Filtered by Category: Stuff To Buy

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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