January 2016

Zippo Hand Warmer in hands

I used to beg my mom for a Zippo lighter every time we went to the mall. There was a store right next to the food court that had a rotating display case full of gleaming examples. I wanted the solid brass one. “What are you going to do with a lighter??” my mother would ask. Rightfully so, I suppose. I never had a good answer for her. Because what good reason could a thirteen year old boy have for wanting a lighter? But I was no aspiring arsonist. I just wanted one because they looked so…cool! There was something solid and classic, something authentic about the renowned Zippo. It was a manly artifact of technology. Of design. Of modernity. It made me think of Indiana Jones and Dick Tracy. Whether either of those guys had actually ever used a one was irrelevant to me.

In time, I purchased three different Zippos that I cherished. I learned a couple of tricks to snap open the lid and light it in one slick sleight-of-hand motion. I still have them somewhere, hidden from the world in a remote drawer or box, because I never use them. Because I still don’t really have a need to light much on fire. Not enough to warrant the lost pocket space on a daily basis anyhow.

Zippo Hand Warmers Open

Naturally then, I was pretty psyched to learn about this hand warmer from Zippo! The design is unmistakable. Sleek, shiny and solid — the joy of pure metal in your hand. The warmer cuts a silhouette similar to the classic lighter, albeit a bit larger, with those same signature bored vent holes around the ignition element. It’s very slender, with rounded edges, making it a low-profile pocket companion. In fact I described it to a curious friend as a “pocket furnace.” And that’s essentially what it is! Finally, a Zippo with a practical reason for being in my jeans.

This nifty little unit has a unique heating element fully concealed in the middle of the body, rather than an open wick underneath a lid like the lighters. The heating element is genius — it uses a platinum-catalyzed fiberglass burning unit that draws fumes up from the cotton-filled fuel tank beneath to smoulder continuously like a coal, instead of producing a flame. As a result it produces no smoke and very little scent. Once you ignite the burner, it smoulders all day, up to twelve continuous hours. The entire unit comes up to heat and stays warm, protected and somewhat regulated by the super-soft microfiber bag that comes with it. I put it in my coat pocket before exploring the beach after a snowstorm a few days ago. It was pretty windy and I kept taking my glove off to snap pictures of the surf. It was great to have the warmer in my pocket to hold in between shots, and so cold out I wished I had fifty of them sewn into the lining of my coat!

Zippo Hand Warmer outdoors

Fifty is probably a bit much, but I do recommend getting two of these little guys, one for each pocket. Their utility isn’t relegated to your pocket, either, it turns out. You can pop them in your gloves or boots for twenty minutes before heading outside. Or slip them under your pillow before you hit the hay. I even put one under my neck when I was reading in bed last night — awesome treat for sore muscles. And of course, needless to say, snowboarding…

For outdoorsmen and urbanites alike, these make a great gift — something novel, certainly unexpected, and of high quality, without breaking the bank. Easy to tote safely in a pocket, handbag, backpack or glove box. What’s better than the gift of heat? Thanks Zippo. I knew eventually we would find a way to be in each other’s lives 😉

 

View on Craft & Caro: bit.ly/WarmDigits

Filed Under: Jackmauh Tries It, Travel
Paul + Simone soft beard

All things considered, I am new to the facial hair scene. My face has been smooth as a baby’s bottom most of my life. But a couple of years ago, while camping in the mountains in northern California, I discovered I could grow a mustache. Oh, the possibilities, I thought! I could grow this out, change my name to Buck or Anders, build a cabin right here out of hand-milled redwood, and spend my days bow hunting caribou and trading furs on the festival scene… Unfortunately our rented Miata was due back in San Francisco later that week, where I maxed out my budget on burritos, Negra Modelos, Uber rides and a few vintage shirts. So I returned to Boston in need of some work and resumed the clean-shaven life for a while.

That winter, New England was hammered by an infamous series of blizzards. Society came to a near halt. We were trapped indoors by walls of snow and ice for weeks. I wistfully recalled my time in the warm, dusty mountains and waited for the thaw. When we emerged from our various hideouts in the spring, I had a sapling beard on my face. Nature had taken it’s course. But I was still a novice with no clue how to care for a newborn beard.

Beyer's Oil beard oil all sides

I got lucky with Beyer’s. It’s made in Bavaria from a handful of rich natural oils like jojoba and lavender, and nothing else. Love it. Natural and simple. It smells like fresh orange zest in my palm — a scent that’s rivaled only by my fresh-ground coffee — which is reason enough to crack the bottle open each morning. I didn’t realize what a big difference it would make! My whiskers are soft and silky to the touch now instead of coarse and wiry. There is a natural order and calm to previously frizzy patches. My skin is more comfortable, smooth and moisturized. I’m especially loving it this time of year, when the winter air is distressingly dry. The rich, lightweight botanical oils seem to have a nice warming effect. I rub it on my neck and cheeks to soothe itchy skin and stubble before going out in the cold. I’ve even been using a little in my hair to add some moisture and shine!

 

Paul + Simone Beyer's OIl

 

The best endorsement Beyer’s Oil got wasn’t from me but from my lovely girlfriend, Simone. She nuzzled my face one morning and noticed right away how soft it had become, seemingly overnight. She lit up and couldn’t get enough! I have happily endured many more nuzzles, cuddles and kisses since then. Definitely an unexpected benefit — I feel like a human teddy bear. In a good way. I should have known. It says it right on the bottle — “Rub in your beard and be happy!”

 

Beyer's Beard Oil

Filed Under: Groom, Jackmauh Tries It
Jackmauh brushing with Scuba

For my first review we decided to start with something fundamental to daily life: brushing one’s teeth. And the essential pair of items to do it — in this case, The Scuba toothbrush and Theodent toothpaste, featuring a curious patented formula derived from chocolate! For a week I brushed each day (twice or maybe even three times, if my dentist asks) with the new brush and the toothpaste. Here’s what I found out.

First the brush. Finally! A toothbrush to be excited about. The Scuba feels more like a tool in your hand than a toothbrush. It’s craftily manufactured from soft, flexible rubber with a plump ergonomic handle and an angled brush head for precision scrubbing. Better yet the Scuba comes in right-handed and left-handed versions — quite a gratifying breath of fresh air for this world weary lefty. My hand just wants to reach out and hold it. The idea here is control, and you’re going to want it for the oversized brush head. That’s right – we did it to the golf club, we did it to the tennis racket, now Radius has done it to the toothbrush.

Radius Scuba toothbrush in hand

 

Like with some other innovations in history, I was a little perplexed, maybe even intimidated, when I first picked it up. After a few times around the block I got the feel for it, adjusted my brush stroke and quickly understood why the Scuba is a superior oral care tool. The bristles, made from natural vegetable-based nylon, are pleasantly soft, much softer than your average toothbrush. Couple this with the oversized head, which naturally scrubs your gums and palate as much as your teeth, and you have an advanced implement that cleans and massages simultaneously.

No fear for those with sensitive gums prone to bleeding or sores either — this brush is gentle. Cleaning is more efficient too. It’s possible to cover large areas of your mouth in a few minimal motions. On top of that I felt like an eco-champion, since this brush is 100% petroleum free and made in Radius’ own Pennsylvania factory, which produces two thirds of it’s own electricity from solar panels. And thanks to the Scuba’s dynamic design and quality composition, it’s likely to last three to four times longer than your average toothbrush. That means less plastic in my trash.

Scuba toothbrushes

 

Now let’s spread some of the good stuff on that beast! Enter Theodent. My appreciation for this novel toothpaste began at first sight, with the elegant filigreed box and matching tube, both a rich dark chocolate color that’s easy on groggy eyes. I was surprised when the product itself came out a nice clean white. I was expecting some lighter shade of brown, since this toothpaste is made from chocolate. That’s right, chocolate. Sort of… Here we have a truly innovative dental cleanser.

Theodent Classic

 

Theodent uses theobromine, an extract from the cocoa bean, as the main ingredient in its proprietary fluoride alternative (called Rennou). This makes it entirely non-toxic, while still a powerful formula for protecting and strengthening your teeth’s enamel.  According to Theodent’s research, theobromine has actually proven to increase the size of the mineral crystals that compose your enamel by fourfold. That means more protection for your dazzling smile, and considering that it was the mellowest-tasting toothpaste I’ve ever used – more like an after dinner mint than, well, toothpaste – I was quite impressed that it could be so anti-cavity. And I thought chocolate couldn’t get any better! I guess it’s just another instance where science and nature work in graceful synergy to create an effective natural alternative to a synthetic product.

Delicate Theodent and Supple Scuba – the match made in dental heaven.

Theodent toothpaste Scuba toothbrush

Filed Under: Groom, Jackmauh Tries It
Sportes MITI with bacon

The English name “Swedish Log Stove” or “Swedish Fire Torch” is actually a rough translation from the German word “Schwedenfeuer”. Why a German name for a supposedly Swedish invention? During The Thirty Years’ War of early-mid 17th century Europe, Swedish soldiers pioneered the method of using a single, split log as a heat source and cooktop. The simple process of splitting a log and lighting the center worked on freshly cut wood, allowing soldiers to cook and have a source of light and heat without searching for and hauling firewood. Fast forward almost 400 years and the time-tested technique still holds true, and has finally been improved!

Sportes MITI contents

The MITI Swedish Log Stove makes it even easier to create a stable, reliable cooktop in the bush. Just as those soldiers did centuries ago, cut a log 7.5” to 9” in a diameter and 12” to 14” high. Quarter the log vertically, creating four even sections. Arrange the four sections with 1” of space between them, and place the MITI on top so that the metal dividers lie in the spaces. Slide each of four stabilizing rods into the appropriate eyelet, then spread the base at a slight angle to secure the structure into place. Finally, use kindling or accelerant to light the center.

Sportes MITI Instruction manual

As the flame grows, it pulls air in through the spaces, generating a steady-burning flame well suited to cooking. Boil water in a pot, make coffee in a percolator, fry bacon in a pan, pop corn in a kettle. This stove will work with anything you’d put on your home cooktop! For more advanced backwoods chefing, use several simultaneously just like a multi-burner range.

 

Sportes MITI cooked shrimp

 

 

Start enjoying the romantic simplicity of cooking over a traditional Swedish Log Stove today with the MITI by Sportes. Made in Canada, available at Craft & Caro: bit.ly/MITILogStove

 

 

Sportes MITI log flame

 

 

Filed Under: New Products, Travel
WP Homemade Gin Kit

Ever been curious about making your own spirits? Wood-firing a shiny copper still, pouring clear, almost pure alcohol into barrels, then later tapping those barrels to release caramel golden brown Oh Be Joyful. It’s so romantic! It is, but it’s also a ton of not-unskilled work, a significant investment, and potentially risky on several fronts. For those who aren’t looking to start a craft distillery but are still intrigued to try your hand at homemade booze, we’re here to help!

Homemade Gin Kit components

 

The Homemade Gin Kit is, of course, perfect for gin enthusiasts! It includes everything you need to turn vodka into “ridiculously delicious gin” right at home: two glass bottles and corks, stainless funnel and strainer, juniper berries, and an expertly balanced botanical blend. It’s super easy, too. Just add the juniper and botanicals to any vodka of your choosing, wait a bit, strain them out again, and you’re done! That’s a slight simplification, but you get the point. In the end you’re left with an unfiltered gin that holds up with the best of them.

The Barrel Aged Spirits Kit

 

The Barrel Aged Spirits Kit is even simpler than the Gin Kit and can be used with a wider variety of spirits. It consists of just two components: charred oak staves and some cheesecloth. The life of any spirit begins the same, as clear distillate. Be it rum, whiskey, brandy, or any other dark liquor, it’s the aging process that gives color, and more specifically, the barrel itself. Matter from a charred oak barrel slowly leaches into the liquid, changing a white liquor into a dark one. The concept with the Barrel Aged Spirits Kit is to replicate that leaching process, but instead of filling an entire barrel and waiting months or years, we’ll put the barrel in the bottle and wait a matter of days. That’s right! All you have to do with this kit is drop the aging staves into any bottle of light-colored alcohol – white rum, vodka, gin, etc. – wait until your desired amount of aging has occurred, strain through the cheesecloth, and enjoy. You’ll have created something entirely unique. Wowed dinner guests guaranteed.

Barrel Aged Spirits Kit Flavor Meter

The best part about these kits is the infinite possibility for creating unique concoctions. Add your own ingredients and see what happens. Play with starting materials, aging time, and cocktail recipes to discover what hits your palate just right. Heck, take the gin you make and barrel age it! Before long you may be rethinking that craft distillery afterall 😉

Check out these fantastic gifts right here at Craft & Caro: bit.ly/WPatCC

Filed Under: New Products, Relax