's hoping to find a decommissioned 747-400 to renovate in Japan (where he spends half of his time), which coincidentally comes with over 3 times the amount of space as his current air-home. Read more about Campbell and his plans in a recent Chron profile or check out his meticulously documented process on his website

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    Finished DrinkWant to up your entertaining game? Start with some homemade tonic water and you'll be sure to make an impression. The ingredients are a bit hard to find, but they're definitely worth the effort.   Building a simple but substantial home bar is a big job, but it's rewarding to have plenty of different choices that can suit a variety of guests. We talk about home bar essentials here, but today we'll be focusing on the simple tonic water. As a mixer, tonic water adds some effervescent, flavors, and a crisp bitterness to a drink. It's versatile, but is most known as the second half of a Gin and Tonic. The problem is, most commercial tonic water comes off as too sweet and syrupy, and the small batch stuff can be more expensive than the spirits you're mixing it with. That's why up until a few weeks ago, the Gin Fizz (substitute tonic water for club soda) has been the choice for me. That all changed when I thought about what it would take to make my own tonic water, so I looked it up. IngredientsMost of the recipes online have a bevy of unique flavorings, and they all sound delicious, but they all have the same base ingredients so I've decided to keep it simple and make a simple base that you can build on to suit your own taste. IngredientsMy finished tonic is tart, spicy, and has a complex layering your friends are sure to remember.

    Ingredients: Makes 1/2 Gallon (8 cups)

    • 8 cups water
    • 1/2 cup citric acid get it here
    • 1/2 tsp. allspice powder
    • 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
    • 1 lime, 1 lemon, 1 orange, zest and juice
    • 1/2 cup cinchona bark get it here
    • 3 stalks lemongrass, chopped
    • 10 cardamom pods, cracked get it here
    • 1 tbsp. lavender
    • 1/2 tsp. black peppercorns, cracked

    Orange Juice

    Put the water in a large saucepan and bring to a boil, reduce heat and add citric acid, allspice powder  and salt, stirring well to dissolve. Press the cardamom pods and peppercorns under a flat blade to crack before adding to the water. Add the rest of the ingredients and bring back to a boil. Reduce heat again and simmer for 20 minutes.Ingredients

    After 20 minutes, turn off the heat and let cool. Then transfer the mix through a filter cloth to remove the solids. I filtered it into a large mason jar then transferred to flip-top bottles for easy use. I refrigerate the mixture to keep it fresh and it should be good for up to a few months, though I doubt it will stick around long enough to go bad.Filling Bottles

    Here's my recipe for a killer Gin and Tonic with this homemade brew:

    Fill a glass with ice, and add 1 oz tonic water, 2 oz gin, 2 Oz club soda or sparkling water add a quick squeeze of lime juice, stir well and garnish with a lime wedge.

    Note: The bulk of the ingredients are easy to find, with just a few needing to be hunted down. Follow the links next to the ingredients to find them on amazon.

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    As far as holidays go, Easter isn't the most stylish. I mean, with all the pastels and baby birds and neon plastic grass, it's definitely not a season for the design minded.

    Unless, of course, you break things down into their most simple parts. Take the Easter egg; its ovoid shape is the definition of nature's penchant towards efficiency, and the dyeing with natural, real world colors gives the whole thing an amazing sense of organic texture. 

    Country Living magazine came up with this clever way to give a carton of eggs a gradient effect in a lovely indigo blue. You simply count the number of drops of food coloring you add to a cup of hot water with vinegar, and let them sit until the color is richly penetrated the shell.

    Sharp, right? Get the full how-to with exact measurements at Ombré Easter Eggs


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    created at: 03/07/2016The journey of an apprentice is a long and hard road, with many hours of thankless work under a master that at some point will hopefully be surpassed in skill and knowledge. Here's an interview with a Western student learning Japanese bladesmithing from an Eastern expert.   The folks over at Merchants and Makers took the time to talk with Eric Chevallier, apprentice at Sasuke Blacksmith Works, Sakai, Osaka to see what it looks like to commit to the pursuit of something so completely that it truly becomes you.templates

    Take a look at the entire interview and more great pictures here.

    Although it's a big step to commit to a decade-long (or longer) journey in a craft, there's something natural about picking a skill and honoring it's development so completely. The thought that a craftsman moves to an expert through time, practice, and observation of things done right is logical and inspirational. While I don't have the opportunity to sit under an expert, I have plenty of experienced makers who enjoy teaching everything they know. Do you have anyone willing to give you a hand in increasing your skill set? Take the time and learn everything you can!Blade Marking

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    If you're going to tote something around with you every day, you might as well make it look great and reflect who you are.   Inspire to Make came up with this clever way to warm up a portable USB drive. You know, those things you have a million of in your bottom desk drawer... He takes the important components out of the plastic case and sets them inside a custom, warm leather cover.

    The process is nice and simple, and a great way to practice your leather working skills. The details can be found in the video below, and on Inspired to Make's web site

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    Bedroom inspiration

    Sometimes we forget that our bedroom is one of the key areas of our living space - if not the most important. If you're still sporting an 1998 edition IKEA duvet and mismatched pillows that were hand-me-downs from your previous roommates, then it's time to upgrade. 

    An easy way to this is by choosing one of the most versatile, masculine, modern palettes out there: gray.

    Gray is one of the best colors you can choose to build the foundation for new decor. It's neutral enough and cool grays are calming and relaxing (important for sleep). And, you can always add pops of color here and there to 

    Regardless of the hues of grey you choose, remember to always keep it clean and minimal...which also translates to less cleaning.

    To get you started on the new look:

    • New duvet cover (dark gray)
    • Grey pillows (lighter hues)
    • Light grey curtains
    • Black  and charcoal sheets
    • Black, white, and wood tone accent pieces (night table, lamp, headboard).

    Oh, and if you dig that headboard, check out this DIY version

    Dude. Seriously, you'll feel so much better once you invest a little time in your own sanctuary, you'll sleep better and you won't have to close the door because you're embarrassed to show your friends your Spiderman sheets.

    Have fun!

    Image VIA


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    The Aeron, named after the Celtic god of war combined with aeronautics and aeration, is perhaps the most ubiquitous office chair ever produced. Initially created as a breakthrough in ergonomic design by Don Chadwick and Bill Stumph for Herman Mailer, the Aeron was so successful that its image was quickly co-opted by the dotcom bubble and associated with 90's web startup corporate excess. Even before its initial unveiling in 1994, the Aeron chair had already been acquired the Museum of Modern Art for its permanent collection. Why?    Stumpf, the son of a gerontology nurse, originally approached the design with an eye toward the elderly, emphasizing the necessity of the chair to conform to the contours of the sitter and not vice versa. As a result, the Aeron became endlessly adjustable. Watch the video below to hear Stumpf's essential tennants of design, or click here to read more about the Aeron's design process

    And let us know what you think! Are you a fan of the Aeron and the later office chair designs it birthed? If not, what are some of your favorite designs? I say this as a man whose desk chair just broke... 

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    created at: 06/11/2014

    Working with leather can be as complicated as you want it to be. You can get involved in stitching ponies and floral stamps and swivel knives, or you can keep things simple with pre-cut shapes and the alphabet.   This how-to from Fairgoods shows you how to create a sharp, classic leather bag or luggage tag, which beats the pants off that plastic-y job your suitcase came with. Or, you can get creative and make tags for anything, like your whiskey decanter.

    created at: 06/11/2014

    If you want to take this up a notch, you can stain or dye the leather, or just ink the embossed recessed so they'll stand out a little more. 

    See how its done (plus a bonus project)at Fairgoods - Father’s Day DIY: Embossed leather tag and tie clip




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    Full disclosure: I have never played Settlers of Catan (simply due to time constraints). But I have watched the insanity, passionate rivalry, and joy it has brought to so many of my friends as to be able to endorse it as a great way to spend a couple of hours. 

    But to really step up your game, try doing what Aaron Day didfor the Summers Woodworking 2 x 4 Challenge, making an entire game set (board, pieces, dice, CARDS) from a single 2 x 4.   

    created at: 03/11/2016

    With the exception of making the playing cards (here made by soaking plane shavings in water, ironing them, and mixing them with a form of contact cement to mimic standard card-stock), the entire process is relatively straightforward. Watch the video below or check out Day's blog for more unique woodworking ideas. 

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    Weekend project? On a Thursday? Yep, and for two reasons: one, I'll be out of town tomorrow, doing a weekend intensive course and dive program to get my SCUBA certification. But two, and most importantly, this storage headboard project is exactly the sort of thing you could put together in a weekend. created at: 03/06/2014The project consists of a simple 2x4 frame that's built out from the wall, making a basic box with the three walls surrounding. Then, it's faced with some affordable cedar planking and a top, creating a nightstand-style shelf behind the bed with plenty of storage inside. 

    created at: 03/06/2014

    This project was designed for a rather small bedroom, where the headboard takes up the entire wall. If yours if a bit larger, you could skin off the sides, but unless you're going to put something else on that wall, I say build it the full width of the room and really sell it as a focal point and a place to display your treasures. 

    See the full step-by-step process and a timelapse of this build at Wood & Faulk: Wooden Crate Headboard



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