Things that have changed my domestic life in the last 18 months

You’ll notice most of these things are kitchen or food items. There’s a good reason for that. Also note a blackberry or i-phone isn’t among the items listed… I’m not one of those people… yet.

1. PG Tipspg tips
This one I owe Oren for. I gave up coffee about a year ago. Too many end of semester pushes driven by double-shot espressos and full french-presses of coffee had ripped my stomach to shreds. Tea has become my go-to caffeine source since and I easily drink 6 cups a day. American-made brews are generally pretty tasteless, and even some of the premium Brit blends didn’t have enough body for my palate. But PG Tips, England’s Lipton, is superb! It never seems to get bitter and the ingenious pyramid tea-bad allows for maximum brewing. The problem is there are only a handful of stores that carry it — Whole Foods on 24th, Agata and Valentina on 79th and a few smaller markets. I’m addicted.

2. My Dell XPS M1330

In theory, my laptop should be my number 1. But I couldn’t use it without proper brain fuel. Small, sleek and fast, it makes me feel like a Bond Girl. Macs are overrated.

3. A Cherry-Red LG Washer and Dryer
I could never understand why my clothes never seemed to smell clean even after an extra rinse. Finally, our washing machine of 25 years exploded and required a replacement. The LG is energy efficient and cleans clothes like nobody’s business. I’ve also switched to a biodegradable detergent and my clothes have never felt cleaner or fresher. But all that usefulness aside, they’re the sexiest household appliances you could possibly own.

4. A Kitchen-Aid Pasta Making set
1 flat roller attachment and 2 pasta cutting attachments designed for my kitchen-aid stand-up mixer. After a few botched-up preliminary attempts, my Italian genes finally showed up and now I’m a pasta-making fiend. Linguine with that? How bout some sweet-pea raviolis? Some spaghetti? No problem.

5. Le Cruset Cookware
It all started with a red dutch oven. Then a turquoise pot and red grill pan followed. Now i don’t want to cook with anything else but my enameled cast-iron french cookware. Everything tastes better when it’s cooked in Le Cruset.

The underappreciated dangers of gardening

a field of poison ivy on Prince Edward island... remarkably similar to my backyard gardens

a field of poison ivy on Prince Edward island... remarkably similar to my backyard gardens

There’s a strange patch of shiny green leaves growing under the window. I lean in closer and begin to reach with a gloved hand. NO! Don’t touch! The clusters of 3 leaves tells me this is no ordinary weed patch. This is poison ivy, and like most gardeners, I am very, very allergic to it. I pull back and scan the wall under the window. It’s all poison ivy. In fact, it’s a poison ivy farm. My top soil won’t grow a single daisy, and my herb garden is miserable at breeding basil, but my yard is ideal for weeds that cause red, bumpy, itchy rashes.

The first time I went to Paris, when I was 15, my mother was plagued with poison ivy. As we walked the streets of the City of Light, she had to stop every few meters to scratch, sneaker to calf. Finally, she’d had enough. There we were in the Louvre, in the famous Salon Carre, and there was my mum sitting on a bench, ignoring the art and tending to her afflicted left calf. Back at the hotel, we sent for a doctor — a well dressed Frenchman, sporting a beautiful suit, silk tie, and antique leather medical bag. “Oh yes, I know dis ivy. we put it in zee salades.” No, sir, I think you’re confused. An antihistamine was administered via a needle, and since then “poison ivy” has struck fear into the heart of the Reckling women.

There are a lot of other hazards in a garden. Like thorns. And flying insects. I have a serious problem with flying insects. Usually, they swarm me. First it starts with one fly, then a fly and a herd of gnats, then a fly a herd of gnats and some mosquitoes. It’s like they know I don’t like them and that I’m allergic to their bites and they like to torment me. I drop the clippers or spade. The next thing you know, I start dodging, like I’m Neo dodging Smith’s bullets, and swathing and running in a serpentine pattern. But it’s all in vain. They won’t go away. I’m the type of person who will be at a picnic with 5 other people and by the time we’ve packed our blanket, I have a dozen welts on me from mosquito bites. My companions will be untouched. If you plan to go into a buggy area, take me with you — I’m better than any insect repellent you can buy.

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