Each of these items that appears on my list are items I personally own and use. The items on this list are items I genuinely and whole-heartedly recommend – there’s no company sponsoring me to praise their product. Also, you’ll notice pretty quickly my list contains a hodge podge of items spanning various categories and price points.
Item #1: Zella Leggings (Nordstrom)
I’d heard people rave about Zella Leggings for the last couple years, so I was excited when my husband bought me a pair last Christmas. As a runner, I love wearing crazy colors and patterns and these fit the ticket. Even better, they are thick and keep me warm. I’ve worn them on distances of over 10 miles and nary an issue. If you’re interested in snagging a pair, I recommend you look at Nordstrom for the best prices and selection (not to mention free shipping!).
Item #2: Carol’s Daughter Hair Care (Amazon)
My biracial daughter is blessed with beautiful curly hair. Unfortunately, I’m not much of a hair person and I’ve struggled over the years in finding the right kind of hair products for her. This year, I decided to spend a bit more and pick up the Carol’s Daughter line. As soon as I pumped some into my hand, I knew it was going to be good quality. Both she and I have loved the results. Here’s a photo I snapped after freshly washing and drying her hair:
I also adore that these products are sulfate-free so they won’t damage her hair. We use the Black Vanilla type. Amazon’s prices on these products are solid from what I’ve seen in the stores.
Item #3: Prince of Peace Ginger Tea (Amazon; Grocery Stores)
I discovered this tea thanks to my mom this past fall when I was dealing with a serious illness (I’ll share more on that topic in a few weeks). There was something about this tea that calmed my heartburn as well as soothed my anxiety. It’s got the perfect blend of spicy and sweet and I find myself having a cup nearly every day! In fact, as I was writing up this blog post I decided to heat up some water so I could make a cup right now.
The best price I found was on Amazon, where you can buy it in large quantities and on Subscribe and Save. Small boxes of 10-ct tend to run about $4-5 in the natural foods section of grocery stores.
Item #4: Pop-up Mesh Hampers (Amazon)
These mesh hampers have made a HUGE difference in my laundry system. I paid under $20 for the set on Amazon and I gave one for each child. They collapse up and are easy to tote. I love that they take up less room than the plastic laundry hampers.
Item #5: Leather-Bound Photo Albums (Costco)
One of my 2016 resolutions was to organize my family’s photos. I would say I’m about 90% complete with this goal (and trust me, I’ll be sharing more on how I did it here at the blog!). One the decisions I made early on was to not make digital photo albums. While they often turn out attractive, I find they can be expensive and time consuming. Plus, they’re so permanent! In the end, I opted for good old-fashioned photo albums and prints. This year, Costco has been offering these 2-pack of leather-bound albums for $20. What a deal!
Each album holds up to 300 4×6 prints. I ended up buying 4 sets (so a total of 8 albums) and I ended up using 5. The albums provide a space for a cover photo, a table of contents, and space next to each photo so you can jot some remarks. I am hoping to buy 3-4 more of these sets to have on hand for future years.
Item #6: Nathan Hand-Held Water Bottle (Amazon)
As I got into training for longer distances this past summer, it was clear that I was going to need some sort of water bottle. In the past, I’ve worn the hip belts, but those were clunky. I also didn’t need a hydration vest since it was overkill for what I needed. In the end, I opted for this small handheld water bottle. It’s been the best! It holds 10 ounces of water and even has a small zip bag, which I use for storing Clif Shots or my key. I’m not a huge water drinker when I run, but I found this handheld worked good for distances of say 8-12 miles (I generally don’t need water for distances less than that). When my mileage started creeping up over 12 miles at a time, I ended up buying a larger version of this bottle. (I’ve also been known to stop by the 7-Eleven or fast food restaurants along my route for a water refill!)
In case you’re wondering, yes, you really do get used to running with it. It’s got a comfortable hand strap and after the first mile or so I entirely forget it’s there. It would make a nice gift or stocking stuffer for a runner.
Item #7: Bubble Talk Board Game (Amazon)
Confession: I hate board games. I hate taking the time to set them up, wade through complicated instructions, and feign interest in “strategizing” how to win. I just really hate the whole lot of it. I’d rather watch a movie, take a bath, or watch paint dry. So for me to recommend a board game? Is actually a big deal. This board game was actually given to me back in 2010 at a blogging convention and I only got around to opening it this summer (see, I’m really not kidding about the board game hate). I was pleasantly surprised. It’s fast-paced, takes only a couple of minutes to get, and can be played for as long or as short as you like. There’s not a lot of pieces or strategy involved, and I always end up laughing. It’d be a good game to play at a New Year’s party. My kids also enjoy playing it and it’s one I don’t inwardly groan at when it emerges from the game closet.
Item #8: Teavana Tea Maker (Teavana)
This is the best little loose leaf teamaker I’ve owned. The design is simple and genius. Add your tea (and sweetener, if desired). Add your hot water and set on the counter to steep. When ready, you take the Perfectea maker and place it on top of your mug. Voila! It will empty right into your mug. Love this thing. It’d make an awesome holiday or hostess gift.
Item #9: Tom’s of Maine Beauty Soap (Amazon)
Yeah, it’s soap. But I swear, there is something about this Tom’s of Maine Daily Moisture Soap that’s just… different. My skin feels markedly better after using it. I found myself stroking my arm after popping out of the shower. Then I called my mom about it. I have chronically dry skin in the winter time, so this is nothing short of miraculous! The best deals I’ve seen on it have been on the multipacks sold on Amazon.
Item #10: Run Fast, Eat Slow Cookbook (Amazon)
This new, highly anticipated cookbook was put out by two authors, one of whom is Shalane Flanagan (who happens to be one of my favorite pro runners. I bought this cookbook shortly after it was released. It’s a very nice hardcover cookbook with beautiful photographs and whole-food recipes. While I haven’t made everything in the book, I’ve already made a couple of the items multiple times. In particular, I love the beet smoothie – and that’s saying a lot since I hate beets! They also have wonderful recipes for mineral and chicken broth. Whether or not you’re a runner, I think you’ll enjoy these healthy and delicious recipes.
Now it’s your turn: what purchases, big or small, are you most satisfied with making in 2016? What’s that gadget or product you can’t stop recommending to friends or family? I’d love to hear about it – leave a comment below!