Wednesday, July 29, 2009

A Few of My Favorite Things

I was going to wade into the racially-charged waters of the Henry Louis Gates incident (Gates-gate?) but will leave you with one very succinct quote from Bill Maher which made me laugh no end: “Is your home safe from black intellectuals?” Presumably, Officer Crowley, Dr. Gates, and President Obama will join together in racial harmony this week and share a beer and move past the whole thing, even if in many parts of this country, black men will still be arrested for doing nothing wrong other than being black.

Ok, enough said. We’ve come a long way, but still have a long way to go. On that, I think we can all agree.

So, I now turn to what I like to call “a few of my favorite things” post. Not as popular as Oprah’s list of favorite things and I certainly won’t be sending each and every one of you one of the things on the list but maybe you’ll find yourself intrigued enough to buy one or more item on the list. Here we go:

1. Progresso Pesto Sauce: As faithful readers of this blog, you know that dinner time is a challenge around the Barbieri house. We have one vegetarian, one person on a low-roughage diet (that would be me), one person who eats just about everything, and one person who only likes to eat things, mostly meats, that a group recently cited as those who increase your risk for colorectal cancer (try explaining what that is to a 10-year-old). The answer to all of my prayers? Progresso Pesto Sauce. Yes, I know you can make your own, but that would require that I a) buy a basil plant, b) put it in a pot, c) make sure the cats in the neighborhood don’t use said pot for a litter box, and d) go outside and tend to the plant. None of that is happening friends, I can guarantee you. You know what’s easy, though? Pulling back the plastic lid on a container of store-bought pesto and mixing it with a bunch of hot pasta. Serving a salad and a loaf of Italian bread alongside it. Hearing people in family exclaim that this is their “favorite meal!” and seeing their smiles as they eat it. Easy, not too expensive, and everyone eats it. What could be better?

2. The BodenUSA web site: The country has a long way to go on racial issues and I have a long way to go on dressing myself better. Not so since I discovered the BodenUSA web site. Boden is a company based in the U.K. with moderately-priced but extremely hip clothes for women of a certain age. (That would be me and the northern half of Evelyn David, who is still expounding on her love of the black wrap dress that I encouraged her to buy and which she now owns. If you’d like to see what it looks like, go to I’m wearing it in the photo on the home page.) And fortunately, as things have shifted southward on me, they have taken to making a line of very stylish tunics, which look fabulous with a pair of jeans or dressier pants and which cover my trouble spot or “writer heinie” which has developed over the past few years. I hesitated giving out this secret because I don’t want to see an army of tunic-wearing women walking around wearing the clothes that I have, but I’m a giver. You already knew that.

3. Facebook: I know. We’re supposed to be tired of social networking sites, but I’ve got to say that I am loving Facebook and enjoying reconnecting with friends and family. I’ve gotten to see pictures of my nieces and nephews on their most recent vacation, learned about who’s doing what from my high school and college classes, and reconnected with a lot of old friends. It’s also a great way to get the word out about my books, learn about other writers in the mystery world, and get feedback on covers and promotional materials. It’s also a nice diversion when I get bored with what I’m doing during my workday and that is not a bad thing.

4. My new Dyson vacuum: Another way Facebook has helped me is that it allows me to get information on products before I buy them. I put in my status update last week that I needed a new vacuum and the comments flooded in. Most encouraged me to get a Dyson and boy am I glad I did. Remembering the southern half of Evelyn David’s post a few weeks back about putting her vacuum together (something I wouldn’t be remotely interested in or adept at), I was concerned about getting a machine that I wouldn’t be able to use right out of the box, let alone have to use a screwdriver to put together. Fortunately, the Dyson was already assembled and after a few test runs, virtually the easiest thing in the world to use. The only drawback? The bagless technology. It’s great—don’t get me wrong. I just don’t enjoy seeing Barbieri dirt—and apparently, there’s a lot of it—swirling around in the clear canister after just one vacuum session. We are apparently a very dirty and disgusting family and my old vacuum, with its bag housed in a canister in which nothing could be seen, kept this ugly secret. I guess I’ll get used to seeing the dirt swirl around, but for right now, I’m pretending it belongs to someone else.

So, that’s it. I could go on but I’ll wait for another post to do so. We still haven’t discussed my love of mocha chip frappacinos from Starbucks but will, I promise. What are your favorite things? More importantly, what can’t you live without?

And don’t forget to protect your home from intellectuals—black, Asian, caucasian, or otherwise.


  1. Great blog. Love, love, love my Boden black dress.


  2. There's one more thing to protect your home from, you can check it out on my blog at

  3. Thank goodness one of the Ten Commandments isn't, "Thou shalt not covet your neighbor's Dyson," because I'm drooling at the idea of one. I have promised myself that I'll trade in my Oreck for one soon! Fun post today, Mags!


  4. Mags--Had not seen your website. Very well done, lady. You look fab in all the photos, too.