Photo: Courtesy of the retailers
We write about hundreds of products a week. Here, in our version of the Sunday circular, we’ve plucked out some of our favorites — expert-recommended essentials, life-changing stuff you didn’t know you needed, newly-launched gizmos, and the very good deals we uncovered while trolling through the vast online-shopping universe this past week, including the Haim sisters’ go-to guitar tuner, some Warhol-esque prints for your walls, and Martha Stewart–made CBD drops.
“When we were first playing around L.A., we only had one tuner, so every time we had to tune our instruments we’d have to unplug our pedals and plug into a pedal tuner we all shared,” musician Danielle Haim told us when we talked to her and her bandmates-slash-sisters Este and Alana about the things the notoriously hive-minded trio can’t live without. “Thank God Danielle found this,” says Alana. “The Snark is so easy and convenient. It’s battery operated, so you don’t have to plug it in anywhere. And it’s so small.” Adds Este: “We each have our own Snark tuner now and it’s less chaotic. No more awkward set pauses.” Summing it all up, Danielle concludes, “The Snark is so great — you clip it on your guitar and tune anywhere you need to, and you can just pop it into your purse.”
“I feel as comfortable on this baby as I do on my $4,000 Trek,” one reviewer who describes themself as a “seasoned athlete not just a weekend warrior” writes of this stationary bike from our list of the best-reviewed exercise bikes on Amazon. “The construction is superb and also a quiet ride.” Another happy customer writes they “dropped my gym membership” after buying it, with a third declaring that “this is an amazing bang for your buck.” If you’re looking to invest a little more, check out these fancier spin bikes that two contributors swear are dupes for a Peloton (and cost a third of its price).
In keeping with its reputation of being the year when nothing is the same, we’re seeing signs of holiday shopping starting even earlier in 2020 — like, right now. While we tend to be the procrastinating type, we’re always talking to cool people about their favorite gifts to help folks find the best stuff no matter how early (or late) they want to buy it. This shapely vessel comes recommended by Unofficial Expert podcast co-host Marie Faustin, who told Strategist junior writer Jenna Milliner-Waddell it’s one thing she’d love to give her BFF and co-host Sydnee Washington. “Sydnee is famously a lesbian, and we both love plants. Sydnee’s apartment is very cool, but it’s also very sexy, so I think if we can add to the space, and we have something that is a dual function, then why not get some sexy booty planters? They’re kind of like art.”
“I love to go out and order perfectly cooked steaks and other meats — but right now, of course, that’s not really an option,” writes singer-songwriter and hobbyist grillmaster Marc Scibilia about an all-too relatable dilemma these days. “I’d order steaks for takeout or delivery, but they’d always arrive cold. Reheating them would then really change the texture and taste of their original medium rare or rare cook.” Enter: the Beefer, a German-made grill Scibilia first spotted on the Instagram of his former collaborator German DJ Robin Schulz (whom he says always “seems to be on the cutting edge of unique ways to grill meats”). Capable of reaching up to 1,500 degrees, Scibilia says the Beefer has allowed him “to grill at temperatures usually reserved for restaurant kitchens” at home. “An inch-and-a-half-thick cut cooked at 1,500 degrees Fahrenheit, for instance, is usually medium rare in about three to four minutes. Fresh out of the Beefer, I usually let it rest for another ten minutes and it’s basically ready to eat.”
From writer Dominique Pariso’s recent roundup of Black-made wall art comes this graphic portrait of I May Destroy You creator Michaela Coel, who is one of several contemporary celebrities to serve as inspiration for illustrator Monica Ahanonu. “The Los Angeles–based illustrator is known for her Pop Art–style portraiture,” we write, and “recently published her third book of portraits, Icons: 50 Heroines Who Shaped Contemporary Culture. Via her Etsy shop, Ahanonu sells prints of her portraits — some of which are featured in the book — that depict such notable folks as Diana Ross, Rihanna, Britney Spears, and Tracee Ellis Ross.”
We rustled these up in a recent micro sale (they’ve alas gone back to their full price since then), writing that the “UV-protection leggings are great for practicing safe sun and staying cool (or layering under pants for cooler evenings).” How can we vouch for their coziness, you ask? They come from the same Airism line as our favorite Uniqlo face masks, which we have worn and called “as breathable as we hoped.”
With the outdoors still being the preferred setting for human interaction amid the ongoing pandemic, those living where temperatures are starting to drop may be looking for things that can help them stay outside comfortably as seasons change. An outdoor heater, of course, is one of those things, so Strategist writer Lauren Ro spoke to a bevy of experts and people who use them — from restaurateurs to contractors to outdoorsy folks — about their favorites. Mr. Heater’s Buddy topped out list, with nods from three different folks who say it works as well in the backyard as it does further afield. Powered by a one-pound propane canister, the Buddy would be “plenty warm if you have three or four folks around it,” says one pro who owns one, with another adding it can also “heat a small enclosed space, like a tent or RV, pretty well.” As for how it works, our deputy editor Maxine Builder, another Buddy owner, explains: “Screw on the propane canister, click the pilot light on, and once it catches, set it to either high or low.”
As migraine sufferers know, there is no shortage of remedies out there. But, as contributor Ariel Kanter (who has had genetically-caused migraines all of her life) writes, “the plethora of options means it’s really up to migraine-sufferers to figure out what works best for their individual condition. My secret — which I affectionately call the Eggplant — sounds a lot sexier than it looks.” The purple, eggplant-shaped cap is meant to be stored in the freezer, and if you’re thinking that it sounds like a lot of similar icy tools for treating migraines, Kanter assures it is not. “Far more comprehensive than a single ice pack or frozen tool, the Eggplant has a whopping 16 small ice packs sewn into its Lycra body, which offer 360-degree coverage of my head. Positioned above your brows, it becomes kind of like an icy beanie; pulled all the way over your eyes, it offers the added benefit of darkness, which can mitigate an aura,” she writes, adding, “The only spot where there isn’t an ice pack is at the top of the hat, where there’s a quite cleverly placed hole for the loose messy bun I usually sport when I don’t feel well.”
Perhaps the ultimate gift for frazzled moms, Martha Stewart has graced the wellness world with her own line of CBD products (“presumably inspired by her friend Snoop Dogg,” we write in Don’t Dillydally.) Among the home guru’s ingestibles are “softgels, gummies (in citrus or berry flavors), and these drops, which can be added to a tincture or consumed on their own, contain 25 mg of hemp-derived CBD per dropper, and are available unflavored and in blood orange or Meyer lemon.” We haven’t tried them, but we can certainly picture Stewart assuring: They’re a good thing.
As Strategist writer Jordan Bowman notes, “Over the last few months, people have been logging onto sites like Twitch and Facebook Gaming (where you can watch people play Minecraft or narrate old wrestling videos) more than ever: In July, our sister site, the Verge, reported that viewership on streaming sites ‘grew to 5 billion hours watched between April and June,’ a 50 percent increase from the first quarter of 2020.” Gamers aren’t the only ones drawing massive audiences, though — people are also tuning in to watch “tabletop role-playing games, arts and crafts, sculpting to live animation, and a bike messenger fearlessly weaving in and out of New York City traffic,” Bowman continues. He spoke to producers and hosts of non-gaming streaming channels to get their favorites — many of which, Bowman notes, can be viewed via Twitch Prime. “For $12.99 a month (after a 30-day trial), it includes all the benefits of Amazon Prime along with a $5 monthly subscription credit to use on any channel. (If you already have Prime, you are a Twitch Prime member.) You also get some digital rewards like specialized emoji, badges, and ad-free viewing.”
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.