Cranberry Salsa

 

This cranberry salsa is delicious served with Brie cheese or with tortilla chips. The layered tastes of the crackers or bread with the brie and salsa is delicious. It’s simple to make, too.

3 cups fresh cranberries
1 bunch cilantro, chopped
1 bunch green onions/scallions cut into 2 inch lengths
1 jalapeno pepper, seeded and chopped
2 limes juiced
1/4 cup granulated sugar (white)
1/8 teaspoon salt

Put all ingredients in bowl of food processor and chop to medium consistency. Refrigerate if not using immediately. Serve at room temperature.

20 DIY Gifts for Men

Buying any of the items from our holiday gift guides will surely make some man’s Christmas. But in my experience, the gifts that mean the most are the ones people make for you. Anyone can open their wallet and plop down cash for a nice present. But knowing someone spent their time crafting something just for you is truly special.

Plus, in a still-struggling economy, many homemade gifts can be made on the cheap and help you cross numerous people off your list without going into debt.

Over the years we’ve published several how-to guides on how to make various items that are not only fun to use yourself, but would also be great Christmas presents. Below, we’ve gathered the best ones into one big list. These DIY gifts are things that men will enjoy both making andreceiving. Some of these homemade gifts are really easy and inexpensive to make, while others require a bit more skill, time, and investment in materials. We’ve made sure to indicate the difficulty level, time required, and cost on each one so you can gauge whether a project will fit in your wheelhouse, schedule, and budget. (Numbers are rough estimates and will depend on what materials and tools you already have on hand and your skill level.)

There are many more DIY projects and crafts I hope to get to this coming year, and the years after that. So each holiday season we’ll update and republish this list with links to more ideas!

Wooden Bottle Opener

  • Difficultly: Intermediate
  • Time: About an hour
  • Cost: $5

These handsome and rustic handmade bottle openers make great gifts for the craft beer orsoda connoisseur in your life. Not only do they open bottles, they even catch your bottle cap as you remove it and stick to your fridge for easy access. You could easily make one out of scrap wood that you have lying around the garage or shop — this is a truly frugal crowd-pleaser.

Beef Jerky

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 15 minutes plus 24 hours for marinating and up to 24 hours for drying and cooling
  • Cost: Varies

Beef jerky is a great manly stocking stuffer. Homemade beef jerky is even better. Check out this recipe from Tim Ferriss on how to make the best beef jerky in the world. Experiment with different spices to create a unique flavor perfect for your recipient’s palate.

Restore an Heirloom Axe

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Time: Varies
  • Cost: $10-$20

Heirloom axes are all the rage these days, but buying a new one can set you back more than 200 smackaroos. Yeesh. So why not restore an old one to be like new instead? With a bit of elbow grease and time, you can give someone a handsome and fully functional heirloom quality axe for less than $20. This is the perfect gift for a suburban man with an inner Paul Bunyan.

WWII Field Phone Bluetooth Receiver

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: 4 hours to several days, depending on skill level
  • Cost: $50-$150

Perfect for the World War II buff in your life. Pick up an old WWII surplus field phone on eBayand turn it into a Bluetooth handset that can be used to make and receive calls. Your recipient will feel like Eisenhower commanding the troops on D-Day whenever he’s calling Terminix to reschedule his extermination service. This project requires moderate soldering skills and some rudimentary knowledge of electronics, hence the “Hard” difficulty rating.

Shoe Shine Box

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: About an hour
  • Cost: $10

Every man needs a shoe shine box. If you know a gent without one, make him this nifty shine box based off a design from a 1950′s Popular Mechanics article. This shoe shine box is pretty simple. What makes it “nifty” is the two free-turning dowels placed inside the box. After you’ve given your shoes a good polishing, the dowels serve as rollers for your polish cloth for buffing your shoes to a mirror shine. This is a cheap and easy project to try. I’ve had several readers send me pics of their finished shoe shine boxes and they all look great. If you decide to do this project, send me a pic via Instagram or Twitter. I’d love to see it. (That goes for these other projects too!)

Turn an Old-Time Radio Into an iPhone Speaker

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: Hours to weeks, depending on skill level
  • Cost: $30-$100

Earlier this year, I inherited my Grandpa’s old 1940s Philco radio. It worked, but only played AM radio. I thought it was a shame that it didn’t get more use than it did, so I asked my electrical engineer brother-in-law to help me mod it so I could play tunes from my iPhone on it. With his help, I now have an audio device with 1940s charm and 21st century technology.

This project requires some soldering and basic electrical engineering know-how. If you lack the necessary soldering skills and electrical knowledge, expect to spend a few days or weeks as you wire things correctly through trial and error. The biggest expense will be the vintage radio. You can find them at your local antique stores for about $30 to $50 depending on their condition. My brother-in-law also created a pre-made amplifier just for this project that sells for $26, if you want to make things easier on yourself.

Slingshot

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: About an hour
  • Cost: $5

A great gift for kids and big kids (i.e. grown men) alike. This sling shot cost me less than $5 to make and took just an hour of my time. You’ll get serious “Cool Uncle” points if you make this for your nephew or niece.

Wooden Sword

  • Difficult: Easy
  • Time: An hour
  • Cost: $15

Yeah. I made that crappy looking wooden sword, but my then 18 month old son loved it. This would make a great gift for your young nephew or son. It’s not hard and costs less than $15. And with the materials you buy for that $15, you can make multiple swords and cross off multiple kids on your list. You can get as elaborate as you want with your design. Unfortunately, I’m not that creative or crafty, so Gus had to settle for Dad’s dopey-looking sword made with love.

Dining Room Table

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: Two weeks
  • Cost: $125-$200

Want to really impress your wife this Christmas? Make her a dining room table with your own two hands!

A few years ago, AoM read and fellow Okie, Tuck Oden showed us how to do just that. I have been surprised and delighted by the number of men who actually took action on that article and made this table. I still get emails from folks showing off the manly fruits of their labors. Tuck’s total cost for wood, hardware, and stain was less than $200, and that included the chairs he bought for it.

A Manly Bar of Soap

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Time: It takes about two hours to make a batch, but you’ll then need to let them “rest” for four weeks so saponification can occur.
  • Cost: 75 cents a bar

Soaps created just for men are big right now. I seriously get a package in the mail every other week filled with manly smelling soaps from some new company hoping to cash in on this male grooming boom we’re currently experiencing. Instead of forking over $9 for a bar of artisan man-soap, make a big batch of your own for less than $.75 a bar. AoM contributor Bryan Schatzshowed us how to create a manly bar of soap filled with coffee grounds and walnuts — it smells good and can easily clean off whatever gunk you get on your hands.

If you’ve seen the movie Fight Club, you’ll know that soap making is a dangerous and volatile process. So take your time and use adequate protection while making your manly, coffee-scented soap.

Leather Wallet

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Time: 2-3 hours
  • Cost: Varies

Wallets have been popular Christmas gifts for men for a century. Instead of buying an expensive one from the wallet rack at some department store that will wear out in a few years, make someone a wallet that will last their whole lives. The fine gents at Bison Made gave us step-by-step instructions last week on how to make a handsome and incredibly durable wallet. They even provide a printable blueprint that you can use to measure and cut your leather.

Altoids Tin Kits

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: Varies
  • Cost: Varies

The draw of the transformed Altoids tin is hard to put your finger on. Part of it is the satisfying challenge of fitting as much as possible into a small space. Part of it is the delight of being able to carry something cool in your pocket. But any way you slice it, an Altoids tin that’s been converted into something new is a true crowd-pleaser; the post we did on 22 Manly Ways to Re-Use an Altoids Tin has become one of our most popular posts of all time. Any of the kits on that list would make an awesome gift or stocking stuffer. My favorite is the survival kit pictured above, but the games chest, s’mores kit, mini flashlight, first aid kit…well, yeah, truly any of them would make a super cool present for family and friends. And many only require assembly — no skill needed!

Secret Book Safe

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 2.5 hours
  • Cost: $5-$10

Make somebody feel like a spy with a secret book safe. This is one of my favorite projects that we’ve done on AoM. I still use the book safe that I made two years ago for the original post. Creating a secret book safe only costs a few bucks and takes a couple of hours. Select a book to use that reminds you of the recipient — this gift is bound to delight.

Corn Cob Pipe

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: If you use artificial ways to dry out the corn cob, it can take about a week for the cob to fully dry. After drying out the cob, expect to spend two hours fashioning together the other parts of the pipe.
  • Cost: $1

If you know a man who smokes an occasional pipe, help him get into the spirit of the season by fashioning him the same kind of pipe that old Frosty the Snowman used. All that’s needed to make a genuine corn cob pipe is an ear of corn, a branch, a pocket knife, and a drill. Shouldn’t take you more than a few hours to make.

Cribbage Board

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: 5-10 hours, depending on your skill level

Cribbage has a storied and manly history, and it’s the perfect game to play on a cold and snowy Christmas evening. Help another person carry on this manly tradition by making a handsome cribbage board for them. Ethan from One Project Closer showed us how in this step-by-step guide.

Tree Branch Coat Hook

hook_mounted

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: An hour
  • Cost: Nil – just your tree branch!

This gift is rugged, manly, and as a bonus, costs nothing but a trip into your backyard! If you get a branch that’s 1-3″ in diameter, with the smaller “hook” branch being 1/2″ or so, it’ll have plenty of strength to hold hats, coats, and whatever else needs hanging. If you’re really feeling crazy, you can line up a few of these on a board and make a whole coat rack.

Roasted Coffee

IMG_0915

  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Time: 15-20 min
  • Cost: $6-$10 per pound of coffee

I (Jeremy) may be biased, because I roast my coffee fresh each week, but this is one of the best gifts you can give. It’s cheap, fast, easy, and almost everyone drinks coffee. Buying some green beans from a local roastery (check out Kaladi Coffee Roasters if you’re in the Denver area) oronline is the same price, if not cheaper, than buying coffee at the grocery store — unless you’re buying Folgers, which you shouldn’t be doing. I guarantee this is the best coffee you’ll ever drink, so take the plunge and fire up that grill.

Saw Blade Knife

  • Difficulty: Hard
  • Time: A few hours, depending on skill level
  • Cost: Varies

Are you feeling ambitious? If so, this project is for you. First, you need to find an old saw blade. Start with the antique store, then try your elderly neighbors. Next, you’ll need some basic metalworking skills that Darren Bush thankfully outlines in the post. It may take you a while, but when you end up with a beautiful handmade knife, you’ll know it was well worth the effort.

Leather Sheath

DSC_6339

  • Difficulty: Intermediate
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Cost: $10-$20

While this piece was written up with the saw blade knife (above) in mind, this leather sheath can be made for really any object. If you’re new to leatherworking, this is a great starter project, as it doesn’t require much in the way of a previously learned skillset. With a piece of leather, patience, and some basic stitching skills, you’ll have yourself a handsome sheath in no time.

Wooden Tool Carrier

finished

  • Difficulty: Easy-Intermediate 
  • Time: 1-2 hours
  • Cost: $10

Do you often find random tools scattered about the yard, house, and garage? If so, this is the project for you. Most toolboxes/carriers these days are cheap, plastic, and molded for specific brands of tools. This sturdy and rugged tool carrier will last decades, and you can even jazz it up with a stain or a coat of paint.

Pumpkin Pecan Jelly Roll

Funny how a jelly roll always brings some sings of delight and this one did not disappoint. If you  have never tried rolling up a jelly roll, why not try it? It may just be a lot easier than you think, but if it flops, you can always put the whole thing in a trifle bowl and decorate the top. It will taste just as delicious.
Ingredients:
Jelly Roll
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1 1/2  tsp baking powder
  • 2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tsp ginger
  • 1/2 tsp nutmeg
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 Tbsp lemon juice
  • 4 Tbsp water
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1 cup pumpkin puree
Filling
  • 6 Tbsp butter
  • 3/4 cup (loose meas.)brown sugar
  • 3 Tbsp corn syrup
  • 3/4 cup roasted pecans, coarsely chopped
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups whipping cream
  • 4 Tbsp instant vanilla pudding powder
Method:
  1. Preheat oven to 375 F.
  2. Prepare jelly roll pan or cookie sheet with edges (10″ x 15″ or 11″x17″) by greasing well. Line with wax paper, then grease well again, all the way up the sides as well. I like to use shortening for greasing.
  3. In a small bowl mix dry ingredients and set aside.
  4. Beat eggs with hand mixer for several minutes, then beat in the sugar well, until thick and lemon colored. Stir in lemon juice, water and pumpkin.
  5. Stir dry ingredients into pumpkin mixture.
  6. Spread into prepared pan and bake 15 - 18 minutes.
  7. In the meantime, melt butter for filling. Stir in sugar, syrup and pecans. Bring to a boil, stirring until thickened and set aside to cool.
  8. Prepare a clean tea towel by laying it on the counter and dusting generously with powdered sugar, using a sieve. When cake is done and still hot, turn it onto the towel. Peel off wax paper and roll up the cake along with the towel (beginning at narrow end). Let sit for about 1/2 hour.
  9. Beat whipping cream until it begins to thicken, then add vanilla pudding powder mix and continue beating until thick for spreading.
  10. Unroll cake. Starting where you begin to roll up from, spread cooled sticky pecan mixture as far as it will go. It will only cover about 1/2 of the cake. Then spread whipped cream all over the cake, keeping about an inch from the edges.
  11. Gently roll the cake back up again, starting from same end as before. Don’t worry if it cracks a bit. When rolled up, carefully lift onto serving platter. Use left over cream to decorate the top if you like or just leave it. Freeze uncovered for 1 hour to set or longer if preparing days ahead. Once frozen, slip into plastic bag. On day of serving, refrigerate until ready to serve. Just before serving dust with icing sugar, using a small sieve.

Honey Cinnamon Butter..Gift from the Kitchen

 

We have a local cafe that serves honey butter with scones, biscuits, bagels, or toast and it is delicious. The recipe is a secret!  I have not managed to get that exact flavor but this stuff tastes pretty amazing anyway. It’s perfect for gift giving. A basket of fresh scones and a jar of this delicious butter will make someone very happy!

  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup icing sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  1. Whip butter till pale in color.
  2. Add the rest of the ingredients and whip a few more minutes until light and fluffy.
  3. Spoon into small jars. Add fabric and ribbon for gift giving.
  4. Keep refrigerated. Serve at room temperature.
  5. Yields: 4 small jam jars.

Glazed Honey Cookies

Some of you may recognize this Christmas cookie. Our moms and grandmothers went to some work mixing up their large recipes of spiced and glazed cookies, but once they were done and stored away in a cool place, they kept for a long time. In fact, I find they taste better as they age and they do not take up freezer space. Although a recipe for honey cookies with a quick glaze method has been posted, I  though I’d share this one because it does not use baking ammonia and gives you the option of a boiled glaze. This recipe is cut in half already to make it more user friendly. It still makes 8 dozen.
Ingredients:
  • 3/4 cups butter, room temp
  • 1 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup white sugar
  • 1/2 cup honey
  • 2 eggs
  • 3/4 cups sour cream
  • 4 cups flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp of ground star anise
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp cloves or allspice
Glaze
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 egg whites
Method:
  1. Beat butter, gradually adding sugar, then honey, eggs and sour cream, beating well after each addition.
  2. Mix baking powder, soda and spices into some of the flour and add to wet ingredients
  3. Continue adding flour 1 cup at a time (this can be done in a kitchen machine with a dough hook) until mixed thoroughly. Dough will be on the soft side, like a cookie batter.
  4. Pat top smooth with spatula and refrigerate overnight or up to a few days.
  5. Lightly grease and flour aluminum cookie sheets. Tilt cookie sheets and tap end to distribute the flour evenly.
  6. Divide dough into quarters. Dust rolling mat or counter with flour. Taking one quarter portion at a time, using both hands, roll into a thick, 24 inch long roll, then cut into 1 inch slices and roll each slice into a ball.
  7. Bake at 375F for about 12 minutes on upper rack of oven – no lower than center of oven. Check bottom of cookie for light browning before taking out of oven. You don’t want to over bake them but you also don’t want the top to sink.
  8. Cool on wire racks.
Glazing
  1. Line cookie sheets with wax paper.
  2. In a medium sized glass bowl, beat egg whites until almost stiff. Set aside.
  3. In a small pot, between low and medium heat, bring sugar and water to boil, stirring often. Once sugar has completely dissolved, liquid clears and is filled with tiny bubbles, set timer to 3 minutes and continue cooking stirring often.
  4. With mixer on, slowly pour hot syrup into beaten egg whites and beat for about 3 minutes until thick and glossy when you lift the beater.
  5. Now, be ready to work quickly without distractions, because the glaze can dry on you. Scoop some glaze up in your left hand fingers to coat bottom of cookie and hold it in place. Scoop some more with your right hand fingers and coat top, smoothing with index finger. Cover the entire cookie with a thin layer of glaze and slide onto wax paper, not touching other cookies.
  6. Allow to dry on wax paper for several hours – may need to leave overnight if still tacky when you lift them.
Assessing glaze texture:

I thought I’d show you the goal of what the glaze should look like. When it’s cooked the right amount of time it goes on easy, and dries smoothly.

 

If glaze is cooked too little it will be easy to coat, but take a long time to dry into a hard icing. If you have undercooked the glaze, you will notice that it does not thicken as you beat it with the egg white.  You may save it by adding a Tbsp. of cornstarch and keep beating a few minutes more.

 

If glaze is cooked too long, it will dry quickly as you are glazing the cookies. It will end up being  grainy, making it impossible to achieve that smooth finish. It helps to moisten your hands. The taste will still be good, just not as easy to work with. It may me easier to start again, cooking a minute less
on your next try.

23 Tricks To Take The Stress Out Of Wrapping Gifts

You’ve found the perfect presents, lugged them home, and now you have to put in EVEN MORE EFFORT?! Never fear: you’ll get through this.

1. First, the basics.

First, the basics.

You may think you know how to wrap, but you could be wrong.

2. Use double-sided tape for professional-looking wrapping.

Use double-sided tape for professional-looking wrapping.

This way, you’ll avoid unsightly tape lines on the outside of your gift.

3. Use a toilet paper roll to keep your paper from unraveling.

Use a toilet paper roll to keep your paper from unraveling.

Just cut it down the middle and slip it on.

4. Pringles cans make ideal gift wrap storage (and display!)

Pringles cans make ideal gift wrap storage (and display!)

Get the directions here.

5. Also:

Also:

6. Cut out half a tree on plain paper for some multidimensional interest.

Cut out half a tree on plain paper for some multidimensional interest.

Get the instructions here.

7. (Or any other shape your lil’ heart desires.)

(Or any other shape your lil' heart desires.)

Directions here.

8. A fork helps even the most clumsy tie neat little bows.

A fork helps even the most clumsy tie neat little bows.

FInd out how here.

9. Don’t have a bow? You can make one out of magazine pages.

Don't have a bow? You can make one out of magazine pages.

Here is how.

10. Make a surprisingly easy bow out of paper.

Make a surprisingly easy bow out of paper.

11. Stamp on wooden spoons to make gift tags.

Stamp on wooden spoons to make gift tags.

12. Use paint chips to spruce up gift tags.

Use paint chips to spruce up gift tags.

13. Dress up plain paper with polka dots.

Dress up plain paper with polka dots.

Directions here.

14. Wrap with fabric.

Wrap with fabric.

It looks hella stylish but takes basically no time or effort. Plus, it’s reusable.

15. Store gift wrap, scissors, ribbons, and whatever else you need in a shower caddy.

Store gift wrap, scissors, ribbons, and whatever else you need in a shower caddy.

16. Use wire to store gift wrap out of the way by the ceiling.

Use wire to store gift wrap out of the way by the ceiling.

Frank Farm / Flickr: frankfarm

Instead of letting it clutter up your floor. See how it’s done here.

17. If you don’t have gift tags, just print some out.

If you don't have gift tags, just print some out.

These adorable ones are available for free here.

18. Secure ribbon with a binder clip.

Secure ribbon with a binder clip.

19. Get the kinks out of ribbon with a flat iron.

Get the kinks out of ribbon with a flat iron.

20. Or a lightbulb.

Or a lightbulb.

Check out instructions here to avoid burning the ribbon/your whole house.

21. No paper on hand? Newsprint can still look great.

No paper on hand? Newsprint can still look great.

Mari Eriksson / angelattable.blogspot.com

22. So can recycled grocery bags.

So can recycled grocery bags.

A little tape and twine ups the festivity factor times a million.

23. If all else fails, just draw on that ish.

If all else fails, just draw on that ish.

Everyone will think you’re adorbs.

30 Homemade Ornaments for the Kids

Thirty homemade ornaments to make with your kids for keepsakes this Christmas, or just for fun!

I especially love the globe ornaments, so I even included a section of just those!

Six keepsake ornaments. Ten globe ornaments. And even fourteen homemade ornaments that the kids can make!

So call the kids over as you scroll through these and decide which ornament you’ll make today! [And then choose another to make tomorrow! I think you'll have enough to do one each day until Christmas!]

 


keepsake ornaments:

Salt Dough Handprints, 1 of the 30 homemade ornaments for kids Wrapped photo, 1 of the 30 homemade ornaments for kids
Salt Dough Handprints:
Under the Table & Dreaming
Wrapped Up Photo:
Toddler Approved
Time Capsule Ornaments, 1 of the 30 homemade ornaments for kids Shell vacation keepsake
Time Capsule Ornament:
Cleverly Inspired
Shell Vacation Keepsake:
Paint Cut Paste
Salt Dough Initial Ornament, 1 of the 30 homemade ornaments for kids Handprint snowman ornament
Salt Dough Initials:
The Imagination Tree
Handprint Snowman:
Little Bit Funky

globe ornaments:

Marble painted ornament Drip painted ornament
Marble Painted:
Kids Activities Blog
Drip Painted Ornament:
Spoonful
Pom Pom Ball Ornament Gum Drop Ornament
Pom Pom Ball:
Zakka Life
Gum Drop Ornament:
Six in the Suburbs
Snow filled ornament Reindeer ornament
Snow Filled Globe:
According to Kelly
Reindeer Ornament:
Little Wonders’ Days
Sequined ball homemade ornament Fabric scrap homemade ornament
Sequinned Ball:
Kid Giddy
Fabric Scrap Ornament:
Zakka Life
I Spy Ornament Marshmallow snowman ornament
‘I Spy’ Ornament:
Craft Goodies
Marshmallow Snowman:
Craft Goodies

homemade ornaments by the kids:

beaded snowflake ornament Stained glass ornament
Beaded Snowflake:
School Time Adventures
Stained Glass Gingerbread:
NurtureStore
Paper baubles Homemade salt dough tree ornaments
Paper Baubles:
Red Ted Art
Salt Dough Trees:
The Imagination Tree
Glittery pine cone ornaments Beaded star
Glittery Pine Cones:
Mom Spotted
Beaded Star:
Mrs. Picasso’s Art Room
Woven cardboard stars Crystal Snowflake Ornaments
Woven Cardboard Stars:
The Crafty Crow
Borax Crystal Snowflakes:
Happy Birdycake
Sewn felt star ornament Popsicle Star Ornament
Sewn Felt Star:
Frugal Fun 4 Boys
Popsicle Stick Snowflakes:
The Crafting Chicks
Flared Christmas tree ornaments Button Christmas Tree Ornament
Flared Christmas Trees:
The Ki Blog
Button Christmas Tree:
hands on : as we grow
[guest post by Toddler Approved]
Foam Santa Ornament Popsicle stick tree ornament
Foam Santa Ornament:
Toddler Approved
Popsicle Stick Tree:
Mom Spotted