sunday circular

10 Things That Delighted Us Last Week: From Evidence Bags to Body Scrubs

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

We write about hundreds of products each week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked some of our recent favorites: expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly launched gizmos, and very good deals we uncovered while trawling through the vast online-shopping universe including the best salt scrub recommended by cool people, Judy Greer’s “family pen,” and a microscope that can talk.

The evidence bags used by the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs

In 2013, Marina Nitze started working as the chief technology officer for the Department of Veterans Affairs under President Obama. After her long and winding efforts to make it easier for veterans to access their benefits online — and serious consideration of the question “Can you put the cloud in an evidence bag?” — these became an agency inside joke and were used to “deliver desserts or memos” and even acted as a “wink-y intraoffice envelope,” Nitze says.

Judy Greer’s family pen

When we asked Judy Greer about the things she can’t live without, she called out the Uniball as her “family pen” after her husband brought them home from the office one day. Greer describes it as long-lasting, quick to write with, “and the ink is super-black, like black-black.” She also says she loves “when I open the kitchen drawer and the little pen cubby is filled with these Uniballs.”

A phone case built like “cargo shorts”

Strategist junior writer Kitty Guo “resolved to bring only the bare necessities on a night out” by stuffing everything into her pockets — until she found this hands-free phone case that almost “resembled a pair of cargo shorts with an array of pockets protruding from the back.” Made by Urban Sophistication, the same brand that produces viral puffer cases (Dua Lipa, Emma Chamberlain, Kendall Jenner, and Justin Bieber are all fans), the Utiliti Case is highly functional with an adjustable strap that allows Guo to keep it close to her body while dancing. (It’s also detachable for non-club use.) Three Velcro pockets, each ascending in size and shape, provide room to hold coins or pills, lip balm or lighters, and even keys or your AirPods. A fourth, flatter pocket hooks to the strap to hold an ID and credit card.

A Bey-inspired Halloween costume

If you love dressing up for Halloween, we’ve put together a list of the best pop-culture costume ideas of 2022, which includes none other than the Queen B. If you’re a fan of Beyoncé’s Renaissance, we think this party-stopping rhinestone-encrusted dress is perfect for recreating the album’s cover art.

The salt scrub recommended by cool people

When Strategist contributor Deanna Pai asked cool people about the very best salt scrubs, four of them recommended this one by Osea, which contains three types of salt from New Zealand, the Himalayas, and Hawaii. It’s “loaded with salt grains, and my skin feels brand new and so smooth after,” says Annie Jackson, the founder of Credo Beauty. “It also hydrates without feeling oily.” Plus it’s “free of a lot of irritating preservatives, which is nice,” says dermatologist Sheila Farhang.

A (monogrammable) leather workbag

The recently released “easy tote” by Cuyana — the brand’s lightest bags yet — made two appearances this week. (The pebbled-leather totes have also been mentioned all over our archives.) Deemed the best leather work tote bag in our roundup of the best workbags for women, the carryall is adored by former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson because the material “doesn’t show scratches or wear as easily, and it holds everything you’d need for a workday.” The bag can also be personalized with a monogram for an additional $15.

Ben Gibbard’s “spiky pain ball”

Pro-Tec Spiky Massage Ball

Although Ben Gibbard says this massage ball “is not a pleasant device,” the front man of Death Cab for Cutie named it one of his favorite things because it “digs right through to the source of tension and just breaks it up.”

An educational microscope that can talk

This microscope, which can be found in our gift guide for 4-year-olds, has a dual eyepiece, so there’s no need to close one eye when using it. It also has two talking modes: “fact” mode to learn about the items on a slide and “quiz” mode to test scientific skills. “I love the Geosafari Microscope for my curious preschooler,” says Andrea Scalzo Yi, the founder of Raising Dragons and author of 100 Easy STEAM Activities. “It allows him to explore the world around him in a unique way and encourages learning through play, which is so important.”

A portable rocking chair

In our guide to the best gifts for grandfathers, Strategist writer Arielle Avila recommends this lightweight foldable rocker for those who enjoy being outdoors. And if you’re not shopping for Grandpa, this chair is an essential in Strategist contributor Steven John’s camping kit because it weighs 12 pounds, but its “impressive engineering” can support up to 250 pounds.

Nordstrom’s discounted “Goldilocks of Jeans”

If you’ve been following our coverage long enough, you probably know that the Levi’s Ribcage cut has appeared all over the site, including in our guides to the best mom jeans and high-waisted jeans. With fans that include Strategist editor Maxine Builder and New York deputy editor Alexis Swerdloff, these are known as the “Goldilocks of jeans.” If you’re new to the Ribcage, we suggest stocking up because they’re half-off at Nordstrom right now.

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: Evidence Bags to Body Scrubs