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Guest Strategist Haul: What Novelist Ivy Pochoda Bought in January

Photo: Courtesy of Ivy Pochoda

Every month, Strategist editors share their hauls, jibber-jabbering about their favorite purchases of the previous four weeks. To get that same personality and taste insight (via receipts), we occasionally invite interesting friends of the Strategist to run down their own buys. For this installment of “Guest Strategist Haul,” novelist and writer Ivy Pochoda tells us what she bought in January.

With a bleak four months ahead — and exhortations NOT TO LEAVE THE HOUSE! NOT TO TALK TO PEOPLE! NO MATTER WHAT! — I found myself re-upping on pandemic essentials, thinking that this is never going to end (and that I wore some stuff so much in the past months it’s starting to look beat). Like everyone else on Instagram, I tie-dyed a few sweatshirts over the summer; unlike the rest of Instagram, I wore those sweatshirts nearly every day until the hood fell off one. I knew I needed better sweatshirts. Enter Uniqlo’s pullover long-sleeved hoodie, the new reigning champion of my stay-at-home style. I bought four (!) to replace that sad hoodless hoodie. It has admittedly been only a month or so, but they seem very hood-stable, and the color selection is groovy enough to wean this late adopter off her tie-dye habit.

Everlane’s Trainer sneakers make me feel sporty but not exercise-y. They are as dressed up as I ever get. I bought two pairs, and I’m worried they are being discontinued because they are deeply on sale and sizes and colors are limited.

The truth is, I rarely wear my Everlane sneakers — but I need to own them to feel human. What I actually have been wearing are Crocs. I “discovered” them only last June, but ever since, my Birkenstocks have felt too constricting. When things recently got a little chilly in L.A., I went in on this lined pair that is now the beginning, middle, and end of my winter shoe collection.

In my house, hot sauce is a major food group. From Calabrian chili paste to my homemade fermented Fatalii-pepper blend, my fridge overflows with the spicy stuff. My butcher introduced me to Zab’s, a local L.A. brand that does for the datil pepper what Tabasco did for the tabasco: elevate it to something addictive and essential. Call it adult ketchup and put it on everything (including ketchup itself).

Have I mentioned I spend a lot of time thinking about ways to hot-doctor my meals? Flatiron Pepper Co sure read the algorithm right when it targeted me with these gourmet hot-pepper flakes that bear no relation to that red dust in the shaker at the pizza joint. I ran through my first stash at an alarming rate and had to re-up on the Sweet Heat variety; while doing so, I invested in its newest blend, Smoke Show, which is hot as hell and as smoky as your favorite unventilated Korean BBQ restaurant.

Come 6 p.m. — okay, who am I kidding? 5:30 p.m. — I drink wine like water. Don’t try to disabuse me of this habit. I won’t hear it. I became a devotee of imports from Kermit Lynch (the wine industry’s Bob Dylan) on a raucous trip to France with Kermit himself. Over the past year, I’ve constantly been reordering cases of his label’s Vin de Pays de Vaucluse because it’s damn good and I need a lot of wine on hand. While I suspect it’s probably the kind of fine fermented juice that’s dispensed from a hose into a gasoline canister by the side of the road in France, I really have no problem with that, since it kind of mimics my COVID drinking style.

My family started hiking this past year because apparently the only safe places in L.A. are locked inside your home or way out in the wilderness. Neither my sneakers nor my Crocs really proved up to the rocks and dust of Joshua Tree National Park (our monthly destination), so I finally decided to invest in a pair of proper boots. The Danners kick it back to some mid-’90s college style; they recall those ubiquitous Hi-Tec hikers that were perfect for the dining-hall-to-lecture-hall run.

I couldn’t leave those hiking boots hanging as the only piece of “gear” in my closet. So I got these North Face pants, which have a definite old-school techno-rave vibe that demands they be paired with a Liquid Sky T-shirt on the trails.

I consider myself pretty lucky that Yuka Izutsu of Atelier Delphine invites me to her biannual friends-and-family sales. Those invites are the reason the brand’s imaginative clothes comprise one-third of my wardrobe. But every once in a while, there’s something I miss in the preseason. Case in point: these baby-alpaca Kiko pants. They supplement several summer-weight pairs I already have and work just as well with the brand’s matching balloon-sleeve sweater and haori coat I also own.

Oh, Heritage Foods! For 11 months, you have been the key to soothing my hungry, housebound soul. After putting a stranglehold on my three-person family with one of your eight-pound briskets and five-pound turchettas, this little number struck me as just the right size for a celebratory dinner marking our collective survival of another week at home. (Prices start at $124 for a two-and-a-half–to–three-pound cut.) Pure pandemic adaptive magic.

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.

Guest Strategist Haul: What Ivy Pochoda Bought in January