Browsing articles in "Hobbies"

Wet Shaving first steps – Choose a good brush

By Ryan  //  Wet Shaving  //  No Comments

The first thing anyone can do to get a taste of wet shaving is to swap out the aerosol foam/gel can for some nice shave cream or soap. However, before you can start making lather, you need a good brush. Next to the classic straight razor, the shave brush is the first thing that people associate with wet shaving.

A shave brush serves the primary purpose of building and applying a lather, traditionally from the aforementioned shave cream or soap. However, the brush also helps to lift the bristles and exfoliate the skin. All of this helps to prepare your face for the shave.

There are a ton of options where shaving brushes are concerned–and just as many opinions on which is the best. I don’t plan on spending too much time on different handle types, as that really comes down to a matter of personal taste. But I will say that my own brush has a simple nylon handle and I prefer that because it is very low maintenance. Wood and metal handles, while rather fetching to look at, do require some extra “care & feeding” that I generally don’t want to bother with.

However, where the business end of the brush is concerned, the different types do somewhat make a difference. What I have here is a breakdown of the most common categories and some of my own thoughts on them:


This traditional shaving brush uses fur from the Asian badger and is the type that I am currently using. These brushes come in various grades, with “pure” generally being the lowest grade. Usually the hair in this grade is all one color and the knot is trimmed to shape. This tends to make the brush somewhat prickly. The silver-tip in its various grades are generally better. You can distinguish a silver-tip brush because the fur ends with a white soft tip. These are extremely nice in face feel plus hold a lot of lather. It is worth noting, however, that the grades are in no way standardized. This means that one manufacturer’s “best” is less than his “super”, but both would be called “silver-tip” by another. Also, there is some concern the EU may outlaw badger brushes at some point, so it is a good idea to familiarize yourself with the other options. I bought my first badger brush on eBay for relatively cheap a while back.


This is traditionally the favorite for Italian shavers, boar brushes require a break-in period and must be soaked each time prior to use. Can generate great lather a bit easier than with other brushes. In fact, I have read people that claim to have gotten a cream-like lather from shaving soaps. More on that when I cover creams and soaps, though. These brushes are generally inexpensive, so one can try a number of brushes for not too much money: browse this page of boar brushes, simply looking at the prices—and those are Omega boar brushes, which are generally considered to be the best. If a boar brush sounds like a good fit for you, take a look at this beginner’s guide to boar brushes.


I have seen it said that horse has 85% of the good attributes of badger hair and 85% of the good attributes of boar hair. They are also good for those with issues about animal rights because no animal is harmed in their manufacture, only clippings from normal grooming are used. Once upon a time, Horsehair brushes were the brush of choice in many areas. However, they fell out of fashion in the United States because of some issues with anthrax in the 1920s and simply never came back. I plan for my next brush to be from horse. in Spain is a prime source, and they routinely do international shipments. in the US also has a good selection.


Because some fear exists that the EU may start outlawwing badger hair, brush makers have begun to come out with a number of synthetics: plain nylon, sometimes called “pure synthetic” (pictured at the left). These are easily some of the cheapest brushes you can pick up, with the price tag starting as low as $4.00. However, this is definitely a case of “you get what  you pay for”. Pure synthetic brushes generally do not load enough water to create a nice, moist lather. I do not recommend this type of brush. However, more recently, manufacturers have started selling something that they call “artificial badger”–which seems to look and feel very similar to natural badger brushes. The knots seem all to be much the same (though Mühle synthetics are a little different), so that among TOBS, Omega, men-ü, Mühle, Edwin Jagger you should simply pick the handle you like: the knots will essentially be the same. I honestly do not know too much about this second type of synthetic, but I have heard generally good things about them.

I have also noticed that combinations of these four types have been cropping up as well: badger plus boar (like this nice little Omega 11047 boar+badger brush), badger plus horsehair , horsehair plus boar, synthetic plus badger and so on. I have never used one of these brushes, but they seem to be an interesting idea and I plan to try one or two of them in the future.

I should also point out that in the world of brushes, more expensive does not always mean better quality. True silver-tip badger hair is expensive because it is rare, not because it is necessarily better. The handle material can also play into the cost. For example: the brush at the top of this page sells for $550 and is hand-made from Silver-Tip Badger hair and a tropical hardwood called Cocobolo. However, I honestly don’t know that it would improve my shaving experience over my “best-grade” badger hair brush that I got for around $35. The main thing you want to be concerned with is how well the brush lathers and feels on your face, not the cost.


My Etsy shop is now open

By Ryan  //  Bezoar Bath & Beauty  //  No Comments

I am pleased to announce the opening of my Etsy shop: Bezoar Bath & Beauty. read more


Vegan Beet Burgers

By Ryan  //  Cooking & Food, Hobbies  //  No Comments

As our family and friends know, Lynda and I have been making a ton of changes to how and what we eat. In fact, we now eat like vegetarians a good 90-95% of the time and a good chunk of that is actually vegan or raw. If you know us, you realize that this is a huge change from how we used to eat.

Photo from

This change has made us go searching for foods that are a good replacement for some of our old favorite meals–which is where this recipe comes in. We have tried a number of commercial veggie patties and I plan to do a review and recommendation on those once we have tried a few more. We have also tried a few different recipes. Most of the commercial patties and recipes we have tried thus far have had fatal flaws that either Lynda or I refuse to deal with. Yes, taste is a big one, but more than that is the ability of the patty to stick together on the grill, when cooking on my cast-iron skillet or on our broiler pan. These burgers, however, seem to fit the bill nicely.

Now, I am definitely not going to say that a beet burger, or any veggie burger for that matter, tastes just like a regular hamburger. I would even say that it shouldn’t taste like a hamburger. Really, all that is the same is the presentation.

I found this recipe on The Post-Punk Kitchen and this is the first recipe that we have made from them and I plan to make many more of their great looking foods.


Quarter-Pound Beet Burgers

Makes 4-5 large patties

Recipe notes: If you’d like to make these gluten-free, just use gluten-free breadcrumbs – ground up gluten-free pretzels would be ideal. And if you’d like to bake them instead, do so at 375 F, 8 to 10 minutes each side, then stick under the broiler to brown them. If you’d like to use a different nut butter, I would recommend cashew or sunbutter. I think PB will be too strong, but who knows? I use a food processor to make these happen quickly, so you’ll have to do some finagling if you don’t have one. And one last tip: I keep a package of frozen brown rice handy at all times. It’s perfect for occasions like this when you just need a little bit for an ingredient.


1 1/4 cups cooked, cooled brown rice
1 cup cooked brown or green lentils, cooled, drained well
1 cup shredded beets
1/2 teaspoon salt
Fresh black pepper
1 teaspoon thyme, rubbed between your fingers
1/2 teaspoon ground fennel (or finely crushed fennel seed)
1 teaspoon dry mustard
3 tablespoons very finely chopped onion
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons smooth almond butter
1/2 cup very fine breadcrumbs

Olive oil for the pan


Peel beets and shred with the shredder attachment of your food processor, then set aside. Change the attachment to a metal blade. Pulse the brown rice, shredded beets and lentils about 15 to 20 times, until the mixture comes together, but still has texture. It should look a lot like ground meat.

Now transfer to a mixing bowl and add all the remaining ingredients. Use your hands to mix very well. Everything should be well incorporated, so get in there and take your time, it could take a minute or two.

Place the mixture in the fridge for a half hour to chill.

Preheat a cast iron pan over medium-high. Now form the patties. Each patty will be a heaping 1/2 cup of mixture. To get perfectly shaped patties, use a 3 1/2 inch cookie cutter or ring mold. Otherwise, just shape them into burgers with your hands.

Pour a very thin layer of oil into the pan and cook patties for about 12 minutes, flipping occasionally. Do two at a time if you’re pan isn’t big enough. Drizzle in a little more oil or use a bottle of organic cooking spray as needed. Burgers should be charred at the edges and heated through.


These should be served immediately. However, I have had good success with freezing these as individual patties–or simply refrigerating them if you plan to eat them sooner–and reheating them on my cast-iron skillet or on the grill.

As for specifics on ingredients, I used raw almond butter that I had made fresh just before making the burgers and I crushed the fennel and thyme with my mortar and pestle. Other than that, I followed the recipe verbatim. Sadly, I did not document any of our process with photos, so I borrowed the image that Isa posted with the recipe on the PPK.

If you make these and enjoy them, you should definitely head over to the Post-Punk Kitchen and try some of Isa’s other great ideas.


Wet Shaving

By Ryan  //  Hobbies, Wet Shaving  //  No Comments

A few years ago, I was introduced to wet shaving and I have never looked back. read more


Yes, I am still alive!

I haven’t posted anything on here in what seems like forever. The best laid plans and all that…. In any event, a quick update on my status:

Adoption: We are just about done with getting our adoption paperwork in order–which means that potential birth parents will soon be looking at our profile and, hopefully, decide to place their baby with us. If anyone reading this would like to help us by giving out pass-along cards, please drop me a line and I will make sure that you get some as soon as we have them printed. I don’t know how much I will actually talk about the adoption process here, as we will have a dedicated adoption blog that will be housed at –which should be up and running later this week.

LifeForce Project: Things have been both crazy and slow for this. We are just about to get everything ready to start our Kickstarter for the project and hopefully that will help us to get some funds for artwork and whatnot. I’ll post a link to that as soon as the Kickstarter goes live. In other news for the game, we have made some massive changes to the gameplay and I think that it has come out much better for them. I’ll do a more detailed post on that later.

Hobbies: As some of you know, I have been on a quest to learn how to make nearly everything from scratch. Cheese and other foods have always been at the top of my list, but recently I have started making hand-crafted cosmetics and spa products.  Recent things made include Aftershave–in two flavors, with a third planned, Deodorant, Cold Cream and I just made up some hair “gel” that is actually made from a clay. I am learning a ton of stuff about Essential Oils and their applications in just about everything. I’ll do a much more detailed post on some of this stuff at a later date and post a link to my Etsy shop when that happens as well.

Fiction Addictions: We went to LDS Storymakers this past weekend and had a great time, we met many great authors and hope to do some business with several of them. Updates on that as it happens.

Project 366: Still going strong with this. Today is day 128 and the whole collection with comments and descriptions can be found here: A Year in Photos. Or you can just check out this slide show:

All in all, things have been hopping. This month we will see a trip to Oklahoma and next month we will be in L.A. for a bit. I do hope to do better about posting here and really doing something with this blog. Thanks for reading and I promise that it won’t be another Five months before I post again.

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