Filtered by Category: Stuff To Buy

I’m currently very into Tessa clogs

White jeans, cream socks, and dark blue Tessa clogs photographed in front of city skyline/waters edge

Earlier this summer, I spent a not-small amount of time looking for the perfect clogs. I still like/wear the pair of Hasbeens I bought on sale last summer, but I was on the hunt for a slip-on clog with a slightly lower heel and minimal hardware in a neutral color that was not black. My girlfriend also wanted a pair of clogs (she had slightly different — but no less fussy — requirements), and, well, the next thing I knew, I was 75 tabs deep in clog round-ups/options!

I like clogs for a lot of reasons. Similar to a jumpsuit, clogs make you look put-together while also being very easy/comfortable. I bought my Hasbeens because I wanted a comfortable closed-toe summer shoe, but I also appreciate that you can add socks and wear them in colder months. I’ve also been slowly phasing out my skinny jeans, and clogs are a good shoe for straighter/wider leg pants. And if you, like me, prefer to be this person instead of tying/untying your shoes, well…clogs are great in that regard, too!

Dark blue clogs, cream socks, white jeans, in front of rocks at water’s edge

During my search, I looked at No. 06, Bryr, Rachel Comey (which is the brand Aidy Bryant wore on Shrill), Charlotte Stone, Beklina, Hasbeens, Sandgrens, Lotta from Stockholm, and Madewell. While I found some good contenders, nothing was quite it. I loved the No. 06 in clover green for fall and the Bryr in Pacific gray and natural, but I really balked at the price.


Then, deep in my twentieth Strategist article, I came across a single link to Tessa Clogs. The Tessa website is A Lot, but the plain traditional heel ($84.95 + ~$15 shipping) is a good place to start — that’s actually what my girlfriend and I both ended up buying. I went with the denim blue, which reads as sort of a soft black/grayish navy in person, and she got the black, which is classic and lovely IRL.

Dark blue clogs, cream socks, white jeans shown outside in city park

Even though I wish Tessa had the color offering of No. 06 or Bryr, I love that the plain low heel clogs are super customizable (and are considerably less expensive than the other brands). You can choose from three sole colors and order them with or without a strap/snap, and with or without an edge band. (For reference, these clogs have a raw edge; mine don’t — they have an edge band.)

The website isn’t the easiest to navigate, but they have very good/responsive customer service. I emailed them to ask a bunch of questions, and they were great. They mailed me a (clog-shaped!!) swatch so I could be 100% sure on the color before I ordered, which was super helpful. My girlfriend’s clogs turned out to be a little too roomy across the top of her foot (i.e., they fit length-wise, but they weren’t snug enough to stay on her foot) and they let her ship them back so they could adjust the fit.

Anyway, if you’re in the market for clogs, Tessa clogs are very good! I like mine a lot and will probably buy another pair at some point soon.

Further clog-related reading:

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Extremely good shit: McLeod Farms peaches

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As you may know, I’m not a fan of summer. But one way I’ve been making it more bearable in recent years is by ordering a box of peaches from McLeod Farms, a South Carolina operation that came on my radar several years ago when I lived in Houston.

These peaches are awesome in the dictionary-definition sense of the word. So juicy, so fragrant, so special. Every bit of them detaches from the pit so easily and cleanly, it’s genuinely remarkable. Getting a box of them delivered has become one of the highlights of my summer.

But you don’t have to take my word for it! Here are some of the things my friends have had to say about them:

“This is truly the best peach I’ve ever eaten.”

“I should have eaten that in the bathtub.”

“That was obscene.”

“I should not have eaten that in public.” (I heard this more than once!)

The peaches go on sale every year in the late spring. They are sold by the box; you can either buy a box of 20 (for $60) or a box of 40 (for $77), and when you order, you select the week you want them delivered. (They ship in June, July, and August. Also, shipping to NYC is free, but I’m not sure if that’s the case everywhere.)

These peaches aren’t cheap, which is, for me, part of what makes them so special; I make a point to really savor them (I always try to enjoy at least one while sitting outside), and to share them with friends who will appreciate them.

Oprah once said* something to the effect of “you can find God in a perfectly ripe tomato,” and I think about this whenever I eat one of these peaches. (And, yes, then I obviously have a minor existential crisis about climate change and my own mortality. It happens at the beach, too! Summer is great!!!) They are just…sublime.

*I am fairly certain it was on the final page of an issue of O Magazine that I read like a decade ago, but I have never been able to track down the exact quote, so this could be entirely made-up!!! But if Oprah didn’t say it, then I will: You can find God in a perfectly ripe summer fruit.

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Anomia is my new favorite group game

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I played a new-to-me game called Anomia ($14.39 from Amazon) for the first time with friends last weekend and I liked it so much, I ordered it for myself before I’d even left the party!

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Here’s the high-level explanation of how it works: players take turns drawing cards; the goal is to be the first person to blurt out a word that fits the category on any other card that has the same symbol as your card does. So if you are holding a card with a yellow diamond that says “U.S. president,” and someone draws a card with a yellow diamond that says “something with wings,” then you want to shout out something with wings before the person with the other card names a U.S. president.

Anomia is mostly about concentration and creativity, and I really enjoyed it! It’s very portable (important!!!) and park-friendly, a single game goes quickly, and it’s just fun. It’s much easier to learn than Codenames (though I do love Codenames); it’s more fun than Apples to Apples; and it’s way more wholesome/SFW than Cards Against Humanity. (That said, if you do enjoy CAH, you might like Anomia X, a sold-separately version of the game that has “bad manners.”)

Per the product page, it’s for 3-6 players, ages 10+ (but there’s a kids’ version for ages 5+), and it’s possible to play it if you’re colorblind (because the colors on the cards don’t matter — only the symbols do).

Overall, it’s just incredibly low-maintenance and fun, and I’ll definitely be packing it for my family vacation next month!

Buy it from Amazon for $14.39. (There is also a “party version” that has four additional decks aka more variety for $24.) ✨

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Just good summer reading

Close-up photo of the novel  Valley of the Dolls  being read on the beach

When I think about the best summer reading, I think of really entertaining books that you’ll enjoy enough to want to binge read (see also: this great NYT article). But I don’t think they have to be pure fluff! To me, a great summer read should feel less like eating a ton of candy, and more like eating a delicious meal made up of of assorted dips, juicy fruits, delicious crostini, a couple of amazing pasta salads, some great Trader Joe’s appetizers, and sparkling water. It’s satisfying and filling (even if/when it’s light), and consuming it brings real pleasure.

So with that in mind, here are some of my favorites!

Fiction

The Vacationers by Emma Straub

I haven’t read this book in a few years, but it’s one I think of as best in class when it comes to light summer reads. Reading it feels like watching a great Nancy Meyers movie; it’s entertaining and goes down smoothly and easily.

Buy it for $9.70+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Valley of the Dolls by Jacqueline Susann

Every summer, I get what can only be described as a craving to read Valley of the Dolls. The book is pure camp and I love it. It also has one of the best elements of a great summer novel: rich people and their rich people problems. I might actually start reading it again tonight because it’s been a few years!

Buy it for $7.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

The Neapolitan novels by Elena Ferrante

When I think about these four books — My Brilliant Friend, The Story of a New Name, Those Who Leave and Those Who Stay, and The Story of the Lost Child — I just feel such genuine fondness and appreciation for them. (By the way, I actually didn’t really get into My Brilliant Friend until the last few chapters, but then I was all in.)

Buy My Brilliant Friend for $9.32+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Middlesex by Jeffrey Euginedes

The first time I finished Middlesex, I felt like I'd just read a memoir, not a work of fiction. It’s one of my all-time faves. Also, I had heard the audiobook was better than the book itself, which I found preposterous but…the audiobook is truly excellent.

Buy it for $9.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

In the Country: Stories by Mia Alvar

This was one of my favorite books of 2015, and reminded me just how good short story collections can be. (Also, short story collections feel very summery to me and I don’t know why.)

Buy it from Amazon for $5.10+ or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

The Bell Jar by Sylvia Plath

Most of this book takes place in the summer and it has loads of “classic novel you read on summer break between junior and senior years” energy.

Buy it for $10.80+ from Amazon or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

A Summer Affair by Elin Hilderbrand

I went back and forth on including this one because I think it’s fluffier than most of my other picks…but I also really enjoyed it (and The Rumor and Beautiful Day, two other Elin Hilderbrand novels I’ve finished this week) and I think Hilderband is so good at what she does that it’s worth your consideration!

Buy it for $7.99+ from Amazon or find it at a local bookstore on IndieBound.

Non-fiction

Me Talk Pretty One Day by David Sedaris

I’ve read almost all of David Sedaris’s books, but Me Talk Pretty One Day is probably my all-time favorite; I think it has the highest concentration of David Sedaris lines/anecdotes that I think about a lot. Also: the audiobook version (which David Sedaris narrates) is fantastic — so good for road trips.

Buy it for $10.38+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Destiny of the Republic: A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President by Candice Millard

It took more than one recommendation from Terri for me to finally read this book, but once I did, I had to admit: it’s amazing. Like, couldn’t put it down amazing; I’m happy to report I’m now a James Garfield stan.

Buy it for $12.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Bad Blood: Secrets and Lies in a Silicon Valley Startup by John Carreyou

By now, you’ve surely watched or listened to or read something about Elizabeth Holmes, but this book is the OG for a reason. It’s gripping (and way better than the podcasts or documentaries have been) and totally worth it.

Buy it for $12.13+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound.

Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy: Four Women Undercover in the Civil War by Karen Abbott

This book reads like a novel and, despite being about the Civil War, is a bit lighter than you might expect (while still being very informative). If you’re the kind of person who’d prefer to spend their summer vacation taking trips to Gettysburg and the like, this one’s for you.

Buy it for $11.99+ from Amazon or find it at local bookstore on IndieBound. 📚


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I just love these Hanes tees

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Earlier this month, I bought a long-sleeved T-shirt from the Brooklyn Museum gift shop. I like the design of the shirt just fine (it’s purple with bright orange text on the sleeves and back), but I love the shirt itself. It’s soft and lightweight and so comfortable; even when it was brand-new, it felt broken in. It’s the perfect weight for summer (particularly summer evenings, and/or when the AC is a tad too cold).

The Brooklyn Museum tee

The Brooklyn Museum tee

After wearing it constantly for a few weeks, I decided to see who made it because I was hoping to buy some plain ones in other colors. I was expecting it to be from some bougie wholesale T-shirt brand, but it turns out, it’s just a Hanes!

More specifically, it’s a Hanes ComfortWash, and it’s available in a bunch of different shirt styles and colors, and sizes S-5XL. I immediately ordered a bunch of the long-sleeved tees (regularly $18, but they have been on sale for $9 for the past week or so) and a couple of short-sleeved tees (regularly $14, currently on sale for $7, but $4 when I bought mine). You can also sign up for Hanes emails and receive a coupon for $10 off a $50 purchase, bringing the total price down even further.

I bought white, soothing blue, saltwater, and summer squash, and my girlfriend got lavender, black, white, and cypress green, and we both opted for size small. (By the way, the colors are considerably softer and more muted IRL than they look in these photos — the green, yellow, and blues are extremely “your Real Simple–reading mom’s living room decorated via the beach/boat aisle at Home Goods,” which is obviously a good thing.)

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The shirts are so comfy and easy (and 100% cotton!), the fit is nice without being, like, T-shirts—For Her™ (you know what I mean???), and the colors are lovely. If you need a grown-ass T-shirt to wear with your grown-ass shorts, I highly recommend! ✨

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Two cheap and easy ways to upgrade your phone charger

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Here are two phone-related tips that I’ve found helpful in general, but especially during group trip season.

1. Get a 6-foot phone charger.

A long charger is just nice to have, but it’s particularly useful when you’re traveling, and may not be staying somewhere that has outlets near the bed/couch/whatever.

Buy a single 6-foot charger from Amazon for $7.99, or get a two-pack (which is what I did) for $15.98.

2. Label your charger/cord with washi tape.

When you have several people with iPhones staying in the same place, it’s natural that chargers will get shared or lent out from time to time. Instead of attempting returning chargers to their rightful owners based on whose is frayed in a particular way, you can just label yours with washi tape so you can easily spot it at a glance. (I also found it helpful to do this with my work laptop charger and the phone charger I kept at my desk!)

You can get a roll of washi tape in the scrapbook section at Target or Michaels for a couple dollars, or get a beautiful set of 28 rolls from Amazon for $14.99. 📱

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Very good beach shit

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Last summer, I — after a lifetime of being Not Really A Beach Person — became a person who genuinely enjoys a day at the beach! The trick? Good gear. (Turns out, the secret to everything is just…having money.) In my experience, the beach isn’t a particularly comfortable place to be, and you really do need gear to offset that. Like, I can only sit on a towel reading — in direct sunlight!! — for so long before my body starts aching, you know? Having better gear made a world of difference; I was cool and comfortable and able to stay out for hours last year. And those beach days made me feel relaxed, happy, and whole, so I really am glad I found a way to make them happen.

Here’s the beach gear I love and recommend:

The Chair

Image:  Amazon

Image: Amazon

I love Rio Brands Deluxe Aluminum Backpack Chair ($42.96 on Amazon). Fun fact: I liked this chair so much after sitting in one at my friend Alanna’s parents’ house that, two years later, I dug up the photos I took of it at the time so I could figure out what the brand was and order one of my own! It’s so good: comfortable, aesthetically pleasing, lightweight. I love the adjustable pillow and the fact that you can wear it like a backpack when you’re walking to the beach. (Also, the cupholder is very handy!) I really don’t think I could do a long beach day without a good chair! I have it blue, but the blue one is inexplicably $70 at the moment, so maybe go with the red?

If you want a less expensive but still great chair, I ordered the Rio Gear Original Steel Backpack Chair ($25.97 on Amazon) and had it shipped to my mom’s house before my family’s trip to Saugatuck last summer, and it was also great. I’ll be using it again when we head to Saugatuck this summer! And if you want something similar to these two but a little roomier, this Tommy Bahama chair ($54.09 on Amazon) has a bigger seat and a maximum weight of 300 lbs.

What I really want is the white (!!!) “Rolls-Royce of beach chairs” ($141 on Amazon) with its matching canopy ($44.95 on Amazon). It’s pricey but it’s apparently built to last a decade. Someday!

The Tent

I’m obsessed with my Lovin' Summer Beach Tent ($150) and recommend it to everyone. I received mine as a PR gift back in 2015 and I love it. Every time I take it to the beach, multiple people come by to ask me where I got it; it's beautiful and just really unique looking. It's also just so practical; it provides a truly impressive amount of shade, but still allows for a wonderful breeze flow through. It's really easy to enter and exit, and it's super stable. It's also very lightweight and packs down in a bag that's similar in size to a yoga bag, so I can store it under my bed. If you go to the beach a few times a year, or if you are planning a days-long beach vacation, I think it's completely worth it.

My only caveat is that you should watch the video of how to set it up before you take it to the beach; the instructions are very confusingly written, and while the setup isn’t hard at all, it’s also not intuitive. (That said, the first time I ever took it out, I wasn't nearby when my friends set it up. When I got back to our area, it was fully assembled and they all said it was very easy!)

Anyway, because you may not get good cell service on the beach, you should watch that setup video and save some photos of how it looks when assembled to your camera roll before you head out. Once we figured out a couple crucial details, it came together really easily and quickly. (The setup and breakdown takes about 10 minutes.) You also could also easily string some battery-operated twinkle lights on the interior bar for evenings on the beach or for backyard camping type activities!

The Hat

Image:  Amazon

Image: Amazon

My current summer hat is a wide brim sun visor/hat ($12.99 on Amazon, available in 10 colors). For years, I wanted a good visor; my goal was "Offred, but make it summer." I mainly wanted something that would keep the sun off my face while I'm walking to and from the train every day — so I didn't want anything overly sporty/beachy. After discovering that most cute visors cost $150 (?!), I finally found what I was looking for in this visor. This visor completely keeps the sun off my face (and means I don't have to fuck with sunglasses / can wear my glasses to the beach). Also, the bow detail in the back is really cute! But, full disclosure: by September, it was falling apart, so I will be buying another one this summer.

Some other good beach shit:



The Cooler

I bought a cooler bag ($38.95 on Amazon) for picnics and the beach a few weeks ago but haven’t taken it out yet. But it looks/seems great!

The Towel

Last summer, I started using a beach towel from The Beach People ($49.50+). This was a PR gift and it's really lovely. (The exact one I have isn't on their site at the moment.) I don't think you need a fancy towel to enjoy the beach...but as someone who loves soft things and great towels, having a big blanket-like towel (seriously, it’s so blush) that matches my general aesthetic made me pretty happy. 

The Shoes

As I mentioned a couple weeks ago, the Hurricane Drift Tevas ($40 from Zappos) are great, and are perfect for the beach. If you want to get them in white, my friend Marisa recommends cleaning them with a Magic Eraser, which is genius.

I’m also super curious about these Sea Star Beachwear waterproof espadrilles ($89), because I’m always on the lookout for closed-toe beach/summer shoes. (Terri also pointed out that they might be good for rainy summer days when it’s too warm to wear boots.)

The Beach

It’s Jacob Riis Beach for me! ⛱

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Just good shorts

Image:  Gap

Image: Gap

I am not, in general, a big fan of wearing shorts. I have a singular pair from Nordstrom Rack that I bought in 2015 and will wear until they are threadbare, and I found a style at J. Crew Factory in 2016 that I like/wear quite a bit (both here). But in general, shorts are not my fave garment.

But last summer, Terri came to work a few times in white shorts that I loved. Every time she wore them, I would think, Wow, those seem like the perfect shorts! Eventually, I just decided to try them for myself.

The shorts are, to be exact, the Gap 5” Girlfriend¹ chino shorts and they are great. I bought them in a couple of colors (white and anchorage cream) and I love them. They are short without being short²; casual, but still tailored enough to look nice; practical without being frumpy; and available in several colors. I’m extremely here for comfortable, practical shorts for grown-ass women who semi care about looking nice. Just good shorts!

Get them from Gap for $34 (currently on sale). (They are available in seven colors + three stripes versions and sizes 00-20; tall and petite options are also available up to size 16.) ✨

¹ The “girlfriend” label makes me think of this 2016 Racked article on the problems with the “boyfriend” clothing trend.

² My other tip for buying shorts is to pay close attention to the inseam lengths. I won’t go longer than 5 inches or shorter than 4 inches. While it bums me out to dismiss the (extremely common!!!) 3 inchers entirely, I know I won’t be comfortable in them. Anyway, figuring out your preferred inseam length can definitely save you some time when you’re shorts shopping online.

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The best lemon candle is Williams Sonoma's Meyer lemon candle

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A couple of years ago, I went on a mission to find a great lemon candle. I tried two options — Mrs. Meyer's Lemon Verbena* and a lemon lavender candle from Target — and was super disappointed, as both smelled way too herbal to reasonably be called a lemon candle. (They are perfectly nice candles, but not what I was looking for.) I just wanted a pure-ass lemon candle! And much to my chagrin, no one on the internet could tell me which lemon candle was the lemon candle I was seeking.

I briefly entertained the idea of buying allllll the lemon candles from major retailers and doing a Wirecutter-esque test for a BuzzFeed post, but it didn’t actually end up coming to that! A friend suggested the Williams Sonoma Meyer lemon candle ($19.95), and without having tried any additional non-herbal lemon candles, I can confidently say that this is the best lemon candle in existence. TBH, I didn’t even know that Williams Sonoma sold candles, so I was genuinely surprised by this.

The Meyer lemon candle has a very lovely, very sweet lemon smell, and it’s not too strong. It’s my favorite candle to light after cleaning my kitchen or bathroom (one of my favorite little rituals) and just one of my favorite candles general. I also really love the look of the candle; the light yellow color is so pretty, and I just love the simple, label-free glass jar. I’ve burned through three of these since first discovering them.

Get the candle from Williams Sonoma for $19.95. 🍋

*I recently learned that lemon verbena is not lemon plus verbena (which for years I assumed — based solely on Bath & Body Works’ early 2000s Coconut Lime Verbena label — was some kind of green plant). Turns out, lemon verbena is an entirely different plant!

PS I can’t talk about candles without thinking about the viral “I MIGHT Boycott Bath & Body Works (RANT)” video and this reenactment of it, two videos my former BF team and I are lightly obsessed with. We probably re-watched those videos and cried laughing every other month, and still reference Angela and her rant all the time. So please put on your headphones and enjoy one of my personal “I think about this a lot”s!

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I just love these minty toothpicks

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These tea tree oil and mint toothpicks were something of an impulse buy after I saw them on The Cut last summer. I’ve never been particularly into toothpicks (has anyone? probably yes) but I thought they might be useful for moments when I didn’t have time to brush my teeth after lunch at work.

Turns out, they’re amazing! The minty flavor is delicious and using one actually freshens your mouth/breath in a meaningful way. And the birchwood and carved top makes them feel a bit higher-quality than the restaurant supply store toothpicks I’m used to. I now keep them in my bag all the time to use instead of floss in a salad emergency. (One note: the top of the container sometimes pops open, so keep an eye on it or hit it with some washi tape so you don’t end up with a purse full of minty little daggers.)

I included the toothpicks in one of my holiday gift guides at BF in 2018 and they sold really well. They really do make for a good little gift though — a nice hostess gift, party favor, stocking stuffer, etc. — and pair perfectly with a teeny mint green toothpick holder ($7.99).

You can get a two-pack on Amazon for $8.61. I’ve also seen them in some NYC bodegas next to the cache of CBD products. PS They are also available in a cinnamon flavor. ✨

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So, you should really be using a rinse aid in your dishwasher

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Last summer, I was on Wirecutter, looking for their recommendation on the best dish soap. (It’s Seventh Generation BTW.) And somehow or another, I landed on an article they had written about rinse aid. I had never given rinse aid much thought; I didn’t know what it purported to do, but I assumed it was kind of a scam. I...could not have been more wrong.

Here’s Wirecutter (emphasis mine):

“As much as we might like to believe the claim, rinse aid isn’t just a money grab for detergent companies.

You need rinse aid because dishwasher detergents don’t work the same as they used to. If you’ve read our guide to the best dishwashers, you know that in 2010 the Environmental Protection Agency and other regulators made detergent companies stop using phosphates, a great cleaning agent, because they can lead to algal bloom.

Says Liam McCabe in our dishwasher guide:

‘Every new dishwasher has a rinse-aid dispenser because rinse aid is essentially mandatory if you want your dishwasher to work well these days, according to every industry person we talked to. Rinse aid offsets the limitations resulting from gentler detergents and stricter efficiency standards—it’s just part of the deal now.’”

Ex...fucking...scuse me????

And THEN I saw this sentence: “if your dishes are coming out of the dishwasher wet, or with food bits still stuck to them, give rinse aid a whirl.”

My dishes were coming out of the dishwasher SO wet AND with food bits stuck to them!!!!! (Truly: so wet, it was kind of ridiculous. After running the dishwasher — which includes a long heated drying cycle! — I’d still need to leave them in the dishwasher all day to dry before putting them in the cabinets.)

I immediately ordered rinse aid — I bought Seventh Generation, because that’s what was cheapest on Amazon Fresh — and it’s made a world of difference. I’m slightly annoyed that I didn’t know about this sooner! But if you’re experiencing something similar, it might be worth trying rinse aid and seeing if it helps.

Get an 8-ounce bottle of Seventh Generation Rinse Aid from Amazon Prime for $8.92 or Amazon Fresh for $5.99. 💦

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These bamboo nursing pads are great for taking off your makeup

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I don’t know if this is true in other cities, but in NYC, cotton rounds are really expensive. Like, every time I go to buy them, I’m surprised by how expensive they are. I used them for years (with Garnier micellar water, one of my most-used products) to take my makeup off at night and then to wash my face in the morning. But I recently came across a cheaper and less wasteful option: organic bamboo nursing pads ($13.90 for a pack of 10 on Amazon).

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As you can see, they are pretty big; I can cycle through the different “petals” to take off my makeup at night, getting several uses out of one pad. And once a pad is fully covered in mascara and eyeliner, I just toss it in the laundry. I still buy cotton rounds to take off my nail polish, but now I buy them far less.

Get a pack of 10 pads on Amazon for $13.90. 💦

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