Sunday, December 8, 2013

My Father, 1932 - 2013

Our last time together on the deck, September 2013
Dad Circa 1960

My sweet and loving dad died on November 19th. The last six months are a blur. We first knew something was wrong in late spring/early summer. He wasn't quite himself, and was weaker and less able to get around. He stopped texting and communicated less than he had before. Then, a dramatic change occurred toward summer's end, which made it clear he could no longer be alone. Dad was diagnosed with a fast moving lymphoma in September and, after reviewing his options, decided against aggressive treatment. Instead, he just wanted to go home, convinced that if he could rest and regain his strength, he would live longer than the 'weeks to months' we were given by his oncologist. To fulfill this wish, Baby sis and "T" moved into his home to care for him, coordinate with hospice and make his remaining time with us the best it could be.

Dad was home for 23 days before he died. Part of me is stunned and can hardly believe it's over. Another part of me is relieved for him, that his suffering was brief and that he was able to die at home like he wanted. Most of all, I am heartbroken. Dad wasn't just my father, but also my friend, my laughing companion and a confidante since my mother died over three years ago. He and I were able to reconnect and enjoy the chemistry we always shared, rediscovering the many ways we are alike. How I will miss talking with him in the mornings (he would answer the phone with 'Hi, Peppy Jo'). We shared the goofiness that only true morning people share by comparing peppy scores with each other (on a 1-10 'Peppometer' scale) and trading one-liners until each topic was exhausted and we were forced to move on to the next. Dad was fun and easy to be with. At family gatherings, we always somehow ended up together - the comfort between us was a magnet for guaranteed laughter and good conversation.

And of course, we loved to smell things. Dad read this blog faithfully and it pains me to write this post, knowing he will never again visit these pages. He would comment on everything, both the perfume and the life experiences. Rants were his favorite. Often, something I had written would prompt a memory or a thought he wanted to share about his own life. We came to know each other better through Notes From Josephine, and I realize now how much his encouragement to keep writing - and write honestly - meant to me. Once, after I had written what I thought was a controversial post about my mother's death, he called and said, 'I don't think you were being totally honest.' He could see that I had soft-pedaled an issue we had openly discussed, and he felt comfortable saying so. Dad and I agreed many times that we would be ourselves with each other and speak the truth even if we didn't agree.

I will forever miss Dad's kindness, his readiness for fun, his quirkiness and his love. He thought I was a beautiful, smart and funny daughter, and told me often that he was proud. Knowing this gave me confidence and courage I may not have had otherwise. In our last conversation, I thanked him for all he had done for me and assured him of everything that I would carry forward because of his influence in my life. I said those things one last time for me. His eyes told me he already knew.

Pictures my own

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Perfume Layering Epiphany

Lately, I can't apply just one perfume. Even if I wear one perfume for awhile, I must eventually pair it with something else. Which sometimes doesn't work so I have to spray yet another. 

Help. Me.

Plus, my layering obsession extends beyond perfume.  Please tell me that you took advantage of the Bath & Body Works semi-annual sale.  Like, TOOK ADVANTAGE (I bought and returned and bought and returned until I got it exactly right). OMG, I could not stay out of those stores for that two week period.  And now, I've begun mixing different scented body lotions with amazing results. 

For example:

Warm Sugar Vanilla/Cherry Blossom/White Tea & Ginger
Warm Sugar Vanilla/Exotic Coconut/Mango

I've only just begun, of course, and I have so many lotions now that the only way to justify them is to say, 'hey, look, I'm mixing - back off.'  I haven't had to say that yet (B-man is neither surprised nor annoyed at this new practice), but I kinda wish someone would give me a little push back.  Just for drama.

I did get a response out of B-man when he asked me first thing over coffee this morning:

B-man: How was your night - did you sleep well?

Me:  Yeah, except I wore the wrong lotion and it kept waking me up.

B-man: What do you mean the wrong lotion? Don't you like it?

Me: No, I love it, but it's not sleep lotion.

B-man.:  Not sleep lotion. Wow.

Me:  No, there's sleep lotion, and there's day lotion, and the two shall never mix.

B-man: This is good to know.

Me:  Seriously.

On to perfume.  Have you tried the Gandini line through Parfum 1?  It's like Jo Malone with balls (high quality, but less expensive), and they layer nicely with many different perfumes.  Two of my favorites are Lime & Basil and Blue Musk.  Tonight, I'm wearing Blue Musk layered with Gerlain Aqua Allegoria Mentafollia. 

Dude, it's a win.

But my layering epiphany, the one that blew my mind, was when I decided to layer perfumes with similar notes to play off each other and add intensity and contrast. You all probably know that already, but let me have my moment.  Perfume layering wins:

Versace Crystal Noir/Estee Lauder Bronze Goddess/Jennifer Lopez Deseo (coconut)
Fragonard Eclat/Jaguar Woman/Hermes Sur le Nil (lemon)
Waterford Lismore/DKNY Pure/Lacoste Femme (freesia)

Now, wearing just one perfume feels so...separatist.

What perfumes have you layered lately?

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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Inside My Mind

1.  Receiving 20% off coupons from Parfum1 renews my faith in almost everything

2.  Michael Douglas as Liberace is creepy in a whole different way than Liberace was creepy

3.  If I were a contestant on "Chopped," I'd be the one that left an ingredient off the plate

4.  I'm an introvert in an extrovert's job

5.  Tennis is still the least meaningless sport

6.  My ability to do nothing - blissfully - is astounding

7.  Leg make-up is a sticky lie

8.  I never step into an elevator without my iPhone, just in case

9.  Life would be so much easier if I liked to shop

10. Early morning dream vignettes...WTF

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Angelina's Choice: Another Viewpoint

Disclaimer:  I have always liked Angelina Jolie.  Even when B-man says, 'I don't get all the hype,' I still like her and respect her choices of motherhood and advocacy.  And I respect her decision to have preventive surgery.  

But the hype around this is freaking me out.

Here's why:

1)  In spite of health care reform, medicine is still big business.  Routine tests like mammograms and colonoscopys have been shown in recent years to be excessive and maybe even dangerous.  False positives and high radiation make annual mammograms questionable.  And if your bowel happens to get nicked during a routine colonoscopy (I'm just sayin', it happens), you will deal with that mistake for the rest of your life.  Creating fear first, then prompting action, keeps the patients, and the dollars, rolling in.

2)  Just a little research will reveal that the data around this type of genetic testing is...uncertain. Angelina can remove her breasts, her ovaries and any other body part that is vulnerable to cancer, but there are no guarantees. 

3)  Angelina, do what you need to do, but resist sharing this news with the world and encouraging other women to do the same.   However heroic and courageous Brad Pitt thinks you are, this is a private decision.  Using your celebrity to influence other women to have preventive surgery is the result of misplaced advocacy. 

4)  And why are women primarily being targeted for this possibly unnecessary body mutilation?  I have yet to hear of a test that identifies the gene for testicular cancer.  Or encouragement for preventive surgery. 

Finally, based on the simple law of physics (like attracts like) Angelina may be more - not less - likely to get cancer now than she was before, because her entire focus is on 'KILLING THE CANCER BEFORE IT SHOWS UP AND KILLS ME.'

Something about this just doesn't sit quite right.

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Monday, May 20, 2013

Muscs Koublai Khan: It's Dirty, Man

Yesterday, B-man and I went hunting and gathering for frivolous stuff - it's one way we play on Sunday afternoons. On these day dates, B-man often wears one of my perfumes to experiment with different scents, so I put out Serge Lutens' Muscs Koublai Khan (MKK) for him to try.  This seemed to compliment my Bond no. 9 sample of I Love New York, the gourmand in the black bottle.

When we first get in the car, I'm all, 'did you put it on?  I can't smell it.'  B-man says, 'Yeah, I sprayed it just like I do the others.'  I press my nose to his neck.  'Okay, there it is, just barely.'

But the monster grows.

As we shop together, I keep smelling what I think is classic dirty hair and unwashed neck.  It's B-man.  Dirty and unwashed is the anti-B-man.  He's always immaculate. 

MKK is gagging me.

Me:  Um...the perfume you're wearing?  I had no idea it smelled so dirty.

B-man:  Oh, really?  I thought that as soon as I put it on - I figured you knew.

Me:  Yeah, it's kind of nasty.  I don't think I like it on you.

B-man:  Great, I stink.

Me:  Well, you don't stink, exactly, you just smell unwashed.

B-man:  Does it smell this way on you?

Me:  Oh god, I hope not.  Sorry.  Love you.

B-man:  Because smells are really different on both of us.

Me:  True, but I'm not sure I want to risk wearing it again.

B-man:  Lots of guys stink, so I'll fit right in.

Me:  I'm sure you're thrilled about that.

B-man:  So I guess no one's going to flirt with me in the produce section.

Later, as we're cooking dinner together:

B-man: Hey, I just caught a whiff of MKK and it smells better to me now.

Me:  (Sniffing his neck) Yeah, it does, less BO, more musk.

B-man:  Great - I'll just put it on 5 hours before I go out in public.

MKK, you dirty little thing, you.

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Monday, May 13, 2013

Food and Perfume: Are They Both About Chemistry?

Food is again the focus of my thoughts.  According to my theory, one should experiment with food like one experiments with perfume until the right chemistry match is found.

Getting sick messed with my mind, and I've been analyzing all of the reasons why it happened.  Stress?  Recycled airplane virus?  Diet?  Take your pick - I'm sure they all contributed. Last weekend, when I started eating regular food again, and immediately got a headache after a whole wheat muffin, I decided to get serious about exactly what's going into my body.

B-man and I have been eating like the French for almost two years now.  This means enjoying real food (no processed foods) with full fat goodness that is lingered over in slightly smaller quantities.  And wine, of course.  If I'm honest, though, I have gradually strayed away from fruit and veggies and become much more bread/cracker carb heavy.  Yes, the French eat carbs, but my diet has been out of balance for longer than I care to admit.  Plus, I'm just OVER eating meat.

And salmon is not meat, in case you wondered.

Here's the new plan (still very Mediterranean):

Fruit smoothie every morning (includes a big glob of natural peanut butter)
Carbs in the form of beans, oatmeal, fruit, veggies, quinoa
Lots of good fat, like avocados, olives, nuts and olive oil
Cheese stays
Wine stays
Wheat goes
Fish stays
All other meat goes

Best of all, the food I'm eating is delicious, resonating with my taste buds and my own 'eating intuition.'  Weight loss was not my motivation to make this change, but I lost four pounds last week even though my calorie intake jumped up to between 2000 and 2500 a day.  This tells me that  I have hit on something that works for my particular chemistry.  Like a perfume that sings on my skin and hits all the right notes. 

We'll see how this plan 'dries down' over time.

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Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day

My mother as a young woman

Happy Mother's Day, Mom - you are loved and missed.

image courtesy of mermaidmusing

Saturday, May 11, 2013

Perfumes for a Rainy Day

Rainbow last night after a brief downpour

For the last few days, we've been enjoying short bursts of rain, which leave that smell of wet earth that I just love.  What perfumes go with rain?  Here's a few that work for me: 

Donna Karan DKNY - this perfume smells just like a rainy day.  Wet concrete, wet plants, wet soil and vodka...what's not to like?

L'Artisan Dzongkha - captures the melancholy of rain and vibrates with dirty iris, which grows best in damp earth.

Chanel Sycomore - better outdoors than indoors, with vetiver that promises rain, or fire, just around the corner.

Etro Messe de Minuit - musty and dark, like old, wet headstones.

Serge Lutens Gris Clair - Wuthering Heights in a bottle.

What are your rainy day perfumes?

Photo my own

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Lazy Cinco de Mayo Sunday

B-man and Paige lounging on the deck this morning
Feeling better today - just good enough to park my butt on the deck and spend the afternoon reading, eating snacks and playing with perfume.  Later on, I'll shower and hook up with B-man for Champagne Sunday.  Maybe we'll cook tonight.

Happy Cinco de Mayo!

Photo my own

Saturday, May 4, 2013

My Instinct Perfume: Hermes Un Jardin en Mediterranee

For the past week, Daphne, my nose, has largely been in hiding. She comes out occasionally, but prefers not to be associated with my pedestrian cough.  What will her friends think?  And I generally avoid wearing perfume when I'm sick anyway, because I don't want to then link the perfume with my illness or have it burn my nose and turn me against the perfume altogether. 

Over the last few days, however, Daphne has decided to grace me again with her presence.  Getting ready for the day, I reach for Un Jardin en Mediterranee without even thinking.  My usual pondering and opening one box after another to sniff until I find the perfect match has fallen by the wayside. Instinct kicks in and I select this perfume before anything in me can object.

Un Jardin en Mediterrannee is perfume perfection because it is always a right choice for any setting, any season and all circumstances.  Herbal and decidedly unisex, it radiates with fig, tomato leaf and fresh mint.  Floral notes of orange blossom and white oleander are subdued, however, juniper berries are fairly pronounced, which reminds me of a nice, dry martini, my favorite. Cedar shows up in the heart notes and follows through to the base, adding both depth and coolness to a beautiful finish.  Sillage and lasting power are better than average, and the high quality is unmistakable.

Some reviews have said Un Jardin en Mediterranee smells like a tossed salad, and the top notes do have that same feeling of natural freshness.  But it's so much more, and I have yet to experience a perfume that rivals the universal rightness and balance of Un Jardin en Mediterranee.  I'll never be without it.

What is your instinct perfume?

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Thursday, May 2, 2013

When You're Sick, There's No Place Like Home

I'm still sick - still coughing and sounding awful and not getting a good night's sleep and feeling sluggish and tired.  Okay, if I'm honest, I'm very slowly improving, but HELLO, IT'S BEEN A WEEK. 

Today, I had a meeting with a hospital leader in which I coughed and carried on all the way through...god, how embarrassing.  This respiratory gomboo - whatever it is, exactly - seems to flare up when I talk. Or eat. Or try to be charming.  Personally, I hate it when people who appear to be a walking plague invade my personal space.  Take your snotty self and go home.

I am officially a snotty self.

At around noon today, I ask myself why I don't just go home and take the rest of the week off to relax and get well.  So that's exactly what I do.  I come home, put on my sweats and drink lukewarm water with grapefruit and orange juice (my Mom used to swear this would cure anything).  Then I sit outside in the sun, moving to the shade and back and forth until I come into the house and watch an episode of 'Army Wives' that my television automatically records each season.  This series used to be good, but now the core plot is the same in every show, and some false sense of drama (another suicide bomber in Iraq!) takes the full commercial-laced hour until they all realize their loved ones are safe and hug it out at the end.  I cry every time.

My uncle died today.  He was 90 years old.  Dad tried to call my silenced-and-in-my-purse phone last night to tell me he was doing badly, then shared that news during exchanged texts as I was getting ready for work this morning.  I found out when I got home that my uncle had, in fact, died.  Dad and I haven't talked since then, but I'm sure he has the news and I wonder how he's taking it, as he and my uncle considered themselves friends.  We'll talk in the morning, as we always do, when we're both in the mood to process and ponder.  Neither of us are night people, and should I call him now, one of us would cut the call short before any meaningful conversation could occur.  Probably me, due to a coughing attack.

And I have to think B-man is sick of me being sick.  He has his own routine that efficiently handles every aspect of our life, and I can imagine feeling that my space was being invaded if I was in his shoes.  But he insists that's not the case and I have agreed - finally - to let him take care of me in every way that he can.  It's so good to be home. 

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Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Jour d'Hermes: Home On The Range

I sniffed Jour d'Hermes at the duty free shop in DFW airport.  There's no delicate way to put this - it smells like a barnyard.  And not in a nostalgic, 'I was raised on a farm and it reminds me of where I grew up' sort of way. 

More like, 'wow, this smells just like hay and cow manure.'

Jean Claude, you're killing me.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

Hopes Pinned on Hot Toddy to Restore Health, Taste and Smell

Since Thursday, I have not gotten better, but worse.  My sinuses hurt, I have a deep, disturbing cough and I'm not able to do anything but sit on the deck and hope that sunshine and fresh air will magically heal me.  This illness is not taking a typical pattern, and it's freaking me out a little.

Plus, all sense of taste and smell has disappeared.

Enter hot toddy.

I found this recipe online, a doctor's recipe that was prescribed to a family - with great success - for many years.  It looks like this:

2 oz. whiskey
1 tbsp honey
1 tsp lemon juice
4 oz water

Blend and heat thorougly, but do not boil.

I have finished the drink, but must admit that I don't feel any better yet.  I still have aches, I am still compelled to cough and my sense of taste and smell have not returned at all.

Smelling alone would make me feel better because so many other things in my life are healed through that sense. Without it, I feel alone and a little desperate, with nothing solid to cling to.  Except for B-man and his warm touch to stroke my head and my back and whisper in my ear to reassure me of his love and of healing right around the corner.

Not sure how things will look in the morning, but I have to think I can only get better.  If so, hot toddys will be added to my recipe for recovery next time the flu comes to town.

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Saturday, April 27, 2013

Blogging About Vlogging: It's Harder Than It Looks

Vlogging is kind of fun.  And very different than writing.  My work requires I'm on video a lot, so I thought video blogging would be a snap once I figured out the logistics.  For example, how do I film from an angle that doesn't make me look like a Gelfling?  And I hope to complete the whole editing/downloading process just once without wailing to B-man, 'I'm too stupid to do it.' 

But honestly, the hardest thing has been figuring out how to be myself on camera.  Playing a professional role and delivering information on film is a snap.  Video blogging is much more  personal, so anything less than a personal approach to you, my readers, just won't work.  My goal is for the person you see on video to match up with the person who writes the blog, as we are, after all, one in the same. 

A few of you have been video blogging for quite some time.  Any words of wisdom for this vlogging newbie?

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Airplane Farting Follow-up: What Are People Supposed to Do?

I'm home sick today with a fever, cough and assorted flu-like stuff.  This means I had to cancel lunch with my son, JD, which sucks because we look forward to getting together, laughing and talking about everything under the sun.  We talk on the phone instead, and after a good 45 minutes of covering the basics, he mentions my rant about farting on the plane. 

Our conversation looks like this:

JD:  Hey, I liked your rant.  Honestly, I feel sorry for you for getting farted on, but for people that really need to fart, what are they supposed to do?

Me:  Mouth breathing while rolling a tissue between my fingers.

JD:  I mean, I can totally see myself farting on a plane, especially if I just ate something that didn't agree with me.

Me:  Well, exhibit A for people not stuffing down food before they get on a plane.

JD:  That doesn't make you fart.

Me:  Yes it does because if food is eaten too fast, it creates air bubbles in your intestines that have to be farted out.

JD:  You know this for a scientific fact.

Me:  It's a sound theory and I'm going with it.

JD:  So people are never supposed to eat before getting on a plane?

Me: They can eat, but maybe the big breakfast burrito with whole jalapenos is a bad choice.

JD:  Okay, but what if they just have a plain old burger and it doesn't sit well with them?

Me:  Then they should try to use the bathroom on the plane so they don't have to fart all the way home.

JD:  Maybe they go take a crap but still have to fart.  Then what are they supposed to do?

Me:  They're supposed to smash their butt cheeks together and hold it until we land.

JD:  Really...hold it for three hours?

Me:  Okay, I can tolerate one fart - ONE - but only if they will pass out otherwise.

JD:  If I have to fart and I'm in a crowded place, I just do it.

Me:  Oh god, don't tell me that.

JD:  Well, it's true.

We go round and round, chiding each other and throwing out bogus theories until we exhaust the subject and I am forced to admit he has a point that I cannot solidly beat down.  Now I'm thinking perhaps passengers could be screened for farting and farting tolerance when booking a flight.

They can sit in Zone 4.

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Saturday, April 20, 2013

Rant: No Farting On Airplanes, Please

Flying etiquette has gone right down the toilet.  Yesterday, as I'm sitting in the gate area, waiting to board the plane, people are stuffing down food like it might run away if they don't eat fast enough.  Then, they burp loudly to announce to the world that they consumed a sandwich bigger than their head in less than two minutes.  I have to wonder if they chew at all.

But farting is saved for the plane.

We all know fart sillage.  Is it food?  Is it poop?  Nope, it's a fart.  All the way home (an almost three hour flight), every fifteen or twenty minutes, the silent green killer hits me in the face.  Since we're squished on the flight like sardines, it's hard to know who's responsible for this despicable act. Not that I would expect a confession.  Random farters are likely random liars.  'Nuh-uh, I didn't do it - I would never do something like that!'

After a few assaults, I get so annoyed that I become Ace Ventura, Fart Detective.  The guy in front of me keeps fidgeting around in his seat, which makes him my first suspect.  After every flare up, it's all I can do to keep from hitting the back of his chair with my palm and saying, 'hey, Baseball Cap, go take a dump or put a cork up your butt, just stop farting!'  But wait - what if Baseball Cap is an innocent victim, thinking the same thing as me, and it's actually Business Suit that's slipping out the silent stinkers?  No one's going to suspect him.  Or maybe it's Meaningless Comments guy sitting right next to me, who says things before takeoff like, 'boy, ya don't see mountains here, do ya?' and 'warmer here than California.'  He fits the profile.

I finally realize I'm wasting my time and I'll have to just deal with it. The flight is jammed, so there's nowhere else to go.  However, I do consider using the call light to request the flight attendant trade me places and catch the fart perp while I work the drink tray and spend 30 minutes saying, 'peanuts, pretzels or cookies?'  How hard can it be?

And why have I so benevolently decided not to wear perfume on airplanes? At least I could bury my nose in my elbow when someone decides to casually unleash farts throughout a flight.  Come to think of it, why can't I claim severe allergies to bad body odor, hair that hasn't been washed for weeks and, of course, farting.  None of them belong on an airplane, and let's face it, they make breathing difficult. 

Hmmm...I could end up working that cart, after all.

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Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Perfume in Dallas: Good News and Bad News

Dallas...hmmm. It's flat and kind of murky and, well, it's Dallas.  No offense to anyone who lives here or loves it, but it's not one of those cities that make me say, 'let's go back!'

But, BUT, my hotel room is stocked with toiletries from Le Labo in the scent guessed it...Rose 31.  Shampoo, conditioner, body lotion and soap.  Heaven!  Of course, I tossed all the good Rose 31 stuff in my make-up bag to bring home and I will use my B&BW stuff while I'm here.

That's the good news.  The high point of perfume.

During a break in the conference this afternoon, feeling cooped up and stir crazy, I walk five city blocks to Nieman Marcus for a little sniffing. Is it just me, or is this store globally annoying?  Last time I visited a NM, I was in downtown Minneapolis, and I swear they molecular transported the same employees with their same attitudes to Dallas, just for me.

Her (looking me up and down suspiciously): Can I help you?

Me:  Actually, I'm just checking to see what lines you carry here.

Her:  What kind of perfume are you looking for?

Me:  If you don't mind, I'd like to browse on my own for a bit and I'll let you know if I have any questions.

Her: Yeah, sure.

Me: Could I get some paper strips?

Her:  Uh-huh (she gave me ONE).

Me (in my head):  This is deja vu.

Her:  You smell the new Angel?  We just got it in and when it's gone, we won't get more.

Me (in my head):  Freaking Angel is all you have to offer?

Me (out loud):  Yes, I've tried the Aqua Chic.

Them:  The new Alien, too?

Me (in my head):  Good Lord.

Me (out loud):  Yup, tried 'em both.

Them:  What kind of perfume do you like?

Me (in my head):  Kill. Me. Now.

Me (out loud): Thanks for your help.

By the time I get back to the hotel in my strappy sandals, the bottom of my feet are burning and Inner Critic is worn out from giving me the 'what did you think was gonna happen' speech.

Never mind, I got my Rose 31.

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Monday, April 15, 2013

Have Perfume, Will Travel

Tomorrow, I begin a week's travel for work.  I'm almost ready to go and I enjoy traveling alone.  Plus, I'm going somewhere warm (we woke up to snow today).   My plan is to take the following perfume samples, decants or roll-ons:

Versace Crystal Noir
Jimmy Choo Flash
Angel Aqua Chic
JLo Miami Glow
JLo Glow
Montale Roses Musk
Karma solid perfume by Lush
10-15 other samples I'm too lazy to name

These will all fit easily into a small baggie and into my make-up bag.  Of course, I'll be trolling for new, undiscovered perfume this week, too.  But it's a start. 

Any tips on great perfume shopping in Dallas?

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Sunday, April 7, 2013

Coconut: My Latest Perfume Obsession

Until now, I've never liked coconut in perfume - it just seemed too tanning lotion pedestrian.  For the last month, however, I have been jonesing for coconut perfumes and all things coconut.  In the process, I have discovered that many perfumes from Amouage to Jovan White Musk have a coconut vibe even if they don't contain the ingredient.  Here's a few mid-range to inexpensive perfumes I found along the way:

Estee Lauder Azuree Soliel
JLo Miami Glow
Queen by Queen Latifa
Laguna by Salvidor Dali
Crystal Noir by Versace

Yesterday, I decide what I really want is a coconut lotion that would let me turn up the volume in any perfume that might contain a hint of that note.  So B-man and I go on a search for the perfect coconut lotion.  This is the type of meaningful pursuit that fills our Saturday afternoons.

We go everywhere from TJ Maxx to Bath & Body Works to Ulta to Kohl's to find a lotion that is just right.  I think surely Bath & Body Works will have the perfect coconut lotion, but Aruba Coconut is too fruity and the stores no longer carry Exotic Coconut.  Just as well since I discover later that some reviewers say it burns your skin.  What the F? (I told Elisa, from the French Exit, that I was going to steal that phrase and use it myself.) 

B-man, ever the good-natured partner, is engaged in the whole experience, even when I get cranky because we are driving all over the valley and I forgot to bring a happy snack from home.

Me: Oh my God, are we ever going to get to the freeway?

B-man:  Yes, it's just a few more blocks, Miss Cranky.

Me:  And look at the mountains; it's raining like crazy where we live and I'm missing the whole black, awesome storm.  What's with the sunshine here?  I've had it with all the damn sunshine.

B-man:  We can just go home so you can watch the storm if you want.

Me:  No, I'm on a mission.  Can we go to Bath & Body Works?

B-man:  We were just there.

Me:  I mean the other one - they might have different stuff.

B-man:  Sure, let's go. Why don't you go in and I'll wait in the car.  Take your time.

While I wander around in BBW, I access Fragrantica on my iphone just to see what ingredients are in the lotions I am testing.  One of my favorites for bedtime is Warm Vanilla Sugar, and Fragrantica reminds me that the heart note just happens to be...coconut.  Since I'm down to my last one at home, I buy six more on the 'buy 3 get 3 free' sale.  Content with my happy snack equivalent, I get in the car, beaming.

B-man:  What did you end up with?

Me: I ended up with Warm Vanilla Sugar - I have that at home.

B-man:  Wait, after all this, you have that one at home?

Me:  Yup.

B-man:  Wow.  I think I'm ready for a pina colada.

This evening, I'm wearing Warm Vanilla Sugar with Jovan White Musk, but I'm about ready to pump up the coconut even higher with a little Crystal Noir. 

What's your latest perfume note obsession?

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Friday, April 5, 2013

Angel: Perfume Poltergeist

Angel by Thierry Mugler is an audacious perfume that makes no apology for burning your nose, ruining your meal or occupying all invisible space.  I love it, or at least the idea of it.  I was visiting baby sis in Milwaukee when I first saw Angel back in 1993.  We noticed it at the same time and I wanted it then mostly because she wanted it first.  Growing up is on my bucket list.

Angel is beautiful on baby sis, although she hasn't worn it since that first purchase almost 20 years ago. On my skin, it's just monstrous, like the chocolate, vanilla and patchouli are all fighting for the top spot, amping up the volume until I become virtually flammable. 

Very few people can wear Angel and wear it well, because it ranges from sweetly gourmand to bitterly patchouli, depending on one's chemistry.  On many people, the patchouli smells kind of...wet and sour.  Patchouli should never be wet.  In fact, Daphne believes the best patchouli is dry and smokey, like summer dirt.  She says if patchouli is the right dryness, you should cough when you smell it.  Sometimes I do that just to make her happy. 

Honestly, I'm not even sure Angel was meant to be a signature scent. Yes, it's beautiful in a 'love me or I'll kill you' sort of way, but wearing it every single day would be exhausting.  It's hard to keep up with that kind of intensity, the kind that lingers for hours after the person wearing the perfume is gone, like cigarette smoke or the aroma of last night's roast beef.  Almost like a ghost. 

They don't call it Angel for nothing.

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Saturday, March 23, 2013

Who Do You Wear Perfume For?

If asked this question, I would say that I wear it for my own enjoyment and pleasure.  This would only be partially true, but I'd say it anyway.  Otherwise, my perfume collection would seem even weirder than it does now.

The truth is that I wear perfume for myself, but also to claim space in the world, and hopefully to cause enjoyment for others.  Especially B-man.  Every morning, as soon as I'm out of the shower, I put on my selected perfume for the day so that I can twirl through the house, gathering my work stuff on the kitchen counter while B-man is walking Paige. This ensures that he will catch a whiff of my perfume the minute he walks through the door.

When he notices and loves the way I smell, my opinion of any perfume rises much higher than it might otherwise, left to my own fickle nose (sorry, Daphne).  And if I wear a perfume that he doesn't notice right away, or doesn't particularly like (Habanita comes to mind), it's pretty much off my list.    Except for those perfumes that I love, and know he will love eventually if I just keep wearing them.  Think about it.  I love the perfume + B-man loves me + wear him down over time = we both love the perfume.  But this approach can backfire, too.  For example, I lured B-man into loving Sisley's Eau du Soir when I loved it and he didn't.  Now he loves it and I don't. 

Okay, now here's the whole truth.  While I count on B-man's feedback and attention around perfume, if others compliment the same perfume, at work or elsewhere, I love it even more.  In fact, my goal is to stop people in their tracks with my perfume of the day and stun them into speechlessness with its beauty.  Seems reasonable to me.

But wait - that does not mean I will wear perfume that I don't like just because someone else might like it.  Take Paloma Picasso, for example.  I cannot imagine any event for which I want to smell like a horse.  Or Belle en Rykiel.  Or the cinnamon-laced monster of Agent Provocateur L'Agent.  Even if I got tons of compliments. Not gonna happen. Just sayin'.

So yes, I wear perfume for me first, and I hope others find it pleasant, too.  But, I must admit, no validation is as satisfying as hearing B-man's, 'Ahhh,' as he and Paige walk back into the house.  Perfume is a love we have come to share, and his enjoyment of my little habit makes it much more fun. Whatever perfume captures his nose will likely become one of my favorites, too.

Who do you wear perfume for?

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Thursday, March 21, 2013

Perfume At Work: The Dreaded Email

Last week, I wander down to the 17th floor of my office building to check in with a couple of co-workers and to move my body.  I had been sitting so long through multiple meetings that my ass was asleep.

All of our administrative assistants are located along the inside walls of the building, facing the offices around the perimeter.  They sit in large cubicles that keep them hidden from view.  As I move through the walkway and pass each cubicle, I smell a different perfume boldly claiming its air space.  This delights me, of course, and makes me grateful to work in a 'perfume allowed' environment. 

But then, the dreaded email arrives.  Something about a 'near miss,' and the encouragement to avoid 'strong perfumes.'  I have no idea what either of those things mean.

Well, okay, I get Paloma Picasso and Aromatics and Azuree as strong perfumes, but the near miss?  WTF?  Does someone have severe asthma?  Seizures?  The vapors?  Near miss could mean almost anything and it pisses me off that it's attached to perfume.

What about smoking brakes on the freeway or a dead skunk in the road or the UPS delivery guy in the elevator with mind numbing BO?  They all constitute a 'near miss' for me.  Ban them first, and then we'll talk about perfume.

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Sunday, March 10, 2013

'Sorry, We're Out of Smelling Strips'

Twice last week, I walked into different stores, excited for a sniff fest, and found there were no smelling strips to test the perfumes.  Of course, I know what this means (poor management, lack of attention to detail...general cluelessness), but I ask where they are anyway, just to raise the discomfort level and emphasize the absurdity of no smelling strips in a perfume department. I get a variety of responses:

'We ran out - here are some Q-tips.'
'You can either use Q-tips or use space on my arm.'
'We keep ordering them, but they never send any.'

What I want to say: 

Are you f-ing kidding me? 

What I actually say:

'You're out of smelling strips, really?'
'Q-tips, are you serious?'
'Wow, that sucks.'

They apologize and I take the Q-tips and look at them for a moment before sighing my specially reserved 'disappointed that there are no smelling strips' sigh.  Then I lay them on the shelf and walk away.  To date, I have not offered up my suggestion of where they might actually place the Q-tips.

Pet peeve squared.

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Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Obsessed with J. Lo Perfumes

In all of the years that I have obsessed over perfume, I have never  tried Jennifer Lopez perfumes - not even Glow.  I know, right?  Come out from under your rock.  But a couple of weeks ago, my day ended early and, just for fun, I stopped at TJ Maxx to troll the clearance perfume shelf.  Kohl's is next door, and they carry almost all celebrity perfumes. 

And I needed to sniff.

After smelling the latest from Christina Aguilera and Avril Lavigne...please stop making perfumes...I ended up at the J.Lo counter.  Daphne was intrigued by Glow, Glowing and Miami Glow.  Suddenly, I was obsessed by more than just J.Lo's ass, and I mentally put her perfumes on my must-have-in-my-collection list.  Plus, Deseo, also by J.Lo, has received good reviews, so I added that to my list as well.  

All of this prompted the following conversation with B-man:

Me: I love Glow and must have it now.  Plus, I love this, too (I had sprayed both Glow and Glowing on my skin).  What do you think?

B-man:  Ooh, that's really nice (referring to Glow).  The other one is nice, too, but it smells like your Bath and Body Works lotion.

Me:  Uh-huh.  I already bought Deseo unsniffed, but now I'm not sure I like it.  What do you think?  (I hold the bottle up to him.)

B-man:  Wow, that would actually smell good on me.  If you don't want it, I do.

Me:  Really?  Never thought of that.  Now it will become my very favorite.

B-man:  You're such a middle child.

Me:  Hey, I also bought this 4-pack of J-Lo roll-ons.  Love and Light, Love and Glamour, Glow and Miami Glow.  You're never going to believe this, but it was on the clearance shelf for $7.00!  I wasn't sure whether or not to buy it.

B-man:  Why? Did you think I would care about a $7 perfume purchase?

Me:  Ah, no, it's not you. It's Inner Farm Girl.

B-man: I can't imagine even Inner Farm Girl would care about $7 perfume.

Me:  You're kidding, right?  She doesn't flat out say NO, but she needs reasons.  More than one.

B-man:  Oh, boy. 

Me:  So I told was an opportunity to try more than I'll know if I want a full only makes sense to be frugal and it was the absolute last one and ridiculously on sale.

B-man: And?

Me:  She had nothin'.

B-man:  Good job.

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Ode to Timbuktu by L'Artisan

Mr. Clean
Roasted Pine Nuts
Lime Juice
Wet Umbrella
Hotel Bath Towel
El Camino Fumes
Celery Seed

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Saturday, February 9, 2013

Are Gay People Born That Way? And Does It Matter?

Disclaimer:  I strongly support and advocate for gay rights.  Same sex couples should be able to marry, have children (including adoption) and enjoy the full extent of freedom that exists in our country without judgment or discrimination. 

That being said, as I watch the way gay people go about this quest for equality, I have come to believe that the argument of, 'we can't help it, we were born that way' is actually harmful to their cause.

Sorry, Gaga.

This thought was sparked again when I read that Nate Berkus told Oprah how he explained his homosexuality to his dad. He said, 'why would I choose to make my life more difficult'?'  To which his dad responded, 'If you say you were born this way, and you didn't have a choice, then we're good.'

So, as long as gay people wouldn't choose to be gay, they're acceptable?  Why is the acceptance of gays cloaked in the helplessness of their actions?  What's wrong with deciding on a same sex relationship just because one wants to? 

Consider how anti-gay rights advocates might interpret Nate Berkus' statement and use it as evidence that even gay people know their relationships are inherently wrong:

If I could be straight, that would be so much better, but I was born defective and now I can't control my unnatural urges.  Who would choose to be this miserable?  Please don't sever our relationship because I have no control over my choices and need your sympathy and compassion.  Gee, I wish things were different, but I'm stuck with this affliction and have been since birth.

As consenting adults, we have the right to love who we love and create the lifestyle that works for us at any given point in our lives.  Yes, some people know from a very young age that they are gay.  Others live much of their adult lives in opposite sex relationships first, or they move between same sex and opposite sex relationships throughout their lives.  It's different for everyone.

My advice?  Drop the 'we can't help it, we were born that way' argument and advocate from the perspective of your own right to choose who you will love.  Because when seeking equal rights in a land that claims to be free, it shouldn't matter if you were born that way or not.

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Sunday, February 3, 2013

Balenciaga, Shame On You

Friday, I took what I like to call an 'aromatic interlude' in my day. This means that what was supposed to be a little stroll in the sunshine turned into a mini sniff-a-thon at Nordstrom and Sephora.

Balenciaga perfumes have always been hit and miss for me, but I quite enjoy the 2010 release, Paris, and wanted to try the line's two new releases, Florabotanica and Paris L'Eau Rose.  Of course, with Kristen Stewart as the face of Florabotanica, I expected a fruity floral blend targeted at young women fantasizing about their vampire lovers. 

Not that there's anything wrong with that.

On a scent strip, Florabotanica had an herbal vibe that piqued my interest.  I asked for a sample so I could try it later on my skin while enjoying a glass of wine on Big Red.  Same with Paris L'Eau Rose.

Honestly, I don't even remember the last time I scrubbed off a perfume, but Florabotanica drove me to it.  Usually, I can wait for the drydown first, but not this time.  Screechy and sharp, Florabotanica fails miserably on my skin.  With a top note strong as ammonia, I cannot imagine an occasion for which this perfume is appropriate.  A huge outdoor wedding would have everyone sniffing the air and asking, 'what stinks?'  

Paris L'Eau Rose is less awful, but mind-numbingly dull.  Imagine all of the Escada summer fragrances layered on top of one another.  Next to L'Eau Rose, even Juicy Couture La La is a perfume of substance, a thought that keeps me up at night.

At this point, I simply hope that some time will pass before Balenciaga releases any more perfumes. At least long enough for the memory of scrubbing to fade.

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Saturday, January 26, 2013

What Does Winter Smell Like To You?

Our city's air quality sucks.  In fact, it's among the worse in the country. This means that whenever I go outside to get a breath of fresh air, there isn't any.  Instead it's heavy and dirty, and smells of lead and cold metal with a touch of oil refinery burn-off.  Along with bitter cold temperatures, we also have a lot of snow this year, so the essence of cold little kid cheeks, wet mittens and wool coats is everywhere.

By the way, old leather gloves make your hands smell sour. Honestly, it's nasty. I'm still working on tactful language around a gentle reminder.

'Huh, what's that sour smell?'

'Sometimes old gloves have that smell...are those yours?'

'What, you don't notice that your hands stink?'

Like I said, still workin' on it.

Daphne - my nose - is acting up a little, more tuned into the smells of the environment than the smell of my perfumes.  God knows I'm trying to please her by wearing my favorite winter scents, like White Aoud, Mauboussin, Jungle l'Elephant and Dune.  I even shook it up this week and wore Sur le Nil one day, just to get her attention.  She yawned.

Sometimes, big, unexpected smells interrupt everything.  Yesterday, on my drive to work, an 18-wheeler merged from the canyon onto the freeway in front of me.  Smoke poured from its hot brakes, filling my car with the acrid smell of burning tires.  By the time I could change lanes, my nose and my throat were burning.  Even opening the windows didn't help. (This is a trick Dad taught me to offset the smell of passing a dead skunk on the road.  When it seems like the odor will never leave your car, just crack the windows open briefly and whatever lingers will be gone).   Daphne was pissed and refused to pay attention to my perfume for the rest of the day.  She did get over her hissy fit enough to enjoy Montale's Red Aoud last night.

The good new is, I'm smelling more perfume on men this winter, which is delightful!  Maybe they feel more comfortable wearing scents in cold weather, or maybe I'm just noticing it more. Either way, it's the only thing making Daphne smile these days, so I hope the trend continues.

What are the best and worst smells of your winter?

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Sunday, January 20, 2013

Perfume Layering Successes

One day last weekend, I found myself on the floor in the smellie room playing with new perfume layering options.  Honestly, I rarely end up wearing these combos (Tea Rose and Sur le Nil being one notable exception), but discovering them always makes me feel better about hoarding perfume.  Plus, it's an activity that both Inner Critic and Inner Farm Girl can support, which hardly ever happens. 

My pairings include perfumes that I don't wear much because they are either annoying in some way on their own or just too far down the list to get much attention.  First, I test them side by side on a paper scent strip, then on top of each other on a separate strip.  If they pass those tests, I spritz them on my skin, again side by side and then one on top of the other.  Passing this final test, they get recorded in my smellie book, which I keep in the smellie room on top of the smellie cabinet. 


And the winners are: (layered like a cake):

Bal a Versailles + Cabochard
BaV has a civet sweetness (an oxymoron, I know) that is weirdly tamed into submission by the tobacco and burning leaves of Cabochard. In return, BaV encourages Cabochard to let down her guard and soften up just a little.  Sometimes, two powerhouse perfumes can bitch slap each other just enough to strike a wearable balance, which is exactly what happens here. 

Celine Dion Notes + Essence eau de Musc by Narcisso Rodriguez
CDN (bought unsniffed as part of an inexpensive perfume buying binge) smells like a stronger version of an even less expensive Adidas eau de toilette that I wear to motivate myself to exercise. But paired with EedM, these perfumes sing as if they were always meant to be a duet, suddenly alive and interesting in a whole new way.

Ralph Lauren Safari + Calvin Klein Truth
Both start out very green, and one must wait for the drydown to appreciate what they do for each other (you'll be tempted to scrub for the first five minutes).  I've always been annoyed that Truth's freshly cut grass vibe is lost when the top notes fade, but Safari keeps this element vibrating throughout the life of the base notes.  Plus, Truth cancels out the nose burning galbanum of Safari that prevents me from wearing it alone.

My favorite pairing of the three is Celine Dion Notes and NR Essence Eau de Musc.  With spring just around the corner, it's a combo I will definitely wear, no doubt about it.  Assuming I don't forget to check the smellie book. 

What is your latest perfume layering success?

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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why Do I Say It?

Tonight, my sisters and I met for drinks - dirty martinis for me.

We always end up talking about our parents; my mother, who has been gone for almost three years now, and my dad, who grapples with the strange mix of his grief and his freedom.  As the oldest and youngest child in the family, my sisters share some common circumstances, like the burden and benefit of great expectations from my mother.  She was in awe of both of them for different reasons and encouraged them to be all that they were capable of being.  All that she knew they were.

Perhaps it's different for middle children - at least it was different for me.  I was not necessarily expected to excel, and to this day, it puzzles me that Mom seemed to overlook the possibility that I could achieve something of value, or that I, too, had unique gifts.  That we were all simply diamonds in the rough. 

Tonight, I stayed silent for a long time as my sisters talked about how hard it is to go home now that Mom is not there.  They both long for her company, her nurturing and even the drama of their imperfect relationship.  The audience of her is gone, and they miss it profoundly.  I listened with a conscious half smile that I was certain reflected the perfect level of empathy and understanding.  This time, I almost made it. 

And then, I said it.  Yet again.  'I don't feel that way.'

For some reason, I still have to assert my perspective, like I will disappear altogether otherwise.  I loved my mother, but we did not share the intense connection that exists between the believer and the one who is believed in.  Unlike my sisters, I had to create my own self image without the benefit of being essential to my mother's satisfaction.  Even though their relationships were not ideal, I envy my sisters' longing, their need for her and their desire to bask in her adoration one more time.

Every time I say it - 'I don't feel that way' - I regret it.  Stating this serves no one and just feels immature and bratty, like the prelude to a toddler's tantrum.  One day very soon, I will fulfill my goal of being supportive and warm as I listen to them recall the connection with our mother that they long for and have lost.  I will smile sweetly and nod, keeping my own loss to myself.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Inexpensive Perfume Delight: Mauboussin

Luca Turin and I finally agree.  Mauboussin is an amazing perfume, especially in the winter.  It's kinda oriental, kinda gourmand, a bit herbal-spicy and truly incensy.  Not in a Belle en Rykiel faux incense, squeaky clean way, but in the authentic, dirty, smoky sort of way.  I love that.

Mauboussin, introduced in 2000, is everything L'Agent tried to be, but isn't.

Of course, true to my style, I stalked Mauboussin for months before finally making the purchase (under $30, by the way).  Upon application, I smell rum, even though the top notes are listed as plum, bergamot and red tangerine.  Thrown together, they smell like booze.  I'm just sayin'.

Very shortly after comes the smokiness as the base notes seep through all the others and make their way to the top.  Sandalwood, cedar, patchouli and vanilla are present early on in the development of this perfume, giving it both earthiness and depth from the beginning.  Fifteen minutes in, I catch the slightest whiff of BO, which works beautifully and takes its rightful place among the other elements. 

There is a place for BO, after all.

Mauboussin is fuzzy and familiar, like the childhood blanket that stinks of food, naps and toys - the one you can't bear to part with.  Sillage is moderate and lasting power is very good.  Strong at first, Mauboussin quickly settles into itself and blends into the smell of my own skin, like a scratch and sniff patch where the scent is always there, but intensifies with friction.

I'm working from home today following a large snowstorm, and Mauboussin is perfectly reflecting my mood; engaged and relaxed, cozy and warm.  Reveling in what could be my best blind buy ever.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Resolutions for 2013

1.  Keep polishing my fingernails

2.  Read a book

3.  Eat more legumes

4.  Figure out what the hell legumes are

5.  Paint the smellie room

6.  Host a perfume party

7.  Post a rant about 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

8.  Get a bark collar for Paige

9.  Stop being embarrassed to read 'Vogue' on the airplane

10. Use the f-word only when I really need it

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Celebrating the New Year Together

Me and My Sisters

B-man (2nd from left) and The Guys

All The Girls
 Pictures my own


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