sunday circular

9 Products That Delighted Us Last Week: From Plant Poles to Cat Toys

Photo-Illustration: 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, including surfer Kelly Slater’s go-to protein powder, some Baggies-like lounge pants, and a Black-made shea butter.

Some surprisingly stylish (Amazon) sunglasses

“Over Labor Day weekend, my sister and sister-in-law were both wearing these incredibly slim but very attractive sunglasses that slide into a practically flat case,” Strategist junior writer Chloe Anello says of these Nooz shades from Amazon, which are just one of almost two-dozen under-$100 pairs she dug up in talking to cool people. “Because they’re so thin and screwless, they feel weightless while wearing them without giving the impression that they could snap at any second.” If you’re waiting for the bit about how their sleek shape and clever design makes these an investment, don’t hold your breath: At just $60, they’re rather affordable for frames that could pass for Oliver Peoples — and “the lenses are polarized” to boot.

The super-strong strips one family uses to reseal ‘literally everything’

“Before Gripstics, we always used traditional chip clips to keep things fresh — or, to be more accurate, kind of fresh,” writes contributor Sarah Hallam. Her (and everyone’s) big problem with chip clips? “No matter how tight you try to roll the bag, you never get an airtight seal — and they’re even more worthless in the freezer.” But, Hallam promises, “Gripstics are different. They’re more like zippers. To use them, you make a single fold in the bag, then slide the straw across the top. It automatically pinches down tight, forming what is essentially a new factory seal.” And that factory seal doesn’t just better preserve snacks: Hallam says she’s used her Gripstics on everything from potting soil to gooey face masks to pet food to, of course, “nearly all the stuff in our freezer.”

A modern twist on an old-school plant display

Strategist writer Liza Corsillo recently took a trip back in time to help a reader looking for a plant pole like the one their “mom had in the house growing up.” Plant poles, notes Corsillo, “were so popular back in the ’60s and ’70s, and like everything in the ’60s and ’70s (except for plastic couch covers), they’re kind of sexy, alluding to another type of pole without actually going that far.” These days, though, they can be harder to come by — except, of course, if you know where to look. Of the nine options Corsillo uncovered, which include full-size vintage plant poles that stand from floor to ceiling, this hybrid pole-stand is a nifty way to get the look with little fuss. It “makes great use of vertical space,” she notes, “leaving counters, desks, tables, and windowsills free (to hold even more plants?). It’s 55 inches tall and comes with three four-inch removable planters that can be rotated and positioned around the center pole.”

Surfer Kelly Slater’s go-to protein powder

“I use it pretty much every day for smoothies,” the athlete says of the protein powder he can’t live without. “I’m a chocolate and bananas kind of guy.” Slater adds that he’s “been using this for years. The protein gives me a little bit of energy and if you’re working out, obviously, it’s good for building muscle. Organic products are also really important to me; the more unprocessed and pure you go, the more you’re avoiding potential health hazards.”

Some Baggies-like lounge pants

Photo: retailer

When checking in on a menswear forum he regularly visits, writer Louis Cheslaw saw a member pose a question that, honestly, lots of us have been asking ourselves: “Been living in Baggies all summer,” it began. “What’s a decent fall/winter pant that I can still throw a blue button-down and some loafers on with?” To find options at all price points, Cheslaw reached out to a dozen cool people about what “kind-of-smart, kind-of-slouchy plants they plan to trade for their summer shorts.” This not-too-expensive pair comes suggested by creative director Salomon Thiombiano, who told Cheslaw he recently bought the “earthy tone” pants for his fall wardrobe. “The fabric softly wraps around your body, giving you a warm yet comfortable feeling,” Thiombiano says of the pants, adding that he thinks their fabric “offers a balance between comfort and practicality.”

Brooklinen sheets for babies…

“The cozy continues with this line of baby bedding from one of our favorite purveyors of soft sheets,” we write of Brooklinen’s new swaddle set in Don’t Dillydally. While we can’t “guarantee they’ll make your baby fall asleep (sometimes nothing will),” we do think they’ll make for something nicer to look at while you’re waiting for the little one to conk out.

… and a Pendleton quilt for full-size humans

If, like Strategist writer Lauren Ro, you’ve watched quilts go from “dusty family heirloom to something of a coveted item” and now want one of your own, you might be wondering where to start. Vintage or new? Functional (like for a bed) or fashionable (like as wall art) or both? To uncover options that tick all these boxes, Ro spoke to lots of design-minded people about the best quilts you can buy right now — and the history of quilting in Black and other communities that has inspired today’s batch. From the maker of some of our favorite wool blankets, this Pendleton quilt inspired by its namesake park’s red-rock formations comes recommended by a producer at Curbed, who told us, “I like what the brand is doing with modernizing traditional designs and tweaking the colors.”

A cat toy that leans into cats’ favorite toys

“As cat owners know,” says our senior writer (and cat mom) Karen Iorio Adelson, “if you spend a significant amount of money on a cat toy, your cat will likely prefer playing with the cardboard box it came in.” That’s why she calls this treat maze “pretty ingenious”: Because it basically makes a cardboard box the actual toy. The puzzle, she explains, is “split into three interior sections with some holes cut out,” adding “the different colored divisions make the maze more challenging. Drop a treat in the ‘beginner’ green section and your cat can either fish it out from three large holes on top or knock it out of a big slot on the base. In the ‘intermediate’ purple section, there are smaller openings higher up on the box so your cat has to drag treats along the side, and in the ‘top cat’ yellow third section, the holes are even smaller.” Adelson says this will keep her cat Lovey occupied “for a few hours” and notes that, even though it’s cardboard, “the box is surprisingly durable; along with holding her weight, it stands up well to being scratched at and bitten.”

And a Black-made shea butter

Contributor Elisa Johnson, who has been telling us about the favorite products she’s discovered over her lifetime of supporting Black-owned businesses and Black makers, pointed us to this shea butter, which is one of several products she relies on for self-care. (“For me,” she writes, self-care “means setting aside time each and every day for self-nourishing routines, whether that’s reading an affirming book to raise my spirits, taking a few extra minutes to let my hair or skin absorb a restorative mask or oil, exercising in the morning to prepare my body for the day ahead, or just putting on some makeup to feel pretty.”) The butter, Johnson notes, is formulated with “avocado and sweet almond oil as well as Ghanian baobab and Egyptian jojoba oils,” adding that although “you might think those oils would make it fragrant, it’s actually unscented (making it great for more sensitive skin).” While “you can use it all over your body,” Johnson says “I really like it as a hand cream — something that’s earned new importance in my self-care regimen, given all the hand-washing we’ve all been doing.”

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.

9 Products That Delighted Us Last Week on the Strategist