For almost thirty years, Karen Hughes has played a pivotal role in politics. From working on the Reagan-Bush campaign to becoming one of George W. Bush’s most trusted presidential advisers, Hughes has always been tightly woven into the Republican web. But now that she no longer holds a position in the party—she’s currently the global vice chair for Burson-Marsteller—the 54-year-old keeps a low profile at the Austin home she shares with her husband, Jerry, and their golden retriever, Breeze. Command central is the kitchen island, where keys, leashes, and other workday staples live. Two bar stools sit at the counter, her usual morning perch. “My favorite breakfast is egg whites doused in Rose’s Timpone’s Salsa,” says Hughes. Don’t let the simplicity fool you: Hughes loves to cook and entertain, playing caterer for family functions and hosting dinner parties. 

About the items on Karen Hughes’s kitchen island

• I collect horse figurines, and Jerry gave me that one for Christmas. It was made by the Huichol Indians, who are known for their beadwork. 

• I’m an amateur photographer, emphasis on “amateur.” I just got back from twelve days in Israel and Jordan, where I took a thousand pictures.

• They are Weight Watchers–friendly. I keep them for when I have a sweet attack. 

• A colleague gave this memento to all of us who worked on the president’s senior staff.

• I walk Breeze whenever I’m home. She’s eleven and has been through everything. She moved to Washington with us, and I remember walking her through our neighborhood the weekend after 9/11.

• My eyes are sensitive, and I like these Marc Jacobs because they are light and comfy. 

• I love Ruby Red grapefruit. These are from the Valley, and I bought an entire sack because it was on sale.

• If you travel a lot, you have to learn how to not check bags. This Longchamp fits everything. I wish I could fit my dog in it. 

• I got this olive jar in 2006 during a trip to Morocco, when I was with the State Department. It’s more than a hundred years old—at least that’s what the guy in the market told me. I had it bubble-wrapped, and I carried it home on my lap.


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