Saturday, December 26, 2009

Merry Christmas, etc.

You guys don't want to know how many bottles of that cava semi secco we've drank since Thursday night. It's criminal. You can imagine, then, that we've had a very merry Christmas! I hope you all did, as well. xoxo

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The scent of home

Living in the desert as I do, you miss out on a lot of wonderful natural scents throughout the year: the first riots of flowers in the spring, wet, fresh cut grass in the summer, dried crunchy leaves in the fall and real wood fires in the winter. Our flowers are more subtly scented, there are few large lawns (I actually have grass in my yard - both front and back, will wonders never cease - but it never has that amazing fresh cut smell even right after it's cut), our leaves don't change color and die in the fall (and they are small leaves anyway), and almost every fireplace is a California fireplace. Unfamiliar? It's a gas fireplace, totally glassed off in front, that "lights" with a flick of a switch. Incredibly clean and convenient, but no wood smell.

Combine that with our very tall and very beautiful but very unnatural Christmas tree (I feel bad cutting down a big, beautiful tree only to be tossed a couple of weeks later) and you really have a dearth of important scents. I love scented candles for this reason. Do yourself a favor and stay away from the cheapies. I don't care what the lady on the Glade commercial says, they do not smell like the high quality, more expensive ones.

While I'm not necessarily advocating a $40 expenditure on a single candle, I think $10-$20 is fair if the candle is truly high quality and therefor long-lasting. Target, for example, has a great line of scented soy candles and scented oil diffusers called Lume Luxe that ranges between $13-$15. My personal fave is their Blackberry Creme. It doesn't have that cloyingly sweet fruity scent you would find in a grocery store version. It is deep yet subtle, perhaps with the slightest hint of musk? It also doesn't totally overpower your room; you smell it wen you're right next to it, and the effect it has on the rest of the room is just one of freshness. Before I started using these, our home would smell stale when we came home from a long trip, but now when we open the door it smells fresh. (By the way, although the website is sold out of most of the candle scents, my local store is still fully stocked so your may be, too.)

However, Blackberry Creme isn't the most festive of scents for the holidays. I have a difficult time with fake holiday scents (as opposed to real pine from a Christmas tree, real sugar cookies baking in the oven, real candy canes in my hot chocolate, real cinnamon on my French toast) so I generally hate holiday-scented candles. There are very few scents I despise more than fake cinnamon. Fake pine is nearly as bad - like your living room was doused in generic Pine-Sol.

But today, my dears, today I found it. The perfect holiday candle. It's burning right now - in front of my California fireplace - and I'm in love. I found it in Bath and Body Works, but they don't have it on their website. It's called "Winter Cabin" and is made by Slatkin & Co. It seriously smells like a winter evening in your uncle's cabin at Lake Tahoe. Very woodsy without the fake chemical smell. The scent of burning pine logs in your fireplace without the smokey scent. It's quite lovely. Like I said, they don't seem to have it on their website; in fact, the only place I could find it online was one listing on eBay, but my local Bath & Body Works had piles so yours should, too. $20 for a 14.5 ounce, three-wick candle with a burn time of 40-65 hours. $20, in my opinion, that is well-spent for the sensory experience of the holidays when your area is lacking in such.

PS - Here's the full line of Slatkin & Co candles offered on the Bath & Body Works website. The one called "Winter" is not the same, nor are any of the tree scents. Definitely swing into the store and check it out if you're at the mall finishing up your shopping this week!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Christmas with friends

Photo copyright Bloom Creatives 2008. All Rights Reserved.

My husband and I are fortunate enough to be welcoming a dear friend into our home for Christmas. She arrives the afternoon of Christmas Eve and will be spending the long weekend with us. This is perfect timing because I have just discovered a wonderful blog called The Blushing Hostess Entertains, written by another old friend of mine with whom I recently reconnected on Facebook. (Isn't Facebook great sometimes?) Catherine, the writer, is someone I have long admired for her poise, success (both personal and professional) and warmth. I spent a memorable summer living with a mutual friend in the lovely town of Bedford, NY, and Catherine was always kind enough to at least pretend to turn a blind eye to my heathen ways. Her blog reminded me that my cloth napkins are all terribly stained and that I needed to purchase new ones right away. For shame! Now I have a nice stack of brand new, sparkling white cloth napkins, and hopefully a box full of the remainder of my wedding china on its way if I've guessed my mother's gift correctly. (Fingers crossed!)

Isn't it amazing how one changes through the years? I'm truly interested in napkins and dinnerware, new cookware, what to make for dinner, etc. I used to go to raves. Now, however, I am spending my Sunday evening carefully spreading anti-wrinkle serum under my eyes (perhaps I should have gone to fewer of those raves) and planning our Christmas menu.

I'm mainly looking at Christmas Eve dinner, Christmas brunch and Christmas dinner. The rest of the weekend will be more casual and of course will be planned, too, but those are the biggies.  Brunch I think will be bagels, cream cheese, lox, bacon, eggs, coffee, mimosas and fresh fruit.

Here are a few things I'm toying with for Christmas Eve:
A lovely white wine (will see what AJ's has in stock)
Crudite and toasted flatbread with fresh hummus (probably artichoke and red pepper)
My variation of Quiche au Frommage (using Jarlsberg and mozzarella, sauteed onion and bacon)
Baby spinach, pear and walnut salad
Dessert: Rum egg nog

Christmas dinner:
A lovely pinot noir
Rib roast with roasted garlic thyme sauce OR Roasted rack of lamb (my vote is for this, as I already have one in the freezer)
Creamed corn pudding (I made this for Thanksgiving and forgot to put it out, but the bit I tasted beforehand was delicious. Did not reheat well, so we'll have to eat it all. Also, just use frozen corn, for crying out loud.)
Lemon-thyme green beans
Popovers with cheese and herbs
Dessert - Malva pudding (a traditional Afrikaans dessert in honor of the South African heritage of the hubs),  substituting this vanilla custard sauce for the one in the pudding recipe
Asti Moscato

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Sexy time with Sade

Ah, Sade, how you have been missed. The smooth songstress will release her sixth album, Soldier of Love, on February 8, 2010 - just in time for a cozy Valentine's Day. Judging from this single teaser, it is everything you want in a Sade album - sexy, sultry, with the perfect beat for a Hollywood-style hot hot love scene in your own home.

And of course, the beautiful album art:

I miss album art. It's rare that artists include it with digital downloads from iTunes, and if then only with the whole album. (Singles at the record store used to have great art of their own.) I haven't actually bought a CD in years and have no reason to do so other than the art which, although compelling, is also a very wasteful practice. Digital downloads save resources and money. Anyway... Good album art complements and completes the musician's vision. I do wish more musicians would include them as extra files with album and single downloads.

P.S. A package arrived yesterday, addressed to my husband, from Waterstone's all the way from England... I wonder what it could be?  : ) Guess I'll have to wait until Christmas morning to find out...

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Alice in Wonderland trailer!

CAN. NOT. WAIT!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! Cannot cannot cannot wait for Alice in Wonderland to come out! Tim Burton is the absolute most perfect director for this flick. Did I say I cannot wait? Because I cannot wait.

Sunday, December 13, 2009

More beautiful books - Penguin Classics

Remember these beautiful books? Coralie Bickford-Smith has designed a whole new set of special clothbound deluxe Penguin Classics for Waterstone's in the UK. Thanks to Design*Sponge for keeping us in the loop!

Yup, still gorgeous! I've already asked Santa for them. This new set is only available through Waterstone's overseas, but the original set I wrote about last year can now be found stateside at Borders. Be forewarned though, when I checked them out they were a little different from the originals I had shipped in from Canada. The fabric on the Borders version is not as soft and they are not numbered 1-10 like the original release. Still lovely, though.

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Jennifer Garner in W

Wow. For the last several years, with the exception of the very occasional movie premiere, every time we've seen Jennifer Garner she's been in jeans and sweatshirts with her holey underwear hanging out, picking up her kids from school. This month, W glammed her back up to Sydney Bristow undercover levels.

Gorgeous. Her jawline photographs so beautifully. Love the late 60's sex kitten vibe she's got going on. This issue should be waiting for me when I get home from LA next week!

Ah yes, I am in LA. Staying downtown, which is a part of the city I've never spent time in before. I've hung out in Marina del Rey, Santa Monica, etc. but not downtown proper. It's very different that I expected - very much like an East Coast city. My husband is here working as well, and since we're with different companies we have different rooms at different hotels. This works out well because due to the nature of my gig I have to bring like pageant levels of beauty products with me, and I can spread it all out without worrying about getting in his way. We take turns staying in each other's rooms. My room is larger and more comfortable, but his has a stunning view.

This morning I looked out the window and noticed a film crew below! They were setting up a walking shot with a bunch of extras and two main actors. Unfortunately I was too high up to be able to make out who they were, except that there was a man and a woman, they both had dark hair and she was considerably taller than him. There was another guy wandering around who resembled (as much as I could tell from so far away) Russell Brand - tall, lanky with wild dark hair. He wasn't part of the crew, but he definitely belonged there and held himself a bit apart from everyone else. I've been on lots of sets before, but it was really interesting to watch it from above and see everything going on all at once.

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Elin's Anthem

So Elin Nordegren found out Tiger Woods has been cheating on her for their entire relationship and took a golf club to his Escalade. I love it when little white girls like me go ghetto.

Here's the thing - Tiger issued a half-hearted, PR-driven admittance and apology for his indiscretions today, but his various extramarital holes-in-one have been known in the gossip biz for years via thinly-veiled "blind" items. You can't be one of the most recognizable sports figures in the world and expect the low-rent cocktail waitresses you sneak around with not to talk about it.

I don't know his marriage and neither do you. What I do know is that they have two beautiful kids, and when you're a father and you sleep around, you're not just cheating on your wife - you're cheating on your kids, too. That is not a role model, and that is not someone who deserves to earn $1 billion in endorsement deals by being a role model.

So Elin, you do what you need to do to that Escalade and every other car in the garage (and the mansion and the yacht, while you're at it). Then get yourself a good lawyer and take those kids someplace where they won't grow up thinking it's okay for a man to hurt and humiliate the mother of his children.