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  • Writer's pictureJCB

Elevate Everyday: Six Things Under $40 That Make It All Better Right Now

Updated: Jun 20

As the days at home become longer and our quarantine is still an unknown quantity, it's a good time to reevaluate how we live our daily lives—that includes the stuff we use everyday. I think it might be a shared sentiment among a lot of people out there that living well and having nice things is only for the rich. Well I'm here to tell you, it's not! I simply won't let it. Elevate Everyday is about taking stock in the basics and making them a little better. Elevating everyday experiences can make you feel like a million bucks without spending it...

While I don't run errands in Golden Goose sneakers or eat caviar for breakfast, I do have a few things in my everyday life that might seem, to some, a bit 'extra'. I do believe though, the most important things to spend a little more money on are the things you use the most. If it's not good quality and you have to use it everyday, it's like Colin Robinson, it will steal your joy bit by bit.

Here's a quick list of six affordable extras that are practical for everyday, but deluxe enough to feel like you're actually treatin' yo self. You really can't go wrong here.

1. Handsoap. Yes, I said handsoap. Especially now because so much hand washing. You don't need this at every sink in the house, but this might be a good one for the kitchen sink. I buy this every two or three months because it lasts a long time and there's only two responsible adults in our house who won't squeeze the sh*t out of it with every use. So, use your best judgement there.

Our all time favorite is Aesop Reverence Hand Wash. It has a slight grit to it so you're getting a little exfoliant with every wash. And it smells heavenly. $39

2. Candles. I light candles every night. Sometimes I like to splurge on a nice scented candle every now and then, but for the most part I stick to unscented tea lights and white pillars. They give life to the room and create instant warmth. If you are lucky enough to live near an IKEA, stock up on their 100 packs of tea lights and inexpensive pillars. You won't be sorry. Lately I've been finding some really reasonably priced scented candles in cool containers that I later re-use as small planters or containers.

Paddywax is killing it right now with so many options in the $20-35 range. Their scents are not only super dialed in but their containers are so beautiful and forever reusable. This collection is currently at UO and my fave scent is Palo Santo Suede. $24

3. Good coffee. Since we are no longer spending daily dollars picking up a coffee made by others, we decided we should graduate from Trader Joe's coffee and splurge on the good stuff. You see, we were drinking A LOT of coffee and buying expensive coffee seemed incredibly wasteful. But what we realized, being trapped at home is that we didn't actually need a lot of coffee. What we needed was a really good cup in the morning . We even realized that (gasp!) decaf is not such a bad idea after all. With all the stress and anxiety of Covid, we (along with many) were having trouble sleeping and the caffeine was not helping. So, good coffee. It's worth it.

We are partial to Ceremony Coffee not only because the coffee is delicious and packaging sublime, but these guys are also from our home state, Maryland. Always buy local when you can. $16

4. Cloth napkins. Do it. Stop using paper towels. That's not a napkin. It's made to clean stuff and not your face. I cannot stress more the benefits of cloth napkins and encourage them as often as possible. I even take them with me on vacation if we're staying at an airbnb. Yes, I'm that weirdo. I keep a big basket of napkins at the ready for every meal. This extra touch, even if it's just a sandwich in the afternoon, makes me feel less bad about the fact that I'm un-showered and still in my workout clothes that I did not workout in... The simple formality somehow feels special and caring.

You can always find sets of napkins in bulk at Home Goods (when they open again) but for now, get a set or two of linen naps from West Elm. This set of four are now on sale. $19

5. Wooden cutting boards. Anyone who knows me and spent any amount of time with me in the kitchen knows, I love a wooden board. I have boards of all sizes and shapes. I like a smallish one for small chopping tasks or to even eat a little soup and sammy situation on—this means I don't have to dirty up another plate. I'll pull out a larger one for the bigger tasks like dinner or assembling bloodies. It seems like a simple thing, but having them in plenty means you've got more serving platter options and cheese board opportunities. Right now, of course, we are not having the gatherings we used to, but we still bust out a small board for a mini cheese plate for two with our cocktails, because we're not animals!

I like having small boards for various things like this from Target but Etsy's also got some amazing, affordable handmade boards like the one above. $30

6. Spotify. This is the cheapest thing you can do for yourself that will give you the most pleasure for nearly every minute of your waking days. At least, that's what it does for me. I listen to Spotify all day long. Sometimes I dial in the playlist or just listen to albums, but sometimes I don't have time to be a curator/dj and just choose my 'Discover Weekly' or something from my 'Made for Jamie' lists that they make for me based on my listening. Sometimes Spotify can get repetitive (No Spotify! Not Shuggie again!) but that's when I usually need to get up from my chair, stretch and change the music. Please treat yourself and stop listening to ads. You don't have to. Around $15 a month gets you all the music, all the songs you could ever know and love or not know and get to know and love, commercial free. Also, all the podcasts. Just do it.

My current fave follow is oddly this cool new paint company called Backdrop. They've created these highly listenable playlists named after their eclectic paint colors. This one is called Peyote Picnic. Love.

That's my six for now. I'll be posting more of these lists in the days and months to come, so stay tuned and tell me what's getting you through this crazy time. Elevate your everyday! It's the easiest thing you can do for yourself that will add tons of joy and a touch of extra without breaking the bank.

Stay well + Stay Homesy!

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