Saturday, June 14, 2014

My Mother's China

I still can't believe she left it to me.  Not that I didn't read her detailed, hand-written will, but for some reason, it just hadn't registered.  Not until several weeks ago when baby sis said, 'I'll be happy to take that china off your hands if you don't want it' did I understand that my mother's china - one of her most prized possessions - was now mine.

Growing up in poverty, Mom tried all of her life to escape its stamp on her identity.  She was beautiful, well read and gracious in ways I will never be, but growing up poor scarred her.  Marrying my dad was her ticket to a better life.  I can only imagine all of the hopes and dreams she had while working to save money for her wedding china.  Its pattern and functionality suited her well and she used the large casserole dish often.  The rest of the china rarely came out, but when it did, the occasion was instantly made special.  We grew up knowing that Mom's china, and all it represented, was treasured.

B-man went with me to pack the china and bring it home.  He owned this task as if he was born to do it, wrapping everything carefully before fitting it perfectly into small boxes.  Once home, we realized that some rearranging was in order before it would fit into our cabinet. So the china sat, still boxed, in our dining room as we planned one day after another to tackle the project together.

Yesterday, I arrived home from work to see towels spread all over the counter in our kitchen.  I knew immediately what had happened.  B-man had taken the afternoon to gently wash each piece of my mother's china and arrange it in our cabinet.  He was placing the last platter as I walked in.  It's even more beautiful than I remember.

I wish I could tell Mom how much her china means to me and how this last gesture of her affection touched my heart.  I wish I could express to my husband, beyond just words, how much he means to me and how deeply he has changed my life.  What I truly understand now more than ever before is both simple and profound: I am well loved.

Photos my own

Sunday, June 8, 2014

Gluten Free June

Today's gluten free lunch
My body likes it better when I don't eat wheat.  It's not that I have a gluten allergy, although I fake one to B-man occasionally just to get an extra back scratch, which he cheerfully gives even though we both know I'm bullshitting.  In my world, preference toward something is just a hop, skip and a jump from an allergy to something else.  For example, I prefer clothing that is comfortable, which is a pretty clear indication that I have a full-blown allergy to business suits. 
So yeah, let's run gluten allergy up the flag pole.
Last spring - then again last fall - I stopped eating wheat and felt so much better.  Apparently it didn't improve my memory, because I'm 'experimenting' with it again now.  Fortunately, it's easy because I love rich, oily, fatty food like cheese, olives, avocados and hummus.  Deprivation is not on my radar, so wheat is the only thing I'm eliminating in June and perhaps beyond if my theory holds true once again. Clearly, martinis and wine don't cause any allergic reaction.  B-man knows that, too.
So what perfumes go with gluten free eating?  Nomaoud by Comptoir Sud Pacifique is a clear winner with its perfectly non-sweet rose, oud and incense.  So is Un Jardin en Mediterranee by Hermes with it's fresh greens, mint & tomato vibe.  I guess that means June will be 30 days of Mediterranean food and Mediterranean perfume. 
Day 8 and all is well.

Photo my own

Friday, June 6, 2014

How I Pick My Favorite Food Network Stars

It's Freedom Friday here because I'm trying to give myself more time to relax and do nothing.  One of my favorite 'nothings' is zoning out to Food Network.  "Chopped" is my NFL.

Rachael Ray was my first Food Network crush years ago.  She was energetic about all things foody and got me saying EVOO and YUMMO to the point that I annoyed even B-man, which is near impossible (we call him 'Jobie' at home because he has the patience of...well, you get it). Plus, she was just the right amount of chubby to be both cute and legitimate as a chef.  About my level of chubby, as I remember.

Since then, my size has fluctuated in both directions and I've noticed an interesting pattern: My body size determines my favorite Food Network star. 

For example, Giada De Laurentiis gets on my last nerve unless I'm feeling quite small, in which case I love her.  Right now, she's a skinny little bitch.  Maybe one reason she's so skinny is because she makes itty bitty hors de oeuvres that have 25 steps resulting in a bite the size of a dime.  I get anxious watching the process and can hardly get through a show without saying out loud, 'just eat it fer chrissake!'  Her big smile scares me.

When I'm feeling larger, I warm up to Barefoot Contessa, in spite of her gremlin giggle after everything she says.  It's not that funny, Ina, and we don't enjoy your show more if you're laughing. At least she cooks for people who actually like to eat, and her husband, Jeffrey, keeps it real by eating nothing but chicken.  Plus, she makes being fat okay.  Oh, come on, she's successful, she has a killer house in the Hamptons and you know she's got a great wine cellar.  And Jeffrey comes home fromYale every weekend to get a little sumthin' sumthin' and keep the magic alive.  In order to sleep soundly, I'm going to assume that's food.

Nigella Lawson is my favorite star of the moment because it looks like she could go either way by getting smaller or larger.  But maybe she's found her groove, who knows?  I love that she relishes food and eats with her hands and licks the bowl and takes big bites.  No dime sized food for her and no gremlin giggle.  Plus, she survived a divorce scandal which must have been traumatic now that we all know she got choked and smoked marijuana, not necessarily in that order.  This might account for the bowl-licking.  We're both post-trauma middle aged women finding comfort in food.  Nigella is definitely my favorite Food Network star. 

Until she's not.

Photo from

Sunday, June 1, 2014

June Has to Suck Less Than May

Paige hanging out on the deck

May sucked.  So many things about it sucked that I can't begin to list them all.  For starters, I gained back the four pounds I lost in April plus one more for good measure.  Who knew that carbs count as a legitimate religion? (Let me know if you find a loaf-on-a-cross necklace 'cause I want one.)  We're not talking sweet carbs, but stuff like crusty bread dipped in olive oil or bread dipped in hummus.  Basically bread dipped in anything.  And kettle chips with melted gruyere on top, each nacho-like layer drizzled with olive oil and hot sauce then pulled apart and generously loaded with French onion dip, clam dip, fiesta ranch dip or any combination of dip and hummus. 

I want some now.

In addition to the carb fest, I've been very sad (which - hello - is why I needed the carbs in the first place). More sad in May than the first few months after Dad died, like it took this long to really sink in.  Holding in the sad and functioning day-to-day takes a lot of energy, by the way.  And grief shows all over me like a mask that I can't take off.  Visiting the farm for the first time without him on Memorial Day emphasized the loss even more.  From last Tuesday until this morning, I've been on the edge of tears constantly, had regular stomachaches, chest tightness and total exhaustion. I've had fears of dropping dead suddenly and then found myself wishing I would so I could stop pretending to be okay.  In the middle of all of this, I was preparing a 1-hour presentation for a large group of regional health care leaders that I delivered on Friday.  Apparently, it was the last straw.

Yesterday, I woke up crying and cried all morning as I sat on 'Squid,' the small patio at the bottom of our back yard. Paige sat with me, getting up occasionally to come lay her long nose on my leg before resuming her folded down position where she could watch every move I made. When I had cried all the tears I could possibly eek out, I felt almost paralyzed, like I'd had an out of body experience.  The rest of the day was a fog, although B-man and I managed to clean out our dining room pantry.  We put stuff on the table and floor so we could stare at it and wonder how in the hell we 1) accumulated so much stuff that we have never and will never use and 2) fit it all into this small pantry.  As soon as we were done rearranging, I left B-man to box up the giveaways because I could no longer think and had to channel surf until happy hour.  Thank you, God, for happy hour.

Today is completely different.  Not great,, I guess.  My sadness has lifted some and I feel more ready to go on with life. This morning, as B-man and I were on the deck enjoying coffee together, I was thinking about the one year of grieving I have allowed myself.  I almost felt Dad lean over and say to me in his gentle, reassuring voice, 'you know, Kate, you don't have to grieve for a whole year for me.  Let yourself feel better now and enjoy the life you have.'

Maybe I'm ready to do that and maybe I'm not, but it gives me comfort to know that whatever I need to do is okay with him.  We have plenty of bread and chips, just in case.

photo courtesy of B-man

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Blind Buy Gone Bad

Friday afternoon, my son JD met me for lunch.  Our German waitress, Claudia, scared the hell out of me with her laser stare and thick accent ('do you vant ranch dressing or no ranch?  Jus' tell me vat you vant and I vill brrring it!').  After lapsing into sheer stupidity under the pressure - I could neither decide on my dressing nor settle the check correctly - a perfume reprieve was in order.  JD and I sprayed and sniffed at Sephora and I decided that my trip home would include a discount store browsing session to find a perfume that could soothe my bruised lunch ego. 

Roberto Cavalli eau de parfum had been stalking me for a while, and on Friday, it was eyeballing me again as I checked my iPhone for reviews and pondered whether or not to make the purchase.   Until now, I've tried to avoid it and never even sprayed it on my skin.  However, my imagination insisted that I was cheating myself of something exotic and warm, sexy and creamy.  Plus, the box is pretty and I like the round shape of the bottle, essential criteria for a blind buy.

It's not like I came home and immediately put the perfume on my skin.  No, no, no.  The ritual always begins by carefully opening the plastic cover on the box, just in case it goes back to the store.  I open only the top end, then squish my fingers in to open the box and turn it upside down so the bottle lands gently in my hand.  Then the perfume is sprayed on a paper strip and laid aside to dry.  After about ten minutes, I go back and sniff...then sniff again...then mull things over while re-reading all the reviews on Fragrantica.  Perfume-to-skin contact never happens until this ritual is complete. I waited to apply the perfume until Saturday morning.

For almost an hour, I tried to like it.  I faked liking it.  I pondered every circumstance in which I could imagine ever liking it.  I walked outside so it could develop fully in the fresh air.  I fantasized about writing a post about not liking it at first and then realizing I loved it.  I even had our dog Paige smell it, and she took a sniff but suddenly lost interest and licked her butt instead.

That's when I scrubbed.

To describe Roberto Cavalli eau de parfum in great detail now would just annoy me even more.  Cheap, sweet and cloying pretty much covers it, and its barely touched package is going right back to where it came from.  I feel smarter already - Claudia might even approve.

Image from

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Menopause Mania: Jessica Simpson Fancy

God help me, I can't stop wearing celebrity perfumes. Now, it's Jessica Simpson's Fancy.  Maybe it's menopause.  I'm blaming everything on menopause, by the way.  Can't sleep?  Menopause.  Bad hair day?  Menopause.  My soup didn't turn out right?  Effing menopause.

Of course, I'm too old for Fancy...meaning it wasn't marketed for an almost 55-year old woman.  Nope, Fancy was meant for the young, sex five times a week, oops I got knocked up again crowd.  I'm like a 20-year old that loves Paloma Picasso.  We're both out of sync with our peers. 

Last week, B-man and I went on a much needed road trip (please don't make me fly - I promise to be good).  We ended up in red rock country that was half desert and half springtime (not that springtime doesn't happen in the desert, it's just harder to tell).  After pondering what perfume I wanted to wear from my usual 15-20 on-the-road selections, it was Fancy that most matched the smell of the air and the feel of the small city.  I had never worn it before, but brought it along as part of a Jessica Simpson 4-pack of travel sprays (I Fancy You, Fancy Love and Fancy Nights came along too).  Even though I tried to talk myself into several Diptyque offerings, Tuscan Soul and multiple other earthy, gutsy, downright sexy perfumes, it was Fancy that won out.

(If you get the earthy, gutsy, downright sexy reference, will you please remind me of the men's cologne that 70's commercial was selling?)

Here's what I like about Fancy: Yeah, it's sweet and berries and a little caramel and vanilla, but what I love about it - and can't quite get enough of - is the soapy whisper of the drydown.  Who would have thought Fancy was...soapy?  Just when you think you've got her all figured out and you're ready for the crème brulee, she throws in a touch of squeaky clean.  Brilliant.

Now I'm in hot pursuit of a full bottle and I'll be damned if any TJ MAXX in my city is carrying it.  Stupid menopause.

Image from

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Perfume Throwdown: Fracas vs Truth or Dare

Until now, I have avoided Madonna's Truth or Dare like I avoid stair railings at our children's hospital.  Oh, come on, you just know there are boogers all over it.   Truth or Dare was so off my radar that I never even stalked it on Fragrantica, Make-up Alley or Google, and I stalk everything.  But then I see it marked down at TJ Maxx for $7.  Seven bucks... for 3.4 oz.  Kiss it, Inner Farm Girl!  Post stalking, when I saw Truth or Dare linked to Fracas, I had to do a side-by-side comparison straight away.  That's right, I said 'straight away' in honor of Madonna's phony British accent period. 

Here's the deal: they are just alike, except completely different.

Truth or Dare starts out all floral-sweet, like hard tack candy at Christmas. B-man said the top notes smell like the opening of Joop Homme (his 'let's go play' scent, which I absolutely love).  Fracas, on the other hand, starts out green and turn-up-my-nose sour, really.  Why so serious?  Next comes the Truth or Dare lemon and citrus phase.  Fracas, on the other hand, takes a totally different direction and smells just like Thumbelina, my childhood doll that peed her pants and landed face down in a cow pie after I dangled her out the backseat car window. She had a permanent 'birthmark' on her cheek after that, but I still loved her.  That's what I told my mom then and I can't think of a good reason to tell the truth now.  Except that she was Thumbelina Shitface after that.

Next comes the lemon and citrus phase of Truth or Dare.  Yeah, I know, I already said that.  Just consider it a repeat of the 'Like A Prayer' chorus.  Finally, Fracas gets to the dark, inky part that I love.  The tuberose here must be black and wilted because it has lost the sweetness that can make tuberose so...precious and squishy.  Fracas doesn't play straight tuberose on my skin and it has a decidedly naughty twist.

In the end, both perfumes are unique from each other, but not dramatically so.  Truth or Dare is more gardenia/benzoin/butterscotch and Fracas maintains a metallic smear of ink.  I wanted Fracas to kick Truth or Dare to the curb so I could tell everyone, 'I knew it ,they are nothing alike - ha ha!'  And Fracas had 'er in a headlock there in the heart notes, threatening to graffiti her ass with a fountain pen.  But in the final drydown, they are similar enough that I can't honestly say, 'ha ha!'  Just, 'huh, look at that.'

For me, there's no clear winner, mostly because it's not an apples to apples comparison.  Fracas is the mother of tuberose that commands respect and has a hair trigger bitch slap. Truth or Dare wants to party, and it's making me happy tonight with its sweetness and just enough jasmine to keep it from smelling like the oversize gardenia corsage that we gave Mom every Mother's Day until she worked up the courage to tell us she hated them.  We hated them, too, but thought she loved them.  I thought I hated Truth or Dare until it was cheap enough I worked up the courage to try it.  And guess what?  I kinda love it.

Image from

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Changing Vibrations

My siblings and I are in the process of going through our parents' belongings, sorting as best we can right now (not having the heart yet to thoughtfully disperse), and putting their house on the market.  They moved from the farm into town long after I was grown and gone, so their home doesn't have the sentimental attachment of the one I grew up in.  But they loved that house and even called it the enchanted cottage.  Moving from a small town was a statement of freedom that kept their marriage intact and strengthened the easy friendship they shared in spite of their differences. 

Before my parents both died, their things vibrated with life and meaning.  Every item my mother collected was meticulously arranged and re-arranged to reflect her own unique aesthetics.  My dad's guns were at peace and poised for attention, calmly waiting for the next cleaning, hanging proudly on display with the knowledge they were loved.  Now all of their things sit frozen like children in time out, stunned by the sudden aloneness with no idea what to do. 

Once the people are gone, it's like their stuff stops vibrating. 

Yesterday, a Jewish colleague randomly shared the story of her father's death and told me about how members of her faith observe a period of mourning.  According to her, a full 12 months are allowed for grieving the loss of a loved one, and within those 12 months, there are distinct periods of different activities and restrictions.  I don't pretend to fully understand the practice, but just hearing about it was soothing, and I knew - without saying anything - that she understood my sadness.  She could see it on me. 

Part of me doesn't want to go through my parents' things...ever.  I don't want to drive by their house and see, just like their farm, that the people are gone and the surroundings have lost their animation.
And like their belongings, I, too, am vibrating differently without them in the world.  My cells aren't responding quite the same, and I no longer have their energy to bump against to remind me where I came from.  November 19th will mark one year to the day that Dad died, which is my newly adopted mourning period.  Until then, to honor my parents and myself, I will quietly wear the vibration of loss.

Image from

Monday, March 31, 2014

Perfume Rituals

Making up perfume rituals is one of my favorite things to do.  We've already established that I'm easy to entertain. 

Arabian oils seem like they were invented to create rituals.  Think about it: far away lands with unique foods and spices, plus a natural atmosphere that conjures up all sorts of images and hidden, guilty pleasures. Arabian oils are sweaty and delicious. One doesn't just wear them, or apply them mindlessly.  No, Arabian oils provide mental transport to another time and place with flying carpets and body jewelry.  If you can't create rituals around that, check your pulse.

Here's the great thing about being easy to entertain.  My oil doesn't even have to be Arabian, it just needs to say Arabian on the bottle.  See how that works?  Both Al Rehab and Kuumba oils are tweaking me right now, and I keep several at work to refresh what I'm wearing or to add new life to the totally unrelated perfume I put on after my shower that morning. 

My mid-afternoon-at-the-office ritual:

1) Apply hand lotion (I like the combo of B&BW Twilight Woods and Orange Sapphire )
2) Spritz my room fragrance, Citrus Cilantro, so it lands on my lamp bulbs to last longer
3) Apply Arabian oil to my wrists only and rub together

This ritual rests my mind and shifts my focus - for just a minute - so I can take a 2-3 minute walk and return to my work refreshed as if I had taken a 30-minute break.  Of course, I have to be careful because I work in a 'fragrance sensitive' environment. Maybe my colleagues are practicing Thumper's Rule (if you can't say somethin' nice, don't say nothin' at all), but it seems to be working for all of us.

Arabian Rose by Kuumba is my current go-to oil.  It's a bright, green rose that blends magically with almost anything I'm already wearing from deep ouds to citrusy florals.  And it's strong, so just touching the roller on my wrists and rubbing them together is enough.  This ritual is for my own enjoyment, although many people comment positively on the way I smell afterward.  When asked what I'm wearing, I usually report my scent of the day, because it's just too geeky to list everything I've applied since then.  Besides, I prefer to keep the ritual to myself.

What are your perfume rituals?

Image from

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Perfume Rx for Cranky: Wear One and Call Me In the Morning

I'm restless and cranky today, even though the sun is shining and it's 60 degrees on our deck, which is where I am sitting right now.  I should be blissfully happy and relaxed, looking forward to cooking, conversation and Champagne with B-man later.  I should delight in the new buds on our trees and Paige lying on her back in the sun.  My peppy rating should be off the charts because spring was invented to make you peppy, right?  Renewal, redemption and resurrection...what could be wrong with that?  And I should take great care to chose the right perfume to match this storybook setting, one that perfectly captures my unbridled joy as I twirl in the sunshine. 

Yeah, sure, whatever.

Believe me, I tried to choose a perfume earlier, sniffing one bottle after the other, wondering why they all smell so harsh and nasty. Honestly, I don't know why I bought any of them.  Daphne, my nose, is super sensitive today, and a little bitchy if you want to know the truth.

Life transition?
Identity crisis?


Losing my last parent makes me feel ancient and more urgent than ever about moving my life forward in some meaningful way.  Actually, meaning is optional - I'd just settle for moving forward. Except I forgot what I'm moving toward and the pursuit of 'what's next' that has fueled my life for the last...pretty much always, is gone. Like what's next decided to stop playing and go in the house to watch TV.  Now I'm stuck living in the stupid moment.  Whoever started that concept can kiss my butt.  You live in the moment, dumbass, I want to know what's next.  You go meditate and do yoga and grab a therapeutic massage on your way home.  Namaste. 

Just lemme know what's next.

If I wanted to wear a perfume that smells as cranky as I feel, there are plenty to choose from.  Paloma Picasso, Amouage Lyric Woman, Bandit or Rumba jump to mind. They were made for one purpose and one purpose only: to piss people off.  Or Angel, which sparks low grade irritation at first, then builds over time, getting stronger and stronger with face-slapping patchouli until I have to bite my tongue so I don't blurt out, 'stop wearing that shit' in the middle of a meeting.

But wait, what if annoying perfumes can actually counteract crankiness the same way stimulants like Ritalin or Adderall treat hyperactive kids?  No one's proven it can't work as far as I know, and it's certainly worth a try.  Rumba, don't fail me now.

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Friday, March 21, 2014

Bakhour by Al Rehab

For the life of me, I can't remember how I discovered Al Rehab perfume oils.  They must have popped up when I was researching something else on Fragrantica, my diversion-from-reality drug of choice.  However it happened, I'm glad I found them, and now I own six, which is all good because they are cheap.  Like, $3.95 cheap.  Inner Farm Girl hasn't even noticed.

Of course, cheap doesn't matter - even to me - unless the perfume smells good.  So far, several of the Al Rehab oils smell very good, but I seem to be stuck on one in particular: Bakhour.  Not exactly what I expected from an Arabian perfume oil, Bakhour is bright and floral-citrus, woody and vanilla-musky.  Some have compared it to Angel or Alien, but I don't get that.  Jasmine is definitely involved, but no more so than any other member of the ensemble.  What's most interesting about Bakhour is the drydown, which has the mustiness of a greenhouse.  Just the right touch to 'Arabize' the scent.

Bakhour lasts for 3-4 hours and has good sillage for a perfume oil. Al Rehab oils come in roll-on bottles, but they develop best when they are also rubbed into my skin rather than simply left alone to sit on the surface. Then I run my fingers through my hair to share the love a little more.  I'm wearing Bakhour today over Capri Seaside Citrus lotion by Bath and Body Works...the perfect combo on Spring's second day.

Image from

Friday, February 28, 2014

Ode to Nomaoud by Comptoir Sud Pacifique

Jet Engine
Pizza Delivery Box
Hot Road Tar
Damp Straw
Smoked Paprika

Image from

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Grief Makes You Weird

As much as I want to feel like my normal self, I don't.  My dad died and I'm sad about it.  February has been a month full of painful anniversaries: Dad's birthday, Mom's death and their wedding. 

Grief is hard work.
Grief makes you weird. 
Grief makes you fat. 
Grief makes you smile to hide the fact that you don't care about anything. 
Grief makes you not care that you don't care. 

One day in the future, I will care again.  One day, I'll be able to walk on the treadmill for more than 10 minutes at a time and stay up at night later than 8:30.  I'll be able to look at myself in the mirror and think, 'maybe you're not that hideous, after all.'  I will stop forgetting my name badge in the morning and having to turn around and get it, making me late for a conference call that I don't care about.

Some days, I think I'm fine until realizing I've spent the whole day feeling anxious.  I'm afraid of losing someone else that I love or of dropping dead myself because, hey, I read the obituaries and lots of 54-year old women are dropping dead.  Or getting fired because everyone figures out that I can't remember my name badge.  Then they feel sorry for me just like I feel sorry for myself. 

And I miss Dad so very much. 

Perfume is my relief.  I pile it on constantly, layering one on top of the other until I get it right.  Or until I stop piling.  For the first time, I have a stash of decants and samples at work, and sometimes - like today - I remember it when I am exhausted and just cannot fake it for another minute.  As soon as the aroma meets my nose, I can relax, give my sadness a rest and catch a whiff of the good life that I know is coming.  That, I care about.

image from

Sunday, February 9, 2014

Fine Dining Isn't Always Fine

Eleven hours after leaving my hotel in Naples, I arrived home hungry and slightly nauseous after a bumpy landing.  My butt was sore from sitting too long and I felt annoyed by all aspects of flying.  Waiting, standing in line, loading the plane like cattle and managing claustrophobia with far too many humans in one place.  Could they jam a few more seats in there?  With all the advances we have made in technology, our current method of flying people around the world feels more and more antiquated.  Or maybe I'm just cranky.  Probably that.

One of the hardest things about traveling is compromising my food routine.  I wouldn't call myself a food snob (onion rings and a Cobb salad make me happy on the road), but I do want what I want, when I want it.  'Food brat' is more accurate.  In Naples, we went to nice restaurants at night, which was mildly satisfying, but the food/drink pacing was all off.   On the first night, for example, they took my drink order shortly after we were seated.  Twenty minutes later, my Chardonnay arrived.  Twenty minutes after that, they took my food order.  Much later, my wine was almost gone.  Then came my dinner.  I asked for another glass of wine at the same time, because I knew my first glass would be gone in two more sips.  I ate painfully slow, making conversation and trying to love my duck gnocchi as I waited for my wine (they didn't have onion rings).  When I was nearly done with my meal, and others were already on dessert, my second glass of wine finally arrived.  By then I was pouting and didn't want it anymore, so I left half a glass in protest. 

Yup, definitely cranky.  And lame.

Fortunately, B-man understands my love affair with food, and walking into the house after a long trip home was a visual and aromatic delight.  Waiting for me was grilled salmon, tilapia and shrimp along with spaghetti and my favorite spicy sauce.  Plus crusty bread with olive oil dip, steamed broccoli and roasted cabbage that was crispy on the edges and tender in the middle. 

And wine whenever I wanted.  Now that's what I call fine dining.

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Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Ode to Naples

My hotel in Naples
Impending Rain
Overripe Fruit
Roller Coaster
Clean Sweat
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Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Perfume In Naples and on Airplanes

Tonight, I arrived in Naples, Florida to attend a meeting that includes a small, exclusive group of industry leaders that do the same thing I do. We meet twice a year at posh, fun locations (the last two were Park City and Napa Valley) and spend an intense 36 hours together sharing information during the day and drinking good wine and eating elegant food in the evenings.  

This is my first time in Naples, so of course, I tried to bring perfumes that might represent Florida, and I'd like to buy a perfume that captures Naples while I'm here. After a long day of travel, however, both me and Daphne are tired, so even though I've been out wandering the streets tonight, I can't get a clear feel of the essence of Naples.  Tomorrow morning, I'm heading to the beach - an easy stroll from my hotel.

Since my SOP (B-man taught me this military term, Standard Operating Procedure, and I use it every chance I get because it makes me feel important) requires that I take multiple decants/samples and small size perfumes, here's what I have with me:

Diptique L'eau des Hesperides
Diptique 34 blvd Saint Germain
Al Rehab Bakhour
J-Lo Miami Glow
Lancôme La vie est belle
Jessica Simpson I Fancy You
Marc Jacobs Daisy Eau so Fresh
Versace Crystal Noir
Bvlgari Voile de Jasmin
Salvatore Ferragamo Tuscan Soul

And, btw, I'm no longer banning perfume on the airplane, although I try to keep it respectful and pleasant. Besides, this is another perfect way I can use up my B&BW products, as none of them are overwhelming in the universal scope of perfume strength.  This morning, I wore Twilight Woods lotion, Warm Vanilla Sugar body spray and Twisted Peppermint hand cream.  It was perfect.  Oh - plus Sweet Peony shiny hair spray.  I smelled divine in this unsophisticated, 'I'm so friendly and approachable' sort of way.  I consider this a gracious response to the BO/dirty hair/fart sillage that permeates airplane travel.  We all do what we need to do, right?

Any tips or inside scoop for perfume shopping in Naples?

Image from

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

If You're Gonna To Buy It, You Gotta Use It

Inner Farm Girl and Inner Critic have joined forces.  Together, they have decided that if I'm going to buy like a mad woman at the Bath and Body Works semi-annual sale, I better figure out how to use it.  It's the only way they will unfold their arms and stop glaring.  God, they just wear you down.

Somehow, I ended up with a full dresser drawer of lotions, body sprays, travel size stuff and mini perfumes.  I've learned that different items are offered at different times through the 3-week sale, so one trip just isn't going to cut it.  On my last visit, I walked through the door and the SA said, 'Wow, you're back again.'  Damn right I'm back.

Plus, I change my mind about stuff.  For example, I ended up with tons of Midnight Path products: body lotion, body spray, eau de toilette, body oil and body butter.  Later, I figured out that MP was best to sleep in.  In fact, it's amazing sleep lotion.  Not so much a day lotion.  So I had to take some of it back and swap for other stuff.  Some of which I also took back and swapped for other stuff.  Hey, is 100% satisfaction guaranteed or not?  Says so right on the receipt.

After realizing that I would have to up my consumption to use the lotions (at least!) before the next sale in June, I began a new morning ritual that's actually working quite well.  Here's how it goes:

First, I work out early in the morning (starting at 4:45 - 5:00).  Wait, let me define 'work out.'  This consists of walking leisurely on the treadmill for up to 20 minutes while I drink a large glass of my water/juice blend. Then, I do a few stretches if I don't change my mind, and top off this vigorous session with a downward dog that is downright embarrassing.  You can imagine the sweat.

After coming upstairs, I lotion my whole body with - say - Forever Sunshine lotion.  Then I top that with Pink Chiffon body oil, after which I apply Honey Sweetheart sparkling body spray.  I put on my favorite sweats and settle in on big red for coffee.  Imagine those gloves you wear to bed after greasing up your hands.  Same concept, but full body.  Each day, I change up these combos but in the end, I always smell amazing.  B-man will make some comment, like 'you always smell amazing!'  See, that's how I know.  By the time I shower and get ready for work, my skin is soft and Daphne, my nose, is ready to take on the world.

Inner Farm Girl is feeling comfortable enough to go about her business, but Inner Critic is hanging back, squinting at me like he doesn't quite trust this plan.  Dude, relax and unfold your arms. 

image from

Monday, January 27, 2014

Is Perfume Seasonal? Yes...Except When It's Not

Like all good perfumistas, I have spring perfumes, summer perfumes, fall perfumes and winter perfumes.  Sometimes I arrange them in my cabinet to reflect this so that my choices will be narrowed as I'm running late for work.  It's a foolproof way to ensure that I wear the appropriate perfume during the appropriate season for as long as it's appropriate.

That's such crap.

Take today, for example.  It's cold, not bitter cold, but barely warm enough for me to leave without a coat this morning. (In my defense, I keep a coat in the trunk of my car, a blue anorak number that goes with absolutely nothing I wear and would look hideous should I get stranded on the side of the road.)  Still, I get full credit for having the damn coat. 

Anyway, as I'm showering and mentally sorting through my perfumes - the winter perfumes, of course - I can think of nothing at all that lights me up.  Yes, it is a perfect White Aoud day, but snore.  Mauboussin is certainly a contender because its smokiness would mirror the lung destroying substance we call air in our city.  Or maybe Queen by Queen Latifah, one of my favorite cheap chocolate and patchouli loves.  Suddenly, they all seem too...I don't know, wintry.

Then it hits me - I want coconut.  Yup, tropical and spicy, warm and summery coconut.  So I slather on coconut body butter from the Body Shop and reach into the back of my middle shelf for Versace's Crystal Noir.  All day, I catch whiffs of my loveliness until I go to a meeting at 3:00 and get out-sillaged by a colleague wearing Angel.  What the hell? To make matters worse, it is beautiful on her and I spend the whole meeting wishing I had obeyed the rules and worn something January-ish that could trump all competing sillage in the board room. 

The quest for airspace supremacy lives on, seasonal or otherwise.

Image from

Saturday, January 25, 2014

No Pain in January

January this year feels like most Januarys in a lot of ways:  I'm chubby, I hate my hair and I'm wondering what to do with the rest of my life.  Same old.

But there's good stuff, too.  I have a new great nephew and, after much procrastination, B-man got his hernia repaired.  I know - these things don't exactly belong in the same sentence.  But after all we went through with Dad, this minor procedure was a bigger deal than it should have been, and I caught a little PTSD waiting for B-man's surgeon to come and tell me all was well.  Thank God we were home before happy hour.

B-man apparently doesn't understand that he's supposed to have at least some pain after surgery.  He's also getting used to my Mother Hen approach to healing.

Me: Are you sure you're not in any pain?

B-man:  A little achiness, but nothing I need medication for.

Me:  Are you sure?  Because I could cut your pain meds in half - or even in quarters.

B-man:  No, I don't need it.

Me:  Okay, but you're not working out or doing anything strenuous.

B-man:  I know, but I'm going to walk Paige.

Me:  No, I'll walk Paige.

B-man:  They said to judge my activity by pain.  And I heard them say walking is good.

Me:  You were still loopy from the anesthesia.

B-man:  I felt fine.

Me: You asked if it was a bad idea to do a happy dance.

B-man:  I would have, too.

Me:  I don't trust your freakish pain tolerance to know that you're healing.

B-man:  I feel pretty normal.

Me:  Nice try, but you've never been normal.

B-man:  Look, I'll cut Paige's walk short and take my phone in case I need your help.

Me:  Promise to stop in your tracks and call for a ride if you get tired, feel pain, or just want to.

B-man:  I promise, Mommy.

His walk was fine, and I fully expect him to ignore my motherly warnings and go about his life.  I have worn him down to the point that he has committed to a week of exercise that only includes walking Paige every morning.  That's a major win.  Now if I can just figure out what to do with my hair.

Image from

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Ready for a New Year & More Bath & Body Works

The holidays were a blur this year and I don't remember a time when I was more relieved to see them go. Thank God for my family, my work, good food and the Bath & Body Works semi-annual sale.

Throughout the past months, I've sniffed more than was the only way to distract my mind and rest instead of worry about Dad or worry about work or just worry in general.  I'm not a worrier by nature, so now I hope to settle back into my own groove.  If I can just remember what it is.

This morning over coffee I wore Twisted Peppermint by B&BW.  Twisted seems appropriate.

Image from Bath & Body Works website


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