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The Strategist Haul: What the Editors Bought in August

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 August.

Winnie Yang, senior editor


My 7-year-old came home from the playground asking if we could get these reusable water balloons she saw another kid with. Little did she know that they were already en route to our home because I had seen them elsewhere and thought they were very smart (and possibly the toy of summer 2023 in NYC?). I’m usually not a fan of water balloons because of all the waste they leave behind, so I’m glad this option exists.

I know I don’t need yet another pair of sandals, but the simple design of these Montbells has been calling to me since last summer. I like how the straps are rounded so they won’t cut into or abrade my feet the way webbing does. Plus, the blue is just too good.

Latifah Miles, writer

My skin is prone to acne bruising and dark spots, so I am always on a hunt to find body-care products to keep it smooth and blemish-free. When I saw this body wash made with salicylic acid (one of my favorite exfoliating ingredients), I decided to give it a go. It isn’t very sudsy, which I don’t mind, but it’s gentle enough to use every day, and after about two weeks, it has made my skin feel like a super-polished pebble.

My husband is a coffee snob, and our standard drip pot and Keurig machine weren’t meeting his standards. I bought him a glass French press, and while it worked fine, the glass was very delicate and broke within a couple of weeks (he also noted that it didn’t keep the coffee hot). I replaced it with this stainless-steel one, which is far more durable, keeps the coffee very warm, and can be popped into the dishwasher.

Maxine Builder, editor

I, like many Strategist staffers and readers, am obsessed with EltaMD sunscreen — but I only buy it when it’s on sale. So, I took the Dermstore Anniversary Sale as a chance to stock up for the season, and my hottest tip is to go for the duo. Even when it’s full price, the duo is discounted from $82 to $73, and then you add in the 20 percent discount, and you’re down to $29.20 per bottle. That’s nearly 30 percent off the list price, which makes me feel slightly less crazy about spending so much on SPF.

Kayleen Schaefer, senior editor

In London, women are wearing men’s boxer shorts instead of the usual jean cutoffs or bike shorts, staples I’m also getting tired of. So, on a recent visit, I bought a three-pack of cotton striped boxers at John Lewis, a U.K. department store that makes a lot of its merchandise in house. I don’t think I’m fooling anyone that I’m not in men’s underwear when I’m wearing them, but they look cute, and I’m comfortable putting them on to go anywhere, thanks to the two buttons over the fly.

Before going to Malmo, Sweden, I’d had bulk Swedish candy from BonBon in New York, and loved that unlike gummy candy here, it’s not too sweet or sticky. So when I went to Sweden, I had to have more. In Malmo, a very helpful teen pointed me to her favorite spot, Hemmakvall, where she said she goes every Saturday. It was incredible, with a doubled-sided wall of candy bins that was about the size of a small bus. I filled up a reasonable-ish bag and am happily eating my way through it. So far, my favorites are “Big Surskulls” and “Grandma’s Loose Teeth.

Brenley Goertzen, junior writer

Fable Base Dinnerware Set

Over the past few months, I’ve been looking to change up my dinnerware, and have become obsessed with “blates,” a bowl-plate combo. I contemplated ordering dishes from East Fork, Jono Pandolfi, or my personal favorite, Felt+Fat, which all offer blate-esque options; however, I was nervous to splurge on a large (and costly) set without any prior testing. While scrolling on Pinterest, I came across semi-matte ceramics from Vancouver-based brand Fable and was impressed by its more reasonable price points. At an hour way past my bedtime, I finally hit purchase on this speckled bundle. While it doesn’t include the blate of my dreams, I was able to score four place settings with a heavy discount.

Ailbhe Malone, senior editor

I got sent this interactive cookbook from Phaidon, and it’s terminally cute. The idea is that you and your child (I would suggest age 3 years or older) cook along to the book — each page illustrates a step in the recipe to make some (well-seasoned!) spaghetti with tomato sauce. If your kid’s a little younger, like mine, then there are several very satisfying push-and-pull sections that will tide them over until you feel ready to brave the stove. I’m already adding the taco, pancakes, cookies, and pizza iterations to my Christmas gifting list.

Kelsie Schrader, managing editor

Outdoor Research Swift Cap

I have been wearing the same Nike running hat for at least six years, maybe more, and it smells like it. I honestly feel bad anytime I wear it around people. I’m not very picky about my running gear and especially not picky about my hat. I just need it to fit my smaller-than-average head, be breathable, and cost $30 or less. People on the internet seem to like Outdoor Research’s Swift Cap, which happened to be on sale for $15 when I was browsing, and some even mentioned that it’s good for their small heads. I figured its buckle closure might give it a longer shelf life than my Nike hat’s velcro closure did, and because I left the page open on my computer for so long while I considered all my options, Outdoor Research sent me a code for free shipping. That sealed the deal. It fits my head, is very breathable, and was only half of what I wanted to spend.

Emma Wartzman, kitchen and dining writer

I’m not a spicy-food person, but I recently reupped on a jar of Burlap & Barrel’s Silk Chili after I started using my first jar so much, it took up permanent residence on my counter cooking tray alongside salt, pepper, and olive oil. The flakes come from the same plant that makes Aleppo pepper, which means it leans mild, but it’s still so flavorful — a tinge of heat backed by floral and fruity notes. I sprinkle it on eggs, dips, meat, fish, and roasted vegetables.

No one reading this needs to know too much about my oral health, but after seeing my dentist this month, I have officially gone from using Colgate to using Sensodyne, which is beneficial for teeth sensitivity and gums. It tastes pretty good too! Not a sexy purchase, but this is real life!

Lauren Ro, writer

My family is spending August in Los Angeles with my parents, so we bought a couple of toys for their house for the kids. We picked this play shopping cart up at Target for the 1-year-old for 20 bucks, and it’s more than paid for itself already. The 4-year-old loves it just as much as his little brother, and they fight over pushing it around everywhere. It comes with a removable basket and a bunch of toy produce and packaged foods, plus it plays music and is height-adjustable. It’s a super-versatile, all-in-one toy with a very small footprint, which means I won’t feel bad stashing it at my parents’ until the next time we visit.

Erin Schwartz, writer

I discovered Blue Crow Media when I was searching for a cool wall calendar (they come out with a brutalist one every year) and was very charmed by its collection of illustrated and annotated city maps, which offer guides for everything from the great trees of New York to 20th-century architecture in Tbilisi. Tourist guidebooks can feel like relics, but these are an exception, more like a very knowledgeable and nerdy friend directing you through their favorite places in their city. A couple days before a trip to Montreal, I bought its brutalist map of the city, which did not arrive in time for me to use but is very beautiful — I plan to use it when I’m back.

I love Everybody.World’s recycled cotton basics, especially its Boxier tees — as a shorter person, the length fits me perfectly, and there’s a nice balance between the loose cut and the heavyweight fabric. They are kind of expensive for a T-shirt, but if you sign up for its email list, it occasionally has sales on factory seconds or overstock.

Liza Corsillo, senior writer

My 7-month-old son is moving into his own room this month, which means that I will finally have space in my bedroom for a small writing desk. I’ve known this was the plan for a while and have used the time to obsess over just the right desk to purchase. This one from Ikea has everything I wanted: a secret trench for chargers and other wires, a small drawer for hiding clutter, enough space for a lamp without being so big it takes over the whole room, and a design that looks more like an antique vanity table and less like a sterile, sad home office. I haven’t sat at the desk yet because we are still moving other things around, but it’s really beautiful and solid. I have it in dark blue/green — because I figure stains won’t show as easily — but it also comes in a lovely cream color.


I became a big fan of the brand Pact when I was pregnant and looking for sustainably made maternity pants. I lived in the maternity lounge pants right up until the day I gave birth. And I still wear some of the maternity tees I bought back then. A few weeks ago, during a sale, I bought this dress thinking it would be comfortable and great for breastfeeding. It is both of those things. But it’s also one of the most flattering dresses I have ever worn. It’s basically a T-shirt dress, but it hugs me just enough to show off my shape and it has a coy little slit on one side that makes it not frumpy despite its length. I love that it’s partially made with organic cotton and that I can pull down the front to feed my son with little to no effort. I bought a second one in blue.

Jeremy Rellosa, writer


I bought a pair of these nylon Umbro shorts after I spotted three of my softball teammates wearing them. They’re not very stretchy (except for the waistband), so I don’t use them for intense workouts, but their shiny checkered pattern is just the subtle design I was looking for in a pair of gym shorts. I like that I can also wear these with other sporty outfits.

I received these shoes as testing samples, but they were the shoes I looked forward to running in the most last month. They’re inspired by track flats; they have a low profile that gives you lots of groundfeel — the opposite of carbon-plated supershoes with tons of cushioning underfoot — so they’re best for speedier track workouts, which is mainly what I’ve been using them for. I definitely feel faster in them (compared to running in a daily trainer), and I plan to keep using them for similar running workouts in the future.

Jen Trolio, senior editor

My younger daughter and my eldest niece both started kindergarten this month, so I bought them each a copy of this lovely book about a brand-new school building’s first day of school and the anxiety it feels as it realizes it will soon be full of kids, teachers, and staff. Written by Adam Rex with wonderful illustrations by Christian Robinson (Last Stop on Market Street), the story puts the school building itself in the shoes of a nervous first-time student — including one little girl who doesn’t want to come inside at all. “I must be awful,” thinks the school; at one point, it “has an accident” with its fire alarm. But as the day goes on, things start looking up, and after the children go home, the school quietly asks the building’s janitor if he can please invite everyone back tomorrow. It’s a clever tale for validating — and easing — those first-day jitters.

I may have a crewneck sweatshirt problem — they are all I ever want to wear, at least when the weather is cool. I recently added this slightly cropped Adidas style to my rotation, and it’s pretty perfect — generously cut and very comfy, but not too bulky. Even though I’m not much of a logo person, I love the retro trefoil, too. The rust color I bought is now sold out, but I’m eyeing the ivory shade next.

Rachael Griffiths, writer

CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser Bar
$11 for 2
$11 for 2

Last summer, as I turned 23, I inexplicably developed acne for the first time in my life. My usual cleansers wouldn’t cut it, and various routines I experimented with — involving salicylic acid, retinol, and benzoyl peroxide — all failed to make a difference. Things changed when I forgot to pack my skin-care products for a week at my boyfriend’s house earlier this month and only had his Cerave soap bar to cleanse with. By the end of the week, I’d stopped developing new blemishes and instead of dreading my first morning look in the mirror, I was practically running to his bathroom to see the results. Three weeks on, I’m now blemish-free — and a total convert.

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 August