The 10 Best Things I Bought on Amazon in 2021

The 10 Best Things I Bought on Amazon in 2021

I saw someone on YouTube do a round-up of their favorite Amazon purchases from this year and thought it was a great idea, so here we go! Obviously if you have the option to shop local that’s much cooler on many fronts, but if you live in the middle of nowhere like I do, sometimes Amazon is your only hope. (Pulling up my list of orders was kind of depressing. I might have single-handedly funded Bezos’s entire trip to space. Sorry, everyone.)

As usual, links are Amazon affiliate links because cat food is expensive and I really need that 4 cents I get when you buy something, thank you very much.



Where were these when I was in my late 20s and going to concerts in bars every weekend? That zipper on the side opens up to a pocket large enough to stash your credit card an ID in, your car key, or even a phone charger. They come in 14 different colors/styles, they’re actually comfortable, and although Amazon prices fluctuate pretty often, they’re usually under $50. (Mine were $40.79 when I ordered them, and they’re the Mission Brown color.)


A Coat with Built-In Heaters!

This one really deserves to be in all-caps, too, but I didn’t want to overdue it. I met someone who had one of these a couple of winters ago and I’ve been wanting one ever since. Again – Where have you been all my life?? This is basically like if you stuck heating pads or small electric blankets in the front and back of your coat. Even when it’s frigid out, you get nice and toasty within about 30 seconds! The battery is removable so you can recharge it via USB. Again, thanks to the ups and downs of Amazon prices, I got it on sale for $90 but it’s now about $130, which is still VERY worth it IMO, but if you can score it on sale, all the better!



The EZY-Dose Pill Crusher

If you can’t swallow pills, this guy is your new best friend. I’ve had a pill cutter for years that I usually use to cut my pills into tiny pieces, but this is SO much easier. You unscrew it, pop your pill in, and when you re-screw it together, your pill is smushed to dust. (Obviously check with your doctor/pharmacist to make sure your meds are safe to be taken this way!) Although it’s advertised as blue they send random colors so mine is lime green, which was a little disappointing but it’s also less than $5 so I’m not really complaining.


WANF Foldable Travel Duffel Bag

I usually wind up flying Allegiant because there aren’t a lot of choices at my closest airport and they’re cheap. However, they do charge 40 freaking dollars each way to check a bag, so I needed a decent-sized carry on that I knew would fit under the seat if necessary. This is a little thinner than I expected from the photo (think light canvas backpack material) but it’s $11 so… whatever. It has both a shoulder strap and handles, and it comes in a bunch of cute colors. (There are some options where you get TWO of ’em for $12!) It held up totally fine despite being packed to the seams with probably 20+ pounds of stuff for my Florida trip.


Black & Decker 20 V String Trimmer

I hate yard work, but I also hate paying someone else to do it for me. To avoid my city getting grumpy with me when my front yard starts looking like a lush jungle (which I honestly think is way cooler than everyone else’s identical lawns, but whatevs), I grabbed this battery powered trimmer for about $70. This eliminates the need to deal with fuel (apparently you have to mix oil and gas for traditional weed whackers? No thanks.) and the possibility of accidentally cutting the electric cord like my mom once did with a hedge trimmer. The battery only lasts about half an hour before it needs re-charged, but a) My front yard only takes a few minutes to do and b) When I tried it in the back yard, my arm was so numb from the vibrations that I could only use it about 15-20 minutes before I had to admit defeat. Plus it’s less than 6 pounds.


Covelin Canvas Tote Bag

I either carry the smallest purse possible or a big ol’ tote bag that I can fit notebooks and a spare cat in. This kind of bag also comes in super handy when the airline allows you a carry-on and one “personal item” because technically it’s a purse but I’m pretty sure you could fit all 7 Harry Potter books inside if you tried. This was $11 when I got it, but it’s currently down to $9. It does have an ugly white patch on it, but I covered mine up with a Strange Planet button and all was well. This comes in a whopping *76* different colors, some of which are as low as $7, and I’m delighted to report that the one I got is called “Ball Blue.” (I’m very tempted to get the bottle green one as a spare.)


L’Oreal Paris Elvive 8 Second Wonder Water

I forget where I heard about this (probably YouTube or TikTok) but this stuff is apparently crazy popular and I’ve been living under a rock. It’s about $9 and you use it after you shampoo for shinier, silkier hair. It’s basically the same consistency of water when it comes out of the bottle, but when it hits your hair, it HEATS UP and then you feel all fancy. (Just me?) I’m not explaining it well but it has 18,471 five-star ratings on Amazon (No, seriously) so it might be magical?


Columbia Women’s Crestwood Hiking Shoes

Well… hello, inflation. These were about $60 back when I bought them in the glorious era of stimulus checks, but they’re currently $100, so maybe check back in a couple months? Anyway, my beloved Ahnu hiking shoes were literally falling apart so it was time. These are a little chonkier (scientific term) than I usually go for but we’ve had some good times together this year.

You’re probably not going to want to like, hike the entire Appalachian Trail in these, but so far mine aren’t showing any wear at all. Definitely a decent choice if you want something in between the super cheap shoes that are going to fall apart and the fancy hiking boots that are going to cost hundreds of dollars.


I’m putting these last two together because I bought them together and use them together:


I had a closet door that I wanted to cover so I went to Amazon to see if I could find a wall hanging that was cute but not so expensive that I’d be heartbroken when my cats inevitably destroy it. I’m a sucker for a good mandala design, so I got this one (It has one of those insanely long, overly-descriptive product names on Amazon but the brand is Enjohos) and wound up ordering the 66 ft. Fairy Lights String to go with it. At first I wasn’t so sure about the lights, but they turned out to be great. They’re waterproof and the flexible copper cord and bulbs don’t get hot at all. 66 feet sounds like a lot but mine are doubled up above my bed (about 6 ft each way) and then above the closet I just kept looping them around until I ran out of length. The tapestry is thin like a sheet, silky, and way bigger than I expected since I ordered the small size. (It’s covering a double closet door that’s close to 5 feet wide and probably 7 ft tall.) At $11 for the tapestry and $12 for the lights, I was definitely pleased by how much they changed up the vibe of the space for so little money.


That’s it for 2021! Do you like this kind of round-up or do you now kinda hate me for causing you to add things to your wishlist? 😂 Let me know in the comments!

Show Us Your Books – The October Edition

Show Us Your Books – The October Edition

Hello, friends! I haven’t participated in a Show Us Your Books day in ages, but this is the 7th anniversary of the link-up so it seemed like the perfect time to catch up! Since it’s been so long, these aren’t all recent reads, we’re covering a good chunk of the year! Better late than never, though?

Amazon links are affiliate links because I just spent $15 on organic catnip so those 4 cents I get when you buy something will help me feel better. And buy more stuff to spoil my cats.


Goodreads * Amazon

This popped up as available on my library home page and I felt like I’d heard good things so I grabbed it and wound up really liking it. I’ve always wanted to have a better understanding of mythology but have never been able to get all of the stories straight, and it turns out that having them in this kind of narrative helps a lot. It did drag a bit around the middle for me, but overall I really enjoyed it. I’ve also heard good things about The Song of Achilles by the same author, so I might pick that up soon.


Wish You Were Here

Goodreads * Amazon

I find old cemeteries totally fascinating so I couldn’t resist requesting this on Netgalley. The author visits cemeteries around the world, and there’s a lot of interesting historical info blended with her personal experiences. Some are fascinating, some are a little dull. I’d say pick it up if the topic is something you’re super into, but if you’re not a big fan of cemeteries it’s probably not going to be an engrossing read for you.


Goodreads * Amazon

The way our brain processes our senses is totally fascinating to me, so I had to request this when I saw it on Netgalley. It tells the story of a young man who lost his sight quite young and later had it restored surgically, and of a woman who lost her hearing as a child and had it restored as an adult. I think it’s easy to hear about that kind of thing and just think, “Oh, they can see/hear now!” but it turns out it’s way more complicated than that. For example, the boy who regained his vision had to learn how to navigate things we don’t even notice, like the way hallways appear to narrow in the distance and distinguishing between what’s an actual obstacle on the path in front of you and what’s just a shadow that you can walk over normally. I liked that the author actually has some experience in the matter – she had vision that made everything appear flat until undergoing surgery that allowed her to see “in stereo”, so she understands what it’s like to adjust to seeing the world in a whole new way.


Goodreads * Amazon

This is a weird one for me to review because I didn’t like the writing style (felt like it was trying too hard to be quirky) and I didn’t like the main character, but I still enjoyed it. I read it over a month ago and not much about the story has stuck with me, which isn’t exactly what you want to hear in a book review, but it’s still an enjoyable read if you just want to relax with something fun.


Know My Name by Chanel Miller

Goodreads * Amazon

Oof, be prepared going into this one. Chanel’s description of her interrogation after waking up in a hospital after being assaulted by Brock Turner, the examinations she had to go through afterwards, the strangeness of having no idea what happened to her… it’s a lot. She fantastically describes her whole journey, from trying to get back to a normal life to the way having to take breaks for the court case made that hard, to how strange it is to finally lay eyes on the person she knew did this to her. Not an easy read by any means, but certainly a worthwhile one. Be sure to also check out her artwork.


Goodreads * Amazon

I checked out this ebook immediately after finishing Know My Name because I figured it would be the opposite – something I didn’t have to think about too much. I went into it expecting to do a lot of eye rolling, which definitely happened, but it actually wound up being a lot heavier than I expected. Like, expect addiction and abuse within the first couple of chapters. Still, as a person who was a teen in the 90s, it’s interesting to read about how little influence she had over the direction of her career, how she was marketed, etc.


Broken (In The Best Possible Way)

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve been familiar with Jenny (aka The Bloggess) since WAY back in the day… I think we were in the 20-Something Bloggers group together? As with any book of essays, some are laugh-out-loud funny, some are poignant, some aren’t particularly memorable. I enjoyed the mix of off-the-wall stories and more serious ones, like her experience getting a magnetic brain stimulation treatment for depression. Reading a few of her blog posts should give you a good idea of if you’ll enjoy the book or not, since it’s basically the same writing style.


Eleanor & Park

Goodreads * Amazon

I listened to this as an audiobook and started out totally not into it but wound up liking it quite well. It’s told in chapters where the narrator alternates between the two main characters, and it’s basically a story of two teenage misfits finding each other. Looking at reviews, it seems like this tends to be a love it or hate it type of book (there’s a LOT of commentary of how the racial issues of the time period it’s set in are handled), but I find myself in the middle as a “That was entertaining to listen to for a couple of days.” – maybe because I had it playing entirely for “company” while I was house sitting for a friend and didn’t put real thought into it? (I don’t think I would have made it more than a few chapters if I’d picked it up as a regular book.) I’d be curious to hear what you guys thought.


Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out what everyone else has been reading lately and to enter the SUYB anniversary giveaway!

Show Us Your Books – November Edition

Show Us Your Books – November Edition

Happy Tuesday and happy Show Us Your Books link-up day! (Dang, it’s TUESDAY, which means it’s only been a week since election day! WHAT A WEEK!!!)

As usual, the Amazon links are affiliate links because cat food is expensive and I need those four cents I get if you buy a book from my link.


The Silent Patient

Goodreads * Amazon

I heard from so many people that this was one of their favorite books in years, so I think I went in with expectations that were too high. It was good but not phenomenal. Worth reading – the writing is good and there’s just the right amount of suspense – but probably much better if you don’t go in with huge expectations.


Chosen Ones by Veronica Roth

Goodreads * Amazon

I requested this from Netgalley because I recognized the author’s name but could not think of what she wrote. (It was the Divergent series!) This is her first novel “for adults”, but it still reads very much like a YA novel with slightly older characters. I almost quit reading multiple times during the first 20%, but kept going in hopes it would get better. Every time I was about to put it down something just interesting enough would happen that I kept going in optimism. It felt like the author had created these interesting characters and then did nothing with them. The book takes place 10 years after the main group of characters saves the world, but of the allusions to things that had happened a decade before didn’t feel like slowly revealing backstory, but like I’d missed the first book in a trilogy and was trying to start with the second. And then… around 30% in something totally absurd happens. I read one more chapter before I realized I was just hate reading at that point and finally gave up. I very rarely do not finish a book, but this is going to remain forever at 35% unless I get very, very bored and decide to try again.




Goodreads * Amazon

THIS BOOK. It tore me apart and put me back together again multiple times. I read like half of Love Warrior (her previous book) before my library ebook expired and it was good but not life-changingly good or anything. But oh man, THIS ONE. I highlighted so much. Part of it was the timing of when I read it a few months ago – my heart was in a very raw, vulnerable place so parts of her love story hit me harder than they normally would.

“When I was a child, I felt what I needed to feel and I followed my gut and I planned only from my imagination. I was wild until I was tamed by shame. Until I started hiding and numbing my feelings for fear of being too much. Until I started deferring to others’ advice instead of trusting my own intuition. Until I became convinced that my imagination was ridiculous and my desires were selfish. Until I surrendered myself to the cages of others’ expectations, cultural mandates, and institutional allegiances. Until I buried who I was in order to become what I should be. I lost myself when I learned how to please.”


“We sat down on my couch, and I spilled it all. I told her about how Abby and I had met, how we’d spent the past weeks falling deeper in love through emails, how our letters felt like blood transfusions. Each one I read and wrote pumped fresh life through my veins. I told her how ridiculous and impossible it all was.”


“Maybe Eve was never meant to be our warning. Maybe she was meant to be our model. Own your wanting. Eat the apple. Let it burn.”

I could quote the whole dang book here, but I’ll leave it at that.


One To Watch

Goodreads * Amazon

Oh man, this is a hard one to review. I requested an ARC from Netgalley because I kept hearing how great it was, but my feelings went up and down. The story is about a woman who becomes the first plus-sized star of a Bachelor-style dating show. Much like watching reality TV, at times reading this was a lot of fun, sometimes it tugged at my emotions, and sometimes it just felt dumb. I almost quit reading after the first couple of chapters. I didn’t like the main character (that never really changed) or the format, which is a 3rd person narrative interspersed with articles, emails, tweets, podcast transcripts, etc. It got better after the first few chapters, but towards the end I found that I was pretty over it and kind of skimming.


All The Way To The Tigers by Mary Morris

Goodreads * Amazon

I requested this book from NetGalley because I knew Mary Morris had written *something* that I liked, but as tends to be the case with me, I could not remember what. (It was “Nothing to Declare”, which sticks in my brain as the book I was reading when my dad died.) This is a sort of half-travel memoir that flashes between the author’s trip to India where she hoped to spot a tiger in the wild and the life-altering accident that she suffered a few years before the trip. It’s not action-packed, just good, solid memoir writing that makes me want to check out some of her other books that I’ve missed.


Burnout by Emily and Amelia Nagowski

Goodreads * Amazon


“We thrive when we have a positive goal to move toward, not just a negative state we’re trying to move away from.”


Confession: I requested this book from NetGalley like, last winter but kept postponing reading it in favor of other things I was more excited for. Then Brene Brown interviewed the authors on her podcast and the ideas were so interesting that I was super happy that I already had it and could start reading immediately! It’s an interesting, easy-to-understand book and I did pick up some handy info about processing stress from it, but if we’re being honest, I think that just listening to the podcast episode is almost as good as reading it. As with almost any book like this, some sections really hit home while others just didn’t resonate with me.


The Lies That Bind by Emily Giffin

Goodreads * Amazon

I’ve really enjoyed some of Emily Giffin’s books so when I saw this one available on NetGalley I requested it immediately. I finally got around to starting it this week, and I was totally sucked in for about the first quarter of the book. However, around halfway through, the plot gets weird and the tone changes in a way that made me lose interest. I had a pretty solid guess about what the twist would be so I did a thing I rarely do and skimmed ahead to see if I was right. In the process of doing so, I saw just enough to know that the plot gets REALLY absurd along the way, and that while I didn’t totally call the twist, I was close enough. Seeing how unbelievable the plot gets turned me off from finishing it, so this is going to be a Did Not Finish. When I pulled up its Goodreads page just now to grab the link for this post, I half expected to see glowing reviews that would encourage me to go back and finish, but nope – tons of very low reviews at the top that also sound disappointed. (And dang, apparently there’s some big Emily Giffin controversy that I missed? Yikes.) Anyway, it’s weird to have too books I didn’t finish in one SUYB post since I finish almost everything I start, but I’m glad I didn’t devote more time to something that would have just annoyed me in the end.


That’s it for me this month! Visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately!

Show Us Your Books – July Edition

Show Us Your Books – July Edition

Hey, internet friends! Long time no see! I’m working on a catch-up post, but today is Show Us Your Books link-up day, so let’s talk books!

Here’s what I’ve been reading the last few months:

(Amazon links are affiliate links because cat food is expensive.)


You Are Not Alone by Greer Hendricks and Sarah Pekkanen

Goodreads * Amazon

I enjoyed the two previous books by these authors (The Wife Between Us and An Anonymous Girl – you can find my reviews here and here respectively) so I requested this as soon as it appeared on Netgalley. Like their other novels, this is told in chapters that alternate between different perspectives. I love that they always seem to do the main character’s perspective in first person and the other chapters in third – makes it much easier to keep up with.

This definitely sucked me in – I read 89% of it in one sitting on the night I started it. The only thing these authors don’t seem to nail with their books is the ending. For all three, the endings are fine, but not super satisfying. I’d still recommend this one for a rainy night in, though.


The Dilemma by BA Paris

Goodreads * Amazon

It’s been ages since I’ve read any fiction, so I requested an advance review copy of this Netgalley. I went into it knowing basically nothing about the plot. I’ve previously read Behind Closed Doors and Bring Me Back by this author, and I recall them being interesting but frustrating. The story is told in chapters that alternate between husband and wife, and the timeline jumps around a bit. After reading a couple of chapters, I had a feeling I wasn’t going to be that into it. At around the 20% mark I felt like things were moving WAY too slowly, so I basically skimmed through until I found the answer to the big question that had been raised. Once I saw that, I didn’t really care to read any more. I had expected it to be a psychological thriller like the author’s other books, but nope. I read a Goodreads review that called it a short story stretched out into novel length, and that feels pretty on the nose. It’s really rare that I don’t finish a book, but this was a no for me.




Tiny Beautiful Things by Cheryl Strayed

Goodreads * Amazon

I read Wild back in 2009 long before it was a movie and Cheryl Strayed was a household name. I was finally able to get this collection of Cheryl’s “Dear Sugar” advice column from my library. It’s one of those books that I had to read in small chunks, because most of her answers to the advice questions are so poignant. Definitely recommended, but go into it ready to feel all of the emotions.



Goodreads * Amazon

Over the Top by Jonathan Van Ness

I already loved JVN from Queer Eye but this book made me love him so much more. I had no idea how much he’s been through – he’s had such a crazy life and he’s only in his early 30s. This was a fun (despite a lot of heavy stuff), quick read and it got me to start listening to his podcast, which is great. (I only recently learned that Bobby from Queer Eye worked at Applebees in Branson where I grew up! I need him to write a book now, too!)


Will My Cat Eat My Eyeballs?

Goodreads * Amazon

I love Caitlin Doughty. This is her third book and all three are great. She runs the “Ask a Mortician” YouTube, and much like that channel, this book answers a lot of the questions about death that you never really realized that you had. This time, she used all questions that kids have asked, with one question as the subject of each chapter, so you get to learn things like “Can Grandma have a Viking funeral?” and “What if they accidentally bury me when I’m just in a coma?” Caitlin is so, so good at handling these subjects with both respect and humor at the same time.


Live, Love, and Hack Life – A Fresh Look at Understanding Law of Attraction by Jennifer Teske

Goodreads * Amazon

Here’s something I didn’t expect to be saying in a review – I recommend this book whether you’re into the Law of Attraction or not simply because it has one of the BEST systems for identifying what you actually want and removing the mental blocks you have around achieving those things that I’ve seen anywhere. There is a big shift about halfway through where the author talks about her experience with trauma for a few chapters, but she then uses that as an example for shifting your thought process, so it makes sense.

(Complimentary review copy via NetGalley)


Thru Hiking Will Break Your Heart by Carrot Quinn

Goodreads * Amazon

I first heard about Carrot on the podcast “Real Talk Radio with Nicole Antoniette”, which is one of my favs. She was a big inspiration in the host’s decision to start long-distance hiking.

Amusing note – the top review of this book on Amazon says that the author hated it because there was too much cursing, promiscuity, and lesbianism. It’s so cool that someone managed to time travel from 1822 to write an Amazon review! 🙄 What makes the reviewer’s disgust even more amusing is that the author has implied (there’s nothing spelled out) sex with one girl on her journey and spends the last 30% or so of the book falling for a dude. C’mon, reviewer!

That said, the writing is not always great. I found that there was a lot of detail about things I didn’t care about (such as exactly what everyone ate when they went into town) and not enough about things I was curious about (I think I was halfway through when I realized I had no idea what any of the hikers she was hanging out with looked like or much about their personalities at all.) I saw that a lot of reviews said she complains too much, but I found that honest. If you’re 500 miles into a hike, you’re mostly thinking about pain you’re in and wondering if you have enough water like 80% of the time and things like “Wow, those mountains are majestic!” and “What am I going to do with my life after this?” like 20% of the time at best. It makes sense that since this was adapted from her blog posts while on trail, it reflects what she was actually thinking about for all of those miles. So basically the writing is so-so but the journey is interesting and I wasn’t ready for it to be over when she reached Canada. It’s very much what you’d expect as a first book that was adapted from a blog and now that she’s been writing and long-distance hiking for like 7 years I think that if she wrote a second book it would be much better, but I still enjoyed it.


That’s it this month! Be sure to visit Life According to Steph and Jana Says to check out the link-up and see what dozens of other bloggers have been reading lately.

WIN a Family Pass to Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson OR an Authentic Pirate-Era Coin! (Hello Spring Giveaway Hop)

WIN a Family Pass to Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson OR an Authentic Pirate-Era Coin! (Hello Spring Giveaway Hop)

If you saw my post about Shipwrecked Treasure Museum in Branson, MO last week, you’re probably considering checking it out the next time you’re in town. Good news! It’s giveaway hop day and I get to treat one of you to a Family Pass that will get 2 adults and 2 children into the museum!



If you won’t be visiting Branson in 2020, don’t worry, we have a giveaway option for you, too! One lucky winner will get an authentic pirate-era coin that is from between 1400-1600 AD!


The museum’s gift shop has all kinds of cool coins recovered from shipwrecks, so one of you will be receiving a coin that was underwater for at least 400 years!!


PLEASE NOTE that there are two DIFFERENT giveaway options below! The first one is to win the Family Pass to the museum, the second is for the pirate-era shipwreck coin. The family pass is only good in 2020 and will have the winner’s name on it, so please only enter that giveaway if you can make it to Branson this year to use the pass. If you want to gift it to a family member or friend that you know will be in Branson this year, I am happy to put their name on it when you win, but it can NOT be sold or otherwise transferred once you give me the name to put on it.

You are totally welcome to enter both giveaways, I just want to make sure the museum pass goes to someone who can actually use it!

Both giveaways are open to US residents ages 18+. In the highly unlikely event that the same winner is drawn at random for both giveaways, they will get to choose one prize and a new winner will be drawn for the other. Winners will be contacted via the email they provide in the Rafflecopter form and will have 48 hours to reply to the email to end their prize. Giveaway start at 12:01 am on March 17th and ends at 11:59 pm on March 31st. You can return daily for extra entries into both giveaways.


a Rafflecopter giveaway


a Rafflecopter giveaway


Check out the other blogs participating in the Hello Spring giveaway hop! There are a lot of fantastic prizes, and you can enter to win as many as you’d like!

You are invited to the Inlinkz link party!

Click here to enter