While we are on the subject of gift exchange, There’s still time for one-day delivery! All of the following are unsolicited, unprompted, unpaid product endorsements—10 things I happened to buy during the year that proved amazingly valuable, and I want to spread the consumer surplus around.
- Purple Carrot food delivery. Mark Bittman of New York Times food column fame (I love his famous eating tips) left the paper to start a vegan food delivery service. Every Tuesday a box arrives with two meals worth of ingredients (and recipes). This would be slightly too time intensive for a couple with two kids and two busy jobs, except my kids like to mix the ingredients with me. Most of all, though, this service is perfect because I want to be more vegan on the margin (rather than full vegan) and this is the perfect commitment device.
- The OK to Wake! alarm clock for toddlers. You set it to 6:45 AM and it lights up green at that time. And our children obeyed it! This is in part because they get yogurt raisins if they obey. But THIS CHANGED MY LIFE.
- Widow Jane Bourbon whiskey. This is so good that when I have my grad students and staff over for dinner and drinks, I put out the expensive aged scotch instead, so there’s more bourbon for me. (Sorry guys.)
- I only used this portable phone charger a couple of times this year, but each time it saved me.
- This 60-year-old series of children’s books, about Jenny the Cat, were one of my favorite things to read to my kids. Not that there were a lot of competitors in the 4-year-old chapter book category. I look forward to next year when I think she might like Roald Dahl.
- The best nonfiction books I read were probably Empire of Cotton, Ghengis Khan, and the Social Order of the Underworld.
- A very inexpensive pair of good ceramic knives for the cook who can’t seem to keep knives sharp
- I really, really love the Reply All podcast, which is of course free.
- This vest substitutes for a car seat when you’re taking taxis or short car rides with little ones. Peace of mind and easy to carry.
- I liked the Duolingo app for practicing foreign languages. It is not very good mainly because it is linear and non-adaptive, but it is the best of a bad bunch. (I was kind of struggling to get to 10 items.)
In full disclosure, whenever you buy something on this site that links to Amazon, I get 1-2%. Annually that’s enough to pay for the blog site and management. So on net there’s almost no profit, and the blog remains ad free. Just my sincere, peculiar endorsements.