Chanel No 5: a revolutionary perfume

Ohh, that smells nice! Can I have a squirt? My twelve-year-old daughter asked while brushing her hair in my bathroom. We were both getting ready for the day. The squirt that she wanted was Chanel No 5. Remember that scene in The Parent Trap when Hayley Mills tells her grandfather she’s making a memory and says, “You smell like peppermints and tobacco?” I know that is what my daughter is doing…making memories with her nose.

I’m never monogamous with perfume…I love it too much. Some days, you want to recreate a feeling from a memory. Perfume has that power…the smell of a fragrance can be recalled and bring a flood of memories. I remember being eighteen-years-old shopping in Galeries Lafayette…Chanel No 5 will forever make me feel like that eighteen-year-old girl shopping in Paris on a rainy summer day. 

I like knowing that Chanel No 5 was created during the summer of 1920 when Gabrielle Chanel went on holiday on the Cote d’Azur with her lover the Grand Duke Dimtri Pavlovich.

There she learned of a perfumer, a sophisticated chemist, Ernest Beaux who had worked for the Russian royal family. 

Beaux used a mixture of 128 ingredients highlighting jasmine, rose, sandalwood and vanilla. 

Gabrielle Chanel was obsessed with cleanliness and wanted something that would last until bedtime. Beaux mixed floral extracts with aldehydes…chemicals that artificially gave a clean smell but would last throughout the entire day. 

Beaux made up ten versions of the scent, numbered 1-5 and 20-25. Coco chose her lucky number five…et voilà!

Coco invited Beaux and friends to a popular restaurant on the French Riviera to celebrate and decided to spray the perfume around the table. Women would stop in their tracks and ask what the fragrance was and where it came from.

This was the moment that confirmed to Coco that it was going to be a revolutionary perfume. She had changed perfume forever. 

For ninety-eight-years this iconic scent has remained the Mona Lisa of fragrances. 

For me, wearing red lipstick, my grandmother’s jewelry and Chanel No 5 makes me feel like everything will be fabulous because I have a fabulous memory. It’s my good luck charm that makes me feel like I smell…refined, chic and French…shopping at Galeries Lafayette

Every woman should own a bottle of Chanel No 5!

Merci Coco! 

1. “A girl should be two things: classy and fabulous.” 

2. “I can’t understand how a woman can leave the house without fixing herself up a little, if only out of politeness. And then, you never know, maybe that’s the day she has a date with destiny and it’s best to be as pretty as possible for destiny.”

3. “Elegance is when the inside is as beautiful as the outside.”

4. “Dress shabbily and they remember the dress; dress impeccably and they remember the woman.”

5. “There is time for work, and time for love. That leaves no other time.”

6. “To be irreplaceable, you must be different.”

7. “A woman who doesn’t wear perfume has no future.”

P.S. Peonies: the most romantic flower in the world

Apples season is here…toast to Johnny Appleseed

It’s apple season…time to decorate for Halloween and sip on cozy apple cocktails. Johnny Appleseed’s birthday is this week! Toast to Johnny with this cozy Apple Autumn Spritz and German Apple Pancake.

I had about ten apples just waiting for me Saturday morning so I used my juicer and was inspired to enjoy apples all day long.

This bubbly apple and Aperol blend will make you want to roast marshmallows and enjoy the fall night air.

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In Good Taste: John Mark Gleadow

Inside a charming little art gallery in Rosemary Beach, Florida you might find yourself standing in front of a Marc Chagall painting…wearing a bikini, flip flops and smelling of sunscreen. Curate30A art gallery is special because it gives the viewer a casual environment…with that beach hair don’t care atmosphere. 

The walls in our Texas home host a collection of art that can best be described as eclectic and remind us of our past travels. The moment that I saw John Mark Gleadow’s painting In Good Taste at Curate30A, I could not stop smiling. It’s not the kind of art that will express a past vacation…it expresses my past cooking. There’s so much about it that’s personal to me. The same books that I’ve loved for years, titles that speak to me and especially seeing Julia, the queen of cuisine! Julia Child said, “I see every recipe as a little short story.” That’s what Gleadow’s art is to the viewer…short stories that provoke powerful memories. 

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Jell-O Girls

A few weeks ago, I was watching my children endure life in the sweetest season…summer. They would swim, I would read. They would sleep in, I would read. They would stay up late, I would read. Then my favorite…they would read and so would I! Reading curled up in a beach towel and lost inside a story with one foot in the pool. On a recent summer Sunday, my children persuaded me to walk out of Barnes and Noble again with a heavy shopping bag and a lighter bank account. I was so excited about my new book, Jell-O Girls.

I used to think that when someone new moved in to the neighborhood, had a baby or was sick that the kindest thing to bring them was a Jell-O mold. I can only guess that this came somewhere from an American upbringing. Jell-O is a part of our culture. That Jell-O jingle rang in my head as I picked up Jell-O Girls…but don’t think that this story is upbeat! No, the Jell-O family history has a dark side. “Teaching women, it turns out, was a tenet of Jell-O’s marketing…Jell-O, so pliable, so good, teaching them how to mold themselves to match it, pliable and good.” 

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Book Fairies do exist

Our secret mission began on a cloudy summer morning. My daughter carried the package under her arm, hoping not to attract attention. I whispered, try to look normal. Zooey surveyed the coffee shop…a dark cozy table with summer flowers in a green vase. Looks good. Casually, she wandered to the table and laid the package (Judy Blume’s Blubber) on the window sill by the flowers. When you’re a book fairy, you can’t attract attention. Zooey would have turned bright read if she heard…Hey, kid, you forgot your copy of Blubber.

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Old-fashioned summertime lemonade & limoncello

Remind me again, is that a lemon or a lime tree,” my husband asked? My parents gave us a beautiful lemon tree in the spring. It’s finally looking like it will be ready to harvest soon. 

I’ve learned that lemon trees are grateful sun worshipers…ours looks like it’s trying to hug the sun. Thankfully, lemon trees are happy in a container and have been protected from our lemon loving dogs. 

Our family loves the refreshing summer flavor of lemons in iced tea, ice cream, muffins and most of all lemonade.

My daughter and I made a batch last week and have savored every sip.
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Mermaid bath bombs

The kitchen is a swirl of purple, green and blue. Twelve-year-old girls are squealing. Flash back to 1988 and I’m feeling twelve again…wearing acid-washed jeans, making friendship bracelets and listening to 10,000 Maniacs. This feeling is just as I remember it, but better because it’s for my daughter Zooey. It was a full evening. We had pizza, made bath bombs (with glitter), dance skits were performed and there was swimming like mermaids. This is twelve. 

My friend Angela and I met in yoga teacher training. I remember going around in a circle and introducing ourselves. Angela said that she was a certified aromatherapist from Switzerland and my inner twelve-year-old wanted to say, “let’s be friends!” She is my friend and fellow mermaid and Zooey and I adore her bath bombs. We gave them as party favors at her last birthday and this year, we wanted Angela to show us how to make them.

Angela’s products are part of who she is…a Swiss/American aromatherapist using essential oils for mother and child. Oh, and she uses them in her yoga classes too! Yep, she’s the real bomb!! Follow Angela on instagram to see more of her creations. 

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Summer’s favorite cocktail: Cipriani Bellini

July feels to me like the pinnacle of summer, days well spent dining with friends and restful moments lounging poolside with a book…always with something fruity within reach. Specifically, a cocktail like this one that is as bright and beautiful as it is light and refreshing, a lovely way to bask in the season. 

Renoir’s Luncheon of the Boating Party makes the viewer feel like sipping something fruity and refreshing while dining alfresco. Look at the peachy colors in this Paris cafe overlooking the Seine, the painting captures a happy afternoon among friends. Doesn’t it make you want a Peach Bellini? Create your own European cafe with a few ingredients…it’s the bubbly parts during the day that are the best to just take a sip, and sit back. 

The Peach Bellini is a famous bubbly cocktail that was created by Giuseppe Cipriani from Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy. Cipriani named his drink after Giovanni Bellini, his favorite Italian painter, because the peach color of the champagne cocktail matched the color Bellini used in one of his paintings for a saint’s toga. The Peach Bellini has become one of the most famous and popular of all wine cocktails or champagne cocktails. It’s also difficult to make because of the scarcity of pureed peaches.

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Women’s Watermen SUP

When my friend Julie told me about the Women’s Watermen SUP, I laughed and thought “I don’t know if I can do it but I’ll try.” My motto for my forties has been Tina Fey’s saying, “Just say yes and you’ll figure it out afterwards.”

The day before the race was stressful… I had all these big events going on but if I could look forward to getting out on the water, I’d made it! It was a HUGE release that made me proud and a happy beginning to summer. Time can be like a secret weapon in handling whatever life throws at you that day and knowing that you’ll feel amazing after the event makes it worth the effort of getting out there. 

I’ve practiced SUP yoga many times and love the zen quality of outside yoga practice…the feel of the sun warming your body, the smell of sunscreen and the relaxation of the water. The paddle board 5K was more challenging because you keep moving…it’s still relaxing but I think more difficult to keep going. My toes started to feel tingly like they were falling asleep and I desperately wanted to dangle them in the water. 

Paddle boarding is a lot like bike racing…you can draft your friend and stick together. Julie and stuck it out the whole time. I can’t wait to do it again. 

This was an all women waterboard race. There were some pretty serious athletes up at the front that were shouting encouraging words and coaching as they passed us by… “Put your paddles deeper in the water.” Julie and I were more about having fun. We listened to Bob Marley blare on the speaker, enjoyed the wind in our hair and were relaxed enough to still make conversation. A paddle board 5K is probably the most relaxing race you will ever experience. 

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Peppermint brownies

Lingering candy canes still remain from the holidays and I can’t find it in me to toss them. A wintry rainy Sunday calls for peppermint brownies. My eleven-year-old gladly volunteered to smash the candy canes as long as she could occasionally sample several pieces. 

Chocolate and mint together are an amazing duo…really one of the most perfect dessert pairings. The freshness of the mint mixes so well with the sweet richness of the chocolate. We used two types of candy canes and two types of chocolate…really it’s about what you have left over from the holidays. 

Ingredients:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter (cut into small pieces)
  • 1  1/2 lb of chocolate (we used Hershey’s dark chocolate and left over Hershey’s candy cane kisses)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 cups packed dark brown sugar
  • 3/4 cup flour
  • 1 tsp. fine sea salt
  • 4 candy canes (crushed)

Directions:

  • Preheat the oven to 350°. Butter your favorite brownie pan. 
  • In a double boiler, combine chocolate with the butter. Stir until melted. If you’re eleven-years-old, you’ll want to use your Gryffindor spatula to do this! 
  • Scrape the chocolate into another bowl and let cool slightly. 
  • In a medium bowl, whisk the eggs with the brown sugar until combined. Whisk in the chocolate-butter mixture until glossy and thick. 
  • Add flour and salt into the bowl and stir until mixed. 
  • Spread the brownie batter in the prepared baking pan. 
  • Sprinkle the crushed candy canes on top and bake for 30 minutes.

The crunchy bits of candy canes and the gooey chocolate can’t be beat! 

P.S.

Roasting and Toasting with S’mores & a Hot Toddy

Pumpkin brulee cheesecake