My Favorite Things (2021 Edition) (Non-Beauty)
With nearly every brand and retailer having some sort of sale going on, I thought I’d just share some of my favorite things outside of beauty should you find my recommendations trustworthy but need some non-beauty inspiration for the holiday gift-giving (or receiving) season.
Cozy & Comfy
I’ve been working from home for most of my working life (even before Temptalia, I had two remote jobs!), so I’m not particularly stylish and definitely favor all things cozy.
Ugg Coastline Throw Blankets have been a go-to, and I’ve purchased a few for others (they make lovely gifts). They are thicker and plusher (and they seem a bit larger in size, too) compared to the Ugg Whistler Throw blanket. I find I prefer the Whistler for something lighter-weight and the Coastline for when I’m colder. I have a couple of each type and have been using them everyday since buying them.
We have Nordstrom’s Hydrocotton Bath Towels throughout the house. They have a plusher, thicker feel that gives them a nice level of softness that is retained through lots of washings, but they are also still very absorbent. Though I’ve had the pleasure of using sheets from Sferra and Frette, I have found that HC Collection offers immediately-soft sheets that feel better than all the higher-end sheet sets I’ve spent money on… more softness for so, so much less money.
GibsonLook V-Neck Fleece Tops have been a go-to this year, particularly fall through winter (I’m in one as I write this post!). They’re long-sleeved, soft, have held up well to lots of washings, and are lightweight enough to wear around the house but work for modest temperatures (high 50s to high 60s) outdoors.
Lou & Grey Signature Softblend is one of the softest fabrics I’ve tried that still has some heft to it, but it isn’t so thick that it can’t be worn indoors year-round. If you’re trying to stay warm in the snow, it is not THAT kind of warm. I live in an assortment of their sweatpants, joggers, and sweatshirts. I also found their pocket leggings and bike shorts to be fantastic–very fitted but not uncomfortable (or totally unflattering) in fit. They used to be at Nordstrom, but now they’re only available through LOFT; I will say that they have sales all the time so I always wait for a discount before buying (and their Black Friday/Cyber Week discounts are great).
Stance socks have been my preferred sock for the past year. They’re a nice crew style and they collaborate with tons of brands/franchises, and for me, that’s something I’d wear on my feet. For no-show and ankle socks, I reach for my Bombas, and my husband replaced all his socks for Bombas and has kept to those for years now.
True Body V-Neck Bralettes have enough support–and I’m a larger cup-size–to feel like I’m wearing a bra but with the comfort of a bralette. Whenever they go on sale, I make sure I’m stocked up.
For an area rug, I really adore shag rugs for how plush they feel under my feet. I love carpet in bedrooms for the comfort, but most other flooring types are easier to clean and keep clean without need of replacing over time. After Mellan passed, we replaced the carpet in the bedrooms with hardwood (as that was through the main areas of the house already), so we had to get more area rugs for the rooms.
Every time I step out of bed and my toes curl into the Safavieh Luxe Shag rug I bought, it feels like I’m on a cloud. It also looks lush and luxurious in the room. We previously had Safavieh’s California Shag rug, which held up well as our main family room rug, for six years; we just replaced it with a Steelside Gray/Cream Area Rug, which is lower-pile but still has some thickness that it gives the room a softer look and a cozier feel.
Useful & Convenient
This section includes my favorite things around the house, like appliances, that I’ve personally found to be extremely useful and/or convenient to my everyday life.
In the last two years, I started to have some foot pain, and while I saw a physical therapist for it, I found that the Cloud Massage was fantastic for its ability to offer heat and massage by kneading but also by just exerting pressure against the top of the foot (which is usually not found in foot massagers). It can also be used for calves, which is a nice bonus.
My right thumb and hand also started to have more noticeable pain (trigger finger from taking photos and mousework on the computer), and I saw a huge difference in day-to-day pain by switching from a more typical mouse to Logitech MX Master 3, which is an ergonomic mouse but has more of the look and feel of a regular mouse so the learning curve isn’t steep at all compared to what one might think of for an ergonomic mouse. Hubby was also feeling some pain in his right hand, and he switched to the same mouse and found it gave it noticeable relief.
We get a lot of packages. Like… a lot. We swear by Slice Box Cutters that have a ceramic blade, and we’ve used them exclusively for opening boxes for almost a decade now. I bought some for my parents when we were helping to unpack after they moved to Arizona because what they had just wasn’t cutting it! (ha, ha, ha) Speaking of opening things, for a letter opener, this ceramic letter opener makes it so much easier to open all that junk mail.
If you know me, you know I love a latte… and after going through drinking at Starbucks as well as using Nespressos, I converted to the Breville Oracle Touch Espresso Machine (which is a massive investment). We absolutely love it, and it continues to serve us well–about three years now–so it has worked out to be cheaper than how I got my latte fixes previously.
Speaking of Breville, our most-used appliance in the kitchen is our Breville Smart Oven Pro (and my mom loves the Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro I bought her). It’s sleek, well-built, and doesn’t feel flimsy or get weak at the hinges with sustained use.
Fabric wall decals are new to me, but I just put some up in my makeup room, but I absolutely loved how quick and easy they were to get the impact of a wallpaper or wall decal that was totally removeable AND reusable, so you can place it, reposition it, and remove it without damaging the walls. There are a few shops on Etsy that offer them, but I purchased mine from Wordy Bird Studios on Etsy.
If you love succulents but want none of the upkeep, NothingLikeUs on Etsy has fantastic, realistic arrangements. We have one that sits in our dining room window still to replace a real one I had that most wouldn’t know wasn’t real.
Arts & Crafts
Here are some of my favorite handmade and more independently-made suggestions.
Eyes on Walls: We’ve purchased the majority of our wall art from here. My house is pretty much an ode to the artist Agnes-Cecile, who sells prints through Eyes on Walls. Their Black Friday sale is their biggest discount for the year, and I’ll be picking up a few additional canvas framed prints myself. We love the canvas prints because they look and feel like “real” art on the walls. This also means we don’t keep them under a glass frame, so there is little to no glare.
Going to the Dogs!
Here are my recommendations for all things doggos, both from what Mellan loved or benefitted from along with what we’ve found works for Winston! I will preface by saying Mellan had a sensitive stomach, and he was quite gentle with his toys, so if you have a dog that lives to destroy toys, then keep that in mind and ignore all my stuffed toy suggestions. Winston is a little more apt to destroy, but he doesn’t seem driven to find every seam — he’ll just pull at a thread if he happens to see it come loose.
- Softer/plush toys: Frisco Hide & Seek Volcano Toy (Winston loves), Multipet Lamb Chop (a favorite of both Mellan and Winston), Outward Hound Hedgehogz (makes a grunting sound), Hyper Pet Hamm (pig that sort of grunts, Winston is OBSESSED!), HuggleHounds Corduroy Plush (Winston has the mousse, which has held up well), Kong Knots Toys (Winston has a couple, which he loves and have held up to more aggressive chewing)
- Harder toys: Planet Dog Orbee-Tuff Fetch Ball (great for fetching, but both Mellan and Winston like to gnaw a bit on it indoors)
- Interactive toys: Babble Ball (very talkative), Hyper Pet Crab (wiggles and makes sounds, Winston adores), Pet Zone IQ Treat Dispenser Ball (good for mental stimulation and keeping Winston busy) Wobble Wag Giggle Ball (requires no batteries, makes fun sounds)
- Supplements: always consult your vet first! Nutramax Dasuquin with MSM (staple joint supplement that Mellan had for most of his life, and Winston has started on)
- Training Treats: Fruitables Skinny Minis (these are semi-soft and only 3 calories per treat, so great for training) Wet Noses Peanut Butter Little Stars Dog Treats (these are extremely small, making them perfect for when you are doing a LOT of treat-based training with your dog; they are very hard to chew so they may not work as well with smaller or older dogs, though)
- Treats: Crumps Naturals Sweet Potato Chews (I like for giving fiber, something that lasts longer than 1 second but breaks down easily in their system), Honest Kitchen Ocean Chews (these are single-ingredient, highly digestible chews; they don’t last long, but they last longer than a biscuit, but they do last longer for smaller dogs and older dogs)
- Beds: Orvis Deep Dish Dog Beds (these were Mellan’s favorites, Winston enjoys but doesn’t seem quite as in love as Mellan was), Best Friends Donut Cuddler (Mellan hated it, as it was too warm, but Winston LOVES it)
- Cleaning: Simple Solution Extreme Pet Stain & Odor Remover (this has gotten us through a LOT over the years!), Earth Rated Dog Bags (compostable)
- Other: Bully Stick/Chew Holder (invaluable if you worry about your dog choking or swallowing larger pieces of chews), Cable Management Box (there are lots out there, linked to the one I bought, but these are fantastic for keeping wires more hidden… aka harder for puppies to play with or chew on), Position & Lock Tall & Wide Baby Gate (this is more aesthetically pleasing than some gates, and it is very tall, so it is better for keeping jumpers and larger dogs out of trouble but it isn’t the easiest to step over as a human—doable but precarious), Regalo Super Wide Baby Gate & Play Yard (we have two of these, and they’ve been great for keeping Winston out of trouble but will not work for dogs that can jump over 3′)
- Collars & Tags: I’ve always gone for a custom tag from Etsy, and for Winston, we did the Luna dog tag. For all of their bow-tie collar needs, I get them from CrewLaLa.