If you’re like us, you’ve probably wondered what famous people add to their carts — not the JAR brooch and the Louis XV chair but the hairspray and the electric toothbrush. We asked astrologer and writer Susan Miller — the co-author of Astrology, a Taschen coffee-table book released earlier this year — about the pillows, perfume, and olive oil she can’t live without.
Swiss Army knives are indispensable. I use mine to open FedEx boxes, slice an apple, open bottles, file a broken nail, get the tags off sweaters. I never leave home without one. I think it’s the best gift, too — but if you give someone a knife, they have to pay at least a penny for it, or else it’s bad luck. That’s what they say.
It’s the best exfoliant — soft, yet efficient. There are sugar crystals that you can feel on your skin, so it’s not as soft as others where you can’t feel any granules. I rub it on my face with just a little water right after my morning shower. It sloughs off all the dead cells you don’t even know you have and leaves skin looking so clean and smooth that light reflects off it, as if you’re lit from within. And it smells so good. I think Allure gave it an award? I’ve tried others, but this is the one that really stuck. I’ve used it for five years.
I taught myself to cook with Julia Child’s cookbook, just like that girl in the movie Julie & Julia. I cooked a lot until my mother died seven years ago, then I stopped. My daughter noticed and, last year for Mother’s Day, she gave me two weeks of Blue Apron meals. Blue Apron is the Bergdorf Goodman of meal-delivery services. To me, it’s the classiest. They must test the recipes to death because everything is delicious. The recipes are very clear: The company prints them on big cards that are easy to follow and have a picture of each dish. It completely changed my life and made me an even better home cook.
I have two in my office and six in my dining room. I’ve had them since I got married. Every once in a while I have a caner recane them. They’re so comfortable — people always say, “Oh, this is so comfortable, I never want to leave.” Feng shui says you have to have armrests or else a person feels unstable.
I have a collection of cotton face masks from JPRMedical, all with different designs. They have adjustable ear loops so you can fit them comfortably. As Fauci says, “You’ve got to have a mask that fits you.” I actually got my first ones from my insurance company, so I called and asked where they got them from, and they told me the name of this company. When you go to its website, their photographs are terrible. But the masks are beautifully made. I’ve bought $100 worth of them in total. They say if you hold a mask up to a light and you can’t see light shining through it, then it’s a good mask. These pass that test.
I love Chanel makeup. I bought this after a lady sprayed me with it at a beauty counter. “It feels like you,” she said. The base is vanilla but the scent is complex and provocative and beautiful. When a cab driver asked me to write down the name of the perfume for his wife, I knew I was onto something. I love to wear fragrances, even when I’m alone. They motivate me, relax me, and help me write. Everyone should try this one. I spray some on my neck and then I put my mask on before I leave the house, and the perfume flows into the mask and I feel like I’m in a garden. I smell this wonderful scent as I’m walking along Second or Third Avenue and I’m happy the whole time I’m running an errand.
You need a truly great extra virgin olive oil as the foundation for any recipe you cook. I was reading about all the fake extra virgin olive oils — there are apparently like ten brands that are pretty well known as not being what they claim. I was shocked. So I went into Milano Market, which reminds me of my father’s old Italian specialty grocery store, and told the guys who were speaking Italian to each other, “Look, I want a real brand, I want the best.” One of them gave me this bottle. He said, “It’s expensive, Susan, but it’s great.” The price did sound like a lot for olive oil, but a good bottle goes a long way.
I need to have the news on while I write. It’s too quiet otherwise. If I’m not working, I’ll watch my favorite show: Stanley Tucci: Searching for Italy. I have four Samsung TV sets in my apartment: in the living room, bedroom, my office, and the guest room. For five years in my late 20s, I decided to get rid of all my TVs. Then I realized I was crazy for not having any, so I wound up being that person who has one in every room.