It’s that time of year again, time for my Favorite Things! I always think of my favorite things list as something that was, for a long time, just a list of products until I (in my head very recently but actually 3 years ago!) changed it dramatically in 2016 making for a whole new version of the list that was a totally different thing that included products but also books, companies, even concepts.
This year, once again, my list has changed a bit. I’m currently undergoing some big emotionally/mentally draining shifts and while that means that there are several ideas, practices, and concepts I am a huge fan of, I’m not actually ready to talk about them. So 2019’s list is devoted to things you can get, companies you can support, and someone you can go read. So, it’s a bit less feelings-y this year but, let’s be honest, it’s me so there are still plenty of feelings to go around.
And once again, the list ended up kind of huge. This year it features 9 products, 8 books, 3 companies, and — for the first time EVER– one blog that rocked my socks off this year. I’d love for you to read the whole thing but I recognize that there’s a lot to see here so I’ve set it up so you can use the menu to hop right to the sections you want to see (you can hop back up too!). Go check it out!
JoEllen’s 2019 Favorite Things
Products ★ Books ★ Companies ★ Blog
The Butters Zit Zapper Mask and Spot Treatment
I kind of hate that the first item on this list requires me to talk to you about the fact that my skin is a hot mess these days but, there it is. In general I LOVE The Butters and all of their fabulous products but this year the Zit Zapper Mask has REPEATEDLY come to my rescue! I love this mask so much. It helps get freaking out skin under control without drying it out. Plus it smells awesome, leaves my skin feeling fantastic, and — it must be said– like all of The Butters products, it’s super budget-friendly. You can even get it as part of the Fix Yo’ Face Kit which is packed with a whole bunch of awesome skincare.
Get it here: The Butters — Save 5% with code JOELLEN
I saw the Pillo by Dame at ANME in July and, honestly, kind of obsessed over it. I love a good sex prop and am kind of over only being able to recommend one company for that kind of thing. Pillo manages to be comfortable, supportive and compact. Also, it has handles and Dame owns the fact that it will probably be used as a lap desk (I can’t be the only one who does that, right?) I’m a huge fan and look forward to recommending this one for a long time.
Get it here: Spectrum Boutique, Betty’s Toy Box
So, for years I’ve explored all the different kegel weight options and, even though I liked some of them, I was always plagued by feelings of “am I actually doing this right?”/”am I just clenching everything below the belt (as it were)?”. Then a bunch of things happened this year
- I realized I was kind of stuck in a pattern of, as I called it, “sex injuring” myself
- I noticed my pilates instructors kept cueing an “in and up” engagement of the pelvic floor that I couldn’t quite get
- I saw a somatic bodyworker who observed that I was stuck in a pattern of constant pelvic floor gripping that wasn’t helping anything
Enter Kegelbell. I first learned about this product while writing a PR for it (welcome to one of my side hustles!) and I was fascinated by it. Kegelbell looks a bit funny but really does seem to encourage that “in and up” engagement rather than clenching and the graduated weight system (I even got the giant “D” weight!) makes progress clear in a way I never felt kegel balls did. I’m super into Kegelbell and even made a fun video to go with it!
Get it here: Peepshow Toys, Spectrum Boutique, Betty’s Toy Box
Le Wand Feel My Power
This is one of those times where I have to cop to just loving a product I already loved, dressed up in a new outfit. The Feel My Power wand is GORGEOUS but, honestly, beyond that I just like using it. It’s a little confusing even to me because it’s a Le Wand and there’s no reason I should like using it better than using the other one but there it is. With gorgeous art from illustrator and visual artist, Ashley Lukashevsky, and packaged with a bunch of adorable extras– convenient travel case, pleasure guide, self-love pin, postcard, and sticker set–the FMP wand is something special.
Also, like I said, it’s my favorite wand to use these days. I actually lost mine in my bedroom (no idea how!) for a couple of days while I was making this list and, let me tell you, I was legit freaked out about it!
Get it here: SheVibe, Good Vibrations, Peepshow Toys, Betty’s Toy Box, Spectrum Boutique
Ohnut Intimate Wearable Penetration Buffer
So, as I mentioned earlier, I ran into a bit of an issue with sex injuring myself this year and so there was really no better time for Ohnut to enter my life. I have tried other penetration buffer products over the years and even liked some of them but I think Ohnut may be my favorite. From the super-soft material to the multiple interlocking ring design that lets you choose the buffer size you want, these are a win all the way around.
Get it here: SheVibe, Good Vibrations, Betty’s Toy Box, Spectrum Boutique
Self Delve Fly Agaric Silicone Butt Plug
Can I be totally honest with you all? I don’t really do anal stuff. No strong feelings about it, it’s just not my thing. But I do have a partner who likes both anal toys and mushrooms and, frankly, he was my entire motivation in checking out this plug. Then it arrived and I was so impressed by it! Not only is it adorable, it’s also beautifully made, and manages to be a smaller plug with a little texture. It definitely turned me on to Self Delve and their whimsical designs that keep pleasure in mind.
Get it here: Spectrum Boutique
Let’s be real, lube is great and sex educators tend to obsess over it. I’m no exception to this lubricant love. That said, I felt like I had fallen into a bit a of lube rut, always recommending the same things and not even trying anything new. So I decided this would be the year I branched out. Folks had been recommending Sutil to me for YEARS and this fall I bit the bullet and got Sutil Rich, Sutil Luxe, all of the flavors and even some Hathor Aphrodisia. Honestly, I LOVED it all. I’m only linking to one of the lubes below but seriously, when it comes to texture (thick without sacrificing sensation), slip (so slick), and comfort, you can’t go wrong with any of these.
Get it here: Good Vibrations, SheVibe, Spectrum Boutique
Uvee Home Play
I became fascinated with the Uvee way back in January and I’ll be really honest with you, I wanted it for two reasons: Firstly, I am terrible about cleaning my wands. I mostly use them over clothes and so I tend to just let them go uncleaned until I think of it. Gross. I know. Secondly, I have spent the entirety of the last two winters constantly fight off one bug or another and I was fascinated by this product’s ability to clean things I touch all the time like my phone, ipad, keys, and remote because maybe that would help avoid the constant illnesses(?). Seriously, as soon as mine arrived I did just that.
My take on this item is basically the same as last year’s take on the Touch lube dispenser: Is this a necessary item? No! But it is really cool and I think a lot of folks would enjoy the hell out of it.”Also for folks who want to buy sex stuff for partners during the holidays, something like this– that doesn’t require you to predict what will work for their body – is an ideal pick.
Get it here: SheVibe
Vibratex Magic Wand Plus
My love of the Magic Wand is well-documented. At this point it spans multiple years and multiple versions. The new Magic Wand Plus is no exception. It’s a Magic Wand and that is good. That said, the Magic Wand Plus actually charms me on a different level: It manages to take some of the benefits of the beloved Magic Wand Rechargeable at a lower price point. Okay, so it’s not actually rechargeable but it does feature a silicone head and variable speeds and, with its $89.95 price tag, it does and excellent job of splitting the difference between the Original Magic Wand ($59.95) and the Rechargeable Magic Wand ($124.95). The Magic Wand Plus is a great wand in its own eight but if you’ve wanted the silicone head and variable speeds but were hesitant to drop the cash for the Magic Wand Rechargeable, this is an excellent choice.
Get it here: Good Vibrations, SheVibe, Peepshow Toys, Betty’s Toy Box, Spectrum Boutique
Pleasure Activism: The Politics of Feeling Good
by adrienne maree brown
There are books you read once and then put on your shelf and never open again and then there are books like Pleasure Activism. Not only is this book and important (and enjoyable read), it’s also something I find myself both referencing and pulling out to reread stuff often. This is a must-have for folks who care about, write about, talk about, or even just enjoy pleasure.
Rage Becomes Her: The Power of Women’s Anger
by Soraya Chemaly
Since the beginning of 2018, I have read A LOT of books about anger and women and, as last year’s list shows, I have loved several of them. That said, midway through Rage Becomes Her I knew I had a new favorite. So insightful, nuanced and intelligent, this book is also beautifully written and a pleasure to read. Soraya Chemaly not only knows her stuff, she knows how to make said stuff both impactful and accessible. I (and my boyfriend, actually) have been recommending this book all year long.
Get it here: Amazon
Disrupting the Bystander: When #metoo Happens Among Friends
by A.V. Flox
One of the most common (and rage-inducing) issues to come up again and again in the wake of #metoo is the confusing responses from those who surround people who have caused harm. The pressure “press legal charges or it didn’t happen” pressure that let’s a bunch of folks off the hook if victims don’t want to face the legal system as well as the enforced silence of people who have been abused in ways that are not technically illegal leave a lot of folks unable to speak up. Add to all this the confusion as to what to do when someone you love causes harm and you have a big mess. A.V. Flox does an excellent job of taking on that mess.
NOTE: I feel like I’m not doing this book justice (I have SO MUCH to say about this topic and don’t want to write a 1,000 word essay here!). Just know that it is a book I think we could all benefit from reading.
Get it here: Amazon
Burnout: The Secret to Unlocking the Stress Cycle
by Emily Nagoski, PhD and Amelia Nagoski, DMA
This book is SO. DAMN. GOOD. From Emily Nagoski (whose last book, Come As You Are started the tradition of including books on this list!) along with twin sister Amelia Nagoski, take on stress and, in the process, make me (and I’m sure THOUSANDS of others) feel seen, heard, and understood. Beyond that, though, this book offers actual things one can do to address the stress that is burning so many of us out. Not the ubiquitous “cut down on stress” sound bites we already hear far too many of but real steps we take to stop stress from eating us alive. I recommend this book so frequently that I’m pretty sure I’ve annoyed people. Whatever, read it!
Get it here: Amazon
Building Open Relationships: Your hands on guide to swinging, polyamory, and beyond!
by Dr. Liz Powell
I loved this book. Nonmonogamy is such a complex topic and, through the use of both personal examples and academic knowledge Dr. Liz teaches about it beautifully. Frequently books about nonmonogamy end up being books about polyamory that leave me (someone who identifies as nonmonogamous but doesn’t use the word polyamorous to describe myself) feeling lost amidst all the lingo that I don’t use and like I’m maybe not spending enough time being actively poly. Not the case here! This book leaves room for multiple forms of nomonogamy (and even monogamy!). Building Open Relationships belongs on the nonmonogamy syllabus (not a real thing).
Get it here: She Bop, Spectrum Boutique, Amazon
Read Me: A Parental Primer for “The Talk”
by Lanae St.John
For so many of us, talking about sex is HARD. It can be even harder when we are navigating talking about it with children. Many of us bring to the table unhealthy ideas about sex that we learned from our parents, our peers, and society at large. Enter “Read Me”. This book is the antidote to all that discomfort and all those unhealthy (and often damaging) ideas about sex. Lanae St. John is an excellent educator and her voice shines through in this invaluable read. If you are a parent, get this book! If you are not a parent, get this book! Seriously, it’s a valuable addition to all of our libraries.
Get it here: Amazon
Ditch the Bitch Stigma: Embrace Your Inner Badass
by Kali Williams
Ditch the Bitch Stigma is an intelligent, nuanced look at what it means to be a bitch and why it is not, contrary to what many of us have been conditioned to believe, necessarily a bad thing. Kali does a fabulous job of drawing the important distinction between toxic behavior and being the powerful assertive “bitches” who, in the words of Tina Fey, get stuff done. This book is a fun, smart empowering read that I recommend to anyone who has ever worried about being a bitch.
Get it here: Amazon
Steel Petal Press
Steel Petal Press not only makes adorable unique greeting cards and stationary, they are also committed to destigmatizing mental health conversations. I’m obsessed with them and their products including awesome note pads that make keeping track of your mood, committing to self care, taming anxiety and more both easier and adorable. I’m so into Steel Petal Press!
Visit them at: Steel Petal Press
Tango (formerly known as KinkKit)
Okay, I had a moment of confusion while writing this post because the company I was writing about changed their name! That said, I actually think it was a very smart change and made me love them even more. When I first heard of KinkKit (as Tango was formerly known) I, honestly, didn’t pay much attention. There are a lot of subscription box services these days and I don’t fancy myself particularly kinky so I just figured it had nothing for me. Then they started teaming up with some of my favorite educators and putting together thoughtful kits that spoke to specific needs and I started paying attention. These folks are doing some really cool, accessible stuff and folks should know about it.
Check out the Art of Healing Kit created in partnership with Jimanekia Eborn and the Spank Kit created in partnership with Dirty Lola.
Visit them at: Tango
Velvet Cock makes some very cool thrusting toys that, frankly, make what we used to associate with multi-hundred-dollar sex machines accessible. So, what has me writing about them as a company rather than their products? After 7.5 years in this industry, I’ve dealt with a lot of companies (A LOT). I’ve had lots of folks explain to me why their products were awesome and imply that I just didn’t understand when I disagreed. Basically, I’ve had a lot of not-great experiences. That’s why when a company reaches out, rounds up a group of sex writers and educators, and asks us for input, I take notice! When they do that with kindness, respect, and frankly, make it fun, I feel like I need to tell the world about them. The folks at Velvet Cock seem to genuinely want to make a product that is as enjoyable as possible. Note, I didn’t say they want to make a product that sells as much as possible or that is the most [insert whatever word]. This company is committed to making the absolute best product they can and not afraid to ask for help with that.I am so impressed by Velvet Cock and cannot wait to see what they do next.
Get it here: SheVibe
The Wench Works
I was so hesitant to even do this category because there are a lot of terrific sex-focused blogs out there and I constantly find new ones that I find impressive. I didn’t want anyone out there thinking “so JoEllen doesn’t like my blog?” Here’s the thing, though, this year something happened that had never happened before, I found a blog that I became completely OBSESSED with. Wendy from The Wench Works has such an awesome voice and her work is a joy to read. I’m not the only one who feels this way, the site was voted one of the top 10 New Sex Blogs in Kinkly’s annual Sex Blogging Superheroes poll. Wendy explores sex, kink, relationships, feelings, and mental health and does it beautifully. Basically her site is what I wish my site was like when I first started, and I can’t wait to see what the future holds for her. Check out The Wench Works, you won’t be sorry!
Read Wendy’s work: The Wench Works
Follow Wendy on Twitter: @TheWenchWorks
Curious about what my past lists have looked like? Check them out!
My Favorite Things: 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018, Master List