My 10 Best Buys of 2016

The best products I bought over the past year.
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The best products I bought over the past year.
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1. Fels-Naptha stain remover. A few months back, Sloan discovered a tube of my lipstick, which she promptly smeared all over one of her best blouses. Despite my best stain-removing attempts, a large pink blob remained firmly planted on her sleeve. It wasn't until I told my friend (who also has a child Sloan's age) about her ruined shirt that she introduced me to Fels-Naptha. Her mother-in-law had given her a bar that she'd had in her possession for almost thirty years. It's this magical laundry bar that you wet, then rub onto a piece of clothing, and it removes virtually any kind of stain. Needless to say, with a messy toddler and a clumsy mom, it's become a staple in our home.

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2. Ursa Major 'Hoppin' Fresh' Deodorant. Up until this year, I swore by my clinical strength deodorant/anti-perspirant that pretty much guaranteed I'd never have to deal with underarm odor or sweat. But as more and more studies came out warning against the dangers of aluminum-based antiperspirants, I realized I needed a change. A few friends recommended this 100% natural deodorant and while there was certainly a bit of a transitional period (I'd typically either have to re-wash my armpits or apply more deodorant halfway through the day for the first few weeks), it was well worth it. I now sometimes feel like I can skip it altogether - something I never thought possible - and love that I'm using something that's toxin-free.

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3. Laguiole Knives. We made several purchases in Paris, but these are by far our favorite keepsake. These knives casually flanked the plates at several restaurants we ate at and loved, so we looked into how to recreate the experience once we got home. The craftsmanship behind each knife is unrivaled and the elegant handle makes any meal feel special, even if you’re eating in front of the television.

steam cleaner

4. Bissell Steam Cleaner. While I love our three cats, one behavior that we’ve struggled to curb is their territorial spraying that happens right by our living room. Thankfully this cleaner has been the solution to keeping our house clean, despite their best efforts to mark our couch. Its deep cleaning capability and portability make it an essential part of our maintenance routine (plus it's good to keep on hand for Sloan-related spills).

Amazon Echo

5. Amazon Echo. This was technically a gift, but we would easily purchase this smart speaker without reservation. It’s become an essential part of our daily routine, from playing Sloan’s music, to setting timers for cooking and ordering an Uber, all via voice commands. There are times it gets a little creepy and chimes in when we haven’t prompted it with the trigger word (“Alexa”), but overall, it’s an amazing device.

vacuum sealer

6. Food Saver Vacuum. We'd been looking for a way to streamline our meal planning and storage process since Sloan began eating regular meals, but found ourselves overbuying/wasting certain foods on a recurring basis. G recommended we purchase this to extend the life of our groceries, but it's also become a helpful tool for our sous vide (featured in last year's list) and has changed the way we organize our leftovers and utilize our freezer.

swell bottle

7. S'well Bottle. I'm terrible about drinking water and was getting dehydration headaches on a daily basis. Whether it's laziness or apathy, refilling a glass multiple times a day was simply not a habit I was going to build, but this bottle changed my approach. I fill it once or twice a day and the thermal lining keeps beverages at the perfect temperature. It also doesn't hurt that it comes in a variety of cute colors/finishes, though I'm partial to the rose gold.

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8. Gucci Flats. With how much running around I do from meetings to motherhood duties, I need shoes I can slip on instantly–not a sneaker, not a boot, and definitely not a flip-flop. These slip-on loafers are sturdier than a slide, and provide instant polish. They make the morning rush that much easier, because I know that they go with almost any dress, skirt, jumpsuit, trouser, or pair of jeans I'd thrown on. Though the version with fur became very trendy this year, this sleek style is a classic that will only get better as time wears them in.

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9. Baskets. I wrote about using baskets to corral Sloan's toys, but after Leslie shared her simple life hack of leaving one by the front door, it motivated me to do the same. I purchased a trio for various purposes throughout the home: one for the things we need to remember to grab on the way out the front door; one that sits by the toilet in our guest bathroom full of toilet paper, so visitors never end up in an awkward situation; and one that replaced the previous version we'd been using for Sloan's trinkets, so our basket system is cohesive. 

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10. 'Teeth Are Not For Biting.' G bought this book after a psychologist friend recommended it, to curb Sloan’s new habit of gnawing on his face whenever she got angry. Within a few readings, she literally stopped biting and it quickly became one of her favorite books. There is an entire series that addresses various behaviors (we also just had to buy 'Hands Are Not For Hitting'), each illustrated and presented in a way that children can grasp the problem and understand why they should prevent the behavior.

P.S., See my Best Buys of 2015, 2014, and 2013