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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.

 

BOOTS WITH POCKETS, Y’ALL!

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!

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


Friday Favs – Where Did January Go?

Friday Favs – Where Did January Go?

Happy Friday, friends! Is it just me or did January fly by? I had over a week of SUPER slow speeds (it took an entire hour to upload a 10 MB file one night!) and then almost another entire week of no internet at all. This seems to happen every winter, but I’m so happy to be back in business!

I’m considering doing my Friday Favs posts just once a month for awhile. With the weather so cold and being laid off from several of my jobs, I haven’t had many exciting things to share. I’d way rather do a post once a month with things I’ve really been loving than stretch to come up with five things on a week when there isn’t much new!

Here’s what I’ve been loving lately:

 

 

 

1. I reread The Artist’s Way at least once a year, and it always brings up new ideas and new motivation. It;s one of those books that changes as your life does, and I always get something new from it.

There are quotes in the page margins, and I’ve been thinking about this one a lot lately:

 

 

2. You may have noticed my blog looks different! I’ve been wanting to fix some things with my blog design FOREVER. I’m pretty decent at CSS and HTML but I HATE doing it. Plus, I learned on blogger since I used it from 1999 until like 2016, so WordPress is still foreign to me. Last week, I finally gave in and decided to see if I could find someone on Fiverr to fix two small things for me. I knew that what would take me hours to figure out would probably take someone experienced a few minutes. I found a guy who does WordPress work for $5, so I asked if he could fix the weird alignment issue I had with the top of my sidebar (for some reason it was like 3 pixels out of alignment and it drove me nuts) and fix my main column so that I could post photos that were at least 800 px wide instead of 600.

Unfortunately, my old WordPress theme was built in a super weird way that I would have needed to get the background graphics totally redesigned to make the changes work, so the guy I hired got back to me and let me know that unfortunately it just wasn’t going to look right if he made the changes I asked for. I was refunded quickly, which was a bummer at first, but I really appreciate that he was so honest about his limitations. I wound up just switching to a whole new theme instead, so while I miss my palm trees, at least I can post wider photos now!

If you have nagging tasks that you’ve been meaning to get around to for ages, I totally recommend Fiverr! Some people charge $10 or $25 or more for their work, and the site adds on a small fee. (I paid a total of $7 for my $5 project.) They have a referral program, so if you sign up via my link, you will get 20% off your first purchase! And like I mentioned, they are great with refunds if things don’t work out. I still consider it to be a really good experience even though it didn’t go as expected.

 

 

 

3. Although it’s super cold today, we’ve had a few REALLY nice days in the last month or so! I can’t resist a nice sunny day, so I’ve been outside a lot. I decided to put together a comprehensive guide to local hiking trails, and it’s a crazy amount of work, but I’m having a blast doing it! My first post should be going up next week, if I can ever manage to finish editing all of the photos. It’s been so fun to have a creative project to work on that I know is actually going to help people!

 

 

 

4. I found these gorgeous vases at Walmart of all places. For $4 each! It’s hard to tell from the photo, but they’re quite large – maybe 8″ tall? Can’t decide if I like the clear or the iridescent one better. But with Valentine’s Day coming up, I wanted to share since they’d be perfect for holding flowers you receive, or filling with the absurd amount of chocolate that you buy for yourself. (I think we know which of those categories I fall into.) I’ve been trying to think of other things I could use them for – basically I’m trying to justify a $4 purchase to myself. This is how my brain works. It’s fun in here.

 

5. Here’s to making better life choices in 2020. We’ve got this.

 

Linking up with A Little Bit of Everything for Friday Favorites

Win 2 Copies of “The Light Within” CD – Cat’s Meow Giveaway Hop

Win 2 Copies of “The Light Within” CD – Cat’s Meow Giveaway Hop

 

It’s giveaway time! It’s been a while since I’ve done one, so I’m excited about it.

A friend recently approached me about helping him get the word out about his CD, “The Light Within.” Although it is designed to be a lullabye CD, I love to put it on when I’m stressed. The music is sweet and soft and light, perfect for helping kids settle down for bedtime or playing on in the car when you’ve had a stressful day.

The title song is one of my favorites:

 

We thought it would be fun to give the winner two copies – one to keep and one to share with a friend or loved one. It would be a perfect gift for a new mom or anyone you know who could use some soothing music!

You can visit SkipLotten.com for more info, samples of songs, and a super cute animated video for The Light Within.

“The Light Within” CD is also available on Amazon, or you can purchase MP3s on CD Baby.

 

This giveaway is open to US residents 18 and older. You can do as many entries as you would like – the first one can be completed once a day to increase your chances of winning. The winner can choose physicals CD or codes for digital versions.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

We are participating in the Cat’s Meow giveaway hop. Check out the linky below for more than 60 other giveaways with a wide array of prizes!

 

Thanks for entering, and good luck!