sunday circular

14 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Purple Pens to Bottle-Opening Belts

Photo: Courtesy of the retailers

We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday Circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trolling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week.

Judy Collins’s favorite purple pens

“I think mine bring me luck,” the singer-songwriter said of this specific shade of Pilot pen. “Purple is a very spiritual color, they say. So these purple pens are with me always.” They’re one of ten things Collins can’t live without, which also include some coffee beans she loves so much that she took them with her on a visit to the Clinton White House — where, after an unfortunate spill, she wound up “on my knees in the middle of the night in the Lincoln Bedroom’s bathroom, cleaning up the coffee off the floor.”

A dusty-blue Bluetooth record player

Record players are a hot gift this year — teen boys, teen girls, and trend forecasters all told us they’re a must-have. This, from our list of gifts for everyone on your list (that you can buy at Urban Outfitters), can play vinyl as well as any digital tunes, and has built-in speakers. All for less than $70.

Some glasses for the SAD days ahead

Not sad like you didn’t get the gift you wanted, SAD like Seasonal Affective Disorder. According to Dr. William Redd, professor at the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, these light-therapy glasses make a worthy alternative to lamps for treating mood changes that come with shorter days. “The light source is adjusted” to account for being so close to eyes, he explains, and unlike with lamps, the glasses mean you don’t need to worry about having a properly sized light shining on you at the correct angle.

Amazon U.K.’s (really good) in-house label

Thanks to our pals at the Strategist U.K., we discovered what may be Amazon’s most understated and elegant (for Amazon) in-house label yet: Find. The drapey clothes, we wrote, “wouldn’t feel out of place at Cos or Theory,” and many, like this sweater, are also available in the U.S. The line also has some surprisingly nice shoes, including $55 Chelsea boots.

A Chris Black-approved bottle opener

When we spoke to beer folk to compile our list of the best gifts for beer lovers, they said a good bottle opener is never a bad idea. Of all the good bottle openers that appear on the list, this is the only one that doubles as a belt — and not just any belt, but one with some big “I played a side stage at Lollapalooza in 1993” energy, according to our Resident Cool Guy.

A (kind of) Chris Black-approved backpack

While Chris may not be a fan of backpacks, he is a fan of camo prints. (See: the belt above.) There’s something a bit more interesting about the abstract, painterly camo of this deeply discounted Herschel Supply backpack, which was one of 16 bags we found on sale at Backcountry last week.

Some (kind of) Kindercore earrings

From another ongoing sale we’ve been watching (namely, Moda Operandi’s up to 50-percent-off “Designer Sale”), the vivid blue and green on these slightly chunky but still delicate earrings feel very much a part of our current Kindercore moment.

A year-in-the-making baking sheet


In this week’s Don’t Dillydally, we called this new cookware offering from Great Jones “actually nice-looking (and giftable).” It’s also, as we noted, “kinda Kindercore!”

A cute little vacuum

Part Toad, part Roomba (though it’s not smart or self-moving), this tabletop vacuum from our list of 35 Secret Santa gifts under $25 just seems like good, clean fun.

A smart little vacuum


“I HAVE NOT VACUUMED FOR A MONTH AND MY HOUSE IS SPOTLESS,” wrote (shouted?) one reviewer after siccing this robot vacuum on their floors. The iLife took the title of “best (less expensive) robot vacuum” on our list of the top-rated models from Amazon. It’s some $60 less than the Roomba we named “best entry-level vacuum,” but the price isn’t the only thing the iLife has on a Roomba. According to another reviewer, “It made it up and over the small ledge between the hallway and bathroom that the ol’ Roomba just wouldn’t or couldn’t.”

A foolproof eyeliner for the trembly

Cursed with unsteady hands, Rio all but gave up on finding a liner to create the perfect winged eye. But “during a recent trip down a Reddit wormhole,” she found rave reviews for Em Cosmetics’ thin brush-tip liner that claimed its “bristles are very flexible and easy to maneuver, and that they make creating a baby wing super easy.” You might guess where this is going. She bought it and “in one use, it turns shaky-handed people like myself into baby-wing experts.”

The ‘unofficial uniform’ for hundreds of flight attendants

“The traveling jumpsuit,” as many of the flight attendants we spoke to call it, first surfaced in a private Facebook group. Now, some 391 own it — seven of whom bought it four times. “Every single body looks amazing in it, and it never wrinkles,” explains one flight attendant we talked to, while another says it “feels like you’re wearing pajamas.”

A sunken bed frame to sleep on

Of the 23 bed frames recommended to us by interior designers, this low acacia-wood number stands out for its simple Craftsman look. RoomLift’s Megan Hersch likes the frame for its “modern aesthetic and strong lines,” and we like that it costs less than $1,000 (which is not totally unreasonable for a statement piece like this).

And a very nice-looking weighted blanket to sleep under

Photo: David Luo

At the top of senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson’s list of the best weighted blankets to gift was this one from Bearaby. Instead of plastic or glass beads for heft, the blanket’s “weight comes entirely from knit layers of sustainable cotton, cooling Tencel, or rich velvet,” giving it the look of your favorite sweater and the feel of “calming, soft pressure,” according to Adelson.

The Strategist is designed to surface the most useful, expert recommendations for things to buy across the vast e-commerce landscape. Some of our latest conquests include the best acne treatments, rolling luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural anxiety remedies, and bath towels. We update links when possible, but note that deals can expire and all prices are subject to change.

14 Things That Delighted Us Last Week on the Strategist