"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."

Sunday, August 29, 2010

Smells Like a Monday #9 - Kai

Yes, I know. I've been bad and not posted regularly for the past few weeks. Such is the craziness of my work life. However, it's the last Monday before Labor Day and there's one summer perfume I want to mention before we head into fall. Kai is not too heavy, but it pretty much screams tropics to me. It's a beautiful white floral that comes in oil form. There is now a spray version, but the oil is heavenly, so I can't imagine not wanting to use the original. Favored by a diverse group of stars from Reese Witherspoon to Maria Shriver, Kai is a sweetly tropical floral with notes of gardenia, jasmine, tuberose and lily.

This is perfect floral to wear with your own Lilly. Though the notes make this sound like an almost overpowering floral, it really isn't. It starts off sweet, clear and a little greenish. As the oil warms up on skin, it gets to be more floral and less green, but it stays relatively close to the skin. The tropical prints on the clothes and the beautiful rich tropical notes of the scent blend together perfectly. So, before Labor Day passes us by, I say it's time to pull out a cute Lilly Pulitzer dress and a dab for Kai for one last summer cookout.

Kai is available at a number of shops. I've seen it in several cute little boutiques, but I most often order it from Luckyscent or Beautyhabit. Partially, I like the convenience of not having to drive to Richmond or Charlottesville for it, and I also love the great customer service at Luckyscent and especially Beautyhabit.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Cooking on Really Hot Days - and a Recipe!

I love to cook. I enjoy playing with herbs and spices and watching ingredients come together in the kitchen to create something new. It's the one major chore I would not want to hire someone else to do. However, there are times, such as during awful heat waves, when the thought of turning on a stove makes me just a little queasy.

Virginia tends to get hot and humid during the summer, but there are often breaks in the heat. In addition, our "hot and humid" tends to hover in the 80s. The weeks on end of temperatures in the 90s as we've had this year are hotter than I'm used to, and I'm happy to see fall coming. However, in the meantime I've been making the best of it with tomato salads, fresh melons from the farmer's market and simple recipes that don't require heating up the entire kitchen.

One of my favorites has been spaghetti squash "pasta". This one is a lot of fun to play with. I put different things in there every time I make it. Earlier this week, I made a version with a couple tablespoons of olive oil, some fresh cilantro, red pepper flakes and shredded parmesan. It's also good with garlic, olive oil and sliced cherry tomatoes, or with shredded cheddar, fresh parsley and sauteed mushrooms.

Here's how you make the basic spaghetti squash (quick and easy, I promise!):

1. Using a sharp knife, make slits in the rind of the spaghetti squash all the way around. This is very important - you don't want your squash to explode during cooking. Trust me on this one. :-)

2. Place spaghetti squash on a microwave-safe plate, put it in your microwave and zap it at 4 minute intervals until it's ready. The squash is ready when you see the juices oozing out of the slits you made in the rind and the squash gives slightly when pressed. For most sqaushes, this will take 10-12 minutes of cooking.

3. Let squash cool for 5-10 minutes.

4. Cut squash open lengthwise. Taking a fork, remove the seeds and then scrape along the inside of the squash. The interior will come apart as you do this, looking almost exactly like spaghetti.

5. Collect the "spaghetti" in a large bowl, and toss with whatever toppings you care to use.


Friday, August 20, 2010

August Craziness - and pictures!

Do you ever have times where it just seems like your job ate your life? I've been going through one of those lately. For some reason, all of my cases just decided to blow up and need immediate attention over the past two weeks. And I realized that I never did post my promised report back from tax-free weekend. I hit some great sales and had fantastic luck!

At The Pink Palm in Richmond, I got to check out the new fall Lilly collection. I'm drooling over several of the pieces, but this cute dress really caught my eye. They had it in two prints, and I'm loving both! This is the one that was on the mannequin and ready for its close-up, though:

I made myself be good, and stick to sales for now, though. Given that they had the gorgeous Lovell shift in my size, this wasn't exactly a hardship. I tend to wear lots of greens and blues, but this cheery yellow is a lovely change. I wore it to church last Sunday, and I felt so sunny!

I had lunch at a very yummy cafe next to Pink Palm. It's called Mosaic and they pride themselves on cooking dishes with local ingredients. The salad tasted out-of-the-backyard-garden fresh, and I had a very good dish of pasta with fresh cherry tomatoes. I will definitely keep this little place in mind for my next Richmond jaunt.

At Talbots, I managed to break my "sales only" rule. Still, I think the shoes were worth it. I will wear these all fall. Aren't they cute?

I also found this fun blouse that will brighten up my navy suits for work. I wore it to court today, and it looked great. It was a nice change from my usual button-down shirts.

At the venerable Levy's, I have to admit that I was somewhat surprised. I haven't been to Levy's in Virginia Beach very often, but I remember them having cute beachy clothes. The Levy's in Charlottesville was, if not as cool as the Corner, still definitely quite the preppy shop when I was in college - and known for years as a great place to find dresses. However, the Richmond store seems to cater to an older crowd. Many of the items in the front of the store were things my grandmother's more flamboyant friends would go for. Think comfortable knits and elastic waist pants in a variety of animal prints. It's not my thing, but I know some ladies who would love it. This Levy's still had a small dress rack, though, and in the very back of the store, they had some of the well-made basic shirts, polos, droolworthy cable knits, etc.. that their other stores are known for stocking.

It was there that I struck gold. Levy's was having its fantastic 3 for 1 sale (buy 1 piece and get 2 free). I managed to pick up a really flattering pair of khakis, some white jeans and a khaki skirt. Not exciting, but very necessary. And since they're all well-made pieces, I was happy.

Phew! It was quite the expedition - and I also ended up cashing in all my various Ann Taylor coupons to order the suit I showed in my last post. I can't believe it took me two weeks to recover, but there you go.

Hope everyone has a good weekend! I'm off to lunch with family tomorrow, but otherwise no major plans. How about you?

Friday, August 6, 2010

Tax-Free Weekend

This weekend is tax-free weekend in Virginia. I plan to go to Richmond tomorrow to celebrate. I need to replace a summer weight suit, so I plan to hit Dillard's and possibly also to check out this number at Ann Taylor. Lately, I've been very disappointed in the new design and lowered quality at Ann Taylor, but this suit looks like it could be nice so I'll at least look it over.

And here is its matching skirt:

I also plan to head out to the Lilly shop down there to see if there are any must-haves in my size. I wouldn't mind coming across this on sale:

Other than that, I'm not sure where else I'll go browsing. I've always liked Levy's, but we'll see how much shopping I can take in one day. I do tend to wilt in the heat!

So, does anyone else have shopping planned?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Pink and Green Thursday Goes to Disney

Since I was in Disney last week, I just had to make that my pink and green theme. There's an awful lot of it to be found there!

And last but not least, we end the day with...

Monday, August 2, 2010

Smells Like a Monday #8 - Guerlain Boutique at Epcot

As I mentioned in my last post, I spent most of last week down in Florida. While I was there, I got a chance to slip away and play at Epcot. Even though it was ridiculously hot and my sunglasses steamed up the moment I stepped out of the hotel, I had a blast! The food in the international pavilions is fantastic, and I had fun on the rides. If you're ever there, I highly recommend Soarin. I really did feel like I was flying!

And what does any of this have to do with perfume? Well, the venerable perfume house of Guerlain has its largest US boutique right in the middle of the French pavilion at Epcot. And on a fine sunny day last week, I got to spend a fun morning in it.

Most people best know Guerlain for its classic Shalimar, launched in 1925 and still very popular today. However, this perfume house has been around since 1828 and is one of the oldest perfume houses in the world. They have created more than 300 scents and many hold them in high esteem.

Guerlain is one of my very favorite houses, so when I stepped into the pavilion and saw their round, three-tiered table of perfume bottles sitting in the center of the floor, I felt a little thrill of excitement. First I visited some of my old favorites such as Eau Imperiale, Chant d'Aromes and Mitsouko. Then I found myself testing the scents I've never owned or never tried. There was the bracing clean scent of Vetiver pour Elle, the happy lemony freshness of Eau de Fleurs de Cedrat and the mysterious sophistication of Vol de Nuit (I want!).

The ladies at the shop are French and have trained at the flagship boutique in Paris. They were very helpful, and I enjoyed discussing the history of various scents with them. In the end, since it has been so very hot, I decided that my souvenir of Epcot would have to be something a little lighter. One of the ladies there brought out a bottle of a scent that she said was originally inspired by the gardens at Epcot and had been exclusive to this location until spring 2010. As soon as I tried this one on, I knew it would be perfect. It smelled of white flowers and honey on my skin and was pretty without being overpowering. And it was:

Flora Nymphea!

Flora Nymphea is a new scent in the Aqua Allegoria line, a limited edition line that Guerlain adds to each year to celebrate different scents found in nature such as rose, anise, mint, etc.. This scent has a little citrus to lighten it, but mostly I smelled orange blossom and honey as it settled into my skin. It's a soft floral and very wearable. And if you're interested in wearing Flora Nymphea yourself, you no longer have to go to Paris or Epcot to get it. It can be found at select Guerlain counters or ordered from here. I had a wonderful trip, but I'm glad to be home.

Sunday, August 1, 2010

Unexpectedly Offline

I actually had planned to blog this past week. However, I was on travel in Orlando for work and ended up spending less time planted in front of my computer than I had expected. On the plus side, I did have fun and I even got to sneak away to Epcot (will post later on this). However, that intense heat/humidity really got me, so I slept VERY well at the end of each day. My Fla. friends online definitely get lots of respect from me. It takes some serious toughness to live well in that weather!

Still, I will be back tomorrow. After all, not only did I get to go to Disney - I got to play in the Guerlain boutique at Epcot. If you have any interest at all in perfumery, that place is amazing!

Hope everyone had a good week and weekend!