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Pick Six: The Best Things I Bought in 2016

Another year has come to an end.  I’m a little bit older.  And if wisdom is realizing that you know nothing at all, then I’m a lot wiser.  2016 feels like a bit of a loss, really.  I spent most of it treading water, which is never a good feeling.  But a New Year means a fresh slate, and a chance to begin moving forward anew.

But while 2016 may not have lived up to expectations, there were still a few highlights.  Here are “The Six Best Things I Bought in 2016.”

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A short bathrobe may seem like a strange lead-off hitter, but let me explain.  For years, I used a big, fluffy white bath robe.  It was warm and cozy, but also bulky and matronly.  Then, I spotted this Josie Kimono Robe ($30) in Nordstrom Rack.

The lighter fabric, shorter style, and internal tie allow me to wear this robe while I complete morning chores.  It’s also easier to put my makeup on while my hair sets.  And, bonus points, my 85-year-old Nana and I no longer wear the same robe.

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When I say Ole Henriksen’s Invigorating Night Treatment ($48) saved my skin, I am not joking, overstating, or doing that blogger thing where every product is described with nothing but positive adjectives.  I am being deadly serious.

In the weeks prior to discovering The Treatment, my right cheek was a nothing but one giant breakout, and left the wasn’t much better.  Every day, I would stand in the bathroom, on the verge of tears, and pile on concealer.  I have always loved OH products, so I thought this “overnight resurfacer” was worth a try.

In a week, the terrifying breakout was gone.  When, for a brief moment in November, it looked like they might be discontinuing my beloved serum, I panicked and bought 10 bottles.  Yes, you read that right.  Ten.  So deep is my love.  So deep.


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The Gibson Convertible Cowl Sweater is soft, comfortable, and just $54.  Most days, I wear it with leggings for hours of bar studying. (The tunic length and longer back make it perfect for this.)  And if I need to run out, I put on a pair of jeans, and “convert” it into a one-shoulder or off-the-shoulder top.  It’s the best; I now own it in three colors.

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When preparing to go to Cuba, I had two problems: 1) there is no toilet paper in Cuba, so you have to pack toiletries with you everywhere (thanks for the lifesaving tip, ladies), and 2) I did not want to take a nice bag.  This $24 bag from Old Navy was a godsend.  It looks like the 10x the price Cuyana Carryall, but it take a licking and keeps on ticking.  I just organized the inside with some nylon pouches and it was the perfect travel bag.

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When I graduated from college and got my first ‘real’ apartment, I treated myself to a nice set of sheets.  800 thread count, Egyptian cotton sateen sheets to be precise.  And their pillowy softness ruined me.  I am now a sheet snob. But when K moved in last year, and I started sharing my bed with a guy whose questionable personal grooming habits necessitate that I change the sheets weekly, I burned through two sets of very nice sheets in just six months.  Whatever was a girl to do?

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Enter the Charter Club 700tc 4-pc sheet set from Macy’s, which for a limited time is $49 instead of $120.  (I need to buy 50.)  I also recommend Charter Club’s Damask Duvet Cover ($170).  Now, we soften.

You take these good quality, semi-soft sheets and you wash them with hot water, one cup salt and a 1/4 cup of washing soda.  (This is the same mixture that will give cotton t-shirts vintage softness. #protip)  And then dry them on high heat with a set of dryer balls.  Repeat this process three times.  And you will have the greatest sheets ever.  Like ever, ever.

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I came of age in an era where women wore Uggs everywhere.  You saw them on your commute, at work, at the grocery store, even at the bar.  They were dirty, worn, and wrinkled shearling foot prisons.  They were filled with bacteria, and potentially dangerous.  There name even stood for ugly, but none of it mattered.  They were unstoppable.

I railed against their hideousness, agains walking into work wearing glorified bedroom slippers.  But so many of my lovely readers would say, “But Belle, they’re so warm, so comfortable, try them, you’ll see.”  Yet, I refused.  Until one -26 degree day in Montana, when my hypothermic toes could take no more.  And thus, I bought a pair of grey Ugg Moccasins ($99).

While I now recognize the merits of the comfort argument, I maintain that they are slippers.  Their delights are only to be enjoyed inside your house or hotel room.  Oh, you don’t think you’ll travel with them?  Go to a work conference where you’re in high heels for three, 12-hour days, and you’ll wish you had them.

They are like a vacation for tired, cold feet.  But they are slippers!  They shall not cross the threshold of your home.  Praise be to Jimmy Choo, amen.

LEAVE A COMMENT

    39 comments

  1. chelsea says:

    I can’t help but roll my eyes every time someone puts uggs down. I live in a place that is freezing and covered in snow half of the year. I’d rather my feet be warm and comfortable than freezing for the sake of looking cuter when I run to get groceries.

    January 6, 2017/Reply
    • LS says:

      But uggs aren’t waterproof and get so gross so quickly

      January 9, 2017/Reply
  2. Rachael says:

    I bought the Old Navy bag per your recommendation, and it’s superb for work! I carry everything in it from binders to snacks, and I like that it has the cross-body strap option. So glad I read the reviews on it, which strongly advise against the black because apparently it stains. The grey is fabulous!

    January 6, 2017/Reply
  3. Sara says:

    Love this list! I received the Ugg slippers for Christmas and I put them on the moment I enter my house and they stay on until I leave. Obsessed.

    Thanks for the pro-tip on the sheets… I’m going to get those Macy’s ones!

    January 6, 2017/Reply
  4. 28772_EI says:

    I’m curious to know: Have you kept up using IS Clinical Active Serum or replaced it with the OH treatment? If you use them in tandem, what’s the rotation like? Always love your skincare recommendations Belle!

    January 6, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I still like the iS, but I replaced it. Didn’t want to overdo it.

      January 6, 2017/Reply
  5. Anna says:

    I saw someone walking to work on the Hill in those Ugg slippers the other day. Not ok.

    January 6, 2017/Reply
  6. Sof says:

    I also picked up the grey Old Navy bag this year! The grey is so versatile it really goes with everything. I’ve had it for almost a year I think and it’s showing just a bit of wear, but at $20ish I can afford to replace it once every 1.5 years or so. Grey bags are the best neutral, IMO.

    January 6, 2017/Reply
    • Anna says:

      Agreed. Pretty much all my purses are grey/greige. Goes from summer to winter and works with both blacks and browns. Love.

      January 6, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      They are, no doubt.

      January 6, 2017/Reply
  7. Bonnie says:

    Belle, I’d love to see a post about where you hope to see your career/life going this year!

    I invested in some Wolford tights. I have high hopes for them! I also have been taking better care of my skin, and it’s helped immensely. Exfoliating has been key.

    January 6, 2017/Reply
  8. Jenna says:

    I bought the Ole Henriksen’s Invigorating Night Treatment on your recommendation. I think I love it just as much as you do. I had no idea it was in danger of being discontinued. Any truth to that rumor now?

    January 6, 2017/Reply
  9. Tazzy says:

    2016 has also been the year of treading water for me! Here’s to hoping that both of us have a better 2017!

    January 6, 2017/Reply
  10. Jenn S. says:

    I had the distinct pleasure of experiencing cystic acne for the first time in 2016. I’m now better off than I was but not out of the woods…and I’m strongly considering the Ole product in this post as well as the Truth serum, both on your recommendation.

    Do you ever use the two together? Or have you moved on from the Truth serum?

    January 6, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I use a copper serum for iS clinical now for anti-aging. If I were going to use those two together, I would use truth serum as a day serum and Ole as a night. And if you start to get dry, I would switch just to the night gel.

      January 6, 2017/Reply
  11. Monica T says:

    That’s a great robe! I have a cute Eberjey one, but with a toddler, I don’t ever bust it out, it’s too dear. But with a cool pattern and affordable price tag I wouldn’t be so worried.

    Are the Ole products fragrance free? I’m always so baffled when skin care contains perfume.

    January 6, 2017/Reply
  12. Nancy M says:

    Thank you so much for this! I needed new sheets!

    January 6, 2017/Reply
    • Anon369 says:

      Me too. Thanks!

      January 8, 2017/Reply
  13. Kathleen Lisson says:

    Toilet paper. I’m currently in India surviving on a roll a week. It’s worse when you have a cold – there’s no kleenex here, either.
    Your blog is my daily dose of America!

    January 6, 2017/Reply
    • Anon369 says:

      I’m Indian and moved to the US 11 years ago. They have had toilet paper and Kleenex there as far back as I can remember. The key ( for Kleenex) is to ask for “tissue paper.”

      January 8, 2017/Reply
  14. Heather says:

    Thanks for the tip on the Gibson sweater, it looks perfect. Just bought it, will pick it up at Nordie’s in an hour and have it to wear on the plane tomorrow. I can imagine wearing it on serious repeat.

    January 7, 2017/Reply
  15. Berryboo says:

    Urgent and serious question:! I read with great interest the little Cuba/Toilet Paper tidbit in this post, as I’m off to Cuba on the 27th, and had NO idea to anticipate that! Any other major things I should be aware of/prepare for? So appreciate your help – there’s so little googleable info about Cuba.

    January 7, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Search the blog for Cuba, there’s a whole post where readers left tips.

      January 7, 2017/Reply
    • Anna says:

      There is a ton of info out there. A lot of travel bloggers have gone recently. The Points Guy has several posts about travelling to Cuba.

      January 9, 2017/Reply
  16. Lauren says:

    Is the sweater itchy? Do you wear socks with your slippers?

    January 7, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      No, and no.

      January 7, 2017/Reply
  17. Anonymous says:

    Yay for the sheets. I’ve been on the hunt and was going to email you to ask for your recs. I have to use special detergent since my skin is super sensitive. Do you think it’d be fine to use my detergent instead of Nellie’s or is there something else I can replace the Nellie’s with? Thanks!

    January 7, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      I honestly don’t know. Could you do this once and then just wash them in your usual soap a few times?

      January 7, 2017/Reply
  18. caroline says:

    This was a literally joy to read. Love your honest reviews and anecdotes… but I cannot get over there being no TP in Cuba!
    x0x0 Caroline https://thecarolove.com/

    January 7, 2017/Reply
    • E says:

      There IS toilet paper in Cuba, it can just be hard to come by in certain places! (accidentally posted this reply on the wrong comment below!)

      January 10, 2017/Reply
      • Belle says:

        Out of the almost 10 bathrooms I used in Cuba (we traveled around, a lot), only the casa we stayed in, the two hotels, and one restaurant (where you had to pay for it) had TP. Roadside stops, other restaurants, bakeries, etc. did not have TP. There were many more bathrooms without than with.

        January 10, 2017/Reply
        • E says:

          What was it you said the other day about not erasing comments that don’t agree with you? My point about your overdramatization of the toilet paper situation was not an attempt to nitpick, and I’m sorry that you didn’t see it that way. I would just like to attempt to point out again (because so many Americans have not yet had the opportunity to visit Cuba and given our complicated relationship and perpetuated misconceptions I believe that an accurate portrayal–even regarding something as seemingly petty as the existence of toilet paper–is important) that your original blanket statement that there is no toilet paper in all of Cuba is completely inaccurate and overdramatic.

          January 12, 2017/Reply
          • Belle says:

            If more than 2/3 of the bathrooms you visit don’t have toilet paper, and you would have a very difficult time buying it in country, it is not “completely inaccurate.” You may find it “overdramatic,” but when I asked for advice on Cuba, a large number of commenters said that there was either no toilet paper or that it was very rare. As a result, I brought toilet paper, which turned out to be one of the best packing decisions I made. So an exaggeration so that people get the picture that Cuba is a place where many restrooms won’t have toilet paper and pack accordingly, doesn’t seem like the big deal you’re making it out to be.

            January 12, 2017/Reply
        • Kate says:

          That is standard in a lot of countries, not just Cuba, and not all of them are low income countries either. It is especially standard in Japan. You carry a small pack of tissues for public restrooms and a small washcloth to dry your hands at all times.

          This is a moment where international travel can expose people to the idea that what we do in the US might be standard here, but might not be standard internationally.

          January 12, 2017/Reply
          • Belle says:

            I get that things work differently in other countries, this is one issue where I really appreciated the heads up, esp. on my first foreign trip.

            January 12, 2017/Reply
  19. Cait says:

    Does that t-shirt and sheet washing formula work on sweatshirts? I have some classic-style sweatshirts that I’d love to soften up a little more!

    January 8, 2017/Reply
    • Belle says:

      Sweatshirts, probably, depends on the cotton content. I wouldn’t try it on sweaters.

      January 8, 2017/Reply
    • E says:

      There IS toilet paper in Cuba, it can just be hard to come by in certain places!

      January 10, 2017/Reply
  20. Shelley says:

    I live in slippers pretty much from October to April/May when the weather here in Ontario is chilly and the floors are cold. I have a pair of Jcrew slippers, but i’m thinking of upgrading to the Uggs, because I seriously live in my slippers from the time I get home from work until I go to bed and most of the weekend while I am at home. I’d rather wear my slippers with no socks than socks around the house in the winter. Thanks for the tip. I think I need these.

    January 10, 2017/Reply