What's Around The Corner?

Spring is in the air and summer is on the way! I like to call this the happiest time of the year. There's just something about sunshine and warm weather that makes me want to get up and go with lots of extra pep in my step.

As a matter of fact, the whole team here at Mountaineer Brand has been hit with spring fever (in a good way). We've been putting our heads together and have come up with some really creative ideas that we think you'll love.

Now, I can't completely spill the beans, but I can drop a few hints. Father's Day is right around the corner, so we'll have some awesome stuff to keep your gift giving covered. Since summer is almost here we'll be launching a brand new kit, and there will be some sales to go along with it. Finally, as a way to show how much we appreciate all of you, there will be some contests with prize giveaways!

This stuff is right around the corner, folks, so keep your eyes peeled. The happiest time of the year is upon us!

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Beginner Tips for Beard Styling

It's possible to look stylish even while you're growing out a beard. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise! A lot of men have that awkward phase where their beards are not shaved, but they're also not long enough. If they don't style it well, it can look like a disaster. Don't worry; if you follow this simple guide, you'll definitely look fashionable in every phase of growing out your beard. It's much more simple than you might expect and even beginners can follow it.

Start clean

When you're trying to grow out your beard, it's best to shave everything before you start. This way you'll be sure that your whole beard grows evenly and it doesn't have weird-looking sparse areas. When your beard is evenly shaved, those sparse areas are less visible. Besides, you'll definitely feel a sense of satisfaction because you'll be able to clearly see the growth of your stylish beard.

 

Choosing the best styling for medium beards

#1: Goatees

You can never go wrong with a goatee. Especially if you have a round face since it will elongate it. It can create an illusion of a longer face better than any other beard style. A goatee is great for beginners because it's really easy to style and maintain. Even if you have sparse areas, that is okay with this beard style. It's a simple and laid-back styling. You will look extra fashionable if your style is also casual. So, what are you waiting for, it's time for you to browse fashionable goatees.

#2: Defined

If you choose to follow our tip in which you completely shave your beard before growing it out, this style is for you. It's a sleek and elegant beard styling that any businessman can pull off. If you shave the beard well before growing it out, this style can look awesome. That's because of the symmetry and the fact that the beard is an even length in all places. This is another beard styling which is great for beginners because there's not much work to do. Again, this beard style is excellent for businessmen because of its sharp look. But, it's also perfect for those busy executives because of possible time constraints when it comes to styling. In the beginning, your beard will be a perfect five-o'clock shadow. When it grows longer, you'll be able to choose any style you want and just go for it. You should have enough beard volume to experiment as with it much as you want. Most importantly, this beard style will look amazing even during its middle length phase.

#3: Breaking the rules

While we think that our idea to start fresh to have an even beard is great, some men just don't like that style. Maybe it doesn't suit them, or they don't want to look that formal. This is where beards with uneven lengths come in. This is great if you want to have a fun, cozy look. Fun and cozy look doesn't mean that you don't have to take care of your beard. This style can go very wrong if you're not taking care of your beard and aren’t making sure to maintain the multiple lengths you've chosen. Extra guide tip is to invest in a precise shaver that can give you the best results. If you're a beginner, don't worry, practice makes perfect. If you mess up in the beginning, you can shave it back to shorter lengths and start again.

#4: Match made in heaven

Some men are growing out their beards just because they also want to have long moustaches. Growing just a moustache can definitely look weird at times, so pairing it with a beard is a great idea. If you're a beginner, practice styling your moustache daily with some wax. Then, if you choose to shave the beard and leave the moustache, your skills will be improved. Styling both the moustache and the beard is so much fun, especially while you're growing them out. During this middle phase, as your beard grows, your styling skills will improve. When it grows to your desired length, you'll basically be a beard styling professional. This beard style is basically made for men with hipster-like styles.


These styling tips for growing out the beard should be something that every man can try out. Even if you're a beginner, these styles are obtainable. So why wait? It's time to start growing out your beard!

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Once Upon a Fall

Fall beards. If you haven’t heard of this phenomenon yet, I’m sure you’re not alone. For some, it’s kind of a new thing. However, I will caution you against confusing the Fall Beard tradition with a current trend (think manbun). As long as I can remember, men in my family have grown beards in the fall, only to cut them off later in the year--some did so at the immediate end of hunting season (with no-so-silent urging from the wife), while others waited until spring. Still, year after year the beards showed up and disappeared as if on some sort of schedule.

This is the tale of one very lucky Fall Beard. This seasonal habit--or maybe a tradition if you want to split that hair--is the one that changed Eric’s life (and mine for that matter). In the fall of 2013, Eric’s Fall Beard is what drove him to formulate and bottle our first Mountaineer Brand beard oil. Eric said that he had always wanted to keep his Fall Beard, but eventually got frustrated and shaved it. Frustrated with what, you ask?  Frustrated with trying to make his beard look good. His beard became unruly after a while and he always ended up looking like he had been wrastlin’ a bar and pert-near wun (that’s WV speak for wrestling a bear and almost winning--that’d be one messy beard, huh?).

Beard oil was beginning to make its way to the market and there was a little bit of a buzz beginning to surround the beard trend and the accompanying beard oil market; the market, at the time, was very different than it is today. In 2013, there were only a few companies who were making and selling beard oils and conditioners and they were doing so at boutique prices, making this search for a solution to a bristly beard an uphill climb.

Determined to keep the beard, the exasperation and the economic constraints were just enough for Eric to focus his energy in another direction. In the end, he concluded that if given enough research and experimentation he could come up with a product that was every bit as good, or better than, any already on the market. So he did. What luck for everyone of us that Eric tends to be single-minded and focused when he makes a decision.

I saw a few articles that debated the merit of a Fall Beard; a few bearded gents weighed in on the pros while others chimed in on the cons. Of course, what it comes down to is preference (and that of your spouse or the one who has to kiss your face). But I would like you to consider this. Is it possible that a Fall Beard can be lucky? You tell me.   Mountaineer Brand sprang to life from this perfect storm of events and has been gaining speed since with no signs of slowing down. And to think, it all started Once Upon A Fall...

Our evolution from the baby steps in Eric's kitchen to our current space has been thorough and will never be complete. We are in a constant state of change. Some of the changes are easier to trace than others. Take a look at some of our first labels:

 

Without changing our labels from this, our first attempt, Mountaineer Brand would not be what you know it to be today.

After adopting our iconic logo (below), we added stories to our first 3 oils (Timber, Coal, and Barefoot). The labeling requirements left little room for the stories, but we're still fond of them.


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Farewell to Summer

It’s that time of year again. Time to put away the coolers, beach chairs, and sunscreen (just kidding, please keep using that). Time to get the kids ready to go back to school--or maybe they’re already there. It’s another season gone. Of course a new one is about to begin--it’s hard to forget since endless songs and poems remind us of seasons ending and beginning--but I’m not ready for fall yet. I want my goodbye to summer to last a bit longer. So I am taking a few extra minutes to say a proper goodbye.

See ya next year, dandelions. Dandelions are my favorite flowers. I don’t want to hear it from the Dandelions are weeds crowd; I’ve heard it all before and I have decided that it is an argument of semantics--and I refuse to participate. This is not a topic for discussion as Dandelions are the flowers of my heart. All of my own children and countless others have picked an endless number of Dandelions for me, both in single flower form and in bouquets, all of which were proffered with love and pride. And these same yellow beauties turn into wish machines later in their life cycle. I don’t know about you, but I believe in wishes. After all, what is more pure than a wish? What are wishes but hope and, if you believe in them, faith? This perfect flower is also a medicine, a food, and some have even made it into a wine. (Ask Mr. Mountaineer about his own Dandelion wine sometime). How much more perfect can one flower be? I will miss you my yellow sometimes pillow headed friends.

Farewell, long nights. This is hard to let go of. I spend all winter looking forward to the longer days. When the sun tucks itself in below the horizon at 4PM, I want to crawl under the covers too, and 4PM just isn’t a responsible time to go to bed. Not if you have kids who need fed and cared for. Summer is different. Summer is all about the sunshine, and I love sunshine! I think humans are just hardwired to enjoy the sunshine. Think about what happens physically when we expose our skin to sunlight. Our bodies go to work producing Vitamin D (a much needed vitamin for good physical and mental health). It just feels good. There is just something magical about warm summer nights; time seems to stretch itself out in a lazy sort of way--almost like a yawn. It justifies late bedtimes without the need for excuses. Until next year, my warm, lazy companion.

Godspeed, lightning bugs. Aren’t these extraordinary little things? All of these tiny, random twinkle lights sprinkled throughout the sky for what appears to be no other reason than to put a bit of spark in our summer nights. But did you know that lightning bugs, also called fireflies, occasionally sync their flashing? And that their lights can be yellow, green, or orange? And that this light is the most efficient light in the world? Maybe extraordinary doesn’t really cover it at all, but I enjoy their summer light show so thoroughly that I truly miss it when the curtain closes for another season. Take your final bow, tiny little miracles.

Adieu to the additional time available to spend with four of my favorite companions. I love spending time with my kids. I’m not going to put cake frosting and sprinkles on this and tell you that it’s all good times and laughter. My children have a way of plucking my nerves like no person should have the right to do without being tried for crimes against humanity. But the plucking is worth it--and not really all that frequent. Spending time with these incredible souls--crammed so full of ideas, thoughts, personality, hopes, questions, spirit, dreams, and who knows what else that they are absolutely bursting with an almost contagious vitality--is a privilege and an honor. When it comes to time, spending it with those you love the most is time spent wisely. I love summer for giving me more of it. Treat yourself well extra time; you deserve a rest.

See you on the flip side, garden veggies. When we were growing up, our dad used a good portion of our back yard for a garden. We grew all kinds of veggies: zucchini, squash, onions, corn, kale, chard, spinach, cabbage, cucumbers, tomatoes… there were actually quite a bit  more, but those are the ones I remember the most. It was like having your own private produce section. When my mother was about to prepare dinner, she would ask one of us to go to the garden and pick a zucchini or a squash, maybe a tomato, or all three. Just from the vine, holding these backyard garden crops felt like holding the sun itself. I liked to roll  them against my face and neck; it was like nuzzling the sun. (All fun and games until the thorns on a zucchini vine pricked me--but I still did it over and over again.) I don’t have a garden in my yard today, but I have friends and neighbors who bring me the extras from their own gardens and I visit the farmers’ markets as frequently as possible in order to get the season’s sampling of my favorite comfort foods. We’ll meet again next season, my lifelong companions.

That’s a bit better. I am still not quite ready to let go, but I do feel a bit more prepared. Of course, the season does have a few things that I will be glad to see put to bed for a while--biting bugs, overwhelming heat, humidity, sunburn… well, you get the idea; there is always a bit of bitter that comes with the sweet. As the weather cools and the leaves start to turn, I will begin to focus my attention on all of the wonderful things that the fall season brings and air will be charged with that certain something that is unique to autumn. That exhilarating, thrilling season is waiting for us all. What does it have in store for you?

Here are a few good links:

This site will tell you about the health benefits of Dandelions. There are quite a few.

As always, I have a good book to recommend: Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. It’s about Summer and Dandelions. You’ll like it!

I can’t go making claims without backing them up, so click here to read about the how the sun is linked to Vitamin D production.

And those tiny little miracles? You really should read more about them. Facts about Fireflies

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SerendipiTEA

 

First, let’s talk about the elephant in the room. I’m sure some of you are all… “tea? This is a beard blog,” but you’re going to miss the point if you are thinking “beard” every time you read one of our blogs, so let’s get it out there--I’ll just say it--Mountaineer Brand is about WAY more than beards. Our blog is about us--our Mountaineer culture, which happens to be expansive, eclectic, authentic and, quite frankly, a wild ride.

I have been enjoying this wild ride and I have been enjoying the twists and turns on he journey and I have had the pleasure of meeting so many people that I would have never met otherwise. I decided early on that it’s best to go with it and see where it takes me. Some of the best things that have ever happened to me have come into my life serendipitously. Tea is the most recent best thing.

I’m not talking about sweet tea, bottled tea, English tea, or anything that I had ever experienced before. Get those things out of your head right now: breathe in--think of freeing your mind; breathe out--and erase all thoughts of McDonald’s, country songs, dainty cups with pinkie fingers lifted, and bottled 7-11 drinks. Even still, you may not understand where I’m going… but go anyway; it’s fun. I know I’m on to something great because my 13 year old daughter rolls her eyes and does the whole elongated, sing-songy “Moooooommmm” thing when I talk about it.

Here’s how this happy happenstance that soon became my tea obsession entered my life. This spring when my family hosted 2 exchange students from Beijing, China, both students brought tea as gifts--so I’m thinking it might be a big deal, or the universe is trying to tell me something, or at the very least there is tea to drink. So I ordered some tea paraphernalia (I was not prepared for the world of REAL tea--I hate to admit that I was a pre-bagged tea drinker) and took my first steep.

I was so very unprepared for the life-changing event that this first cup of tea turned out to be. I can’t say for sure what kind of tea I drank first because it was labeled in Chinese characters and the only English I could find that identified the contents said “Green Tea.”  I can only say that I experienced what is an indescribable feeling I have since learned is known as  Cha Qi. Cha Qi, it turns out, is not something everyone believes in -- kind of like the Santa Clause of feelings. Now, I love Christmas, Santa is fun, Holiday Cheer… blah, blah, blah… but this is BETTER than Christmas. Humbug, you say? Try it before you dismiss it.

Since I’m very new to this experience, you’re going to get the pre-beginner’s guide to intro to tea 101 for dummies. I know very little other than my own experience, and I have yet to experience much in this new-to-me-ancient-to-the-world microcosm. However, everything I have experienced so far has been a thrill. And I know that “thrill” and “tea” don’t seem to go hand-in-hand, and I would never have believed it either but they really do. This is the part where I’m getting all impassioned and my 13 year old, with her impeccable sitcom-like-timing enters the room with her eyes cocked in pre-roll position ready to fire away with whatever she thinks will put me in my place the fastest.

I will save my passion for another blog (yes, there will be more). I have included what I think are a few good links at the bottom of the blog if you want to check things out on your own and I will give you the few basic things I have learned--some things to get you started.

Always smell your tea before you brew it. I mean really go in deep. If you can feel the smell, this is a tea that you want to drink. You aren’t going to know what I mean by feel the smell until you experience it, so stop judging and start smelling. Remember--deep. One word of caution. Don’t smell the teas that have a bunch of floaty things hovering over the tea when you open it- those tend to be the blends with things like mint and jasmine. They taste great, but not so much for inhaling.

If one cup of tea is good, two cups is better. Think of the first cup as a primer and the second cup (and beyond) as the real deal. The best part is you can use the same tea leaves, but get this, your second cup won’t be the same as your first; somehow it’s even BETTER. I don’t think it’s something that can be explained--it’s just the magic of tea. Just kidding, it has something to do with the tea leaves opening or something, but having that second cup is really an almost must.

Tea tastes better with friends. I had to share this incredible new thing I had found with anyone I knew would approach it with an open mind. I now have several fellow tea nerds in both my professional and personal lives; we can go on for hours about tea mountains and Puer. Maybe not hours. But we can go on for several minutes at least while we bliss out on a good tea. Don’t tell them I said so, but I’m thinking of turning my staff meetings into tea parties.

I’m still learning but I have miles to go before I sleep. I want to cram as much knowledge in my head as fast as I can. I will, however, for the wellbeing of those around me take it easy and enjoy the journey. I hope some of you will give it a try.

 

WebMD gives a few health benefits of Green Tea here

This site provides a lot of useful info. Start here for a history of Green Tea in China.

Finally, I read a good fiction book that is not about tea exactly, but is a good read and brings you right into the Tea Mountains of China. Lisa See, "The Tea Girl of Hummingbird Lane." Amazon.com is my go-to for books. Check it out here

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