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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in November

Photo-Illustration: The Strategist; Photos: Retailers

If you follow our monthly feature “Your Shopping Cart,” you know we have some eerily good intel on what you all are buying, which led us to think that, as Strategist editors, we could turn the tables and highlight all the things we’ve been buying for ourselves. As you’ll notice, it’s both a blessing and a curse to be a Strategist editor; we’re picky, but sometimes we just have to get on with it. (It’s online-shopping expertise meets IRL needs.) Below, what we bought in November.

Emma Wartzman, kitchen-and-dining writer

I’d been eyeing this wooden spoon for a while before I finally bought it this month — not because I needed another one but because I was very taken with the construction, which has a straighter edge on one side and a curved edge on the other, resulting in a more pointed top than your average model. This is meant to get into the corners of pots and pans more easily than a wide one — and it works! A thoughtful design that really makes a difference. I find it particularly useful when cooking with my Dutch oven and love the way it looks, too.

Another item that had been on my radar for quite a while is this lemon juicer, which dispenses directly into a measuring cup that lists milliliters, ounces, tablespoons, and cups (it goes up to one-third of a cup). It eliminates the need for measuring spoons when cooking (otherwise you’re juicing into a separate bowl and then attempting to stick your tablespoon in there to get level measurements, hoping you have enough but not too much). It just really streamlines something that is otherwise annoying. And, of course, it works for other small liquid measurements.

Jen Trolio, senior editor

My family always gets a real Christmas tree, and after coveting this very highly rated Krinner stand for the last few years, I finally bought one when I caught it on sale earlier in the month. We picked out our tree right after Thanksgiving, and while I was a little reluctant to believe the hype for the Krinner, I can now say with confidence that it is worth the cost. It was so easy to get our 7.5-foot-tall and very wide tree standing straight and secure in just a few minutes even though the trunk was a little warped at the bottom. I’m so relieved to never have to manually adjust the eyebolts on our old stand or shim them with little bits of wood ever again. (We bought the XXL because we always choose the biggest tree we can find that will still fit in our living room, but it comes in smaller sizes, too.)

I try to always buy hand-soap refills for the pump bottles I already have, with one exception: an annual holiday-season restocking of Mrs. Meyer’s Iowa Pine, which frustratingly doesn’t come in a refill size (alas, Thames Frasier Fir is out of my budget for the volume of soap my darling but oh-so-grubby children go through). A Black Friday deal on three bottles made this year’s purchase even more of a treat.

Kelsie Schrader, managing editor

I’ve been wanting to invest in a set of reusable plastic bags for a while now, and while I’m sure the Strategist-approved Stasher ones are well worth the money, I could never quite hype myself up to spend the $50-plus needed to buy a solid set. I saw these when I was in Target earlier this month getting some things for a day of hiking and I figured I’d try them since they’re less than a dollar a bag. I’ve never used Stasher so I can’t compare, but for the money (less than a single Stasher bag costs), these have done exactly what they’re supposed to do.

I guess I have a small head because I can’t ever find sunglasses that don’t make me look like a bug. But I’m trying to be a good adult and take care of my eyes, so I wanted to get a pair I’d actually want to wear a lot (both casually and when biking or running). These are part of Goodr’s LFG line, which is specifically made for small heads. They fit great and they’re cheap, which is good because I already lost my first pair. Losing anything is very devastating to me, and I felt like a failure for a good 48 hours, but the fact that I’d only spent $25 on them helped immensely with my recovery.

Maxine Builder, editor

I’ve got some good news and some bad news about the Garmin Vivoactive smartwatch I bought last month. The good news is that I finally figured out how to use it and have actually been running three times a week for the last month or so. The bad news is that the silicone strap that came with the watch gave me a gnarly rash, even after I cleaned and disinfected it. So I went back to Amazon to buy a couple of new watch straps, and I’m liking this fabric one the best. It’s not waterproof or anything, but I’ve been rash-free since swapping it in. My unscientific theory is that it allows my wrist to breathe. I also like that it doesn’t look so sporty.

I’ve been using Tatcha’s skin-care products since 2012, and their cleansing oil is truly one of my ride-or-die products. So I stocked up on that during their sitewide Black Friday sale, as I do any time I see it on sale.

Kitty Guo, junior writer

Every time I Google a recipe and a result pops up from The Woks of Life, it’s the first and only link I click on. But it’s not just their SEO strategy that’s on point — the instructions are written clearly and straightforwardly, supplemented with mouthwatering visuals, and, despite my mediocre cooking skills, end up tasting just like my mom’s. So when I saw that the Leung family had published a full-blown cookbook, I knew I needed to add it to my collection. Some recipes are a bit beyond my purview at the moment, but I plan to reference this book for the rest of my life, so I have plenty of time to work my way up.

I spent Thanksgiving with my friend and her husband in Boston, so as a thank-you for hosting, I sent her a box of Patisserie Tomoko’s signature pastries. It contains an assortment of mochi, macarons, cookies, sandwiches, and chocolate crunch, all wrapped in a beautiful gift box. I think she’ll especially appreciate it because her dog, a little white bichon, is named Mochi.

Kayleen Schaefer, senior editor

I’ve had some wonderful nights at Lucali over artichoke-topped pizza and BYOB bottles of wine, but they’ve only come after a four-to-six-hour wait for a table. I rarely go anymore, even though it’s only a few blocks away from my apartment, so when I saw this Lucali-scented candle in the Strategist’s massive holiday gift guide, it made me smile — and jump at the chance to be able to access a little bit of Lucali (or at least the smoked birch and sugarcane scent of its signature brick oven) whenever I feel like it.

I bought Tracksmith running tights immediately after former Strategist senior writer Karen Iorio Adelson wrote that they were “the best running tights I’ve ever tried.” For the past six New York City winters, they’ve kept me warm and comfy on runs. They feel almost like a second skin (not bagging at the crotch or bunching at the knees like other running tights I’ve owned), but they also really protect my legs against wind and snow. This year, I’m ready for a new pair and am trying the new cropped version of the tights, which have the same zippered back pocket for my phone and credit card but also side pockets where I can stash gels — or, more likely, emergency hand warmers.

Dominique Pariso, writer

I like to take advantage of Cyber Monday sales to stock up on basics: I restocked my cleanser at Dermstore and bought two new mesh bras from Cuup. I love how comfortable and breathable they are. I’ve been wearing them every day for over a year now and they’re finally starting to show some wear and tear, so replacing them was overdue.

Another new year needs a new Hobonich Techo. This is the fifth year I’ve bought one, and I couldn’t imagine using any other planner. I also ordered my roommate — who started using one last year after seeing mine — a new one for 2023.

Chelsea Peng, senior editor

“Not too sweet” is the highest compliment Asian parents can give a dessert, and this ube jelly roll cake that I bought for Thanksgiving was indeed well balanced — and pleasantly tangy from the addition of cream cheese to the filling. Cursed airline restrictions meant I only had room to squeeze smush a slice of calamansi-passionfruit cake into my Megan O’Cain tote alongside it, but the next time my mom and dad are in town, I’ll be taking them straight to Lady Wong’s East Village location for their famous durian mille crêpes (which, now that I think about it, probably wouldn’t be welcome onboard anyway).

Kat Gillespie, writer

Finally hopping on the mary jane trend right as the seasons change? I won’t apologize. In a perfect world, I would have purchased these Nicole Saldañas, but I still think this cheaper pair is cute. A little sneaker-like, they’re very comfortable (friends have called them, variously, “mom shoes” and “sensible”) and less overtly twee than a round-toe leather mary jane. The rubber soles really are sturdy — I’ve even worn them biking.

I’ve been powerless against the ’80s Marimekko-esque stylings of this duvet set since seeing it on Instagram for the first time a few weeks ago. After deep thought and an extensive group-chat consultation phase, I made the big purchase on Cyber Monday at a slight discount. I’m looking forward to placing it atop last month’s new bed frame.

Tshepo Mokoena, senior editor

XOOL Leather Hole Puncher

Deeply unsexy, maybe, but this leather hole puncher has been so useful. I noticed a couple of my favorite leather belts slumping forward at my waist, especially worn with jeans I’d had taken in. This punch lets me add a couple of new holes with a rotating head of varying widths. Now, the black leather Mango belt I recently picked up a size too big (my size was out of stock) sits just right.

I’m coming to terms with owning a sofa I don’t love. Cushions help. Our sofa’s velvet, and I went in-store to get a feel of these linen cushions — I wanted another fabric that would play nicely with the couch’s short pile. H&M really can be good at textiles if you steer away from synthetics, and these cushions add a tactile coziness to rainy sofa days.

Ambar Pardilla, writer

I take great pride in collecting ridiculous coats, and I have wanted one from British brand Shrimps for the past couple of years. It’s such a delightful label that makes the quirkiest pieces, including cherry-printed balaclavas and plaid jackets that remind me of something Samatha Parkington would wear. I spotted one with a gigantic green faux-fur collar and grape-shaped buttons pre–Black Friday on the Outnet. It sold out while I was debating spending that much money then came back in stock only in my size right as the retailer was offering an extra 25 percent off sitewide. I consider that fate. It’s the most I have ever spent on a coat, but it’s already a favorite with just the right amount of the eccentric grandma look I like. I got the last one in stock, but the crimson and indigo versions are incredible too (both are selling out fast, so hurry).

Jordan McMahon, tech writer

Fanny packs are my go-to way of keeping my essentials close by without stuffing my pockets; plus, they’re a nice way to add a bit of flair to my outfits. I picked this one up from a shop in my hometown earlier this month, and it’s quickly becoming my favorite bag. It’s made of recycled nylon, comes in bold colors, and has a large pocket with enough room to hold my Kindle or iPad Mini on a weekend getaway — and even my Fujifilm X100S if I don’t overstuff the bag. The smaller front pocket has enough room for a wallet, stash of keys, and some chapstick. The included strap extends up to 42 inches, but you can order an extender for no extra charge. The company supports a good cause, too: A bit of every purchase goes toward helping the company coordinate litter cleanup days.

It’s rare for me to find a phone case that I like: Silicone can often feel grimy over time, clear cases turn yellow and yucky, and leather is a no-go. This case’s dual-tone design, which comes in wood and silicone variants, is eye-catching enough to make a statement on its own but doesn’t draw too much attention if you’re already sporting a flashy wardrobe. The silicone portion of the case is grippy and comfortable to hold, while the aluminum part feels strong enough to handle a drop.

Lauren Ro, writer

Augie grew out of these toddler socks, so I decided to level up and get him “big boy” socks. Naturally, I turned to Rative again and found these ribbed ankle crew socks with more than 1,000 positive reviews. The two-toned socks have a grippy bottom drawn in a surrealist elephant print and feel super-cushy (they’re much thicker than his previous set). They also look cool paired with his little Vans.

I saw this Japanese book from 1981 on Joana Avillez’s Instagram story and I immediately put a copy in my cart. Augie loves stories about bodies (Everyone Poops is a favorite, as is this French book about a mole that investigates who pooped on his head that a friend brought back from Paris), so I knew he’d appreciate this love letter to nostrils. Everything about it is hilarious: the somewhat crude illustrations (there’s a page of people looking up to reveal what their nostrils look like), the writing (“‘Wed the holes in my dose are sdubbed ub, I candt sbell id eved wed I fart.’”), and the fact that it doesn’t sugarcoat realities like bloody noses and how it’s very important to keep all of our bodies’ holes clean. What makes it even better is that the characters are Asian, just like us.

Tembe Denton-Hurst, writer

Black Friday got most of my money this month. I made a plan this year: Get in, buy the stuff I need, and get out. One of those things was a matching side table. I already own one of these, and when I first bought it, I thought I wanted to go with a mismatched side-table vibe. I quickly learned I was deeply uninterested in that direction, so I realized I had to purchase its twin. Turns out it had gotten more expensive (or maybe I have amnesia), so purchasing this was painful but necessary. I will say, despite the steep price tag, it’s worth the money. It holds a ton of crap that can be hidden by simply turning it around, and despite having drinks left on top of it and all manner of liquids and creams spilled on it, it still looks virtually brand new.

I also took advantage of H&M’s 30 percent off sale. One of the things I picked up was this plaid jacket, which will make an ideal layering piece once things (eventually) warm up again.

Winnie Yang, senior editor

I have had OxiClean White Revive in my Amazon Subscribe & Save ever since a former co-worker tipped me off back in 2017 (and have apparently gone through more than a dozen cartons of it since, according to my order history). And while it’s done a great job at getting stains out and keeping whites from looking dingy, it isn’t effective for removing odors like the musty smell that sheets can get or the sweaty smell that always seems to develop in my husband’s T-shirts. For that, I had relied on Tide One Wash Miracle, a direct-to-consumer laundry detergent that came in a $13 single-use, two-part capsule you throw in the drum with your load and that I only had to use very occasionally because it worked so well. Procter & Gamble discontinued it back in the spring, unfortunately, and I’d been searching for a substitute ever since. This flavor of OxiClean really seems to work, and it costs a fraction of what One Wash Miracle did. I’ve been putting it into rotation with the White Revive when our laundry needs it most.

My OB has me take iron supplements when I’m pregnant. When I complained a few years ago during my second pregnancy that the pill form made me nauseated, she recommended that I try this liquid made by a German company (we’ve written about the yeast- and gluten-free version, Floravital previously). This was a replacement for my last bottle — I’m embarrassed to say that I had neglected to read the fine print where it says the bottle should be refrigerated upon opening and I noticed after a while that mine had started fermenting.

Brenley Goertzen, junior writer

I searched in-store and online for a new puffer for my first Minnesota winter in seven years. I wanted something basic in construction and neutral in detailing for versatility — like it could be worn to and from a yoga class or as a main layer to eat out at jazzier restaurants. But my short torso also demands a cropped fit, which can be rather limiting. During a trip to the Mall of America that was intended to secure a dress for a gala I attended this month, I instead landed on Aritzia’s bomber-style puffer jacket. I’ve heard positive things about the brand’s Super Puff collection, but I was weary of the performance of these coats in bone-chilling temperatures. To my delight, this keeps me super-warm where it counts: around my wrists, neck, and shoulders. The matte finish has a very soft feel, and the pockets are deep enough to stash a few essentials on afternoon walks in the city. It also looks lovely as the proportions are just right.

Erin Schwartz, writer

I have been messing around with the lighting in my apartment recently and one task has been finding a better bulb for a lamp on my bookshelf that is essentially a piece of red plexiglass with a lightbulb behind it. A knockoff Philips Hue bulb always looked too artificial, and an incandescent was too bright and cool, so I got this 40-watt Edison bulb as a Hail Mary attempt to find something dim and amber. I am biased against Edison bulbs — I associate them with gastropubs that look like they’d be featured on The Real Housewives of Salt Lake City — but I was pleasantly surprised to find that this bulb is perfect for this lamp. It has a warm glow that doesn’t look too harsh bouncing off the wall behind it, and the distinct lit-up filaments that are the hallmark of an Edison bulb look space-agey behind the red glass rather than summoning images of penny-farthings and gimmick burgers.

Wella T18 is something of a cult item among people who bleach their hair at home. All bleached hair needs a permanent toner, and Wella T18 is just the perfect cool blonde — it’s the color you’re thinking of when you try to go platinum. It’s always marked up on Amazon, so I’d recommend going to your local beauty-supply store to get it for its true price of around $5. There was a great Wella T18 shortage during the pandemic, so I always pick up an extra bottle when I see it.

Jeremy Rellosa, writer

My brother and my sister-in-law have a cool tiger tapestry (by artist Chris Yee) hung in their house, and for years I wanted a similar one but not the exact same one. I had my eyes on this tiger blanket from illustrator Kristina Micotti for a few months, but it was out of stock this fall. It recently came back in stock, and I snagged it during her holiday drop. I like how it adds texture to my living-room wall, and the warm colors make the space feel cozier, even if I’m not using it as an actual blanket.

I’ve been wearing J.Crew since I was in high school, and it’s become somewhat of an annual tradition of mine to get one thing from the brand’s holiday sale. This year, my shirt rotation needed some freshening up, so I got this supersoft brushed-twill shirt for $30. I’m wearing it under cardigans and sweaters for winter layering, but it’s lightweight, so I’m sure I’ll be using it a ton in the spring and summer too.

I recently got a new Casio F91W-1 on sale during Black Friday and it felt like I was reunited with an old friend. My first F91W-1 was one of my most prized possessions — and then I took a swim and ruined the interface (it’s not waterproof, just water-resistant). I like how simple and reliable it is without being too bulky or flashy.

Crystal Martin, senior editor

I did the Kroma five-day cleanse a few months ago when I was looking for a solution to help with the intense chronic pain I was experiencing. The cleanse was good in that I didn’t feel ravenous all day long like I have during other programs. And each broth and smoothie in the kit was rich and tasty. But the Super Porridge stood out to me as excellent. It’s got a complex, oaty flavor I love, and it keeps me satiated for a few hours. And it’s fast — you just hydrate it with a bit of oat or almond milk. The whole program is too expensive for me to do regularly, so this is the only thing that’s survived as a part of my routine because it really is a star.

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.

The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in November