I admit it. I’m a gadget nerd. I like having the latest computer, newest smartphone. I think Best Buy is one step from heaven. The now defunct Comp USA–I could spend hours there. I roam the aisles of Home Depot looking at plumbing. Of course, when you have something that works, you keep it. That may be why I’ve started again using 30-year-old Electrolux canister-style vacuum cleaners in my summer house. Reason I have two: one I inherited from my late parents before they moved from Worcester, MA down to Sanibel Island, FL; the second my mom gave to me and my husband as an anniversary gift the first year we were married (we’ll be hitting number 31 in a couple weeks). We have a built in central vacuum in the house, but, you know something, it never really worked. So I keep one vacuum on the first floor and another on the second. (Vacuum #2 made its way here when I got all gadgetty and purchased one of those neato red Electolux models a few years ago, though the old one worked perfectly well.) Yes, this post is really about vacuums, but not so much about Electrolux as about Dustbusters. I have three here, one for every floor. And, as they are battery-run and rely on repeated re-charges, after 20 years they’re not doing such a good job and I have to replace them. So there I am, Ms. Gadget 2011, and I go online to buy one, and, well, they look like something from a spaceship. Thinking that can’t be right, I go to a Home Depot and find that 1) there are many different brands. Not everything in the world is made by Black & Decker and 2) they all look like they could fit into the decor of Space Station Deep Space Nine. So now I don’t know what to choose. None of them will transport me to the future or clean my windows. And, yes, I’m sticking with Black & Decker. They’re one reliable company. Too bad they won’t let me take them out for a test drive the way I would a new car. So help me choose–left to right, A,B,C. Comments please.

We love our vegetable steamers

Long ago and far away–during the time when I was a magazine editor–chocolate makers and electronic purveyors alike used to court media people with free stuff in the hopes we’d feature it in our publication. The same thing still happens today, and it’s not just famous people who can afford lots and lots of stuff who get the free swag. But I’m now a little out of the giveaway loop. Still, I have happy memories and lots of interesting stuff around the house, although technically everything belonged to the magazines I worked for. One of my favorite media events was Black & Decker’s “Christmas in July” at which they showcased products that would be released around the holiday season that they hoped we’d feature in our gift guides. (They would also serve us an excellent lunch at some neato location.) Well, Black & Decker, thanks for waiting 15 years because only now do I have the chance to tell you how much I love my vegetable steamer. In the old days, I had this perforated metal thing that fanned out and fit in the bottom of a pot. You’d put a little water in the pot and the vegetables in the steamer, really not much of a fuss. But the Black & Decker steamer took things to a whole new steam. The device had a timer and several inserts and a place to put herbs to flavor your beans. A rice attachment was also included. Eventually, I bought a second steamer (fancier) and took the original to our weekend house, where it gets good use, considering the bounty from my vegetable garden. I’ve also given them as engagement and birthday gifts. Indeed, the steamer has long outlived all the snake lights Black & Decker was sending for a while. (Though those were pretty cool too.) Whenever I have someone over for dinner and the gadget’s in use, well, Black & Decker has another customer. Part of me yearns for a simpler time when fewer kitchen gadgets crowded my cabinets. But there are many appliances I’d give up before this. A click on the picture will take you to Amazon, where you can order one online. You can also get to Black & Decker “Home” at bit.ly/pYYsKD.