Workday Reading

The Edition: No. 139

They sicken of the calm who know the storm. — Dorothy Parker

Squared Off. The persistent myth of female office rivalries.

Stunned. I have the biggest crush on this Tory Burch bag.

Presented. A piece on gift-giving, children, and relatives who mean well.

Warmed. Madewell’s bobble cardigan and ribbed pullover sweater are both killer.

Risen. The False Promise of Morning of Routines. (Amen, amen.)

Shopped. Baking storage containers are the best-selling item in my Amazon store.  I wonder what you ladies are doing this holiday?  (I recommend this ricotta-blackberry galette.)

Healed. This Stephen Colbert interview on grief brought me to tears.

Sold. Bloomingdale’s Cyber Tuesday Sale has Black Halo’s Jackie dress on the list.

Termed. FairyGodBoss has a week-by-week guide to help you manage your job and life while pregnant.

Smoothed. Kim Kardashian has created the greatest blending brush in history.

2020. How to create a budget and financial forecast for the New Year.

Sunned. Affordable sunglasses make great stocking stuffers.  Quay’s cat-eyes and tortoise square sunglasses are both good options.

What was the best thing that you bought this year?

It can be anything.  A small trinket that filled turned a mundane task into a joy.  A piece of clothing that made you feel beautiful whenever you wore it.  A splurge that is worth every penny.

I’m working on a post talking about purchases and what makes them feel like the best thing, and I want to hear from you.  So share yours in the comments.

{image by Rolf Hecken; this post contains affiliate links that may generate commission for the author}

LEAVE A COMMENT

    59 comments

  1. Julia says:

    My best purchase this year was hands down TSA pre-check. Saving time going through security and knowing it will be a relatively hassle free process when I travel 2-3 times a month was such a relief. And the fact that it lasts 5 years is a cherry on top, I would pay for it annually! Truly my most anxiety-reducing purchase I’ve ever made.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Elena says:

      100% THIS!

      December 3, 2019/Reply
    • ssc says:

      +1

      December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Lindsey says:

      Chiming in to add that if you have kids, they get to come along with you for free when you have precheck.

      December 4, 2019/Reply
  2. Sarah says:

    The Dyson stick vacuum that also works as a hand-held vac. I have HATED vacuuming my entire life because the cord is always in the way. Now that I have a cordless vac, I run it over the floors every week (small-ish condo). And I use it to keep the floormats in my car clean. I actually do not mind using it and love having cleaner floors and car. I bought mine at Costco.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Lauren says:

      Completely the same. I have had it for a month, and I think I have vacuumed my one-bedroom apartment almost daily. It’s so easy, and I used to vacuum….less than monthly. I don’t know who I am with this thing!

      December 3, 2019/Reply
    • CM says:

      I got my Dyson last year, so that was 100% my best gift received in 2018. My best purchase this year was probably Athleta fleece-lined leggings, which are amazing for cold morning dog walks! I think my best purchase of all time was my Nespresso machine. It makes it so easy to bring coffee to work from home!

      December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Rachel says:

      We’ve had a Dyson for years. I love it, but my husband convinced me to get a Neato robot vacuum in the spring. I argued and fought and said we did not need it. Omg. I have never been so wrong or had to eat my words more – it is the best investment ever. It does just as good a job as the Dyson, and I literally don’t have to vacuum any longer! We run it every Sunday while we clean the rest of the house and boom! Clean floors with no effort.

      December 3, 2019/Reply
  3. AM says:

    I bought two Veronica Beard blazers and they are so beautiful and versatile. They give me a mental boost and really improve my game in big meetings, presentations, events, etc. They’re stupid expensive but they make me feel powerful and happy when I wear them!

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  4. Crystal says:

    Number one: A truly waterproof raincoat I can wear in leggings to walk the dog and also over a nice dress to work. I chose a Joule raincoat in olive and I’m in love — it’s cute, not fussy, long enough to cover me well, and has a great hood and pockets. And as a bonus, the lining has really pretty flowers.

    Runner-up: Chrysmela Catch earring backs. For the first time in years, I’m not concerned I’m going to forever lose my diamond earrings. They provide the security of screw backs but without requiring a jeweler and new posts — worth every penny.

    Second runner-up: Super cozy Smartwool merino socks. Yes, we’ve reached that age where socks are again awesome. They’re not too thick but they’re SO cozy and warm, and I like the various colors and designs.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  5. A says:

    Not all this year, but things I am generally appreciative of to a degree not reflected by their price:
    1. Smart plugs connecting the lamps in our living room to voice control with Alexa so that I can just ask her to turn on and off the lights as a group (she also ties into the TV, the thermostat, etc. – smart devices generally). As a busy working mom to a very active toddler, it’s nice to be able to not get out of bed at night to make sure the alarm is secure, all the lights are off, the TV is off, and the temperature is right, because even if I did them, I sure don’t remember doing them.
    2. Dyson stick vacuum. See toddler above. Even with bi-weekly housekeepers, I still have to vacuum every other day (for my sanity, to avoid bugs and rodents, etc. Don’t ask me about the mouse I chased out of the garage last night, yay wilderness).
    3. The recliner in our nursery – my child still 2+ years later does not sleep through the night or generally like to sleep at all – such a battle every single time (and yes, we’ve tried everything, so now we’re just banking on time). I spend at least 10-15 hours a week in that recliner.
    4. Wireless chargers everywhere (bedside, kitchen, living room, home office, work). No more time lost fiddling with wires or plugs that only work at one particular angle.
    5. The things that make the holidays easier – we host Friendsgiving, Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter, and often do large entertaining in between. Having two big cutting boards (we often do both a turkey and a ham), the right number and size of tableclothes, a 4 cup gravy separator, 2 good roasting pans, electric carving knife, turkey lifters, enough large serving dishes, etc. makes the regular entertaining so much easier because I have all of the tools I need – so much less holiday stress – and I store them all together in one cabinet!
    6. Clothes that finally fit my current body. I am fundamentally shaped differently post kids and nursing and rather than continue fighting it, I finally caved and started buying things that fit me now and I am so much happier.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • e says:

      Amen to #6! Money well spent.

      December 3, 2019/Reply
    • S says:

      A, I hope you see this so that I can give you hope! My firstborn did not sleep through the night until he was…3? We also tried everything, and it was SO frustrating! But once he finally started sleeping through the night he was golden. Almost 12 now and I can barely remember those sleepless nights! He’s a champion sleeper and we have to drag him out of bed in the mornings. It will happen for you!! Hang in there.

      December 7, 2019/Reply
  6. LIZ says:

    It’s not an item, but we started using a cleaning service. I’ve never been a great housekeeper, but with a raise at work and new baby at home, I decided I was done feeling bad about not dusting or cleaning the tubs enough.

    Now every two weeks I get to come home to a perfectly clean house that I did no work to get that way. BEST. MONEY. SPENT.

    My runner up was something I got myself last year, which was Lasik. Again, expensive, but oh so amazing!

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • CM says:

      +1 for LASIK. No regrets at all.

      December 3, 2019/Reply
  7. Alisha says:

    Feels weird to say bought but the best money I spent this year was on my dog’s adoption fee. He’s a not so little bundle of cuddles and makes my other dog much less anxious.
    I paid for a Nuuly subscription and that’s been my favorite clothing purchase. I’m about 5 months post-birth and my size keeps fluctuating so I don’t feel like commiting to many purchases. Love the options for my tech incubator office, lots of fun and colorful sweaters and dresses

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • CM says:

      +1 for pets! Literally the BEST.

      December 3, 2019/Reply
  8. Carrie says:

    I bought jeans with an elastic waist (wit and wisdom) a few months postpartum and they made a huge difference in giving myself time to adjust to my body’s changes at my pace

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Rhianna says:

      18 months PP and I love this brand of jeans still!

      December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Rachel says:

      I 100% support and vote for Wit & Wisdom jeans even if you’ve never been pregnant. They are simply amazing.

      December 3, 2019/Reply
  9. Jennifer says:

    One of the best things I purchased this year was also one of the most random things – a 3M car mount for my cell phone. The little plastic holder works perfectly with pop sockets and fits seamlessly into my car.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  10. Shannon says:

    Best things I bought were both for my daughter’s room: a little tabletop fridge and a memory foam rug.

    I’m very much not a morning person. But it’s a little easier if I can shamble into her nursery, pull a bottle for her and an iced coffee for me from the fridge, then I doze on the rug while she crawls around.

    And definitely the influx of STUFF has been hard. I have chronic migraine, and brightly colored, noisy music toys are a big pain trigger for me. I literally cannot convince family members that this is real, I’m not a mean killjoy, and they’re just setting my daughter up for disappointment by bringing these items into the house. (Yes, I know you can take the batteries out, but once my child knows a toy makes sound, hahaha good luck.)

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Anna says:

      Oh my goodness, that’s terrible. There are so many toys, books, playthings, etc, you can get a kid that they’ll love that don’t have lights and obnoxious sounds. It’s just mean to get that stuff when you’ve already told them not to.

      December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Nora says:

      From a fellow “killjoy” I totally feel you. It’s a never ending battle. One small tip, I always put clear masking tape over the speaker part of noisy toys to at least bring the annoyance down a notch or two.

      December 4, 2019/Reply
  11. DenisE says:

    My favorite ‘purchase’ of the year was a ticket for my sister in law to join me on a girls trip to Salzburg. I was there for work so I flew her over when my meeting ended and we had a wonderful 6 day adventure in Europe!

    My favorite actual item I purchased was washable suiting from Banana Republic. I had the jacket tailored so it fits me perfectly and I never have to worry about taking it to the cleaner! Washable suiting = game changer 🙂

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  12. Megan says:

    I finally replaced my old J.Crew trench coat with a gorgeous trench from Hobbs London. I live in the Pacific NW, so it gets regular use. I feel so put together whenever I wear it.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  13. Nora says:

    a chunky diamond ring for my middle finger to celebrate turning 30 and earning a bonus this year and also partially to drown out the seemingly thousands of family/friends/acquaintances/strangers who constantly question my partner and me about when he is going to “put a ring on it”. I can do that myself!

    December 3, 2019/Reply
    • Dani says:

      This is exactly what I want to do for myself this year but haven’t found a ring I love yet! Mind sharing what you got?

      December 4, 2019/Reply
  14. C says:

    Additional ear piercings and diamond earrings to go in them. I’ve always loved the look of multiple piercings but was scared to pull the trigger. Then one day at work, I just asked a coworker where she’d gotten hers done and stopped in on my way home. No idea what got into me. But I love them! When I got a new job that was a big step up a few months later, I upgraded the earrings to diamonds. They remind me that I’m braver than I think I am and that I’ve worked hard to get to where I am- and they’re sparkly and pretty!
    I also bought a spiderwort plant for my office that brings me a lot of joy. I’ve taken to decorating it for holidays (this doesn’t even begin to register as weird in my office) and giving cuttings to coworkers who admire the plant. Unexpectedly, it really helped me make friends at my new job!

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  15. Katherine says:

    An espresso maker. I’ve wanted one for years, always thought it was too indulgent/expensive, and then purchased one via facebook marketplace. Actually would have been well worth it to get one years ago because I love it SO MUCH. EVERY DAY.

    Also, my life changed when I got duplicates to keep at work of my power cords, makeup, etc.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  16. Liz says:

    1. The adoption fee and gear for a cat! She’s a chatty lovebug and wants nothing more than tell you about her day.
    2. Classpass membership! I’ve tried lots of new things and discovered my body moves in ways I didn’t know it could.
    3. I gave in and got a professional looking backpack. My shoulders feel so much better and it’s easier to have my arms free.

    Gosh, my list is such an old lady list!

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  17. SC says:

    1. New drivetrain for my road bike. Cheaper than buying a whole new bike!
    2. Sigma F80 foundation brush. Game-changer.
    3. Knee boots. I waited to buy until I found the pair that was juuuuust right.
    4. Merino long underwear. SO warm and cozy.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  18. Eileen says:

    I splurged on the Bio Ionic 10X hair dryer this year. The 10X name is ironic because it cost more than 10 times the price of the Walmart hairdryer that I’d been using. It’s been worth every penny! I can now dry my hair in 5 minutes, which has really changed my routine.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  19. IRMCK says:

    We went to Peru in February, and part of our trip took us to a super rural alpaca farming co-op where they sold alpaca wool products from various small farms in the area. While we were there, I saw a blue baby alpaca wool scarf that just called to me. It was totally out of my budget (baby alpaca wool is expensive), but I bought it anyway. I wear it all the time, and it makes the most boring jeans/gray sweater combo more interesting. 10/10, would definitely buy again.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  20. Prague says:

    A notebook. I’ve rediscovered creative writing to destress and channel some of the weirdness out of my head into a fictional character’s problem.

    Also replaced my Kitchenaid mixer, which survived a fire over a decade ago. Worth every penny both times. Run, do not walk, to make these: https://cooking.nytimes.com/recipes/1015819-chocolate-chip-cookies

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  21. Fan from boston says:

    Weekend family trips – several terrific ones this year to the White Mountains in New Hampshire; Stowe, VT; Cape Cod for fall break. Our travel has often prioritized visiting grandparents, all of whom live multi-hour flights away. We still saw grandparents often this year, but it was lovely to dig deeper into our own family unit and experience some outstanding local New England gems.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  22. Strin012 says:

    That Revlon hairdryer. I have fine, naturally curly hair, so I always had to dry and either hot roll or straighten to make my hair look “done.” This hairdryer eliminates that requirement and cuts time from my morning routine. More sleep for me!!

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  23. Kelly says:

    I’ve only had it 3 days, but my best purchase is probably going to be my Instant Pot. I was a total hold out for a year, until the ability to make rice / quinoa / dinner just by pushing some buttons started sounding SO APPEALING.

    December 3, 2019/Reply
  24. JB says:

    I spent $3 on a clearance water bottle with a straw and it’s a game changer for staying hydrated!

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  25. Sharon Foster says:

    It came late in the year, but I finally pulled the trigger on a Peloton the week before Thanksgiving and I am already so grateful that I did. After having a baby in January I slowly got a semblance of a routine back (learning to cook again, seeing friends, sleeping, etc.). But, the one thing I could never find time for was working out. Even with a new job and a shorter commute, it just wasn’t happening. Until one day I got fed up with how I looked and felt and bought the dang thing. I know that I have a long way to go and maintaining consistency is going to be a challenge. But, I love it so far and couldn’t be happier about this investment in myself.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  26. C.Lee says:

    The best thing I bought were very realistic looking, battery operated wax flameless pillar candles – that have a remote. I can turn them on and off from my desk and now my fireplace always has a nice (safe) glow. I get an inordinate amount of pleasure for the $40 I spent on two sets from Costco! I think they would make a great gift.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  27. Michelle says:

    My desk items that add some fun to everyday in the office: a pink t-rex planter with an air plant (named it Layla after the woman who makes them’s dog) and these magnetic gel pens/desk toys: https://magnetips.co/.

    Not only do I have any color pen I want on hand, but they’re such a good fidget/mental break. Instead of being on the internet mindlessly for longer than intended, if I need a mental break I just build things with them.

    I also finally found a signature everyday ring to wear but that’s not here yet (arrives friday!). I’ve been wearing a $5 cz version of it but decided I love the style enough I went for the diamond version.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  28. Sara Harvey says:

    So easy…you recommended a boatneck sheath dress in bi-stretch and Ann Taylor and this is hands down my best purchase this year. I get complements every. single. time. I wear it! So much so that I bought the wine version they recently added. THANK YOU!

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  29. Suzyn Smith Webb says:

    These boots. I wear them everywhere at at last my feet are stylish and warm. https://www.thefryecompany.com/products/jayden-d-ring-3475419-75419-black-multi

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  30. Rachel says:

    I’m loving reading these!

    I have two:

    The first is I bought a robot vacuum (I did a bunch of research and bought one one that’s entry level priced). Even though the one I bought doesn’t have room mapping, it does an incredible job getting up all the stuff that accumulates on our floors. We try to run it every other night, but even if we forget for a week it gets up almost everything.

    The second is that I finally took the plunge with MM LaFleur and bought three dresses and a blazer. I’m obsessed with how well they fit and drape. I get tons of compliments every time I wear them.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  31. Lia says:

    Hi Abra – not a purchase this year but I always say that one of my all-time favorite purchases was my Nespresso machine. It makes seriously good coffee and makes me happy every single morning.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  32. M says:

    The Morandi sweater. Hands down best clothing purchase ever. I wouldn’t have purchased it if I didn’t see it here first.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  33. Cc says:

    The BEST purchase EVER is a heated mattress pad! OMG! To slip into a warm bed under you is heavenly! Especially on a cold winter night. Just really unbelievable!

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  34. ral says:

    Great post Abra! Esp like the False Promise of Morning Routines. And really enjoyed reading everyone’s comments. Gave me gift ideas. Thanks!

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  35. Jo says:

    1. My bikeshare membership. The ROI for mine is INSANE, and I’m just a casual user…the Ubers-not-taken really add up, plus it’s just the most enjoyable way to get around town!
    2. Cookie and Kate’s cookbook Love Real Food. She clearly does so much vetting of her recipes, and I’ve never had one flop from either the blog or the cookbook.
    3. Blinc tubing mascara and Stila waterproof eyeliner. After trying dozens of different varieties, these are the first that I’ve worn that don’t run.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  36. Amy says:

    Not necessarily the last 12 months but some items worth noting:

    – Robot vacuum, which was a gift. I couldn’t bear to spend the money on this myself but it is the best thing ever. I HATE vacuuming and the Roomba makes me look like I have my sh*t together.
    – Yoga classes, which let me forget about work and everything else for 60 minutes at a time, 1-2x per week.
    – Cancer treatment for my dog. I am grateful that it worked for him. It was expensive and I had to use CareCredit for it but it is worth it every day.
    – Fancy Kuhl down coat, which I found on 50% sale in spring. I had another jacket that was cheaper but it worked, so I didn’t need this but it was everything I wanted and is awesome.
    – New bras, prior to the Thirdlove exposé.
    – Alpaca socks and alpaca hat. They are little luxuries.

    December 4, 2019/Reply
  37. lauren says:

    New bras–any time I get a couple of new ones it’s great–haha.

    Backpacking tent–I went round and round on this, and finally bought myself a nice one.

    Ski pass–I love skiing so much.

    Annual America the Beautiful pass–I was shocked at the number of sites I could use it with.

    December 5, 2019/Reply
  38. Pingback: Weekly Reads - Dec 6th | THE CAREER EDIT

  39. Samara says:

    I bought the Tory Burch bag you linked to above after I read this post. It may be the best thing I purchased all decade.

    December 10, 2019/Reply
    • Belle says:

      YOU DID?!?!? Jealous, so jealous.

      December 10, 2019/Reply
      • Samara says:

        It was love at first sight and an uncharacteristically impulsive purchase for me. Is it too dramatic to say that it is my perfect purse? I had always hoped to find the purse I wanted to treasure, but I was ready to wait for it to find me. The colors (the nuanced variations in the suede panels) are lovelier in person than online, and the bag exudes a classic and understated elegance. Bonus for no prominent logos. Thank you for posting the link. You were the handbag matchmaker for us.

        December 10, 2019/Reply
        • Belle says:

          This just makes me want it more. Damn.

          December 10, 2019/Reply