sunday circular

10 Products That Delighted Us Last Week: From Chess Sets to Christmas Cacti

Photo: 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 a grandmaster-approved chess set, a body-moisturizing “stone” with cross-generational appeal, and Entireworld sweatpants (with an exclusive discount).

Entireworld sweatpants (with an exclusive discount)

Beloved by everyone from fashion writers to Strategist staffers to Chris Black, Entireworld’s sweatpants have become sort of an unofficial work-from-home uniform this year. As Black has pointed out, “the Brushed Sweats are available in a range of colors,” any of which — through December 14 — you can get at 20 percent off by using our exclusive code STRATEGISTCOZY. According to yet another fan, Entireworld sweatpants are nice-looking enough to wear outside the house, too: “They have enough structure that I can wear them out for my daily socially distanced walk without feeling like a slob.”

Red steel shelves that will show off (and support) hundreds of books

Photo: retailer

“The industrial shelving unit in a cheery red was hiding amid a sea of steel and black shelves in Wayfair’s ‘Garage Storage and Shelving Units’ department,” Strategist writer Louis Cheslaw says of what has become his most complimented piece of furniture. “Photos showed it holding garbage bags and antifreeze, but its 4,000-pound capacity suggested it could hold plenty of books,” which is exactly what he bought it for after struggling to find nice-looking, affordable bookshelves. Cheslaw bought the Sandusky shelving unit two years ago but says that “even as I’ve gained square footage, friends with drills, and more money for my dream furniture, I have never been interested in replacing it. The unit gets far more remarks from my aesthetically minded friends than any of the more design-y pieces I own, and it remains as sturdy as it was the day I bought it.”

A grandmaster-approved chess set

As Strategist writer Lauren Ro notes, “Thanks to the popularity of Netflix’s The Queen’s Gambit, the game of chess is having a cultural moment not seen since IBM’s Deep Blue computer beat chess world champion Garry Kasparov back in 1997.” If you or someone you know has taken a new interest in the game, Ro spoke to chess players, coaches, grandmasters, and world champions to get their thoughts on the best gifts for folks like themselves. When it comes to chess sets, while you can certainly splurge on ones intricately carved from wood or finer materials, a more affordable plastic tournament set like this would be just as appreciated, according to Irina Krush, the only American woman to hold the title of grandmaster. It contains all the pieces, a board, a storage bag, and a clock, “giving someone everything they need to start playing chess,” she says. “This equipment can be played with at home, on the beach, or in a U.S. Chess Federation–rated tournament.”

The adjustable rolling pin that sold a cookbook author on adjustable rolling pins

Susan Spungen, an acclaimed cookbook author and recipe developer, told our writer Dominique Pariso that this rolling pin is a must-have for Christmas cookie baking. Spungen admitted to Pariso that she used to pooh-pooh adjustable rolling pins as being for only inexperienced bakers, but she became a “convert” after trying Joseph Joseph’s, because it’s “really easy to use and beautiful.” She adds, “You won’t have any unevenness that leads to burnt spots, and all your cookies will bake at the same rate.”

Actually good wall art (that’s being sold for a good cause)

Strategist writer Liza Corsillo recently wrote that, following a massive art sale benefiting Elmhurst Hospital in Queens this spring, “it has become nearly impossible to keep up with all the online art benefits.” This means “there’s a ton of work for sale (which, in more normal times, would have been much more expensive if procured through galleries or private dealers) to support various causes, such as Justice for Black Lives, bail funds, and election campaigns,” she explains. An artist herself, Corsillo combed through all of these artworks to find some of the best, one of which is this print being sold by Diversify Photo, an “online community of more than 800 BIPOC and non-Western photographers working to change the landscape of photography in journalism, fashion, and advertising.” She notes that “half of the proceeds go directly to the artists, and the other half helps to further the organization’s mission.”

A body-moisturizing “stone” with cross-generational appeal

Perhaps, like our writer Chloe Anello, you find that “the act of applying lotion feels so arduous” and you “hate rubbing on cold, gloppy moisturizer right after a hot shower, then feeling pajamas (or worse, jeans) uncomfortably stick to skin.” It’s for these reasons that she never really moisturized her body — until, that is, she got her hands on one of these palm-size stones. “The ingredients are clean and sustainable, full of things like cocoa butter, avocado oil, and coconut oil, plus a mix of essential oils,” she writes. “It’s similar to what I would imagine smearing a hunk of butter all over my body might feel like, and it practically melts into my skin — and absorbs quickly, too.” Raised by a mother with the same body-lotion qualms as she, Anello gifted her mom a stone after falling for hers. “She loved the body stone so much,” Anello writes, “she suggested we buy it for her mom — my nana — for her 88th birthday. When I saw my grandmother a week after she received it, she too raved about the stone, telling me it works just as well on her considerably dry skin as the dermatologist-recommended moisturizers she has used for years.”

An (easy to care for) houseplant that thrives in winter

When you’re looking for a new plant friend to cheer up a loved one or yourself during the drab winter months, some species will do better than others as the days get shorter and colder. One such species is the Schlumbergera (or Christmas) cactus, which experts told our senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson actually blooms in winter, usually between November and January. “The buds look like ornaments, and the flowers are these gem-colored fluffy bells,” says one pro, with another calling it “a favorite nontoxic option” — meaning it’s pet-safe — “that prefers protection from intense sunlight, and that’s exactly what we get in winter.”

An artist-made candle that doubles as a blank canvas

In the latest “Don’t Dillydally,” we wrote about how “Nomad Noé, a maker of chic-looking candles, has partnered with artist Shantell Martin on a Whitney Museum exclusive aptly named the Line Light.” The candle smells of oud, gardenia, musk, and neroli, but its vessel is what really sets it apart. “Essentially a blank porcelain canvas,” we wrote, it comes with a fine-tip marker “for you to draw on the candle and create artwork that will glow every time you light it.”

The sneakers Kyle MacLachlan bought on a tip from Don Johnson

“I was with Don Johnson and his wife, Kelley, a few summers back, and I commented on how much I liked his shoes. So he told me more about them, and I got a pair — but I also ordered a couple of other pairs from the brand, including these slip-ons,” says the actor and vintner, who told us the slip-ons are one thing he can’t live without. “I’ve been really happy with them: They’re not expensive, they still look decent after a year of wear, and next year I plan to use them when I’m gardening.”

And a delicate fork for eating tinned fish

Photo: retailer

“There’s an art to consuming fish out of a can with grace and dignity, which is why I always have some go-to accoutrement — from serving forks to condiments to crackers — to enjoy it with,” writes contributor Caroline Goldfarb, the co-founder of the new tinned-fish company Fishwife and the brain behind Instagram’s @OfficialSeanPenn account. A canapé (or oyster) fork is chief among them, she writes, because “a regular-size fork will overwhelm the diminutive aluminum vessel, and you’ll run a risk of shredding up the delicate fish flesh that awaits inside.” One of the minimalist canapé forks from Crate & Barrel’s Caesna line (a favorite of our editor Alexis Swerdloff), however, “lets you move through the can and dig into corners with deftness, ease, and precision,” writes Goldfarb, who promises that you’ll be able to “remove pieces of fish or full sardines beautifully, leaving the latter’s gorgeous little bodies intact.”

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.

10 Products That Delighted Us Last Week on the Strategist