Scent Diary, August 30 – September 5, 2010

Originally uploaded by ChuChuChewbacca
 

 

Monday, Aug. 20: Hot. Didn’t sleep well. Stopped by the CVS to pick up a few things for Bookworm today, and saw a tester bottle of S by Shakira. It wasn’t hideous on the scent strip, so I got brave and sprayed some on skin. This is new (and cheap, $17 for a 15ml bottle), so if you haven’t heard about it, the notes include jasmine, sandalwood, vanilla, and benzoin. Sounds like Samsara, right? But on skin, it smells strikingly like Light Blue for about three hours and then eventually settles into a warmish, not-very-sweet drydown. I actually think it’s nicer than Light Blue. With some real jasmine, and a better grade of synthetic woods, it could have been pretty good. As it is, it has that Inoffensive And Cheap Drugstore/Avon Scent sort of vibe. (Mind you, at one point in my life, I wore both Avon AND stuff you could buy at the drugstore. Considered next to a lot of those fragrances, it’s a winner.)

In the afternoon, as I’ve already mentioned, Gaze came a cropper on his bike and wound up in the emergency room with five stitches in his hand. On the way out the door, panicky and tense, I seized a spray of Cuir de Lancome. I find it a great marriage between Floral Prettiness and No-Nonsense Leather, and it was fairly calming. In Eddie Van on the way to the hospital, Gaze said, “Mom, you smell nice,” so taking ten seconds to spritz was worth it.

Tuesday, Aug. 21: Picked up Gaze’s antibiotics at the pharmacy (the CVS clerk, who seems to like me, was surprised to see me back so soon). Then I went and did battle with the nurse at the middle school, who was disinclined to allow anything that hadn’t been duly documented on the Official Medication Form and directly signed by a physician, as if I could have filled out the form at Open House last week with foreknowledge that my son would slice his hand open and therefore need a dose of Keflex every six hours for a week. I finally convinced her that a copy of the prescription would suffice if attached to the form. I’ve never before met a school nurse who was so unpleasant to deal with. She was rude (to everyone I witnessed her dealing with) when I was turning in the required health form at Open House last week, too. Turns out she’s substituting until the regular nurse returns in mid-September, following some minor surgery. Thank goodness.

SOTD: Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, my favorite simple rose scent. The summer’s nearly gone, so I wanted to enjoy this one while the weather is right for it.

Wednesday, Sept. 1: Statement Day at work again. Annoying due to the new-and-NOT-improved software. (My Personal Statement of the Day: I Am Not The Maid! Repeat as necessary.) SOTD: Mariella Burani. Wonder how often I wear this on the first day of the month? It just quietly smells good, and lasts a long time. A Go-To Scent if there ever was one.

SOTE: Mauboussin. I always forget how nice this is, a spicy-fruity-woody vanilla for grownups. My mini bottle is sadly depleted, which just goes to show that I’ve been wearing it. It’s not as good as Organza Indecence – but you just TRY to go and find that for a decent price now. 5ml bottles of OI are now going for the same price at which I bought my 15ml bottle on ebay 16 months ago.

Thursday, Sept. 2: Rushrushrush… I was so busy this morning, I forgot to grab a scent. I usually keep samples and my decant of Eau Premiere in my purse, but yesterday I had a Purse Disaster: a can of diet soda in my purse leaked without my knowledge, and by the time I picked up my purse to go home, the entire inside of my purse was wet. Yep. 12 full ounces of Diet Rite alllll in my purse. My cell phone is now residing in a container of dry rice on top of the fridge, in hopes that it will dry out. And I had to dump out the purse contents and dry then out, too. SO. No perfume today.

Wore Guerlain Liu to the first fall rehearsal of the community chorus, though. It’s nice to get back to that, after a summer break.

Friday, Sept. 3: Another rushrush morning. I did scrounge around in my desk and find a sample of ELd’O Hotel Slut (Putain de Palaces), as well as a sample of Fresh Sake that Tamara sent me. I don’t know about the Sake – I sniffed from the vial and thought, Oh Dear, Citrus. So today it was Putain de Palaces, until it wore off in the afternoon.

Just before I left to pick up Gaze from school and take him to have his hand looked at by our family doctor (it’s healing fine, thanks, and the stitches come out next Wednesday), I spritzed on some YSL Paris Pont des Amours – my LE Printemps version from, I dunno, 2006? It’s a sheer-chiffon veil of Paris, not the elevator-clearing version from the 80s. Um, not that there’s anything wrong with Paris, mind you – it’s just a bit… big. Kind of like a life-size model of Godzilla, made with chicken wire and and a gazillion roses, and then a gazillion violets on top of that.

Saturday, Sept. 4: Gorgeous weather – it’s in the mid-70s, sunny and breezy. Good weather for running, as a matter of fact; Bookworm ran in her first-ever cross-country race (5.2 K, over hilly ground) and came in second in the junior varsity division! I’m so proud of her. Her time would have put her 18th overall, out of 152 girls.

SOTD: SSS Tabac Aurea, a golden fall afternoon in a bottle. I find that if I put more than just a teeny spritz of this on, it’s too heavy, and the patchouli, even in my custom 50% patch version, tries to mug me. It’s quite concentrated, which just goes to show that Sonoma Scent Studio is an excellent value for your money. Where else could you pay just $60 for an ounce of complex, well-composed, highly-concentrated scent made from excellent raw materials?

Sunday, Sept. 5: Another beautiful day. SOTD: Ines de la Fressange (first version), with its cheery peach-rose happiness. After church, we went by the furniture store and dropped a bundle on mattresses and box springs for the boys’ beds. Both of them have been sleeping on mattresses, handed down from grandparents, that are at minimum 25 years old, and probably older. They should have been replaced long since. (Bookworm’s mattress is ten years old and still in relatively good shape. I suppose when she moves out on her own we’ll give her a new set. Gosh, that won’t be all that far into the future. Six years? Maybe eight, if she goes to grad school…)

The cell phone can make and receive phone calls, but the screen is blank. Rats.

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(Minor) Emergency

I now know not to post a rant (“Please tell me why…”) on a potentially controversial topic and then go make dinner… because Things Will Happen.

Right after I shoved the Jerk Chicken into the oven yesterday afternoon, Gaze stalked into the house, fairly dripping blood.  He’d fallen off his bike and cut his hand, and it was bleeding freely.  I took him into the bathroom to wash it – poor baby, his lips were pale but he was pretty calm – and saw that it was deep enough to need stitches. 

So I left Bookworm in charge of dinner and Taz and took Gaze to the hospital, where we proceeded to spend the next three hours getting X-rays and having his hand stitched, in between periods of staring at the wall posters of burn victims and telling each other terrible jokes.  (“What’s purple and conquered the world?  Alexander the Grape.”) 

Five stitches this kid got in his hand, and did he cry? No.  This is in stark contrast to Taz, who fell off his own bike ten days ago, scraping his knee and elbow, and who wailed nonstop for forty minutes.  But there you have it: Taz is Drama King, and Gaze is the King of Calm.  The CEO and I have been saying to each other for several years now, “If we wind up in the emergency room with any of these kids, it’ll be Taz.”  That’s twice now that we’ve been wrong – last fall, we had an appendicitis scare with Gaze, and yesterday the stitches.  Go figure. 

And then this morning I had to get a prescription for Keflex filled, and take it to the nurse at the middle school, where I spent another half an hour filling out paperwork sufficient that she would be legally able to give Gaze one antibiotic pill a day for the next five school days.  Half an hour!  I know, she’s Just Doing Her Job… it’s annoying to be so hemmed in by rules, though.  I had to leave her the original prescription container with five pills in it and come home with the other 23 pills in a (sterile) plastic bag.

SO.  I’ll get back to everyone who commented on the Fashion Blog issue soon, but for now I’m going to work.

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THE 2010-2011 SCHOOL YEAR HAS BEGUN!

… and here’s how I’m feeling today:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fwcYbo7pjto

YIPPEE!   In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing my Happy-happy-joy-joy scent, Parfums de Nicolai Vanille  Tonka, the first scent I ever reviewed for this blog and still a favorite.

And a bonus Staples back-to-school ad, with Alice Cooper of all people:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=suJn1_mUWoM

Image is “School Buses Stop” from Steve McCoy at Flickr.

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Scent Diary: August 16-22, 2010

Monday, Aug. 16: I still hate this new NAPA software, but I can’t exactly tell you why. Similarly, I don’t know why I don’t like Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose. A woody rose with incense should be right up my alley… but this one never is. It’s just wrong. I think perhaps the patchouli and cedar in the drydown are pushing it sour. You probably already know that I have Issues with Patchouli, and this isn’t helping.

It rained this afternoon, dropping the temperature from 87F to 71F and making me think longingly of autumn scents like Tabac Aurea. SOTE: Clarins Par Amour. This is a nice, quiet woody rose too – it’s a lot simpler than Paestum Rose, but more relaxed too.

Okay, I know why I hate the new NAPA software: it’s unwieldy and difficult to use.  There are places where you have to use both the mouse and the keypad, which is just stupid and inefficient.  I expected that the new system would cause some delays while we tackle the learning curve, but it’s beyond ridiculous.  Turns out the IT guys never bothered to consult with the counterpeople, or the accounting people, on what would make it easy to use – always a bad idea to leave out the input of people who are actually going to utilize the thing.

Tuesday, Aug. 17: The school year is gearing up again. I took the boys for their school haircuts yesterday. Gaze had a tetanus booster shot today (mandatory for all rising 6th graders), and there’s a pool party this evening for new middle-schoolers, sponsored by a local non-profit anti-drug coalition.

SOTD: Guerlain Liu (reissued). This, like Vega, has a top-to-heart structure similar to that of Chanel No. 5: aldehydes and a classical floral blend of rose and jasmine, over the common Guerlinade base. One wonders why Guerlain felt they needed both Liu and Vega. I do actually have a preference – Vega is sparkly and romantic, and Liu has a slight flatness (from amber?) that I can’t place. I’m still puzzling over why Guerlain hasn’t reissued Ode, their 1950s version of Joy, as promised in 2005. Certainly there already existed duplicate aldehydic florals, so it’s not that. Wonder if the IFRA restriction on the percentage of jasmine grandiflorum put a stop to Ode? I don’t know that I’d particularly care, except that every time I run across a mention of a fragrance in a novel, I want to smell it. Ode was the scent worn by the girl James Bond chose to marry, the gambling, fast-driving daughter of the Corsican Mafia, whose child died of cancer and whose first husband turned out to be a slimeball. Tracy, of course, doesn’t live out the book (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) – she’s shot by Blofeld and Irma Bunt – and Bond becomes ever more of a womanizer.

While The CEO took Gaze to the pool party, I put up another thirty ears of corn and four quarts of peaches. Whew. SOTE: vintage Coty L’Aimant pdt. It’s a little too sweet, but I think that makes it cozier for sleeping in, especially with the rain we’ve been having.

Wednesday, Aug. 18: Happy Birthday to my favorite mother-in-law! I couldn’t have wished for a better one. Love you, B.

Cooler and rainy again today. I know it’s not fall yet, but I think half the fun of the changing seasons is anticipating the next one. SOTD: DSH Perfumes Special Formula X-treme again. This still smells like laundry and vague flowers to me, without the warmth of traditional musk scents. It’s very pleasant, and very quiet yet persistent. It’s also a little bit on the dull side, if you ask me. I like my fragrance lightly applied, but I like it to smell like perfume, too.

SOTAfternoon: That Slut Tocade, because I wanted a perfume that smells like, yes, perfume. Today I’m rereading How to Train Your Dragon by Cressida Cowell – the book that spawned the recent animated film. Which I haven’t seen, because the book is hilarious, and according to the previews, the movie doesn’t follow the book’s plotline. I’m not sure I’m ready for the politically correct movie version. The illustrations in the book are half the fun – imagine Beavis & Butthead drawn as teenage Vikings, and you get the idea. The other half of the fun is the names: Gobber the Belch, Stoick the Vast, and our unheroic hero, Hiccup Horrendous Haddock III, not to mention Hiccup’s annoying little Chihuahua-like dragon, Toothless. I know this is a kids’ book, but it’s flat out funny. (You may infer what you will concerning my sense of humor.)

OH! And I smelled something new today: Limburger cheese. No kidding – one of the drivers at the NAPA store brought in some today, along with some German sausage, for his lunch. I’d heard that it smells like feet, but really it’s more like extreme body odor: cheesy, yes, but overripe and sweaty and pretty rank. To quote a coworker, “Good Lord, that smells like butt!” I concur. Really long-unwashed butt, too – think hobos that have been eating nothing but warm cottage cheese and haven’t bathed in six years. I wasn’t inclined to gag, though some other coworkers were. However, the thought of eating Old Unwashed Hobo Cheese was just hideous.

Thursday, Aug. 19: Chilly-rainy again, in the low 70s, although the sun came out and temps rose to the low 80s by 6pm. SOTD: Lancome Climat. Longing for autumn.

Took Bookworm to Open House at the high school and went around with her to check all her classes. Looks like she’s got a solid academic year ahead of her. Then, after coming home and cooking Parmesan Tilapia and steamed green beans for supper, I took Gaze to Band Parent Night at the middle school. He’ll be playing the trombone.

I’m exhausted. I had this whole significant, interesting (to me, anyway) post in mind earlier in the day, but couldn’t get to a computer to record my thoughts, and of course now they’re gone, and I’m tired, and who cares, anyway? Gah, I’ll be glad when school actually gets going.

Friday, Aug. 20: Much warmer, in the upper 80s. I got up feeling like a truck had run me over in the night, and I just don’t feel well. I only have enough mental space for a no-brainer, Just Pretty smell today: Rochas Tocadilly. I like the spring florals + musk.

Celebrated MIL’s birthday with The CEO’s sister and her kids, and some cousins of my FIL’s. A lovely meal. I am exhausterated.

Saturday, Aug. 21: Nice day in the mid-80s. Cleaned house, the cousins Curiosity and Primrose came over to play for awhile, then Bookworm and I made three quarts of tomato juice and prepared another twelve quarts of tomatoes for freezing. SOTD: Ines de la Fressange, Vol 1.  Had a mini-sniffa with Bookworm over my warm-weather bottles, with the following ranking generated by her:

  1. PdRosine Rose d’Ete
  2. Ines de la Fressange
  3. Hanae Mori Haute Couture
  4. Diorissimo
  5. Mariella Burani
  6. Rochas Tocadilly
L to R: Bookworm, Primrose, Curiosity, Gaze, and Taz, with Hayley Elizabeth Wigglebutt Dog in front

Sunday, Aug. 22: Cloudy morning, sunny-hot afternoon. SOTD: Cuir de Lancome. Probably one of the butchiest scents I own, which isn’t saying much. The CEO took our kids, and his sister and her kids, to a Salem Red Sox game. He came home with a nice, heavy, $75 official Red Sox jacket (“They were having an end-of-season sale! I saved $50!”) that he says is his birthday present. I don’t mind, of course – and I’m trying to encourage him to spend small amounts of money on things he knows he’ll enjoy, instead of pinching every penny. I believe miserliness is just as damaging to the spirit as wastefulness.

Some years ago, The CEO’s Scottish-roots family had t-shirts printed up for a reunion, with the family crest and motto emblazoned on the front. I thought it was the real deal until recently, when I did some investigation and found that the family motto is really Sto Pro Veritas, “I stand for the truth,” and not the one that somebody with a sense of humor picked for the shirts: Pietas et Frugalitas. Which although not strictly historical, is pretty hysterical, given the clan proclivities. I’ve never known so many people to boast about giving the money they saved on gas to the church.  They all seem to be Presbyterians, too – except for one of The CEO’s cousins, who converted to Catholicism when she married an Italian-American she met at college.  Seriously, they’re ALLLLL Presbyterians.  Even my brother-in-law, father of Primrose and Curiosity, who’s second-generation, 100% American with 100% Chinese genes…

Top image is “perfume bottles” from michellealincoln at Flickr; center image is from Amazon.  Bottom image is from my own camera.

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August

Don’t tell my sister, but I hate August.

Hate it.  (But please don’t tell her, because her birthday’s in August, and she might take it personally.  I mean, for all I know, she hates January, which holds my birthday, but there you go. I hate August.)

I hate the sticky-hot weather.  I hate the way the grass starts going dull, the way the pool announces its limited hours, the way the garden looks all bedraggled and sprawling, like it has just given birth to some hulking inhuman monster and might not recover… I hate the way my kids get in August, right before school starts – they’re cranky and touchy and everybody has these unwritten rules about how they can be touched and how  loud they can stand someone else’s voice, and how to play some game they made up last Thursday…

I hate the way the sky goes all flat and no-colored in the mornings.  I hate the bushels of tomatoes piling up on the deck because I just canned a load of those already!, and I can’t get to them all before they go bad.  The house is full of dust from the gravel road.

None of my fragrances seem right for the weather.  None of my clothes do either: too casual or too formal, too bright or too dull, too warm or not warm enough, wah wah wah.

I don’t get to go back to school with fresh notebooks and a new pair of shoes.

Which wouldn’t be so bad, except I’m not lying on a beach somewhere with a Mai Tai and a new Elizabeth George novel, either.

This Is Me, right now:

So I need an attitude transplant.  I’ll try reminding myself of the good stuff about August.

The flowers in front of the house are gorgeous right now, and there are swarms of butterflies around – little white ones and sulfur yellow ones, little brown-and-orange ones, those big black ones with startlingly blue spots on their wings.

I have 40 quart jars full of tomatoes in the pantry, plus 80 ears of corn and 10 quarts of peaches in the freezer.  We’ll be eating good this winter.

Football weather and the things that go with it, like marching band and blue skies and autumn leaves, are right around the corner.

Even if nothing seems quite right in terms of scent or raiment, I have choices.  Frankly, I should probably have fewer choices and be happier with them.

I could probably go back to school if I really wanted to.

The CEO doesn’t really do lie-on-the-beach vacations.  (Ever seen a caged tiger? Then you’ve seen him with “nothing to do” on vacation.  It’s a thing to be avoided.)  But he has taken me some really cool places, and here’s a pic of one.

This is the Marine Parade on Manly, just a half-hour ferry ride across Sydney Harbour from the city.  It was taken on July 30, 2007 – and keep in mind that an equivalent date in the Northern Hemisphere would be January 30.  Note the people wearing shorts.  That day, The CEO and I did go and sit on the beach.  We talked instead of reading, and drank Cokes instead of Mai Tais, but we dug our feet into the sand and relaxed.  It was nice.  I can go there in my mind.

Images, from top to bottom: “2010 Book Lovers Calendar” from BookLoversStuff at Flickr, “Have a nice day somewhere else” from Indoorcat629 from icanhazcheeseburger.com, and photo Marine Parade, Manly, Australia from my personal files.  I don’t remember which one of us took this one, actually.

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Recipe: Layered Raspberry-Almond Pavlova

Here’s the recipe of the dessert that Tauer Perfumes’ Une Rose Vermeille reminds me most of — it’s a favorite “special summer treat” of my family’s, and I’ll be upfront with you that it takes some time and effort to make.  It’s worth it, though: light as a feather, ethereal and yet rich.

The CEO did his master’s degree in Agricultural Economics in New Zealand, on a Fulbright Scholarship.  Pavlova was a dessert he encountered there and immediately enjoyed, and when I made a dessert called “Fresh Berry Meringue Torte” from my much-loved copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s The Cake Bible, he sat up straight in his chair and exclaimed, “But this is Pavlova!  How did you know I love this?”

A brief history of Pavlova-the-dessert: it’s named, of course, after Anna Pavlova, the famous Russian prima ballerina.  Both Australia and New Zealand claim to have originated it as an homage to Anna Pavlova during one of her tours there in the 1920s.  Pavlova is essentially made of three components: baked meringue, whipped cream, and fruit.  The meringue can also incorporate such varied ingredients as cocoa powder, espresso powder, and ground nuts.  The baked meringue specific to Pavlova is supposed to be a bit soft in the center, with a crispy meringue-cookie texture on the outside.  Traditionally, the topping is whipped heavy cream with strawberries and kiwifruit, the tangy fruit contrasting with the sweet meringue and cream, but of course you see pavlovas made with all kinds of soft fruit: raspberries, blueberries, peaches, grapes, even passionfruit pulp.  Here’s a link to some other recipes which are perhaps more authentically Kiwi and/or Aussie, but I’ll also share mine, which is made in layers (not authentic, but yummy anyway).   The proportions and basic directions are from The Cake Bible, but interjections (and faux creme fraiche recipe) are mine.

I really like to use dacquoise (sometimes called meringue japonais), as the ground nuts in it cut some of the sweetness of the meringue.  Also, creme fraiche is far tangier than straight cream.  Peaches and blackberries sometimes grace my pavlova.

I admit this is one of the most involved and fiddly desserts I ever make, and I don’t make it often. Brownies tend to be more the kids’ speed anyway. The directions are long, but it’s really not all that complicated, and it doesn’t really require special equipment. You will need, at minimum, a large baking sheet, a whisk, a blender or food processor, a spoon, a rubber spatula, an electric mixer (I used to have only a hand mixer, and it turned out fine), an oven, and a refrigerator. Basically, if you’re going to cook anything, you’ve probably already got what you need on hand, in terms of equipment. So don’t worry.

Here’s Part I: Dacquoise Discs

¾ to 1 cup toasted, peeled, and finely ground almonds or hazelnuts

1 ½ Tablespoons cornstarch

½ cup + 1 Tbsp. superfine sugar (if you can’t find this at the grocery, just pulse regular sugar for a few minutes in your food processor or blender, then measure to get the right amount)

¾ cup powdered sugar, lightly spooned into cup

4 large egg whites (fresh – don’t use the packaged variety)

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

Optional: whisk 2 Tbsp. cocoa into the powdered sugar. Only add this if you’re using fruit that marries well with chocolate, like raspberries and strawberries.

All ingredients should be at room temperature (yes, even the eggs). Preheat oven to 200° F. Important: don’t bother trying to make this when it’s humid. Seriously. It will be a soggy mess. If your kitchen is air-conditioned, though, you’re probably okay. You’ll know whether it feels humid in your kitchen or not.

Line a heavy baking sheet with a nonstick liner (like Silpat) or heavy foil. Trace a 9-inch cake pan onto the foil, or make a template to slip under the liner. If you’d like, you can make three 7-inch discs instead. Don’t line the baking sheet with parchment paper because meringue and dacquoise will frequently stick to it.

Place the ground nuts, cornstarch, half the superfine sugar, and all the powdered sugar into a food processor and pulse a few times to combine. Set aside in a small bowl.

In a large mixing bowl beat the egg whites until frothy. Add the cream of tartar and continue to beat at medium speed. When soft peaks form when the beater is raised, gradually add the remaining superfine sugar and beat at high speed until stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly.

Fold in the reserved nut mixture with a large rubber spatula. Be gentle. As soon as it’s mixed, spread the dacquoise mixture onto the foil or Silpat liner. You can pipe it on if you want to be fancy, but I never bother.

Bake. If you have a gas oven with a pilot light, bake the dacquoise for an hour and then leave it overnight in the turned-off oven. If, like me, you have an electric oven, bake the dacquoise for 1 ½ to 2 hours, until it’s dry but not browned. DO NOT OPEN THE OVEN DOOR FOR THE FIRST 45 MINUTES, or the dacquoise will crack. Of course, it will still taste fine.

Let the dacquoise cool completely before trying to move it from the liner or foil. The best way to get the discs off the foil, I’ve found, is to cut around the discs with scissors, leaving an inch or so all around the dacquoise. Then pick up a disc and hold it upside-down in your nondominant hand, while you gently peel the foil away from the disc. Don’t pry the dacquoise off the foil; that way lies madness and dacquoise crumbling in your hands, as I know to my sorrow.

Meringue variation (I admit I like the dacquoise because it’s less sweet, and because I love the flavor of nuts, but not everyone can eat nuts):

4 large egg whites

½ teaspoon cream of tartar

½ cup + 1 tablespoon superfine sugar

1 cup powdered sugar, lightly spooned into cup

 Optional: whisk 2 tablespoons of cocoa into the powdered sugar. This has the benefit of reducing the sweetness level somewhat, although chocolate doesn’t go well with some fruits.

As with the dacquoise, have everything at room temperature, preheat oven to 200° F, and don’t make on humid days. Also prepare the pan with foil or Silpat liner, just as described above. In a mixing bowl, beat whites until frothy, add the cream of tartar, and beat at medium speed while gradually adding 2 tablespoons of the superfine sugar. When soft peaks form when the beater is raised, add 1 tablespoon superfine sugar and increase speed to high. When stiff peaks form when the beater is raised slowly, gradually beat in remaining superfine sugar and beat until very stiff and glossy.

Sift the powdered sugar over the meringue and fold in, gently, using a large rubber spatula. Immediately spread (or pipe, if you insist) onto the baking sheet, creating 2 large or 3 small discs. Bake as directed in the dacquoise recipe. Cool completely before removing from the foil or liner as described above.

And Part II: Creme Fraiche Filling

 There are three ways you can do this… well, maybe four, if you are lucky enough to find real crème fraiche at your grocery. Assuming you aren’t, here are your options.

 Option A: If you have a coupla days, make your own crème fraiche:

1 ½ liquid cup heavy (whipping) cream

4 teaspoons buttermilk

1 ½ tablespoon sugar

Combine the cream and buttermilk in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and place in a warm spot. The top of the fridge is fine, or near the stove. Allow to sit undisturbed for 12-14 hours or until thickened but still pourable. This may take as long as 36 hours.  When it’s thick, add the sugar and whisk lightly until soft mounds form when dropped from a spoon.

Note: the high fat content makes this possible – don’t stress about not refrigerating it. Like butter, it doesn’t spoil or mold or grow bacterial colonies when kept at room temperature for a few days. After you’ve got it to the right consistency, though, put it in the fridge, where it will keep for up to three weeks. Crème fraiche is tangy yet sweet.

Option B: Quick crème fraiche:

1 ½ liquid cups

½ cup sour cream

2 tablespoons sugar

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Beat just until soft peaks form when the beater is raised or until it mounds when dropped from a spoon. You can store this in the fridge for 24 hours, but rebeat lightly before using to restore airiness. This is the version I usually use.

Option C: If you’re seriously worried about the fat content (are you sure you want to eat dessert?), make this vastly less good but still edible faux crème fraiche:

1 8-ounce package of frozen whipped topping, thawed in the fridge until soft

1 8-ounce carton of vanilla yogurt (I recommend Yoplait – it’s far tangier than many brands) OR a 6-ounce carton of plain Greek yogurt plus 1 teaspoon sugar

Whisk together until creamy. Will keep in the fridge for 24 hours.

 Aaaaaand Part III: Assembly

First, decide if you want a crisper pavlova or a soft and airy one. If you’d like it crisp – which is more traditional – assemble about an hour before you’ll be serving the dessert. I like mine soft, because the topping soaks into the dacquoise discs and the whole thing gets light and ethereal as angels’ wings, so I assemble up to four hours before serving. You’ll need about a pint to a pint and a half of fresh raspberries, and a pretty plate wide enough to hold your dacquoise discs.

Drop a small spoonful of your creamy topping, whichever you made, onto the center of the plate. Then place one of your discs on top of it. (This will keep the pavlova from sliding off onto the countertop and smashing into globby bits, thus preventing your tears and rending of garments. Don’t ask me how I know this.)

Assuming you made two larger discs, top the bottom one with about half, or slightly more than half, of the topping. Then add half the berries (save the prettiest ones for the top). Top this with the second disc, and then add the rest of the creamy topping. You can swirl it with the spatula if you want it all pretty, or pipe it if you’re a Martha-Stewart-in-training. Then add the remaining berries in a decorative fashion. You can add a few chocolate shavings or a restrained sprinkling of ground nuts, if you like.  Of course, if you made three discs, apportion the creamy topping and the berries so you can have three layers (duh).

Store in the fridge, preferably in a cake or pie holder to keep it safe, and away from the Honey-Soy Glazed Salmon with Wasabi you had for dinner last night, until you’re ready to serve. Cut into wedges and serve. Eat with joy. Toast the New Zealanders (Kiwis). Then, just to cover all the bases, toast the Aussies.

A few years ago, The CEO got to revisit that part of the world through a different scholarly fellowship program – and I was able to join him for three weeks of the tour.   Australia was interesting, and friendly and clean and enjoyable.  I’d go back anytime.  But I fell in love with New Zealand, and from time to time I daydream of retiring to Wellington someday.  (The CEO says, “Not Wellington, it’s really windy there.  Aucklanders make fun of Wellington weather.”  I remind him that although Auckland was very nice, it felt more like Florida to me than home, and constant 70F temps would bore me.   “We could try  Te Awamutu instead; it’s not far from Wellington, and the weather’s better.  You’d like Te Awamutu.”)   Whether we actually go or not, we’ll probably be eating pavlova in the summer.

Image is Timeless Pavlova from (heart)babybee at Flickr.

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Going on Vacation!

We weren’t sure whether we could manage to schedule a family vacation this year, but The CEO says he’s caught up on farm work to the degree that we could take a week off.

So we’re going.  Yay!

We’ll spend one day at an amusement park, one at the beach, one traveling and visiting an aquarium, one day at a maritime museum looking at ships and also at a historic fort, and one day leisurely driving home.  Should be fun… if I can keep the kids from killing each other in the back seat…

We’re leaving Monday morning, and I will be back to post the week’s Scent Diary on Sunday, 7/18.

Anybody have any suggestions for what fragrances I should take with me?  It’ll be hot where we’re going – the forecast is calling for mid-90s – but near the Atlantic, so the evenings might be bearable.  I’ll probably take a couple of decants in my purse instead of a bottle I’d have to leave in a hot vehicle for hours, but I can make my own decants from my larger bottles.  I’m not going to the trouble to list my wardrobe, but here are a few bits of information:

  • I don’t care much for cologne.  I’m not knocking it, but I just don’t enjoy it on me.  I’m not much of a citrus gal, either.
  • I like light florals and aldehydic florals.
  • I like white florals – but don’t worry, I’m not going to splash on the Fracas just before entering the amusement park. 

Or  just tell me what fragrance(s) you like to wear on vacation! 

I once had a cute little blue leather train case for toiletries and makeup.  It had a sectioned tray and a mirror, and a cushioned handle – so convenient!  It matched my hard-sided luggage set, the one I dragged around all through high school and college and the early years of my marriage, before the latches finally went bad, and before I decided that a rolling suitcase is the way to go.  I miss that train case.  Moreover, I miss the vacations when I could concentrate on my appearance rather than on whether I packed enough wet wipes, juice boxes and Cheez-Its to get us through the day… the image is Fluff Hula Cuties from Amazon, $30.  Soooo adorable.

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Scent Diary, June 14-20, 2010

Monday, June 14: Ugh, the humidity is dreadful. You walk outside and start sweating… we usually don’t get this kind of humidity until August. SOTD: L’Artisan Nuit de Tubereuse. Which I can’t make up my mind about, except that it’s fascinating and, well, weird. Wore Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur to bed, mostly because it’s so pretty and I needed a pretty scent for relaxing. VdF is not exactly uncomplicated, but I didn’t get any talons out of it this time, and I’m wondering if it only appears fresh and virginal compared to NdT.

Tuesday, June 15: Hot and humid, threatening rain. Thought the boys’ baseball games would get rained out, but they weren’t. SOTD: L’A Nuit de Tubereuse again. Review of this one soon – and I got a compliment today. The small spritz I put on the back of my left hand was noticeable from four feet away, apparently. (One spritz on one spot, on one hand. Four hours after application, too.) A woman I work with told me that I smelled nice. “Clean,” she added, and while tuberose is not usually my idea of “clean,” it is definitely my idea of heavenly.

The mower’s fixed. Haven’t got the $4000 bill for it yet, but it’s running, so The CEO and the guy that works for him have been mowing/raking/baling hay fairly nonstop.

Wednesday, June 16: Hot and humid, 91F. OTOH, it’s not Washington, thank heavens. SOTD: Yves Rocher Rose Absolue, which is not your typical rose soliflore. It’s an ambery rose that starts out with some spiced rose-berry jam, very sweet and piquant, meanders through a nice simple rose heart (composed of three different types of roses, but simple nonetheless) and then flops headlong into a really pleasant labdanum-tonka featherbed. I had listed it in the Bouquet of Roses post as a soliflore, but I moved it to the Ambery Rose category. Sadly, it doesn’t last as long as it should – it’s an edp but wears more like an edt on me, lasting only about three hours. Surprising when you consider all those base notes in there; tonka typically lasts a long time on me. It might last better when oversprayed (the “spray until wet” technique), but I only have a sample vial. (Note to Guerlain: Yves Rocher just ate your lunch, in comparison to Rose Barbare. No disrespect to Rocher, but in a just universe, this should not happen.)

Good thing it didn’t last, too, because Bookworm made jambalaya for dinner (I supervised), and the kitchen smells are rather overwhelming. I mean, dinner smelled GREAT – jambalaya is but an excuse to combine shrimp, chicken, and smoked sausage in the same dish – but not very compatible with sweet florals. Urgh. SOTE, once the jambalaya was safely stored in the fridge: Coty L’Aimant.

Thursday, June 17: A little cooler today, mid-80s. Wearing Nuit de Tubereuse again. Sometimes I think I really like it, and then sometimes it makes me feel a bit queasy. Once the earthy-rooty-mildewy thing has worn off and it’s mostly tuberose and woods, I’m fine. Tonight is the last of the regular-season baseball games. (Thank goodness. The constant running is making me crazy.)

Friday, June 18: Mid-80s again today. The CEO and Jeff, the “hired guy,” are making hay like there’s no tomorrow, or rather like there were going to be a lot of tomorrows before the cows can eat fresh grass again. (We typically feed cows hay for four months in the winter, but this past winter we had a lot of snow and fed out more than usual. Replenishment of hay inventory is essential.) SOTD: No. 5 Eau Premiere, because I left the house without spritzing, and EP was the only thing I had in my purse. I admit I’ve never regretted putting it on.

The CEO and I had to tag-team the boys’ tournament ballgames. Taz was with me at one field, and Gaze with The CEO at the other. Gaze’s team lost. Taz’s team was losing, badly, 11-4, when the coach of their opponent team suddenly realized that they’d have too few players to play the tournament game on Saturday. So with one out left in the game, they forfeited.

SOTE: my little split of Parfums DelRae Coup de Foudre, which came in the mail today. I won’t say a lot about it yet since I’m preparing a review, but the split host commented, “Rose lovers will not be disappointed,” and she’s absolutely right. It is very lovely.

Saturday, June 19: Taz’s team won. I’m stunned. I was expecting to lose today – this was a very good team they were playing, and the game was pretty close up until the third inning, and then it wasn’t. Dang it. I thought we were done with this. SOTD: Nothing. Too busy.

Sunday, June 20: Happy Father’s Day to my favorite dads: Ron, Joe, Paul, Bill, J.T., Bob, and Kevin. A hot, sticky one today – 93F and humid.  SOTMorning: Vamp a NY, which everyone except for Gaze likes. (I don’t know why he doesn’t like it – he generally likes tuberose.) We celebrated the day with a minor league baseball game, and since my Vamp vamoosed between 1 and 4 pm, I pulled out a sample of Santa Maria Novella Melograno that a friend was so kind as to send me and spritzed it on. This is one weird little scent: tons of aldehydes up top – dry, powdery ones – and then incense. It’s not particularly girly, and it’s not all that friendly, either. Not a single pomegranate-y note in the mix, so why the name? Irony? Oh, and didn’t James Bond discover a bottle of this in the recently-deceased Vesper Lynd’s effects? Innnnnteresting. I think I’m going to have to wear it again. I can see why this friend is, as he says, “wearing the heck out of it” in the heat, though: it’s as cool and dry as a bracingly-scented talcum powder. It doesn’t really smell like Old Spice, but there’s an echo there somewhere. To be honest, it may be because my father used to use Old Spice talc.

Topic: The Smell of My Dad. Discuss, if you wish. My father used to smell of shaving cream and Old Spice aftershave and Mennen deodorant. He wore Old Spice talc for some time, and then switched to Shower to Shower when I was in college. He gave up aftershave in the last decade, since Mom bought him that electric razor, and now smells simply of shaving cream and clean laundry: reliable, thoughtful, quietly pleasant smells that seem to suit him.

Dad, thanks for more things than I could shake a stick at: for the basic necessities, the hugs, horsey rides on your knee, the wildly inventive bedtime stories about talking circus elephants who long for tennis shoes and married rats that live in the house of the Eek-Eek Lady. Thanks for bike-riding lessons, roller-skating lessons, driving lessons (and no, I did not ruin the gearbox on the 1980 Volkswagen 4-speed diesel Rabbit in 1988 – Consumer Reports said VW used to be prone to that little problem, and because, anyway, it was already slipping and even Mom said so), financial advice, college tuition, and for simply sticking around for everything. Thanks for teaching me that a real man takes care of his family. Thanks for really getting to know your grandchildren individually.

I forgive you for missing my swim meets and poetry readings (you made it to my choir concerts and piano recitals). I forgive you for not teaching me to change a tire and use a lawnmower (you can be dead sure that all my kids will get lessons in those things). I forgive you for putting off that DisneyWorld trip. I forgive you for monopolizing the TV by falling asleep in front of NASCAR on Sunday afternoons. I forgive you for telling me I needed to get a degree that would set me up in a profession, instead of studying what I wanted.

I know that when you say, “I think you need a new left front tire on your van,” you really mean, “I love you.” I love you too, Dad.

Image is from parfumgott at flickr.

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Linden Trees, Finally, and DelRae Amoureuse Revisited

While visiting my brother- and sister-in-law in Northern Virginia this past weekend, I finally came face-to-blossom with a linden tree.  There are lindens planted near the sidewalks all along the little streets of their suburban neighborhood, and of course I’d seen the trees before on previous visits, but this was the first time I’d seen them in blossom.

They smell heavenly. 

Of course I’m not telling you anything you didn’t already know.  Everyone who’s already smelled the linden blossoms knows, and everyone who’s read any comments on linden trees knows that the fragrance is the most salient point about them.  I had been skeptical that the real smell would approach people’s rhapsodies about it, partly because every perfume I’ve smelled that purported to evoke the smell of linden (lime blossom) smelled like laundry detergent to me: MAC Naked Honey, L’Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons, Annick Goutal Eau du Ciel, Jo Malone French Lime Blossom.  I was wrong.  Lime blossoms really are gorgeous.

And the first thing I thought when I walked under this tree on the way to E’s front door was, “That smells like Amoureuse!”  I didn’t have my sample with me to check, but when I went back out to the car to retrieve our suitcase, there it was again: my brain said Amoureuse

When I was wearing my Amoureuse sample a few weeks ago, all I could relate it to was the lovely nostalgic smell of black locust blossoms.  I knew that some reviews had likened Amoureuse to linden blossom, but since I had never smelled it, I didn’t understand the reference.  Amoureuse is supposed to evoke the distinctive smell of Victoria box trees that blossom all along the streets of San Francisco, but of course I’ve never smelled Victoria box either.  And I notice that linden doesn’t smell exactly like black locust, and neither one smells exactly like Amoureuse, but all three smells share a few characteristics: they are heady, heavy wafting odors, and they are all sweetly floral, almost honeyed smells.

Lime blossom, or linden, holds a place in one of my favorite poems, “Patterns” by Amy Lowell, and in the beautiful love poem “Unter den Linden by Walther van der Vogelweide.  And now I think that I must attempt to find both a small decant of Amoureuse and a linden tree for my yard…

Image is of Lime tree blossoms from wikipedia.

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Weekend fun!

I’ll be leaving for a short family trip tomorrow morning.  I’ll be back Sunday night, but I doubt I’ll get the chance to post anything before Monday.  (I’ll take my laptop.  We’ll see.)

Here’s where I’ll be Friday afternoon and evening:

This is the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, DC.  The CEO did his master’s degree in NZ courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship, and every year he gets these invitations to receptions from the lovely Fulbright NZ people, and we never go.  It’s always hay season.  Or calving season.  Or something-else-season.  But this time, we already had plans to be in the Northern Virginia area, and who knows when we’ll get the chance again?  So I’ll be listening to the Fulbright scholars Ian Axford Fellows of the prior year presenting their theses, and eating canapes.  Probably I’ll be wearing heels, too.  (You can’t have everything.)  Oh, you wanted to know what scent I’m planning to wear?  Probably my decant of No. 5 Eau Premiere.  It’s travel-worthy, it’s versatile, it’s elegant, it’s Chanel – but in a friendly sort of way.    Should be nice.

And then we’ll be staying with some family, so I can take my sister-in-law her birthday bottle of Dune.  That should be nice, too.  I don’t get to see my niece and nephew often enough, and they’re terrific.  They’re the same ages as Gaze and Taz, so I’m sure the kids will stay up too late giggling and make a lot of noise.  It’ll be just like home… 

Saturday will also be also our hosts’ seventeenth wedding anniversary – congrats, E & K! – and my nephew Curiosity’s twelfth birthday.  To celebrate, we have tickets to a baseball game:  Boston Red Sox versus Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards!  If I haven’t mentioned it before, The CEO has been a rabid, rain-or-shine, win-or-lose Sox fan since he was eight and they were making another failed run at the World Series.  Not that he’s, um, old or anything, but we’ll just say he’s been a fan for more than 30 years, and you can do the math yourself.  Wink wink.  How rabid a fan is he?  Well, rabid enough that he still occasionally has nightmares of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series where he wakes me up, shouting, “Take out Pedro!  TAKE OUT PEDRO!!!”  Also, we made a pilgrimage to Fenway Park on our honeymoon.  (Yes, really.  You could still get Fenway tickets in 1992.  Of course, they were obstructed-view seats, but there are a truly staggering number of obstructed-view seats at Fenway.) 

The seats we’ve got at Camden Yards are faaaaabulous seats – we have a friend who’s a member of a unofficial consortium that purchases Orioles season tickets every year and then splits up the tickets among its members.  This friend usually saves tickets to a Red Sox game for us, and they’re in the lower levels along the third base line, my favorite place to sit in any ball park, but especially at Camden Yards because you’ve got a great view of the Baltimore Sun scoreboard, and of the brick warehouse behind the park.  We live in hopes that someday when we’re there, a home run ball will actually break a warehouse window.  I hear it’s happened now and then.   It’s an evening game, so hopefully we won’t be dripping with sweat.  I haven’t decided what fragrance to wear, but I might take a handful of samples and a decant or two, and just see how I feel on Saturday afternoon.  This will be a research opportunity for me since I’m working on an article about Baseball and Fragrance.  (Oh, come on, it’s a serious academic endeavor.  Really.  Really.  It’s research.)

We’ll probably go to an early church service Sunday afternoon and head home after that.  You may shed a tear for poor Bookworm – we had the tickets all bought, all nine of them, before we found out that the summer phys-ed program she’s doing actually starts this Saturday, before school is out, and if she misses the first day she won’t get credit for the course.  I KNOW!  I couldn’t believe it either.  Poor baby.  Her father will probably make it up to her by taking her to some other game later in the summer, or maybe snagging tickets to a Virginia Tech football game, which she also loves.

Somewhere around here, I’ve got a photo of the Fam going to a Red Sox-Orioles game a couple of years ago, all wearing their Sox shirts.  It’s adorable.  I’ll put it up if I can find it (right now, I can only find it on The CEO’s Facebook page, and I can’t save it from there because it’s in bitmap format).

SO.  Back on Monday morning with a post, and hopefully the news that the Emeraude samples will be mailed on Monday as well.   Everybody have a great weekend, have fun, be scented, enjoy life.  😀

Images are from wikipedia.

Edit:  Just back from the high school band banquet Thursday evening, where Bookworm won the Rookie Marcher of the Year award.  Surprise!  (I wasn’t surprised at all.  I saw her march.)  I hope that takes a tiny bit of the sting out of missing the baseball game.

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