The Best Towels

best towelsWhich are the best towels? What factors should matter? Last month we talked about the best sheets for the home — and today we’re looking at the best towels. Reader K wonders…

Hi Kat, again, love your blog. I am curious as to whether you and the readers have found THE BEST towels. I am ready to do this purchase right and want to know if anyone has scoured/tested the best products so that I am not reinventing the wheel. Soft and luxurious while getting the job done. Thanks!

Great question, K — I’m curious to hear what everyone else has found. I just splurged and bought some Missoni towels from Horchow through one of their midday ClickTock sales, and I’m always on the hunt for vibrant towels with saturated colors, which I’ll admit has been my main determinant for which towels I’ve bought. (For some reason white towels have always seemed terribly impractical to me, unless they’re designed for bleach.) I haven’t had the best luck in general with towels — I splurged on some towels (even got ’em personalized) at a fancier department store a few years ago and was bummed to find that, while they were fluffy, they weren’t terribly absorbent. So let’s research this together (alas, the Missoni towels don’t make anyone’s list!)… [Read more…]

What’s Your After-Work Routine?

After Work Routines Here’s a fun topic: what is your after-work routine?  Do you have one that’s necessitated by outside factors (must walk dog, pick up kids, etc) or internal factors (must put on gym clothes and go to gym immediately)?  Do you find that it helps you transition your mindset to a more relaxing one?  What do you do at the beginning of the day (prepare food, lay out clothes, etc) to help your after-work routine along?

As I’ve mentioned before, I do think an after-work routine can be a powerful way to segue from workmode to me-mode.  My own after-work routine always involved changing into jeans when I got home from the office — it helped me feel like I could “be myself” and relax without putting pajamas on; I also found that I was more capable of hanging up dry-clean only work clothes neatly if I did it before total exhaustion set in.  (I usually had already eaten dinner at the office or out and about with a friend.)  I’ve never been great about being productive in the evenings (unless you count socializing), and personally workouts only happen if I exercise in the morning (sigh).  These days, with small kids, my after-work routine is mostly driven by outside factors — reconnect with kids, make/buy/eat dinner, bathtime/bedtime GOGOGO.  By the time the kids are asleep I usually space out for a while, watching TV and fussing with my iPad.  I’ve discovered that I get a second wind around 10 PM, when I’ll sometimes work on personal projects (family albums, family research and planning, etc) or try to shop for future TPS/coffee break posts — but I’m starting to realize the better move is to go to bed before I get that second wind, hopefully so I can get up early to get focus work done, like writing (or, hey, working out) before the kids get up around 6:30 am.

How about you, ladies — what is your after-work routine?  Do you have a schedule of after-work activities (gym class, book club, etc)?  Given your druthers would you prefer relaxing time or productive time — and at night, or in the morning?

Pictured: Atlanta,Georgia,downtown skyline, dusk, originally uploaded to Flickr by apple.white2010

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Tips for Whitening Teeth and Nails

how-to-whiten-teeth-nailsWhat are the best products and practices for whitening nails and teeth? Reader L wonders…

I’m an elementary school principal. I love your blog! I would love a post about teeth whitening products and nails. I work with staff, families, district personnel, and community people/businesses. I feel that the first thing they notice when talking with me, is teeth and nails. I would love ideas for quick and inexpensive ideas. Thanks!

Interesting.  I’m really curious to hear what readers say here!

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Beauty Wednesday: Moisturizers for Dry Winter Skin

Burt's Bees Radiance Night CreamI thought my dry skin last year was pregnancy-related, but I’m finding that I really do need extra moisture on my face. I haven’t yet taken the plunge on something serious like La Mer in part because I really like my affordable Burt’s Bee’s option. It’s 99% natural, moisturizes with “Royal Jelly,” which Amazon describes as thus: “Fed to the queen bee, Royal Jelly contains 8 essential amino acids, vitamins A, B1, B2, B6, C, D & E along with Niacin and Folic Acid. It is the reason she lives 40 times longer and is 50% bigger than worker bees.” Alrighty then! A 2-oz. jar of Burt’s Bees Radiance Night Cream with Royal Jelly is $14.59 (and even less with a Subscribe and Save order).

Ladies, what are your favorite products for dry winter skin?

Psst: see my other maternity skincare picks.

(L-3)

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N.B. These substantive posts are intended to be a source of community comment on a particular topic, which readers can browse through without having to sift out a lot of unrelated comments. And so, although of course we highly value all comments by our readers, we’re going to ask you to please keep your comments on topic; threadjacks will be deleted at our sole discretion and convenience. Thank you for your understanding!

The Next Step: Services

upgrading-personal-servicesWhat are the best ways to upgrade personal services such as massages, food delivery, personal training, and more? More importantly, where is the middle ground between DIYing it and, for example, hiring a personal chef? How can you outsource and save time in some areas of your life so that you can focus on spending your time (and money) on the things you enjoy the most?

We’ve already talked about a bunch of stuff in our Next Step series: how to step up your workwear, upgrade your handbags, graduate from IKEA furniture, and buy better shoes — but something else that I thought might be interesting to talk about is services. I came up with a few ideas for areas such as massage, food, exercise, hair/beauty, and home decor/organization — what other services do you think are upgradeable? What other “middle ground” approaches do you know of?

Note: These generally go in order of money required for each level (i.e., Level 1 can be done with little to no money), but obviously other factors come into play here such as time, energy, and desire. Of course, if you’re really into a certain category, you may want to do ALL the levels, all the time (money permitting); you may also want to pursue it further as a hobby or even a future career. Where possible I’ve tried to include thoughts for that as well.

These were my ideas for each category:

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Beauty Wednesday: Laser Hair Removal

Laser Hair Removal Experiences | CorporetteLaser hair removal | CorporetteI’ve shared my experiences with laser hair removal — let’s hear from you guys! Those of you who had your hair removed more recently than I did, what was the experience like? How much did you pay? Has anyone tried the newer devices for removing hair at home? Reader C wonders:

I would love to see an updated blog about laser hair removal. I’ve had my underarms and bikini done with great success at a salon, and am now considering lower legs.

I’ve received two quotes from different sales: one for $1600 (8 sessions with a Lightsheer diode laser) where she notes her machine costs more than $100k and is top quality and another for $500 (3 sessions with an IPL machine – Ultra VPL) where she thinks three would get me far into the process.

I could buy a Tria Laser system for $500 and do any/all surfaces myself at home… if, of course, I get results. Has anyone had good/bad experience with the Tria? It seems to be the most popular at-home system, but I’m open to other recommendations too.

Great question, C. For my $.02, I’m THRILLED I had my underarms and lower legs done about six or seven years ago at Beam Laser Spa in NYC — even though I’ve missed laser hair removal touchups over the years because I’ve been nursing or pregnant, my lower legs and underarms are pretty much a non-issue for me in terms of maintenance. As I mentioned in my original post, though, in a very un-Kat-like move I did zero research on the procedure, the laser spa, the equipment, etc. (I decided to buy a package on a whim after a beauty blogger I read recommended Beam and noted that they were having a sale.) So for those of you who DID do research and make more educated decisions, what did you discover and decide — and how did that work out?

(Pictured: Happy legs, originally uploaded to Flickr by Shawn Rossi.)

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