Staff Picks: The Products Getting Our Editors Through Quarantine
We're stuck at home just like everybody else. These are the items that have been making it a little bit easier.
Any time we start to feel like we can’t take another day of being stuck at home, we are forced to remind ourselves how lucky we are to be stuck at home and not out there working in the healthcare field or in any of the service industries that are still out there trying to give us some semblance of a normal life throughout all of this.
None of this, of course, makes it any easier or less stressful. And so we find ourselves looking for comfort and joy wherever we can find it. Below, InsideHook’s editors highlight some of the things that have made quarantine a little bit easier.
And we’re curious about how you’re all getting by as well. What are the things you’re turning to for comfort right now? Drop us a line and let us know.
Threshold Wooden Wick Candles
When I went to Target for my first quarantine run, I looked for the same things as everyone: toilet paper, Tylenol, DiGiorno frozen pizzas. Also on my list were these wooden wick candles from Threshold which are, to put it lightly, a scented revelation. I’ve been burning these bad boys for months, but I need their soothing crackle now more than ever. You see, I’m big on fireplaces, but not having one in my apartment, this is the next best thing. And I don’t care what the online reviews say, there is not a bad scent in the bunch. I know, I’ve tried them all. — Alex Lauer, Senior Editor
’47 Patriots Legacy Hoodie
Now that Tom Brady is gone, the good times for Patriots fans are probably over but, since the first NFL season in 20 years without him hasn’t started yet, the bad times have yet to begin. I’ve been taking advantage of this odd limbo period as a fan and in the world to get all the wear out of my ‘47 Patriots Legacy hoodie that I can. Am I bitter? Sure. But I’m also really comfortable thanks to the oversized hood and the sweatshirt being sewn from ring-spun Peruvian combed cotton French Terry. As the old saying goes, tis better to have won six Super Bowls and lost your quarterback to a garbage organization in Florida than to have never won the Super Bowl at all. Since the Patriots probably aren’t your team, check the rest of ‘47’s hoodie options here. — Evan Bleier, Senior Editor
Anker PowerLine II 3-in-1 Cable
As the headphones and booze expert at InsideHook, I’m supposed to tell you about some fancy ANC headset or recommend a good Scotch — with that in mind, the just-released Marshall Monitor II and the recently revamped BenRiach 10 Curiositas. You’re welcome. But the thing that’s actually saving my sanity? This 3-in-1 cord with interchangeable Lightning/Type C/Micro USB connectors. Plug it into an outlet and a power bank, and whatever device I’m using — Kindle, iPad, iPhone, aforementioned Marshall cans, even my Huawei laptop — gets a power up. And since I’m using all the devices, it’s juicing up something at all times. — Kirk Miller, Managing Editor
Hot Giardiniera, 16 oz.
As someone who doesn’t cook, I made sure to replenish my supply of this spicy, Chicago-style topping as soon as it became clear that I was going to be facing an indefinitely long period of at-home meals. It doesn’t just go on Italian beef; I use it to jazz up my boring turkey sandwiches for lunch pretty much every day (it adds a much-needed kick and makes me feel like I’ve done something more advanced than throw a couple slices of meat on some bread). It also goes great on eggs. I mix some into my tuna salad to spice it up a bit. I have been known to add it to mac and cheese. Does that make me weird? Probably. But giardiniera is the ultimate utility condiment, and having it around has saved me from daily trips to the grocery store because I don’t know how to feed myself. — Bonnie Stiernberg, Associate Editor
Le Creuset 7.25-qt Dutch Oven
During the first week of quarantine, I was coming off an epic and only slightly ironic trip to a midtown Manhattan Applebee’s to celebrate a co-worker’s birthday, so, understandably, I had apps on the brain and set out to recreate as many of them as possible at home. Over the course of four days, I made mozzarella sticks, jalapeño poppers, fried pickles and French fries — all of them deep-fried in my beloved Le Creuset 7.25-qt Dutch oven. Eventually it set in that quarantine was going to last long enough that I probably should not keep deep-frying at this pace, and I called it quits. But I kept right on relying on this big piece of enameled cast-iron cookware that lives permanently on my stovetop because it’s just that beautiful. In the weeks since, I’ve used it to make a big batch of Texas chili (no beans, obviously), two big batches of Bolognese (anchovies are key!) and a classic marinara. I’ve used it to boil pasta, and I’ve even taken advantage of its considerable weight by using it as a sandwich press. Yes it’s expensive, but it’s worth every penny — under quarantine or not. And certainly for $80 off its list price. — Mike Conklin, Executive Editor
Masterbuilt Pro MES 130B Digital Electric Smoker
You need a hobby while living in isolation. Some daylong task to break up the monotony of your days and save you from the darker tendencies of your own mind. It helps if this pursuit is a craft or skill that you can measurably improve at, something that will make you feel like being cooped up in the same house for weeks on end has not been time spent in vain, but rather an opportunity of sorts. For me, and presumably also the fleshy mass of humanlike parts known as Mark Zuckerberg, this hobby has been smoking meats. I’ve smoked wings. I’ve smoked sausages. I’ve smoked massive bone-in butts of pork and two-foot racks of ribs rubbed down with improvised medleys of spices and salts. And I do it all, perhaps blasphemously, in an electric smoker. Unlike charcoal, wood-fired and even gas smokers, electrics are completely self-regulating. That means I don’t need to mind the heat source, which makes this hobby a fairly passive one — literally the only thing I have to do is freshen up the wood chips every 90 minutes. From there, it’s just about dialing in my cook times, finding the ideal internal temps and getting the rub blends right. I cannot tell you how enjoyable, hands-off and idiot-proof this thing is compared to being hunched over a grill all afternoon, and how satisfying it is to watch 12 lbs. of pulled pork slide off a bone as if it were snowmelt. — Walker Loetscher, Editor in Chief
Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp Sauce
We already cooked a lot before everything was shut down. These days, it’s a nightly episode of Iron Chef, a competition with the evening before, trying to see if we can do keep improving. We’re also trying to see how many times we can use what I have to imagine is the most perfect ingredient I’ve ever had: Lao Gan Ma Chili Crisp Sauce. It is exactly what the name applies: spice and crunch. Not too hot, not too crispy. It’s perfect for topping off rice dishes or mixing into mayo for the fourth tuna melt of the week. I’m obsessed with this stuff and, that obsession might be the one good thing I’ll take out of quarantine. — Jason Diamond, Features Editor
Danner Jag Hiking Boot
I never really considered myself a serious enough hiker to warrant actual hiking boots — a pair of Nike Air Max 270 Bowfins was about as technical as it got for me, and that’s really only because I’m obsessed with Air Maxes and thought they looked cool tooling around the streets of New York. But spending my quarantine in the White Mountains of New Hampshire where “not fucking around” trails abound, I have been unbelievably thankful for the pair of Danner Jags I came into just before the world descended into equal parts monotony and chaos. One of Danner’s more lightweight models, the Jag isn’t quite as heavy-duty as the storied mountaineering brand’s more technical models, but they continue to perform with great aplomb on even the most challenging terrain up here, keeping my dogs comfy, dry and firmly planted to steep/icy/rocky/ trails day in and day out. Not to mention the fact that in this black colorway with the gum outsole, they too will look cool tooling around the streets of New York upon my return. — Danny Agnew, Creative Director
OWYN Plant-Based Protein Shakes
A couple months ago, I was chatting about protein intake with an exercise physiologist, and he excitedly showed me a personal recycling bin full of empty OWYN pea-protein bottles. The man’s a former international rugby player, a bruiser who still plays with a local firehouse — not the kind of guy usually on the hunt for a vegan protein shake — but as he pointed out, the appeal of OWYN’s drink should be universal. It’s all right there in the name, which stands for “only what you need.” The shake includes kale, spinach, and broccoli, skips added sugars, and adds a hefty dose of fiber and omega 3, while delivering on every essential amino acid for muscle recovery in the process. I’ve been throwing one back each day in tandem with my shelter-at-home workouts, and Dark Chocolate is my favorite. — Tanner Garrity, Associate Editor
BYREDO Mojave Ghost Eau de Parfum
Now might seem like a strange time to invest in a fragrance, seeing as there’s no real occasion to wear it, but I’ve been unable to shake the scent of Byredo’s Mojave Ghost since encountering it for the first time some two years ago, and I figured indulging in it amid the current state of things would aid in lifting my spirits. The scent is just as I remember it — woody, warm and comforting. A spritz or two not only helps in creating a sense of put-togetherness, even if I am just wearing sweats, but it lends a much needed feeling of normalcy and routine to my day. As small as it may seem, it’s something to look forward to. Plus, it doesn’t hurt that I smell really good. — Lee Cutlip, Associate Editor
Nintendo Switch Lite
After having some major FOMO watching everyone play Animal Crossing: New Horizons and coming to terms with the fact that I’m going to be stuck inside for a very long time, I decided I had to cop myself a Nintendo Switch. And every day for about a month now, I’ve played on it for a number of hours I’m not comfortable disclosing — but what’s important is that it has given me an incredible peace of mind. Whenever I find myself getting anxious about the real world, I just go hang out on my virtual island, do some tarantula farming and work on paying off my debts to a raccoon. — Logan Mahan, Editorial Intern
In case you haven’t heard, these are unprecedentedly sexless times for many of us. If ever there was a time to invest in a quality sex toy, it’s now. The We-Vibe Chorus is designed for people with vaginas, but as one of the sleekest couple’s vibes available today, it can also be used by people who have sex with people with vaginas. Compatible with a free app that lets you control your toy from anywhere in the world, this vibe is also ideal for long-distance couples trying to keep their sex lives afloat in quarantine. So whether you’re waiting out these strange days alone, with a partner or separated from one, the We-Vibe Chorus is a great addition to your quarantine entertainment package, because Netflix gets old. — Kayla Kibbe, Associate Editor
Nota bene: If you buy through the links in this article, InsideHook may earn a small share of the profits.
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