...because home doesn't happen overnight.

Right-sized living forces me to shop with intention for our home and for myself. I think about how I will use an item and how often. I think about where I’ll store it. I think about how the item will impact my everyday living. If I already have a similar item, I think about its fate and if/how the potential purchase will be an improvement over the current item. I think about how long the item will last. I think about how I want the item to look. And I think about how much I’m willing to spend. Typically, the more boxes an item checks, the more money I’m willing to spend on it. There’s no aimless browsing. There are no impulse buys. If a purchase doesn’t hold up to my expectations, I return it.

Here are a few of my best buys from this year. I’ve divided them into two categories: things for my home & family and things for myself. They are little things I use on a regular basis that have improved my everyday life because of their purpose, convenience, small footprint, beauty and/or comfort.


best buys 2015

1 – reusable grocery bags I use them multiple times per week for all shopping, not just grocery. They also make great library book bags. Don’t let their small size fool you. They stretch to hold an insane amount of stuff. They store easily inside of each other and can be stashed in a closet, glove box or purse or hung on a hook.

2 – wire basket I bought one of these over the summer to harvest tomatoes, cucumbers and peppers from the garden. The kids loved using it and it held up against their abuse. Because of the simple design, I leave it out on the kitchen countertop to corral all kinds of things during colder months.

3 – indigo dyed kitchen towels Pretty and practical, these kitchen towels are soft and absorbent. Drying dishes never looked so good.

4 – stainless steel lunch boxes When I bought these for the kids, I was leery of spending so much on lunch boxes. But after going through a ridiculous amount of boxes, bags, containers and lids (where do they all go?!) over the years, these have proven to be a worthy investment. Not only are they virtually indestructible, they somehow make packing lunches easier and faster. (Get tons of ideas here. Instead of forks, I pack toothpicks now.) Numerous classmates, parents and teachers have inquired about them. I throw them in the dishwasher for easy cleanup.

5 – mesh family beach tote Our old pool bag gave out this past summer and I had to find a replacement in a pinch. Even though it isn’t the prettiest thing, this tote is super functional which is the #1 priority for me when it comes to a family pool bag. With its various pouches and pockets, it easily holds everyone’s towels, drinks, snacks and pool toys. The mesh material is waterproof, sandproof (I made that up…it means it doesn’t hold sand) and washable. Throw it in the washer or hose it down. It folds up and stores flat during colder months.

6 – peshtemal beach towel Along with the pool bag, I also replaced our old beach towels with peshtemals. (We made the switch indoors a while ago.) There’s one for each member of our family and they’re all the same color so there’s no fighting over towels or outgrowing themed towels. They’re thin which means they dry quickly and roll up easily to fit inside the pool bag. No more lugging around heavy, wet towels! They get better with every wash; just don’t use fabric softener.


best buys 2015

1 – Finley clutch So, technically, I haven’t bought this yet because it’s sold out :( But as soon as it’s back in stock, it’s mine. I have the petite bellfield tote (the only purse I own) and it only gets better with each passing year. It’s great for everyday, but I’m in need of something smaller and dressier for special occasions. That motherhood milestone when you no longer have to carry around a ginormous bag for everyone else’s necessities? I’m celebrating it with a clutch.

2 – electrolyte drink tablets I’m a sweater (as in odiferous not knit) and, apparently, I’m a runner now, too. I discovered these tablets after a particularly grueling run. For me, they really help to prevent muscle cramping without adding loads of sugar to my diet.

3 – Saucony retro sneakers These are my go-to kicks for running errands and keeping up with the kids. They’re comfortable without looking orthopedic and they look great with almost everything “ath-leisure.” I love them so much I have them in black/silver and purple/orange. (The purple/orange looks great with olive or navy leggings.) I hope Saucony never stops making them.

4 – stainless steel water bottle When I’m home, I’m really good about drinking plenty of water. But when I’m out and about (which seems to be more and more these days), my water intake wanes. I keep this water bottle in my bag or in the car and fill it up at home or via drinking fountains around town. The kids have been known to borrow sips from it, too. It keeps hot liquids hot and cold liquids cold for 24 hours. I’ve used it with #2 above.

5 – swanky earbuds I’m a true introvert and sometimes I just need to drown out all the stimulation going on around me. I love these comfy, good-looking earbuds for listening to music, TED talks and podcasts at home or away. The design is a lesson in form + function. One cord is longer than the other. A teeny, inline 3-button remote is all but invisible. Gold accents make them feel more like jewelry than audio paraphernalia and a leather case keeps everything tidy. *BONUS* – Use the promo code “housetweaking15” to score a 15% discount.

6 – metro legging Easily, these are the best leggings I’ve ever owned. I bought the high-waisted version months ago and they have been a staple in my wardrobe ever since. Imagine if jeans and yoga pants had a baby. That baby would be these leggings. They do amazing things for the glutes. Dress them up for running errands and dining out or dress them down for lounging and light workouts.

What are some of your favorite buys of the year?



IKEA rain poncho. Lightweight. Fold into its own pocket. Keep it in the car for surprise storms. Eliminates rain as an excuse for your daily walk.


I literally just made the jump and bought those reusable grocery bags last week but I was about to return them because they seem so flimsy! Then I gave one to my toddler and she filled it with books and dragged it around the house. It survived so I changed my mind.


I love this post. I so appreciate your thoughtful lifestyle and wariness of buying just to buy. Great recommendations. A few of my favorite purchases lately: a brass plant mister (functional and so pretty), a stainless steel compost container for food scraps in the kitchen, and black “glittens” from J.Crew.

I love a nice thick legging with a seam! As for my best buys this year, they have mostly been skincare, fragrance samplers, and food items.

My top products out of all those would have to be Sunday Riley skincare and Great Lakes Collagen Powder.


This Crate & Barrel double ended coffee measure (http://www.crateandbarrel.com/double-coffee-measuring-spoon/s373535). One end is one tbsp, the other two. It’s long enough to dig deep into a bag of coffee, and when not covered by coffee grounds it is a great every day measure. A long one and two tbsp measure is an everyday luxury. Not just for coffee any more. This is finding its way into every over 21 stocking I’m filling this year.


Thanks for the great ideas. Are the links in this post affiliate links?


For me, my two best buys have been Old Navy Rockstar Jeggings as they make you look put together but are as comfy as yoga pants and hiring an attorney to handle my disability case (if that counts as a buy) because after 2 1/2 years of worry, stress, and tears, I finally had my hearing and got approved (praise God!) so now we can do some much needed work on our house!


Those bags are great! We have a disposable bag ban in Austin, I’ve been using those “fishing net” bags for years, and you don’t have to worry about bacteria growing in them, like the nonbreathable kind.
We are super, super frugal, but I dropped $300 for my second Roomba without blinking. I have 2 toddlers, and it’s a game changer. I run it every day, and it brings me back two fistfuls of dirt, crumbs, dust, crusty play doh, and now xmas tree needles. I don’t nag, or sweat the big glitter messes, roomba’s got it the next day. High five!
Seriously eyeing those sneakers now… and may I ask about the sandals in the previous post? Thanks lady, happy holidays!


This is the best “gift guide” type post I’ve read. We also try to limit what we buy, so it is overwhelming seeing all the posts around Christmas with so much waste!


i love the Metro legging! It’s the perfect legging to go with tunics and the sweater dresses in style this season. I also love the Metro skinny (and on sale right now, FYI).
and the Saucony retro sneaks! so so cute. I bought a pair for our 2 year old and they remain her favorite go-to, and all the adults love them. :)


Tiny retro sneaks? Adorable!


Thanks Rebecka!


A Roomba has been on my wish list for a while now. Glad to hear you find it to be a worthy investment! The sandals were a random Kohl’s find a few years back. They were $12 on sale and are so comfy. I will be so sad if/when I have to toss them :(


Congrats on your good news!


Some of them are affiliate links as stated on my “about” page but I did purchase all items on my own, unsponsored. I try to be transparent while also monetizing the blog to cover costs. Hope that makes sense!


What a great gift idea! Thanks for sharing.


A brass plant mister sounds beautiful and I need to invest in a good compost container for my kitchen. Love the gloves that double as mittens!


So practical! Umbrellas are so cumbersome.


The rstyle.me links are blocked at my work. I’ve never had that problem with your site before :(

Also, I have a couple pairs of a similar Saucony shoe, jazz (the vegan one), and love them. I’ll have to check the one you posted out, yours look a little sleeker I think.


I need to try those Metro Leggings…they sound amazing.
I love recyclable bags and am looking for a vintage style version like you have pictured.
Around the World in 80 Pairs of Shoes


Great post Dana. I love to see in today’s world, others being conscious and thoughtful about what they are purchasing. We just finished Christmas shopping for the kids in our lives, and we felt so guilty at the end of the day for purchasing so many *things*. We just hope the little ones love their gifts and get much use out of them.

I personally LOVE your posts about your favorite products. I have purchased many of them for myself or friends and they are still some of my favorites. My Onitsuka Tiger shoes by Asics are still my go-to weekend kicks


My favorite buys of the year would probably be my sneakers which I regularly use every morning when I take my dog for a walk and my IKEA kitchen cabinet.


Do you find that the sneakers run true to size?


Great post! It is always so great to hear which items work for other people. I’ve been going back and forth on the peshtemal towels, I want to make the switch, but my husband isn’t convenience. Those lunch boxes are great! I switched to the cloth reusable “zip locks” because of all the plastic bags wasted, but these look great too! My best purchase of the year is so simple, a magnetic knife strip from Ikea. Not having a knife block on my counter has been AMAZING! I should have got a magnetic strip years ago.


Love this post! i appreciate how conscious you are with your purchases! We are striving to achieve the same lifestyle! I love your blog and look forward to what you post about! The items on this list are so practical and acts as perfect gift guide! I might have just bought the turkish towels, water bottle and ear buds for presents… and well if we are being honest i might have also picked up those leggings for me!

As for my favorite purchase this year, we decided to buy a Roomba knock off and we love it! it sounds lazy, but it is such a time saver, and a motivation to keep things off the floor so Robisha (her household name) can have a productive day! With two large dogs in the house, i can say enough good things! Cheers!


I love the swell bottles. I could be a walking ad for them. I try to tell everyone how great they are. I just love ice cold water. My husband and I practically only usecthisvto drink out of at home and many of our gifts this year are these bottles! Everyone thinks I’m nuts but it’s just so much easier to drink water from this for sibs reason. For my son we got him a Contigo bottle that stays cold but less of a spill hazard. Great for school too


Cold. Water. Always.


I love that you named her :)


Yes! I normally wear 6.5 or 7 and I got these in 6.5. They are comfy with thin socks.


Mine finally gave out after a few years. Still love the look of them!!


“I’m a sweater (as in odiferous not knit)”

That’s exactly what a sentient knit sweater on the internet WOULD say… I’m onto you, sweater-person…


Turkish peshtemal towels were a great discovery for me. They are light, stylish and just as absorbent as regular towels. They dry in a jiffy and sand does not stick to them. Try these guys out!



Very nice list! From your buys I can tell that you are a practical person, who doesn’t like spending money on stupid things. Everything is well thought out and planned. I am almost the same way, I like things that would last for years. But this year we spent most of our money on house things, because we were moving to a new home, and it needed lots of things in order to finish the renovations. The kitchen for instance was in a horrible condition.




The link for the leggings appears to be broken. Can you please provide the name of the vendor who sells these leggings? Thanks! Merry Christmas!


Do you like the amazon linked beach towels or your etsy ones you got prior?


Personally, I like the Amazon ones better. They’re a little bigger ;)


Hmmm…the link is working on my end. The leggings are the high waisted metro legging from Athleta!


So, at first I balked at the price of those leggings. And then I said, “You know, I’ve been shopping for good leggings for months now. It’s Christmas. Merry Christmas to me.” And I bought them.

And now my life is 110% better. They’re amazing. Practically perfect in every way.

Thank you so much!


Ah, so glad you like them! They are so great and you should get a lot of wear out of them. I wear mine a few times each week.


I love that idigo kitchen towel more and more everytime i see it. Ive gotta get one. And per your recommendation i got some peshtemals to replace our towels and couldn’t be happier. Thank you!




I love the saucony sneakers you posted-do you wear them for running too? I found them at a great price at http://www.6pm.com-will be purchasing some soon! Thanks for the feedback on them!


I don’t wear them to run but I did post about my running shoes here if you’re interested…