Whoops, I skipped a week of posting. Sorry ’bout that! I may post a second time this week to make up for it; I do have another set of mini-reviews to put up soon. Or, you know, Valentine’s Day is coming up, so I may cobble together some Vally-day recommendations.
So the polar vortex spun through and then we had spring-ish weather for a few days, and now the cold is back. Feels like a normal February.
I’ve been wearing a mixed bag of fragrance favorites: Jolie Madame, Ralph Lauren Lauren (vintage) and Safari, Guerlain Floral Romantique, Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. Tried a few new vanilla scents from CocoaPink (Frosted Eyelet and Snowflakes, which were nice but no Triple Vanilla Dream, wink wink). Retried my samples from January Scent Project for a review I think I might have promised a year ago — just the three original scents of Eiderantler, Selperniku, and Smolderose, since I can’t get my paws on the newer Vaporocindro (though I don’t think it’s up my alley anyway).
No news on the Essure removal front, because I can’t get anyone at the allergist’s office to return my calls about testing me for allergies to nickel and titanium. I think it may be time to go see a different allergist.
The knee is still weak but recovering. Plantar fasciitis is mostly at bay. Gained four pounds back, so I must regroup with the diet.
Attended an alumni function for my small college, at the Taubman Art Museum in Roanoke with a former housemate. It was so nice to see Laura, and to see that her post-separation life is gaining a shape it maybe always should have had.
I plan to add links here to my other — long-neglected — blog, the one focused on my fiction. I’m currently working through a book program called DIY MFA, and will be posting on the other blog my answers to exercises from the program . . . assuming I can actually get into my other blog. I haven’t touched it in a couple of years. Yikes.
And Taz made the official decision to attend Emory & Henry College next fall. He’ll be majoring in history (with an intent to teach), and if all goes well, will be running cross-country for the Wasps. We’re so proud.
Monday, June 25: A little cooler today, overcast, and it’s supposed to be cooler over the next few days too — which bodes well for the Washington DC trip. The CEO and other elected county boards of supervisors members in Virginia* have been invited to the White House for a tour and a conference, so we drove up (5 hours) to stay in the city this evening. Two other supervisors and the county administrator drove separately, so that the journey itself couldn’t be called an illegal private meeting. SOTD was sparkling, spicy DelRae Wit.
Had dinner at a restaurant owned by the brother of a guy who works in business development in one of the nearby towns — Brookland’s Finest was terrific. The guys all had T-bones, but I ate catfish with spicy greens and polenta. Yum.
Tuesday, June 26: After a delicious hotel buffet breakfast, The CEO and his compatriots headed off to meet with the National Association of Counties and then do their tour and conference, which was going to be followed by a private tour of the Capitol building led by our Congressman. * As it turns out, all county supervisors are being invited to the White House on a state-by-state basis; it just happened to be Virginia’s turn.
I, on the other hand, eschewed perfume for the time being and drove out of the city to meet a college friend I hadn’t seen for years. Our plan was to have lunch, talk, do a little shopping, talk, visit Arielle Shoshanain the Mosaic District, talk, and walk around Holly’s yard where she’s been trying to shift over to all native species plants. Oh, and talk, of course. We managed to fit in coffee/tea and excellent cupcakes, too.
I sniffed a lot of things at Ari’s shop (which is amazing, and you should go visit if you possibly can manage it). It was a thrill to meet her in person! I left with a sample of Vilhelm Parfumerie’s Poets of Berlin — not my usual sort of thing, but very nice stuff. Notes include blueberry, lemon, bamboo, vetiver, sandalwood, vanilla; the overall effect is a powdery, fruity wood, not really edible. Holly was quite taken with Maison Francis Kurkdjian A La Rose, which I think is very pretty. (I’m already stocked up in the very-pretty rose department.)
Wednesday, June 27: Cloudy and rainy early in the day — especially leaving D.C. — but then the sky cleared up as we were approaching home. The Hunter-doggle was super-pleased to see us. The kids seemed happy to see us, too, or at least Bookworm and Taz were. Gaze was gone most of the day.
SOTD was Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, pleasant summery citrus-rose-leather. I like it.
Thursday, June 28: Hot. Humid. I’m sure it’s nothing compared to the weather in DC today, but still, summer in Virginia. Went to the Y for some quality time with the bike; it’s getting easier but today my feet are hurting. The fragrance I was testing today was House of Matriarch Two of Cups, an aldehydic floral with a jaw-droppingly animalic aspect. There’s jasmine in it, I’m guessing probably the French ho-panties kind, and cassie (acacia), which can sometimes smell, um, ripe and maybe a tad decayed. Then there’s honey, which can sometimes go really wrong on me as well. I don’t know that I’d ever be able to wear this in public, but it is lovely and the drydown is wonderful.
SOBedtime: Lubin Epidor. I don’t care if 2018 Perfumes: The Guide (Turin/Sanchez)* gave it two stars, called it “plum jasmine” and said, “I cannot bring myself to like this fragrance, which strikes me as an overly loud 1980s heavy, somewhere between Loulou (Cacharel, 1987) and Poison (Dior, 1985), but less confident than either.” LT
*Yep, this dropped for Kindle today — and I bought it today. And read it today. Review of the book coming.
Also, Luca is wrong on a few counts: Epidor is more hay than jasmine on me, it is definitely not loud, and to me has little to do with the bombastic LOOK AT ME SMELL ME NOTICE ME attitude of Loulou (which I hate. which I always hated.) and Poison (which I worked around to enjoying but still didn’t want to own). Epidor doesn’t lack confidence; it just doesn’t scream or do cartwheels wearing sequins. It’s relaxed.
Friday, June 29: Even more hot and humid, and we’re supposed to have temps in the upper 90s over the weekend. YUCK.
I frequently see mentions, on blogs or Facebook groups, of oriental fragrances being at their best in the heat. I cannot imagine. Now, big white florals blooming in heat? Yup. They are at their most seductive, their most heady, their most attractive, when they bloom big on summer skin. Incense scents? Yeah, I can see those being great when it’s warm. But orientals? Heavy fur-rug and chenille-blanket things like, God forbid, Amouage Memoir Woman in the heat — I just shudder, imagining. And I LOVE Memoir, but not in 90F weather.
SOTD is Jacomo Silences parfum de toilette, eerie meditative cool green thing.
Saturday, June 30: HOTTT. Bleargh. All you people who were posting things like “I want summer” and “Life is best at the beach” back in the fall and winter? I’m kinda mad at you now. June just finished and I am officially DONE WITH SUMMER. I want nothing else to do with it.
Silences pdt again, because it’s like liquid A/C, and I need it.
Taz mowed, Bookworm vacuumed and cleaned bathrooms, Gaze ran the power washer and cleaned the deck. And in the afternoon, we went to see Incredibles 2. We liked the first one, and in some ways the update is even better. (Jack-Jack vs. the raccoon is worth the price of admission, IMO.) Also, this clip IS TOTALLY BOOKWORM AND TAZ. Literally, I have witnessed this exact conversation between the two of them more times than I could count.
After that, a rare meal out for the five of us, at Sal’s Italian restaurant. The boys ate pizza with pepperoni and Italian sausage; Bookworm and The CEO ate calzone. I ordered my favorite Sal’s dish: Godfather Ravioli. Three big round ravioli with crab filling, and three with spinach, and all topped with a creamy pink sauce containing tiny shrimp and baby scallops. It is THE BEST, y’all. It may not be authentic Italian — it probably isn’t — but I do not care. Delish.
Sunday, July 1: Church at the lake again. I think some people like this arrangement a lot more than I do. But under the shelter was nice, because we had shade.
SOTD was Carven Le Parfum. Most of the time I think it’s very pretty, and then sometimes the patchouli in it bothers me, like today. Sigh. I went to a bridal shower after church and came home to a pressure-washed porch! Thanks, Taz and Bookworm. And then… I NAPPED. It was awesome.
Monday, June 11: Cloudy and warm; muggy after yesterday’s late-afternoon thunderstorms. Water aerobics again, plus 12 laps of swimming. I smell like chlorine, but I’m happy. Grocery shopping. Post office. Bookworm’s new mattress was delivered. SOTD was the lovely and discontinued Leonard de Leonard, a green floral chypre from 1989 — about 15 years too late to be in fragrance fashion, actually! It is in the vein of Balmain Ivoire, actually. But where Ivoire is very soapy on me, L de L just smells great! The notes list doesn’t seem to include tagete (marigold), but I swear I think I smell it in there, along with the galbanum and moss and hyacinth and various other stuff. (Bonus: it also disguises the smell of chlorine to some extent.) Ivoire’s notes list does contain tagete, but I never smell it in Ivoire. I do in Leonard.
And Gaze sold his sheep today. He hasn’t had time, obviously, to monitor the flock while he’s been at college, so he felt it was time to find a new owner who would be better able to manage the sheep. I’m proud of him. He started with 5 ewes and a borrowed ram in 2014, and just sold a total of 25 animals, four years later.
Tuesday, June 12: Cool and cloudy again. I wore Chanel 31 Rue Cambon to the doctor’s office (a consultation for the colonoscopy my GP says I need, now that I’m 50). When I got back home, I found that I’d sold another couple of items on eBay: one perfume bottle and one other item. EBay is kind of a pain, but also kind of necessary at this point, if I want a little cash for things I need to discard. Facebook Marketplace is kind of scary (a friend selling her washing machine had a very sketchy guy come to her house) and Craigslist is kind of weird, so eBay is really the only option I am ready to pursue.
Voted in the Republican primary for Senator candidate. Very low turnout, and I’m sorry to report that Corey Stewart, whom I regard as a Certified Nutjob Racist, has won the right to run as a Republican against Democrat incumbent Tim Kaine. And look, as a conservative-leaning moderate, I’m not much of a Kaine supporter* — but if it’s him against the Nutjob Racist, I’ll give you one guess which way I’m voting in November. I SWEAR, I am pretty much done with the Republican party. They keep showing me they’re done with me, by picking candidates whose values I don’t share. *I have much less problem with Kaine’s fellow Virginia Democrat Senator, Mark Warner.
Local writer’s group meeting this evening; my 31 RC had worn off and I topped it with some 1932 edp, because I think they play nicely together. Same house, obvs, but I think they share several angles — the pretty jasmine, the bergamot, the elegant and un-rooty Chanel iris.
Wednesday, June 13: Beautiful day! Sunny, warm, low humidity. Water aerobics again plus some paddling around in the deep end; lanes were unavailable for lap swim. Then post office and recycling. Gaze is on a tractor moving freshly-made hay bales from one field to another; Taz is mowing and weedeating.
SOTD is some DSH Chypre, which is a bit heavier on the labdanum than the Real Deal Coty, plus a light overlay of California Reverie. Me likey.
Another good Bible study at the park. My feet are not bothering me much this week; in fact, my right foot doesn’t hurt at all.
Thursday, June 14: Warm, and the last day of low humidity for as far as the weather guys are willing to forecast. I went to the Y and used the stationary bike. Started slow, did 6 miles in 30 minutes, but I did sweat. (Thank goodness there’s a little fan thingie built right into the console! Literally, that’s cool.)
SOTD was Mary Greenwell Plum, a modern chypre that actually smells chypre-ish (i.e., it has moss and amber in it, not just patchouli) under the beautiful fruits and flowers. Worship team practice tonight.
Friday, June 15: Muggy again. Water aerobics again. I really went at it, and could feel the effort, but maybe that’s leftover from yesterday’s stationary bike? Not sure. I may go another week with it, because honestly, these old ladies are fun. I can always swim laps afterward if I want.
Gaze and Taz are moving bales again. I should be cleaning up, but I’m doing laundry instead. SOTD is Pierre de Velay Extrait No. 11, which I love and would like to have a bottle of, BUT I would have to phone London to get it.
The CEO went to an outdoor concert with beach music, a fundraiser for the local Fine Arts Council. With my dislike of outdoor concerts I couldn’t face it, frankly, so Bookworm and I hung out and watched Jeopardy and then American Ninja Warrior. I’m not sure why ANW fascinates me, but it does.
Saturday, June 16: Hot and muggy. No SOTD. I managed to go to the post office and mail an eBay item, then Wal-mart for a last-minute Father’s Day gift (since the thing I ordered for The CEO won’t show up until Tuesday). Wal-mart was jam-packed. Ugh. I got tired and didn’t want to do anything all afternoon. None of us have done anything today, with the exception of Bookworm, who went hiking up nearby Angels Rest Mountain with a friend. (Short and very steep trail, she says, but lovely view from the top.)
Someday I’m going to work Angels Rest Mountain into a book. I love the name.
SOTE, post-bathroom cleaning, was Fendi. Gosh, Fendi is just so good.
Sunday, June 17: Warm and muggy. I was singing at church, and Bookworm and Taz were scheduled to help with children’s ministry, so we went early. SOTD was two spritzes of Byredo Flowerhead, which lasted most of the day. (At some point, Bookworm hugged me and said, “Ooh, you smell nice.”)
The CEO got his Father’s Day tribute at breakfast: some new running shorts, a Pocket Juice cell charger, and the Dire Straits double album Alchemy on CD that Bookworm had to order all the way from England, to replace his old vinyl recording. We went to an early dinner with my parents for Father’s Day, where my dad got his tribute: a DVD of “Dunkirk,” and a restaurant gift card. (He’s going to enjoy the movie, I’m pretty sure.)
Monday, May 7: Warm, sunny and breezy — in fact, very comfortable (although The CEO is not happy with breeze). Perfect weather for Le Temps d’une Fete.
Gaze moved his clobber back home last Friday evening and will be home most of the summer. He’s had a successful freshman year at Virginia Tech and seems to have settled in to the Corps of Cadets quite well. Nice to have him home! He mowed the yard for me today, right before it rained. (Unfortunately, all the stuff he brought home — WAY more than he took with him, since now he must have 20 sets of uniforms, a gigantic rucksack for ROTC, and a bunch of other official stuff — is now in my sewing room. I can barely get to the sewing machine, and I have projects started. Grr.)
Bookworm has asked to learn how to use the sewing machine, so we started with a simple project, an apron. We cut it out last night, and then this evening did a hands-on tutorial on sewing straight stitches (complete with installing thread and bobbin, threading the needle, finding correct tension, choosing stitch and stitch length, and turning a corner). She sewed all the straps. I’m proud of her.
Tuesday, May 8: Another day of pleasant temperatures; another day of Le Temps d’une Fete! Took Gaze to his annual vision check-up in the afternoon. It’s an hour’s drive there and an hour back, and I knew he’d have his pupils dilated so wouldn’t be capable to driving safely home. Last time I had an eye exam was five years ago (I know, I know, I need to do it again, but my eye doctor has retired so I need to find a new one), and skies were gloomy with rain, so I had no trouble seeing and drove the 6 minutes home without worry.
While tidying up my perfume collection I found a large-ish decant of vintage Guerlain Vega that I’d forgotten about. Gosh, this is lovely stuff. To be sure, it’s full of aldehydes, so if you hate No. 5 Vega will not change your mind, but Vega is gentler than No. 5 and, I think, easier to wear. I wore it to bed.
Wednesday, May 9: Happy anniversary to The CEO! 26 years and we haven’t killed each other yet. SOTM was a mishmash, miscellaneous sprays from various fragrances I’m selling, just to make sure that they haven’t gone off since the last time I smelled them. Amazone, 24, Faubourg, Chamade, Deneuve, Vanille Tonka, Ostara… I must say, I smell like the perfume section of a large department store.
Packaged up some minis and bottles from the blog sale to send out. Showered and put on some Guerlain Floral Romantique, because The CEO likes it. We went to dinner at Outback (because we had a gift certificate. because steak. Duh.), came home and watched Survivor. (You go, Donathan! And Laurel. Send Kellyn home.)
Thursday, May 10: SOTM was original Fendi by Fendi, eau de toilette from a manufacturer sample vial, and eau de parfum from a mini bottle. Found both in a box of unloved decants (how’d they get there? I had never even tried them!). GOSH, this is gorgeous stuff. Gorgeous. Truly. Very 1980s, in that Fendi is a big floral bouquet atop a serious, weighty, beautiful base of oriental and chypre notes. According to Angela’s review of it at NST, “Fendi includes top notes of bergamot, aldehydes and rosewood; a heart of rose, lily of the valley, geranium, jasmine, tuberose, orris and carnation; and a base of cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, moss, musk, amber, vanilla and benzoin.” Fragrantica adds ylang-ylang and omits mention of several notes. What stands out to me is rose, geranium, muguet, patchouli, moss, sandalwood and benzoin, and the whole thing seems familiar without being recognizable.
It does strike me, somehow, as being very Italian. I can’t say why. Maybe it’s the ad? I do remember the ad, though I had never smelled Fendi before today. It reminds me of a whole slew of other scents: Magie Noire (though it lacks MN’s witchy, eerie herbal cast), La Perla’s original scent (though I think La Perla is somehow “dirtier,” with more of an intimate-skin angle), perhaps Ungaro Diva (though it doesn’t have Diva’s leather). It even reminds me a tad of the old Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, which you might remember I wore for thirteen or fourteen years, right through from middle school into the early years of my marriage. Chloe is more white-floral and much less chypre, but there is that sense of richness and detail, of tapestry, that it shares with Fendi.
(Gosh, Eighties perfumery was good. Wasn’t it?)
SOTA was two spritzes of Diorissimo, which I bought early on in my perfume journey (2009), and which I had always thought to be a tester from 2006. Today I discovered that it was actually bottled in 2001. It is beautiful, but somehow it never seems to hit the spot for me for very long, and it needs a new home.
And Gaze went back to campus tonight for a dinner honoring the sponsors of student scholarships. He cleans up good, doesn’t he? The HT under his ribbons stands for Highty Tighties, the regimental band, and the white shoulder braid (worn backwards, deliberately, due to some unexplained tradition) is also a band thing. The 1 on his right sleeve stands for the first-place score of his rifle drill company among other companies. I love it that he’s allowed to have hair now.
Friday, May 11: Uh-oh. I can feel the heat coming. Tomorrow is supposed to be at least 90F, and today will be muggy. SOTD, for Now Smell This’s community project (“Wear a musk fragrance”), is Ferre 20. The CEO bought me this on our trip to Rome in 2010. This one never got much blog attention, and it’s aldehydes-heavy, so not to the taste of many people, but it’s good stuff: under the aldehydes are blackberry, rose, iris, vanilla and powdery wood (they say sandalwood, but it’s not the real thing), plus lots of fluffy, clean (but not laundry-ish) musk. Pretty, sweet, and smells like lipstick, kind of über-girly.
I managed to finish sewing a reusable shopping bag last night. I made it similar to this pattern, and it came out great! I think my MIL might get this one as Mother’s Day swag, but I have it in mind to make more.
The CEO and I went to a live-theater production, the first from a new local theater group. “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” is a farce, which is never my favorite genre, but they did a good job with it. I wore some No. 19 edp, but it was somehow the wrong choice. It was dull.
Saturday, May 12: gorrrrrgeous weather. Warm and sunny, light breeze, and the only clouds are puffy ones high up. The CEO wound up coaching half the track team at their meet today; the elite ones are at a meet farther away, and Coach O is with them. (Girl on our team just ran the fastest 800 time in the state last night! 2:10.95, and her mom calls her “Amazing Grace.”)
Wearing beautiful Ines de la Fressange (Calice Becker version) today, because it is so nice outside — like summer without the brutal heat.
The CEO served as assistant track coach at a meet today, and since there is no shade whatsoever at this particular school, he came home miserably sunburned. Ouch.
Sunday, May 13: Mother’s Day was sunny and hot today. WoreInes de la Fressange again, and was presented with French toast and sausage that I didn’t have to cook! Went to my parents’ and took my MIL along; a lovely meal and a Skype session with my sister’s family rounded out the day.
REMINDER: SALE OF MY PERSONAL COLLECTIONIS GOING ON RIGHT NOW THROUGH THE END OF MAY!! New items have been added and will continue to be added until sale ends.
Monday, Dec. 11: Still chilly (good! I like a cold December even though The CEO keeps saying things like, “We could move to Kauai”). Second community chorus concert this evening, which went well but the space is not as excellent as the one we performed in yesterday so the Sunday concert was better. SOTD was Iris Poudre again. Aldehydes are good in cold weather. They sparkle.
Tuesday, Dec. 12: Colder. NST’s community project for Friday this week is, “Wear a fragrance with an animal in the name,” but I’m just not feelin’ it. I do have at least samples of a few*, but frankly I can’t be bothered right now. SOTD is golden-rosy incense Parfum Sacre. * Zoologist Nightingale, Cartier Panthere (the old ’80s stuff, not the new), Hanae Mori “Butterfly,” and Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant.
It started to snow in the afternoon, and it kept snowing: a slick, wet snow that was halfway to sleet, the most dangerous kind to drive in. The CEO and I went to the Farm Bureau Christmas dinner held at the Draper Mercantile**, and I was glad to see Taz driving in safely from track practice right before we left. While we were at dinner, though, Bookworm called to tell us that she was stopped on the road behind traffic. Before leaving work, she’d checked the VDOT traffic website, which showed accidents and delays on I-81 between work and home, so she took US 11 instead. However, delay after delay — as we found out later, an accident followed by police stopping traffic for the salt trucks to put down salt — kept her on the road for four and a half hours, fully four hours longer than it should have taken in ideal conditions and two hours longer than it would have taken her to go Interstate. She finally dragged herself in the door at 9:30 p.m., starving but safe.
** The Merc, once a country store and post office in rural Draper, VA, has become a gem of country dining, with the influence of Chef T (who might be familiar to you as runner-up of Gordon Ramsay’s Hell’s Kitchen Season 14) bringing upscale twists on classic southern dishes. I love eating Chef T’s food.
Wednesday, Dec. 13: Still cold, but the snow has begun to melt off. School was out, so Taz and I drove to Roanoke to help my parents decorate for Christmas. A nice day. SOTD was Amouage Lyric Woman. I only have about 3 mls left of a 15ml decant, so I haven’t been wearing Lyric much lately. Probably a mistake, since decants often seem to deteriorate due to the increased presence of air in the bottle. I should use it up, right? It’s really good, but I doubt I would buy any more.
Thursday, Dec. 14: Snow completely gone. SOTD is Parfum Sacreagain, delicious and comforting. It’s truly the only Caron I’ve ever loved. Aimez-Moi was nice, but it had this powdery vanilla in it I can only describe as “flat,” and after some time it wore on my nerves. The old classic Carons I don’t get at all, at all. Probably that old Mousse de Saxe; I don’t love it.
The CEO brought home a tree, a very nice Frasier fir. We’ve put it in the corner of the living room and not in the foyer this time. Enjoyed decorating with Bookworm.
Friday, Dec. 15: Still chilly, and it was blowing snow early on. The CEO gave an exam today; he’s got one to administer on Tuesday and then he’s done teaching until mid-January. SOTD is spicy Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant. For some reason, in my mind this scent is a warm burgundy. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem to last very long on me: maybe 3 hours from a generous dab. Seems like I remember it lasting longer on prior wearings.
Gaze called at lunchtime to tell me that he was done with his final exams and he needed to be out of his dorm pretty soon, so we made arrangements with The CEO (still in his office across campus) to bring Gaze home. YAY, THE BOY IS HOME FOR CHRISTMAS!! Hunter went mad with excitement.
Saturday, Dec. 16: It has warmed up considerably, into the middle 40sF. Lucky thing, too, because Taz had a Polar Bear meet (one held outside during indoor track season) today. He PR’ed in the 3200m (11:07.80) and in the 1000m (3:09.86), but did not qualify for the regional meet. The CEO expects he will by the end of the season.
Bookworm and I did errands, and we cleaned up a bit and prepared for Sunday. Gaze had to go back to campus to play with the pep band for a women’s basketball game.
No SOTD today. I’m in quasi-mourning. I heard recently that Kafkaesque was bemoaning the current state of Teo Cabanel Alahine, which if you remember is a darling of mine in winter (despite my not being much of an amber fan at all, at all) and is — or, rather, was a glorious cacophony of golden bells, a joyful noise of ylang-ylang, rose, allspice berry and amber. Apparently it’s been reformulated, and disastrously so, which is definitely an occurrence to bemoan.
Before you send me blithely off to eBay, think again: I already tried that. Four years ago, actually (right after TC changed the packaging to that ugly round metallized-plastic bottle), plus several times since, and while Teo Cabanels in general are quite difficult to find used, Alahine bottles are nigh-impossible. I still have about 45 mls left. It’ll have to do me for the next umpteen Christmases.
Sunday, Dec. 17: We went to my MIL’s church this morning to hear the cantata (very well done!), dressed up more than usual. We go to a jeans-‘n’-flannel shirt kind of church, which has its own level of comfort, but her traditional church is nice as well. SOTD was the clean, symphonic floral Hermes 24, Faubourg. Lots of orange blossom in it, which reads “nice soap” and “flowery clean” on my skin.
Wow, a lotta stuff has gone on since I last posted a Scent Diary…
Monday, Sept. 18: Cloudy morning, warm afternoon. Mowed the grass. Wore PdR Rose d’Ete for the final time this summer and put it away for next.
Gaze ran the “Hokie Half” half-marathon yesterday, and the PCHS cross-country team/boosters manned a hydration station at the 6-mile mark. I got voluntold to go pick up Gaze at his dorm and take him to the starting line, which I did, and got a pretty cool pic of him near the finish line. He ran 13.1 miles (about 21.1 km) in 1:33:08 and finished 38th out of over 1200 runners, 3rd in his age/gender group. That’s about 7:07 for EACH MILE, y’all. Wow. He had to run it in the officially-sanctioned VTCC Physical Training gear (including that weird reflective belt), since freshman cadets have not yet earned the right to wear other clothing for athletic pursuits.
He seems to be settling in very well in the Corps. He likes his roommates; he’s made several friends; he’s enjoying being in the regimental band. His grades are good, so far. PT is easy for him and he’s doing well in his ROTC class. The Corps’ rules are, he says, petty and annoying but not onerous or unreasonable, and many of those rules will be relaxed toward the end of the year, in any case. Meanwhile, I had to buzz his head again before he went back to campus. New cadets are required to keep their hair at the “0” setting on the sides and neck, and the top can be no longer than the “2” setting on the clippers, which is 1/4 inch. It is not, shall we say, a particularly attractive look on my good-looking boy.
Fun fact: I cried the first time we cut his baby hair, that beautiful dandelion-yellow duckling fluff. He went from “baby” to “little boy” in about thirty seconds, and I suppose I just wasn’t ready for that. All my babies had sweet hair, but something about the way that first haircut changed Gaze’s face just tugged on my mama heartstrings.
Tuesday, Sept. 19: Another foggy morning melting into a warm afternoon. SOTD was going to be Esprit d’Oscar but I wound up in Mary Greenwell Plum instead; I’m not sorry.
Wednesday, Sept. 20: Another “Investments in Learning” assembly at the high school — academic and attendance awards are given for the previous year, and there is a cash drawing for all students who passed a standardized test the prior year. For each test passed, the student’s name is placed in the pool, so someone who passed three tests would have their name in the pot three times. Individuals, local businesses, and local organizations donate money to sponsor awards, and names are drawn until all the prizes are given. This year the school gave away 70 prizes of $100 each. Pretty exciting, and a good way to encourage kids to take their exams seriously. (I only have one of these assemblies left; Taz is a junior. Man, time passes.) I wore lovely Frederic Malle Iris Poudre.
Taz had a decent showing at the Maroon Tide cross-country meet today. Came in 4th in the JV race. He was pleased.
Thursday, Sept. 21: Warm. Dang, Summer, GO AWAY. The grass needs to be cut again. SOTD was Chanel 1932, a dab of parfum. Bookworm sniffed me and said, “You smell very Chanel-y.” I agree. It’s that iris in the base, I think. I do not really care for iris-focused scents (Iris Poudre is more about benzoin and aldehydes than iris, if you ask me), but I like that Chanel iris very much.
Gaze emailed me last night asking for help in getting the official Virginia Tech health center immunization document turned in — apparently we had gotten the ROTC form signed but not also done the university one. Gah, paperwork. So I dropped it by the doctor’s office with a note for Nurse Barbara, and they had it completed in about three hours.
The CEO and Bookworm have been preparing for Saturday’s cross-country meet, which our team is hosting. There’s a shocking (to me) number of things that must be done beforehand, from ordering and picking up the awards and medals to getting a copy of the course map made and mounted, to borrowing the outdoor carpet pieces from a neighboring high school for covering the pieces of asphalt road the runners will cross. Not to mention arranging the timing, the DJ, the parent volunteers, the concessions, the coaches’ packets… Our coach is fabulous, but organization is not his forte, so The CEO has been doing it.
Friday, Sept. 22: Still too warm. Grr. SOTD is Chanel 1932 again, because it’s purty. I’d been planning to go to the football game to see the high school marching band — I have yet to catch their halftime show this year — but wound up having worship team practice until well into the first half, so there was no point going so late. Maybe next week. I’m missing my band kids.
Saturday, Sept. 23: HOT. (GRRRR.) No SOTD. Taz’s cross-country team hosted the second annual Cougar Clash Invitational meet. The day was pretty hectic, but things went smoothly. Twelve teams were invited (that’s a medium-size meet). Taz ran well, snagging 6th place in the boys’ JV race; his team won the JV team trophy, by placing runners at 2nd, 3rd, 5th, 6th, and 7th. Our varsity boys also won their division by placing runners at positions 1, 5, 8, 9, and 16.
I hated to miss Military Appreciation Day at Virginia Tech, and especially because there was a halftime show by a combined band of Marching Virginians (the non-cadet band at VT), Highty-Tighties (the regimental band), and the marching band from Old Dominion University. I personally know 7 kids in the MVs and 2 in the HTs, and I would have loved to have seen the show.
Again the Highty Tighties’ professional photographer (I kinda haunt that Flickr page) got some great shots of the whole Corps as well as the HTs and the combined band practice. Here’s one of the three New Cadet HT trombones on the sideline before the game, making friends with some ODU cheerleaders.
Sunday, Sept. 24: Our wandering-around church, which has been meeting in an elementary school for the 4 years it’s been in existence, had to find another spot while the elementary school was undergoing some renovation this summer. We wound up at the local YMCA a few months ago, and since it’s going to take some time for the school project to be completed, we will be staying at the Y. Both Critzer and the Pulaski Y have been awesome and generous hosts, but I think the Y is going to be a better fit for us. The monthly rent is about a third of what we were paying the school, and a housing complex where we’ve been building some relationships is very close to the Y. I love Northstar.
Wonderful message today based on James 1:26-27 (26 Those who consider themselves religious and yet do not keep a tight rein on their tongues deceive themselves, and their religion is worthless.27 Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world.), with the focus on the “looking after orphans” portion. There are 76 foster children in our (meth-infested) county alone. 23 of them are adoption-track. Could I be doing more to help?
Breakfast for Lunch and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur all day. And laundry. A good day.
Well, here we are approaching the end of summer (goodbye, good riddance, don’t let the screen door hit ya in the butt on the way out, August), and I’ve been shockingly remiss in not posting for the last, what, 7 weeks.
There will be a little bit of perfume stuff in this post. There will be some family stuff, some vacation stuff, and some maybe-future stuff. Read on. 🙂
So back in the early part of the summer, The CEO was invited to do a seminar through the Extension office of the University of Hawaii on the island of Kauai, in July. We had visited Kauai following his NACTA (National Association of College Teachers of Agriculture) convention in Honolulu last summer, and fell in love with the place.
We’ve now been to four of the five populated islands of Hawai’i (well, okay, we did actually set foot on Molokai during our recent trip from Oahu to Maui, when our little inter-island plane set down to let a passenger off), and Kauai is the place where we felt most comfortable. It is considerably more rural/small-town than the other islands, even the non-resort area of Big Island, and there is a general friendliness and a regard for island life (culture, ecology, conservation, a spirit of aloha) I didn’t notice elsewhere. There is, I don’t know, a gratitude for Kauai, on Kauai.
In case you are wondering, the perfect fragrances for Hawai’i seem to be Big White Florals such as Frederick Malle Carnal Flower and Byredo Flowerhead — surprise, surprise — and Arielle Shoshana’s delightful passionfruit-focused fragrance, Arielle Shoshana eau de parfum. (Go order a samplehere, stat. You won’t be sorry.) I also discovered the wonders of fresh island-grown papaya, and we revisited my favorite Kauai restaurant,Verde, for the best fish tacos I’ve ever had.
That trip took up the last part of July. The day we got home from Hawai’i, Bookworm got home from New Haven, and she’s here for the time being. She’d still like to go to grad school, I think, but she wants some time away from school and is planning to get a job or long-term internship while she figures out where she’d like to focus her efforts next. I’m just glad to have her home for now.
We got to have a little family reunion with my sister and her family, and my brother and his family, at my parents’ house recently. With A in upstate NY and P in Florida, it’s hard to get everyone together. But here are all my parents’ grandchildren in one spot! Mom was thrilled.
Gaze is off to college himself. He is, as I’ve mentioned before, a part of Virginia Tech’s Corps of Cadets program, and he has just completed New Cadet Week, the week-long “boot camp” for incoming freshman. This is the time when new cadets are issued their uniforms, get their hair cut, learn to make their beds military style, learn to march, begin learning rifle drill, do physical training (PT), and become familiar with the training facilities (the rappelling tower and the obstacle course). Other than letters they might receive, there’s no outside contact for the cadets during NCW: no TV, no internet, no phone. Lights out at 10 pm, room inspections at 6:15 am. That will relax at the end of NCW, after the parade demonstration tomorrow.
Fortunately, the Commandant’s office posts photos (many, many photos!) of New Cadet Week on their Facebook page, so that parents can see what’s going on, and hope to pick out their own cadet by playing “where’s Baldo?”
Taz has started school as well, driving himself to and from with, so far, no issue. He’s a junior, which I can hardly believe, and it looks like he’s going to have a good cross-country season based on his times so far.
I am not quite ready to publish my first e-book; I need to do some hole-patching subsequent to a major overhaul of the original draft. However, I created its digital cover last Thursday and I’m ridiculously excited about it. I’d like to be putting it out around December 1. Stand by for further announcements.
Stuff I’ve been wearing this past week: Chanel 1932. So pretty. Just so gosh-darn pretty! Delightful citrus with jasmine and, I swear, the lightweight version of its fellow Chanel Les Exclusifs 31 Rue Cambon’s beautiful iris-amber drydown. Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Fruity yellow rose with a bit of talcum powder. I especially love its gentle simplicity. Carven Eau de Parfum. I can’t really define it, but this is easily identified as a Francis Kurkdjian composition. I like FK’s stuff. I like this. It’s commercial and contemporary, a pinkish floral with patchouli. I’m not sorry I like it. DSH Chypre. Mostly to bed, because the labdanum is a little disturbing during the day, but yummy. Leonard de Leonard. Discontinued aaaages ago; I snagged a decant of it from a friend. Remember how vintage Ivoire de Balmain annoyed me because it was both soapy and mossy? This is soapy, mossy, and floral, and apparently that makes the difference for me. The patchouli in this is aged to almost a candy sweetness next to the dry richness of oakmoss; the orange blossom makes it Dove-soapy; the carnation and rose keep it from having that discord that Ivoire strikes me as having. This thing is very very green and very flowery. I go through occasional stages where nothing else suits me.
Okay, so here it is:
May was busy. June’s been busy. July is going to be busy. August (despised by me anyway) will be busy.
Lather, rinse and repeat.
You get my point, yes? (Even though no shampoo bottle has included those instructions since, say, 1979.) You also get an apology. I have been neglecting the blog in favor of a) fiction writing, and b) plain, ordinary or garden living.
I will, in this post, catch you up on the family developments. Further catching-up and perfumery bits to follow in posts next week.
Bookworm has graduated from Yale with a BS in Chemistry. She is spending the summer in New Haven, as a dorm counselor for their summer sessions and as a teaching and lab assistant for the Organic Chemistry classes. She gets free room and board as well as tuition for one class as compensation for her dorm counselor duties, and Actual Cash Money as compensation for her TA duties. This is all very, very good. She is planning to apply for a paid internship or an entry-level job in her field, and then eventually to find a graduate program that excites her.
She turned 22 at the end of May, and The CEO and I drove up to CT to spend her one “weekend off” doing some fun stuff with her. We went to Pawtucket, RI, to see the Paw Sox (the Boston Red Sox AAA minor-league affiliate) play. We toured the RI state house in Providence, and visited the Newport mansions and the Submarine Museum before dropping her off at her dorm and driving several hours to my sister-in-law’s house for my nephew’s high school graduation.
Curiosity is a smart, thoughtful, wonderful kid who will be studying Engineering at Virginia Tech come the fall. I’m proud of him. Engineering is possibly the most competitive program at VT, limiting the number of students it accepts for this degree track, and Curiosity will be living in one of the honor dorm communities as well.
In case you hadn’t heard this story, Curiosity’s dad K and The CEO were assigned roommates at Virginia Tech way back in the day. Heaven knows what a farm kid of Scottish extraction from SW VA and a second-generation Chinese-American kid from the suburbs of New Jersey had in common, but they got along fine, and K wound up marrying The CEO’s sister E. Curiosity is just a few months older than Gaze, and Primrose about 6 weeks younger than Taz; they’re all pretty close and I think that’s awesome.
Gaze graduated high school himself just a few days after Bookworm finished up, and he will be joining the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in August. He had a number of dual-enrollment credits transfer, and his adviser suggested that since he’d be entering as a second-semester sophomore, he might consider a double major. He has already declared his primary major as Geography, with possibly a second major in National Security and Foreign Affairs. The Corps functions like a military school inside the larger campus of the university: cadets sleep, drill, and study together as well as eating two meals a day together, but they take classes alongside all the other students. Each cadet can choose an ROTC option (Army, Navy/Marines, or Air Force) OR the Citizen Leader track, which does not lead to an officer commission after graduation. Gaze is still awaiting final word on his Army ROTC scholarship; he needs a waiver for his eyesight.
Shopping for Gaze’s college stuff is turning out to be far more complicated than outfitting Bookworm was; the New Cadet Guide has a very strict packing list, and the cadets are encouraged not to bring anything extra. The list includes items like “2 sets white twin sheets (NOT Twin XL), sets consisting of a fitted sheet, a flat sheet, and a pillowcase each,” and “12 pairs white athletic socks, ankle height, no logo or color visible outside the shoe,” and “12 pairs underwear, at least 3 white or beige in color for wear under white trousers of dress uniform.” Also, “One surge protector, with at least six outlets, incorporating a cord of 8-10 feet long. Extension cords are strictly forbidden.” My sister, the Army wife, tells me to get used to this kind of thing. (I’m still trying to figure out whether he can take a mattress pad or not, because it’s not on the list. Eye roll.)
And Taz? As a rising junior, he’s simply got less bustle and drama going on in his personal life at the moment. I expect that to change this year, as he begins to discover a purpose and is left, gasp, all along with his parents, the only kid in the house! We’ve been trying to work in his behind-the-wheel driver training, and it looks like it will be August before we can do that for him, but he’ll be driving on his own soon. This week he’s been at a church youth camp (Bible study, worship, and service projects), and next month he’ll spend a week at running camp. When he’s home, he’s being Jack-of-all-trades — laundry, house cleaning, minor repairs, cooking, helping on the farm, mowing and weed trimming.
My mother is recovering very well from her spinal surgery. She uses the rolling walker occasionally, for assistance with balance or when she’s tired, but she is standing and walking upright for the first time in years, and the nerve pain in her leg is gone. She is still progressing with her exercises.
My aunt Cindy, the youngest of my father’s three sisters, has recently been diagnosed with multiple myeloma. This is bad stuff; it is terminal but if caught early can be ameliorated to some degree with treatment. She is undergoing chemotherapy right now. If you don’t mind throwing up a prayer (or sending some positive vibes, if that’s more your thing), it would be much appreciated.
Mom had surgery on her rheumatoid-arthritis-affected spine, to remove bone spurs (ouch) and have titanium supports placed to protect her spinal cord and eliminate the pain she’s been having from pinched nerves and herniated disks (also ouch). The surgery was successful, but the bone spurs more numerous and intrusive than her doctor had hoped, so she has more recovery to make up than they had both hoped. She’ll be spending some weeks at the rehabilitation center for physical therapy, but already the pain in her leg from the pinched nerve has abated. She is still in some pain, but making progress.
The progress includes feeling better enough to start being concerned about a) the cat, b) the state of the laundry, c) the extent of the dust in her house, and d) my dad’s intake of vegetables, so we know she’s on the upswing!
Bookworm has finished all classes and exams and will be graduating on the 22nd. Her summer is set up: residential advisor in the dorms, teaching assistant for organic chemistry labs and classes for the summer session. She’ll be applying for jobs and internships as well. So proud of my girl! Sorry she won’t be coming home until August, but maybe we’ll go visit her. She is spending the week in Florida visiting friends and having a lovely vacation before graduation.
Gaze will graduate high school on the 26th. For university, he has chosen to join the Corps of Cadets at Virginia Tech in the fall. VT is one of the few full universities incorporating a cadet body and a military environment within the larger student body. The Corps offers Reserve Officer Training Corps programs for Army, Navy, and Air Force as well as a Civilian Leader track; that is, there is the option to join the Corps and not go military afterward. I’m not sure which Gaze will choose. He may also choose to join the regimental band, but that is optional and he may decide not to pursue it. I’d be sad to see him lay his trombone down permanently, but I know that whatever he does with his spare time (which will be in short supply, given his cadet responsibilities), he’ll do it well. My nephew Curiosity will also be on the Virginia Tech campus this fall, as a student in the Engineering program. That’s pretty exciting, and I hope the cousins can get together for some fun on occasion.
My years as a Band Booster have come to a close, and I will now become a member of the Drama Mamas, supporting the Theatre Arts program at the high school. It will be interesting for Taz, I think, to be (finally) on his own there and to blaze his own path.
The boys ran in the last track meet of the regular season on Saturday; Gaze cut his 1600m personal record by 5 seconds, to 2:51, and Taz cut his 3200m PR by 8 seconds, to 11:05. I’m proud of them!
Well, it’s been a typical spring in terms of weather, if a bit colder than usual, so I’m wearing many of my favorite Greenies: Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, Ralph Lauren Safari. Oddly, though, I haven’t worn Chamade at all this spring, and every time I pick up Deneuve, something strikes me as wrong for the day/occasion and I have to put it down. (Shrug. It’s not like I’m short of fragrances to wear, right?)
I’ve been saying for months and months now that I really must divest of some of my lesser-worn perfumes. Really. Must. So here’s hoping that I’ll be able to get that started this week before we go to Yale graduation…
So it’s been busy around here lately. Sorry about that whole not-posting thing…
An April update:
The weather, up until today, has been pretty much glorious standard spring weather, warm but not hot, with plenty of rain. The grass is in that beautiful stage where it is SUPERGREEN and everything looks like Ireland. Gaze’s sheep are stunningly white against the green; the cows are (mostly) strikingly black against it. The redbuds have been particularly beautiful this spring.
I ordered Gaze’s high school graduation announcements, and then it occurred to me that I had not ordered any for Bookworm either. Oops. I rectified the issue. Graduation gets expensive, doesn’t it? Especially two kids at once, even if you only go with the basics of graduation gown, cap, and announcement and eschew the myriad extras of — just for example — extra photo sessions, key chains, commemorative plaques/mugs/you-name-its.
Taz was in the high school drama production of “The Man Who Came to Dinner,” as the poor put-upon owner of the house where radio personality Whiteside is forced to recuperate from a broken hip. He did a great job as the straight man for the indignities perpetrated by the publicly-acclaimed, privately-insufferable celebrity. I was so proud! Then recently he and the rest of the Advanced Theatre Arts class did “Hey Good Lookin'” from Dogfight: the Musical, and he was good. It was his singing, dancing debut.
Gaze attended his senior prom. Refused to rent a tuxedo and stuck with a plain black suit, but the silver vest and tie looked nice. We knew his date’s dress would be a difficult shade to match (“red, but not really red, more like coral pinky orange red”), and I’m glad we didn’t try. It was a beautiful dress, and Cayla’s a lovely girl. They had fun.
Gaze’s college plans are still a little bit up in the air. He’s fairly sure he’ll be attending Virginia Tech, possibly as a member of the Corps of Cadets (ROTC). The ROTC scholarship is not confirmed, though (that eye exam may prevent it), so it’s not official. He’d like to have one more shot at West Point, which is a possibility since you can apply twice, but I think he’ll be applying as a VT student. At least he’ll be close by, and his cousin Curiosity will be at Tech too.
Bookworm is busy with her thesis and with Ultimate Frisbee. She’ll be staying in New Haven after graduation, again serving as a counselor in the summer dorms and also working as a teaching assistant for the organic chemistry class and lab for both summer sessions. (They’re paying her, YAY!) I’m kinda bummed to not have her home until fall, but…they’re paying her.
The weather has been such that I have been getting the most wear out of all my greenies: my beloved PdN Le Temps d’une Fete (of course), Ralph Lauren Safari, and Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet head the list. Then I’ve also been wearing Guerlain Chamade, Chanel No. 19, Henry Dunay Sabi, Deneuve, and Penhaligon’s Violetta. Have not yet gotten out the Balmain Jolie Madame or the Jacomo Silences yet, but I’m sure to do that soon.
Have been working on the novel, and practicing for taking the GRE (more on that later). How about you?
Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017: Chilly. Rainy. My thought on 2017, as it begins, is that it would have to work really hard to be worse than 2016, so let’s be good to each other this year and see how it goes. SOTD is Cuir de Lancome and I smell nice.
We went to see Rogue One (Star Wars) at the movie theater today and had a great time. I practically had to twist The CEO’s arm to go — he’d heard that it was “not a real Star Wars movie,” and he usually hates to spend the money to go see a film in the theater unless he’s really excited about it. As it turned out, we all thought it was enjoyable: a tight, exciting story exploring the history of how the Rebel Alliance actually got hold of those Death Star plans in the first place. We went to the “good” theater, too, which is a half-hour’s drive away via Interstate but modern, comfortable, uncrowded and quite reasonably priced ($6.75 for matinee tickets, wow).
Monday, Jan. 2: Warmer and dry today, and I’m glad the weather is more comfortable for our trip to see my parents. They were gone over Christmas, visiting my sister and her family (including that new baby!), and Mom’s back is still bothering her. SOTD is Caron Parfum Sacre.
Tuesday, Jan. 3: SOTD, the golden and joyous and Christmassy Teo Cabanel Alahine. It’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. We usually start decorating about the second week in December, and then unless there’s an event we need to schedule around like there was this year, we un-decorate on New Year’s Day. That’s about as long as I want the Christmas stuff up, honestly. I’m not judging folks who put their tree up at the beginning of November…
… well, okay, maybe I’m judging them a little bit, but in an “I just don’t get it,” sort of way and not a “That is so trashy,” sort of way. I love decorating, but I really don’t want Christmas stuff up while I am still enjoying the end of autumn. If you are perfectly fine with celebrating Thanksgiving with a Christmas tree and a Nativity set up, good on you, but my preference is generally to finish up one season before I start on a new one.
Wednesday, Jan. 4: SOTD is Ferre 20 by Gianfranco Ferre, which I bought from a little shop in Rome; I was just in the mood for this comfy aldehydic floral musk. The CEO came home from his checkup and said, “Hey, you know we’ve been talking about trading in your minivan for a small crossover SUV, right? They’ve got a couple of nice ones at the certified-used dealership…”
We are typically the kind of people who consult Consumer Reports and shop around for sales and good deals over a couple of months, whether we’re buying a car or a dishwasher… but somehow we wound up buying a 2013 Kia Sorento, after test-driving it and having our mechanic check it out. I’m still shocked at the quick decision! I was okay with continuing to drive the 2007 Grand Caravan, but the low gas mileage (20-22 mpg) was starting to feel like a burden, especially since we’re not hauling around multiple kids in car seats anymore, and the van wasn’t getting any younger. I’m very pleased with the Sorento.
Thursday, Jan. 5: No scent of the day today. Bookworm has a cold and feels yucky, and I’m hanging out with her, so I just skipped fragrance today. We watched The Commitments and I ironed clothes: boring, low-key, nice.
Friday, Jan. 6: SOTD is Dior Poison. I really used to hate it back in the day, when everybody was wearing six spritzes too many, and you couldn’t walk through a girls’ dorm without needing a gas mask to survive the Poison fumes… now? potent but cuddly dark-berried white floral. My bottle is ca. 2003, and it’s missing that truly toxic vibe it used to have; I don’t know what that is. Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am thinks it’s the old musks… well, maybe, but that resinous cough-syrup-of-death thing that used to scare me so much seems to be missing as well. In principle, that might be good, but I notice that I hardly ever wear Poison, and I think that’s because it’s both nicer and less interesting than it used to be.
Since we’re supposed to get snow over the weekend, the boys’ indoor track meet has been canceled so they’ll get to stay home tomorrow. We stacked up a big pile of firewood and I’ve made cider for tomorrow, and we’re ready.
I’ve been playing around at Allrecipes.com and saving my favorite recipes there, since Bookworm has expressed a need for a cookbook with all the family specialties in it. I figure this ought to work just as well as a paper cookbook.
Saturday, Jan. 7: SNOW! Not enough to go sledding in, unfortunately, and with the wind, it feels like 4F outside BRRRRRRRR. We drank hot chocolate and cleaned up the house, and then when the boys went over to a friend’s house in the evening, The CEO and Bookworm and I watched Birdman. (My thoughts on it: How on EARTH did this pretentious, artsy-fartsy, depressing nonsense win awards? Gah. There’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.)
SOTD was Amouage Gold, and I know I’m going to horrify at least one person, but — I don’t like it. I know, I know! I’m the AldeHo, I should like Gold. I kinda like Dia, though I wasn’t tempted in the least to buy it, and the Gold body lotion is wonderful on my mom. I had tried it from a sample someone sent me back in, oh, 2010 maybe?, and I didn’t like it then. My notes say it was “too big,” and I don’t think that anymore, but like vintage Arpege parfum, Gold is… thick. And heavy. And animalic. I didn’t feel elegant in it, I felt stinky. (And also like I ought to lose my AldeHo card.)
Sunday, Jan. 8: All the local churches were canceling services today, and I expected ours would as well, since we meet in one of the local elementary schools and there’s no guarantee the school system will scrape the parking lot before Monday. However, we all overslept, and when we woke up with half an hour to eat something, get dressed, and leave the house, theNOAA website said that the temperature with wind chill was -8F. That’s -22 Celsius, btw. DOUBLE BRRRR. So we decided to stay home. I made choc-chip pancakes for breakfast, chili for dinner, and put on some Soivohle Centennial for the warm fuzzies effect.
This is the basic for-a-crowd recipe that I always make around Thanksgiving and Christmas — with everybody hanging around the house, it just sits in a big pot on the stove, next to the mugs and the ladle, and I add to it as needed through the day. I don’t know how to cut it down for fewer servings, unless you were to make it once and freeze it in small batches.
I have, in the past, taken the time to deliberately dry orange and lemon peels (see link for a how-to) and store them for use in this cider punch, and that works fine. However, I find that we typically have citrus fruit in the house this time of year anyway since the high school FFA citrus orders arrive the first or second week of December, so I just slice up fresh and add them to the pot.
This recipe has a lot of stretch and give to it, and will accept any number of substitutions, so long as you keep tasting and adjusting. Like it sweeter? add a little more brown sugar, or maple syrup if you have it on hand.
Like it tangy? Add a bit more lemon juice, or leave the sugar out.
I love spice, so I throw lots of cloves and ginger in, but you can adjust the amounts of whole spices however you like. Add a few green cardamom pods or whole star anise if you have access to them (I don’t). If you hate having stuff floating around in your cup and don’t have a strainer to ladle the punch through, you can tie up the spices in a cheesecloth bag.
If you can’t find cider at the grocery, wing it with apple juice instead. Use the frozen juice concentrates if you have to. Because there are are so many flavors in this punch, I can’t taste that much difference. Cider does have more “body” than plain juice, but it is considerably more expensive, too. You decide; either way it will be good.
I tend to buy decaffeinated tea because there are people in my family who are very sensitive to caffeine, but of course the regular works fine.
Like it spiked? Add in a few ounces of bourbon, applejack, or spiced rum, to your taste.
See? That sort of thing. Play with it, have fun. I always enlist Bookworm as my taste-tester when she’s home.
3 quarts to 1 gallon apple cider or apple juice
2 whole oranges, sliced (or substitute 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, or 3-4 large pieces of dried orange peel)
1 whole lemon, sliced (or substitute 2 tablespoons of juice – bottled is fine)
2-3 individual teabags of black tea, chai, Earl Grey or herbal spice (or combination)
2-4 cinnamon sticks, broken (I hit them with a meat tenderizer – small pieces give more cinnamon flavor)
1-2 tablespoons whole cloves
1/2 – 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
3-4 small pieces crystallized ginger, or 1-2 peeled disks of fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar, to taste
(For variety, I sometimes add a thawed can of this apple-cherry juice, and a cup of water. The apple-cranberry juice is good, too.)
Pour juice or cider into a large pot and add the citrus slices and whole spices. Heat over medium-low heat until mixture begins to simmer (tiny bubbles forming at the bottom, and/or wisps of steam rise from the top). Then turn heat to very low.
Steep the teabags for 4 minutes separately in 2-3 cups of boiling water. Then, unless you are only using herbal tea (such asCelestial Seasonings Bengal Spice), remove the teabags from the liquid. Heat and time will make black tea taste bitter. Add this brewed tea to the cider mixture, and then add brown sugar until you’re happy with the taste.
Ladle through a strainer to remove the spices and citrus peels. Enjoy!