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Smells Like a Beach

5 Jun

I can’t believe it’s June already. And like you, I can’t believe that though it’s technically summer, it’s still raining. Accuweather predicts that in the next 15 days, 11 will have some form of precipitation. *sigh* There goes half of June. With that said, as a seasoned Vancouverite, I just shrug my shoulders, make sure I’m properly layered for the day and pack an umbrella.

But don’t despair! Summer will come soon – it has to eventually. All I’m doing is mentally and physically preparing for it because when it hits, I will want to enjoy every moment of it. How I’m physically prepping for summer? Getting highlights, a layered cut for those easygoing waves, putting on a touch of bronzer everyday and starting the self-tan process. How I’m mentally preparing for summer? By smelling it.

As I get older, it’s less important for me to smell good than it is for the fragrance to conjure up a mood,  invoke a feeling, rekindle a memory or transport me somewhere other than here. I wear Hermes Un Jardin sur le Nil on those cold rainy days because it adds a warmth to the dampness, prefer Carriere by Gendarme for those morning meetings and dab on Comme des Garcons Kyoto as it reminds me of my grandfather. But I’m digressing… again.

During the summer, I don’t let Coppertone do the talking, I get my fragrance to. Here are my picks for summer, or for now if you want to sniff, close your eyes and dream of sunny days to come.

Estee Lauder Azuree from Tom Ford Collection (fragrance and body oil) – when this launched in 2006, the perfume forums went crazy, it instantaneously sold out, there were waiting lists at all the department stores, eBay was selling at ridiculous prices and I stocked up like a mad woman. Why? It wasn’t because it was by the sexy Tom Ford, or because it was in stylish retro turquoise/gold packaging, or that it was limited edition… it was because it smelled like “white sand beaches, azure waters and sultry afternoons that go on forever.” It didn’t smell like the beaches of Miami or Mexico, but of beautiful, tanned people without a care in the world sunning in St. Tropez or the Cote d’Azur. It’s my staple fragrance for summer because the fragrance is sophisticated and subtle enough for work, and layered with the body oil it’s sexy enough for play. In 2008 it was reincarnated as Bronze Goddess (without Tom Ford), which it still remains today, but was reformulated with less Tahitian gardenia and more coconut.

Beach by Bobbi Brown – this is a more sophisticated beach scent that’s more Atlantic East Coast than West Coast or anything tropical. Think sea and salty – the Hamptons or Nights in Rodanthe.

At the Beach 1966 by CB I Hate Perfume is Bobbi Brown’s Beach + (more) Coppertone.

Miami Glow by Jennifer Lopez – I would never admit  that I own a JLo fragrance, but I have a soft spot for this one. It’s perfect for those really hot days/nights when you’re drinking sangria on the patio at Havanas with your girlfriends, smokin’ a cuban or flirting with a hot boy toy. It’s exactly what the name implies: Miami = coconut + suntan lotion + fruity drink with a cocktail umbrella. Wear it anytime or anywhere else, and you’d be deemed a social and olfactory menace. Yes, it’s that offensive. Sadly, it’s been discontinued but you can still find a few bottles at Shoppers Drug Mart and other drugstores.

Articles:

If you’re interested in reading more about scents and places, you’d like this article by Chandler Burr. He has also written about the conceptualization and development of Hermes Jardin sur le Nil for the New Yorker, and recently published the ‘must have’ list of salty/beachy/ocean scents for summer. If you want to get away, Elle magazine has a great perfume guide for travelling around the world without leaving your desk.

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Why the only newspaper I will ever read…

10 May

is the New York Times, moreover, the MASSIVE Sunday Edition that will seriously take a whole Sunday to read. The other news media outlet I read to catch up on mundane local news is 24 Hours because it’s no fuss, compact, and free.

I love the New York Times, as well as New York Magazine. Not because it’s about New York (oh it’s so much more than that), but because it is SO well written, so intelligent and so interesting. If I could take 5 items with me to a deserted island, it would be moisturizer w/sunscreen, designer sunglasses, lipbalm w/spf, laptop w/internet connection and a subscription to the Sunday Edition.  Ok, so I kinda cheated by combining things.

So I ventured out early last Sunday to buy it. As of 10am, 2 places were sold out. When finally I got my grubby little hands on the 2.25″ thick paper, I was appalled to hand over $10.00 CDN. With a sigh I realized that I would have to treasure this moment because I will never buy this in print again, and vowed to read EVERY last word from ads to fine print.

As of today, I’m still reading it.

But it’s not about news. News is pretty much already old once it’s printed – it’s the opinions and the articles that don’t go stale. I’d buy it just for NYT Magazine and the Style mag- those are going on the coffee table.

Take this A-HA! moment I had while reading this interview with Charlaine Harris, author of True Blood:

Why do you think vampires are omnipresent in popular culture?
People are really interested in the concept of eternal youth in this plastic-surgery culture. Vampires never die.

A-HA!

Now that was worth my $10.

And I haven’t even started on the infamous crossword yet. If you like the NYT sunday crossword, you’ll like Wordplay, a movie that focuses on the man most associated with crossword puzzles, New York Times puzzle editor and NPR puzzle-master Will Shortz.

I have relocated!

21 Mar

No, Grouchy and I have not broken up at snobbyandgrouchy, just that I have decided to separate my personal blogs about beauty, food etc from her, as I was getting traffic from Twitter. Not too fair to her.

Wishlist: Stationary

3 Mar

I used to write a lot of letters and still have boxes and boxes of unused stationary. In this world of email, IM, SMS, Facebook, Twitter etc. who has time to even sit down with a pen and paper anymore? My penmanship, which I’ve always been proud of, has now been reduced to a scrawl in shortform, no doubt.

I only realized this when I forgot to buy a card for a friend for his birthday, not because I wanted to send birthday wishes (which leads to another thing I hate – don’t include a card if you’re just going to write “Dear xxx” at the top and “from XXX” at the bottom. If you’re going to do that, just use a gift tag, seeing how it’s $5 per Hallmark greeting. WRITE SOMETHING PERSONAL!!!!!!) – ok rant over.So I forgot to get a card, and I did have something meaningful to give and say to him (“from one tea connoisseur to another, here’s a fab tea from France I picked especially for you”) I pulled out my blank notecards from Crane’s (I prefer the simple, elegant stationary – I get bored of the whimsical quickly) and started writing. The scrawl wasn’t too bad, but I missed it and started digging up my other letter writing materials – monogrammed notecards (need more!), Hello Kitty stationary (need to get rid of those)… and happened upon scented stationary. Sure they made their appearance in Legally Blonde 1, but they’ve been around forever. I used to spritz my letters with perfume, but because I write with fountain pens (sigh) it ran. But now the Soap and Paper Factory has come out with stationary scented with orange blossom, green tea, fig, rosewood etc. I don’t think I can resist, maybe even at $48 a box (!). Available at Wish.list Boutique, 2811 W. Broadway (at MacDonald), Vancouver, 604-676-8070. www.wishlistboutique.ca

Also on the list, more personalized stationary from Cranes.

OMG calling cards! It’s so East Coast! (I’ve been

re-reading Bergdorf Blondes) And OMG x10 I think

I’ve found my dream stationary! Pink and simple!

Batman and The Joker: What’s the diagnosis, doc?

23 Jul

The second installment of Christopher Nolan’s vision of Batman also brings us Nolan’s vision of the Joker: a frightening “terrorist” with no political agenda other than to create chaos for his own amusement. Batman is certainly in this film, but it’s the Joker who is really its center, its star. He laughs at his own actions, but in this film those actions are more terrifying than they’ve ever been. There’s definitely something wrong with him, but what is that something?

The Joker’s most likely diagnosis is antisocial personal disorder. To be diagnosed with that disorder, according to the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (the diagnostic rulebook of mental health clinicians), an individual’s behavior must meet at least three of seven criteria. The criteria most relevant to the Joker involve his repeatedly: 1. violating social norms of lawful behavior; 2. having no remorse for his misbehavior; 3. lying for personal pleasure or profit.

Nolan’s incarnation of the Joker gets his kicks from wreaking havoc, and he’s clever enough that there’s plenty of havoc to go around; he knows what he can do and he’s ambitious. He is grandiose, but does he have a second disorder — is he a narcissist? The diagnosis for narcissistic personality disorder rests on the notion that such people’s beliefs about themselves are greater than are warranted by reality; they have an over-inflated sense of their own abilities. Unfortunately, Joker’s beliefs in his talents are well-founded.

The Joker is frequently portrayed as the inversion of Batman: humorous, irrational, and spontaneous whereas Batman is humorless, logical and methodical. But what makes Nolan’s Joker particularly interesting is his similarity to Batman: They’re both smart, driven, methodical loners who are good judges of human nature. Unfortunately, the Joker, like some serial killers, uses his talents and abilities for his own sick amusement rather than for the common good, as does Batman. Thank goodness for Batman.

See Dr. Robin Rosenberg on the recent History Channel program Batman Unmasked: The Psychology of the Dark Knight. The first part of the show is on her blog; you can also watch the program on YouTube.

What I would be…

23 Jul

…if I were better at math: A forensic accountant.

Quote of the Day: Victoria Beckham in Allure August 2008

16 Jul

On how she’d describe herself: “I’m incredibly ordinary, a normal-looking girl, and I just make the best of what I have.”

I say: “EXACTLY! Finally someone who understands!”

Finally! A curler that works!

13 Jul

My hair is the bane of my existence. It obeys my hair dresser, but not me. He can use a $10 straightener and it will turn out silky smooth. I use a $200 tourmaline/ceramic straightener and it will turn out thick and coarse, and kinky later on in the day. But summer is not about straight styles, it’s about beachy supermodel waves – and now I know how to get it.

This curly style was definitely inspired by Tinsley Mortimer’s hair (see previous post) and with the HOLY GRAIL (only true beauty junkies will understand that one) of curling irons (and now I have to throw out my 3 sets of hot rollers, 2 sets of velcro rollers and 2 curling irons). This is the one and only Infiniti by Conair™ Instant Heat Ceramic.

This was recommended by the Tinsley article, as well as on one of my fave blogs. DO NOT GET THE INSTANT HEAT, and don’t get the MIST one. Get the INFINITI TOURMALINE/CERAMIC HEAT PROFESSIONAL ones. They do not sell these ones at Target (only the cheapie Instant Heat ones that damage your hair), and the cheapest ones I’ve found are at Walgreens. 1″ for $19.99 and 1.5″ for $24.99. Also at London Drugs, but more expensive as the 1″ goes for $32.99 or $34.99. I became so obsessed with this that I bought the 1″ for those “set” hair days aka Tinsley Curls, and the 1.5″ for large beachy waves. Heats up in an instant as it promises, temp control, and it has weight so when you place it on the edge of your bathroom counter it won’t be easily weighed down by the cord and swing around and burn you (from experience).My beach waves took 2 minutes or less, I grabbed random sections and held the curl for 5 seconds. Yes, I did get compliments on my hair!

Also, product was a part of the equation and I used a heat protectant curl spray: L’Oreal Studio Line Hot Curl. Cheap, and it works. No additional hold product was necessary!!!!!

Also useful is this video:

UPDATE: Slept and when I woke up the curls were still there! Not flat at all!

Blog about Taiwan (and some China)

5 Jun

An Australian academic working on Taiwan and China at a university in London. This blog is a space for articles, commentaries, reviews, conference papers, and other miscellany and ephemera which would not otherwise find a permanent place in books or journals.

http://mharrison.wordpress.com/

Fragrance thoughts

23 May

There is always a difference between fragrances you receive – which says a lot about what people think you are and therefore like, or worse, what they think you should be or smell like – and fragrances you buy for yourself. It’s not only a matter of personal taste, but a sensory conveyance of who you are, what you’re feeling, or where you want to be. It is so gauche to wear a fragrance loud enough to announce to the world that you are able to buy and smell like Chanel, when you’re a teenager wearing Havianas and a belly baring tshirt. Saying that it’s wrong isn’t quite right – more like the contradiction is hilarious. But if personal and done right, no one is there to judge you except for yourself. Fragrances should leave a trail that whispers your presence when you walk by. Or a secret that you keep to yourself.

With that said, I am sitting in an air conditioned office, with stale air circulating and staring out the window at the ominous grey clouds threatening to spoil my weekend. I am wearing something cruise inspired – dark wash jeans, open toed Anne Klein ivory kitten heels and a ruffled shirt. I should be wearing something from Estee Lauder, Dior, Marc Jacobs, Chanel….

Instead.. I am wearing JLo’s Miami Glow.

It’s faint enough to not breach our workplace’s Health and Safety rules on fragranced products, but just enough for me to catch a whiff now and then, and transport me to anywhere else but here.