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 hair spray and the electric toothbrush. We asked actress Piper Perabo — whose new show The Big Leap premiered on Fox this week — about the coffee pot, perfume, and storage boxes she can’t live without.
Detergent packaging is so much plastic and waste. And then, if you live in New York like me, carrying that giant plastic detergent container home is such a pain. I’ve carried grocery bags home in the rain with a detergent bottle in there long ago, and once the bag started getting wet, I was really at risk of the bag ripping. It was stressful. I found these detergent sheets, which are as thin as fabric-softener sheets that you’d typically throw in the dryer. They come in this tiny box, and it takes up barely any space. I tear it off and it works just like regular detergent but with so much less waste. It also helps when walking to the laundromat because I’m already hauling all my laundry, so to carry a heavy-ass bottle of detergent with me is just insane. Imagine just putting two slips of paper in your pocket and you’re set. It’s incredible. I prefer the scented option — it’s really nice and fresh — but you can get them unscented too.
Some actors collect cars and bags and stuff, but I could never collect anything that big. So I collect Christmas ornaments. Vintage ones are so pretty, even if they’re a little beat up. They have so much more character. I don’t have a huge collection of ornaments, because I’m pretty discerning, but I love ones made from mercury glass and ones shaped like birds that you clip onto the tree. Because these ornaments are very fragile, I was so happy when I stumbled upon these boxes in the Container Store on 18th and 6th Avenue in the city. They’re perfect. I get a lot of inspiration from the Container Store. That’s a weird thing to say out loud, but I do. Walking through the store, you can find all sorts of solutions to life’s problems, and it inspires me.
Coffee is a huge, important part of my day. Before the pandemic, I loved to wake up in the morning, walk out, get an espresso or cappuccino, and go about my day. But now that’s impossible. A few years ago I did a movie in Rome, and the apartment I stayed in had one of these maganette pots. This is how people in Italy made espresso in their homes in the 1950s. The design is so genius. I ordered one online, then asked my Italian American friend in New York to make me a video so that I can make sure I’m making it properly. Part of his instruction was to use a coffee that’s a little coarser than a fine espresso grind. When I buy my beans, I tell them I’m going to make stovetop Italian coffee, and they know exactly how to grind it. (If they didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be buying my coffee there.) I’m now a pro at making coffee, and I love my little coffee pot so much. I travel with it and make coffee in the morning wherever I’m working.
I started drinking Aperol spritzes when I was in Rome. I was filming the movie I mentioned before, and my husband was shooting in Romania at the time, so he would fly in to see me on weekends. It was very hot that summer, and in some of the squares, around four or five o’clock in the afternoon, people would sit outside in the shade at cafes and drink Aperol spritzes. So we started drinking them too. Traditionally, an Aperol spritz is made with prosecco, but I usually like to use club soda and add in a wedge of orange or grapefruit. It’s really refreshing but kind of bitter. Recently, my friends and I have been experimenting. One friend likes to put a bit of Salerno, which is a blood-orange liqueur, in her spritz, so we all started to do that too. Another friend one night didn’t have Salerno but had limoncello in the freezer, so she splashed a bit of that in with her Aperol. When she told me she did that, I was like, “Okay, I have to try that.”
I read about this brand in, I believe, a Vogue article. I had never heard of a sustainable perfume before. The company does a lot to think about the environment and the communities around where their ingredients come from. They work with Aboriginal groups in Australia, and one of their scents has upcycled roses. I ordered their discovery set first so I could try all the different perfumes they make. They have these really cool names like Vigilante, which was the first one I tried, and Grand Larceny and Desert Nomad. Desert Nomad was my favorite. In the hotter months, I like warmer notes because I feel like the scent comes off a warm body so beautifully.
I was doing a play at the Lortel just down the street from McNulty’s Tea & Coffee Co., and I was really curious about the store. It’s been there for so long. You can tell it’s legit. I went in, and I asked them, “When people are coming from some other part of the city or country just to come to your shop, what are they coming to buy?” I wanted to know what’s delicious there, and usually that’s a telltale sign. The guy told me that people come for the chai. I didn’t even make chai at my house at that point. But as soon as I opened up the big barrel and smelled it, I was sold. It smelled so good. I drink tea a good amount — it depends on the season and where I am on location. When I’m in New York, I drink it all the time because I can have this tea.
Instead of candles, I burn incense and palo santo. I just prefer the smell. I use Nag Champa incense because that’s what they burn in my yoga studio. I find it so classic and comforting. When I started practicing yoga, I didn’t even know what Nag Champa was. I loved it, though. At some point, I finally asked, “Can you buy this?” And they were like, “Yeah, it’s super-common.” I was like, “Oh, my bad.” I bought some immediately. It’s so great because the box is so light. I can pack it in my suitcase, so when I’m traveling and move into a hotel or apartment where I’m filming a show, I’ll light it right away because it makes the room feel familiar and homey.
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