sunday circular

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Play Tents to Pizza Bites

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 trawling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including a retro tenth-anniversary gift, the “most elegant” hot sauce LeVar Burton has eaten, and sweatproof sunscreen for melanated skin. (And if you want even more Strategist stories sent straight to your inbox, sign up for our email newsletter.)

Space-saving storage carts …

Photo: retailer

When writer Hannah Starke moved into her first solo apartment, a 22-square-foot kitchen was part of the deal. “This wouldn’t have given pre-pandemic Hannah, whose dinners primarily came from the frozen-foods section of Trader Joe’s, a moment’s pause,” she writes. “But after a year spent cooking the majority of my meals at home and actually enjoying it, I had no choice but to optimize every square inch of the kitchen.” Starke spent months acquiring not only things that would maximize her space but would “also last for years (if not decades) and look nice enough to distract visitors from the shock of how tiny the area is.” One such item, which is tucked “beneath the sliver of counter space between my oven and sink” is this three-tier rolling cart. “Using it to store pantry staples like spices, salts, and tinned goods helps free up the limited space in my cabinets,” she explains. “Plus, tucked next to the oven, it makes grabbing those items easier while I cook.”

… and spacious play tents

Space World Play Tent
$30

Juggling both a toddler and a baby can be a daunting task. So writer Hannah Howard spoke to 11 discerning moms about the most helpful products and found that “the most impassioned recommendations tended to fall in the ‘transportation’ category.” Along with sit-and-stand strollers, wagons, and totes, this pop-up play tent was recommended. “If we set up a tent and stuff some blankets in there, they are happy,” Danielle Viscuso, a stay-at-home mom in New Jersey, says. “Suddenly, we’re camping, and it’s all good, whether they’re coloring or playing with blocks. It’s like a fort without the mess.” Plus, the tent is lightweight, quick to set up and take down, and spacious enough for her two children and a friend or two.

The “most elegant” hot sauce LeVar Burton has eaten

“I like my food spicy, as does Stephanie, my wife. This is the most elegant hot sauce I’ve ever eaten — it has truffles in it,” LeVar Burton told us when we asked him about the things he can’t live without. He notes that what also sets Truff’s apart is that “it’s also elegant because the flavor it delivers, in conjunction with the heat, has a great balance. Not every brand does that well.”

Sweatproof sunscreen for melanated skin

As we wrote about in our latest Don’t Dillydally, Naomi Osaka is the latest celebrity to launch a beauty brand. Her skin-care line, Kinlò, “focuses on the needs of melanated skin — from hyperpigmentation to avoiding a white cast,” we write. The Golden Rays Sunscreen, one of the four products currently available, is tinted, reef-safe, water-resistant, and sweatproof. The line also offers “a soothing face mist that contains aloe and witch hazel, a hydrating eye cream, and a lip balm.”

Tasty (and actually healthy) pizza bites

“I love pizza bites. They take one of my favorite things (bread) along with another favorite (cheese) and meld them into an easy-to-eat morsel,” writes Strategist writer Tembe Denton-Hurst. The classic Totino’s were what she grew up with, but “as eating well became more important to me, processed snack foods became less appealing.” Luckily, a package of Snow Days pizza bites showed up on her doorstep, claiming to be both tasty and nutritious. Denton-Hurst explains that while the numbers don’t differ drastically from Totinos, “the big point of difference was how few ingredients Snow Days used and that said ingredients were both organic and gluten-free … I couldn’t pinpoint a single vegetable in Totino’s, and now I had seven populating my pizza bite.” And, to her surprise, the pizza bites are delicious, too. “They fit the bill as an easy-to-cook (actually, warm up), quick snack that tastes good and doesn’t make you feel like crap after,” she writes. “They’re perfect for eating while watching bad reality TV on the couch or scarfing down during the precious ten minutes between meetings.”

Owner of Sahadi’s go-to blender for “creamy, fluffy” hummus

While Christine Sahadi Whelan, co-owner of Brooklyn’s Middle Eastern market Sahadi, isn’t at the store, she employs her trusty Blendtec blender. “She turns to it for dressings and sauces because it emulsifies beautifully and efficiently,” writes Strategist kitchen and dining writer Emma Wartzman, who spoke to Whelan about the blender. “But most importantly, the Blendtec is the only route to making hummus as good as it tastes in the shop.” Wartzman explains that the blender’s high speed “ensures a creamy, fluffy result that can’t be achieved with a lesser model or a food processor.” Whelan also adds that a good blender is necessary because without it “you have to add a lot of ice water or cooking liquid to help smooth things out. By the time you get there, the hummus has become too drippy.”

A retro tenth-anniversary gift

“A decade of marriage is nothing to sneeze at,” writes Strategist writer Lauren Ro. “So to celebrate your anniversary, you’ll want to choose a gift that shows how much you still appreciate your husband or wife.” But, if you’re following traditional anniversary guidelines, you might be stumped by the prescribed ten-year options: tin or aluminum. To help you out, Ro pulled together a handy guide of gifts for couples made from these “less-than-romantic materials.” This tiny aluminum fan “looks more like something you’d find after hours of scouring a vintage-furniture store” and is a favorite among enthusiastic reviewers. And as Ro notes, “don’t let its size fool you: This guy is powerful.”

An indestructible dog bed

When Strategist junior writer Arielle Avila and her boyfriend went on a quest to find the perfect bed for their dog Maggie, they didn’t know it “would lead us on a three-year winding journey that cost upward of $500. And we especially didn’t expect to finally find the One from a brand known for cups that keep your wine chilled for hours.” After countless failed, deflated poly-filled beds and one musty experience with memory foam, they landed on Yeti’s Trailhead dog bed. The bed hasn’t flattened and survived another dog marking its territory — “not a drop of pee made it through to the bed’s padding. And, after just one rinse cycle, the cover didn’t smell or stain,” Avila writes, “We’ve now had the bed for about two years, and it still looks brand-new. It’s as fluffy as it was straight out of the box and the cover gets pristine after a quick wash.”

Scooters for commuting short distances

New York State officially legalized electric bikes and scooters last April, as many city residents were looking for alternatives to public transit at the start of the pandemic. So to help shopping for one a bit easier, Strategist writer Jordan Bowman spoke to six scooter experts and two other pros about the best ones. Eric Levenseller, the CEO of Levy Electric, recommends this model for short-distance commuting. “It’s the only electric scooter with a removable battery, meaning you don’t need to carry the whole scooter around with you to get a charge on it,” Levenseller explains. Adding to the convenience, it has a ten-mile range, a three hour charge time, and it weighs around 27 pounds, “which means carrying it with you on the subway, up the stairs, and tucking it away in your office shouldn’t be an issue.”

A stylish (and on-sale) lunch bag

If you’re going back into the office or just wanting to enjoy lunch out at the park, we found a delightful lunch bag in our daily dive into the internet sales bins. “This insulated metallic bag will keep your lunch hot or cold much longer than a brown paper one,” writes our deals writer Leah Muncy. And she adds that “it’s stylish enough to carry around after lunch, too.”

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 Things That Delighted Us Last Week