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The Team's Best Buys of 2021

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Team's Best Buys

1. Vintage Moroccan rug from Benisouk: I grew up in a house with nary a rug in sight, so naturally I am obsessed with them as an adult. If I told you how many hours I spent online shopping to find the perfect vintage rug for my living room this year, you’d be disgusted with me. I found the perfect one-of-a-kind rug from Revival Rugs in fall 2020, and made the mistake of trying to wait until it went on sale, only for the rug to literally be pulled out from underneath me about a week before Thanksgiving. It took me six months to find another rug I loved just as much, so don’t make the same mistakes I did, ok?! Mine is from Benisouk (A+ shopping experience), and I genuinely couldn’t be happier with it. -Kelly

2. Paint from Clare and Backdrop: I went on quite the painting journey this summer as I picked out colors for every room in my apartment. I got peel-n-stick samples from Samplize, Clare, and Backdrop, and ended up with four different colors in my apartment, all of which I love. I think my best value award probably goes to Clare, with $2 paint samples and really excellent quality paint for $59/gallon (Backdrop samples are $3 and paint is $69/gallon, and while I liked the samples and color selection the best of any brand I tried, the gallon of dark blue/green paint I chose was barely enough for two coats on one wall in my bedroom, so it’s a bit more expensive than other brands). The project was incredibly fun, and my only regret is not having more walls to paint! -Kelly

3. Fjallraven Vardag 28 backpack: Once I found myself in a long-distance relationship this summer, I knew my teeny-tiny work backpack wasn’t going to cut it for the many trips I’ve made to Minneapolis this year. I did some light online research in September and quickly landed on the Fjallraven Vardag 28 backpack. It has everything I was looking for in an onboard “personal item” or carry-on: a separate compartment for my laptop, two front zipper pockets, a VERY large interior pocket, and an exterior pocket for a water bottle. I’ve used it on every trip I’ve taken since buying it, and so far I have no complaints! 

4. Sleep Ritual by Simple Habit app: I kicked off the year by developing a bad case of insomnia. The time I spent awake until the early hours of the morning was incredibly debilitating in every part of my life, to say the least. In addition to starting therapy again, I also used an app-based CBTI program that was crucial in learning more about sleep itself and how to start getting enough sleep to function (even poorly). My insomnia luckily wasn’t chronic and went away this summer after I had already completed the program, but I am very sure it helped me survive those months when I wasn’t sure I’d ever get a normal night’s sleep again. The app was still in beta while I used it, so I don’t know what changes were made to it since then, but I chatted with their development team and gave my feedback on a few parts of the program I thought had room for improvement, which was a cool experience. 

5. Daily Harvest: When I get really busy, I completely fail at making myself lunch. I end up eating whatever is around, even if that means boxed mac & cheese several times a week. I decided to give Daily Harvest a try this summer, and it was a game-changer. It did take me a few tries to get my order right (I started off by ordering way too many smoothies, and not enough repeats of the harvest bowls I like the most), but now I truly love it. If you need a fast, healthy option for lunch that requires very little effort, give Daily Harvest a try.

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1. Coy Collection and Lauren Lauzon Ceramics Mugs: I really enjoy upgrading products that I use every single day and get a ton of use out of. This year, I invested in two mugs that have gotten a combined hundreds of uses, and I haven't regretted it for a second. Gotta say that little brings me more joy than a steaming cup of coffee in a homemade, colorful, ceramic mug – bonus points if it has smiley faces on it.

2. Target Backless Bar Stools: Justin and I hunted for the perfect bar stools for weeks (adulthood discovery: they're all really expensive) until I spotted these on Target's website. They only had two of the black in stock, so I tracked down another pair on Facebook Marketplace (score!), and now, I occasionally spend nearly eight hours perched on one and they're surprisingly comfortable...and very affordable.

3. GGET Ethiopian Beans: Shoutout to G for getting me hooked on these beans. After lots of taste tests, I've come to discover that I prefer Ethiopian coffee beans, and I visit the local Go Get Em Tiger in Santa Monica to get a fresh bag every two weeks or so. These are a light roast (so lots of caffeine) and super vibrant, and I enjoy the fruity undertones.

4. Harvest and Mill Organic Cotton Ankle Socks: A few months ago, as I sifted through my drawer of old, pilled, worn-down socks, I realized I didn't own anything that served a purpose other than exercise or warmth.I opted I had to add a few new options, all these slouchy cotton ankle socks that I now wear daily with my New Balance sneakers and leggings/sweats for a casual, yet somehow chic, look.

5. Madewell Sherpa Clogs: These are a Black Friday purchase that have, in just a few weeks, made my best buys list. When I saw Emily Henderson raving about the leather version and claiming they make the world's most comfortable travel shoe, I investigated the options. The sherpa keeps my feet toast and gives the illusion of slippers, but because they have a solid sole, I can wear them when I run errands out of the house. I've lived in them the last three weeks and anticipate they'll get even more use the rest of the winter.

Team's Best Buys2

1. Malin Goetz leather eau de parfum: I purchased this earlier this year after April Lockhart (one of my go-to creators for all things beauty) called it a Le Labo Santal 33 dupe. It's so good, my sister also got her own bottle which I allowed because we live in different cities. I can't be the only person who is kind of selfish with scent? It's pretty close but not an exact dupe which I appreciate because in a city like L.A., your chances of smelling Santal on someone out in the wild is very high. I've never gotten more compliments on my scent than when I wear this. I recently ran out but it's an easy repurchase. 

2. Veja Sneakers V-10 Sneakers: A few months ago, I included this pair of shoes in our fall wishlist. I flew to New York shortly after and everyone was wearing Veja's. I loved seeing them in the wild - it was the best show of versatility. After searching in store and online for my size, I struck gold on the Bandier website. These are exactly what I was looking for in a pair of white shoes. They're crisp, comfy, and feel stylish without being too loud. 

3. Target Sweatshirt + Sweatpants: Back with another winter Target find and I'm here to report: Do not sleep on their lounge wear selection. They've got a lot of options but I found this sweatshirt and sweatpants in the exact same color and can't get enough of them. Not only is this set extra comfortable but it looks so much more expensive than it is. Since these pieces are sold separately and not as a set, you have to make sure to find pieces in the same color and size but it's well worth it. Something about a coordinated set just makes you instantly look put together. I can't find the exact sweatpants I picked up but I've seen them in store. Sizes and colors vary so it's really a game of mixing and matching but once you do, you'll thank me.

4. Hydro Flask 32 oz. Wide Mouth with Straw Lid: Let me preface this by saying, I know I am ridiculously late to the Hydro Flask world. I'm notoriously bad at staying hydrated but finally buying a real water bottle has changed my life. So yes, you probably already own this bottle but on the off chance that you don't, here's the sign you've been waiting for. It actually makes me like drinking water and now I take it everywhere. If you have trouble remembering to drink water, the bottle with a straw has substantially increased my water intake. Stay hydrated, folks! 

Team's Best Buys4

1. California Flat Bill Hat: I've never really considered myself to be a hat girl - I love a cute and comfy beanie, but that's about as far as I'd venture in the category of head accessories. However, I have always appreciated a flat bill hat, and especially the girls that could effortlessly pull them off with any look. Never thought I'd be able to, but since moving to San Diego, I've been seeing them in almost any store I pop into...so I decided to snag one that caught my eye while roaming the aisles of the cutest boutique in my neighborhood. To my surprise it's become one of my favorite accessories, and I've found myself grabbing it on the days that I don't feel like styling my hair. I think it's the cutest look and can really go with any outfit I'm wearing! Guess I'm already turning into a true 'San Diegan' lol. 

2. Neutrogena Retinol Night Cream: This one was an unintentional purchase - you know, when you pop into target with one item in mind and end up at the checkout counter unloading all kinds of trinkets, clothes, skincare and beauty products from your heavy basket. I couldn't resist throwing this one in with the bunch mainly because I'm always on the lookout for a good retinol cream. The first time I ever tried retinol I had ordered it from Drunk Elephant, which I still absoluuuutely love, but this one was an easy purchase and definitely more in my price range. Since adding this product to my nighttime skincare routine I have noticed a huge difference in my skin's texture and overall complexion. It might have even earned a spot in my permanent skincare rotation! 

3. ArtNaturals Vitamin C Serum: This one was part of my unintentional Target skincare haul, and I don't regret it one bit. This serum has become my go-to morning skincare product, and pairing it with my retinol night cream has done wonders for my skin. I'm so happy with the results and haven't felt this confident in my skin in a while. What I love most about using this in the morning is that it feels super light weight and not sticky whatsoever - so when I apply my moisturizer and face makeup afterwards it doesn't feel like too much product build up. 

4. Kristin Ess Soft Shine Beach Wave Spray: Not sure if you've noticed by now, but I try out *a lot* of different leave-in conditioners and hair products. At 25 years old I'm still trying to understand my hair texture and the best products that work for me, so I pretty much had to throw this one straight into my shopping cart. This was another one of those Target runs where I wasn't planning on buying anything for my hair, but hey, the sleek, black bottle was calling my name...and who doesn't love beach waves?? I've been using it directly after washing my hair for a few months now and I love the way my hair air dries afterwards. It leaves my curls feeling more light-weight and wavy which I really like, and there's no need to use any heat on my hair.

5. Target Tie Dye Sweatpants: Jumping on the Target loungewear bandwagon with Cass here. She is not wrong! Do not sleep on their loungewear! Before my cross country move in September I decided to pop over to Target to take a look at any comfy clothes I could wear on the plane and was totally shocked at how many options there were. Where had I been this whole time?! I immediately grabbed a pair of tie-dye joggers with dark shades of purples and blues, and they might have become my favorite pair of cozy pants. They're so soft, and SO cute. They're perfect for traveling, but are also super cute paired with your favorite sneakers and a tank to hang out with friends. I think I've found a way to wear them for almost any occasion - and I could not recommend them enough. I couldn't find the exact pair online, but these look just as great! 

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