Voluspa Creme Candle Collection

1:19 PM 9 Comments

Out of all the lovely presents Santa brought me this year, my favorite was the Voluspa Creme Candle gift set. Packaged in a gorgeous maroon and cream patterned box, this delightful collection of glass encased votive candles instantly brought a smile to my face.

I have always seen Voluspa candles in high end bath shops and spas, but for some reason had never purchased them for myself. I'm not sure what I was thinking (or smelling, rather) but these clean burning candles provide a powerful and sensuous fragrance while they burn and long after they flame has gone out.

I am usually highly picky with home scent, particularly with candles, so that is also why I was so surprised that each and every one of the ten scents appealed to me.

The collection contains the best of Voluspa's Creme Collection, including:

Sawara Cypress
- currently burning right now- it has an exotic, peppery scent... love it!
Pomegranate & Patchouli- sweet incense... lovely...
Saija Persimmon- heavenly for winter
Grapefruit Mint Cuttings- a great scent for the kitchen...
Honey Orange Blossom- clean and fresh smelling with a touch of sweet...
Casimiroa- an exotic, tropical fruit scent...
Clove Pomander- another wonderful winter delight
Vanilla Jasmine Tabac- the tabac adds a slight masculine edge to the otherwise feminine scent.
Hawaiian Maile Vine- a mysterious, tropical scent
Paheri Mango Leaf- sweet like a mango but with a certain je ne sais quoi...

This sampler set would make a lovely hostess present...

It's also a great way to treat yourself if you want to become familiar with the line...

Whichever way you look at it, Voluspa Creme Candle gift sets are a decadent treat!

For more information about Voluspa candles, please visit: www.voluspa.com



A Tale of Two Christmases

5:52 PM 9 Comments

With Christmas rapidly approaching, I can't help but feel excited about the festivities and good cheer that are (hopefully!) on the way.

This year, with the current economic crisis, the Christmas festivities have not been quite as festive as Mr. Fezziwig's ball from Charles Dicken's A Christmas Carol. No, that would seem too lavish and perhaps inappropriate. But they also have not been of the Bob Cratchit variety either. This year, the best Christmas gatherings meet somewhere in between... a little glitz and glamour mixed with the good cheer of quality time spent with close friends and family.

On Monday, I will have the pleasure of attending a gingerbread house party. My good friend N and I have lofty ambitions of making a show stopper gingerbread house, complete with flying buttresses and gargoyles!

I'm also looking forward to getting in touch with old friends who are back in town. Festive lunches, clinking glasses and gift-giving? How delightful...

But perhaps the main thing that is having me rub my hands together in delight and anticipation is the feast on Christmas day: Roast goose with pate and prune stuffing and all of the trimmings (a recipe straight from The Two Fat Ladies). This feast is not being prepared by me, but by my family (all the more reason to enjoy it!) I am in charge of the dessert. I'm thinking homemade apple pie... with a gorgeous, golden and flaky crust.

Oh dear... I'm already hungry...

I hope all of your holiday festivities, on a big scale or small, are bringing you happiness and good cheer...

Image of Mr. Fezziwig's Ball courtesy of: www.charlesdickenspage.com


It's a Green, Green Christmas

6:29 PM 12 Comments

I love giving gifts to friends and family during the holidays but usually stress about the prospect. Reason being? I want to give meaningful gifts that are personal, affordable and will be appreciated. Phew- So much pressure!

Luckily, this year I have my game plan and I'm going green! I've discovered these fabulous, reusable water bottles by Earthlust.

Made of food grade stainless steel, these custom designed bottles are chic to carry around and great for the environment.

I bought myself this gorgeous 13oz bottle with the tree design and I love it.

I will NEVER go back to wasteful plastic water bottles again!

I love this little one with the owl...

The bottles range between $16 and $21 dollars and make a fantastic stocking stuffer.

For my friends, I'm creating a little gift bag complete with Earthlust water bottles and Baggu reusable shopping bags. The perfect environmentally friendly gift...

For Earthlust bottles, please visit: www.earthlust.com


Meditations on a Full Moon

10:26 PM 8 Comments
Raise your hand if you've had a crazy last few days. I know I have. And now I sit at my computer, feeling as though I am coming to the end of a chapter that could well be titled: "Meditations on a Full Moon or Madness and all of its Friends".

I have a wonderful life- and not without madness, mind you. But the madness that started Thursday evening and ended just a few hours ago was not of the garden variety. Yes, the last few days brought me a mysterious plumbing catastrophe in my home, crazy, feuding neighbors, an almost tribal night of dancing at a friend's going away party and today a children's birthday party that would make the Mad Hatter's tea gathering look tame.

And I had to wonder, did any of this have to do with Friday's incredible full moon?

When the madness began to happen Thursday evening, I started to resist it but I found it much easier to let go of the paddles and just enjoy the experience like a wild and colorful dream.

So to end it on a peaceful note, I am staying in tonight, cuddling up with a new book (that will remain nameless as I am going to review it shortly) and am just going to appreciate a quiet evening at home.

Did you survive the madness of the full moon?


Je Suis Malade...

9:24 AM 10 Comments
Oh it rarely happens, but when it does... sheer misery!

But at least while I nurse this horrible cold I am in heaven reading the latest book from my favorite author Alexander McCall Smith: The World According to Bertie.

This is the fourth installment in the 44 Scotland Street series and it is as enthralling and endearing as the three before it.

I'm almost enjoying myself- but don't tell anyone!


These Are A Few Of My Favorite Things...

5:56 PM 17 Comments

My favorite movie of all time is Amelie or as it is known in France, Le Fabuleux Destin D'Amelie Poulain. I have been smitten with this movie from the day I saw it in a Paris Cinema over seven years ago. Now, I am definitely a film buff and have many favorites, but no film has ever moved me as Amelie has. Maybe it's because I relate to her so much... who knows?

One of my favorite aspects of the movie is how the narrator introduces each character by listing the small pleasures that they love in life.

For example, Amelie enjoys: plunging her hands into a sack of grain at the market, skipping stones across St. Martin's Canal, and cracking the top of a creme brulee with a spoon...

It is, after all, the small things that are so telling about a person, n'est pas?

So, in the spirit of Amelie, here are a few of my favorite small pleasures in life:

- At night, getting in to a well-made bed. There is something so luxurious about clean sheets, perfectly orchestrated with the duvet, blankets and pillows... ahhh...

- Walking my dog at twilight. This is my favorite time of day... I love looking at people's living rooms all lit up and seeing the way they live... (in a non-creepy way, of course).

- Having a coca-cola with sushi. I generally avoid the stuff (coke, not sushi) and generally consider it poisonous, but for some reason LOVE to have it with my sashimi and spider rolls...

- Laughter. You've all seen the carrot, and now, another picture that will hopefully make you smile...

The list could go on forever...

I would love to know the small things in life that bring you pleasure...

Image of Amelie poster, courtesy of: www.wickimedia.com

Image of Amelie with spoon, courtesy of: www.guardian.co.uk

Image of cute baby monkey from: www.cuteoverload.com


On Exercise

3:20 PM 12 Comments

Today I went hiking up Runyon Canyon with two of my good friends. I consider myself to be pretty physically fit, but for some reason, today's hike was incredibly difficult.

Had the hills gotten steeper since the last time I went? Or maybe it was the headwind?

No, I believe it is because I had taken a few days off from my usual exercise routine for the Thanksgiving holiday. That, coupled with the fact that I consumed copious amounts of food I don't normally eat, along with various glasses of wine and coffee (although not all at the same time... thankfully).

What a difference a few days can make!

I think everyone hits that plateau when they are exercising, when they think they simply cannot go on. Where they would rather be any place, doing anything else than what they are currently doing. This happened today while hiking up the unusually steep hill (it has been raining here, maybe it was just a tad steeper). I honestly considered asking my friends to turn around so we could all get breakfast. But then I remembered the title of one of my favorite books by Jon Kabat-Zinn, that says: "Wherever You Go, There You Are".

And there I was. Out of breath, sweating profusely, arduously climbing the hill. I just accepted it in that moment and was able to push through. Not so bad after all...

Now if only I can remember this bit of wisdom in my early Monday morning yoga class...

I would love to know what you do to keep physically fit...


Happy Thanksgiving: A Tribute to my Favorite Blogs

7:07 PM 11 Comments

As Thanksgiving approaches I tend to pause and appreciate the people and things in life that I am grateful for. Really I should do this all year long (and I do to an extent- although my gratitude journal is not as full as it could be- oops!)

I am incredibly grateful for so many things; one of the main being all of the wonderful blogs I follow. Ladies, you raise the bar when it comes to writing, discussion, art, point of view and living. You elevate my happiness and really broaden my mind. So as a tribute to my favorite blogs, a little word on each:

Jenavira at Scent of Abricots: the lovely images, music and perfume reviews are as soothing as a cup of tea. I always look forward to seeing what the SOTD is…

Rose at A Rose Beyond the Thames: I love that this blog covers so many topics from a fabulously British point of view.

Scentscelf at Notes From the Ledge: Some of the most intricate and colorful perfume reviews I’ve ever read! I never fail to smile and ponder at the same time…

Divina at Fragrance Bouquet: I love Divina’s blog because of her beautiful prose and the joie de vivre that runs through the pulse of her words…

Helg at Perfume Shrine: Helg’s in-depth reviews are fabulous. I love her point of view and writing style… she’s a true perfumista.

Vicki at French Essence: Vicki’s thought-provoking posts are a joy to read. I love to live vicariously though her French adventures…

Here, There, Elsewhere… and More
: This is a beautiful blog that always provides stunning images and a lot to ponder. I love that it is bilingual as it keeps me up on my French.

So there you have it. Thank you for your constant inspiration... for me, you make this world a wonderland. I look forward to keeping the discussions going!

And to my American readers, I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving...

P.S.- I'm not sure what David Stoupakis' haunting painting, "Balance", has to do with Thanksgiving, or gratitude or any of my favorite blogs but it has been on my mind recently and therefore, it is up :)

"Balance" courtesy of: www.davidstoupakis.com


Crepes, Theatre and the Fabulous Beryl Cook

7:08 PM 10 Comments

So far this week has been quite social for me. Monday night was spent dining at The Creperie in Beverly Hills with three of my best friends. We spent the night eating crepes, laughing and reminiscing... who could ask for a better evening?

Tuesday night I went to the lovely Ahmanson Theatre in Downtown to see the Tony Award winning musical, Spring Awakening. This show was fabulous, but a word to the wise- do not see this with your parents! Who knew so much nudity, cussing and racy actions could be packed into a musical that takes place in turn of the century Germany?! I should have known, with a name like Spring Awakening what I was getting myself into. Luckily I saw this with friends so the embarrassment factor was non-existent. Once I got past the shock factor, I thoroughly enjoyed myself.

And finally, while searching for images to post on tonight's blog, I came across the fabulous Beryl Cook's work (see Ladies Who Lunch, above). Cook died in May of this year and what a tragic loss. Her paintings, while not necessarily deep, sure did make me smile. I also love Dining in Paris, below.

Trust me, if Gatsby was allowed in restaurants, this is what "date night" would look like for my husband and me... escargot anyone?

For more information the Creperie, please visit: www.creperiebyjacknjills.com

For information on Spring Awakening, please visit: www.centertheatregroup.org

Ladies Who Lunch courtesy of: www.leadingartevents.co.uk

Dining in Paris courtesy of: www.studio18.co.uk


On Happiness

8:28 PM 19 Comments

Lately I have noticed a lot of articles written on the subject of happiness: what it is, how to get it and why so many people don’t have it. Yes, happiness seems to be the Holy Grail of emotions for many people right now, so in honor of that certain esprit or joie de vivre that we would all like to have more of, I have decided to list a few things that keep me happy on a daily basis.

- My dog, Gatsby (pictured, as a puppy, above). He is the ultimate companion and best friend. It doesn’t matter if I’ve left the house for two hours or ten minutes, when I step through the front door he is completely overjoyed to see me. His excitement and happiness is palpable and contagious. Any trace of a bad mood is instantly erased when I see that wagging tail.

- Exercise. I’m really enjoying the current combination of yoga, walking and qi gong. I’ve never been much of a gym person and these exercises just seem to boost my mood and keep me happy.

- Reading. As most of you know, I LOVE to read. (Which I why I am always so grateful when I get fab book recommendations from you). I usually read about one to two books a week- its just such a fantastic way to escape and to broaden the mind. What’s on my nightstand right now? Wherever You Go, There You Are by Jon Kabat Zinn.

- And lastly, finding humor in everyday life. You can imagine my reaction when I came across this carrot at the grocery store the other day... Sometimes spontaneous laughter is an instant portal to happiness.

I would love to know… what makes you happy?


Paris Tango by Carla Coulson

11:27 AM 15 Comments

Yesterday I received a signed copy of the amazing book Paris Tango as a gift from Vicki over at French Essence, one of my favorite new blogs. Vicki’s posting on “Which Parisian Are You?” instantly drew me in as it recalled the time when I lived in Paris as a student- one of the most memorable and fabulous times of my life. So you can imagine the joy and sheer glee when I came home from lunch yesterday to find this gorgeous book on my doorstep.

Paris Tango is a book of staggering beauty with photography and writings by Carla Coulson, an Australian in Paris. It is the sort of book that draws you in instantly- Coulson divides the book into ten chapters: Photography, The Marais, Moulin Rouge, Artists, Gardens, Perfume, Haute Couture, Dogs, The Parisians and Dance. Each chapter is filled with her artistic photography and well written anecdotes about life in Paris.

I spent hours yesterday, perusing through the images and reading about her experience. As I did so, one word kept reverberating in my mind, passion. Yes, that is, perhaps, the reason why so many of us love Paris and why those of us who have been lucky enough to live there or visit are so enthralled by all things French. There is a passion that vibrates through this city. It moves through your pulse and is on the tip of your tongue. It is on your mind and in what you eat. Passion. Carla Coulson’s book is so brilliant because she managed to capture this feeling and put it to the page.

Merci beaucoup Vicki for this wonderful present- I am forever grateful.

For more information on the author, please visit: www.carlacoulson.com


Kiss My Face Moisture Soap in Almond

8:33 PM 7 Comments

To continue my review of fantastic products that still bring luxury to your life without breaking your bank, I bring to you Kiss My Face moisture soap in Almond.

I love high quality soap. Let's face it; we wash our hands so often throughout the day, it is important to use a soap that not only provides moisture, but smells of sheer luxury too.

I also love taking a moment to indulge in small pleasures, so whenever I wash my hands with this lovely soap, I pause and inhale the heady, sweet, aromatic fragrance of almonds- one of my favorite scents.

Kiss My Face products are self-described as "obsessively natural", so you can really rest assured that you are not using a product with artificial fragrance or parabens. It proudly contains Olive oil (for moisture), aloe vera, vitamins A & E, herbs, flowers and natural almond essence. This soap feels and smells expensive but retails at about $4.99- fantastic!

Inexpensive enough to use everyday, yet chic enough to have in your powder room, Kiss My Face moisture soap in Almond has been, for me, a luxurious find.

Kiss My Face products can be purchased at Whole Foods or online at www.kissmyface.com



Happy Voting

5:14 PM 5 Comments

What an exciting time in American Politics...

It is Monday night and it feels as though we are all collectively holding our breath...

I wish everyone a happy Tuesday and leave with the thought that I am very grateful to be able to vote tomorrow and exercise my right as a citizen- the right to voice my opinion and hopefully make a difference...

Happy voting...

Image from the women's suffrage movement courtesy of: www.albany.edu


Ode to the Orchid

3:07 PM 6 Comments
In these pressing economic times, many people are getting creative about still living a good life- but with frugality. In my home, I love to be surrounded by plants and flowers. I believe adding plants to your décor is not only good for feng shui, but it’s a fantastic way to breathe life into your environment. Having fresh flowers all the time, however, is quite a luxury. I am not lucky enough to have my own garden (just a humble balcony with geraniums in pots) so growing my own flowers is out of the question. Instead, I turn to the orchid- that fantastic, exotic flower that adds a touch of mystery and luxe to any room.

The amazing thing about orchids is not only are they strikingly beautiful, but, if cared for properly, their blooms can last for months on end- allowing you to be surrounded by beautiful flowers, but not breaking your budget. I’ve even had some blooms last as long as four months! This orchid in our guest bedroom, pictured below, has provided these beautiful blooms for about three months now…

Depending on where you go, orchids can really range in prices. Orchids tend to be quite pricey at a florists shop… If you can find an orchid wholesaler in your area, they tend to be much more affordable. I go to Pac8 Orchids in Los Angeles. It is orchid heaven- an entire warehouse filled to the brim with gorgeous blooms at wholesale prices.

Last week I bought this purple phalaenopsis orchid at Trader Joe’s (pictured on my dining room table, above) for only $12.99...

My secret to keeping them alive and beautiful for months on end? I water my orchids once a week and let them sit in the sink for about a half hour until the water has completely drained through the plant. This way, the water does not become stagnant and the roots stay moist and healthy. Also, I keep them out of direct sunlight and give them plenty of love with monthly “feedings”. Most orchid enthusiasts have their own secret to keeping their plants gorgeous… what’s yours?

Pac 8 orchids is located at 3532 Overland Ave., Los Angeles, CA

For information on Trader Joe’s, please visit: www.traderjoes.com


Ghosts Among Us

9:45 AM 4 Comments

In honor of Halloween, and because there seems to be a surge in paranormal activity in the world (and in my personal life) right now, I have been reading the book, Ghosts Among Us: Uncovering the Truth About the Other Side, by medium and Ghost Whisperer producer James Van Praagh. This is an informative little book that could well be described as a Ghosts 101 manual. Van Praagh takes us on a journey starting with his own personal story and then goes on to explain some mysteries involving death, the spirit world and hauntings.

In each chapter a “practical” explanation is offered to some of our most burning questions regarding ghosts. His matter of fact and confident writing almost makes the reader feel like they are reading a textbook on the subject. In fact, the text was so straightforward and “normal” I was almost disappointed. I was expecting to be spooked and thrilled- but to Van Praagh, the spirit world is apart of his everyday life so he writes about it as such. He intersperses stories of his own personal experiences with the spirit world (and he has many)- some of them so fantastic you almost can’t help but believe.

Van Praagh is, of course, often met with heavy critics of his work. He writes about brushing aside those naysayers and staying true to his convictions and what he knows to be the truth about ghosts and the other side. In one anecdote, Van Praagh writes about going on the Howard Stern show. Stern, a very vocal critic of Van Praagh's, started the show by saying, “You know, I don’t really believe you can talk to the dead”. Van Praagh promptly replied, “I don’t care what you believe”. Needless to say, the interview went very well from that moment forward. Van Praagh insists that his spirit guides gave him strength to stand up to the shock jock.

Van Praagh also discusses how ghosts try to contact us via moving objects, flickering light bulbs, and showing up as "orbs" or other wispy figures in photographs. Throughout my life I have had personal experiences with all of the above and was thrilled to read other people's stories and know that I am a) not alone in these experiences and b) not crazy.

The most interesting part of the book, however, is when Van Praagh gives detailed descriptions on how to “make contact” with the other side. Here Van Praagh says that intention is the most important thing. One must have a motive behind wanting to contact ghosts, as ghost hunting is very involving and should not be taken lightly. The other components one needs to make contact are: permission, equipment, preparation, and investigation.

So for anyone who has had ghostly experiences in their life or anyone who is interested in making contact with the spirit world, James Van Praagh’s Ghosts Among Us is a great place to start.

Would love to hear about any ghostly encounters you daily connoisseurs have had...

Happy Halloween!

Image of book courtesy of: www.barnesandnoble.com

Ghosts Among Us can be purchased at: www.amazon.com and www.barnesandnoble.com


Home Sweet Home and I've Been Tagged

9:20 AM 19 Comments

B and I arrived home from England a few days earlier than planned and I must say it feels great to be home. We had a fantastic time while there and I want to thank everyone for your well wishes while I was away!

Now, on to more important business... I have been tagged by the lovely Jenavira at Scent of Abricots. I also got an honorable mention from my favorite blogger to make me smile, Scentscelf over at Notes from the Ledge, so here I go!

When tagged, one must:

1. Link to the person who tagged you
2. Post the rules on your blog
3. Write six random things about yourself
4. Tag six people at the end of your post and link to them
5. Let each person know they've been tagged and leave a comment on their blog
6. Let the tagger know when your entry is up.

For my six random things…

1.My favorite poet of all time is Dorothy Parker. Her reputation as the wittiest woman in America was well deserved- her poetry was always delivered with a sharp edge of satirical humor. Here’s one of my favorites:

The Flaw in Paganism
Drink and dance and laugh and lie,
Love the reeling midnight through,
For tomorrow we shall die!
(But, alas, we never do.)

2. My favorite living painter is David Stoupakis. His paintings are very haunting- gothic, yet modern. Every time I look at them, I can’t help but be affected by them for hours or even days to come. My favorite painting of his is “The Day the Frogs Rain Down” (above).

3. If I were able to invite any three people in the world to a dinner party (I love fantasizing about these things), I would ask Tim Gunn, Oprah Winfrey and Alexander McCall Smith- partly because they would make for fantastic conversation and company, but also because they are each connoisseurs in their own right:

I love Tim Gunn (as a lot of you know). To me, he is the ultimate connoisseur of quality, taste and style.

Oprah Winfrey, because she is responsible for introducing me- via her talk show and her XM radio “Soul Series”- to many of the spiritual concepts I have incorporated into my life.

And Alexander McCall Smith- one of my favorite authors of all time. His No. 1 Ladies Detective Agency series warms my heart and provides an excitement in me that I haven’t felt since I was a child. I also love his 44 Scotland Street series.

4. My favorite cuisine is French, swiftly followed by Japanese…

5. I try to meditate every day… “try” being the operative word. Sometimes I sit in my meditation corner and do nothing but think about my “to do” lists, and sometimes I am really able to just be still and send my hectic thoughts away…

6. I’m currently writing my first novel… a mystery.

Now, as I am at the tail end of this tag party… most of my favorite blogs have already been tagged (please see “my blog list”, right) so I am listing only three below…

Rose at A Rose Beyond the Thames- This is a fabulous blog about life in London…

Lauren Elkin at Maitress- I love this blog about literature and culture in Paris, the city of light…

Marjorie at My Inner French Girl- I am new to this blog and am loving it so far...

Image of “The Day the Frogs Rain Down” courtesy of: http://www.phantasmaphile.com


The Stoke Park Club and Weddings!

3:00 AM 8 Comments

This past weekend I attended at wedding at the gorgeous Manor house in Stoke Poges, just overlooking the golf course. I love a good wedding and this was one of the nicest I'd ever been too. It was also my first traditional English wedding and I was loving every minute of it. The night before we stayed at the illustrious Stoke Park Club hotel to catch up with friends and get ready for the wedding festivities in style- and did we ever! The hotel is magnificent. You'd be hard pressed to find something so utterly gorgeous, old fashioned and luxurious in Los Angeles so it was an incredible treat for me to stay there.

As we drove to the hotel I noticed the magnificent green of the golf course on my right and on my left a rather large pond- complete with graceful swans and beautiful water lilies. A strange sense of deja vu came over me. The feeling continued as we checked in at reception and then were presented to our room- The "William and Mary" suite. I later found out that Bridget Jones' Diary was filmed here- and that pond was the infamous one that Hugh Grant had so much trouble in. Our room was beautiful and traditionally English with overstuffed chairs and sofas- a grand bed and a stately color scheme.

The loveliness continued at the wedding the following day. Every guest turned out in their finest- gorgeous dresses and flamboyant hats; the men in tails and colorful ties. (My dark blue Temperley dress and Vivien Sheriff hat were a big hit!) It was a church wedding complete with traditional hymns (I had to do some improvisational lip syncing). The celebration continued afterwards as we were ushered towards the tents on the lawn, glowing with candle light. After cocktails and hors d'oeuvres, we made our way towards the dining area- an amazing marquis shining with the light of chandeliers and candelabras. Dinner was traditional- shrimp cocktail and lamb with roast vegetables. The conversation was lively and the dancing afterwards was even more so. My favorite part, as always, were the speeches. I always get emotional when I hear family members and friends give speeches at weddings- maybe it's because I know they feel safe in saying the things they wouldn't otherwise say and give expressions of love and emotion. My favorite speech was given by the father of the bride...

The evening ended with over two dozen Chinese lanterns being released to the sky... pure magic.

For information on staying at the Stoke Park Club please visit: www.stokeparkclub.com

Image of Stoke Park Club provided by: www.vivideventgroup.com

Image of room provided by: www.stokeparkclub.com


An American in London

7:15 AM 12 Comments

Greetings from London! We arrived last Thursday in England and were greeted with weather that rivaled the heat in LA! We flew Virgin Atlantic in premium economy which is ideal for us- we don’t have to pay the exorbitant prices of upper class and still get to sit towards the front of the plane with larger seats and plenty of leg room… they even give you champagne! (Which I turned down of course, never drink while up in the air… water only, thank you).

Anyhow, customs was a breeze, luggage retrieval was a breeze and the moment I stepped outside I became rather hot in my jeans, cardigan and trench coat- what was I saying before I left about getting away from the eternal summer of California? Maybe I brought the weather with me…

The first evening was spent in Surrey at my wonderful in-law’s house. We got to see most of the family including my adorable niece who has decided I am her favorite person in the world (for now, anyway).

Since then we have spent every evening in London- Chelsea to be exact. I love it here. The people are so chic- my people watching skills are in full swing. Yesterday we had lunch at a new restaurant in Sloane Square called The Botanist. It was packed with people and I must say they could have all qualified as connoisseurs. I think the English subscribe to the same mantra the French do: quality over quantity. I loved looking at the well dressed men and women lunching daintily over sea bass and salmon cakes. The English love high quality accessories- gorgeous handbags, lovely watches, tasteful jewelry. Now I know this is a generalization but I can truthfully say everyone lunching at The Botanist fell under this category

Yes, everything is going swimmingly, in fact so far, I only have two problems with being here. Number one being jet lag- there is nothing as maddening as finding yourself wide awake at 3am, finally falling asleep at 4am and then having to wake up at 9am. Number two being expense. The exchange rate of dollars to pounds is slightly better than it used to be but still- we just had a modest brunch that cost almost $60- and on the way to brunch I saw a pair of True Religion jeans that I own (I spent $165 on them) for sale for nearly $400!

I did, however, manage to find an outfit to wear to the wedding this weekend. I am going with a lovely deep blue dress by Temperley, London and a fantastic hat by Vivien Sheriff… all purchased at Selfridges.

The plan for this week? Lots of dinners with family and friends, an Agatha Christie play in Windsor with my cousin on Friday night (how could I resist?!) and, of course, the wedding on Saturday.

I hope you all have a wonderful week!

Image of The Botanist Restaurant courtesy of: www.squaremeal.co.uk


London Town

7:34 PM 12 Comments
This Wednesday my husband and I are off to London to spend three weeks working and visiting with family and friends. During this time, my posts on The Daily Connoisseur will be less frequent but I will do my best to update you all on any exciting adventures I get myself into. I especially want to thank those of you that gave me such valuable feedback on what to wear as a guest attending my first English wedding- I can’t wait to report back and tell you how it goes!

Now on to the subject of packing. I believe a true connoisseur packs light (lots of baggage is never a good look) but this is proving difficult. Three weeks is quite a long time and I still haven’t figured out how to work the washing machine at the flat in London. Right now my suitcase sits stuffed but I think tomorrow I will cull through my options and pair down my clothes to a few streamlined choices that will work well in different combinations and situations.

One of the things I love about London is the way people dress. There is an air of sophistication and formality you just don’t get in Southern California. Here, a pair of True Religion jeans, a white t-shirt from Vince and a good pedicure will take you anywhere you want to go. In London, I look forward to wearing dresses with tights and chic boots, ballet flats with skinny jeans and heels in the evening- velvet jackets and plaid coats. Oh dear, what was I saying about packing light? I think I have my work cut out for me. I must remember that the benefit of leaving room in one’s suitcase is that it leaves room to purchase things along the way…

Of course, the most important thing to bring on a trip is a good book.
This time I will be reading Dashiell Hammett's The Maltese Falcon. I'm a HUGE mystery fan and I hear this is the ultimate. It's one of those books that has always been near the top of my reading list but for one reason or another I haven't gotten around to it- until now. Suddenly that 10 hour flight isn't looking so bad...

I hope you all have a wonderful week and I look forward to writing to you from London town!

Image of Andrea Laliberte's "London" courtesy of: www.allposters.com

Image of The Maltese Falcon courtesy of: www.fantasticfiction.co.uk


Get Positively Beautiful- Or Don't Waste the Pretty

7:38 AM 8 Comments

A few nights ago I was having dinner with two of my really good girlfriends. Enjoying each other’s company over Italian food and candlelight we were discussing the usual topics: career, men and beauty (not necessarily in that order). While discussing beauty we somehow got on the topic of how we take ourselves for granted and sometimes don’t present ourselves to our full potential.

I was telling them that earlier in the day I had worn a dress I don’t usually wear and had received several compliments from total strangers while working and running errands (granted some of those strangers were homeless- but hey, every compliment counts). This, of course, got me thinking. Why did I never wear this dress? Is it because I’m afraid that it will draw attention to me?

Incidentally, my girlfriends related. We found that we usually “play down” our beauty either because we don’t want the attention or simply can’t be bothered. What a shame! My friend J said this reminded her of the catchphrase: “don’t waste the pretty” from the bestselling book He’s Just Not That Into You by Greg Behrendt. Whether stressing over a man, your career or your perceived beauty flaws, women everywhere are wasting the “pretty”- and we were some of them!

Then, yesterday I got my bi-monthly delivery from Amazon (I have a slight addiction and always have books on the way to my house) and was delighted to find in the stack of books I’d ordered Carmindy’s new book, Get Positively Beautiful- The Ultimate Guide to Looking and Feeling Gorgeous. Carmindy is the makeup artist on TLC’s hit show What Not to Wear and is single-handedly responsible for educating me on the application of makeup thanks to her first bestselling book- The 5-Minute Face: The Quick and Easy Makeup Guide For Every Woman.

In Get Positively Beautiful, Carmindy urges women to look at their beauty from a positive angle. Rather than looking in the mirror and focusing on what you dislike about yourself, she encourages us to focus on what’s fabulous and flaunt it- in other words, don’t waste the pretty! She denounces the unfortunate beauty standard that the industry and celebrities have placed so high. The book is filled with tips for makeup application in every season- for every type of face- and even has a section in the back with real makeovers (and we all know how much I love a makeover).

The book is also full of positive beauty mantras to say to yourself in the mirror. Call me crazy, but I believe mantras work. One of my favorite television shows of all time is Absolutely Fabulous, that whacky, farcical delight about two women navigating their way through life in a constantly heightened state. In one of my favorite episodes Edina and Patsy are in the bathroom and Edina asks Patsy: “When you look in the mirror, what do you see?” Patsy promptly replies, “Me looking Fabulous”.

Now that's the type of attitude we could all benefit from...

Get Positively Beautiful by Carmindy is available from: www.amazon.com

Image of book courtesy of: www.barnesandnoble.com

Image of Patsy courtesy of: www.bbc.co.uk


English Wedding

8:15 AM 11 Comments

Next week I’ll be leaving Santa Monica and traveling to England for three whole weeks- (*rubbing my hands together*) and I can’t wait! I LOVE England- the people, the roasts, the blazing fires and yes, even the weather (eternal summer in California does get tiresome). This time while there, however, I will be attending my first English wedding. The invitation came in the mail a few weeks ago and suggested “morning dress” for the dress code. Petrified and excited all at the same time, I googled “morning dress” and found a lot of rules for the men- tails, ascot, top hat optional etc.- but no suggestions for the women. I started to panic. Sure I have a lot of great silk dresses that I’ve worn to weddings in California but I’m pretty sure they don’t qualify as “morning dress” and I’m even more sure a hat needs to be thrown into this equation (yikes!).

I do remember recently reading a lot of press about Kate Middleton attending a few royal weddings without Prince William and decided to study her for inspiration…. After all I can’t go wrong learning from a potential future queen!

Here’s what I found:

This is Kate attending the royal wedding of Autumn Kelly and Peter Phillips...

...and attending the wedding of Laura Parker Bowles to Harry Lopes.

I’m noticing a trend of dresses with fitted jackets and, of course, delicious little hats.

I would love any input from you daily connoisseurs on what types of things one wears to an English wedding… I need all the help I can get!

Image of England courtesy of: http:davenportlibrary.com

First image of Kate Middleton courtesy of: www.dailymail.co.uk

Second image of Kate courtesy of: www.dailylife.com


Hitchcock's Coast

7:36 AM 7 Comments

It's off to Grandmother's house we go... yes today we are driving up the beautiful California coast to spend a much needed weekend with Grandma. I always love this drive, the coast is so dramatic, it never fails to remind me of some of my favorite Hitchcock films like Vertigo and The Birds.

We shall travel light and only carry the essentials: Chocolatt from Belgium (for Grandma of course), a light weekender bag, our Chihuahua, Gatsby and for scent: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.

For more information on Chocolatt... from Belgium, visit: www.chocolatt.com

Image courtesy of: www.san-simeon-lodging.com


On Posture

9:22 PM 14 Comments

People watching is one of my favorite pastimes. I love nothing more (if weather permits) than to sit outside at a café sipping tea and watching passersby. I am fascinated by people’s choices in fashion, grooming and companions- but most of all I love to observe how people carry themselves. Lately, I have noticed a lot of bad posture- or lack of pride in the carriage of oneself- people walking around with slumped shoulders and a dreadful frown to match. Now I know that we are living in uncertain times, which could attribute to this lack of poise that plagues so many of us, but my view is: now is a better time than ever to pull your shoulders down and walk with a sense of purpose (even if you currently have none).

The reason that posture has been on my mind recently is because this past Saturday I was out shopping for curtains. As I was walking through the sumptuous fabrics in the shop, I had tunnel vision to the task at hand- finding the perfect fabric! It must work well with neutral paint- not too traditional and not too modern. Nothing fussy, yet not too plain. I was so absorbed in this task that I walked in front of a mirror thinking that I was looking at another person. A split second passed and I realized I was looking at myself! My shoulders were slumped forward, my brow furrowed and a slight frown was on my face. Quelle horreur! I paused in front of this mirror, wondering how many hours in my day are spent looking like this.

Instantly, I straightened up. I shifted my handbag from my right side to my left, pulled my shoulders down and forced a smile to correct the otherwise morose position my face had recently taken. Oh dear. This got me thinking.

I’ve always prided myself on relatively good posture but it has never been something that comes naturally to me. I must remind myself constantly. The first time I ever really thought about the importance of the way one carries oneself was over a decade ago. I was shopping with my parents in Geary’s of Beverly Hills. They were buying a new set of china for their house. While my mother and sister were upstairs browsing the dinnerware options, my father and I were downstairs looking at watches. We were in a discussion with the lady behind the counter when out of the corner of my eye the sliding door opened to the shop and a man walked in. Before I could turn to look and see who it was I could tell it was someone with good energy and a lot of confidence. I could just sense that this person had good posture and, dare I say, a smile on his face. I turned to see who it was and, lo and behold, it was Kyle Mac Lachlan, the actor, of Blue Velvet and Sex and the City fame. He carried himself with such poise and grace it was truly a pleasure to witness. He had made an entrance.

Ever since my Kyle Mac Lachlan sighting, I have essayed to improve my posture as well as my entrances (and exits) from a room. I believe it is the single most important thing that anyone can do to improve his or her look.
Tim Gunn, style guru and author of Tim Gunn A Guide to Quality, Taste and Style, writes in his book that “the well positioned shoulder tells the world that you are a confident, healthy individual- not a showboat or a dormouse”. I couldn’t have put it better myself. Gunn also goes on to correct the misguided thought that one must pull their shoulders back to have good posture. Rather, he suggests that you pull your shoulders down and imagine your spine being elongated. A slight tucking in of the pelvis is also suggested.

So in honor of Tim, Kyle and the rest of the stylish world, I am trying to be vigilant with good posture… hopefully one day soon, it will come as second nature to me and I wont shock myself in anymore fabric store mirrors. To posture!

Tim Gunn's book can be purchased at: www.amazon.com

Image of Kyle Maclachlan courtesy of: www.yahootv.com

Image of book courtesy of: www.amazon.com


The Perfect Scent by Chandler Burr- A Book Review

7:48 AM 4 Comments

This week, I indulged myself in Chandler Burr’s The Perfect Scent- A Year Inside the Perfume Industry in Paris and New York. It is a book that Mr. Burr, scent critic for T: The New York Times Magazine, wrote about his experience following the making and launch of two very different perfumes in one year: Hermes’ Un Jardin sur la Nil and Sarah Jessica Parker’s first fragrance, Lovely. The book is a fascinating read; a comparison of two very different launches- one for one of the most exclusive luxury brands in the world and the other for a Hollywood celebrity. It also gives the reader an inside look into the $31 billion international perfume industry.

The story follows Burr as he travels to Paris to meet Jean-Claude Ellena, the man Hermes has picked to create their latest scent, Un Jardin sur la Nil (a garden on the Nile). Ellena is one of the worlds best in the industry and Hermes had strategically picked him to boost their otherwise lackluster sales in perfume. Burr, Ellena and the entire project team from Hermes travel from Paris to the exotic depths of Egypt where the sights and smells of the city provide inspiration for the house’s latest creation.

Back in Manhattan, Mr. Burr follows Sarah Jessica Parker and the team at Coty, who have teamed up to make her (now) bestselling fragrance, Lovely. SJP is, according to Burr, not your typical celebrity when it comes to launching a fragrance line. She was in it from the beginning surprising all with her interest, dedication and input. A particularly funny chapter found Sarah Jessica at the Coty offices pulling an egg out of her purse to show them inspiration for her bottle design.

The book shows the interesting dichotomy of the French and American markets with regards to perfume. The French, although highly interested in the numbers aspect of the business, still treat the making of perfume as an art. For the most part, the creators of these scents approach their jobs with the important gravity of artistic creation- it must be profound and it must smell amazing.

The American market, however, is (not surprisingly) mainly about the numbers. While this in no way implicates that American perfumes are less artistic than the French it is fascinating to see where the priorities lie.

The Perfect Scent is a very entertaining and informative read. Mr. Burr jumps from his narratives involving the exotic travels, parties and tense meetings he attends while documenting the launch of the two scents, to going into the fascinating figures of the perfume industry, to other funny anecdotes that he has gathered along the way. It is a highly enjoyable read and I would recommend it to anyone who is interested to know how much work goes into that little bottle of perfume sitting so prettily on your vanity.

Book image courtesy of: www.leffingwell.com


Coco Chanel- Movies and Interiors

5:48 AM 8 Comments

This past week, Lifetime Television for Women aired their latest primetime movie, Coco Chanel starring Shirley MacLaine, Malcolm McDowell and Barbara Bobulova. This movie kicks off what seems to be a resurging interest in the life of Coco Chanel and a need for viewers to re-familiarize themselves with this great icon. Audrey Tautou (of Amelie fame and one of my favorite actresses) will portray Mademoiselle Chanel in the film Coco Avant Chanel which will be released in 2009. I, naturally, am very excited for this film, so I was looking forward to watching the Lifetime version to tide me over until then.

Unfortunately the Lifetime film was melodramatic and inconsistent. Shirley MacLaine plays Chanel in her later years and the film sees her mostly setting up flashbacks where Barbara Bobulova takes over as the young Gabrielle Chanel. Bobulova does a pretty good job in the role- although lacking gumption, she is charming, nice to look at and has a lovely French accent. For some reason, MacLaine made the choice as the older Chanel to not keep said French accent and instead would speak blatantly in her own (very strong) American accent! Bizarre, non? Being a daily connoisseur, these small things get to me…

Accents, aside, the film did a pretty good job of entertaining- there’s just something about watching a made for TV movie on a quiet and overcast Sunday afternoon- but it left a lot to be desired. I still await (what will surely be) the resoundingly better Coco Avant Chanel with Audrey Tautou…

What the Lifetime film did remind me of, however, is Coco Chanel’s amazing apartment on 31 Rue Cambon in Paris, with her mirrored staircase and Art Deco sensibilities. When researching my blog entitled Coco Mademoiselle, I came across the website for this perfume, www.coco-mademoiselle.com . On this site, one can navigate through Mademoiselle Chanel’s decadent apartment. It is a real treasure: crystal spheres, a sumptuous sofa, and oriental shades. For me, it is Art Deco heaven!

I paid special attention to the lighting in Coco Chanel’s apartment, as my husband and I are having recessed lights installed in our home this week. The past few days have seen crews of workers diligently cutting holes in our ceiling and wiring accordingly. The job is still not finished but it has me excited about lighting- which is pivotal to good design. Coco’s apartment was lit with gorgeous lamps and sconces, which appear to have tobacco colored shades that give the room that dusky, mysterious hue. We will try to create a similar effect by putting our overhead lights on dimmer switches so when night falls, our rooms will have that certain glow…

I can’t help but wonder what Coco Chanel would be like if she were around today. If nothing else, I’m sure she would be flattered that thirty-seven years after her death, she is still inspiring us through fashion, movies and interior design.

Virtual tour of Coco Chanel's apartment: www.coco-mademoiselle.com

Image of Coco Chanel courtesy of: www.theswellelife.com

Image of Audrey Tautou courtesy of: www.gracemagazine.com

Image of Coco Chanel's apartment courtesy of: www.starbulletin.com


Tom Ford Black Orchid- A Review

8:47 AM 8 Comments

Over the past few days I’ve had the pleasure of sampling both Tom Ford Black Orchid eau de parfum and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Both scents are wonderful and evocative in their own right as I soon discovered in their very different dry down.

My interest in these perfumes peaked- even before I was able to sample them- for various reasons; the first being, I love orchids. Aside from the rose, the orchid is my favorite flower- I tend to have them scattered throughout our house year round, adding a touch of exoticism and vigor to the décor. Also, before I smelled the scent, I fell in love with the packaging: a sleek, vintage looking art deco style black bottle with a lovely gold name plate (Voile de Fleur has a black name plate).

Tom Ford Black Orchid is a deep, sensual fragrance- very heavy but not too overpowering, making it perfect for fall and winter or even early spring when it is still cold outside but the warm weather is burgeoning and on its way. The scent is rich and luxurious, making one feel as though perhaps they were a femme fatale riding the Orient Express in Agatha Christie’s famous novel. The spicy accord to the scent suggests one who has visited exotic places.

Black Orchid Voile de Fleur is the shimmering and sparkling sister to Black Orchid. It is a much lighter fragrance- one that would perhaps wear better in late spring and early summer. Even though this is a lighter scent, it didn’t fail to move me. No, wearing Voile de Fleur, one could feel as though they were sipping champagne on the Italian Riviera- the scent’s light effervescence suggests that a celebration is in order.

Today, there is a little chill in the air so I am going to adorn my wrists with the eau de parfum and let the fantasy begin…

Tom Ford Black Orchid contains notes of: bergamot, citrus, mandarin, black gardenia, jasmine, ylang-ylang, lotus wood, black orchid, patchouli, sandalwood, incense and vanilla.

Black Orchid Voile de Fleur has notes of: black truffle, bergamot, honeysuckle, gardenia, black orchid, black pepper, lotus wood, a noir gourmand accord, vanilla tears, patchouli, balsam and sandalwood.


Image courtesy of www.ebeautydaily.com


Gala at the Taper

8:50 AM 4 Comments

Last night I attended the reopening of the newly renovated Mark Taper Forum in Los Angeles to see a production of The House of Blue Leaves starring John Pankow (Mad About You) and Jane Kaczmarek (Malcolm in the Middle). This time the invitation did not say ‘business casual’ but suggested suits and colorful ties for the men; and gowns or cocktail attire for the women. How fun! I was really looking forward to people watching at this event- I love observing what people view as being dressed up- noting the time and effort they take to adorn themselves appropriately for the occasion.

The crowd did not disappoint. Men came in tuxes or well cut suits and the women shone- some in floor length gowns and some in fun cocktail attire. It seemed the theatregoers of Los Angeles turned out in their best to celebrate this reopening of one of our most beloved theatres. I went with three of my good friends N, M and J- who each, in turn, looked very well turned out indeed. I opted for an art deco inspired cocktail dress and heels.

The biggest showstopper of the night, however, was the Mark Taper Forum, which sits between the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion and the Ahmanson Theatre in the heart of downtown Los Angeles. I had only attended a play there once before but that was enough for me to tell what a spectacular renovation had occurred. The entrance was lovely with mirrored paneled columns and deep rich curtains and carpet. The theatre itself was a wash of color with new velvety chartreuse seats and deep blue floors. The space felt fantastic and I was really impressed with the makeover at hand.

The play was very interesting- a farcical comedy that we later found out was a commentary about fame. (J and I admitted to each other at the after party that it was WAY over our heads). The seats surround the stage in a semi circle so I found myself at several points during the play looking at the faces of the people in the audience. I love observing other people’s reactions- I saw everything from the totally engaged to utterly confused!

This ends a wonderful week in theatre for me. I feel really grateful to have attended two thought-provoking shows and both in the company of good friends.

Can’t wait to see what next week brings!

Image courtesy of www.downtownla.com


A Bronx Tale- Theatre Review

12:40 AM 2 Comments

Last night I had the good fortune of attending the Los Angeles premiere of A Bronx Tale, starring Chazz Palminteri at the Wadsworth Theatre. I was invited by one of my dear friends, R, who was asked to walk the red carpet before the show… she is an actress on a very prominent Disney show and has lots of devoted fans. The night was a glamorous affair, although I found it odd that it said “business casual” on the invitation. R and I were musing over this strange request. “Business Casual” evokes images of khakis and button down shirts…not quite what I think of wearing when attending an exciting premiere. I interpreted business casual, connoisseur-style, as buttery Ferragamo pumps, a simple black dress and for scent- Narciso Rodriguez For Her.

But enough about fashion- back to the play! Palminteri, of The Usual Suspects and A Bronx Tale (movie) fame, wrote and starred in this powerful one-person show. The play was inspired by an incident that Palminteri witnessed first-hand as a child- the shooting of an innocent man outside of the doorstep in his 1960’s Bronx neighborhood. The semi-autobiographical storyline that then ensues is enthralling.

The show runs for 95 minutes and Palmenteri is on stage the entire time. His storytelling is so engaging that you almost forget that this is a one-man show. The transitions he makes from him as a young boy, to his father, to the gangster, Sonny to the colorful characters of Sonny’s posse are flawless.

Touching on themes of lost childhood, love and the quandaries of a young “working” man, A Bronx Tale is an engaging and moving piece, definitely worth seeing.

Arriving home that evening I felt a sense of satisfaction that I always get after seeing a good play. I love the coming together of people- the ceremony beforehand, the party afterwards and the collective feeling of unity after witnessing a truly original work of art.

This Saturday- it's on to the opening gala at the Taper- such an exciting week in theatre!

A Bronx Tale is directed by Jerry Zaks and runs at the Wadsworth Theatre in Los Angeles from September 10th through 21st. For tickets: www.ticketmaster.com

Image courtesy of: http://calendarlive.com


Scent- It's a Personal Thing Part II

8:34 PM 12 Comments

For the follow-up to my blog entitled, “Scent- It’s a Personal Thing”, I have interviewed some of the women that are closest to me in my friends and family and asked them the top perfumes that they currently wear and love. The list for each lady was relatively small- they all tend to have a top two or three fragrances that they are very loyal to. I started out the same way, as you know, with my Stella and Narciso, but now after reading so many fabulous blogs by all of you perfumistas out there (please see ‘blogs I follow’ on my profile page) I have been converted into a full blown perfume connoisseur!

I had so much fun interviewing these ladies and peeking into their scent wardrobes- here are my findings:

My mother, who always smells delightful, is devoted to:

-Laila: which has fruity notes on top of wild flowers and feminine lilac. She likes to wear this fragrance in the “early morning”.

-Hanae Mori Butterfly
: a complex blend of flowers, fruits and woods. This is more of an “evening” scent for her.

-Yves Saint Laurent Paris: A classic with floral and woodsy notes with rose, violet and bergamot. This is her special occasion perfume.

My sister, a yoga goddess and full-time mother of two young boys loves:

-Hanae Mori Butterfly: see above (I suspect my mother and sister were shopping together when they picked up this one).

-Cartier Delice de Cartier: with notes of iced cherry, bergamot, pink pepper, violet, jasmine freesia, amber, Tonka bean, musk and sandalwood.

She says she prefers clean scents that don’t smell too strongly like perfume because she needs a scent that is “mom appropriate”, one that she affectionately told me she can "wear to Target”.

My good friend A, a fashion queen and in-demand stylist to the stars is devoted to:

Bvlgari eau de parfum: amber, sandal, musk, benzoin, vanilla, green tea, and cedar. This is her all time favorite...

Stella by Stella McCartney: (one of my favorites too) Rose, peony flower, mandarin, rose absolute and amber

K, a hip, young housewife in Orange County and mother of one is privy to:

Jo Malone Orange Blossom
: Clementine leaves, morning dew, water lily. This lovely scent is reminiscent of a garden oasis.

She swears that the fact that she likes this fragrance has nothing to do with her living in Orange County.

JS, my hiking companion and fab actress most recently seen on “The Cleaner” loves to wear:

Jessica McClintock eau de parfum
: with citrus notes of lemon, basil, white rose, and white jasmine- she loves this one for daytime.

St. John parfum
: tangerine, marigold, freesia, white rose, night blooming jasmine, apricot, sandalwood, vanilla and amber.

Angel by Thierry Mugler
: the classic oriental gourmand with notes of chocolate. She loves the chocolate...

I am fascinated by what everyday women wear and what moves them… I will continue my scent sleuthing in a part three of this post somewhere down the line where I review yet more friends, family and acquaintances about their scent wardrobes.

Hanae Mori, Yves Saint Laurent Paris, Cartier Delice de Cartier, Bvlgari, Stella by Stella McCartney and Angel by Thierry Mugler can all be found at: www.Sephora.com

Jo Malone Orange Blossom: www.jomalone.com

Laila and St. John: www.nordstrom.com

Jessica McClintock: www.jessicamcclintock.com

Modigliani image from: http://www.mystudios.com

Home Fragrance- Quandaries

8:26 AM 6 Comments

I adore scented candles… There is nothing like candlelight to create instant atmosphere and mood in a room. And if it is a top notch scent- all the better! Living in a condo in Los Angeles, however, provides a tricky predicament with regards to home fragrance. In urban cities, many modern spaces have a combined living room / dining room. We live in a three-story condo in Santa Monica and the middle floor consists of this plan, with the kitchen just off of where we dine. So many spaces are using this open floor plan- my question is what do you do regarding home fragrance?

The first thing I love to do at twilight time when the sun starts to set is light a candle. My favorite scents for the home are: fig, verbena, almond, vanilla and tuberose. Right now, for example, I have Fig by Henri Bendel burning on our entry table. The scent is so earthy, green and delicious and the warm, amber glow that comes from this candle adds a sense of luxe to our room.

The predicament lies, however, when it is time to eat dinner. I never have my scented candle burning while cooking food or eating it for that matter. I attended a dinner party about a month ago where a large cranberry candle was placed right in front of me as I tried to eat my salmon and engage in conversation with the person across from me. The scent was so distracting and powerful I suddenly felt claustrophobic!

At home, as I am sure most people are, I’m very sensitive to scent. If we’ve had fish for dinner, I don’t want to light a scented candle immediately so that the room suddenly smells like fish and jasmine. Not a good combo! Luckily I live in a very temperate climate and can have the windows open all night. To compromise, I usually wait an hour or so after dinner to light my beloved candles. I know I could always use unscented in the living room/ dining room which makes the most sense and just stick to scented candles in the bedrooms.

I would love to hear how you daily connoisseurs scent your homes…

My favorite candles include: Diptyque- Baies, Amande, Figuier and Tubereuse. Votivo: Moroccan Fig and Jo Malone: Spring Jasmine.

I also adore high quality incense in Sandalwood, Nag Champa and Celestial Patchouli.

Image courtesy of: independent.net-genie.co.uk


Viva la Vida

4:45 PM 6 Comments

Coldplay’s latest album Viva la Vida could be compared, in my eyes at least, to my recent experience with Coco Mademoiselle. At first listen, I wasn’t sure about how much I loved it- and I desperately wanted to love it-, as Coldplay is one of my favorite bands of all time. When they released their first single “Yellow” their poetic and heartbreaking lyrics and sound moved me deeply and they have continued to do so through the years with each album release.

Viva la Vida, however, is not like any other album they have put out yet… It took a few listens- ten to be exact, before I fell in love with it. I compare this to the dry down of Coco Mademoiselle that I experienced last week. Wasn’t sure at first… then pure love, bordering on obsession!

The album starts out with “Life in Technicolor” which is a purely instrumental track that I feel sets the listener up for the journey to come. It suggests the start of something new- a tingling, rush of excitement for the dawn of a new day. It also hints at the exotic nature of the album- largely influenced, I believe, by Japanese sounds.

One of my favorite songs on the album is “Lovers in Japan/ Reign of Love” which evokes images of bright young things riding bicycles through cherry blossoming orchards in Japan. The song evolves, as so many on this album do, into “Reign of Love” which sounds like a divine lullaby. Every time I hear it I want to close my eyes and just smile- which is bad because I’m generally listening to this album whilst navigating through L.A. traffic.

“Viva la Vida”, of course, is another great song and their first single released on the album. I don’t know why but whenever I hear it I picture myself as a young woman in one of Judith McNaught’s romance novels riding in a coach on the way to a ball to meet Count Westmoreland (or whatever the hell his name was). There is something very exciting and revolutionary about this song- which probably inspired the album cover they picked (see above).

And finally, if I were to pick a third favorite, it would be “Strawberry Swing” which, upon listening, brings to mind a perfect, sun-drenched day… perhaps in the summertime where you have not a responsibility or a care in the world and you wake up in the morning, and go to bed at night feeling happy. Oh if only everyday could be like that…

Viva la Vida!


From G's to Gents

9:23 PM 4 Comments

I love a good Pygmalion story. It all started for me with Audrey Hepburn in “My Fair Lady” as Eliza Doolittle. Seeing her transformation from street to chic was the beginning of my love affair with makeovers. Who could forget “Pretty Woman” or “Gigi”? Seeing the transformation and evolution of a woman’s style never ceases to interest me. Lately, there have been a whole crop of reality shows on television transforming rowdy youths into refined beings. And I can’t get enough!

One of my favorites is a British reality series called “Ladette to Lady”, where 12 “ladettes” (read: foul-mouthed, uncultured and unpleasant young women) are sent to Eggleston Hall, a finishing school in Teesdale, England. There they are taught the basics of becoming a lady: dress, elocution, relating to the opposite sex and even flower arranging. Of course, each week one of them is expelled from the school and at the end of the series there is a debutant ball to announce the winner. This little gem of a series plays on the Sundance channel and, sadly, was only three seasons long.

The latest reality show to come out in the Pygmalion genre is MTV’s “From G’s to Gents”, hosted by Fonzworth Bentley. Mr. Bentley is the first gentleman of hip-hop and author of “Advance Your Swagger: How to Use Manners, Confidence and Style to Get Ahead”. I was really excited about this show because I’m a HUGE stickler for etiquette and manners and I couldn’t believe these topics would take center stage on MTV- a network that has, let’s face it, probably created most of the lads and ladettes of today’s youth!

The show started out very promising. There were 12 G’s (read: homeys, street criminals) that were tired of the “thug life” and wanted to clean up their act and become gentleman. They came in with gaudy bling around their necks, do rags and my personal favorite, grillz.

How on earth was Fonzworth Bentley going to turn these hopeless young men into refined gentleman? Each week, the G’s are taught a lesson in the art of becoming a gentleman. They learn how to dress, hold silverware properly and even give a business presentation. My interest was starting to wane after the first two episodes as I felt that Mr. Bentley wasn’t being strict enough. These guys weren’t in it to make a transformation- they were in it for the cash prize. Not enough change was being made. And I felt that the basic things like speech (most of them need subtitles to decipher what they are saying) and grooming should have been addressed in the beginning. They were also allowed to keep their street names (which I find ridiculous)- such names as Creepa, E-6 and D-Boy.

However, just like with my Coco Mademoiselle eau de parfum, I stuck with the show and I’m so glad I did. This week’s episode was highly emotional with reality finally sinking in for these men. Some of them were deadbeat fathers and finally broke down with the realization that they hadn’t been there for their children or their baby mama’s. Transformations were finally being made with Creepa taking off his sunglasses, bling and grillz and for the first time being comfortable in his own skin.

Now Cary Grant, these gentlemen are not, but I do think that their metamorphosis has been remarkable. Let’s hope it inspires today’s ruffians to go from street to chic!

"From G's to Gents" airs on MTV Tuesday nights at 10pm