I’m not much of a shopper and have little if any brand loyalty, because I try to shop based on price and avoid collecting material items as much as possible. I do, however, have a list of favorite things…some you can buy, and some you can only experience.

Lilacs. In my mind, there’s nothing better than the fragrance of a lilac bush. That it’s purple and beautiful too just makes it even better. I’ve loved lilacs since I was a little girl and I’d fight the bumble bees for the pleasure of the flowers in my grandma’s front yard.

Montreal. Having studied French since I was in 7th grade, you can’t imagine the pleasure I have at living only 6 hours from the biggest population of French speakers this side of the Atlantic. When you add delicious food, friendly people, low crime, and a great metro system, Montreal is destination #1 in my book!

Books. My love of writing started with a love of reading, and there’s nothing better to me than sitting down with a good book and diving in. I have rainy afternoon favorites, like Sue Grafton and Jeffrey Deaver, and intellectual favorites, like E.M. Forster and Derek Walcott, and poets, like Alice Notley and Peter Riley. If the floor of my house ever collapses into my basement, it will be because of the weight of the books that line the shelves throughout the house!

While I’m not brand loyal to many things, there are a few that have made the A-list in our home:

Tide. I don’t care how dirty my kids get their clothes or how thick the grass stains are in the knees. Tide gets everything clean. We’ve tried nearly every detergent, and it simply works better for our laundry than anything else we’ve tried. We keep the liquid around to use as a stain spotter but buy the powder in bulk for the loads of laundry.

Scott Tissue. Ok, nobody talks about toilet paper much, but when you live with a disabled person whose judgment about how much of the stuff to use is often fairly off, having something that doesn’t clog up the pipes is a must. When it also happens to be of high quality and affordable, it’s a win-win!

Palmolive Dish Soap. Not only does this cut the grease and clean the dishes, but if you need a quick clarifying wash for your hair, nothing works better. It works great to get out hairspray and other hair treatment residue and buildup. It’s also great for skin outbreaks, especially the antibacterial version.