Five impulse buys that ended up being my favorite items

…Plus two things I thought I needed that ended up being duds

As I’ve mentioned, I (VERY) frequently end up falling victim to impulse buys. A lot of the time these purchases end up being left laying around for several weeks before being stored away somewhere or thrown out. But every once in a while, I’ll grab some random little item that ends up being one of the most useful things I own. Here are five items I grabbed on impulse, but ended up being some of the most handy things in the whole house:

1. Marble “Cheese” TrayIMG_2631I grabbed this little guy from Target one day because it was marble and it was cute. I didn’t really have a specific purpose in mind for it (it was labeled as a cheese tray, but was a little small to be practically used as such), but as soon as I got home it hit me – it’s the PERFECT little tray to keep my dish soap, hand soap, and kitchen sponge corralled! It keeps everything neat and together, and most importantly, it covers the stupid hole in the countertop meant for a sprayer hose. We removed the hose a few years back because it wasn’t functional and we had installed a faucet with a hose built in, and the hole has been driving me absolutely bonkers ever since. I had it covered with a little metal cover for a while, but I couldn’t put anything on top of it without being lopsided, so I eventually took it off and just placed my soap directly over the hole…but I still knew it was there and I hated it. This little tray makes me practically forget all about it. Get it here.

2. Salt WellIMG_2633Another impulse buy from Target – big shock, I know. I always knew salt cellars LOOKED pretty, but I didn’t realize how much easier they make things – I use kosher salt pretty much exclusively when cooking, and the only practical way to do so is to grab a pinch with your fingers and sprinkle it on (much like salt bae). Honestly, I don’t remember what I even did before this little guy – did I just take the salt directly from the huge carton? I don’t know, but I keep this little bowl right on my stove and it makes cooking a pinch (see what I did there?). Get it here.

3 & 4. Mid Century Planter & Artificial PlantIMG_2630This one’s a twofer, although I don’t always keep them together – I grabbed this Nate Berkus planter on clearance from – where else? – Target one day, and the cute little artificial succulent is from Ikea. I have the blackest of black thumbs and although I buy real succulents pretty frequently, they usually don’t make it more than a few weeks. This little artificial guy looks pretty darn real, and is cute as all get out. Similar stand here; similar plant here.

5. Lunch ToteIMG_2632For the longest time (we’re talking years), I brought my lunch to work in a variety of efficient, yet classy grocery bags. I always felt a little embarrassed and unprofessional doing so, but I could never seem to remember to pick up a reusable lunch tote. Until one day, I grabbed this adorable little fella while waiting in line at Old Navy, and the rest is history. It’s just your basic lunch tote – nothing super special about it, but the bright yellow graphic makes me smile every time I look at it. I can never seem to find these online, but they’re always right by the register in the store. These also come in pretty cute patterns.

And now…Two things I thought I needed, but ended up being duds.

1. Spoon RestIMG_2627I know a lot of people (probably most people) use these, but I just don’t see the point…I insisted on buying a really pretty one from Anthropologie, but since it’s so pretty, I hate to get it dirty. Which…is kind of the whole point. Even after buying this, I pretty much always rest my dirty cooking utensil on a paper towel, so this just sits on my stove collecting grease. I throw it in the dishwasher once a week or so, put it back, and there it sits. Pretty, but pointless (much like Kylie Jenner – zing). If you’re so inclined, you can grab a similar (actually, cuter) one here.

2. Passport CoverIMG_2628This one pains me, because I was SO excited to buy it (I bought this one for me and a brown leather one for Jeff right before our honeymoon) and it’s SO pretty, but it’s really more of a hassle than anything. Have you ever tried to use a passport in a passport sleeve? Does. Not. Fly. (Literally!) The TSA makes you remove it, so I always end up taking my passport out and carrying it around the airport naked, and then I just have an extra thing to lug around. But…I still use it, because it’s pretty, damn it. You can snag a similar one here.

 

 

My Grocery Essentials

I may be in the minority here, but I LOVE grocery shopping. I seriously look forward to my weekly shopping trip. It’s my little Friday afternoon ritual: after work, I head up 202 to Brandywine Town Center to complete my weekly errands. About 50% of the time, this includes a trip to Trader Joes, but it always includes a trip to Target (where I do most of my basic grocery shopping). Sometimes I’ll also supplement with a trip to Acme (if I need more in-depth ingredients), Branmar Liquors (just keeping it real), or Petsmart. I save the occasional Wegman’s or Whole Foods trips for weekends typically, since they’re a little further away and I tend to wander. After I do my grocery shopping, I pick up a pizza from Nino’s on Naaman’s road (where I won a year’s supply of free pizza…yup!) and head home for pizza night.

Although I fall victim to impulse buys every single week, I’m more or less a creature of habit and fall back on a list of essentials that I purchase week after week. These are my go-tos that I almost always have on hand (not including everyday essentials such as eggs, spices, and half-and-half, which I also keep on hand):

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  1. Trader Joe’s Smooth Salted Almond Butter
  2. Trader Joe’s Creamy Valencia Peanut Butter; Salted
  3. Trader Joe’s Whole Milk Vanilla Greek Yogurt OR Fage 2% Plain Greek Yogurt OR Siggis Vanilla Skyr (I switch back and forth – I’m a bit of a yogurt addict, and also often buy novelty yogurts like those Chobani Flips and various flavors of Noosa, which I’m obsessed with)
  4. Trader Joe’s Dried Tart Montmorency Cherries
  5. RX Bars (assorted flavors; I also like the kids’ version because they’re smaller and better as a snack size)
  6. Starbuck’s Medium Roast Iced Coffee (I’ve tried fancier, “better” brands as well as cold brewing my own, and I just love the flavor of Starbuck’s for some reason.)
  7. Trader Joe’s Multigrain Slims OR Arnold’s Mutigrain Sandwich Thins (I use these as buns for turkey burgers or veggie burgers)
  8. Trader Joe’s Turkey Burgers (so good and inexpensive!)
  9. Trader Joe’s Cowboy Quinoa Burgers
  10. Frozen, salted edamame in pods (one of my favorite snacks!)
  11. Pre-sliced apples (I know, SO lazy…but I’m honestly so much more likely to eat them this way. I buy the real deal during honeycrisp season, though!)
  12. Sargento Pepperjack Thin Slices (again, for turkey/veggie burgers)
  13. Trader Joe’s Teeny Tiny Avocados (The perfect size…I’ll often use half an avocado and let the rest rot in the fridge, and these prevent me from wasting)
  14. Canned Black Beans
  15. Trader Joe’s Frozen Roasted Corn (the version with the cotija cheese and zesty sauce is AMAZING as a treat)
  16. Feta cheese crumbles
  17. Parmesan Cheese (I usually like to keep a whole wedge and grate as needed, but I’ll occasionally buy pre-grated)
  18. Halo Top/Enlightened (various flavors, but my favorites are the Enlightened Cold Brew Coffee or Butter Pecan, or Halo Top Cookie Dough or Peanut Butter Cup)
  19. Some type of fizzy La Croix style water (I love the OG La Croix – Lime and Cherry Lime are our favorites, but so many flavors from different brands are popping up, and I change it up pretty frequently)
  20. Dark Chocolate Squares (I like to keep these on hand to kick the random chocolate craving…my favorite is Ghiardelli Sea Salt Soiree)
  21. Lundberg Salted Brown Rice Cakes (this is the only brand of rice cake I’ve ever actually liked…a co-worker got me hooked on these, spread with almond butter)
  22. Larabar Bites; Chocolate Macaroon
  23. Rao’s Arrabiata Sauce
  24. Pre-rinsed Quinoa
  25. Instant Brown Rice (I know, I know…LAZY again. But it takes 5 minutes and comes out perfectly every time! Can’t beat that.)
  26. Ground Turkey (I’m not picky, but I try not to get the extra lean – it’s less flavorful and dries out too easily.)
  27. Boneless, Skinless Chicken Breasts
  28. Cholula Hot Sauce
  29. A-1 Sauce (Our trashy addiction – Jeff and I will eat A-1 on pretty much anything. We especially love it on Turkey Meatloaf Muffins…I’ll post the recipe someday soon)
  30. Cilantro (I’m a cilantro ADDICT…I’ll often replace parsley in recipes with cilantro)
  31. Lemons and limes
  32. Broccoli (I often buy it pre-cut…again, LAZY! But the mess it makes when you chop it makes me twitchy)
  33. Baby Spinach
  34. Van’s Fire-Roasted Veggie Crackers (addictive!)
  35. Bananas (to freeze and make banana ice cream or the occasional smoothie with – this is the only way I eat them)
  36. Red Onions
  37. Garlic (though I usually don’t need to buy this – Blue Apron sends an entire BULB for EVERY RECIPE that includes garlic, so I’m usually swimming in it)
  38. Whole-fat Coconut Milk
  39. Edy’s Outshine Lime Fruit Bars (specific to summer)

There you have it! Whatever else I buy depends on what dinners I have planned for the week, or which impulse buys catch my eye. As you can probably tell, I’m very “snacky,” and tend to be drawn towards Mexican or Mediterranean flavors (I also do a decent amount of middle-eastern/Indian cooking – Jeff’s very into anything curry/coconut based, and loves things served in a bowl). What are your weekly essentials?

Hex wine rack

As I recently mentioned, I’m in possession of a LOT of wine since signing up for Bright Cellars, and then switching to Winc. Currently, the bottles of red live in the little nook of our kitchen counter with the rest of our liquor (I still need to find a bar cart!), and all the bottles of white are in the fridge. But the counter is starting to overflow with bottles, and unless I get some major sippage in, the fridge won’t have enough room for my next shipment. I definitely need to invest in a wine rack, and soon.

I’ve had my eye on a gold hex wine rack for months now, but I’ve just had trouble biting the bullet and paying the $50 or $60 – I’ve been holding out and hoping it goes on sale. After foolishly missing a sale on Domino for $40 (d’oh!) I think it’s time to give in and make my purchase. Now, the only question that remains, is: which one?

Kate-and-Laurel-Merl-6-Bottle-Tabletop-Wine-Bottle-Rack

This is the original rack I’d been eyeing up – I originally found it at Domino, but this image is from Wayfair. This particular rack is currently priced at $64.99, but I’ve seen the exact same rack at other merchants priced between $50-$60.

11-bottle-wine-rack-copper

This beauty is from Crate & Barrel, currently $49.95. I love that it comes in a copper finish, in addition to gold, chrome, and nickel.

shopping (1)

This guy from Amazon is currently $48.31. Although I don’t love the look of this one quite as much, I do like that it’s wall-mounted – as of now, I’m not totally sure where I plan to place a tabletop rack.

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I’m not a huge fan of the chunky look of this rack from World Market (currently $29.95), but Jeff’s not the hugest fan of gold and would probably like this one a little better.

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This wood guy from Pier One is a cutie, and is definitely budget-friendly at $19.95, but it’s a bit small for my purposes.

And the winner is…the Crate & Barrel wine rack in the copper finish. Although it’s not quite as visually interesting as the first rack, it holds more bottles and I love the variety of finishes available. I love mixing metals throughout our home, and the copper finish will add a nice touch to our dining room (plus, it’s a nice compromise for gold-hating Jeff). Sold! Now to figure out where to put it…