Dan’s Lifestyle Brands
This is an ongoing list of things I actively use and enjoy. Many of these have come from years of personal experience, others I stumbled into something I like first try. Comment if you’ve tried one of these but found something even better.
- breville barista express
- Awesome Coffee Club
- Amazon Essentials hoodie
- Upgrade: SAULT pullover hoodie
- Lottery winners $$$: Relwen Hoodie
- Uniqlo Undershirts
- Upgrade: Lulu Lemon T-shirts
- Vuori Sunday Performance Jogger
- [Vuori Ponto Performance half zip hoodie](https://vuoriclothing.com/products/ponto-performance-half-zip-hoodie-platinum-heather
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I recently purchased a top of the line drip coffee maker for $350 from Williams Sonoma. I was dreadfully underwhelmed. The aeropress was better and only $15. About this point I realized I really don’t like either, I prefer espresso drinks, specifically a great flat white. I learned that a cappuccino is a latte with less milk and a flat white is a cappuccino with a double shot.
So after going waaay to far into the weeds of researching all things coffee I bought what I think is a good level of automation vs control to get the best coffee I want in the morning. I got the breville barista express and swapped out the double shot basket with the best one I could find on amazon. This gives you control over the grind size, dose, tamp, shot, and milk while taking care of the temp and pressure for you. To me this is the right balance for a casual espresso enthusiast because if the temp or pressure seem wacky you can adjust the grind and dose to fit and once you find a rhythm it’s very little effort when you just want that first cup in the morning.
I then got the bluebottle two week coffee subscription specifying their espresso blends. They send helpful dose, temp, and timing on an info card with every bag. Then I got an adjustable distribution and tamping tool to further automate that part (although it does need adjusting when changing beans sometimes).
UPDATE: bluebottle raised their coffee subscription prices so I found the Awesome Coffee Club and haven’t looked back. They source well and donate ALL profit to a good cause.
My current hoodie strategy is to buy one new Amazon Essentials hoodie each year. It’s soft and durable, looks great, and you don’t need to worry about the price.
If you’re looking for the absolute best hoodie, I recommend the Feat Hoodie but beware, I would mine did have noticeable wear after one year too. And I can’t bring myself to spend this much every year.
UPDATE: My new fav is the SAULT pullover hoodie. It runs a bit skinny but the softness is amazing.
I do NOT recommend the flint and tinder 10 year hoodie. Yes it may last longer, but you’ll suffer through every moment of wearing it. Super uncomfortable, not stretchy, not very warm.
The Ember Mug is great for tea, not so great for anything with milk in it unless you drink fast (then what’s the point of keeping warm?).
Get the large version, a big portion of the cup is battery/heating element so it’s smaller than it looks in the pictures.
~~I’m still highly recommending Me Undies
Never go shopping for underwear again. I can’t stand bland underwear and love getting these each month. The worst thing about subscriptions is the hassle of canceling them. Me Undies handles this well, I’ve canceled and re-subscribed several times with no problems.
The only issue I’ve had is trying to keep track of which pair is the oldest to know what to throw away first. Please let me know if there’s an easy strategy to manage this!~~
UPDATE: Me Undies has raised their prices and I’m in the market for an alternative option
Undershirts, long sleeve shirts: Uniqlo!
Uniqlo is cheap and astoundingly comfortable. The heattech undershirts are great for winter and the airism for summer. They’re durable taking months of washing without losing any comfort or stretch. Same goes for the socks and long sleeve shirts.
The only problem I’ve had with Uniqlo is that they have so many versions of the shirts that are branded slightly differently and once in a while I’ll get something that’s not quite as comfy by accident. But it’s cheap so no big deal.
If you are really picky about undershirts, the best I’ve ever owned is the Lulu Lemon T-shirts. The lack of branding is appreciated and the seams and fit are quality + stretch.
Their most expensive socks are about on-par with the nice bambas socks. Honestly a toss up in my mind between those two for winter socks. For summer socks I go with cheap amazon ones I don’t mind throwing out more frequently.
UPDATE: The Awesome Socks Club has introduced ankle high! This is now my go-to for socks. They are still not as durable as I would prefer but the subscription that I can feel good about is worth it for me.
The Vuori Sunday Performance Jogger
After years of frustration with baggy, ugly sweatpants, I’ve finally found what I’ve been looking for. They’re more “athleasure”, and they’re very expensive at $89, but one pair lasts a few years.
The one thing I was worried about with these is the tight ankle cuff. Let me assure you, it’s super stretchy and will not be a problem.
If you know of a similar product for less $$ I’d love to try it out but given the number of fails here I’m skeptical such a thing exists.
I went through a few of these before finding this gem. Good price and super comfy. I got one for my wife too.
I hike a lot. In the spring and winter and even sometimes in the summer I’ll wear this hooded shirt with a baseball cap. You can throw the hood up to protect from the sun or to give a little extra warmth (not much tho). It’s super stretchy and breathable which is perfect for running through the woods. Also great for keeping insects off the arms and neck. In the winter you can also add this to layer up. It’s probably the most versatile piece of clothing I own and an incredible price.
UPDATE: the Vuori Ponto Performance half zip hoodie is 5x more expensive but a great upgrade version if you can afford it. I have one of these and about 3 of the amazon ones.
I’ve purchased almost everything bluffworks offers and have yet to be disappointed. If they have the shorts in stock grab a few because last time they sold out they were out for 2 years before coming back. If you like pockets you’ll love these, there’s layered back pockets and zipper pockets in the pockets. Same for the sport coat - so many pockets and zipper pocket inside a sport coat is great. The pants are what initially drew me into this brand. Stretchy and comfortable I’ll swap between sweatpants and these pants as they’re about equally comfortable. They don’t provide much for heat so not for winter hikes but outside of that they are amazing with 4 way stretch and comfort. But the button-up shirts are great, again little hidden zipper pocket and pocket in the breast pocket, love these pockets!
I haven’t tried their shirts because I don’t see them beating Uniqlo and are more expensive.
If I ever get sunglasses I go cheap as possible because I don’t like trying to take good care of expensive things that are likely going on an adventure with me. I have no great recommendations here.
There are four primary categories of whisk(e)y I enjoy based on mood, time of year, etc.
- Highland, Speyside, Japanese: fruity malts
Light and fruity malts are middle of the road and end up in one of my infinity bottles. These are tasty without overpowering and are the most versatile for pairing with activity or food. To find a good one of these look for something that doesn’t mention smoke or peat (or explicitly mentions no peat) that has “non-chill filtered”, “no color added”, and is 46% ABV or more, also generally lighter color is better. Find one for under $90 if you want to guarantee you won’t feel bad if it’s not amazing.
- Island, Islay: Peaty Malts
Ardbeg, Laphroaig, Lagavulin, Bunnahabhain, bruichladdich, if it’s fun to practice and learn to say, it’s probably a smokey peaty monster of a scotch. I enjoy these primarily in the winter time to warm up next to a fire or in a travel flask on a nice hike. I keep a separate infinity bottle for these as mixing them with anything will destroy it (wash out your glasses and bottles!). I enjoy the base line of each of these distilleries but also have had great luck with their experimental lines. Most recently Ardbeg Wee Beastie. Prepare to spend $100-150 and not regret it one bit!
- High proof, rare, independent bottles
Scottish Malt Whisky Society, Alexander Murray, Single Cask Nation, Gordon & Macphail. I’ve yet to have anything from any of these bottlers that I didn’t thoroughly enjoy. If you can find someone with a SMWS membership it takes the edge off the price too making these some of the best buy’s I’ve ever made. Look for cask strength and single cask when possible (50% ABV minimum!). The huge variety and interesting experience of each one is something to be cherished. I like sipping these over months taking them out only for special occasions or when the feeling really hits.
- Bourbon and american malts
The problem with bourbon is not the corn, it’s the new oak barrels. They give a wood tannin taste that’s overpowering and just not for me. That said, american whiskeys are evolving interesting ways to cover this nasty first-fill taste, most notably by not using first fill casks (not bourbon) or finishing in wine or beer barrels.
I’ll enjoy bourbon once in a long while in a larger glass with some ice. Water it down and chill it to take away some of the nasty wood taste and it can be a creamy slightly woody delight.
To find an american whiskey I’ll enjoy I look for 46% or higher ABV, malt over grain if possible (aka not bourbon), something finished in wine cask, and it’s hard to find but a whiskey not aged in new oak (again, this rules our bourbon). Basically, I don’t like bourbon.
There’s nothing better than fresh fleece sheets in the winter!
I’m on the spectrum of super-smellers. Smell is tied so strongly to memory and I often delight or disgust in the sillages many others fail to notice. Normally this is an augment to life but when it comes to picking a cologn or perfume for the wife, I’m VERY particular.
This gonna sound… not typical for me, but it’s true: my wife and I were in Milan for fashion week. I had a side-quest to hunt down the parent company that makes the store smell for Moncler (one of my all time favorite smells). Unfortunately they refused to give up the goods. But while wandering the streets we were pulled into a random perfumery. I instantly fell in love with Papyrus Oud. It captured the essence of growing up camping in the forests of Montana. Later I discovered my current favorite smell of all time: Milky Musk.
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