Useful Things

Useful Things

Rachel has been reading a book about sorting possessions based on the joy they bring to your life. Joy is a strong word, one that I prefer leaving to experiences and people, but I do like ranking my possessions based on their contributions to my world.

So here, in no particular order, are five things I’ve been appreciating in my life.


My Ikea laundry rack is perfect for apartment living. I grew up using those clunky wooden racks and thought them mostly bulky and inefficient, but this one is slender when it’s folded and fits handily into a small space . This picture shows it holding most of two loads of laundry (I hung up the dress shirts and flung two large towels over chairs.) I have a hard time using the dryer when the air is perfectly free and handy, and besides, I like to think of those pennies shaved off of our electric bill every time I hang up a load of laundry.


Dollar Shave Club and this shaving cream: I know I’m not the only one who cringed so hard over the price of replacement cartridges that I used razors until they hardly cut through water. When the brand I was using changed the way the razor heads attached to the handles, which resulted in my perfectly good handle being unusable, I gave up in despair. I was glad to discover cheap but good razors that magically show up in my mailbox for every month. The shaving cream is a delight to use as well, and lasts so much longer and feels so much better than any foamy stuff I’ve tried.


Spices are some of my most treasured possessions in my kitchen. Can you imagine cooking with only salt to season the food? I feel so rich every time I go to cook a flavorful curry or sauce and open my cupboard to an overwhelming choice of spices. Half the fun of cooking without a recipe is to stand with the cupboard door open, sniffing spices and making a medley of flavor out of whatever seems right that day. Just last week I picked up some green cardamom pods in an Indian grocery store. They’re so fresh and powerful that the scent blasted my face as soon as I opened the bag, and I made my best chai yet with them.


A library card and my own books bring so much texture to my life. While these two things are both about books, they fill such different roles in my life. The books on my shelf make my house seem more homey and welcoming. Some I put there because they look nice, and some because I read and reread them. My own books I love because they’re mine: whether they’re actually so great or not doesn’t matter all that much. Library books are a different thing. I walk a few blocks and enter this grand, quiet space, full of inviting books to browse. I run my fingers over them and pull them out whenever one catches my eye and bring them home. I’m not committed to library books; if I start reading one and it doesn’t catch my attention I don’t bother finishing it, while I would never do that to a book I own. Library books are curiosities, things to check out to increase your library’s funding, stack on your nightstand while you sift through them, then return to their own home.

6 thoughts on “Useful Things

  1. This is delightful. I just started a library book this morning, and one chapter in feel like this could be a colossal waste of my time. Your post may have given me the freedom to say no.

    1. Shall I give you One Trick That Librarians Don’t Want You to Know? If you go to the library’s search catalogue you can see how many times that copy has been checked out, and remind yourself that out of the 85 times it’s been taken surely at least one person read it. So the book has done its duty now and you’re free to discard it at will.

  2. And that most beautiful sewing machine. Whether for beauty or function, it will soon make your list.
    On spices, you’ve come a long way girl. Your grandmother cooked with salt and pepper. And a smidgeon of onion.
    My favorite things Include a good sharp hoe which makes me feel like I could conquer the world, and my thimble, which makes me happy when I slip it on. And my chef’s knife, which you taught me to use.

    1. I almost talked about my knives, but I spent too long trying to figure out if my knives or my spices are the most important thing in my kitchen. I can tear vegetables and meat with my fingers and teeth, but then they wouldn’t taste amazing once they’re cooked. It’s a struggle trying to decide.

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