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 the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including sheepskin covers for cane chairs, a discounted set of our favorite linen sheets, and a virtual Valentine’s Day trip to Italy.
A (virtual) Valentine’s Day trip to Italy
Today is Valentine’s Day, so it’s officially too late to ship your loved one a bouquet of farm-fresh flowers or box of chocolates that will arrive on time — but you can still gift them a virtual experience to make the most of the day, like this pasta-making class taught by an actual Italian grandmother. (Just remember to pick up the ingredients for the dish that you choose.)
A motivational water bottle for new moms
Registries are often wasted on soon-to-be-parents, because it’s hard to know what products will be essential until after your child is born — so our new series asks tasteful people the very simple question, “If you could do your baby registry all over again, what top the list?” Jovian Zayne gave birth to her daughter Jorgie just over a year ago and found the Diaper Genie to be nonessential, because “once the poop gets real, it doesn’t make a difference.” But this motivational water bottle was a must-have, especially while nursing: “Before the baby I used to set alarms to remind me to drink water, but I’m not trying to do that anymore; I don’t have time. This water bottle is just fun; every time I was pumping or nursing I would try to get to at least the next line down.”
An unkillable bonsai grow kit
Like many of us who were looking for a hobby once coronavirus hit, writer and Strategist contributor Daniel Modlin and his partner became plant parents during quarantine but found that “within a week, maybe two, it’s always the same result: They all keel over and die.” That is until they were gifted this terra-cotta bonsai grow set from Modern Sprout, which is easy to set up and comes complete with a self-watering reservoir. “The only maintenance required is checking the soil every four days to see if it’s dry. When it is, you just fill the reservoir,” he explains, adding that even if that fails, it’s okay: “After we forgot to water our bonsai for weeks (we both assumed the other was checking), all it took to revive the tree was adding some water.” In fact, his efforts have been so successful that he’s “excited to try out one of the company’s edible herb growing kits next.”
Status-y (garlic) olive oil
We’re not-so-secret fans of Brightland’s good olive oil and fancy vinegars, which is a favorite of chefs and food enthusiasts alike (and even makes one of our most-stood-behind gifts). So we were excited to hear that Brightland launched a new zesty garlic olive oil this week, that we think will sell out quickly. And, in lieu of their usual bottle art, Brightland collaborated with Los Angeles-based artist Lilian Martinez on this limited-edition design, which is beautiful enough to be “equal parts collector’s item and pantry staple.”
Comfortable cane chair covers
Last month, Strategist writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell fell victim to the siren song of the cane chair, a “beautiful and timeless” piece of furniture that she quickly realized is “downright unpleasant” to sit in all day long (as a WFH desk chair, for example). Since her chairs were causing her agony, but “far too beautiful to return,” Jenna set out to find an aesthetically pleasing and comfortable cane chair cushion. This tight-pile sheepskin that’s “more shearling than shag” feels soft, looks classic, and “It doesn’t need to be dry-cleaned: You can just wash it by hand with wool-friendly detergent.”
A Bridgerton-esque bustier available in up to size 3XL
When writer Dominique Pariso spoke with stylish women to find the best plus-size lingerie, one name came up over and over: Rihanna. After all, “Everyone in the plus-size community loves a good Savage x Fenty piece,” says model, writer, and actor Abriana Soll. And this little mint and daisy-printed set is “the Bridgerton-slash-Marie Antoinette bustier of our dreams in up to a size 3XL.” Plus-size fashion expert and model Alysse Dalessandro Santiago is another fan, telling us that the set “gives me ditzy ’90s vibes,” in case that’s more your style.
The earring that Shannon Maldonado has worn for eight years
That headline’s not an exaggeration. “I’ve had this in my ear for at least seven or eight years,” says Shannon Maldonado, the founder of Philadelphia’s interior-design studio and store Yowie, of this gold thread earring that appeared on her list of things she can’t live without. “It looks like it’s part of me. I almost never take it out. It’s a really simple, elegant earring. I always get complimented on it and I feel like it’s timeless.”
Heritage-brand athletic tees for a hard-to-please man
One of the first things writer Liza Corsillo noticed about her now-fiancé was his arms: “He was wearing a black T-shirt, and the sleeves fell in a way that perfectly framed his sculpted-but-not-too-sculpted biceps,” she says. And after they started dating, she found out that he really only wears one type of t-shirt: this Russell Athletic tee, from the brand that invented the classic cotton crew neck sweatshirt). They’re “thicker than a lot of men’s T-shirts, with a boxy fit,” that “lands at the waistband of Jacob’s jeans and, though they’re not oversized, they hold their shape rather than molding to his body.” But best of all, Jacob loves the tee, and Liza counts shopping with him for it at Modell’s as among their most romantic evenings ever: “Seriously. Flowers and hand-holding are great, but for me, there is nothing sexier than shopping for clothes with a man who knows exactly what he wants.”
Our favorite, pretty vibrator (that also remedies period pain)
There’s lots of expert-recommended, over-the-counter ways to relieve period pain, like ibuprofen or hot-water bottles or herbal supplements, but masturbation is one of the more unexpected ones we learned about this week. “Orgasm leads to a release of oxytocin, which can lower stress and anxiety, and provide pain relief from cramping or headaches. It can even lead to better sleep through a kind of a sedation effect as the oxytocin leaves the system,” explains Devon Klauck, the lead nurse practitioner at women’s health clinic Tia. And if you need some help getting off, Klauck especially likes this Strategist-approved vibrator from Maude because it’s “portable, pretty, and has a long battery life.”
And our favorite linen sheets (at a discount)
Tomorrow is President’s Day, and if you’re looking for something to do with your time off work, we’d suggest shopping the best Presidents’ Day sales — including Brooklinen’s sitewide 15 percent off sale, which goes through February 17. The bedding brand — which is also the purveyor of “luxurious” terry-cloth towels, and cool-person-approved loungewear — makes some of our all time favorite linen sheets, which former Strategist senior writer Lauren Levy says “made me fall in love with linen sheets. They’re so light, it’s almost like you don’t feel them. They just brush against you when you sleep,” like “an angel’s kiss.”
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.