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What Curtis Sittenfeld Can’t Live Without

If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts. Not the JAR brooch and Louis XV chair, but the hand sanitizer and the electric toothbrush. We asked Curtis Sittenfeld, author of Prep and the new story collection You Think It, I’ll Say It, about the Cincinnati ice cream, reusable bags, and sunscreen she can’t live without.

Envirosax Reusable Shopping Bag
$11 at Amazon

I like that these bags are machine washable, they can carry heavy loads from the grocery store, and they compress into a tiny little bunch you can literally put in your pocket. I’d estimate that I own about 15.

Beyond Coastal Active Spf 34 Sunscreen
From $7 at Amazon

I once participated in a fancy writers’ conference where we received this sunscreen in our zippered tote bags. (Aren’t zippered tote bags the best? Like ten times better than unzippered ones?) Anyway, that was four years ago, and I’ve been buying Beyond Coastal ever since. It isn’t greasy, and it gives off an aura of not having chemicals in it that will kill you, while still smelling like summer.

Athleta Stash Pocket Salutation Tight
$89 at Athleta

My friend Elizabeth often wears leggings, and one morning last year at school drop-off, I asked her, “Which are the leggings that don’t give you camel toe?” She told me Athleta’s Salutation Pant and/or Salutation Tight, and later that day, I bought several pairs. I’m sure we’re all familiar with the expression about how there’s a special place in hell for women who don’t help other women … avoid camel toe.

BIC Round Stic Xtra Precision Ball Pen, 24-count
$7 at Amazon

There’s an ongoing “water, water everywhere, and not a drop to drink” situation at my house in terms of both pens and paper. I try to remedy it by buying boxes of these. Maybe I have the theory that if I buy pens that are more utilitarian than pretty, the universe will feel less tempted to steal them from me?

It’s All Good: Delicious, Easy Recipes That Will Make You Look Good and Feel Great by Gwyneth Paltrow
$18 at Amazon

The first recipe in this cookbook is Quinoa Granola With Olive Oil and Maple Syrup, and this is what I have every morning for breakfast (I make it without walnuts and eat it with coconut milk and a banana). I never otherwise eat quinoa, and believe it or not, I never think about either Sliding Doors or conscious uncoupling while I eat breakfast. In general, I believe it’s fine to have impassioned conversations about Gwyneth Paltrow, but those of us who do so should admit it’s a recreational activity and not a moral referendum.

Graeter’s Premium Ice Cream, Mocha Chocolate Chip, Pint (8 Count)
$74 at Amazon

I grew up in Cincinnati, the birthplace of the creamiest and most delicious ice cream with the hugest chocolate chips. Graeter’s used to be available only regionally, but an extravagant thing you could do was overnight-ship six pints to another state, in dry ice. I gave this as a holiday gift to my agent and editor a few times. Then Graeter’s started being sold in other parts of the country, including New York, so I decided there was no point. But my agent and editor both conveyed that they missed the ice-cream deluge, and I realized that when six pints show up at your house, it’s fun and festive because you probably wouldn’t go out and buy that much simultaneously for yourself, even if you could. So now that’s what my agent and editor receive from me every year now. My all-time favorite flavors are black-raspberry chip and mocha chip. As it happens, they also taste excellent together in the same bowl.

Office Depot Pajco Pocket Telephone/Address Book
$9 at Office Depot

I enjoy reading tips about how to be more organized, and I rarely implement them. But I read in a magazine (alas, I can’t remember if it was in Real Simple or O) that to keep track of your online passwords, you should buy a paper address book and enter your passwords alphabetically — so your password for, say, Delta Airlines goes under D. I bought an address book from Office Depot, I use this method consistently, and I dream about the day when I’m organized in all ways instead of just one.

Office Depot Pajco Pocket Telephone/Address Book
$9 at Amazon

[Editor’s note: You can buy it at Amazon if you prefer, too.]

Fancypants Baking Co. Crunch Cookies Chocolate Chip
$9 at Amazon

One of my kids has some food allergies, and these tasty cookies are made in a nut-free facility (though they do contain milk, eggs, wheat, etc.). They have standard cookies, like chocolate chip, and they also make very cute seasonal ones that are iced, like shamrocks for St. Patrick’s Day or little chicks for Easter.

Oral-B Glide Pro-Health Dental Floss, Original Floss, 50 Meter (Pack of 6)
$17 at Amazon

Whenever I’m in a dire flossing situation and must borrow someone else’s, I can’t believe how waxy and painful other brands are. This one is gentle yet effective. Relatedly, I think the single greatest revelation of my adult life is that I’ll actually floss if I do it when my kids brush their own teeth. If I wait until I’m going to bed, I’m too tired for that level of ambition.

From the Desk of a Nasty Woman Stationery
$16 at Carrot & Stick Press

The founder of Carrot & Stick is a woman named Susie Gelbron, and she’s a friend of a friend of mine. About ten years ago, I interviewed Susie because I wanted to make a character in a short story a successful letterpress founder. Susie was great and interesting and helpful, and I then changed the character into a lawyer (she’s the protagonist in a story called “A Regular Couple” that appears in my new collection). But I’ve ordered personalized stationery from Susie many times since, both for myself and as a gift for people I really like. It’s very elegant.

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What Curtis Sittenfeld Can’t Live Without