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Emily's 19 Best Buys of 2021

From a bug and fly repellant to the Nike sneakers I've worn dozens of times.
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E's Best Buys

1. Snowe Flatware (currently on sale!). For the last ten years or so, we've used the same set of gold flatware. It was sort of fun and fresh when we bought it, but the set never held up well in the dishwasher and tarnished over time. We decided to finally upgrade, right before moving into our renovated kitchen, and I have no idea why it took us so long. It's our first "adult" flatware that has a beautiful weight to it, looks polished and pretty each time we take them out of the dishwasher, and the reviews that said people had "never felt this way about flatware" mirror my sentiments exactly.

2. Molly Baz's Cook This Book. I love all food, but typically the only cookbooks that *really* excite me are those solely focused on dessert. But that all changed with Molly Baz's Cook This Book. Nearly every single recipe is appealing and feel like the kinds of dishes you'd order at the coolest restaurant in town that you'd never know how to recreate on your own. They're vibrant, full of flavor, classic without being boring, and still approachable. We're slowly making our way through the book, Julie & Julia style, and if you've been on the fence about whether you need yet another cookbook, trust me - you do.

3. Ganni Boots. My style has always leaned pretty sweet and feminine, but it was only recently that I began wanting to offset that in a slightly unexpected way. For all my floral dresses, tailored pants and swingy skirts, I was missing a shoe that would add some much-needed balance. Enter: my Ganni lug sole boots. At first glance, they're clunky, oversized and masculine, but somehow they're *the* perfect finishing touch and add an edgy factor to any outfit.

4. Ooni Pizza Oven. During Covid, we introduced "Sundae Sunday," when we'd close out each weekend with pizza, a family movie, and yes, a sundae. It was a tradition that stuck around and after over a year of making homemade dough, we decided to upgrade to a wood-burning pizza oven for our backyard. We had a built-in pizza oven in our last place that we rarely used, so I was reluctant to make a similar purchase, but this one is compact, cleans easily, and uses wood pellets, which are more convenient to acquire (than straight up logs) and store. It only took us a few times to master our technique and it consistently churns out pizzas that will rival the best spot in town.

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5. Cocktail Glasses. I bought our delicate, tulip-shaped glasses over the summer and get asked about them every single time I show them on social media. They're an unconventional alternative to wine glasses (and somehow make it taste even better?) and are the nicest way to enjoy a martini. The only problem is they're nearly impossible to track down - I've been trying to secure a set for my mom and they've been sold out the entire time.

6. Public Goods Dish Soap. I'd previously thought dish soap was one of those items that you had to settle for and would be a perpetual eyesore in the kitchen. It was on a random trip to Urban Outfitters that I discovered Public Goods, which has a lovely mandarin basil scent, comes in a chic, unassuming bottle, and breaks up even the most stubborn of dirty dishes (all without harmful ingredients, dyes, and synthetic fragrances).

7. Taika Canned Coffee. G and I are what you'd call coffee enthusiasts. We each only have one cup of day, but we like to really make it count. We rely on a slow pour-over method and use only the highest quality of beans. But when we were in the middle of our kitchen renovation, the process of making coffee every morning no longer felt meditative and enjoyable, but annoying and time-consuming (the washing of the dishes in the bathroom sink part). G discovered Taika canned coffee on Instagram and I was...less than hopeful as all other similar varieties tasted like a far inferior product than what I was used to on a daily basis. But I've got to say - Taika was perhaps an even better version of what we could make on our own, albeit in a cold brew or latte form. They're perfectly balanced, creamy, and even have the ideal amount of caffeine to give you a nice pep in your step without the jittery aftermath.

8. H&M Coasters. Finding attractive coasters is way harder than it should be, imho. After we upgraded to much nicer furniture a year ago, I'd been trying to track down coasters for our coffee and dining tables that were a bit of a Goldilocks situation - nice enough to leave out, but not too expensive that I'd be upset if they were damaged. I eventually found them at H&M, a four-pack of faux (though they look/feel like real) leather coasters that are unassuming enough to blend in with any decor and look cute when stacked nearby.

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9. NYX Eye Pencil in "Milk." After watching several Tik Tokers use NYX's "Milk" eye pencil, a brightening, iridescent white on the inner corners of their eyes, down the bridge of their nose, and in their cupid's bow, I was sold. Unlike other similar products, this appeared to blend in effortlessly and allowed for precise control because of the shape of the pencil. I went to four separate drug stores to try to track one down and once I got my hands on it, it immediately became one of my most-used items in my makeup bag.

10. Tripods. This year I invested in two tripods so I could more easily photograph and take videos of myself. One clamps onto the counter, which makes overhead shots (particularly while baking) a breeze and the other is more straightforward, but light enough to lug around and adjusts easily.

11. Compeed Blister Pads. I can get oddly cheap about things like bandaids and blister pads, but when we went to Italy this past summer and were walking around in the heat of August in Rome, I was so happy to have these in my purse at all times. They have an impressive amount of grip (and oftentimes stay in place through several showers) and add a cushiony-like padding between you and your shoe that cannot be beat.

12. Hilife Steamer. When our old steamer petered out a few months ago, I did an odd amount of research into our replacement. This is the one that got the best reviews (there are a casual 58k+ of them) and with good reason - it heats up almost instantaneously, smooths out wrinkles quickly, and isn't too cumbersome.

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13. Centenarius Protein Powder. I have a weird thing against protein powder - or at least I did before finding this one. I find most of the options out there to be, quite frankly, terrible. They either completely ruin a smoothie's texture, have a weird aftertaste, or make whatever you're drinking far too artificially sweet. And one of the reasons I love this option so much is that it's virtually undetectable. You don't taste it or notice it at all, which is the goal, so your banana/peanut butter/coconut milk smoothie (my go-to) tastes exactly the way it should, but with an impressive amount of protein.

14. Binax NOW Rapid Covid Tests. So hear me out. These are expensive and not 100% reliable. But they're the tests we first used in Europe when getting a negative test was required to get back into the United States. My anxiety around Covid has fluctuated over the past nearly two years and for those times when I was worried I was sick (without having come in contact with someone who had Covid or having any actual real symptoms), having these rapid tests on hand offered a lot of relief. Again, they're not fool proof, so if you're ever legitimately concerned, you should get a professional test, but I do like having these at home.

15. Soda Stream. In an effort to cut down on our La Croix habit, G bought a Soda Stream. Is it as appealing as an icy-cold can of [enter your favorite flavor here] La Croix? Nope. But it cuts down on cost while also doing a little good for the environment. We buy the little flavoring packets, so when added to a tall glass of ice, it's almost the same as our favorite canned sparkling water.

16. Bug and Fly Deterrent. When G and I went to Mexico over the summer, they'd put these miniature fans onto our table as soon as the food was served. They're minimal enough to not making eating around them too big of an inconvenience and they seriously detract any bugs from coming near your meal. We bought a two-pack upon our arrival back home and love placing them outside near a big cheese board knowing it won't soon be full of flies.

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17. Champagne Bucket. I'd admired this sleek wine bucket for years and finally bought one in Ojai not too long ago and I'm so happy I did. It's such gorgeous way to keep a bottle of wine out, over ice, and the leather handles adds such a nice touch. I've already decided that for my next gift for someone celebrating something major, I'll be giving it to them (with a bottle of champagne inside).

18. Girls' Combat Boots. Sloan has a new affinity for balance, particularly in the form of combat boots to pair with her array of sparkly, tutu-inspired dresses. We first bought her these lace-up (but with a zip on the side for those new to shoe tying!) boots in pink, but eventually added a black pair as well since she reaches for them nearly every day.

19. Nike Shoes. Oh, the clunky, kinda-ugly tennis shoes I admired from afar (aka a fellow mom at school I stalked while at dropoff) that I eventually got for myself. They offer an immense amount of support (they're what I reached for when we went to Disneyland and walked for miles and miles), add a hip vibe to everything from jeans to sweat suits, and come in a variety of colors.

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