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 all bought in January.
Lucy Carr, intern
For months I’d been putting off buying a lamp to replace the one I (very clumsily) knocked off my bedside table a few months ago. In January, I decided to stop procrastinating and began to scour the internet to find a replacement, and came across this option from seller ByJoCraftsArt on Etsy. Each lamp is hand-painted using alcohol ink, so it took a few weeks to arrive, but the end result exceeded my expectations. The base colours are vibrant and eclectic but not at all garish, especially as they’re matched with a more neutral off-white lamp shade. I opted for a small, round base, but there are a range of styles and colours to choose from — depending on how much of a statement you want to make.
Chris Mandle, writer
The gift boxes from Our Lovely Goods are a really nice treat — I got myself one during lockdown in 2020 when living alone was making me feel incredibly lonely. They’re a business I first heard of when researching our Black-owned Business Directory, and have become a go-to when I want to send someone a care package. The boxes are entirely customisable — you can add coffee from Glasgow’s Faodail Roastery or alpaca-wool socks from Pairs (which I highly recommend). When I found out a good friend got COVID this month, I sent her a box to cheer her up, as she lives alone and has lost work as a result of isolating. I got her a gift box featuring Bare Bones chocolate (a personal favourite), and included my favourite sea salt and sage candle from Coast, too.
Buying personalised note cards at the start of the year is my version of buying a new diary or planner — as it’s my birthday in January I often have a few thank-yous to send to family and friends. This year I wanted to get some from Smythson, but after their website kept refusing to take my address I gave up entirely and went to Papier, where I typically get my greeting cards from. I chose a nice orange-red border, and used my full name across the top, which I think adds a little flair.
This month I took up running again after about three years, and I had a few changes to make to my old routine. For one, I wear AirPods to listen to music, but they are far too precarious to wear on a run. I was keen to buy a Bluetooth pair that wouldn’t wobble out while exercising, but I didn’t want to spend a lot — who knows how long this interest in exercise will actually last? I settled on this Sony pair as they were under £25 and, crucially, were well-reviewed on Amazon. They were simple to set up, turning on at the push of a button, and my phone picked up the Bluetooth immediately. I wore them around the house for a couple of days, to get accustomed to them, and while the audio quality is nowhere near an AirPod, I was still impressed; it was crisp and clear, though the bass was akin to listening to music on laptop speakers. No matter; I am doing less than 5K at the moment so my runs are only 20 minutes or so (as such, I can’t comment on the battery life just yet). On my run, these stayed firmly in place, and I’d recommend them to anyone looking for an entry-level pair of headphones for exercising in.
Rachael Griffiths, writer
Last month, between catching COVID and taking every opportunity on God’s green Earth to have a Bailey’s hot chocolate, I fell out of my usual gym-healthy-diet routine. To try and entice myself back into hitting my goals, I decided to treat myself to some new protein-powder flavours. I’m a huge advocate for protein powder — I scoop some into my baked oats almost every morning — but I never would have gone so far as to say that it’s something enjoyable. That was until I gave the My Vegan Protein (coffee and walnut flavour) a try. Not only does it smell like coffee-flavoured Revels (categorically the best kind), but it’s so tasty that I no longer dread gulping down my post-gym shake. One last thing — I’ve tried both the regular and vegan versions of My Protein, and I’ve found that the vegan range tastes better.
I first heard “Sara Smile” in my Spotify Daily Mix last year, and after having it on repeat for a week, decided to listen to the rest of Hall and Oates’s Silver Album. Despite being released in 1975, it undoubtedly became my favourite album in 2021. Finally, this month, I found a site selling the record and gleefully ordered one for myself. I’m sure my neighbours have had more than enough of hearing the needle hit and “Camellia” start to play, but this record has truly helped me keep some of the January gloom away (and at least I’ve stopped listening to “WAP”).
I was truly, properly sad when I heard that Fenty Beauty had discontinued its matte lipstick shade Spanked. It was the most perfect ’90s reddy-brown-nude I’d ever worn, so I immediately started trawling for a dupe. The general consensus was that the Urban Decay Vice lipstick in shade Trip was the best option, so with hope in my heart, I ordered a tube. On first inspection, the colour seemed a bit more red-toned than my Fenty lipstick but, when applied, it turns out I actually preferred the slightly lighter tone. The formula itself is creamy and not at all drying, and the lipstick lasts and lasts — even as I demolished a bowl of crispy chilli beef.
Ailbhe Malone, senior editor
I am going to a wedding reception in early February, and had to find a gift. When I reached out about a gift list, the couple said that there was no need to bring anything, but I am Irish and the idea of attending a wedding without a gift in hand makes me break out in stress hives. So, I browsed some of my favourite design shops (Foundland, Goodhood and SCP) to try and find something stylish but easy to put away — and found this perfect pitcher in the SCP sale. It’s by Finnish design brand Iittala — I think it will be ideal for water, wine, or even cold-brew coffee.
Rosie Percy, senior audience-development manager
I recently started living alone for the first time, and my coffee-making ritual had yet to catch up. Brewing (and then cleaning out) a whole cafetiere was a lot of faff for just me, and I have limited counter and cupboard space for extra paraphernalia. So when I visited another coffee-obsessed single friend, and spotted a Melitta Aromaboy machine in her kitchen, I had to have it.
The machine is so cute that it looks like part of a Playmobil set, and its retro design fits right in with my mid-century furniture. Appearance and adorable name aside, the Aromaboy is inexpensive, easy to use, and takes up less space than a kettle. Importantly, the machine also brews a really good cup of coffee — and although the description says the Aromaboy makes two cups, I find it makes the perfect single serving to fill my big Le Creuset mug. The machine is also just so pleasing to use — its cheerful spluttering and gurgling makes me smile, and the self-timed hot plate keeps my coffee warm so I can switch it on before a shower, and come out to a warm cup of joe waiting for me.
As I mentioned, I’m clumsy — especially with food. I’ve had to adjust my laundry routine accordingly, learning every stain removal method there. But when I spill something when I’m on the go (and away from my tub of Vanish), I need to act quickly. I’d seen these Tide pens work wonders on TikTok so I ordered a multipack (to always have one within reach). Predictably, I needed them almost immediately after flicking a tomato-based sauce all over a white sweatshirt. I have to pump the nib a few times to saturate it with the clear stain remover, then gently dab that onto the area. When the stain is soaked, I work the nib in different directions to thoroughly lift the stain from the fibres of the material. It works so well, without having to run the washing machine, that I can now spill with abandon wherever I am.
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