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Today I’ll be making a ton of product recommendations. If you’re more in the mood for an essay, my first piece for The New York Times was published last week. It’s (ironically) about trends and our evolving relationship with consumption. Anyway here’s a bunch of consumer goods…
36 things you can buy
Since March 2020 I’ve developed an unprecedented fondness for my stuff. This feels sacrilegious in a lot of respects. I’d like to be the sort of person who would only needs a backpack of essentials. But being home so much—first because of the pandemic, then because I work from home, and finally because my cat needs medicine three times a day—has raised the stakes of my own materialism. I care a lot more about the quality, usefulness, and longevity of my stuff than I ever have. As a result, I love it more. I try to convince myself this makes me a better consumer, and maybe it does, but it’d be false to claim it’s moral. I just have more money now.
This isn’t really a gift guide. I will not receive any affiliate kickback if you buy things nor would they all make good gifts (lol). It’s merely a list of items I’ve grown existentially attached to over the years—sometimes because they markedly improved my life (massage gun, heating pad), other times because they’re so superior to previous versions I’ve owned (t-shirt, sauce pan) that I feel indebted to them in some way. In my former life as an editor, I became highly cynical about online recommendations, which is why I’ve tried to follow my own rule of only including things I’ve owned and loved for a long time. New stuff is too shiny, too unmarked by time and familiarity to be endorsed honestly.
This list only includes things that are currently purchasable because I couldn’t think of why it would be useful to include things that weren’t. I saved my favorite section (Tools, etc.) for the end. That’s where all the best stuff is!
I got a ton of free sheet sets when I was an editor—first for a story I was working on about testing different bedding brands, and then (comically) because I’d written a story about bedding. Brooklinen’s percale sheets were already my favorite from the start, but they’ve gotten so much softer over time it’s almost shocking. These are simply The Best Sheets.
Suay LA linen throw pillows, $70 each
I hated all throw pillows until I found these thanks to a reader recommendation. I love how they look and, unlike most throw pillows, they are extremely comfortable to lay on. My tip is to not just pick your favorite colors but colors that look interesting together. Is that obvious? For example I don’t love the desaturated potter’s clay pillow in isolation but I love how it looks contrasted next to the super bright cerulean one.
I was given a square set in orange (looks like red) five years ago at a press event. When I moved into my new apartment in April I bought two more sets (orange and turmeric circles). Placing my drinks on them just makes me feel good. Coasters feel good!
MOMA two-way side-table, $195
I have the yellow version, which looks more amber in real life than in the photo. We mostly use it vertically over the couch in the office, but I love that we can flip it to make a mini coffee table when needed. It’s perfect for small rooms that need to be flexible.
Bed, Bath & Beyond stacking stools, $140 for 4
These are a blatant Aalto rip-off, sorry (IKEA sells a version too). We bought them for our dining table to save space (they can slide fully underneath when not in use), and when Bed, Bath & Beyond accidentally sent us two sets after a months-long delay, I discovered how useful it is to have extra little stools around: for stepping on or holding things like plants, with the added benefit of extra seating when we need it.
These are my favorite art prints hanging in my house. I never get bored of them. I ordered custom wooden frames for both from American Frame.
GIR silicone straws, $20 for 10
My water routine: procure 1 plastic quart container from stack in cupboard (saved from takeout orders), fill to the brim with ice water, pick straw color based on mood, drink. These are the best reusable straws I’ve ever come across.
I’ve never spent money on a pan. I did not see the point until I got this one. The downside is it’s very heavy, but it’s in perfect condition after years of use.
The perfect hearty tupperware. Extremely satisfying seal. Great shapes. Very stackable.
I was gifted this knife by Food 52 in the beginning of the pandemic and it is in my estimation the perfect chef’s knife. It is far better than anything else we own or have ever owned and Avi and I fight over it whenever we’re both chopping.
Our Place drinking glasses in Sunset, $40 for 4
I have my reservations about the infamous Our Place pan, but I don’t have a single one about these glasses. They are the perfect color, size, and weight, and whenever I use one it instantly improves my mood.
Awesome Drinks coupe set, $17 for 4
Quite simply the perfect coupes. And from Awesome Drinks no less!
Not exactly a home good but I didn’t have enough care products for its own section. I’ve linked this shampoo before. I’ve used it for years.
Two more hair products: Avi and I both have thick/coarse/wavy hair that we air-dry, so we both use this on our wet hair to help it dry more softly/smoothly. It smells perfect (like a hair salon).
I’ve been loyal to this stuff for years. I use it on dry hair that’s looking brittle or frizzy (it’s a good second step to dry shampoo to return some shine). It smells so good I want to eat it.
Clothes & shoes
Uniqlo U t-shirts are famously heavy, which means they fall nice and look expensive. I want all my clothes to be heavy!
Comfortable, sturdy boots that are utilitarian but look slick in all black.
G.H. Bass Weejun loafers, $135
Classic black loafers. Comfortable for hours of walking.
I love Uniqlo mens socks for everyday wear. They are medium thickness—slightly too hot for the summer but good the rest of the year. I have them in every neutral color and have worn them for years.
These socks are thinner—probably too thin for deep winter but good the rest of the year. They come in so many good colors, which is what initially drew me in. It’s also hard to find a good crew sock shape (all I wear), and these are my ideal.
The only pair of sunglasses I’ve bought in years. I love them.
Both of these sweaters were gifts from my time as an editor. When I looked up the price of the Wol Hide one I was genuinely shocked and almost didn’t include it, but it’s superior to any sweater I’ve ever touched or worn so I’m including it for posterity in case any rich people read this. (Mine is cream but I don’t see that color any more.) The Alex Mill sweater is also a really great one, and not cheap either. I’m grouping them because I think they scratch a similar itch. Good sweaters are hard to find and I’m sorry these are so expensive!
Rudy Jude Utility Jeans, $240
Rudy Jude is a small brand that releases their items in drops, meaning you can’t buy these now but will likely be able to in the future. This brand is very hyped, which annoys me, but I have to say these jeans are wildly better (in quality, fit, and feel) than any jeans I’ve ever owned. I genuinely feel like I got my money’s worth and will wear them for years.
If you take nothing else away from this list but this tape, I will be satisfied. This is the most useful product I’ve ever purchased. It is not really tape—more like a thick roll of gummy adhesive that you can cut to size. It is so heavy duty you can literally hang shelves with it. I use it for everything!
Mini foam roller, $30
I roll on this every single day, especially along my upper back. It’s great if you work from home and are very familiar with hunching.
Govee color-changing light bulbs, $14 each
I’m not sure anything has done more for my enjoyment of my own home than getting color-changing light bulbs. I don’t do anything wild but setting them to dusky orange or pink in the evening transforms my whole apartment.
Have this on my bedside table and regularly appreciate it. It’s very nice to simply set your phone down at night.
I microwave this thing for 90 seconds whenever I have cramps, cold feet, or am getting into a cold bed. It’s so cozy and it smells good. It’s hideous but otherwise perfect. We have two so we don’t fight over it.
Dyson V7 Motorhead, $270
The item I’m saving in a fire. This vacuum, a birthday gift from my family after I moved into my first solo apartment, changed my whole life. It made me love vacuuming.
Mr. Clean Magic Erasors, $38 for 8
An actually magical product. I don’t understand how they work but they make a mockery of all other cleaning products. I never clean a bathtub without one!!!
This is moreso a recommendation if you already have an iPad. When Avi and I got an iPad in the beginning of the pandemic, I assumed we’d use it mostly for reading and writing, but we use it almost exclusively to draw, and we make art on it almost every day. (We also use a textured Bersem screen protector to give the slippery screen a “paper-feel.”)
Canon PIXMA Printer, $230
This printer is so small and sleek it fits in a drawer, which is perfect because we only use it about four times a year. But it’s so nice to actually have a printer when you need one. We found it for $150 but now I don’t see it anywhere for that price. :(
Triggerpoint cane, $22
A.k.a. the crick stick. It hangs over the arm of the couch at all times so whoever needs it can gauge the muscles in their own back as needed.
Hyperice Hypervolt, $250
When the crick stick isn’t cutting it: This is a massage device for tight and sore muscles. This thing should be illegal. There is a running joke among my friends that everyone think it’s stupid and expensive until they try it and then they’re immediately running the numbers to see if they can afford one. It is incredible and I’m sorry it’s so expensive.
The New York Times Cooking subscription, $5/month
I actually just use Avi’s subscription, but it’s by far the most useful subscription we have. The app is well-designed and full of so many good recipes you can save and sort into folders. I also love Bon Appetit and Smitten Kitchen, but the NYT Cooking App is my favorite recipe source because of the app.
Low-key banger. These come in handy when I least expect it.
Regardless of where you’re at I hope you found something useful. I don’t feel at all that my love for these things increases by the price!
And finally, as a counterpart to this list, I’ll be having the psychologist Barry Schwartz on the podcast this week. He’s the author of The Paradox of Choice, and his work directly concerns the consumer relationship to choice, especially how we feel our choices as consumers impact our identity. A good self-troll for me I think. I loved interviewing him for my piece in the Times and was so happy when he agreed to speak again for the Maybe Baby podcast. Episode drops Tuesday at 9 a.m.
Thanks for reading this week!
p.s. Can’t imagine you’re hungry for more recommendations, but my list of article/book/movie/show recs goes out every Friday at 12 p.m. to my paying subscribers. Here’s last week’s!
This month a portion of subscriber proceeds will be redistributed to Labor Notes, “a media and organizing project that has been the voice of union activists who want to put the movement back in the labor movement since 1979.”