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.
The novel a small-bookstore owner is escaping in right now
As we wrote last week, “one upside to our newfound downtime in this period of social distancing is that we all have more time to read.” To help you (and ourselves) find new books to distract us from the 24-hour news cycle, we turned to the staff at one of our favorite local stores, McNally Jackson (which set up a fund to support its employees’ living costs after temporarily shuttering its locations due to the viral pandemic). This pick comes from shop owner Sarah McNally herself: “This novella takes place over a week in Northumberland and is narrated by a 17-year-old girl. Her family joins a professor and three students to live off the land in a rough approximation of the Britons of the Iron Age. The tension builds, undercurrents of abuse rise ever closer to the surface. It’s a little funny and very sad, and it transports the reader to the British bogs and beaches and to the life of hunting and gathering.”
A soothing puzzle for these unsettling times
Another of our favorite distractions for these (and any other) days is a good puzzle, so we recently polled some cool people about the ones they’re putting together right now. This Areaware one came recommended by Books Are Magic bookseller and puzzle obsessive Margaret Myers, who does note that its calming-to-look-at ombré design makes it more challenging (but with time to kill, that may not be a bad thing). “They’re very hard and fun,” she says, as well as framable (when complete), we think.
An at-a-glance calendar to bring order to days spent working (and living) at home
For many of us, the reality of working from home means working from the home you also live in with roommates, a situation that Strategist intern Kayla Levy is quite familiar with (she has four). From her guide to working from home with roommates (for which Levy spoke to other folks who have set-ups similar to hers) comes this month-at-a-glance schedule notebook from Muji, which crises-services worker Lena Beckett and her two other roommates use to “coordinate chores because they need to happen much more frequently now.”
The WFH power suit?
Last week, columnist Chris Black and his friends behind Instagram’s timely new account @WFHFits directed readers to several work-appropriate outfits for when your office might also be your couch. One such outfit, according to the @WFHFits braintrust, is “a matching tracksuit by Adidas — comfort and chic for you are the highest priorities.” For more comfy-chic options, check out our staffers’ odes to their favorite work-from-home “Shiv Roy” pants, leggings, and tank tops (that double as yoga tops).
Rio’s new favorite cream to soothe constantly washed hands
“The reality is, most of us don’t normally wash our hands this frequently — and even if you don’t suffer from eczema or psoriasis like I do, this level of cleanliness can be pretty irritating on the skin,” our columnist says about one often-painful reality of proper personal hygiene. Following a deep dive into “one of Reddit’s eczema forums, I decided on bottle of Gold Bond’s $4 Eczema Relief Cream,” she writes. “After two days of consistent use (I put it on two to three times a day), dry patches were completely gone. I attribute this to the cream’s formula: It is comprised of oatmeal (which calms the skin and prevents itchiness), aloe vera (for soothing and hydrating), and vitamin E (which helps build the skin’s protective barrier and lock in moisture).”
A Le Creuset skillet on sale for $100
In a recent Micro Sale, we noted that this “durable” skillet from one of our favorite heritage cookware brands will come in handy for all the home cooking ahead. And, like the other Le Creuset pots and pans we (and our parents) own, if properly cared for, it will remain a workhorse in your kitchen for decades of happier times to come.
A collapsible foam roller for stretching sedentary muscles
If being cooped up is taking a toll on your body, stretching can be a simple way to alleviate that. In talking to experts about the best tools you can use to become more flexible, many recommend prepping your muscles with a foam roller. “One thing that massage-type tools can do relatively easily is improve the circulation of blood to the muscles,” says Alain Saint-Dic, the head of training and development at Stretch Relief. “This helps to get them warm, often leading to an overall better stretch.” While the pros told us about less expensive foam rollers, we think this one recommended by Stretch*d co-founder and COO Vanessa Chu is particularly suited for stretching at home, because it collapses down for easy storage.
Board games that look like old books
“You’re probably thinking about stocking up on board games right now (among other things),” begins contributor Rachel Davies’s ode to these nifty, space-saving games. “At first glance, they appear to be smart hardback classics you might see in an old library. But when you open the cover, you’ll find a nostalgic board game hidden neatly in there.” She adds that, “the clever design makes for easy storage,” and that “unlike the Candy Lands and Monopolys I grew up with, these versions are thoughtfully designed and beautifully illustrated, making the experience feel less like I’m babysitting a preschooler and more like I’m playing a parlor game with my very elegant friends.”
A Dalí-designed tarot deck
While many of us might not want to peer at what the future may hold, those who do should consider this “beautiful, not-so-useful object that you will treasure,” according to writer Amanda Fortini, who recommended this tarot deck based on Salvador Dalí’s tarot cards commissioned for the James Bond film Live and Let Die for our list of the best 40th birthday gifts. She calls them “equal parts trippy and spooky,” adding that they “come in a purple felt box” you’ll want to leave out on display. (Currently available for pre-order, the cards will ship in April 2020, according to Taschen.)
And a pouch that reminded us this, too, shall pass
There is something about reading prop stylist Stephanie Yeh’s ode to her trusty tool (and toiletry) pouch that reminded us of the normal lives we may have temporarily lost, but, we hope, will return soon enough. “Prop stylists are required to completely transform the ordinary into the spectacular — to create a mermaid tail out of everyday objects, say, or build gravity-defying stacks of cosmetics. Which is where the Klein bags come in handy. They have a wide, 12.5-inch opening that can fit most anything we need,” she told us, noting that, in addition to tools, sometimes, those things are extra pairs of socks, lip balms, or hand sanitizer.
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.