"To be a Virginian either by Birth, Marriage, Adoption, or even on one's Mother's side, is an Introduction to any state in the Union, a Passport to any Foreign Country, and a Benediction from Above."

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Smells Like a Monday #7 - Lancome Peut-Etre

When most people think of Lancome, they tend to think of Tresor (I swear I smelled that one everywhere from high school through law school), or possibly of the more recent Hypnose or Miracle. However, Lancome has in recent years reintroduced some of their vintage scents or, in the case of Peut-Etre, retooled versions of vintage scents.

The original Peut-Etre was released in 1937 and has been described as featuring rose, lily and linden - sounds like a very feminine floral to me. For the 2008 re-release, perfumer Nathalie Lorson has, according to Now Smell This, added lilac as well as an amber and musk base. I expect that this base would add strength as well as warmth to the original.

I've only ever worn the modern version of this scent (would that I could try the original!), but it's still a beautiful one. On my skin, I got a soft, warm floral. It definitely smelled rosy, but I could tell other flowers were in there, too. Some reviewers have complained that the amber/musk base dominated things for them, but I did not find this to be the case at all. Perfumes can smell very different on different people due to skin chemistry, and Peut-Etre is one that works well on me. It's a sweet rose-jasmine floral on me, and actually rather subtle.

This lovely scent can be difficult to find, but the La Collection scents from Lancome are generally available at both Saks and Nordstrom. They also show up periodically on EBay and decants are available at The Perfumed Court. It's definitely worth trying if you get a chance. On me, Peut-Etre is both a subtle scent and a meltingly feminine one.

Friday, July 23, 2010


Even though it's eleventy gazillion degrees outside, today just feels so light and free to me. Don't you love the freedom of a perfect summer day? Today is definitely one of those. I'm done with my court docket for the day, I have no particular obligaitons this weekend, and I'm going on a little trip next week. Finally having some free and easy time really makes it feel like summer to me. What does it for you?

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Pink and Green Thursday - The Scented Edition, Part II

Last week, I talked about perfume on Thursday and since it's one of my favorite hobbies, I'm doing it again this week. Instead of pink and green perfumes, this week I have pink and green fragrance notes. Notes are the building blocks that make up a scent. Some have only a few and other very complex scents have more than a hundred different notes blended together to make one multilayered perfume! Here are some pink and green notes for you:

I love peonies! They smell so gorgeous, and it seems like there have been tons of peony scents out there. Banana Republic did a pretty one several years back, and Guerlain's Pivoine Magnifica is just beautiful.

The sharp green of vetiver grass spikes many a perfume. This grass is native to India but grown in many tropical regions, and its oil is prized in many different types of perfumes because it has excellent fixative properties and, depending on the quantity used, it can blend well to create a variety of different moods. You can find it in everything from very, fresh and springy scents to dark, mysterious and spicy ones.

In summer, pink grapefruit is so refreshing! I love grapefruity scents this time of year.

I know the blossoms are technically white, but lily of the valley has such a fresh green scent. Fragrances with lily of the valley are often classified as "green" or "green floral" in perfume references, so I figure it counts.

I don't think you can talk pink without pretty pink roses. Does anyone remember a fragrance Elizabeth Arden made called True Love? The perfume itself was a lovely pink, and it smelled so pretty and rosy.

And just like I can't talk pink without pink roses, I can't talk green without galbanum. This resin, which comes from a plant native to Iran, has medicinal properties and also gives many perfumes a hint of something herbal or simply intensely green.

Happy Thursday!

Tuesday, July 20, 2010

So Sad

I haven't been too chatty on the blog the past few days. I just learned recently that my grandmother's heart is failing and there really isn't much that the doctors can do for her. Her body is just worn out.

I am so sad about this. Every day I keep remembering new things about her teaching me to bake, or stories about her various animals over the years, her love of gardening and family history stories. She has just packed so much into 80+ years of life. I know that we are all mortal, and I do believe in Heaven, but it's still so overwhelming to stare it all in the face.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Smells Like a Monday #6 - Bronnley Lily

It seems like everyone I know both online and offline is going on vacation lately. I don't go until October, so I'm spending my summer enjoying sunny locales vicariously. All this travel made me think back on one of my favorite destinations - London. I've been there twice, and I absolutely love that city. Samuel Johnson reputedly said, "When a man is tired of London, he is tired of life." And indeed, there are so many different kinds of lives in London, that I have never yet tired of exploring that city. I enjoy New York for much the same reason, but London has so many more centuries of history and as a history buff, my brain feels so engaged while I'm there.

And what in the world does this have to do with perfume, you may ask? Well, last time I was in London, I noticed many shops from small gift shops to larger department stores carrying the Bronnley line. Bronnley was founded in London in 1884 as a soapmaker, and their high-quality soaps were very popular. The company is known for using relatively high amounts of almond oil and other natural ingredients in their soaps and toiletries, and they are definitely a cut above most I've tried. They currently hold royal warrants as soapmakers to the Queen and to the Prince of Wales.

The scents tend to be simple, but very pretty. I liked the soaps and I have enjoyed layering lightly scented bath gel, lotion and perfume since I was a teenager. After sniffing my way through the various Bronnley scents, I settled on the Lily. This is a very simple, clear and sweet lily scent. There's not a lot of depth or nuance to it, but it is very pretty. I've used up the lotion already but I still have my eau de toilette left, and on a hot day it's very welcome.

The Lily has recently been discontinued by Bronnley, but I did see some still available at FrenchMaison on EBay, and while they are out of perfume, a number of the Lily bath products are still available at Bronnley USA online. You can also find all kinds of other Bronnley goodies at the online shop in a variety of other scents(the Apricot and Almond is very nice) in case you want to try Bronnley soaps without ever leaving home!

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Pink and Green Thursday - The Scented Edition, Part I

I love Pink and Green Thursday and I love perfume. Tons of scents fit this category, so I thought I'd share a few:

First up - Fleur d'Interdit came out in 1994, and was very big at my college. Lots of girls wore Sunflowers and Pleasures, but this sweet floral touched with fruit had a following, too. I still wear it every now and again for nostalgia value. I love the bottle!

Cabotine de Gres is a warm green scent that's beautiful and very feminine. I find it sparkly and vivacious, and I think it would go well with Lilly.

I cannot mention green perfumes without Balmain's Vent Vert. This beauty from the 1940s has been reformulated several times and it's not as astringent and sharp as it used to be. Still a classic, though.

Yves St. Laurent's Paris has been around since the 1980s, and I think of it as the quintessential pink scent. It's sweet, rosy, and very girly.

Estee Lauder Pink Coral (a spinoff of Pure White Linen) is another pinky scent that I think would be perfect for a preppy summer. It's light, slightly fruity, but also touched with what smells to me like the breeze over the ocean. Very nice.

And of course you can't mention pink and green perfume without Lilly Pulizer Wink. Isn't this cute! I know Miss Janice would approve.

Happy Thursday to all!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Fannie Flagg, Homestyle Cooking and General Rambling

Cleaning out my book club box last night started me on this little stream of consciousness. As I dug through the various books I'd read for book club and decided which ones I really wanted to keep, I couldn't help letting my mind wander a bit. Some books are just very evocative. As I flipped through Jane Eyre, I was back in high school again, discovering the Brontes for the first time. With Atonement, I remembered all the most wrenching parts of the story all over again and I couldn't help reliving how frustrated and helpless I felt as an onlooker to this story. Being transported to another time and place isn't always a comfortable journey.

And when I got to Fried Green Tomatoes at the Whistle Stop Cafe, all I could think of were my grandma's wonderful fried green tomatoes. Oh, they were wonderful! My thoughts wandered from books to good homestyle food. I was in Alabama last year, and I actually got to eat fried green tomatoes (and lots of other goodies) at the Irondale Cafe, the inspiration for Flagg's book.

I try all kinds of different ethnic foods and I've eaten in some wonderful gourmet restauants. However, I will always have a soft spot for homestyle cafes. Sadly, many of them seem to be disappearing. They're not trendy; hipsters don't hang out among the faded seats and peeling formica of the roadside diners. It's too bad, really, because while it may not be fancy, trendy or designed with the latest diet craze in mind, homey little cafes often have some fantastic food. There's just something about these places that brings back all the happiest food memories of childhood, of big family gatherings with lots of food and even more warmth. I may adore tapas at Jaleo, locavore cuisine at our wine shop downtown or a fine dinner in the city, but they just don't engage one quite as warmly as a humble. comfortable plate of country ham, potatoes and turnip greens.

I've found a lot of good ones, but one of my favorites is in Lexington, Virginia.
The Redwood Family Restaurant isn't much to look at in terms of decor, but the tables are clean and I love the food. When I lived in the valley, this was the restaurant to visit in times of homesickness. Nothing is very expensive, and they serve delicious fried chicken, Virginia ham(moist, not all dried out as I've found in other places), and all kinds of traditional southern sides. The owners serve greens with cider vinegar rather than looking at you strangely when you ask for it, and the black-eyed peas with tomatoes are marvelous. You will of course want to save room for pie when you're finished. I'm partial to the lemon meringue myself.

Though located in a rather nondescript building right off the highway, the Redwood is up high on a hill at the outskirts of Lexington. And who wouldn't want to explore a cute little town like this?

Note: If you're interested in trying out the Redwood, you can find them at 898 North Lee Hwy, Lexington, VA (540)463-2168.

Monday, July 12, 2010

Smells Like a Monday#5 - Eau Imperiale

Guerlain is one of my very favorite perfume houses, and since I haven't talked about any of their scents yet, I figured I'd fix that little omission. Eau Imperiale(also known as Eau de Cologne Imperiale) is the first Guerlain I ever wore, and it's still very dear to me. I discovered it in law school. Someone in my legal clinic wore it, and I thought it smelled refreshing and hopelessly sophisticated all at the same time. So, of course I had to try it.

What followed was a comedy of errors as I went to our local Belk and asked the saleslady for Eau Imperiale. She gave me a rather incredulous look and stated, "But that's a men's perfume." Seriously, from the look on her face, you would think I asked for Eau de Litterbox. I felt a little less certain of myself by this time, but I still troddled off to the men's department and found a tester of Eau Imperiale.

Just as I recalled, it was total bliss in a bottle. While I could see a confident, sophisticated man rocking this scent, it is also quite feminine. The citrus and floral notes blend together to give it a refreshing crispness that reminds me of every determined, clever and slightly old-fashioned heroine I ever met in fiction. Not a bad image for meeting the world head on.

Eau Imperiale is an oldie but a goodie. It has been in production since 1853, and was created by the House of Guerlain in honor of France's Empress Eugenie. It contains notes of bergamot, orange blossom, lemon, petitgrain and neroli. Though not mentioned in the official description, I also detect what I think may be rosemary in this one. It's a beautiful floral citrus, and it's the sort of light scent that is almost impossible to overdo. It's perfect to wear to work or simply relaxing on the weekend. And isn't the iconic Guerlain bee bottle lovely?

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Seldom Seen Piece of Virginia History - Upstairs at Monticello

Monticello, home of Thomas Jefferson, sits on a beautiful hillside overlooking Charlottesville, Virginia. Millions of people pass through its gardens and the first-floor tour. However, while one can see a lot on the general tour, those roped off staircases draw the eye, taunting and tantalizing all at the same time. I've been through Monticello many, many times and I love its grounds. However, the main tour takes one only around the first floor and outbuildings. The upstairs living quarters have remained frustratingly out of reach for many years.

Once in college I got to take a brief turn around the famous dome room on the top floor (it's gorgeous!). And now I know I must make it to C-ville because...drum roll...there is a special summer tour going on and visitors can see the upstairs! I'm already glancing over my court calendar and trying to pick out a day that I can take off for a little field trip.

The main tour of Monticello is fascinating in and of itself because one can see not only how people lived on this plantation, but also one can get a glimpse into the mind of Thomas Jefferson himself. The home is filled with architectural flourishes that captured Jefferson's mind in Europe and that he brought home with him. In addition, the man was quite the inventor and the first floor of house is filled with various gadgets that he invented and perfected for himself. Jefferson entertained in this portion of the house and whenever I'm there, I can almost see him showing off his latest invention or book acquisition.

However, I get the sense that the upper floors are different. These were the private living quarters of various members of the Jefferson family at different times, including his sister and later his daughter Martha and her family. Though I've not gotten to tour these rooms (yet!), I've read about them and they seem to be less ornate and more functional. The areas of Monticello where Jefferson would have entertained were quite the showplace, but the upstairs looks more like home. From the pictures I've been able to find, one can see the fabulous bones of this house set off against the comparatively stark furnishings. It's exciting that this will be open to the public at last and if you're planning a trip to Virginia, you may want to think about taking a chance to get a glimpse at this part of Monticello that few have ever seen.

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

Random Thoughts and Links

It's so hot here that the sun has fried my brain. Rather than posting about one thing, I keep thinking in dribs and drabs.

- First of all, the blackberries have been really delicious this year so I've eaten lots of them. One of my friends pointed me to this yummy blackberry syrup recipe. I think I need to make waffles tomorrow just so I can try it out!

- It's a little too warm for a fleece blanket right now, but later on, the blanket Brown Eyed Belle is giving away looks like it would be so cozy!

- Also, be sure to check out The Company She Keeps for a cute Lilly tote giveaway. I'm heading further south for a little getaway later this month and as I think of heading toward the sun, I'm craving the Lilly to take with me. I know folks wear Lilly year-round now, but I still have that childhood association of Lilly and madras + vacation.

- I've been watching World Cup and even though the mourning over USA's ouster in my house was matched only by the disappointment of Germany losing (DH went to a German boarding school), we're still watching the finals this weekend. I decided to get festive and serve tapas and sangria. So far, this looks like a promising sangria recipe, but if you know a better one, please do share!

-Since it's Friday, I have to have something funny to get me through that last work day. Even though they've been around for ages, LOLCats still do the trick for me.

Hope everyone has a good weekend!

Pink and Green Thursday - The Food Edition

So, why a food edition? I was eating watermelon last night, with just a tiny bit of salt, and it was perfect.
The pink was perfectly ripe, the rind was the perfect deep green. It was a moment of bliss. And now that I have at least one of my blog friends shuddering (sorry!), here are some more pink and green food delights:

When it's eleventy hundred and one degrees outside, I cannot live without limeade.

Frou frou pink drinks would not be amiss, either.

And here's a cute variant on black and whites, courtesy of Slashfood

And my obsession with pink and green cake continues. This one, cached from a UK bakery that appears to have gone out of business is hilarious!

Hope everyone has a lovely pink and green day!

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

A Few of My Favorite Things

I'm trying to get myself back into gear as I've slipped into relaxed, vacation mode and I need to motivate myself again. I don't go on my big vacation trip until autumn so must stay focused for now. I'm feeling somewhat inspired by last week's Bursary of Bliss over at Windy Poplars, so here are a few of my favorite things:

1. Revisiting books I love - lately that would be Madeleine L'Engle, but L.M. Montgomery is another perennial favorite of mine. And there are many more - I am a voracious reader.
2. Cooking
3. Cats - and I love the way they smell behind the ears!
4. Sniffing through different perfumes
5. Being outside on a sunny, breezy day
6. Walking through a garden
7. Laundry drying in the sun
8. The quiet of snow falling - I always think snow is God's way of telling people to slow down and take a break.
9. Taking tea
10. Changing from winter linens to spring ones and vice versa
11. seeing all my favorite family members at Thanksgiving - no gifts, no pressure, just enjoying people's company
12. Driving in my car, singing along with the radio
13. Going to Kingsmill in the spring
14. the Blue Ridge Mountains in the fall
15. standing on the beach at night under a full moon
16. driving under Spanish moss
17. dark chocolate
18. dancing when no one's looking
19. watching fireworks
20. the sun through stained glass windows
21. the taste of fresh berries
22. picking out yarn to start a new knitting project
23. the way my husband smiles at me like we share a private joke
24. seeing something I've planted in my garden coming to life; I am the worst gardener ever and I love the miracle of seeing something I didn't kill.
25. the smell of woods and water after a rain

Monday, July 5, 2010

Smells Like a Monday #4 - America

In honor of Independence Day, I had to choose a perfume with some all-American, patriotic quality about it. America, a scent by Perry Ellis, immediately came to mind. Launched on the 4th of July in 1996, this scent was designed to pay tribute to the independence of the United States of America. In her book Fabulous Fragrances II, Jan Moran describes America as a "casual scent" and discusses how the perfumer gathered materials from all over the United States and blended them into one lovely perfume. In addition, to support the environments from which the materials came, the packaging is all made of recycled material.

This fragrance is indeed very casual. It's the perfect thing to wear with jeans or khakis while cooking out or simply running errands around town. The notes are listed as Texas ruby red grapefruit, lilacs from the Carolinas, freesia from East Hampton, Alaska blueberry, California nectarine, yucca flowers, honeysuckle, iced tea, lily, Virginia cedarwood, Hawaiian vanilla flower, redwood, plum and musk. I believe this scent is no longer in active production, but I've seen it at outlet mall discounters and it can also be found fairly easily in online shops such as Perfume Emporium or Parfum1.

This scent is not heavy by any means and it has a chameleon quality that I admire. Somehow it manages to be floral, spicy and a little bit fruity all at the same time. When I first apply it, the hint of southern sweet tea is the first thing I notice. It really smells like I'm having sweet tea on my aunt's porch, and I can smell the tea as well as the scents from her garden wafting in and out. As the scent warms up on my skin, I catch more floral notes and a bit of the cedarwoood with just a hint of sweetness underlying it all. If you like to have something that is undemanding and easy to wear, this one is good to have in your wardrobe.

I hope everyone had a happy 4th of July!

Friday, July 2, 2010


O beautiful for spacious skies,

for amber waves of grain,

for purple mountain majesties,

above the fruited plain!

America, America!

God shed His grace on thee.

And crown thy good with brotherhood

From sea

to shining sea!

Happy Independence Day, everyone!