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What Sophia Bush Can’t Live Without

Photo: Bryan Steffy/Getty Images for Spotify

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 actress and Work in Progress podcast host Sophia Bush — who is partnering with Spotify for its “Spotify Supper” party at this month’s annual CES tech show in Las Vegas — about the pellet grill, food storage, and journal she can’t live without.

There’s this very cool store in L.A. called OK that’s kind of a one-stop shop for the coolest version of the thing that you’re looking for. I was in there getting a present for someone, and I saw this eye mask. The woman who works there said, “Oh my God, I’m telling you it’s best eye mask in the world.” She was right. A sleep mask is a necessity for me: I’m very light sensitive, so I either get an amazing sleep or I don’t based on the eye mask that I have. This one is so incredible because it contours tight around your nose. No light gets in. You open your eyes with it on and look around and it’s pitch dark. Your sleep won’t be ruined by your brain realizing that it’s light out. I use this in my house, on the plane when I travel, everywhere.

Cheryl, and this book, are profound. The cover attracted me to it at first: I’m a nerd for a simple font and hate cluttered book covers. Reading the book, the forward will tell you that calling it self-help, or advice of any kind, is actually really missing the point. It is a revelatory journey through the deepest parts of human experience and vulnerability, and goes through all the sides of ourselves that we never let people see. Cheryl manages to be motivating and raw and devastating all at once. To me, she tells the truest truth that I’ve read in a very, very long time. There are so many poignant parts of the book: the way that she explains loss through the lens of her mother’s death, the way that she tells a story about these young women whose lives are so devastating that she could barely stand to be their school counselor. She talks about the moment when she said she would just be honest and stop telling people that someone was coming to help them, because no one is coming to help — except yourself. You have to want to get out more than you want to stay. That part moves me every time I read it. The first time I read the book — which has to be eight to 10 years ago by now — I knew that I would read it annually, and I do.

It’s embarrassing how much I love food. I was visiting my chef-friend, Sean Brock, and his wife in Nashville, and he let me peek around in his pantry because I love to see how chefs organize their pantries. He had these insane containers that he heard about from a chef in Copenhagen, and I was like, “Bro, send me the link.” Now, my entire pantry is filled with these containers. I have three label makers, and I really love using them, so I labeled each container. Everything is just super organized and easy to grab. I really love that they’re all the same size, so everything stacks really neatly. You’ll never lose anything in the pantry again. It’s also really important to think about ways to reduce waste and plastic. I love having containers and grocery bags that I keep forever, and these definitely have been useful in my efforts to eliminate single-use containers. I even started giving these containers to my friends who like to cook as gifts. I want all my friends to experience the joy of a clean, organized pantry.

I’m really trying to become a person who journals in 2020. I’ve never created that habit, but it’s a goal. I’m a big note taker and I go to a lot of conferences and university lectures, so I always like to have a notebook in my bag. These notebooks are from a company based in Denmark — they do everything right there. I love the texture; the fabric is really beautiful. I like that it’s a hard cover, too — I can’t stand a flimsy book of any kind. It’s also not too big. I can fit it in most of my bags, which is great because who wants to tote around a clunky notebook all day? It has blank pages, I’m not a fan of a lined journal. A blank page lets me do whatever I want. If I need to tear a page out and give a piece of information to someone, I can do that. If I need to draw something, I can do that. If I’m in the middle of a podcast and my producer needs to write ten more minutes in giant font, she can grab my notebook and write that to me.

[Editor’s note: Most colors of this journal — including the Rusty Red color Sohpia bought — are out of stock, but you can still get the lavender color shown here.]

Eduardo Garcia, the founder of Montana Mex, is an incredible chef. He makes my favorite rubs and avocado oil of all time. His stuff is legendary. I now take his sweet chili seasoning with me when I fly anywhere. I can’t trust people to season things well. I’m sure you’ve seen people on Twitter go off about unseasoned chicken, and that’s a real thing. I don’t mess with unseasoned food. I keep sea salt and Montana Mex in my bag at all times, just in case. I’m not quite as badass as Beyoncé, I don’t carry hot sauce with me, but I carry what I need and what gets the job done. I put it on a lot more than you would expect. I don’t think anyone expected me to put barbecue seasoning on avocado toast with eggs recently, but I did and it was delicious. Yes, chili flakes on avocado toast is I guess sort of a known trick. But I’m telling you, once you have this, you’ll never go back to boring old chili flakes. I promise you.

I cook a lot, but barbecuing is new for me. One of my best friends, Justin Boreta, is a DJ but also a sort of huge amateur chef. We’ve spent years cooking and traveling and eating our way through cities together. During SXSW last year, we visited my god-brother’s barbecue joint, Bangers, in Austin. We were all so in love with it that when we can home, we were like, “Okay, we’ve got to get in the barbecue game.” We decided to get a Traeger because it truly, truly is the absolute best. It just cooks everything so well — I’m not a professional by any means, but we make pretty great barbecue. This past summer, Justin’s girlfriend took a video of us pretending to be barbecue influencers. The whole thing was just making fun of social media culture and how silly it is, but then the people at Traeger were like, “We’re obsessed with both of you. Can we send you pellets for your smokers?” Now we’re friends with them. It’s truly one of my proudest accomplishments on the internet.

I’ve been recording my podcast in my production company’s studio, but I just built my own studio in my house, where I’m going to be recording come February. This is the mic I’ve been using since I started recording my podcast last March. I love the way it sounds: It’s super crisp and clear. I never really thought I’d have my own podcast, let alone a studio in my house. For years, people told me that I should start a podcast to take the inspiring dialogues from social media and put them in a longer format. At first, I was like “Who is going to care? This is so stupid. No!” Then I went on Anna Farris’s podcast and Dax Shepard’s podcast and I started getting the data back. I saw the impressions those conversations made in this space — I can always be convinced by data — and I thought, “Oh, okay, this is actually impactful and meaningful.” Since starting, I’ve definitely seen that same progress. It’s inspiring what tech companies like Spotify — where we launched my podcast — can do when it comes to giving more people a voice and an opportunity to join important conversations around protests and politics and uprisings. And now more and more brands are asking, “Okay, how do we use our tech to help support people and enable people and make things more inclusive and diverse?” It makes me excited to be a part of this larger conversation, and I’m grateful to have a voice in this industry.

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What Sophia Bush Can’t Live Without