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    created at: 05/31/2016

    I think lists like these are always worth a look. Not because they offer a whole bunch of new ideas, of course. You already know what number one is, you can easily name the filmmakers whose work occurs the most, and you'll certainly get a passing score on what makes the top twenty-five.

    But it's fascinating to see how the rest of the list shakes out. What order are
    Vertigo, Psycho, North by Northwest, and Marnie? Does Taxi Driver rank higher than Raging Bull and how far ahead are they from Mean Streets? And how many Billy Wilder movies did make the cut?

    This list comes from the BBC, and the opinions come from critics around the world, so it's interesting to see how international criticism weighs in on the ranking.    

    As usual, there aren't a ton of recent releases - only two films from this decade, 12 Years a Slave and Tree of Life, made the list, and only one piece made in the last twenty-five years made the top twenty-five (Mulholland Dr.). I suspect in another twenty-five years, more recent films will be added and many made after 2000 will move up the list... we'll just have to see what college kids go back to again and again in their dorm rooms. But, for now, this is what the BBC's poll has to say, and it's a great way to find some new stuff to check out this summer. Enjoy. 

    The 100 Greatest American Films 

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    I love a full-on, hardcore woodworking project: milling the wood from rough lumber to glass-smooth surfaces, careful design and proportions, and sturdy, hand-cut joinery to keep everything in place for many decades to come.

    created at: 05/31/2016

    But that's a big commitment, requires a lot of knowhow and tools, and a can take several weeks of nights and weekends to finish. So, I'm equally a fan of any project that produces great results with solid materials but uses some more "woodworking light" techniques.  

    This live edge bench from Francois et Moi definitely hits the mark. The top is made from a single slab of walnut, so the only work required is some sanding to remove the milling marks and get everything nice and smooth. The legs are purchased easily on Etsy, so you simply need to attach them to the top, and give it a simple finish. 

    The materials here are pretty high-quality, so it's not an inexpensive piece. The legs are $90ish, and I'm sure the 3" thick top cost at least $200, and perhaps more. But! If you found a similar piece in your local, cool-guy woodworking/design shop, this piece would go for at least $700-800. So, this is a seriously good way to save.

    Just a few notes on the how-to: the tutorial suggests belt-sanding up to 120. On a piece this nice, we'd suggest finishing by hand sanding up to 220 grit to remove any scratches from the belt sander and coarser paper (120 is really only a medium). And we'd also suggest a hand-rubbed oil finish applied with 320-grit paper to fill in walnut's relatively coarse grain and really bring out the figure. You could then apply an oil-based clear coat to that if needed (though I probably wouldn't).

    Check out the full tutorial from Erin at How to Make a Live Edge Walnut Bench


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    Old FashionedStocking a solid home bar takes a bit of planning, or lots of experimenting. I built my bar a few bottles at a time, but looking back it would have been nice to have a solid list. Here are my essentials that will make the majority of drinks on the menu.  

    1. Kentucky Bourbon – A solid bourbon can be savored neat or mixed for any number of classic cocktails, like a simple and delicious Old Fashioned.
    2. Light Rum – This mild spirit is a great mixer to add a bit of sweet fortification to a drink without too much heavy flavor. Goes well with almost any mixer you'll find in your fridge.
    3. London Dry Gin – Warm weather in a glass. This botanical-infused spirit is light and refreshing, and pairs well with carbonated or tonic water.Spirits
    4. Vodka – There are dozens of drinks to be made from this staple spirit. Gives a cocktail body and texture without adding too much, which can help let more expensive, speciality spirits shine. Vodka can be taken over ice or mixed with soda to limit the headaches the following morning, but be careful as this almost flavorless brew can pack a massive punch.
    5. Blanco Tequila – A lot of great nights begin with a good pull of this pure, unaged tequila. Goes great with anything bright or bold, like a classic paloma or margarita, and the good times are bound to follow.
    6. Cointreau – The upper class of triple-sec, this citrus liquor is enjoyed as an apéritif and digestif, but also ups a whole host of classic cocktails.
    7. Vermouth – A wine fortified with botanicals, this is what you reach for when you want to make some classics like the Rob Roy or Negroni.

    Close-up Spirits

    With these bottles stashed in your home bar, entertaining your guests will be a bit easier and a lot more fun. So, stock up and enjoy that drink from the comfort of your very own home bar.

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    created at: 05/31/2016

    There's definitely a case to be made for the investment pair of sunglasses. That classic, quality pair that works with everything from a tuxedo to swim trunks and sandals. That pair that you're a little hesitant to spend the money on at first because you're used to losing your gas station glasses all the time, but find, once you own them, that you actually seem to keep track and take care of them at all times

    We love that pair of sunglasses. But we also know that summer brings a lot of real adventures. Like, if you're doing these long days and warm temps right, there are actually dozens of times where a high-end pair doesn't make sense. Like any time you're in the woods, a mountain, the desert, on a bicycle or other human-powered transportation, or any time you're moving about near, on, or in a large body of water.

    That's when you just need the everyday pair of glasses. A go-to, a standard, an option you can get in both brown and black and a slightly ambitious color for when you really want to embrace the season. That pair that you don't want to lose, but will gladly take on a backpacking trip or roller coaster. That pair that costs only $10ish bucks, but looks like they were made to fit on your face.

    So, gentlemen, here's your new pair of standard, inexpensive sunglasses: the Gammy Ray Cheaters. They're polarized, styled after the classic Wayfarer design, and available on Amazon Prime with two-day shipping. I first learned about them last summer on Primer, and having spent a year with them, I've since ordered three more pairs. They're thicker, more comfortable, and way more stylish than the generic pairs you'll find at the discount store. 

    And? They come in more than twenty different colors, styles, and combinations, and they cost under $7.00. That's right. You can get three pairs in a variety of colors for about $20. Sure, they're made in China, not Italy, but the proportions are great, they'll fit almost any face shape, and did I mention they cost $6.94?

    Except there's one problem: in an effort to make them Ray Ban-alike, there's a bit scripty, metallic "Cheaters" emblazoned on the side.

    For many of us, that's not a big deal, cause who's looking that close at your sunglasses anyway? But for those for whom branding is always a little annoying, you can fix it. Here's how: 

    created at: 05/31/2016

    You can take off the decals with mineral spirits. Easily, and with no harm to the plastic itself. Mineral spirits are a standard petroleum distillate that any ManMaker can find a use for in the workshop. So if you don't already have some, it's worth picking up a can next time you're at the hardware store. 

    created at: 05/31/2016

    Just soak a paper towel in them a bit, and start rubbing away. It'll take a minute for the spirits to get inside the recessed logo, but you'll notice when the ink starts to disappear. Continue until gone.


    created at: 05/31/2016

    Once the gold or silver is gone, you'll still be able to see the etched logo a bit, but it's much less noticeable, especially after these start to get scratched up a bit with regular wear. And even if you can see the etching, it's definitely not gold, and that's good with me. 


    created at: 05/31/2016

    On this colorless pair (as opposed to the high contrast black), it's nearly impossible to make out what it says. And even if you can, who cares? For those of use less interested in drawing attention to our accessories, you simply end up with a classic look for $7 that you can risk if you happen to end up on a kayak or standup paddle board or high dive this summer. Which, if you're playing your cards right, you most certainly should. 


    created at: 05/31/2016

    ManMade Recommended: Gamma Ray Cheaters Polarized Sunglasses: ~ $7.oo on Amazon Prime


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    created at: 06/02/2016Yesterday I had the wonderful experience of driving a manual Fiat up and down a single-lane highway through the mountains of California with a special lady I was trying to impress. Luckily I only stalled the car at two points, but I think stalled it about 8 times at both of those points and that is not an exaggeration. It was fairly emasculating for me, but she seemed to enjoy my shame...   I honestly love driving a stick, it's just been years since I had. Which got me thinking that knowing how to use a manual transmission is a necessary life skill and then just today I heard about the Hagerty Driving Experience. Hagerty Insurance has been hosting these summer events across North America in which they bring out old classic cars and set up driving tracks for ages 15-25 to learn this "three pedal waltz" in an attempt to instill younger generations with a love for the manual transmission and classic car culture in general. 

    Upcoming free driving events are the following cities if you'd like to check them out:

    - Wetaskiwin, Alberta, Saturday, July 16, 2016 (Reynolds-Alberta Museum)
    - Caledonia, Ontario, Friday, August 26, 2016 (Caledonia Fairgrounds)
    - Chicago, Illinois, Saturday, August 27, 2016 (location TBD)
    - Tacoma, Washington, Saturday, September 17, 2016 (LeMay – America’s Car Museum)

    Click here to read more from The Drive. Are you a fan of manual transmissions? If so, what did you learn on? Let us know in the comments!

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    Finished TableWe're seeing more concrete tops in today's designs, and we're loving it. Concrete is durable, highly customizable, and looks great. Here's a great project to learn how to make this material work for you.   This in-depth project walks through making a great concrete top, and a solid base. With a couple of great videos and plenty of very detailed directions, you should be able to tackle this project with a decent skillset and some patience.Concrete Pour

    So, take a look at the project here for a few great videos and plenty of pictures to make you own great concrete coffee table for the spring.

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    created at: 04/27/2016

    Getting out of town for the weekend makes a difference. It's not just a change of scenery from the rest of week, but there's also that subtle thrill of simply being away. Of going outside. Of spending time in a different location, seeing different sights, hearing different sounds.   And there's also the intimacy factor. Nothing is better for old friendships than spending time together. You get to be with those you know so well in a place that you don't. You explore together, figure things out, enjoy a breakfast at 8:00, a lunch out on the trail, and a cocktail at exactly 5:00pm. Or 2:30... hey, you're on vacation. 

    created at: 04/28/2016

    So, here's how to get out with your crew. That doesn't just mean "the guys" ... it means the people that you actually want to get out of town with. To help, we partnered with Olmeca Altos Tequila. Altos is a versatile and delicious tequila that adds a supreme taste to your favorite libations all season long. It was born from a unique collaboration between Altos’ own Master Distiller Jesus Hernandez and the internationally renowned UK bartenders Henry Besant and Dre Masso. The creators saw a unique opportunity in the category to create an exceptionally high-quality tequila at an affordable price. Oh ... and it's completely delicious. 

    created at: 05/25/2016

    Olmeca Altos recently released a new member of their crew: Altos Añejo, aged for 18 months in charred oak barrels for a smoothness that complements the bold agave flavors perfectly. 

    Rule #1: Travel cannot be more than 4 hours. You've only got the weekend, and it's important to max it out as best you can. Which means you gotta be able to get there by Happy Hour on Friday and not have to leave until after lunch on Sunday. So, pick somewhere within driving distance. Or at least a plane trip short enough that you can get through security, take off and landing, and be in the rental car in just a few hours. 

    created at: 04/28/2016

    Rule #2: Pick from one or more of the following: Forest, body of water, mountains or geological formations, small town Main St., or cultural event.

    Rule #3: One activity per day. We're looking at you, Type A overschedulers. By which I mean me (#maninthemirror).  The point of getting out with your crew is to not do what you do during every other day of the week or weekends spent at home. Plan one thing that comes after a late breakfast and before an afternoon nap. Preferably involving a boat or hiking boots.

    Rule #3: Cook all your own food and make all your own drinks. You can eat at restaurants in your own town. Come up with a meal plan, do the shopping together, pay for the groceries together, and cook together. For each meal, designate one head chef, one sous chef, and one person to handle KP. For dinners and happy hour, one person makes the cocktails. Speaking of which....

    created at: 04/28/2016

    Rule #4: Everyone enjoys the same cocktails. No "this beer is Jeff's and this bottle for Steve" nonsense. The point is to make things as easy as possible for everyone, and build camaraderie. That means everyone eats the same food and enjoys the same cocktails.

    Our vote? Pick something that's 1) easy to make 2) super flavorful 3) made from high quality ingredients and 4) has a relatively low alcohol content so you can sip on them all day. We're recommending The ManMade Paloma, a classic warm weather drink from Mexico. But instead of just throwing together cheap tequila and bottled soda, this one uses fresh ingredients, high quality Olmeca Altos Tequila, tons of fresh citrus juice, and a flavorful grapefruit + lime salt garnish to bring everything together.

    created at: 04/28/2016

    This is the recipe for one serving, but you can whip up a huge batch at once and serve it from a pitcher. Just be sure to stir things up to combine before you pour, and top each glass with lots of fresh ice and plenty of club soda. 

    The ManMade Paloma:

    • 2 oz Olmeca Altos Blanco or Reposado Tequila
    • 2 oz fresh squeezed grapefruit juice
    • 1 oz fresh squeezed lime juice
    • 1 oz 1:1 simple syrup or agave nectar
    • Club soda
    • Garnish: citrus salt (see below)

    Combine Altos Tequila, juices, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Shake vigorously to combine, then pour in a 10-12 oz "tall" glass that's been rimmed with citrus salt and filled with ice. Top with lots of club soda and garnish with a lime wheel. 

    created at: 04/28/2016

    Citrus salt: Before juicing, remove the zest of one medium grapefruit and two or three limes. Combine with 1 tablespoon of white sugar and a quarter cup of coarse kosher salt. To use, rim a cut lime around the edge of the glass, then dip into the salt. 

    Rule #5: Spend as much time outside as possible, AKA Pack Layers: The Japanese have a concept called shinrin-yoku (森林浴), or "forest bathing" Here, human beings literally breathe in compounds produced by trees, which have been scientifically proven to reduce stress, anger, anxiety, depression and sleeplessness. Seriously, look it up.

    created at: 04/28/2016

    If you're not hanging out near the woods, that's fine: just being outside gives you a chance to soak up whatever goodness in the air your situation provides. So, pack whatever it takes to stay outside as long as possible. 

    Rule #6: Music must be played constantly. Whether it's your buddy strumming an acoustic by the fire or a taking advantage of someone's killer playlist collection, the tunes should be streaming all day. If it's nap or reading time, just switch to latin jazz. Play by "Empire Records" rules: one person plays DJ for an hour, and every one gets one, and only one, veto per day.

    Rule #7: There must be open flames. Preferably a campfire, but an indoor fireplace will do just fine. Barring that, a charcoal grill should be used whenever possible, even at breakfast. If you can't manage any of those, at least use a lantern or outdoor candles to keep the bugs away. Nothing creates a restful mode like fire.  

    created at: 04/28/2016

    Rule #8: You'll sleep when you're dead. Or at least on Monday. There are other ways to get rested besides sleep. (See Rule #5). If you're not staying up well past midnight solving the world's problems with the people you like most, you're doing it wrong. 

    created at: 04/28/2016

    Rule #9:Always get an extra bag of ice. From packing coolers to cocktails, you're gonna need it. 

    This just in! Altos has added a third member to its tequila lineup: Altos Añejo, oak-barrel-aged for 18 months and crafted using the same artisanal production methods as its predecessors – Altos Reposado and Altos Blanco. 

    Introducting Altos Añejo Tequila
    Altos Añejo Tequila


    More photos!

    created at: 04/28/2016

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    This post is sponsored by Altos Tequila. Thanks for support the brands that support ManMade.

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    I don't really need to stress the importance of keeping a clean shop to you guys. Anyone who's ever invested the time and energy into creating his own workshop (of any kind) knows the satisfaction one gets from walking into a clean shop with everything in its proper place, just waiting for you to get those creative juices flowing.   

    The key of course is to give it a thorough cleaning at the end of a hard day's work and I'll let you know right now that sweeping is the chore I personally hate the most. I think it has something to do with the fact that no matter how much I sweep I know there's still a ton of stuff I'll miss and won't be able to clean. Which is why this DIY Air Broom from sixtyfiveford looks like it'll be a game-changer.

    Made primarily from PVC pipe, it's a simple project that'll change your cleanup routine from a chore to an exciting and cathartic end to a good day in the shop. Click here to read more!

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    If you ask me, the world of Vietnamese soups and broths is a world well worth spending time in. And none is better known, or more essential, to Vietnamese culture than pho, a seductive blend of aromatic broth, bright herbs, and bold chile slices to make things interesting. And though the broth is served hot, it's flavor profile makes it the kind of thing you can still enjoy in warm months, making it the ultimate year-round lunch.    

    A recent issue of Lucky Peach magazine shares a history of the dish, excerpted from Andrea Nguyen’s The Pho Cookbook, coming in 2017 from Ten Speed Press. It's a fascinating cross-cultural, economic, and political story, which results in something very, very, very delicious. 

    The history begins with the new phenomenon of eating beef. The Vietnamese used cattle as work animals, but the French occupiers, with their taste for steak, begin to slaughter the cows, and the Vietnamese were now left with bones, scraps, and leftovers.

    And it just gets better from there. Check it out at Lucky Peach: The History of Pho



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    Leather opens up all kinds of creativity, but it can be an intimidating material to for beginners. It requires a different sort of tool kit than regular sewing projects, and many guys don't even know how to use a sewing machine in the first place...though ManMade does its best to remedy that.

    The solution? Don't sew anything!   Ren from All the Good Girls Go to Heaven figured out this cool way to work with "vegan" (faux) leather and create this reusable "brown paper bag" using epoxy to seal the seams.

    She turns the project into a clutch purse, but I think this would make a great reusable lunch bag, or as a small tool bag to keep track of technique-specific items that need to stay together. Next time I see the material on sale, I'm gonna whip up one of these to keep my leather boot and shoe goods organized and in the same place. 

    DIY No Sew Leather Paper Bag Clutch [via Craft]



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    Beer Flight DIYPerfect for a summer outside, this simple beer flight holder let's everyone try out those new craft brews in style. This simple but stable holder is made from a single board and will likely be a centerpiece of many summer get-together in the near future.   I don't know about you, but I tend to take my craft beer tasting seriously. It's partially because those bottles of brew are spend, and also because I just love a well-made drink. While I love to share my brews, I don't like to sip off the same bottle as my friends and that's where a great flight set comes in. Beer Flight DIY Glue-Up

    This simple project uses a single piece of wood and simple skills so making a few should leave plenty of time to enjoy it by the fire pit.

    So, take a look at the whole project here, and get going on your own set this weekend.

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    created at: 07/08/2015

    Newsflash, ManMakers: It's hot out. Like, super hot... the kind of hot where you can't quite pretend you're not roasting and just wear your standard uniform from the rest of the year. It's easy to dress well in the fall and winter. Every man looks great in boots and sweaters and layers and patterned button-downs. But, in summer, it's just too hot for those things, and you simply gotta embrace the shorts.  And with the shorts comes the question: well, what shoes do I wear with them?    

    created at: 07/08/2015

    First, here's what you don't wear with them: sneakers and ankle-height white crew socks, Dad. And unless you're within 20 feet of a body of water or a swimming pool, no flip-flops. Seriously, those are not street shoes, and they'll make you look like a nine-year-old in that awkward phase shopping with his mom, or a college football player scarfing down calories at the dining hall. Unless you're about to swim on hop on a surfboard, flip-flop are NOT for public consumption.

    So, then: what shall you wear? Here are five great options. 

     created at: 07/08/2015

    The Boat Shoe: These should be your summer go-to with shorts. They're the leather boot- equivalent for summer: they look great on everyone, and you can wear them with just about anything. They keep you as cool as any shoe, and have a classic look that just looks what a guy should be wearing when it's hot out. They slip on as easily as flip-flops, so they can serve as your easy choice for everyday, casual use.

    Sperry Top-Siders are the standard here, so start there with the A.O. (Authentic Originals). They'll last for decades, and will look as stylish seventy-five years from now as they do today... and they did 75 years ago when they were invented.  Land's End also makes a solid option.

    You can wear these without socks, but on especially hot or long days out, consider a no-show sock for all the benefit of the sockless look, sans swamp toes. 

    ManMade Recommended: 


    created at: 07/08/2015

    The Canvas Lace-Up: The low-height works great with shorts, and works when you're going for a little more casual look. I'd also opt for these over a boat shoe if you're doing some serious walking - on vacation, a day exploring downtown, etc.

    There are a millions options, but the original Vans were invented for that SoCal beach-y look in the 1960s, so you gotta figure they've work well for that sort. The Authentic Lo-Pros and Core Classics start at $45.00, so you could get two colors for under $100. Oh, and I'll admit it - I have no problem ripping out the little branded tag for a sleeker look. 

    ManMade Recommended: 

    created at: 07/08/2015

    The Hiking Sandal: Let's get this out of the way: these are not attractive shoes. They look silly. But, these shoes keep your feet cool and supported. These are intended for real adventures: summer hikes, desert exploration, kayak trips, walking from the cabin to the lake, and the like.

    The most supportive pair of shoes I own are my Chacos, and sometimes you need support when its hot out. They're definitely not stylish, but they're not designed for style; they're designed for protecting your feet in all kinds of real outdoor situations. Flip flops can't do that...and at least they look better than Tevas. You can skip this one if you're not doing any adventure travel or recreation this summer, but if that's the case, I'd revaluate your priorities. That's what summer is for, and there's a whole world out there, and the days are long.

    Note: do not grill in these, or any open toed shoes. Those falling coals are hot. #speakingfrompersonalexperience

    ManMade Recommended:

    created at: 07/08/2015

    The Brown Leather Penny Loafer - Cause even though it's hot, you still gotta dress up.

    This guy becomes your go-to for the summer wedding,  the work party, or warm weather date night. You can wear them with or without socks (or with a no-show), and if you choose brown, you can pull them off with shorts. Give it a shot with a long-sleeve button down and some trim 9" inseam-ers. Wear 'em with a suit and brown belt for formal-ish occasions for lighter but still dressy summer vibe. 

    ManMade Recommended: 

    created at: 07/08/2015

    The WildCard - This is where you get to be you. For some, it's a trail runner, cause that how they spend the long days. For others a canvas slip-on, a espadrille, or for the snazzy, a white leather oxford shoe. Mine's a clip-in bike shoe, cause that's what summer is all about for me. Yours could be an okay-if-it-gets-muddy for summer concerts, a Keen water shoe, a pair of hiking boots, a skate shoe, a proper running shoe. a rubber boot for gardening. Just buy it for a purpose, buy one that will last, and get out and enjoy the season. Just as long as its not a flip-flop. 

    ManMade Recommended: 


    Enjoy your summer!



     This ManMade post was originally published in July 2015. We're sharing it again because it's summer!

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    Matt Pierce came up with this tough and rugged design for a DIY archery quiver. Created from long lasting materials like leather, canvas, and cooper, this guy is all kinds of durable and all kinds of stylish.    Matt says, "I’ve been pretty busy in the shop and haven’t shot much lately. However with all this shop time, I have been working on a quiver. When I finally do make it out to the range again, I won’t have to carry my arrows in a rubber band. Here’s the instructions to make one for yourself. Like all my experiments on here, there’s lots of ways to do this, and modifications for your own use too."

    I like Matt's clever reuse of materials, such as making the main body from a secondhand army tent, and the leather-enforced bottom, which can stand up to years of sharp arrow tips.

    Get the full how-to atWood & Faulk: Archer's Quiver DIY 




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    As trips to Europe are slowly becoming more affordable the dream of exploring European cuisine, history, and sights is becoming more of a reality for many people. While choosing a dream destination can be easy, figuring out your practical accommodations are often harder. Sure there are hotels and hostels, but why not get a sense of the city or country from a true local with AirBnB or another similar resource?   Here are The 10 Most Beautiful Airbnb Rentals in Europe according to Travel and Leisure including such jaw-dropping arrangements as a treehouse, a container home, and a houseboat.

    Even if a European vacation is still far out of your current price range, there are some great sources for design inspiration with these homes. 

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    Summer WishlistHere we are, staring at three months of sun, long evenings, and plenty of ways to spend your time. Don’t let this time slip away without a plan; make yourself a summer bucket list and you’ll swing into the season with some great stories and a bit more character under your belt.   The key to a proper list is this: it must be achievable, but just a bit over the top. Stretch yourself to really find a few things worth doing, and go from there. I always like to mix some memorable fun in with some character development, because I want to enjoy the ride but be a better version of myself because of it.

    So, dig deep and take the time to invest in yourself. You’ll end up heading into the cold weather ready to tell the stories of a season well spent. Here’s my list for the next few months:

    1. Raft a river
    2. Swim at least 2 miles
    3. Run a race (5-10k, half marathon)
    4. Climb a mountain to the top
    5. Drive to a town I’ve never been
    6. Attend an event I would never normally go
    7. Learn something new
    8. Teach something new
    9. Volunteer with a cause I care about
    10. Skydive
    11. Go camping in the woods at least twice
    12. Sleep in the car somewhere
    13. Buy something really nice
    14. Give something really nice as a gift
    15. Start a new traditioncreated at: 06/07/2016
    16. Clean the house and get rid of at least 100 things
    17. Find out what type of exercise I really like, and commit to do it regularly
    18. Eat something new
    19. Go out to coffee with five of my local heroes or idols
    20. Make something I can be proud of
    21. Go somewhere memorable with my dad (or uncle, or brother)
    22. Write down a big goal and demolish it
    23. Research and invest in one good stock or mutual fund
    24. Upgrade at least five essential pieces of my wardrobe
    25. Read five books about something new

    I’ll report back at the end of the year with an update on how close I landed on my list, but in the meantime, I’d love to hear about your plans for the long summer days and the goals you plan to crush along the way.

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    Busted Up Pallet One of the great things about living in Northern California is the wide open spaces. There are so many great places to hike, climb, swim, and just enjoy in the expansive outdoors up here. Only a true Northern California resident can really understand how frustrating it is when people tell me how Northern California is San Francisco and then right above that is Oregon. Nope, there are hundreds of miles between SF and the border, and that expanse is my home.

    California Rustic Sign

    I've been wanting to construct a large state map for my wall for a while, and I just happened to have a busted up pallet that needed to go. Here are the steps I took to make it happen:

    Wood from Pallet

    1. Disassemble the pallet - busting up a pallet is no small undertaking. They are made from durable nails, and are built strong enough to take a beating. Take your time and wear some good gloves to avoid getting spiked. To maximize the useable wood, go slow when pulling out the nails and avoid the urge to throw some muscle into it. A great tool to use is a flat bar which is nice to slip into the joints for some leverage. Take out the nails, and use a wire brush to get dirt and grime off the pieces. Rough Pieces

    2. Find and print a suitable picture -  this applies to any pattern, find the rough picture and use a program like, Sketch-up, or similar to size properly for the final dimensions. My pattern was 48" tall by about 30" wide. This prints out on multiple pages that have to be taped together to make the full size pattern (don't worry about getting too perfect, it's just a guide pattern and you will have the opportunity to fine tune it after cutting out). Layout on Pattern

    3. Lay out and cut backing board - The best way to get a clean pattern is to use a backing board, like 1/4" plywood (also known as doorskin). Lay out the pattern on the plywood and staple/glue/tape it down. You may want to go thicker on the plywood if making a very large piece to make sure it's stiff enough to stay together. The best way is to use spray-on adhesive which keeps the pattern in place while cutting, but staples or tape can work as well. Cut the board with a jigsaw and file down any rough areas until the pattern is perfect. (*Note - in the pictures I laid out the boards on top of the pattern to cut to rough dimensions first) Gluing on the Backing Board

    4. Lay out pieces to rough design - Lay out the pieces of wood on top of the backing board in a rough pattern, and move around until it looks good and fully covers the board. Then, flip over the entire pattern so that the backing board is on top. Make any final adjustments then spread a nice layer of glue on the boards and the backing board. Use pin nails or staples to help hold it all together. Pinning on Backing Board

    5. Cut out the final design - Once the glue is dry and the pattern is solid, it's time to cut the pieces. Set up the design face down on two sawhorses with a few support boards and carefully start cutting out the design to match the backing board. After cutting, use sandpaper to smooth out the edges and sand the surfaces to the desired finish. I kept mine pretty rough to preserve the rustic look. (*Note - in the pictures I used a few pieces of backing board stitched together. Don't do this, it was a pain and didn't work very well.) Cutting Out California

    6. Finish and seal - I put a coat of polyeurethane with a slight red tint on and let it dry before a final sanding with 220 grit to smooth out and give a matte finish. Adding a few picture hangers was all it took to call it done. Finished Rustic California Sign

    Here are a few things I actually did wrong while making this piece, hopefully you can learn from my mistakes!

    1. Use a single piece of backing board. I used three smaller pieces because it was what I had in the shop, this resulted in a pretty flimsy piece that had to be over-stapled to hold together at all. It was also very difficult to cut out the final pieces because the jigsaw kept vibrating the entire board during any tight cuts.

    2. Use plenty of tape to hold the pattern together. I used masking tape sparingly to hold the pattern together, and that made it difficult to keep all 25 pages together for the entire project. I ended up splitting the pattern into three pieces to make them more manageable.

    3. Go big, but plan for your space! Making large pieces is fun, and they are great to anchor big spaces. But be sure to measure first so you don't end up with a piece too big for the space. I went to hang up the map, and it was way too big for the wall, so I'm still trying come up with an alternative spot. 


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    Schools are getting out and the summer is heating up across America. Rather than shell out big bucks for a high electricity bill or an AC window unit, why not try rigging up some of your own ways to keep cool in the blazing summer months?   

    Check out these five DIY Air Conditioning videos collected by Popular Mechanics and try keeping yourself cool this summer armed with just a little knowledge, some everyday objects, and good deal of grit. 

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    Julia Leach via Lonny Magazine []

    Got a bunch of plain walls? Then you, my friend, need a feature wall. Oh...what's a feature wall? They're that one wall with all the stuff you want to look at: cool fireplaces, awesome artwork, a special accent paint color or graphic treament. They're a relatively easy way to add character without having to revamp an entire rooms, and will bring plenty chutzpah to your space. [Top Photo: Julia Leach for Lonny Magazine]

    Feature Wall Inspiration via [ ]

    Use Color: This ones easy. Select a color. Paint the whole wall. Sit back and bam! All of the sudden your place has been transformed into a modern loft. So much better to paint one wall than the whole room, right? [Photo: Kristin Sjaarda for The Marion House Book]


    Feature wall inspiration via []

    Use Patterns: Grab some masking tape, divide the wall in sections, use your favorite palette, and you'll be on your way to creating a unique playful pattern. If the colors from the picture above are a bit too whimsy for you, just use something more masculine, even better, go Scandinavian and do it all in black and white. [Photo: Weekday Carnival

    Feature wall inspiration via []

     Use Art: If you want to avoid getting messy with paint, then resource to my favourite kind of decor: art! Select a wide range of styles and make the look cohesive by using interesting frames. Add texture by using a vintage frame with chunky edges or use sculptures. FYI: make sure the wall doesn't get too much direct sunlight or your precious gallery collection might fade away. [Photo: Jeroen van der Spek for vtwonen magazine]


    Feature wall inspiration via []

    Use Texture: Tiles, metal, brick; adding a bit of texture can make a bold statement. To achieve a great look, I would recommend sticking to one color and texture. If you go too loco you may end up with a mess (and not the cool kind). Remember that raw materials always transform a room into a calm, grounded oasis - think terracotta, stone, wood. [Photo: Rob Brinson on Design Sponge]


    Feature wall inspiration via []

    Leave it empty: It doesn't get easier than this - paint your whole wall white and leave it as is. By doing this you're creating a huge canvas where you can add and remove pieces as you please. Use this area as a wall of "ideas" where you tape inspiration for future projects. [Jeanette Gostomski for iitala]

    Most of the ideas in this roundup are suitable for tight budgets, so there's no need to stress about it. And hey, don't forget to share the results with us ;)

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    created at: 06/10/2016The quest for the sought-after hangover cure certainly began the morning after humanity discovered the fun of fermented liquids. And after thousands of years, different regions of the world have arrived at different conclusions on how to treat one, even coming up with different cures for each symptom.   

    Now, put some effort into digging up the scientific research that's been done into what exactly causes the various types of hangovers people experience and how to treat their successive symptoms. It comes with a trusty infographic but I recommend checking out the reading as well to get a good handle on some techniques you may find useful. 

    Got your own hangover cure that you swear by? Let us know in the comments!

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    created at: 07/21/2014

    Coming across someone who simply loves their closet doors is a rare find, indeed. Whether a rental or your own home, most closets are covered in plastic-y faux wood, cheesy 80s mirrors, crazy slats, or old veneer and brass knobs that haven't been updated since they were installed in the 50s. Mandi from Vintage Revivals came up with this clever solution - a 'lightweight' sliding barn door system. She built the door, built the track, installed the wheels, and came up with a vintage-flag style design to make the whole thing work. Check out the results:

    Pretty sharp, right? The track is simple galvanized plumbing pipe from the home improvement store, and the door is a 1x2" frame with stretched canvas. 

    See how to create the whole thing at Vintage Revivals: How to Build a Lightweight Sliding Barn Door System


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