Saturday, December 29, 2007

Live, from Vermont!

I live in Vermont now. And Christmas is kind of a busy time for pastors, so I haven't been able to do much blogging lately. But I wanted you all to know the important discovery I made when I moved to the Frozen North: shampoo freezes if you leave it in your car for a week, and your car looks like this:

When shampoo freezes, it expands. All over everything else you packed with it. But when you bring it inside, it goes back to its original form and size. And, fortunately, the bottle hasn't actually broken -- or, at least, mine didn't. Whew!


If you are lucky enough to live near a LUSH store. GO NOW!

Their Clean Slate '08 Sale is not to be missed.

My sister and I were pleasantly surprised at DC's Georgetown store yesterday to find bath ballistics and bubble bath bar slices at Buy1 get 2 free. Yes, you read that right. 3 for the price of one. Everything else was at least Buy 1 Get 1 free.

They're trying to clear everything out before the New Year, so get down there now, so you can partake and start your New Year nice and clean.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

On the fifth, sixth, seventh and eighth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

I'm cheating because I have to speed this up for the holidays, man! My fam is coming on the 19th, and I will be super busy tour-guiding.

So, dear anonymous female reader: this time around, the gifts are for you!

I've chosen four different perfumes that I find nearly universally pleasing. You'll notice they are all carefully-balanced blends of citrus, floral and "oriental" (as perfume people would say). If I were to buy a beautifully-wrapped little box of eau de cologne for each of you, I would choose the scents that follow. I wouldn't even cross my fingers. I'd know that nobody could really hate these perfumes. The worst that could happen would be that you'd find them nice, but not really 100% perfect, and therefore only wear them once in a blue moon when you felt like being someone else.

So here they are! Pick up one of these if you are clueless about what to get a fragrance-lover for a holiday surpise.

Jean Paul Gautier Classique

This is my top pick. My friend Annka wore this when we were students together in Paris in 2001. She shared an impossibly big, lovely, grand old flat on the top floor of a Hausmann building with three other students in the 11e. She had a tiny balcony and we spent all our time drinking out there, watching the hustle and bustle, and wearing weather-inappropriate clothing. Classique always reminds me of her, stylish, girlish, impractical and ultimately down-to-earth.

According to Sephora, it smells like: Orange Flower, Bulgarian Rose, Italian Mandarin, Star Aniseed, Orchid, Iris, Ylang-Ylang, Indian Ginger, Soft Vanilla, Woody Amber.

According to me, it smells like: French 1960s pop music meets a fresh, peach-colored shift dress meets vogueing it up in front of your mirror and then laughing out loud.

I had a good time watching the campy, pretty commercials Gautier has made for this stuff over the years. They are seriously fantastic. In one of them, an old, pearl-enlaced English dame morphs into Jean Paul Gautier!! Go watch them:

Wizard of Oz in Ladyland

Girlfriendz in the Powder Room at the Opera
Models Dish
And my favorite:
Cruisin' and Kissin'

BONUS: The bottle, designed a little differently every season, is like a Barbie with an atomizer for a head. Just what we all need.

Giorgio Armani She

Sez Sephora: Angelica, Cardamom, Bergamot, Mandarin, Heliotrope, Vanilla, Cedar, Musk.

Sez me: Soft and powdery, feminine but not frilly. Minimalist and modestly elegant. Like the perfect pair of classic black heels, stylish but barely noticable, or a locket you've been wearing since you were 5.

I wore this for a while in college. I catch a whiff of it occasionally from other women and think, "Ah, yes. Good choice." The bottle is well-designed and can easily slip into a handbag.

Hugo Boss

Sephora: Mandarin, Cassis, Lychee, Jasmine, Rose, Basmati Rice, Sandlewood, Ambery notes, Musk.

Me: Also soft and powdery, but with more of an energizing kick to it than the Armani scent. I think that must be from the jasmine.

My friend Ayumi wears this. I think she likes this perfume because it's so versatile. It's clean and restrained enough for her to wear it in a professional environment, and yet it smells modern and alluring enough to wear when she's out with me, hitting on good-looking single men. The perfume equivalent of a pencil skirt?

Last and least:

Flower by Kenzo

Sephora: Amber, Oppoppnax Resin, White Musk, Bourbon Vanilla, Almond, Parma Violet, Bulgarian Rose.
Me: Youthful, trendy, sweet, feminine, J Crew-y.

There's nothing really wrong with this perfume, but basically 1 in 3 American woman between the ages of 14 and 30 is probably already wearing it. Because it's already had such widespread appeal, I think it's slightly boring. I like to dig amongst the less-frequented stuff on the shelf. I also think the bottle design is middle-of-the-road kitschy. Classic I like, over-the-top kitschy I like, but middle-of-the-road kitschy is almost tacky.

All that trash-talking aside, it's still a good bet for a blind present exchange, and would probably be quite appreciated.

Happy holidays, you guys. Everyone gets one of each, for their own smelly pleasure. And no re-gifting, hear?

Monday, December 10, 2007

On the fourth day...

A quickie post, and another gift for myself (what a Grinch, right???):

Givenchy's Lady Pulp Lip Gloss.

Alright. Okay. Yes. The name. It's porn-y. I know.

I also must admit that the range of colors are not nearly as pretty or as varied as they could be for $24. But I tried on the Lady Cherry shade the other day and it was so nice! I really like the idea of a alluring, non-trashy matte color combined with the efficiency, lightness and silkiness of a lip gloss. This stuff comparable to MAC's Pro Longwear Lustre but much more comfortable, in my humble opinion.

Friday, December 7, 2007

On the third day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Oh Jennie! I wish I could get you bathtub and global World Peace for Christmas. Hell, that's such a good gift duo that I would even be willing get some for all our darlings of the Bush administration.

Broke as I am, I'm not going to place an order. But I hereby give you, for my third day of imaginary gift-giving, a super ersatz bath duo that I hope you will enjoy. Both are from Origins:

1. Some Shedonism! This is a very syrupy, only lightly bubbly bath gel. It has the very pleasant, sexy scent of Tahitian Tiare flower. Luxurious and yet subtle! It seems they have votives and powders and a ton of other offerings in the Shedonism line...I might have to imaginarily gift some of that to myself while y'all are not looking...

2. Some Ginger Bath Candy! Okay, so it's not as fun as a big blue and green ball, but these little fizzers were obviously made by following Lush's genius marketing concept - i.e., wash yourself with stuff to eat. Origins' Bath Candy looks like sweet little sugar cubes. Since you've mentioned your love of ginger-y smells, I thought you'd like it.

Merry Christmas, chérie! Save me some eggnog.

Thursday, December 6, 2007

My Christmas Wish

Dear Santa,

I'm not sure if you noticed this, but there are only 3 days and 2 hours and 42 minutes left to order up some World Piece. Shipping and handling is stupidly expensive, but you have a few kgs to play with there, so you could order a bunch and make lots of Christmas wishes come true.


PS- It may be that another race starts on Sunday, but I don't want to take my chances...

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

My Christmas Wish

If you've never done it, you should really watch the deleted scenes from Love Actually, you should. Karen's horrible son Bernard has to write an essay on his Christmas wish and... well, it's funny.

Anyway, my Christmas wish? Is for the following products to be brought back. I've narrowed it down to two:

1. The LUSH World PieceBath Ballistic. Seriously. It was blue and green and smelled of pine forests, but lightly--not too forest-y and manly. It smelled of girly forests. And it turned your bathwater a most wonderful shade of blueish green. It was the best bath bomb that LUSH ever made and it is no more and that makes me sad.

OOOOOOO! British LUSH is having a contest where if they get at least 50 orders for a discontinued product, they'll make a special batch! World Piece Ballistics are 2.50 GPD ($5) and I don't know how much shipping will be from the UK! But! Holy Cow! I'm ordering a bunch! Help my Christmas Wish come true here! And then you can take a really awesome girly forest blue green bath too and know the joy.

So far it's just me and one other person, so I really need your help! Help!!!!!! You'll thank me!

Sorry. Got a little excited there, but with good reason, no?

2. Body Shop's Ginger Lily anything. Spicy and sweet, it came in shower gel and lotion combo. The shower gel felt like silk on my skin and the scent, ah. It will forever remind me of China (not that it smells of China, it was just the lotion I took with me) but it rather smells of what you imagine you would smell if you wandered around Princess Jasmine's garden in the middle of a humid summer night. A touch of the exotic, and yummy enough to eat. (However, I don't recommend eating it, because it tastes like soap.)

I still have a little shower gel left, that I picked up on clearance a stupid number of years ago. I'm using it up because it's taking up space in my shower, but it's hard to say goodbye.

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

From the mailbag: transformed lips!

This just in from reader Emily, a two-thumbs-up for Neosporin Lip Treatment.
"As someone that suffers serious dry, painful chapped lips pretty much from September to May, this stuff is amazing. My lips were always chapped and cracked, and itched from the chapping and cracking, which meant I'd bite my lips, leading to worse cracking, sometimes leading to painful blisters. Ouch! But this stuff is soothing, thick-but-not-sticky, long-lasting and mild-tasting, with the added benefit of a light analgesic to dull the pain from the chapped lips. The latter is the key ingredient for me. I've gone through a tube in 2 weeks, which sucks because it's relatively expensive (compared with good old blue Chapstick). But oh-so-worth it. In two weeks my lips have been transformed."

Thanks, Emily! I'll have to give it a try...I hate going out for drinks and realizing that I am distractedly biting my poor chapped lips between beers.

On the second day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Oh, Mom!

I love my mom.

She's had a hard time of it, what with giving birth to two sarcastic, Marxist, feminist, mover-shaker-heart-breaker-talk-backer daughters who don't really know how to put on makeup or do their hair but somehow adore beauty products.

She herself hates anything - candles, perfume, hand creams, soap, deodorant, "atmospheric home scent" - that's not strictly fragrance free. She never craves anything fancier for her face than some good ol' Noxema.

Many a Christmastime have my sister and I come up with the perfect gift for Mom only to realize that we've willfully ignored her preferences. Fizzy lavender bath stuff, of course! Never mind that she never takes baths! Coriander-scented savon for the kitchen! Okay, so she washes her hands with the dish soap - what are you trying to say?

She is a wonderful mother, and as wonderful mothers are apt to do, she coos over the gift, hugs me, and stores the unopened package under the bathroom sink when I give her such stuff. I've weaned myself of the habit by now. After a few exhilarating successes (one was a manicure set, the other a bottle of Hermes' Caleche that she wears maybe three times a year) I decided to quit while I was ahead.

In my imaginary twelve days of gift-giving, however, I would love to give my mom a long day at a spa with a full spread of Harnn products at her disposal.

To the best of my knowledge, Harnn is a Thai company that produces a complete line of spa products, founded in 1999. I find their design is absolutely gorgeous and their prices quite steep. They have such an interesting and unusual range of scents, from subtle to forceful, that I think she would find a couple she really liked. I myself am seriously enamored of their Jasmine Pomegranate hand cream. So pretty! Such a ying and yang of smell!

Maybe some Red Rice soap for my mother?

Or some Night Nourishment cream, with essence of Water Lily?

Check out all of Harnn's smart and sophisticated stuff on their pretentious and somewhat new-agey website.

Saturday, December 1, 2007

On the first day of Christmas, my true love gave to me...

Well, it's not the first day of Christmas, but it is the first of December. The sidewalks of Paris were teeming with shoppers today. Mini trees for tiny Parisian appartments appeared overnight in front of all the florists and hardware stores. Yet the weather here is warm, around ten degrees Celsius (fifty degrees Fahrenheit) and sunny, which means a lovely temperature to wander away long hours outside while humming carols under your breath.

I did a little Christmas shopping and a lot of Christmas looking, and I got to thinking about all the gifts I would love to give and get if I could go crazy with the euros. I thought it might be fun to do twelve days of giving and getting beauty stuff, here on the blog!

I'll start out, and hopefully the other girls will do a day, too, if they feel like it. And feel free to give and get some twelve-days-of-Christmas gifts in the comments, dear readers!

The best gift from a true love is always one that takes you by surprise, one he/she thought up themselves. That's why I wouldn't actually want my baby to get me anything I might post on here. But if a secret Santa would present me with my desire of the moment, it would be a big flacon of Rumeur by Lanvin.

I tried on this scent for the first time today and it's a definite perfume crush. Like most of the other eventually-blazing-like-wildfire crushes I've fallen victim to, I started out completely nonchalant. Then something shifted and I was completely captivated. The scent in its current incarnation was launched in 2006; it's nothing new or exciting. It wasn't a perfume on prominent display, meant to move for the holidays. It was simply sitting quietly on a normal, overstocked shelf. Still, it caught my eye due to its sort of elegant, sort of feral gold lettering and the brass pull-ring decorating the nozzle cover - designed, I'm sure, for people that can't resist pulling something off when tempted. Like this young lady. Love her Elvis forelock.

I pulled and sprayed and there was an immediate blast of strong, sharp floral note. In the store, I thought, "Lily-of-the-valley?" but info on the internet tells me it was magnolia.

I thought, "Oh dear. Not so great. What have I gotten my wrists into?" but on second whiff I caught a citrusy odor that seemed to cut through the heaviness of the flowery smell and blend it with the straightforwardly musky base.

A half an hour later, walking around, I kept on smelling myself compulsively. I thought, "There has to be some sort of special, highly addictive ingredient in here that makes it irresistible! I'm not wowed, yet at the same time I have the urge to smell this perfume every three seconds..." Two hours later I was a hardcore Rumeur junkie and convinced that this was the next new scent for me. It's velvety and womanly, but spicily fresh. It's luxurious, but a bit punk. I'm not going to do a Venn diagram for this one, but let's just say if you like silver hoop earrings, leather pants on men and antique postcards from the 1910s, you should give Rumeur a try.

Ten hours later, it's still quite noticeable on my skin. This is the kind of power perfume that you'd have to spray in the air and step into to avoid pissing off the scent-sensitive on the bus.

Watch out, unassuming Rumeur testeuses. Don't say I didn't warn you.

And happy December!