Oh Lawd, Yeezus. It’s a Video.

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'Bound 2' video screen shot from www.ellentv.com

‘Bound 2’ video screen shot from http://www.ellentv.com

The Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) topic of the day is about television. I’m not a big television-watcher and I thought I covered that a couple of days ago with my “newsflash” post.¬†Now I have to dig deeper for what I witnessed on my telly long after Kathie Lee and Hoda passed out from their Skinny Girl cocktails.

Ladies and gentlemen, I watched the Ellen show. I love Ellen DeGeneres. A personal favorite of my mother’s, Ellen has been a part of my life since I was a kid. This post has no bearing on my opinion of Ellen, whatsoever.

So Ellen invited Kanye West on her show to present his new ‘Bound 2’ video to the world. I watched it. Then I went straight to the Twitter to find out if I was crazy or if everyone else thought it was as nutso as I did. As it turns out, my feelings were validated. By many.

Words can’t even describe the ridiculous display of weirdness in this video. We had mountains, galloping horses, deserts, flannel, tie-dye, Kim sans top, and bumpy rides on motorcycles. I sat there waiting for the punchline the entire time. I don’t even know how Ellen kept a straight face. I actually wanted to see a Dr. Phil episode after Ellen for cathartic purposes. Does anyone ever really want to see a Dr. Phil episode? WTF?!

Truth be told, I am glad Kanye seems to have found happiness with Ms. Double-K. I generally like his musical offerings and will have a “toast for the douchebags” any old day of the week, but this song isn’t even a song. In the words of Kanye himself and his buddy, Jay-Z, “That shit cray.”

In addition to my Twitter reaction analysis, I decided to test the waters at dinner last night and see what my friend (who blogs over here) thought about the whole thing.  Here are just a few of her musings:

Where is the sidecar for North West? My boyfriend enjoys that song and said he likes the whole Bajeezus album. I may have to take back my words when I said we listen to the same music. When that album dropped, I was convinced Kanye was a closet Beverly Cleary fan. And now I want to re-read Beezus and Ramona and Ramona Quimby Age 8.”¬†

That pretty much sums up my television experience for the week. If you haven’t seen it yet, please watch it for yourselves here and feel free to comment.

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Frankie Goes to Rubino’s

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SoupToday’s Blog Every Day in November topic is about relaxation. This is probably not too different than the post I wrote about National Stress Awareness Day. So we have a choice, dear readers. I’m either going to post the lyrics to Frankie Goes to Hollywood’s song, Relax, or I’m going to crack a Southern Tier 2XMAS beer and cook something for you. Cookin’ and sippin’ is how Lady Sensory likes maxin’ and relaxin’.

Well, you’re in luck. I’ve chosen the latter and that’s thanks to today’s little jaunt to a local Italian grocer, Rubino’s. I rolled up to grab some amaretti cookies because Wegmans isn’t stocking them anymore (tsk-tsk, Danny!) and I plan on making this in a few weeks for Friendsgiving. Upon my arrival, I saw a big sign that said, “Fresh Sausage Made Daily.” Being from the Syracuse area, I’m kind of a Gianelli sausage snob but since they make it fresh daily I said to myself, “What the heck? Try something new.” I went with the standard mild fennel (they have a plethora of sausage flavors) and contemplated making sauce. I then decided that I didn’t need to get involved with meatballs, a food processor, and clothing stain nonsense, so I made a sausage soup. I’m happy to report that the sausage is just as tasty as my standard sweet Gianelli. Additionally, I managed to spend only $10 at the store and walked away with a pound of sausage, 2 packages of amaretti and a loaf of bread. It pays to support local small businesses.

I’m not a huge meat-eater, but every now and then I crave some. I could probably use some protein because I’m sure my ‘unenjoyment diet’ of PBJ, coffee, random veggies, and wine is probably not doing me any favors in the nutrition department. With a gentle nod to the beans and greens which incapacitated me this past summer, I came up with this one.

Lady Sensory’s Is That A Sausage In Your Pants Or Are You Just Happy To See Me Hearty Winter Soup:

1 lb of Italian sausage, casing removed and cut into 1 inch pieces (I used mild fennel, also dubbed sweet, but use whatever sausage variety your little heart desires.)

6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed (As a side note, check out this tip that helps you peel your garlic super fast. I tried it and it totally worked!)

1 large onion, finely diced

1 cup of celery, finely chopped

1 cup of chopped carrots

2 15.5 oz. cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 28 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice (not drained)

1 small bunch (2-3 cups) of Tuscan kale, rinsed well and chopped into bite size pieces (you can also use any variety of kale, spinach, or escarole)

2 tsp. dried basil

3 qts of chicken stock or broth (I did one qt chicken stock and 2 qts chicken broth)

1.5 cup dried pasta (I used ditalini, which are short tubes that are perfect for soup)

2 bay leaves

Salt & pepper, to taste

2 tbsp olive oil (I used a basil-infused version from F.Oliver’s)

Parmesan cheese (for serving)

Brown the sausage in a cast iron skillet on the stove or in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit (your choice). Remove sausage and set aside in a bowl lined with paper towel. ¬†Conserve the sausage grease if you wish to cook your soup veggies in that, but I opted to cook my soup veggies in olive oil because I’d rather cook some turkey cutlets in the sausage pan for some added flavor. In a large fancy pot, warm your olive oil over medium heat. Add the onions, then the garlic, and saut√© until golden. Follow with celery, then carrots, and cook for about five more minutes. Add the dried basil, bay leaves, salt and pepper. Then add the beans, sausage, and tomatoes. Simmer for a bit (3-4 minutes) and then add your chicken stock or broth. At this point I’d like to make a comment about the Wegmans brand cannellini beans. I found 3 black-eyed peas in one of my cans. Seriously, Wegmans? That’s like bringing Fergie to a party with the cast of The Godfather. No. Just no. Sort that shit out, dude.

Pic of Fergie Ferg on Wikipedia Commons

Pic of Fergie Ferg on Wikipedia Commons

Bring mixture to a boil and skim the foamy stuff off the top. In a separate pot, bring water to a boil (feel free to add a bit of salt, if you wish) and cook the 1.5 cup of pasta to al dente texture (cooked with a bit of bite to it). Drain pasta and add to the soup and then add the kale and allow to simmer for about 10-15 minutes. Kale should wilt and pasta will expand a little.  Serve immediately with some nice bread or a crusty roll and garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese.  This makes about 8 decent sized servings.

Don’t think about the fat content here. Just enjoy. When it comes to sausage, go big or go home. You’ll be so glad you did.

A Day in the Life of the Unenjoyed

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Exactly. What what?

Exactly. What what?

No that’s not a typo. ‘Unenjoyment’ is a word my friend and I coined several years ago. Today those who Blog Every Day in November (#BEDN) will be capturing moments in their everyday lives. Boy, you people are totally in for a treat*.

7:21 AM – Look at all the notifications on your phone. Note than none are from potential employers and take stock in how crazy people can be this early in the morning. Now shut that phone off and go back to sleep. This is not the kind of ‘vibrate’ your body needs right now.

8:17 AM – Get up. Make some coffee. Contemplate making breakfast but don’t eat just yet. You can’t afford a monthly gym membership and you’ll be hungrier in a few hours. Take a shower to get your mind off food. Wash and blow out your hair. Peruse your grey strands and acknowledge the fact that you really need to dye your roots. Decide to wait another week. No one’s looking at you anyway and you have cute winter hats.

10:03 AM – Drive here for a Brazilian bikini wax. Don’t be a terrible mother. Just because you don’t have a job doesn’t mean your vagina has to suffer.

Mark & M.E.: Rochester's best - she's fast and she's thorough.

Mark & M.E.: Rochester’s best – she’s fast and she’s thorough.

11:05 AM – Look at the job sites. Marvel at the fact that searching the words ‘marketing director’ and ‘director of public relations’ results in occupations such as ‘receptionist’ and ‘apprentice’ at the Chipotle Mexican Grill. ¬†Think about how you gave up time with your dying mother to pursue your master’s degree. Get good and discouraged.

11:38 AM – Go on social media and stalk people. Marvel at the fact that two ugly people made such a cute baby and that two pretty people made such an ugly baby. Feel better about yourself and count your genetic blessings.

11:59 AM – Go back on the job sites and find that one random job that mildly piques your interest and apply for it while that fleeting moment of feeling better about yourself lasts.

1:09 PM – Congrats! You can eat now. Recall that time when one of your gay male friends told you that you look like Mary Louise Parker. Imagine this is what you look like this while you bake in your kitchen. Every. Damn. Time.

Mary Louise Parker making a pie.  www.popsugar.com & originally in Esquire August 2009

Mary Louise Parker making a pie. http://www.popsugar.com & originally in Esquire August 2009

2:12 PM – Check your phone. Remind yourself you’re not talking to certain people right now because they suck. Now put your phone down. Now pick it back up again and relegate yourself into Facebook purgatory. Look at the event invites with silent contempt that people just don’t understand that you can’t afford to go out several nights a week right now. Hit ‘decline.’

Notifications

2:38 PM – Begin to touch your face and feel for zits or stray hairs, but try to avoid your tweezers. Your thinning eyebrows are a direct correlation to your present mental state and you do not need to go on Latisse. Girl, that shit is expensive!

2:47 PM – Take a look at your checkbook and credit card receipts. Now quick – look away before you cry! It’s a frickin’ disaster and crying makes you look like a bubble-eye goldfish.

Girrrrrl, don't you cry! Bubble-eye goldfish image from Wikipedia Commons.

Girrrrrl, don’t you cry!
Bubble-eye goldfish image from Wikipedia Commons.

3:10 PM – Contemplate opening a bottle of wine and then just do it. Who cares, right? You were ready, willing, and able to work today and ain’t nobody callin’. Make a mental note of any cheap wines you enjoy. The fact that you aren’t working means your liver should compensate by working much harder. Recall you have plans with a friend. Stop drinking wine.

3:36 PM – Your also ‘unenjoyed’ neighbors are now getting loud next door. Start a music medley with Jane Says by Jane’s Addiction. Oh yeah, they think they’re getting alternative but throw them off and move into Queen Latifah mode. Maybe insert Beyonce’s Single Ladies and dance around. This is the most movement you’ll be getting all day. Then pick a current annoying pop tune of your choice. Play it really loud. I recommend that new and awful Timber song by Pitbull and Ke$ha, if you can tolerate it. That’s what earplugs are for. Now end this compilation with It’s Not Unusual by Tom Jones and then go quiet. You know, keep those bitches next door on their toes!

4:01 PM – Put on makeup. Notice your eyelids look more like crepe paper than those of a bubble-eye goldfish. Resolve to apply even more eye cream and drink more water. Pour another glass of wine instead. Eat something else. It will only save you money later on your outing. Observe the sheer volume of kale in your refrigerator and then choose cheese.

5:28 PM РGlance around. Take stock in the state of the pigsty better known as your apartment. Come to the conclusion that like your hair, no one else is looking at it.  Turn off the light and go out for the evening. Today was rough, you totally deserve it, and tomorrow is another day.

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O'Hara Image: www.fansshare.com

Vivien Leigh as Scarlett O’Hara
Image: http://www.fansshare.com

*Please note: This post is both derisive and satirical in nature.

Whatever Happened to Gimpy?

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Gimpy and Blanche - an appropriate scene from one of my all time favorite movies, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

Gimpy and Blanche – an appropriate scene from one of my all time favorite movies, Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?

So, I committed to do this thing for the month of November since I have a little bit of free time, but it’s a good sort of thing and I think it will a be fun opportunity to connect with other bloggers. ¬†It’s simply called, “Blog Every Day in November” or #BEDN on Twitter and it’s being organized by this lovely lady over here at Rosalilium. ¬†Basically, there is a topic du jour and each writer involved puts their own personal spin on it. Today’s topic is: “Introductions.”

Hi there. I’m Lady Sensory and my real name is Stacey Rowe. I’m more comfortable sharing that now because I’m free. ¬†Free from being the marketing and public relations persona at a local non-profit; and free to write about whatever the hell I want, and pepper it with some profanity if I so desire. It’s quite liberating and it’s also a little scary. What if you decide you don’t like me anymore?

For the most part, I’ve written about cooking, food, and travel, with a scattering of art and local lifestyle bits along the way. If you haven’t visited before, feel free to hang out and hit the ‘About’ section or peruse previous posts if you’d like. ¬†For this post, I thought I’d tell you an anecdote which will likely confirm that I’m the most accident-prone person you’ll ever encounter. Seriously. I can sit in a chair at a garage party and a shovel will fall on my head. That’s a true story – it happened two weeks ago! ¬†I will now recount the tale of how I broke my foot this past summer while attempting to make greens and beans.

Gimpin' aint easy - getting scoot-tastic at the local Wegmans and rocking some fierce ortho footwear!

Gimpin’ aint easy – getting scoot-tastic at the local Wegmans and rocking some fierce ortho footwear!

It’s no secret that I enjoy a good cocktail or three and I particularly enjoy a good¬†afternoon cocktail with friends who have a shared interest in the fine art of daydrinking. ¬†The very last week of June was a whirlwind of work, work, work, and getting all the things ready for a huge press conference announcing the new name of my former organization. ¬†I worked a 60 hour week. I left on Friday with a headache and a strong desire to not think about the place that shall not be named¬†for the entire weekend in an effort to come in relaxed and calm for the event on Monday. ¬†I visited the Titus Tavern, a local establishment we’ve affectionately dubbed the TitTav, for their Sunday afternoon Bloody Mary bar. ¬†‘Twas a glorious afternoon spent indulging in snack-filled Bloodies and wine, taking over the jukebox with some Daft Punk, Robin Thicke, and a bit of Mark Morrison’s “Return of the Mack” for a good dose of old-school flair. I even got a mild sunburn. Glorious day, I say.

About 3 hours later, I decided I needed to eat something before going to bed. I was feeling fine. I had escarole in the fridge. I had chicken stock. I had beans. I got up on my bar stool at home (naughty – don’t do it, kids!) and proceeded to pull down my 4.5 qt. fancy pot, set it on the stove and well, unlike Kerri Strug, I didn’t stick my olympic dismount.

Gimpy's Beans & Greens

Gimpy’s Beans & Greens

Yes, I got that “Boom-Boom-Pow” in the form of a broken fifth metatarsal (the bone that connects to your pinky-toe). ¬†I texted several friends and one came to my rescue. ¬†After a couple of hours at urgent care and a visit to the orthopedic office it was confirmed: I would be “Gimpy” ¬†for the summer: non-weight bearing for at least one month and the bone would take approximately 3 months total to heal completely.

Despite my general clumsiness, I’d never broken anything in my life. ¬†I spent all of July on crutches and in a wheelchair at work because it was easier to get around. ¬†The crutches were pinching the nerves in my underarms.¬†I tried to insert “Gimpy” humor wherever I could but truthfully, I was in horrible pain and exhausted. I’m not by any means suggesting a broken foot is as traumatic or serious as other health conditions, but for me it was a personal worst. Thankfully, I had friends and family in town who were able to help with laundry and picking up groceries. You don’t appreciate those stupid little things until you can’t do them for yourself anymore. ¬†The funny thing is, between my mother’s illness and working with senior citizens for 9 years in my ‘previous lives,’ I’d always felt like I understood the whole loss of independence thing… until it happened to me. ¬†Then I finally got it. ¬†Admittedly, I’m stubbornly independent and hate having to ask anyone for help, particularly for very basic things. Being able to shave my legs or taking out the trash were personal triumphs! So yeah, it sucked, but it also gave me perspective and an appreciation for the people and things that actually matter. ¬†I’m also more aware of people around me and for every stranger who was too oblivious to hold a door open, there were others that were over-the-top helpful.

Aside from all of that and with November upon us, did I learn any lessons from a summer of being Gimpy and the fall aftermath? Sure. Here are a few takeaways:

1) Don’t get up on a tall stool to grab a 10 lb pot after 8:30 at night. Better yet, don’t¬†attempt to cook anything after daydrinking, no matter how many hours have passed. Be more like your friends: grab a garbage plate and pass out.

2) Try not to get burned out because that’s when accidents happen. Perhaps more importantly, if a CEO (or anyone in senior management, for that matter) screams, swears, or throws something at you, or causes you to question your own intelligence, strengths, talents, and abilities – your inherent¬†sparkle – please get the f*ck out. Please. Run, don’t walk, to the nearest exit. Darling, you are not working for leaders, you are indeed working for douchebags and douchebags don’t change.

3) Carry on. Hold your head high, but not so high that you get distracted and wind up dropping the lid of your fancy-ass Le Creuset pot on the toe of your previously injured foot, you idiot.

Lady Sensory Gets Knocked Down But She Gets Up Again Gimpy Beans & Greens

1 bunch (approximately 2-3 cups, chopped) of dark leafy greens ¬†(I’ve used escarole, chard, or spinach)

2  15 oz. cans of cannellini beans, rinsed and drained

1 medium onion, finely diced

6 cloves of garlic, minced or pressed

1.5 tbsp olive oil

1 tsp of crushed red pepper (more or less, depending on how spicy you like your greens)

1/2 cup Freshly grated parmesan cheese (and if you have the cheese rind to throw in the soup – that’s even better!)

4 cups of chicken stock  (or vegetable stock for the vegetarians)

Salt and cracked black pepper to taste

This one’s super easy for the non-clumsy. Warm a 4.5 qt fancy pot up on the stove (any large soup pot will do) and finely dice the onion. Add the oil to the pot and allow it to heat up. Place the onion in and cook until very golden brown (caramelized). This will take about 15-20 minutes on medium heat. ¬†Add the garlic and cook for a few minutes longer, then stir in the beans, red pepper and salt and black pepper. Cook for about three minutes and add the chopped greens, allowing to wilt slightly. ¬†Add the stock (and the cheese rind if you have it handy) and simmer until hot and greens are tender. ¬†Garnish with grated parmesan cheese and serve with a nice crusty roll or bread. ¬†Serves 2-3 and is tasty the next day.

As a fair warning: you might not want to transport this spicy, garlicky soup in your vehicle. ¬†On that note, I’m really digging my new rubber VW mats. ¬†Oops.

Gimpy's crutches overlooking scenic High Falls from the Genesee Brewhouse

Gimpy’s crutches overlooking scenic High Falls from the Genesee Brewhouse

Why Avocados Are Better Than Men Part Deux

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This hot mess looks like something out of a Ghostbusters movie.

This hot mess looks like something out of a Ghostbusters movie.

Avocados are considered a fruit and are totally acceptable as part of this new healthy eating plan. ¬†I learned this the last time around when I¬†whipped up¬†this tasty soup.¬† Despite avocados being a little high in fat, the fat is good for you and they are packed with tons of nutrients. I’ve been so good lately.¬† I’ve been eating well, working on my fitness, and trying to keep my snarkiness in check.¬† It’s only natural that I’m going to fall off the wagon after a brutal week.¬† So,¬†I enjoyed a little wine at the end of the week without getting too cray-cray.¬† This morning while listening to a little Squeeze, I realized I won’t be having any¬†black coffee in bed anytime soon (too much caffeine).¬† However, chocolate was an option.¬† I’d been contemplating the chocolate avocado mousse I enjoyed at The Owl House prior to the cleanse.¬† I happened to have a bag of avocados and a well stocked pantry.¬† I call that serendipitous.¬†¬†So let’s do this, people.¬† Let’s have a dessert that’s kind of good for us today. We deserve it!

Lady Sensory’s Tempted By The Fruit of Another Chocolate-Almond Avocado Pudding

You will need a food processor or a blender.  This makes two servings.

This looks more like pudding.

This looks more like pudding.

1 avocado, peeled, pitted and chopped

1/2 cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk

3 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

2 tbsp Justin’s Maple Almond Butter (you can use any almond butter but this is sooooooo good!)

2 tsp vanilla extract

1/4 tsp almond extract

4-5 tbsp real maple syrup (not pancake syrup)

Pinch of salt (optional)

Pulse¬†all of these ingredients into the bowl of your food processor, scrape the sides down once and finish blending.¬† Transfer to a festive serving bowl. You can garnish with fresh fruit or almond slices if you like. Serve immediately or refrigerate in an airtight container and serve within one day.¬† After a few bites of this, you’ll forget all about that jerk who blew you off for a moron.¬† Hmmmm. I think that may be construed as snarky. Whoopsie!

Voilà - the final result!

Voilà Рthe final result!

Share My Stench

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Serge Lutens and L'Artisan booty!

Serge Lutens and L’Artisan booty!

I’ve been a ‘stinky’¬†blogger lately.¬†I’m not quite sure where January went, but one of the high points of the month was that this recipe was named a runner-up in the¬†5th Annual St. Germain Can Can Classic!¬† Ironically, I¬†won a fancy St. Germain cruiser¬†bicycle (it’s on the way) and a bottle of¬†the delicious elderflower liqueur from France.¬† I guess I’ll have to teach myself how to ride a bike again after all (see previous post about my¬†failed bicycle attempts in Mexico).

So while we are on the subject of French liqueur, I’ve realized I neglected¬†to cover¬†many of France trip highlights,¬†including one¬†I like to refer to as my¬†‘Passport to Fragrance.’¬† I’ve decided that we’re going to do something about that right¬†now.¬† In junior high, I listened to alternative¬†bands like¬†The Dead Milkmen and¬†used to get a kick out of an obnoxious¬†track called, “My Many Smells,” and the line: “Won’t you come and smell me? Won’t you share my stench?”¬† I don’t think I envisioned my perfume¬†affinity at the ripe age of 12 or 13. But after twenty years and more flacons than I can recall, I think this song had a rather profound effect on me –¬†even if their idea of¬†stench¬†was¬†more like¬†a college fraternity house or what my hair smells like after several days of hitting the dry shampoo.¬†¬†So without further ado, I’m going to share my stench with you.

I went to Paris with a very clear agenda: go to the Les Salons Dus Palais Royal Shiseido and buy what is known as a¬†bell jar (and no, not the Sylvia Plath variety – see the pic above).¬† The apothecary-styled bell¬†jar is generally¬†filled with some exclusive Serge Lutens¬†scent that¬†we poor bastards in¬†the states¬†can’t¬†enjoy unless Monsieur Lutens decides to release it as a limited edition 50 ml spray export.¬† Since¬†my trip¬†to France, they’ve decided to allow exclusive bell jar purchases to ship to the U.S. Go figure! At any rate, the store looks exactly like it appears on the website, which is great considering I didn’t take a picture.¬† The doors were open and the sales associates were looking at me like I was some crazy American tourist so I put my camera away (busted!) and got down to business: retail therapy.¬† I had been pathetically¬†coveting a bell jar for over five years.¬† I hadn’t had the chance to sniff Sarassins,¬†which has seen described as an “inky jasmine.”¬†I also sampled¬†Fourreau Noir, a lavender-tonka¬†concoction that on the right¬†person (i.e. the sales associate) would smell great but ultimately that wasn’t the one for me.¬†¬†¬†I liked Sarassins immediately. I’d describe it as a¬†true jasmine with fruity top notes and a lovely base of musk and leather.¬† The fruity notes¬†remind me of apricots or Osmanthus tea.¬† The leather note is more suede-like, and similar to the suede note¬†in Daim Blonde.¬†The jasmine is tempered by the fruit, musk and leather which keeps it from going overboard (as in A La Nuit).¬† It smells¬†gorgeous in the cold¬†January¬†air in New York.¬† I think frigid weather really does wonders for tropical white florals.¬† It’s like having¬†a spray vacation.

So¬†after¬†purchasing Sarassins,¬†I had the sales associate¬†dab some Un Lys on me ¬†(my all-time favorite) and¬†I proceeded to exit the store.¬† I meandered back to the hotel with my purchase and while strolling and successfully avoiding the Jimmy Choo¬†windows (my wallet just couldn’t take that beating), I soon realized that I would have to return to Palais Royal before departing Paris. While the sales associate did me proper in¬†selling me¬†the¬†Sarassins, I just had to have my beloved bell jar of Un Lys. I’m hard pressed to find a better fragrance on my person.¬† It’s a gorgeous white lily¬†underpinned with¬†greens, vanilla, and musk. It’s simple. Elegant. Classy. Hey, that’s how I roll.¬† I’ve worn¬†this one from early spring¬†until the tail end¬†of¬†summer. It’s a stunner.¬†Some adjustments¬†had to be made within the travel spending budget to accommodate the extra perfume purchases, but not before¬†I embraced my inner museum nerd.¬† I sweated and got elbowed by many an Asian¬†tourist while¬†documenting the Mona Lisa.¬† Can I just say that the Louvre was the most unpleasant museum experience I’ve ever had? No, not the¬†Louvre itself¬†– there are a lot of fine works there.¬† It was just way too crowded for anyone’s actual enjoyment.¬† I much preferred¬†the Centre Georges Pompidou, Mus√©e d’Orsay,¬† Mus√©e de l’Orangerie,¬†l‚ÄôEspace Dal√≠, and Mus√©e Matisse.

Upon exiting the¬†Louvre, I spotted the L’Artisan boutique¬†directly across the street. I needed to spray something on myself after¬†feeling as crammed as¬†a sardine in a can.¬† Plus, I couldn’t risk opening my new bell jars and having them spill all over in transit. Samples of¬†the L’Artisan line¬†could be enjoyed outside without even entering the store, but¬†I was definitely¬†going in. It took all of five hot seconds to know that their summer release of¬†S√©ville √† l’Aube was coming home with Lady Sensory.¬† No one does an¬†orange blossom like L’Artisan.¬† They managed to unseat¬†the highly regarded Serge Lutens Fleurs¬†d’Oranger as my top pick for orange blossom in a matter of minutes. ¬†If you haven’t heard the story behind the fragrance, please visit this blog written by the woman whose story¬†inspired it and this blog for a lovely review.¬† The top notes will hit you with a dose of greens (petitgrain) and then the orange blossom develops and¬†lingers throughout the drydown which is all honeyed lavender and benzoin on me.¬† This¬†was the¬†fragrance I wore for the remainder¬†of the trip as I moved toward the south of France. I also wore it upon my return and¬†throughout the fall months.¬†¬†While one might not recommend this for summer due to the drydown, I don’t really find it heavy or cloying.¬†In fact, I find it very clean¬†(not in that boring laundry-musk way) and¬†I get tons of compliments on it.¬† I¬†wore it yesterday because it hit 60 degrees here and even got some compliments standing in line¬†for some soup at¬†the deli. ¬†The lavender¬†seems to¬†temper the honey and incense notes and the orange blossom keeps the whole thing from tipping¬†into that ambery-oriental/gourmand zone.¬† I really,¬†truly love¬†this and will always associate it with my¬†brief summer stint¬†on the Mediterranean.¬† I’ve already used half of my bottle and never want to be without¬†it and yet (of course), it’s in limited production.

While on my visit, I also hit the Fragonard perfume museum (I¬†warned you that I’m a museum nerd) which is kind of near the Opera House in Paris.¬† I wanted to go to the¬†Fragonard in Eze, but the driver prioritized a Monte Carlo run for all the gamblers on the bus.¬†While some scents were nice at Fragonard,¬†I didn’t find anything that really spoke to me and said, “Take me home!”¬† But hey, I managed to land¬†three gorgeous bottles of perfume that are unusual enough where I¬† know I won’t smell them on anyone I know.¬† I also¬†snagged¬†some amazing¬†high-quality bar soaps from the market¬†in Nice, a lifetime of memories, and some quality pics. So,¬†no complaints here!

Now, some of you might be reading this thinking, “Whoa, crazy lady. You flew across the ocean for perfume?”¬† Well the answer is both yes and no. I travel because I enjoy experiencing¬†the culture, food,¬†and art¬†in a new place,¬†but olfactory memories are very powerful and if you can capture¬†the essence of that¬†place and¬†time, or a feeling¬†in a bottle¬†(as in S√©ville √† l’Aube) well, why wouldn’t you buy it? And France has a long history of perfumery.¬† It seemed¬†that perfume would¬†be the perfect souvenir. ¬†And now, some thoughts to ponder when selecting your own personal stench:

1) Don’t buy something because it smells good on someone else without trying it on your own skin.¬† It will smell different on you because of your chemistry.¬† Research and try before you buy. Plenty of websites offer reviews of perfume and samples for purchase or swapping (from niche to mainstream).Please reference my breakup with Thierry Mugler’s Angel for more elaboration on that.

2) You don’t HAVE to have a signature scent.¬† It’s¬†wonderful if you do, but sometimes a seven-year itch is a good thing (again, refer to the Angel breakup).¬†¬†I went from wearing the same scent every day (a very heavy gourmand) to having a¬†nice collection¬†composed of what¬†I would¬†describe as¬†three distinct fragrance seasons. Experiment! Like food, you’ll be surprised how much your taste can change when exposed to new things.¬† For every new celebrity fruity-floral, there are several¬†far more interesting fragrances to counteract it. If I hadn’t strayed I would never have smelled all the amazing stuff going on out there in the fragrance industry.

3) Most importantly, wear what YOU like. I wear fragrance for myself. If I get a compliment, well, that’s just a bonus because I’m already in the mindset that I smell great. And it doesn’t have to cost a fortune. Whether it’s a $10 drugstore spray or a fancy¬†flacon nearing $200 –¬†when it works, it just works.¬† Now run along and put your best stench forward…and enjoy a few pics from the parade of museums and perfumeries.

Flip-Flops and Farmers’ Markets in December

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Golden beets and yams make surprisingly good soup additions!

Golden beets and yams make surprisingly good soup additions!

It’s December in Rochester, New York, and I can hardly contain my excitement.¬† You see, my happiness is¬†directly linked to¬†my ability to wear flip-flops and go outside without¬†sporting a coat.¬† So despite the rainy drizzle yesterday, I was elated to put on my flip-flops in¬†50-something degree weather and¬†drag my mildly hungover self to the Snobby Brighton Market’s¬†¬†new seasonal edition.¬†This is being held inside at the Brookside Center, or what is formerly known as¬†Brighton Recreation Center.¬† I wasn’t sure what to expect from this adventure, but I certainly didn’t expect to speak with a man specializing in organic, grass-fed chickens and lamb about the concept of lambing and legs getting stuck in birth canals.¬† My friend, who has recently switched back to vegetarianism, promptly ran away during this convo and I chased after her yelling, “Hey, you do know bacon counts, right?”¬† Regardless, we enjoyed some chuckles and sang, “I hope you like Lambin’ too…” to the Bob Marley song, “Jammin,'” while she waited in line for her vegetarian poutine from the Le Petit Poutine truck.

Since¬†that farmer’s¬†lamb won’t be ready for consumption until April,¬†I picked¬†up some organic eggs.¬†I also¬†managed to find a unique orange lavender¬†marmalade and some golden beets to take home with me.¬† The original plan was to go home and make roasted beets and kale chips but I really wanted soup and¬†decided to get creative with whatever I had on hand. So, here’s¬†my happy accident worth replicating:

Lady Sensory’s Mixed-Bag Winter Market Soup

2 tbsp olive oil

1/3 cup dry white wine (I used Sauvignon Blanc)

16 oz bag dried cannellini beans (or two cans if you are pressed for time)

Pretty and seasonal!

Pretty and seasonal!

1 large onion, finely chopped

7 cloves garlic, minced or pressed

1 sweet potato or yam, peeled, quartered and sliced

4 golden beets, peeled, quartered and sliced

6-7 cups kale, rinsed, drained and chopped

2 cans diced organic tomatoes (not drained)

5 cups low sodium chicken stock or broth

1 heaping tbsp curry powder (I used the Williams Sonoma Madras Curry)

1 tsp ground ginger

1 tsp ground Saigon cinnamon

1/2 tsp Hungarian paprika

2 bay leaves

Salt and cracked black pepper, to taste

Crushed red pepper, to taste

3 cups water

Prepare the dried beans by either soaking overnight or use the quick cook method of boiling in a large pot for a couple of minutes, removing from heat and allowing to stand, covered, in the water for 1 to 1.5 hrs.  When ready, they should be slightly tender and look almost like they do coming out of the can (very little of that white dry-skin coating on very few beans).  In a 6-7 qt pot, warm the oil over medium heat and add the onions and garlic. Continue cooking until onions are translucent and garlic is slightly golden.  Next, add the slices of yam and golden beets,. Incorporate into the oil, onion and garlic mixture and cook for a few more minutes.  Add the wine to deglaze the pan and allow it to evaporate.  Heck, pour yourself a glass and sip to help you take the edge that hangover from the fantastic party you went to the night before.  Add the curry, ginger, cinnamon, paprika, salt, pepper, crushed red pepper, bay leaves, and stir together.  Next, add the two cans of tomatoes and juice, followed by the stock and water.  Rinse and drain the beans, add those, raising the temperature to medium-high.  Add the kale in small batches (takes up a lot of volume in the pot but it will reduce as it cooks) and when the soup has come to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and allow to simmer for at least one hour, stirring occasionally.  You may want to add a little more water or stock if you like your soup more brothy. This is very chunky and hearty.  This should feed 6-8 people (I froze two big containers).  And, if you are vegetarian like my friend, I suppose you could certainly substitute vegetable stock for the chicken stock.

In the meantime, I’ll¬†continue listening to Bob Marley and enjoying fresh produce¬†in flip-flops…¬†pretending I live somewhere else for however long this¬†warm streak lasts.¬† Denial? Perhaps. Now please pass me more of that¬†wine so I can continue deluding myself.

The finished product - delicious!

The finished product – delicious!