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Posts Tagged ‘just buy these things for yourself’

In discussing my new phone case the other day, I realize that I have made a few recent purchases that I feel equally delighted about. 

  • A New Bra: I am pretty much down to one bra that I wear. And, believe me, I wear it as infrequently as possible. Most days, I live in a sports bra. But sometimes I do need to wrangle the ladies into something that’s not athletic wear. I have some bras that kind of fit, and then the one bra that MOSTLY fits. But I finally broke down and bought a bra that actually fits. It’s SO NICE to have a bra that fits. Why is this a lesson I must re-learn every few years???
image from Nordstrom.com | Not really the most aesthetically pleasing of bras, but it’ll do.
  • A Stripey Dress: I don’t see my exact dress available at Loft anymore, but oh my goodness do I love it. I love how the top has horizontal stripes and the skirt has vertical stripes, I love how it nips in at the waist and is nice and flowy through the skirt, and I love the length. I think it’s super easy to dress up for evening and also it’s casual enough that it works for daytime. What may be skewing my love for this dress is that I wore it for the first time over the weekend and got not one but TWO compliments on it. One from a friend, which is always nice, but also one from a complete stranger who called to me across the street that she LOVED my dress and WHERE could she find it. That’ll make a gal’s ego soar, I tell you. (It’s also a good reminder to me that I should give in to the impulse to compliment strangers on things. Usually I stuff it down out of fear that they will think I am a weird weirdo, but probably they will be delighted as I was.)
image from postmark.com

  • A Line-a-Day Journal: I have never been a person who journals; I am not good with consistency. (I cannot tell you how many journals I have received as gifts over the years – if you are a writer-y type person, it is a very easy gift for people to buy for you. But I would always – ALWAYS – either a) write diligently in them for less than a week and then give up forever or b) be too worried about marring their perfect unblemished insides and never write so much as an exclamation point in them.) But a friend recently told me how much he was enjoying his new line-a-day journal, and I thought, hmm. Why not give it a try? A line a day seems doable, even for me. I have been keeping up with it for more than two months now and I really love it. There’s no pressure with it, really. Some days I write something stupid like, “It was hot.” And some days I have to write in teeny-tiny letters to cram all my thoughts into the tiny space. I am also kind of looking forward to next year when I circle around to where I started and I can read what I was doing at that same time a year before. 

I think a line-a-day journal is a perfect option for non-journalers and I really love the one I decided to buy. I DID have to get over my own personal hurdle of “you can only begin a journal on January 1.” That is purely, in this case, because the journal is labeled by month. So, it says AUGUST at the top of the page, currently, and then there are little spaces where you can write in the year and the date (and I have been putting in the day of the week under the date as well). Possibly, if that is a hurdle you cannot leap, and I would not blame you ONE BIT if it is insurmountable, you could find a journal that has no monthly labels. Or you could buy this one and save it until January 1. OR you could throw caution to the wind and begin on a day in the middle of the week in the middle of the month!!!! I am lightheaded with the wildness of that suggestion. But the one I have is so pretty, I am urging you to consider wild things nonetheless.

image from amazon.com
  • A Flowy Tank: I have gone a little wild this summer, ordering things from Loft. Their clothes are exactly what I want to wear and they are so summery and cute. But the T-shirts and tank tops are a little boxy for my taste. Seriously. I thought they were cute when I bought them, and so I kept them. And then after the first washing, they seem to have ALL shrunk vertically and I hate them all. What a waster! Yet, I continue to crave tank tops. I finally got fed up and ordered a LONG tank top from amazon and I really love it. It is nice and long – I like to cover the buttular region when possible – and it is flowy. I like the little knotted detail in the front. I can create a similar effect by knotting my t-shirts myself, but I find that the little knot tail is always escaping from where I carefully tucked it under the hem of my shirt and I don’t love that. The fabric of this shirt is nice, too. Definitely synthetic if that’s something you avoid, but it has a nice weight and a small amount of stretch that I find very pleasing.
image from amazon.com
  • Some Useful Parenting Books: In a nod to yesterday’s post, I have been reading a couple of really good books about parenting lately. Usually, the parenting books I read make me feel bad about myself and my (lack of) parenting ability. (I do not need a book to help me along that path.) But these books, so far, have been easy to read and positive and full of good, useful, actionable advice and completely free of judgement. Your results may vary, of course, but I wholeheartedly recommend both:

Fourteen Talks by Age Fourteen by Michelle Icard

image from amazon.com | I love this book so much that I want to read everything Michelle Icard has ever written and to invite her into my home to give me one-on-one coaching.

The Self-Driven Child by William Stixrud, PhD, and Ned Johnson

image from amazon.com | I originally checked this out from the library and found it so useful that I bought my own copy.
  • A Night Oil: You have heard me wax poetic for years about my regular face oil. But a few years ago, I got a sample of the Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate and I loved it. So when it went on sale during the Nordstrom Anniversary Sale, I got a bottle. I love the very light rose scent it has and I love the way it feels. Is it doing anything for my forehead wrinkles? Not so that it is obvious to the naked eye, but perhaps it is working some magic under the scenes.
image from Nordstrom.com
  • A New Favorite Board Game: We ended up getting Carla A Ticket to Ride for her birthday and we have played it together as a family and I LOVE IT. All the rave reviews are true. It is fun and interesting. And from a mom perspective, I like that it requires some math and a lot of thinking ahead and strategizing. Plus, a little soupcon of geography. 
image from amazon.com

Have you made any recent purchases that you love?

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I am about to recommend a product to you that I now find indispensable. But I want to include a couple of caveats before I do so.

The first is this post’s unfortunate proximity to Mother’s Day. I can (sigh) imagine some people (not you, but I bet you can think of the type of someone I mean) reading this post and leaping up and shrieking, “That’s it! That’s the perfect gift for A Mother!” And while yes, I love it because it is extremely useful, and while I do in fact use it during the execution of tasks that are often left exclusively to mothers, I would argue vehemently that products which make it easier/simpler/more efficient/better for a mother to execute her duties should NOT be given at Mother’s Day gifts, but instead should be considered legitimate business expenses, and items required to do the work of a household, and should be categorized with things like cleansers and mops rather than lumped into the gift category. Just as an office would not consider an ergonomic chair or a wireless mouse to be GIFTS for the person using them, an air fryer or a new washing machine or a new zooper should be considered tools that make it easier or more efficient for a homemaker to complete the work of running a household. Not. Gifts.

I know – I KNOW – that sometimes a big extravagant purchase like a washing machine can put a strain on a household budget. And yet I would still argue that it should not be re-categorized as a gift. Unless and only if the washing machine is also counted as a gift for Father’s Day as well. 

So I am not recommending this as a gift. Maybe – maybe – I could see it as a stocking stuffer, IF multiple people of multiple sexes and familial roles received it all at the same time.

Okay. So that is the main caveat. 

The second caveat is that this is a single-use item. At least in my household. I see that the product manufacturers/marketers have tried valiantly to come up with alternate uses, but please note my Raised Eyebrow of Skepticism and Uh-Huh, Sure. I don’t usually like single-use products, but I like this one. It is so effective at its one job (and so small and easy to slip into a drawer) that when I somehow lost mine, I immediately ordered ten more. (To be fair, I ordered ten more only because it comes in a pack of ten.) 

Anyway. All caveats aside: the product is a pan scraper. It is made of a stiff plastic and it is about the size of a credit card. I use it to scrape the egg off of a pan when I have made scrambled eggs.

(image from amazon.com) I don’t know that I ever really noticed the different shaped corners? But sure, whatever.

I do not particularly LIKE eggs, but I eat them a lot. And the egg never fails to form a thin veneer across the top of the supposedly non-stick coating of my pan. A veneer that is so adhesive, it’s a wonder that the folks at Elmer’s haven’t patented it. 

I use a stiff-bristled scrubber to clean my dishes. But my scrubber does not work well on the egg veneer. Sometimes, after several soakings and applying lots of elbow grease, it will come off. But then the egg transfers to the bristles of the scrub brush and refuses to come off. REFUSES. It pains me to admit that I have thrown away more than one scrubber due to stubborn egg scraps.

Even the miracle that is Dawn Powerwash has little effect on the egg veneer. 

But the scraper clears the egg in a few seconds! It is magic! You just… scrape the egg off, rinse the pan, and you’re done. No soaking necessary. Because I like to hand wash things as infrequently as possible, I drop the scraper itself into the dishwasher and I am done. MAGIC. 

As I said before, this scraper is small enough that I tuck it inside the front face of my kitchen tool drawer. It is very unobtrusive and waits patiently until the next time I make eggs. 

(image from amazon.com) The pan scraper marketing team is really scraping the bottom of the barrel here for alternate uses. See what I did there?

The scrapers come in a pack of ten, and they are ten for $9.99 right now. NINETY-NINE CENTS FOR A RELIABLE AND USEFUL TOOL IS SUCH A DEAL. I have already gotten far more than my money’s worth out of this little product, and I measure that by number of stiff-bristled scrubbers I have NOT had to throw away, which are apparently $7.99 apiece, and also in minutes of grumpy scrubbing.

The first scraper I got was from a friend. I went over to her house to pick up Carla from a playdate, and she said, “Here, I have a pan scraper for you.” I was skeptical, and yet it has been one of the most useful products in my kitchen. I use it way more than I use my Instant Pot, that’s for sure. If you bought a ten pack, think of how you could casually hand a few out to friends, and BLOW THEIR MINDS with this tiny unassuming powerhouse?!

Okay, and now I want to know if YOU have any little heroes in your house that I have been overlooking.

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When my husband and I did Keto in 2020, we went hog wild. We bought ALL the Keto-specific products. We bought cheese by the cartload. We bought packages and packages of crunchy cheese snacks. We bought almond flour and flaxseed meal and xanthan gum. We bought avocado oil and MCT oil. We bought Keto pancake mix and Keto maple syrup. We bought Keto powdered erythritol and liquid stevia. We had all these plans to make Keto recipes and made many of them. But we found that a lot of the things we tried were either unpalatable or palatable only once or twice. 

This time around, I have been trying to live without Keto recipes and Keto items as much as possible.

But I have found a few Keto-specific items that I really like. This is, perhaps, in part due to the passage of two years’ time. Keto still seems very popular, and I think more and more products have become available since 2020 – and the products that are coming out keep getting better and tastier. 

My primary care doctor recommended two of the first Keto-friendly foods I tried this go-round, and they turned out to be two products that I really like:

Two Good Yogurt: Each container of yogurt contains 3 net grams of carbs. I don’t love this yogurt (it has a slight aftertaste, which I associate with stevia, and it is a little on the tangy side for my taste), so I don’t eat it every day. But it definitely scratches the yogurt itch. And it comes in a lot of different flavors, which adds some nice variety to my life. My favorite is mango, followed by raspberry and vanilla.

Protein Bread: My doctor told me that this was ONLY at Aldi’s, and so far, that’s the only place I can find it. (Strangely enough, Aldi also sells bread that has “Keto friendly!” on the wrapper, but turns out to be… a lot of carbs.) This particular bread has 4 grams of net carbs per slice. That is a lot – more than 20% of my daily allotted carbs – but sometimes I just need some bread. And I find that this bread is VERY satisfying. It tastes fine – nutty and wholesome. But more important, it is BREAD. My husband made a loaf of “Keto bread” in 2020, and it was NOT bread. It was crumbly and bitter and did not count as bread in my mind. But this protein bread is definitely bread in taste and texture. It’s pretty hearty, too, and since I usually pair it with cheese or avocado, it makes for a very filling, satisfying meal. I don’t eat it every day, so I remove a few slices and then freeze the rest. I find that it takes longer than most breads to toast – I like a nice, crunchy piece of toast. Putting it in the oven helps. 

There are a ton of low-carb and “Keto” breads on the market lately… but I have only tried this one. Because of my experience in 2020, I am wary of spending money on foods I end up hating. But… I am curious about some things. The last time I went to Whole Foods, I found a low-carb bread that I want to try. It was out of stock, of course, but if I ever get my hands on it I will test it out and let you know. 

One of the things that I crave the most while on Keto is pizza. And many of the Keto-friendly pizza options I have tried are not great. Most so-called “low-carb” crusts are not actually low-carb. Like the cauliflower pizza crust at Trader Joe’s is 16 grams of net carbs for one-sixth of the crust. If I am going to blow 16 grams of carbs on one meal, it better be for an entire pizza. I have made “Fathead Dough,” which is a low carb pizza dough… and it is so hard for me to make. It never comes together correctly. I think the one time I got it to work, it was fine, but it wasn’t worth the work or the frustration. Plus, it’s still 2 grams of net carbs per one-eighth of the total crust, which… again, I want to eat more than one slice of pizza, you know? And I want to be very clear: I am not eating pizza crust made out of chicken. That sounds… highly unpleasant. (Although my husband has tried it and thought it was fine.)

To address my pizza craving, I turned to tortillas. And I was pleasantly surprised to find several low-carb tortilla options. Here are my two favorites:

Protein Plant Powered Tortillas:  Each of these tortillas has 3 grams of net carbs, and when you add sauce and cheese and pepperoni, it bakes up to be a very satisfying pizza. The tortilla is slightly sweet, and it’s very soft and thin. It crisps up decently in the oven, and I find it to be a really good option for a Keto pizza crust. I have not tried it for other purposes (yet), but I’m guessing it would be a perfectly adequate substitution for burritos or even tacos. 

Street Tacos Carb Balance Whole Wheat Tortillas: These little tortillas are smaller than the above ones, but they are thicker and – I think – tastier. You get two of them for 3 grams of net carbs. Because they are a little thicker, they make a nice sturdy crust for a mini pizza. I always make at least two mini pizzas, sometimes three, and they definitely help curb the pizza cravings. Somehow I haven’t tried these with tacos yet either, but I think they would be delicious.

Keto Blueberry Cinnamon Nut Granola: I bought this on a whim at Costco, and I am very glad I did. (Apparently, you can also buy it on amazon. There are multiple flavors, too!) One of the things Keto lacks is an abundance of crunchy foods. (Outside of vegetables. And dehydrated cheese.) One-third of a cup of this granola has 3 net grams of carbs. (Hmmm. On the Nutrail website, it says 2 grams of net carbs… but on the bag it says 3… Either way, a decently low carb count for what you get.) Pair it with the Two Good yogurt and you have a very satisfying breakfast on your hands. Like the yogurt, it doesn’t taste exactly like regular granola. I feel like the monkfruit sweetener is noticeable, although it’s not bad. But it has a great texture and I love the addition of the dried blueberries. 

Keto Ice Cream: I don’t miss sweets a whole lot on Keto. I think I’m too busy missing black beans and soups and chips and pizza and garlic bread and pasta and beer. Ahem. Where was I? Oh right, sweets. I’m just not a big sweets eater. But once in awhile, I do miss ice cream. Fortunately, there is an abundant variety of frozen desserts available to us. What a time to be alive. Continuous outbreaks of war and ongoing gun violence, but grocery stores have frozen desserts as far as the eye can see. My two favorites are Halo Top Chocolate Cheesecake (from its Keto series; not sure if there is a chocolate cheesecake flavor in its other series) and Keto Mint Chip. If you have never tried these before: they take some getting used to. The texture is so very, very different from real ice cream. It’s… crumbly. But if you let it sit out for a very, very, very long time, or if you grow deeply impatient and microwave it for 15 seconds or so, it starts to melt and become creamy. At least around the edges. Texture aside, I like the flavor of both of these ice creams. The Halo Top is satisfyingly chocolatey, and has these weird (but tasty!) little cream cheese pellets that add a nice cheesecake essence. I am describing it accurately but not appealingly, I realize that. I do actually LIKE it. The Keto option is refreshingly minty and has a profusion of good-size chocolate chips. I have yet to try any other flavors, but there are LOTS.

Atkins Keto Caramel Almond Nut Clusters: I mentioned these before, but I am including them here as well because they are just really so good. At just 2 grams of net carbs per cluster, they are the perfect response to a candy bar craving or to the feeling of FOMO one gets when one’s entire family are eating chewy, delicious molasses cookies with a thick layer of cream cheese frosting. And the crunch of the nuts and the chew of the caramel makes them extremely satisfying. They do have that slight aftertaste of erythritol, but it’s not bad. And sometimes you just want something that is as close as possible to candy without being candy. 

Okay, so those are all the things that are made low-carb on purpose. But there are also some products that exist free of Keto/low-carb boundaries that I nonetheless turn to frequently.

Milkadamia Unsweetened Macadamia Nut Milk: When I did Keto in 2020, I used almond milk for my tea, which is a great option that I still love. (The brand of unsweetened almond milk I bought was 1 gram of net carbs per eight-ounce serving. Some brands have a LOT more carbs though.) But when Nicole mentioned that she had switched to macadamia nut milk, I decided to give it a try. It strikes me as slightly thicker/creamier than almond milk, and the flavor is unobjectionable.  It also has less than 1 net gram of carbs per eight-ounce serving, and I use a full cup of it in my tea every day. 

Moo is moot. Apparently.

Low-Carb Sauces: One of the things I love most in life is sauces and sauces are tricky on Keto. A lot of sauces have sugar or other carb-heavy ingredients. That’s why ketchup is a no-no on Keto. I make do with copious amounts of sriracha and mustard… and then I try any no-carb sauce I come across. I picked up this delicious no-carb Lemon Herb Aioli at my grocery store and love it. It’s excellent with salmon. Rich and creamy and flavorful. It does not taste like a diet food and that’s because it is NOT a diet food. I bet it would be tasty with artichokes or asparagus. I loved it so much, I grabbed the Sriracha Aioli (which has 1 gram of net carbs per tablespoon, so I would use it more sparingly) (not that I use a TON of the lemon herb aioli; a tablespoon goes a long way) the next time I went to the store. I’m going to put it on shrimp and roasted cauliflower and see if it works as a marinade for grilled chicken or pork. Stonewall Kitchen has a bunch of flavors, and I want to try the Chipotle Aioli and the Habanero Mango Aioli. Perhaps that is too much aioli for one person to have in her refrigerator, I don’t know.

Bubly: For that dangerous hungry time between five o’clock and dinnertime (which, for me, is usually 8:00 or later, sigh), I find myself craving wine. What a delightful discovery when I learned that a can of Bubly sparkling water with a squeeze of cherry Koolaid liquid works just as well as a glass of chardonnay. Especially if I pair it with some slices of sharp cheddar cheese. The cherry Bubly is my favorite, but I also love the raspberry and the blackberry. The grapefruit is good (and pairs well with gin/tequila and lime juice!) and the passionfruit is decent. The only Bubly flavor I do not care for is blueberry.

The one thing I haven’t found yet is a good Keto tortilla chip. It seems like there are several options that contain only 3 to 4 net grams of carbs per bag, but I haven’t come across any in the wild… and don’t really want to spend $20-$30 to order a bunch of chips I may not end up liking. If I find a single bag at a grocery store somewhere, I will definitely try it and report back. 

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It’s been a long while since I’ve done one of these posts. Yes, I have done a lot of complaining, and honestly, I plan to continue complaining here in the future, but that doesn’t mean I need to complain AT ALL TIMES. Plus, there are many many blessings in my life, including of course my wonderful family. But there are also material things that bring me joy.

Fabric Resistance Bands: Yes, I know I know, I have recommended these before. But they are SO GOOD. Carla has been exercising with me lately (both super cute and VERY DEEPLY ANNOYING), and she brought up my old non-fabric resistance bands for us to use. Why can I not think of the word that should go where “non-fabric” is? Well. The mind is a mysterious junk heap in which sometimes you find Babysitter’s Club plot lines and Garth Brooks lyrics instead of the word you are looking for. I used them for several workouts, hating them all the while, before I remembered that I own FABRIC resistance bands! So now I am using the fabric ones again, and all is right with the world. They are just as resistant, but they are wider than the other ones AND made of a thicker material, so they don’t roll up into a tight wad that cuts into your leg flesh. Plus, they stay in place rather than traveling up and down your legs at their own whim. 

image from amazon.com

Caramel Almond Clusters: While one of the keys to my current “success” at remaining on keto is that I am sticking to real foods that I like rather than trying to find keto versions of everything, I do occasionally crave candy. And these caramel almond clusters really address that particular craving. They do not taste exactly like a candy bar, mainly because of the odd taste of whatever sweetener is used to make them (I just looked; it is erythritol), but they are so close. The caramel is nice and chewy. The almonds are REAL almonds, and give an excellent crunch. And the chocolate is real unsweetened chocolate. Best of all, each one contains 2 net grams of carbs, which is an amount that I can work into most days of eating. (It seems like a lot of other keto sweets are 5 or 6 or more net grams of carbs per serving, which I almost never have at the end of a day.) They are about the circumference of an Oreo, so they aren’t huge. But I find them extremely satisfying from an “I Need a Treat” perspective.

image from amazon.com

Treadmill DeskElisabeth mentioned that she has a desk that attaches to her treadmill, and I immediately wanted one. My husband got me one for my birthday and I LOVE IT. He chose this version because it has a nice, textured surface. My laptop seems very secure on it, and I don’t really worry at all about it falling. I have used it several times and the time flies – I will be writing emails or doing revisions to my manuscript and all of sudden ninety minutes will have flown by. So far, I walk at about 2 to 2.5 miles per hour – it takes a little while to get used to typing while your body is moving. My only complaint is that the keyboard is not at an ideal position in relation to my hands, so I do have a teeny bit of wrist strain. But I suspect I will get used to that. And I feel so much less sedentary when I can stroll along while doing my normal work. 

Hot New Thrillers: I have read two truly excellent thrillers this year (so far). The Night She Disappered by Lisa Jewell and The Burning Girls by C. J. Tudor. Both were extremely well written with engaging plots and relatable female characters. Plus, even though both were predictable in some ways, they were told so well and crafted to be so satisfying that I loved them both anyway. They are thrillers, so there is disturbing stuff in each of them. But if you like really good murdery books, I highly recommend both.

Decorative Tile: Lauren has been writing fascinating accounts of how she and her husband are finding cool pieces at estate sales and reselling them. During one of these accounts, she showed a photo of a decorative tile featuring a skier, by a Montana artist. I fell in immediate love and had to have it. My husband and daughter do not understand it, but I know you will. Someday I will find some proper way to display it (maybe on the gallery wall of my imagination?), but for now it’s sitting on a shelf in my office, where I can admire it often. 

What are you loving lately?

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Perhaps you are looking for some last-minute Christmas gifts? Or maybe you just like reading about what other people enjoy. In either case, here are some things that I am loving lately (and just to be clear, I am not getting ANYTHING in return for recommending any of these; I either bought them myself or received them as gifts):

Chef’n ZipStrip Herb Zipper

1-herb-zipper

Photo from surlatable.com

Okay, I didn’t realize this had such a ridiculous name. But it’s awesome. I got a bunch for people as stocking stuffers last year – including myself – and I use it ALL the time. It’s on sale for $6.36 at Sur La Table, if you have any people who like to cook on your Christmas list. 

Anthurium Plant

 

2-anthurium

Photo from homedepot.com

This summer, I was looking for a red lamp to add to my new office and I could not for the life of me find one I liked. But I DID find a really pretty plant with red leaf-like flowers (in a red ceramic pot) at my local Home Depot. I know, a plant does not have the same functionality as a lamp. But if you think of the lamp as more of an accessory, you will see how the plant fit the bill. ANYWAY. It is an anthurium plant, which seems to be a type of orchid. And it’s super easy to care for: I just put a few ice cubes in it each Monday and it remains lovely and shiny all week long. If you have someone in your life who isn’t great at caring for plants but who loves them AND has easy access to ice cubes, this could be the perfect gift. Okay, I am giving the Home Depot site the side-eye because I did NOT pay $32.99 for my anthurium. I can’t imagine paying any more than $15 for it. Maybe $20. I kind of want to dig through my old receipts just to prove it. Perhaps it is seasonally more expensive. If so, it would make an excellent Christmas in July gift.

Kung Fu Girl Riesling

3-kung-fu-girl

Photo from kvintners.com

Riesling is my favorite type of white wine. My mantra used to be, the sweeter, the better. But my palate might be changing or maturing or something (unlikely) and I have gravitated to drier wines of late. Kung Fu Girl is my current go-to. It’s probably what I would call semi-dry, so there is a hint of sweetness there. But it’s crisp and clean and also, bonus, I can usually find it for $10.99 at my local grocery store. I’ve also seen it at World Market, if you have one near you.

Lands’ End Shimmer Down Long Coat

4-coat

Photo from landsend.com

We live in an area of the country whose winters include snow and cold temperatures. And I happen to possess the variety of child who loves snow more than anything in life. So last year, my husband bought me a down coat from Lands’ End.  It was longer than I wanted it to be – it came all the way down to the tops of my boots (also from Lands’ End). And I felt like a marshmallow. BUT. It is AMAZING. I can be wearing a t-shirt-weight shirt and jeans, and as long as I have that coat on, I feel NOTHING. I can play in the snow with Carla for hours (or until her face is red and I have to drag her inside). I can even lie down in the snow and make snow angels and feel NOTHING. It’s truly the best. And Lands’ End has really good sales on a regular basis. It’s a bit pricy at $199, but if you get a code for 40% off, you’re looking at a much more reasonable $119 for a really great, really warm coat. Oh. I just now “got” why it’s called “Shimmer Down.” I say “got” because you CAN make a pun on “simmer down” just because the coat is made of down doesn’t mean you SHOULD.

UGG Tasman Genuine Shearling Gloves

5-ugg-gloves

Photo from amazon.com

Speaking of warm, these gloves are the softest, fuzziest, warmest gloves ever. Obviously, you can’t text with them on or anything. But I find they are perfect for driving before your car’s heater has kicked in. Or for, you know, being outside in general. They are pricey, at $140, but I looooooove mine so I think they might be worth it.

Bedford Cottage Eskimo Throw

6-eskimo-blanket

Photo from bedfordcottage.com

Perhaps you can tell that it is only 15 degrees here, based on these last three items. Well, I am in love with this faux fur throw, which is currently draped over my legs. It’s super soft and warm, but I also love it because it looks like it belongs on a chaise longue in some fancy catalog and makes me feel like the type of person you might refer to as “stylish” and “put together” and less like the type of person whose living room has seventy five Amazon boxes stacked in one corner and a bright blue toddler-height table with red, green, and yellow chairs in another corner and a giant bear from Costco behind the couch and the detritus of a Doc McStuffins vet station scattered across the hearth and pieces of a menorah puzzle strewn like tiny land mines about the carpet. You can buy it via the link above for $149, which I did not; I got it as a gift. But it’s possibly that you could find it elsewhere for less.

Cuisinart CPK-17 PerfecTemp 1.7-Liter Stainless Steel Cordless Electric Kettle

 

7-tea-kettle

Photo from amazon.com

I drink tea every day, and this water boiler has made it very very very simple. Just fill and press a button. And there are all sorts of temperature variations, so you can set it to the proper temperature for green tea… or black tea… or oolong… or whatever.  My husband – a coffee drinker – uses it too; on weekend for pour-over coffee. I really like that it maintains a specific temperature, too – just in case a toddler suddenly urgently needs you to come help her find proper socks. It cost $73?!?! Sheesh. That seems… excessive. Although it DOES do a nice job. And I really have no concept for how much these things do/should cost. 

Carole Hochman Ladies’ 3 Pair Ribbed Lounge Sock

 

8-costco-socks

Photo from costco.com

I grabbed a three-pack of these socks at Costco the last time we were there (what’s a trip to Costco without grabbing something that you simultaneously NEED URGENTLY and also had no idea you needed/didn’t need at all?) and they are sooooo soft and warm and cozy. They don’t look like much from the picture, but they are cushy and plush and I love them. Also: $5.99.

Laura Mercier Hand Crème Sampler

9-laura-mercier-hand-creme

Photo from amazon.com

Well, crud. I see this is either $51 through Amazon or not available. My husband got it for me last Christmas, and it was a PERFECT stocking stuffer. I wash my hands a bajillion times a day, so they get very dry. And there’s nothing less appealing than that powdery feeling of dry skin – well, I suppose cracked and bleeding finger webs are less appealing. I think it was, at one point, around $30 at Nordstrom. (And, keeping in mind that each of us is comfortable paying certain amounts for certain things and not for others, I find that $30 seems just on the high side of reasonable while $51 has me shaking my head emphatically NO.) I have just in the past month squeezed the very last glob of lotion from the very last sample and I would enjoy getting this again and again each year. Also, if you don’t want to gift someone ALL of the little lotions, you could certainly open up the box and give one sample to multiple people. Including, perhaps, yourself. Of course, all this is MOOT because it No Longer Exists. But I’m sure there are many other good hand lotion sets in the world.

Scrivener

10-scrivener

Photo from literatureandlatte.com

This may be a bit of a niche idea, but as a (would-be/trying-to-be/hopes-to-be) writer, I use this every single day. I never thought that I would like a writing platform more than I do plain old Microsoft Word. But I LOVE Scrivener. It’s very intuitive and user friendly AND it has a very simple tutorial on how to use it, just in case. It makes putting together your novel (or screenplay, I imagine) very simple. No more scrolling down in a long document, or opening multiple documents. You just create a new chapter or chapter-part inside an outline, and then you can move parts and pieces around with the flick of your mouse, OR read your entire manuscript in one flowing document. Plus, it allows you to assign (and customize) keywords to each bit of text, from which characters show up to things you need to research to plot points and dates – which you can then use to help you organize the manuscript in different ways, like, you can see at one glance every chapter featuring your villain. It’s fabulous and it’s only $45 and I love it so. If only it could do the writing for me…

Matymats Grippy Yoga Socks and Stargoods Yoga Gloves 

Photos from amazon.com

I have newly taken on yoga as part of my at-home exercise routine. Which means I have newly discovered that my feet and palms sweat when I do yoga. What can I say. The body is a mysterious wonderland. These socks and gloves help A LOT. No more sliding around while I’m trying to do downward facing dog or a triangle pose or other horrific contortion of limbs that my body is clearly not meant to perform. Both are about $15, but both come with multiple pairs of socks/gloves, which means I can match them to my sports bra. (No.)

 

Good luck with any last-minute shopping you are doing!

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