Sunday, January 29, 2012

Do You Eat Fake Food?

B-man and I have turned into food-label-reading geeks.  This all began as part of our Eating Like the French phase when we realized that much of what we were eating was pretend, fake food.

Have you read any low fat or non-fat food labels lately?  What the hell are all those chemicals?  Real food has a short list of ingredients and all of them are recognizable.  Just because a substance is low in calories and fat doesn't mean it's  

Let's look at low fat mayonnaise, for example.  We have a bottle from our pre-French stage in the pantry that we move from shelf to shelf, periodically reading the ingredients so we can make 'do you believe it?' comments.  This diet wonder includes chemicals that have an asterisk by them and an explanation below that states, 'ingredients not normally found in mayonnaise.'  So where are they normally found?  In asphalt?

If B-man and I weren't also frugal geeks, we would have just tossed the damn mayo instead of eyeballing it like cats ready to pounce if it makes one wrong move.  Fortunately, the expiration date is coming up, which will justify its disposal through some very serious ritual.  Accompanied by wine.  We'll probably name it first to add meaning to the ritual.  And to rationalize opening a better bottle of wine.

Don't even try to out-geek us.

Perhaps one reason French people seem snobby is because they don't want to eat our fake food.  Or maybe they're just assholes.  Either way, it seems like we'd be a lot better off to eat food that came from somewhere real instead of a food-cloning laboratory.  Let's face it, a bit of real mayonnaise never hurt anyone.

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Friday, January 27, 2012

Sweet Smelling Crap

Wednesday morning, I had a big meeting at our downtown corporate office.  So big, in fact, that I wore a black fitted suit with sexy heels and horn rimmed glasses, just to look a little smarter.  Normally, I don't wear suits. Their tailored/lined/uptight feel drives me crazy.  I have to fight the urge to peel off my clothes and throw them on the floor, then stand there with my lower lip out, ready to throw a tantrum.

Scent of the day was Bvlgari's Rose Essentielle, which was my favorite less than six months ago.  I haven't worn any of my commercial perfumes since October, when I began blending for myself, so I was working off memory here.  As I applied Rose Essentielle, I prepared for the swooning, the Oh dahling, I've missed you moment and the twirling with delight.  My actual response? 

This is some sweet smelling crap.

Since the masses appear to love sweet smelling crap, I went with it.

*Break for mini-rant*

This morning, over coffee, I'm looking through my just received mailer from Ulta, which features new make-up and perfume items.  Inside the mailer, I discover three scent strips: Justin Bieber's Someday, DKNY's Golden Delicious and Poppy Flower by Coach.  Daphne, my nose, hasn't decided which is worse, but she's not speaking to me at the moment, which tells me they all suck.  Since when were perfumers targeting the twelve-year-old demographic?  And do we really want to smell like sugary pink flowers?  Is anyone that damn precious?

*End of mini-rant*

After my meeting, I wished I had worn my own, much weirder concoction of  rosewood, geranium and spearmint, which smells like a rose bush in the early morning hours of a bright summer day.  But instead of trusting my instincts, I relied upon an old favorite whose time has clearly passed.  No wonder Daphne's not speaking to me.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Isn't This Supposed To Be A Perfume Blog?

Yesterday, the thought struck me that I haven't written about perfume at all, really, aside from stating that I'm dabbling with perfume making.  I should at least use the word 'perfume' more or write an ode once in awhile just to keep some semblance of perfumista street cred.

And I probably shouldn't mention the fact that most of my perfumes are boxed up in their original packaging and stored in another big box somewhere cool and dark.  Nor should I say that I can't bring myself to read perfume reviews, even though many are brilliantly researched, well thought out and cleverly written.

So much for street cred.

My posts have become more personal, too, which was not necessarily my intent when I returned after a three month break.  However, I did make a conscious decision to write about the stuff I'm really thinking, whatever that may be.  Authenticity is important to me, and so is allowing myself to change and evolve.  And it appears I've changed.

Because of this, I'm thinking about a new descriptor for my blog.  'Perfume and Life Plain and Simple' may not fit anymore.  I'm open to your suggestions, but keep in mind I've already considered 'Random Topics Of Little Consequence.'  

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Sunday, January 22, 2012

Saturday Night Ritual

B-man and Paige waiting to bring in food from the grill

Saturday nights at home - which almost always trump going out - look like this: 

First, we light up the whole house to create the ambiance of entertaining (lamps and candles included).  Then, we select music to match our mood.  Wine is uncorked and the cooking begins.

Throughout this process, we share intense bursts of conversation, followed by interludes of silence. Our laptops are available for quick check-ins, and we wander downstairs regularly to look up a basketball score or watch part of a tennis match together.

Last night,  B-man grilled salmon and shrimp as I made fresh tomato soup and roasted veggies.  

Of course, Paige helped.

Outside, it was snowing.

Photo my own

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Why Do Some Couples Stay Together And Others Don't?

Early this morning, as we read the newspaper and drank stronger-than-average coffee, B-man said, 'wow, Dooce and her husband separated.'

I'm like, 'shut up, what the hell?'

'No, seriously, the article is right here.' is Heather Armstrong, perhaps The Queen of mommy blogging.  I have followed her blog for years and read her musings on marriage, her mental health, her husband, Jon, the birth of their children and everything in between.  They seemed to be a couple in love who were walking through each day sharing the challenges of life together.

Yesterday, she announced their separation.  Maybe they just need a break and everything will work out.  And maybe not.

After reading the article for myself - and feeling like I just found out there is no Santa - I laid the paper down and turned to B-man.

Me:  Why are we still together? 

B-man:  I'm not exactly sure. 

Yeah, we love each other, and life is better than ever.  But we're no perfect couple.  Looking back on our history, there were several turning points when we could have given up, and once that we actually talked about separating.  How we dodged that bullet is no longer crystal clear.  And now, our hard times seem like mere blips in a complex and rich life together.  They exist only to add the appropriate drama, like a clever screenplay that ends well.

This morning, as we tried to sort this out - and ponder why we didn't end up like Heather and Jon, and millions of other couples - a few things came to mind:

1)  We learned early on to fight fair.
2)  We aren't afraid to laugh at ourselves.
3)  We think the same dumb-ass things are funny.
4)  We have Happy Snacks whenever they are needed.
5)  We make up words and share a language that only we understand.
6)  We talk about what's working and what's not until we fix it or get sick of talking about it.

Maybe none of those things are responsible for our 25 years together, I'm not sure. And there's no guarantee that any relationship will last.  Plenty of couples split up after 25 years.  But today, I'm happy for whatever has kept us together and promise myself not to take the good life for granted. 

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Saturday, January 14, 2012

What Is Your Inner Critic Telling You?

We all have one, the inner voice that says, 'you can't do that,' 'who do you think you are,' ' that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard,' and always, 'I told you so.' 

This week at work, I've had my staff doing an exercise in identifying their greatest strengths. Not the strengths they think they should have, but those things they really love to do. It's amazing how much discomfort this has caused, as if claiming our strengths is arrogant and unbecoming.  I can't tell you how many 'yeah, but' responses I've received after pointing out a noticeable attribute.

However, everyone seems very keyed into what they can't do, shouldn't do and will never be able to do.  I guess it's easier to spend our valuable time stressing about what we don't know and seeking those soaked-in-bullshit 'opportunities for improvement.'  You know, so we can all be well-rounded people. 

Well-rounded:  You don't suck too much at any one thing

What's wrong with figuring out what we do really well and...doing that?  Yeah, I know, easier said than done.  In my world, healthcare reform has everyone gathering and analyzing data for every single thought or action.  We are trained on this and coached on that until you'd think an Excel spreadsheet is the mechanism through which Jesus will come again.

Look, I understand this new focus, but that's not my strength.  Fortunately, I'm very good at other things.  Is Inner Critic happy with that?  Oh, hell no.  He's already told me, 'your so-called strengths don't mean crap in the current environment.  You can't even provide data to show their success.  Didn't I tell you your degree was worthless?' 

Inner Critic, while a pain in my ass, also keeps me on my toes.  There's something about his existence that helps me stay motivated to push myself to new heights.  Of course, whatever I might accomplish, it will never be enough to silence him - no achievement is enough - but proving him wrong every now and then is almost enough for me.

What has your inner critic been telling you lately?

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

What A Difference Thirty Two Years Makes

Thirty two years ago today, I was in a terrible car accident that killed my boyfriend and left my life...broken.  Miraculously, I survived with minor damage, although now, knowing more about traumatic brain injuries, I believe I suffered what is called a closed head injury.  This is when the body is moving, then stops abruptly, but the brain remains in motion, causing harm internally.

At the time, I just thought I was losing my mind.

Growing up in a small town, no one knew much about brain injuries or post traumatic stress disorder, or survival guilt.  Survival guilt is a mind fuck, with or without a brain injury.  Add that, and the depression, confusion and inability to focus is profound.  Months after the event, when Mom was saying, 'you've got to move on,' I was still wishing I had died in the accident.

If one believes in God, which is how I was raised, being left behind when the person you're with dies feels something like rejection.  I had a really hard time with everyone's 'you should be so grateful you're alive' speech.  My mother thought I should dedicate my life to God and bow down in worship to the One Who Saved Me.  But I had changed forever, and trying to make sense of that in my own mind, and explain it to others, was like speaking a foreign language.

I was pissed. At God, at my boyfriend, at my mother.  My dialogue with God went something like this:  'Are you shitting me?  What are you trying to prove?  If you're so all powerful, what the hell was that about?  And what, it's not my time?  Fine, now I'll do whatever I want and maybe you can get me next time if you figure out how to do it right.'  My life spiraled into a period of darkness and it took years for me to feel truly alive again.

Today, thirty two years later, I am so grateful to be alive and to share my life with a man who sees and understands all of my flaws and adores me in spite of them.  Maybe because of them.  I have a son I love dearly and a family that reminds me I am part of something bigger than myself.  And if God does exist, I have only one thing left to say.  Thank you.

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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Give It Up Already

I have just started four different paragraphs and then deleted them.  Inner critic says, give it up, stop trying to force a post, you have nothing interesting to think or write.  Just because you watched a Gloria Steinem bio tonight does not make you interesting. 


The fact that I didn't watch the Kardashians - and they were on, dammit - is at least noteworthy.

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Monday, January 9, 2012

Why Doesn't January Suck This Year?

For whatever reason, I don't have the usual January blues.  Normally, at this time of year, I feel pinned in by the cold weather and depressed because the holidays are over and - once again - they failed to live up to my expectations.  The upcoming year just lays there like a lonely highway through the Mojave desert.

But not this January.

We are coming off one of the best holiday seasons ever.  I feel connected to my family and excited about my work.  I'm not too chubby after the holidays (eating like the French, yeah!) and B-man and I are almost giddy about our life, calling each other 'Sugar' and 'Babe' until Paige is ready to throw up.

So what the hell is going on?  I'm not sure, but I like it.

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Sunday, January 8, 2012

We'll Dance If We Want To

Partying last night and dancing with my sisters to 'She Drives Me Crazy' by Fine Young Cannibals.

Photos taken by B-man from his Droid

Thursday, January 5, 2012

More Thoughts About Blogging

Lately, I've noticed several perfume bloggers mention changes in their blog, or angst about blogging topics.  Like, what is the perfect balance between blogging about perfume and blogging about one's life?  Some muse about whether or not their interest in perfume still exists, or whether they have anything useful to contribute to the dialogue.

Of course they do.

Before I took a break from my blog, I was constantly thinking about what my audience might respond to, what could build a larger reading base, how to get more followers, how to blog more and more, better and better, bigger, faster, stronger!

Blogging gluttony.

As soon as I announced my break, I lost a follower immediately.  Dude, relax, it's just a break.  Then I thought I may lose all of my followers and my readers would think, gee, what a loser, poseur, amateur...imposter.  And maybe they do.  Maybe I am.  Oh, well.

In spite of all that, I feel a new kind of freedom, like I'll write what I want and say what I want, whenever I want.  If I decide to change the content, I'll change it.  If I choose to monetize my blog, I will do so guilt free with no explanation.  And if I want to use the f-bomb in a post (maybe more than once), I will do that, too.

Like you've never had those days.

As an attention seeking middle child, I must admit that readers do make me happy.  So if you're able to roll with the fact that I need variety, swear occasionally and change my mind - a lot - I hope you'll stick around.

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Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Making Perfume - The New Phase

Crazy, I know, but hear me out.  This is how it all started:

We're at B-man's class reunion in September and I'm talking to Mary, the wife of one of his classmates.  Mary is animated, smart and funny.  She tells me about her garden of herbs and flowers and her need to begin a new interest in her life.  I ask, 'have you ever considered making perfume?'  She looks at me for a moment and says, 'no, I haven't.'  This lapse in judgement - where I forget everyone isn't a smelling geek - is followed by an explanation of my perfume addiction and a tongue lashing by Inner Critic.

On the plane coming home, I wonder why I made that suggestion to Mary, a woman who has no interest in perfume whatsoever.  Especially when I am too cowardly to consider making perfume myself.  Right then and there, I decide to take the leap for reasons I just then realized.

Like the fact that I am bored, bored, bored with ordering more samples and more bottles of other people's perfume.  For what?  To sit on my shelf or collect dust with the hundreds of other perfume samples I will never try again?

And why not spend money on perfume supplies instead?  Even if my experiment is a total bust, I will have invested no more in supplies monthly than I was previously spending on perfume.

Finally, it seems like a natural progression that I must play out, no matter the outcome.  Because I love to smell stuff and now I get to be a mad scientist.

Well, I am humbled to say the least.  Never have I felt so stupid as I did when going from being a well informed perfume lover to a perfume blending newbie.  I have read books and researched online, but I'm shooting from the hip and leaning heavily on my instincts.  Seeking more formal training would be amazing, but I haven't quite worked out when and where.

But, hey, it's not like I haven't had any success at all.  A couple of my formulations are really quite pleasant.  And several days ago, I managed to create a perfume that smells exactly like...ass.

For all you know, I meant to do that.

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Tuesday, January 3, 2012

My Work Is A Mack Truck

Tonight, I feel a bit like I've been hit - okay, bumped - by a big truck.  After eleven days off in a row, sleeping in with B-man and Paige, enjoying happy hour every night, shopping leisurely and generally lounging around, what the hell was I thinking going back to work? 

I always forget that, after a vacation, not only are my own projects waiting like crouching tigers, so are the endless questions/needs/requests of my staff.

Good Lord, people.

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Monday, January 2, 2012

Lessons Learned From My Blogging Break

Since October, I've been dabbling in a new creative pursuit (more on that later), contemplating the meaning of  life and enjoying the holiday season with B-man, Paige and the rest of my family.  

I've not been blogging at all.  And while I intended to at least stay current on other blogs, I didn't do that, either.

During this hiatus, I have learned the following:

1)  Blogger police live only in my head.  While I'm certain Inner Critic meets them for donuts, they never actually showed up at my door.

2)  The Kardashians are still vapid. And very soon, I will stop watching their reality TV shows.

3)  Eating like the French still makes me happy.

4)  Blogging is not a race nor a competition. 

5)  I can sit through five episodes of "Chopped" on Food Network without taking a break and I cry at the end of each show no matter who wins.

6)  Pacing myself, in all endeavors, will be a life long lesson.

7)  Eleven days off during the holidays makes me a happier, more well-balanced person.

8)  Having held the same position for close to five years, I am ready for a new chapter in my work.

9)  I have no idea what the new chapter looks like, but my mind is open.

10) Paige has watched one too many episodes of 'Keeping Up With The Kardashians.'  After earning several holiday party timeouts, she is re-learning doggy etiquette and becoming less of a diva.

It's good to be back.

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Sunday, January 1, 2012

Greeting 2012 With Family And Champagne Punch

Enjoying our traditional menu of chili and cinnamon rolls
Big Red lives on!
Paige annoying entertaining her auntie
Solving all world issues         

Candid photos of last night taken by the stealth B-man. 


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