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, including a subscription that regularly delivers our favorite pencils, an ergonomic (folding) desk chair, and the nicest weighted blanket we’ve ever seen.
A reusable doodad that (safely) removes earwax
Plagued with earwax buildup that would occasionally give her bouts of vertigo, contributor Ashlea Halpern long used Q-tips but was always “haunted by the Girls episode in which Hannah gets a cotton swab lodged in her ear (you know the one).” So, she writes, “when I stumbled across this alternative, I leapt at the chance to check it out.” The earwax cleaner “is a four-inch plastic pick that comes with 16 removable spiral tips made of soft, bendy silicone. They’re designed to slip seamlessly into the ear (up to a point!) and grip the earwax in its place instead of pushing it deeper into the canal,” she writes. And, according to her, it works. “I attached a tip, slid it into my ear as far as it’d go (not even a full inch), and started twisting. Round and round, slowly but surely, suctioning inside the canal and making a satisfying pop! sound when pulled out. The sensation reminded me of ear candling, except I didn’t have to worry about catching my hair on fire. And unlike Q-tips, which get tossed in the trash after each use, I was able to wash the spiral pick with soap and water and return it to its case.”
The nicest weighted blanket we’ve ever seen
Rarely do we like to repeat ourselves, but we really said all there is to say about this cool-looking twist on a favorite weighted blanket in last week’s Don’t Dillydally. “A stress relief combination you didn’t know you needed: Bearaby’s beloved (and cooling) weighted blanket in summery ombré hues (Watermelon Dreams! Blueberry Nights! Mango Siesta!), sold with an assorted six-pack of The Hyppo’s gourmet popsicles in those same flavors.
An ergonomic (folding) desk chair
A reader recently came to us with a conundrum: As they put it, “I am working from home for the foreseeable future (forever?) and I will soon have a hunchback if I don’t find” an ergonomic chair — but that chair, they say, must also be foldable, because they do not have a ton of space for bulky furniture. To help, our writer Dominique Pariso went back to some of the doctors she’s consulted about the best ergonomic chairs, and the pros told her about more than a couple of chairs with ergonomic designs that can also fold up in some way. While sold as a set of two, at just more than $110 a piece, these chairs with flip-up seats are the most affordable of the bunch. They “have a lot of positives,” says the chiropractor who recommends them, “especially good lumbar support.”
A dupe for the lamp that started our current (toad)stool boom
“Earlier this year, the Murano mushroom lamp began sprouting up on my Instagram feed, not unlike the way a patch of wild mushrooms would,” begins contributor Sydney Gore’s investigation into why fungi have taken over her social-media feeds, medicine cabinet, and closet over the past months. Between the popularity of the Murano lamp, the pandemic-led boost of a “cottagecore” trend (which Gore says is “an aesthetic that I’d describe as mushroom-foraging woodland nymph in a nap dress”), and an ever-steady presence in popular culture (which she notes “can be traced all the way back to Eastern European and Scandinavian folklore”), the mushroom, Gore writes, has found a new moment, appearing in wellness potions, high-fashion collections, and, of course, lots of décor. To those looking for a way to get in on the trend who “can’t get their hands on a Murano,” Gore says this dupe of the lamp “will do.”
A camera to help teachers teach better remotely
“I found it really helpful to be able to switch back and forth between my computer camera and the document camera, especially when doing a read-aloud to show pictures,” says one educator of this gadget, which comes recommended by two teachers as one of the best things in their remote-learning arsenal. In speaking to them about it, Strategist writer Liza Corsillo learned that the “little camera acts as an overhead projector, clearly filming anything you plop down beneath it,” like a textbook, “in real time.” She adds: “This one has a high-definition lens that captures live images, an LED light for clarity, and a built-in microphone so your students can hear you better.”
A box to make you smile when you’re sniffly
Reaching for a tissue is rarely an act of joy, which is why cheerful tissue-box covers exist. But for every cool one, there are dozens of cheesy styles. Helping a reader who asked for “one that’s tasteful, easy to utilize, and makes the refilling process fuss-free,” Strategist junior writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell found 14 options, including this happy tissue-box cover from Dusen Dusen. It’s “as easy to use as they come,” she writes. “There is no fussy trapdoor at the bottom, and it fits right over a standard box of tissues, instantly elevating your bathroom or bedroom with a pop of color.”
A year’s worth of our favorite pencils, delivered to your front door
Just like pens, all pencils are not created equal. While we’ve heard from writers, editors, illustrators, and other pencil people about why Blackwing pencils are the best, what we only recently learned is that the brand offers a truly unique subscription service that’ll set recipients up with a year’s worth of their writing utensils at a not-unreasonable price. Artist George Corsillo (yes, Liza’s dad) told our writer Louis Cheslaw that Blackwing’s annual subscription would make for a most unexpected and delightful 60th-birthday gift, explaining that it sends “a box of 12 limited-edition pencils — what Blackwing calls ‘Volumes’ — every three months.” The pencils, he adds, are “inspired by everything from Bauhaus to musician Ravi Shankar,” and each delivery includes “a special pencil, sealed in a clear tube and dated, for their permanent collection.”
An expert-recommended e-bike for beginners
“Although you still pedal an e-bike,” writes contributor Sal Vaglica, “it has a motor for help when you need it — like your very own extra set of superstrong, never-tired legs to pedal right along with you.” The uptick in biking during the pandemic has in turn led to an uptick in e-biking, and, for those curious about trying a motorized two-wheeler, Vaglica talked to several experts about the e-bikes they recommend. Based on their wisdom, he says this one, from popular bike brand Trek, is great for beginners taking shorter rides or commutes: “The frame’s low bar allows riders to easily step off and steady themselves, and the nearly one-inch-wide, puncture-resistant tires provide stability on all sorts of surfaces. Plus, this bike comes with important safety features, like front and rear lights and a full fender set to keep you dry on wet roads. You’ll hit speeds up to 20 miles per hour over nine gears, while the suspension in the seat post helps smooth out bumps.”
And the hand soap that led one Strategist editor to retire Mrs. Meyer’s
It could be said that if we learn nothing else from this pandemic, we at least will exit it with an encyclopedic knowledge of hand soaps — simply because it’s impossible not to think about the product as we wash our hands again and again (and again). While doing just that in a Canadian Airbnb rental she booked before moving into a new home up north, our newsletter editor Mia Leimkuhler fell in love with the brand of Canadian hand soaps her digs were appointed with. “Those, like me, who always need to hit freshly scrubbed hands with some soothing lotion afterward, will appreciate what I think is my new favorite soap’s biggest draw: I haven’t once had to follow a wash with any lotion in the month or so since I’ve been using it,” she writes. But that’s not the only appeal of Attitude’s line of body and cleaning products. “Every product it makes is vegan, cruelty-free, and hypoallergenic. All are biodegradable, and Attitude’s packaging is Ecologo-certified for its reduced environmental impact. Additionally, all of its body products are verified by the Environmental Working Group, which means the EWG has declared they are free of toxic or potentially harmful ingredients. What’s more, for every product purchased from Attitude or ‘in a participating store,’ the brand promises to plant a tree,” Leimkuhler writes. “Which is why, between its product offerings, reasonable prices, and ethos, Attitude sort of reminds me of Mrs. Meyer’s — if Mrs. Meyer hailed from the True North and was more concerned with deforestation.”
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.