My Favorite Things

(The Non-Definitive List)

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It’s (nearly) summer, so in the spirit of summer fun, I thought I’d change things up a bit today. I’m often asked for resources, recommendations, and tips on things I love, from tech to fashion. So here is my non-exhaustive list of those categories and the things that make me happy, keep me sane and healthy, and (hopefully) make me smarter and better looking — you know, just a few modest goals...  

If we’re friends or have worked together, it’s highly likely I’ve blabbed about some of these before. In most of the categories, I’m purposefully not mentioning a few of the more obvious, popular options and am instead focusing on things you may be discovering for the first time, with a few exceptions.

If there’s even one new thing listed here that’s useful to you, then it’s a win. If I missed a category that you’d like me to weigh in on, let me know in the comments. And if there’s something you love in these categories and want to recommend, also drop it in the comments!

(Clarifying disclaimer: These are all just things I love and I’m not in any way paid for these endorsements — though if you work for these companies and you want to pay me, I accept. I also take all of the credit if you love them and none of the blame if you don’t :)

TECH

Podcasts: I love podcasts, but there are way too many. These are a few I love, which you may not be listening to, but might like. Also, Stitcher is my preferred app for listening to podcasts.

  • Presidential: This is NOT a political podcast. Each week is a thoughtful discussion of one president, making its way chronologically through them all. The host enlists presidential historians to paint a picture of who each president was as a person, what kept them up at night, and even what they might have been like if she were to go on a date with them. It’s my favorite season of any podcast ever. (Note: Despite adoring this podcast, I never got into its follow-up season, Constitutional.)

  • On Being: Krista Tippett hosts this gorgeous podcast that addresses the big life questions: What does it mean to be human? How do we want to live? And who will we be to each other? I recommend going back and listening to old episodes — they are timeless and full of wisdom and inspiration. If this can’t restore your faith in humanity, nothing will.

  • Intelligence Squared: They describe themselves as “America’s Debate Series: Let's restore critical thinking, facts, reason, and civility to American public discourse. Join the debate and hear both sides of every issue.” Each episode positions subject experts in a debate one side of an issue. The team to change the most minds over the course of the debate wins. It’s changed my mind more than a few times and it may do the same for you.

Apps: Like podcasts, there are an endless number of apps. So I’m only focusing on some more obscure stuff here. It is not in any way an exhaustive list or even necessarily a list of the apps I use the most, but they all definitely make my life better.

  • Timezone assistance: I travel a lot and do business with people all over the world, so a convenient way to see what time it is and anticipate what time it will be is incredibly handy. Klok allows you to select all your favorite time zones (I regularly change them based on travels/projects) and see what time it is anywhere in the world, all at once, while Miranda allows you to select your favorite time zones and move the clock ahead to anticipate what time it will be in both your location and those selected locations at some point in the future. It’s a lifesaver for scheduling.

  • Insight Timer: The only meditation app you’ll ever need (sorry Headspace…). Whether you want a timed session, a guided meditation, or some mindfulness classes, this app has it all. You can save your favorites and download them to be available offline. The app is free, but there is a premium option. If you’re into the courses, the usually cost around $5, but all the meditations are free.

  • Service: Yes, the name of it is “Service.” It automatically detects flight disruptions and hotel savings opportunities based on travel reservations in your inbox. They take a cut of whatever is won on your behalf, but the service costs nothing. (Alternatively, you can pay for the service and they take no cut.) Definitely worth letting it work passively in the background on your behalf.

  • Photo editing: There are a LOT of these out there, but after much research, I’ve liked using Word Swag. Its main function is allowing you to add text to your photos. I particularly like the extensive variations available and the ability to layer different designs/effects.

EMF/Blue light shield products: If you aren’t sure what I’m talking about here, check out this section of my website for more info and for specific product recommendations.

  • DefenderShield: It’s really hard to know which products actually work in this category, but they are third party tested and have come highly recommended to me by health professionals. Also of note: their customer service is great — you can call and speak with a U.S.-based rep, and the rep I spoke with shared the origin story of the company, which was created because the founder wanted products to protect his family. Good enough for me.

  • Ochushield: I just purchased these, so TBD on what I think of them, but they’re noteworthy because I did quite a bit of due diligence and I think they’re a reputable source. It was developed by optometrists to block blue light from your technology — and as a result, help you stay calmer and sleep better. Yes, please.  

  • Flux: This is a browser extension that changes your screen’s display color at various times of the day, making it friendlier on your eyes (and body) if you are working after sundown. You can control the timing and the visual display. Free and definitely works. Makes a huge difference for me.

Productivity:

  • These are not going to be a revelation for most of you, but since I am asked about this category all the time, I will say I could not live without Slack (because email sucks — except this one, of course!!), Google Docs (for document creation, sharing, and collaborative real-time editing), and Evernote (for everything I might want to remember or access later, but which is more note than formal document). Sometimes the most popular things are popular for a reason.

Misc. tech:

  • Wikibuy: This is a browser extension (ignore the other info on their homepage and just download the browser extension) that automatically searches for and applies deal codes anytime you are checking out of an ecommerce site online. It has saved me TONS of money and eliminates the tedious manual search I used to do for online coupons/promo codes. It will also let you know if there is a cheaper place to buy that item. You can also earn “credit” from using it, which you can apply to gift cards at popular retailers. Free to use.

FOOD

  • Methodology is hands down the best prepared meal delivery service out there. I love this service so much, and it’s completely changed my life. I’m very health conscious when it comes to what I eat, so most of the available services don’t measure up to the ingredients I want to put in my body, or they taste gross. But this is as healthy and clean as it is delicious. (Before I hype it up too much, I should note that it is only available in select regions, so you’ll need to check.) They deliver twice a week, and you can get complete cooked meals, or buy items a la carte, as well as some pantry items. Every week offers a huge selection of different items. It’s freed up many hours of my time each week, without compromising my nutrition, and while it is a bit more expensive than if I cooked every meal, the amount of time I save (which allows me to work more), more than pays off. This link will get you 10% off your first order.

  • Thrive Market is an online marketplace for healthy, nonperishable items. They also have their own private label brand. I find their items to be several dollars cheaper than what’s available in grocery stores. It’s similar to Amazon Prime, in that you pay an annual membership fee of around $50, which gets you all the savings + free shipping (they guarantee that you’ll make back your membership fee in savings throughout the year, and that has definitely been the case for me). Be sure to visit the “Deals” section before you check out — depending on how much you spend, you can also select some pretty great free gifts. Worth noting: they also have great, affordable, effective natural cleaning products. This link gets you 25% off your first order.

  • ButcherBox is a subscription delivery service for natural, hormone-free, grass-fed meat. They offer every type and cut of meat you could want, as well as some seafood. You choose the size of your delivery, which arrives frozen at the interval of your choice (every month, 3 months, etc.). They also offer regular specials and helpful recipes and cooking tips. It’s seriously delicious (just ask the people who were at my latest BBQ!!) This link gets you a free BBQ bundle of a rack of ribs, 2 NY strip steaks, and 2 lbs of ground beef in your first box for a limited time.

  • Meal replacement bars: For on-the-go eats, I was thrilled to find Wild Zora Meat and Veggie Bars and Epic Performance Bars. I have tried pretty much ever bar out there, and these are terrific. Clean ingredients, low sugar/low-glycemic, taste great. There are several flavors of each; I get them both from Thrive.

  • Teas: Tea is my go-to beverage any time of the day or night. It just makes everything in life better. Here are a couple of my favorites:

    • Mighty Leaf Matcha is the best tasting matcha I’ve found for the money. I blend it with grass-fed ghee each morning. It’s the perfect way to start the day.

    • Republic of Tea Roasted Dandelion Tea is just roasted dandelion with a hint of vanilla. Even non-tea drinkers will love this one. It has a sort of biscuity flavor and is particularly perfect after dinner.

    • This isn’t technically a tea, but I make a blend of hot water with fresh ginger juice (and sometimes add a touch of manuka honey, which is especially helpful in the evenings for better rest). Great for digestion. I get the ginger juice from Thrive.

BODY

  • Skincare for problem skin: My skin has always been prone to breakouts, so I was beyond psyched to discover the Skinsalvation clinic in San Francisco. They obsessively test all ingredients to see if even the most acne-prone amongst us will react to them, and you can check the ingredients of any of your products against their comedogenic widget. All of the products on their website are either developed by them OR obsessively tested by them, so you can feel safe ordering anything without worrying whether it will make you break out. The owner, Kim, is super passionate about clear skin and is very responsive should you ever have any issues or questions.

  • Natural curly hair products: For all you curly haired folks, you know the struggle for products is real. Naturallycurly.com is a terrific overall resource and a nice one-stop-shop for products (especially reviews) and styling tips. Brands/products I like: Shea Moisture conditioner, Kinky Curly Leave-In (light hold; no crunch), Briogeo Leave-in (more defined hold; no crunch), Jessicurl fragrance free cleansing cream (shampoo substitute).

  • Natural deodorant: It’s hard to find natural deodorants that actually work. I’m happy to report I’ve found two that I love: Pit Paste (the lavender is particularly nice) and Agent Nateur (I prefer the “men’s” option because it smells like sandalwood). The fragrances are all derived exclusively from essential oils, so there are no endocrine disruptors. Note that these are deodorants, not antiperspirants, so they will still allow you to sweat, but you won’t stink.

  • Toothpaste: Apagard Royal — See why I use it and read more info about this toothpaste here.

  • Clean cosmetics: You can cross-check your cosmetics on the EWG website, which reveals how toxic your current products are (warning: this can be a very disturbing exercise!). After much research and experimentation, here are the brands I’ve found that don’t make me feel like I’m sacrificing vanity for wellness: Jouer (lip glosses and lip toppers), Jane Iredale (I like their plumping lip glosses best of all their products), Bite Beauty (lip and multi-use products - Yes, I really like lipgloss, ok?!), Alima Pure (blush), Youngblood (powder, foundations). Alima and Youngblood are also acne-safe.

FASHION

  • Clothes: This one will likely not be a new resource for many of you, but I’m often asked where I shop for clothes, and one of my top go-to spots is Shopbop. It’s not a place for bargains (though they do have good sales), but it is a place to get quality items from top designers. They also sync with Amazon and give you fast, free delivery and returns. I generally go in there knowing what I’m looking for and often find a nice option, be it for casual staples, special occasion items, or accessories.   

  • Shoes:

    • Coclico: Many of my favorite shoes are from here. Not cheap, but worth the investment. They’re well-made/long-lasting (if you take care of them), comfortable, and simultaneously classic and on-trend. They have retail stores in NYC, but I order online.

    • Bryr clogs are handmade in San Francisco. I love them for similar reasons to Coclico. Note that they custom make each pair, which requires around a one month waiting period — oh, the anticipation!

    • Haflinger slippers are the best slippers. Hands down. I wear slippers ALL the time and won’t wear anything else. Comfortable, breathable, great arch support, sleek. Get some, thank me later.

  • Glasses: Garrett Leight glasses are modern and high-quality. My sunglasses are from there, as well as my blue light glasses (which are just regular frames with blue light blocking clear lenses; a huge step up from the other ugly blue light blocking glasses on the market). Not cheap, but take care of them and wear them for years. Compliments guaranteed.

  • Sleep/loungewear: I wear a lot of loungewear (with my slippers, of course). I particularly like Only Hearts, Lunya, Eberjey, and anything from Journelle.

  • Workout Wear: Carbon38 can fulfill all your athleisure fantasies.

MISC

  • Gifts: Bohem — I actually have no idea how I got on their mailing list, but I’m so happy I did. They are my go-to for gifts and have terrific holiday sales.

  • Beach: because a) it’s summer and b) I love the beach

  • Cannabis products: Yes, I’m including this category because it’s legal for recreational use in many states and laws are changing across the country, plus it’s really hard to know what works, how much to take, and for what purposes. There are also so many incredible medicinal uses (I outline some of them here; scroll down). I’ve done some extensive research on this category, so I’m passing along just a few of my favorite products. Note that my goal is never to get “high,” so their alternative uses and effects are noted. Hemp-derived products are available for purchase nationwide, whereas cannabis-derived products are available only in states where it’s legal. I generally find cannabis-derived products to be more effective, but something is better than nothing. Ignore this category if it offends you!
    • CBN is incredible for sleep, and with no residual side effects or psychoactive properties. Mary’s Medicinals is a good brand.

    • Tinctures: Fiddler’s Greens has some excellent raw tinctures that also have THCa and CBDa in them (both of which do not have psychoactive properties and are bursting with other incredible health benefits; detailed info on benefits available on their website). I like tinctures because they are fast-acting and you can control the dosing.

    • Low-THC/high-CBD edibles: I can eat a serving of any of these at any point in the day and not feel any sort of high, but will be slightly more relaxed. The one warning I will issue: they are all super delicious, so resist overindulging and stick with the suggested dosing: Satori CBD-rich salted caramel almonds, Kiva confections sparkling pear prosecco gummies, Mr. Moxey’s CBD mints

    • Beverages: I have become increasingly sensitive to alcohol, and I find low-dose cannabis beverages to be a great social alternative. Each of these has a slightly higher dose than the edibles — think of them like having a glass of wine or a beer, which means I don’t drive when I drink them. I like Kikoko teas (especially the sleepy time tea with CBN), California Dreamin natural sparkling sodas, Lagunitas Hi-Fi Hops (an awesome low-dose substitute for alcohol in a party setting)

    • Topicals: These are AMAZING. Seriously effective for aches and pains and topicals have no psychoactive effects. For menstrual cramps, I can’t say enough about Dr. Kerklaan’s PMS Cream — it instantly soothes. However, I will note that they recently switched from whole plant cannabis-derived creams to hemp-derived, which means it’s now available nationwide, BUT may not be quite as effective. You can test for yourself.  A very worthy alternative is the Papa & Barkley relief balm, which my mom swears by for her joints (could also apply to the abdomen for cramps or to sore muscles). It’s available in both cannabis-derived and hemp-derived options.

    Tell me what I’m missing in the comments!

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    Anna Akbari2 Comments