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Editor’s favorite things

Every month or so, our Founder and Editor, Aly B., sends a recap of the products she’s loving to our subscribers — ranging from toys (of course!), to clothing, beauty, tech, home decor, food, wellness and more. She gives an indepth overview of the item, and explains why she’s chosen it as a “Favorite Thing”.

We’ll be saving all of her finds right here, so bookmark this page and come browse through to get ideas and inspiration, and discover new products that will bring you joy, or help make your life easier. 

January/February Favorites

BEAUTY

(1) Beauty by Earth Organic Self Tanner

As we’re in the dead of winter, I thought it would be pretty fitting to share my most favorite self tanner of all time.

I have super pale skin so I stayed away from any sort of tanning lotion for a very long time, assuming that it would make me look like an Oompa Loompa. But last year before I went on February vacation (where I had to trade my winter layers for a bathing suit), I decided I had to give it a try.

First, I did A LOT of research to find one that wasn’t full of harmful toxins.The skin is our largest organ, and as you’re essentially covering almost every bit of it with self tanner, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t serving myself a chemical cocktail each time I used it. Through my research I landed on a couple of different brands, and tried them all. The winner by a long shot, was the Beauty by Earth Organic Self Tanner. It scores a “1” on the EWG’s scale (“1” being the best), and it gave me the more gorgeous, natural-looking tan.

What’s great about this product is that the cream is white, so it won’t stain your pillow or sheets, it’s easy to apply (wash your hands right after and they won’t turn orange), and it’s a buildable tan — so if you want to keep going darker, just reapply the next day.

They also have one specifically for your face, but I use the regular Self-Tanner all over with no issues. Seriously, give it a try — I can not imagine anyone being unhappy with the results!

(2) Slip Pure Silk Pillowcase

I put this on my Christmas list this year and didn’t think a pillowcase could bring so much joy — but after using it for over a month, I can tell you…it can!

I noticed a while ago that every time I woke up, one of the lines (yes, that’s a nice way of saying “wrinkles”) in between my eyes (I believe the “technical” term for those are number 11’s) was much more pronounced than the other. It took me a while to realize that it was because I mainly sleep on that side of my face, which was causing the extra creasing.

Sleeping was causing me wrinkles — crazy, right?!

But would you believe that using this Slip Pillowcase, it no longer happens?! I mean, it didn’t make the wrinkles disappear, but it doesn’t make them any worse — which at my age, I will gladly accept!

Apparently it’s because the silk allows your skin to glide across the pillow, thereby reducing the friction and pressure on your face. As an added benefit, it also has the same effect on your hair, and I’ve noticed that I have more volume and less tangles in the morning than before.

It also just feels ah-mazing on your skin. This sounds completely ridiculous to say, but it’s honestly such a treat to lay on! I never want to go back to my scratchy cotton pillow again.

The Slip comes in a variety of colors and 2 sizes (the “Queen” size is just your standard pillow case size, and “King”) and can be washed on a delicate cycle in the washing machine. I just hang it to dry but reviews say you can put it in the dryer. I’m just not brave enough to try as I don’t want to spend one night without my face plastered all over this dream pillow.

It isn’t super cheap, but this is your face we’re talking about!

And be warned — I loved it so much, I wanted to get another so I could swap them out during washing, and I fell into the trap of getting a cheaper, copycat one on Amazon. At first I thought I had discovered a great deal, but after using it for just a week, the fabric was pulling apart and it was pretty much ruined in the washing machine. So lesson learned, some things are worth paying for.

KIDS

(3) Monopoly Deal

We have tested countless games for our Best Board Games for Kids & Families Gift Guide, and after getting my son this Monopoly Deal card game for Christmas, I have a new winner to add.

My son LOVES Monopoly — it’s the game he always asks to play…but I’m sure you know the problem there, right? It can take HOURS, so games get started but rarely finished. So when I saw that Monopoly Deal could be played in just 15 minutes, I knew it was worth a try.

After a few rounds of getting our feet wet with the rules, we (my husband, 9‑year old son, 7‑year old daughter and I) were completely hooked. It’s fast-paced fun that still involves collecting properties, while adding in a fun element of stealing and swapping from other players. It’s exciting fun, and can indeed be played in 15 minutes (although some games lasted in the 20–30 range, it’s still an improvement over 2–3 HOURS!).

Best yet, it’s currently on sale for under $5 on Amazon!

(4) The Story Orchestra Books

My sister-in-law gifted one of these beautiful, interactive The Story Orchestra books to my almost 2‑year old (knowing that she already had pretty much every hand-me-down toy imaginable!), and now Baby G won’t let me read anything else to her.

There are 4 different books, “Sleeping Beauty”, “Swan Lake”, “The Nutcracker” and “Four Seasons in One Day” which all feature stunning illustrations and a retelling of the classic ballet stories. But the unique element is that on each page you can press a button to hear the sound of an orchestra playing Tchaikovsky’s or Vivaldi’s music that corresponds with that scene. They are truly magical, and my other girls are equally enthralled.

Great for a special gift, or just to liven up your current book selection.

(5) Young, Wild & Friedman Sensory Kits

I am totally obsessed with this mom-run company, that makes the most magical sensory playdough kits. Each kit has its own theme (a few of my favorites include “ice cream”, “fairy”, “construction” and “pirate”), and comes with 3 balls of homemade, non-toxic playdough, and the most amazing little accessories. I love how it gives your child an invitation to play and create, and lets their imaginations go to work.

I got my 4‑year old daughter the Unicorn kit for Christmas and it is BY FAR the gift that she has played with the most. In fact, all 3 of my girls (7‑year old + almost 2 year old) play with it together, and gives me the most magical moments of quiet time.

And the kits come in a great plastic container that makes clean-up and storage super easy.

I scooped up the “Ice Cream” and “Candy” kits for my younger girls’ March birthdays and I can’t wait to see their little faces light up when they open them (and the subsequent quiet play!).

FOOD

(6) Bare Organic Apple Chips — Fuji & Reds

These are my new obsession. I still can not believe that they are only made from one ingredient: organic apples. That’s it! Nothing added. Just baked apples that form crispy, sweet chips. I was highly skeptical, but grabbed a bag when I saw them on sale at my local Costco and decided to give them a try. So glad I did!

My kids like them too (anything in chip form has a much higher probability of getting eaten), and although nothing can beat a fresh apple, they are perfect for a quick on-the-go nibble.

HOME

(7) Girl Friday Acrylic Calendar

When we completed our kitchen renovation in August, I just couldn’t bring myself to rehang my old white-board family calendar I’d been using for years. It just didn’t fit with the new, modern space, and it was starting to look pretty beat-up with many of the black calendar lines wearing off.

So I went searching for a different solution, and was blown away when I stumbled across Girl Friday Acrylic Calendars on Etsy. They were just what I was looking for: modern and minimal, yet super functional.

They come in many different styles and sizes, but this is the one I ultimately went with. Again, I saved my personal review to my Instagram Stories “Favorites” Highlight if you want to take a peek.

I love that the black lines are printed on the back of the acrylic, so they will never come off, and you can chose the metal color for the little brackets that hold it off the wall.

I use these chalk markers to color coordinate everyone’s schedule, and stuck this little acrylic container from the Container Store onto the bottom corner to hold the markers so they’re easily accessible.

It’s one of the things people comment on the most out of our whole reno!

GADGETS

(8) Flameless USB Lighter

I shared this genius little gadget on my Instagram stories a few weeks ago (also saved in my “Favorites” highlight if you want to see it in action), and the response was crazy! I’m completely ready to throw out my matches and traditional flame lighter, because this Flameless USB Lighter is a bazillion times smarter.

I won’t pretend that I know the science of how it produces the flameless light, but because there’s no actual flame, it’s wind proof, moisture proof and great for lighting things vertically or at an angle.

Have you ever tried lighting the candles on your child’s birthday cake at an outdoor party when the wind keeps blowing out your match? Or when you go to light a candle in a tall votive and have the flame shoot up at your hand? Gone camping and can’t light your fire because you have damp matches? With this little device, these things CAN’T happen! It’s small and slim, and not only great for candles, but camping, BBQs, lighting your fireplace pilot light and more.

You simply use any USB cord to charge it, flip the on/off switch, then slide up the main button to ignite the “flame”. Couldn’t be easier. Mine is tucked away in my “junk” drawer, but I assure you, it’s a far cry from being a piece of junk.

MORE!

(9) Get Sick Bags

OK, totally not a glamourous item by any means, but one day you will thank me for encouraging you to buy these Sick Bags. I swear, kids can be feeling fine one moment, and the next thing you know they spring “mooom, I don’t feel so good” on you and you’re left in a panic searching for any sort of plastic bag or container. And after you’ve had a kid throw up all over your car, you’ll gladly shell out a few bucks to have one of these disposable Sick Bags at-the-ready.

l keep one in my handbag, plus a few in my car. The ring at the top makes it easy for kids to hold over their mouth, and they’re quick and easy to close to contain the mess.

And if you’re pregnant with morning sickness, these are a MUST!

 

 

Aly will be back next month to share more of her favorites, so stay tuned!

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