What's in My Bag

What’s in my drawer? — Nicole Harkin

What’s in my … ? issue #135

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Nicole Harkin is a writer and a photographer living in Washington, DC. Her first book, Tilting, A Memoir, was about her childhood growing up in Montana with a pilot and a flight attendant for parents. Her new book-in-progress is a true-life novel about her grandmother’s life as a WW2 widow and then as the wife of a man who embezzled millions of dollars from the State of Illinois. Gram also made a great gin-and-tonic.


My kitchen drawer is a place of minor organization of a largely unorganized life.


1. Bonnie Maman mini-jar
I love anything that is mini and/or that you can put things inside of. This little jar does both. I pop my rings into it with a drop of dish soap and hot water. Close it up and shake, and then I have sparkling clean rings. Next time you have room service, save one of these little glass jars.

2. Yamazaki Bolo 5 Piece Ice Cream Set
I’ve had lots and lots of ice cream scoopers but this one is the best. It is sturdy and shaped almost like a flat spatula. The thumb divot is great, you can really get some leverage on your frozen treats. The set comes with more spoons and these are nice too. Long handles make them perfect for ice cream sodas. Yamazaki seems to be a generic Japanese goods company. I like how almost all of their products look.

3. Corn Holders
These corn holders are great for people who don’t like to get their fingers greasy. My youngest is in that group. He won’t touch the corn without these. Is it a bit precious: yes. Do I care? No. Dishwasher safe and kid approved.

4. Vintage spoon from London
I found this spoon in my childhood items. My mom was a flight attendant and she had brought this spoon home for me from London. I was looking at it in its box and realized my kids would love eating with it. I urge you to break out your heirloom spoons and eat from them too. It’s fun.

5. Citrus Peeler
My mother had these from Williams Sonoma when I was a child. Of course fingernails do the trick, but I never liked how that feels as you push your finger into the orange. This little plastic piece cuts the peel and the other end lets you lift up the peel as you go. For a $1 a piece, you can’t go wrong.

6. Mini screw driver
This is a Cool Tool, and what a great tool it is. I keep it in the drawer so I know where a screwdriver is at all times. And the kids know where it is too. I love that all of the tips are in the handle. I don’t think the brand really matters and for $8 it’s a good deal.

Random Other Items/Notes
Dansk Odin Flatware — People make a lot of fun of my flatware’s knives. Yes, the shape is odd, but I love them. And apparently they are now going up in value because Dansk no longer is producing them.

I buy a ton of random novelty items from stores like TJMaxx and Marshall’s. The small silicone spatulas are from TJ Maxx and are great for cleaning out the last bit of peanut butter or mango chutney from jars. I have four of them myself and give them as gifts when I find them on sale.


(What's in YOUR bag? We want to hear about unusual and unusually useful items that you carry in your bag. We are especially interested in the specialized bags of doctors, athletes, repair techs, artists, gardeners, hikers, etc. Start by sending an email to claudia@cool-tools.org with a photo of the things in your bag (you can use your phone). If you get a reply from us, fill out the form. We’ll pay you $50 if we run your submission in our What’s in my bag? newsletter and blog. — editors)

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