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Happy New Year 2011!

We stayed in.  We watched football and the second disc of Lord of the Rings: Return of the King and ate Chinese food and then the Dick Clark Rockin’ New Year Celebration – I have never wanted so much to slap Jenny McCarthy before – and then saw Fighting Gravity with Far East Movement and were not impressed.  It was certainly not Fighting Gravity’s greatest outing.

We did not drink champagne.

In the interest of beginning the year as one means to continue it, I wore Mary Greenwell Plum.

I wish all of you a wonderful, healthy, productive, good-smelling year ahead.

Image is American Homestead Winter from Currier and Ives.

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Monday, Dec. 20:  A cold, windy day.  I have taken the day off from work so that I can attend my grandmother Nell’s funeral, about which I do not want to say much at this point (why? I don’t know), except that family is a wonderful thing when the people in it are fairly mature in an emotional sense.  I will tell you that I chose to wear the transcendently lovely, unflappable, Serge Lutens La Myrrhe.  It was beautiful all day.  I am not sorry.

The few inches of snow we got late last week has now turned to ice on our half-mile-long, curving, sloping, gravel road, due to the vehicular traffic.  We headed out for the funeral and spun out halfway down the hill; thank God we didn’t hit anything, and The CEO drove us backwards down to the paved road.  I thanked him for getting out of that situation without damage, and he told me it was all due to his mad skilz as an AIP.  A what? I wanted to know.  An Agricultural Industry Professional, he explained.

The boys went home with my parents after the funeral, and about the time I got home from  fetching Bookworm from Indoor Track practice, The CEO got word about the potential job.  It did not work out.  I think they interviewed five people, and he was the final player to get cut from the roster, so to speak; the deciding factor was the other candidate’s experience.  Heavy sigh here.  It’s possible that something may come up in the future.

Tuesday, Dec. 21:  Cold.  The road is still icy, so I took the farm pickup truck, which has four-wheel drive, to work.  Incidentally, I don’t think I’ve introduced him to you.  The CEO’s Camry is, of course, named Cameron, and my minivan is Eddie Van – for Eddie Van Halen, natch.  The pickup is known as Walker Ford Ranger.  (Yes, yes, I know.  You don’t have to tell me how cheesy it is.  But it makes us laugh, so I really don’t care what anyone else thinks.)

SOTMorning: DSH Perfumes December, which is rather nice, with pine and spices.  Eventually it nosedives down into those balsamy notes I don’t like, however, so I don’t need any. When when I got home, I gathered up all the necessary paperwork and drove Bookworm to the Department of Motor Vehicles, where we obtained her Learner’s Permit. 

SOTA: vintage Chanel No. 19 eau de toilette.  By all rights, I shouldn’t love this thing, it’s so unfriendly and chilly and standoffish.  But it is also extremely beautiful, and so I do love it.

Wednesday, Dec. 22:  Finally, we have some temperatures in the low 40s, so the ice on our road is melting.  That’s a good thing – I’ve got to drive to my parents’ house and pick up the boys.  They’ve been spending time with their cousin Doodlebug.  SOTMorning: DSH Perfumes Gingembre.  It’s terrific for about half an hour, and then it slides into that “amber” note that reads as shaving cream to me, so I’m not gonna be wearing this one.

SOTA: Le Labo Aldehydes 44.  Very nice stuff.  It’s no La Myrrhe or Vega, but it is really pretty.

I am almost ready for Christmas.  I’ve been scrambling, and I don’t even go out shopping, since I prefer to shop online when at all possible.  Aargh.  And as I’ve said before, doing NaNoWriMo during the month of November really puts a burden on me to get things ready for Christmas.  Whoever thought National Novel Writing Month up (however wonderful it is in other senses), and decided November would be a good time to do it, must have been either a dude or a college student – someone with no December responsibilities, in any case.   Anyway, presents are going to be un-lavish this year, for all of us, and we’ll make it more of a family-and-worship time than a woohoo-party-mad ripping of wrapping paper sort of thing.

Thursday, Dec. 23:  Still chilly, but the ice continues to melt.  Sloooowly.  SOTD: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY.  Gaze still doesn’t like it; everybody else, including me, still does: yummy tuberose-vanilla-spice-buttered-popcorn happy party thing.  It lasts all day, through the last-minute shopping (picture frames, batteries, milk, eggs, apple juice) and the gift-wrapping and the making of dinner, et cetera, et cetera…

Friday, Dec. 24: I have a few things to wrap, and some cooking to do, but we’re set.  (Thank goodness.)  The only dilemma at this point: choosing a Christmas Eve service to attend.  Do we go with The CEO’s mother, and his sister visiting from Atlanta, to the service at my MIL’s church?  She’s playing the organ, and it would be nice to hear her, and the music’s nice there.  The drawbacks are that it starts at 9 pm, and the minister preaches a full half-hour sermon at that service, adding to the hour’s worth of music; the kids are certain to crash before we can get home. 

Or do we go to the candlelight service at the church where we used to attend, with The CEO’s other sister and her family, visiting from northern Virginia?  It used to be a lovely service, in a lovely setting.  But I used to sing for that service – O Holy Night, or Gesu Bambino – and sometimes play the piano for it.  We stopped going there for a few reasons, one having to do with our growing theological distance from the Presbyterian Church, one having to do with the upheaval over the division of the family farm, and one having to do with my sorrow at still, after fourteen years of service as Sunday School teacher, choir member and director, and various other capacities, being considered a rank outsider.  It is extremely difficult to go to church with people you regard as greedy promise-breakers, particularly if they are family members.  And if we suddenly were to show up at that service, I think we’d be swamped with church members asking when we were going to come back.  I’m not going back.  My bitterness over the whole affair is starting to recede, but I cannot at this stage imagine choosing to return to that church, even for an evening.

It turned out that our own church held a small, informal service in the chapel at Virginia Tech, which we’d missed the announcements for because we missed last Sunday’s service due to the death of my grandmother.  We went, and it was nice.  Clearly, minimal effort was put into the thing since it was such a last-minute arrangement, and I think maybe next year I’ll volunteer to help.  A few candles, a poetry reading or two, a little more music… it could be really meaningful.

SOTD: Alahine, of course. 

Saturday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day: I woke early, at 6:30, to go start breakfast, and found the ground covered in snow.  It was utterly still, not a breath of wind, with the snow coming down like a silent blessing, and there it was: the moment when Christmas arrived in my heart, an overflowing of gratitude for the Gift, a moment of beauty and pure happiness.  Some seasons this moment comes early; I can count on it arriving if I’ve sung “For Unto Us a Child Is Born,” from The Messiah, in concert.  Some seasons, it arrives on Christmas Eve, as “Silent Night” echoes from voice to voice in a darkened church.  One memorable year in my youth, it arrived as I lay on the carpet underneath the Christmas tree in my grandmother’s living room, looking up through the branches and the lights: Love came down at Christmas.

I wore Alahine again, since it smells like joyous golden bells to me, all citrus and spice and sweetness, with a tiny dark balsamic thread in the base.  In fact, when Kristin of Scent of the Day and Joan of Redolent of Spices started discussing the possibility of a joint blog post around Christmas, focusing on the scents of the Three Kings, gold and frankincense and myrrh, I wanted to join but knew that, first, I’d be so hectically busy that I wouldn’t do the project much good, and second, I’ve already posted reviews of the three scents that immediately sprang to mind when considering the gifts of the Magi.  Alahine is gold; PdN Vanille Tonka is frankincense, and SL La Myrrhe is (of course) myrrh.  I love all three of them.

It was a nice, quiet day.  The CEO went to feed some cows, as he has done every single Christmas morning since he was twelve years old (save the Christmas he spent at graduate school in New Zealand).  We ate breakfast: bacon and eggs, cinnamon rolls and homemade applesauce.  The kids opened their stockings and waited patiently for their dad to come back.  We opened presents, passed hugs around, and then I cooked a turkey breast for lunch at The CEO’s parents’ house.  We spent the afternoon there, with his family, and it snowed further.

I can only remember one other white Christmas in my lifetime.  It’s a lovely thing, snow on Christmas, if you don’t have to go anywhere…

Sunday, Dec. 26: Yet more snow.  No way we’re getting to church today.  Well, I suppose one or two of us could get out in the pickup, but I’m not driving a car over the ice-covered-with-snow drive.  Undoubtedly the main roads are clear, though.  SOTMorning: Kenzo Winter Flower, very nice soft powdery mimosa fragrance.

Jeff the Hired Guy called this afternoon to say that he’d seen a cow that seemed to be ready to calve, so The CEO went out to check on her a little later, and she’d already had the calf, and it was standing up.  He left the pair alone to bond, came back in and built a fire.  Later, he took Bookworm out with him, so she could drive and he could hold the calf on the back of the pickup, enticing the mama cow to follow the calf into the barn out of the weather.  Bookworm, according to her dad, did a terrific job driving the truck up and down snowy hills, making good use of that learner’s permit. Turns out, though, that the calf is suffering from what The CEO calls SCS – Stupid Calf Syndrome – and was ignorant both of where his food source was and how to access it.  The CEO and Bookworm spent a good half-hour teaching the calf to nurse.

I feel that the calf was unjustly maligned – Bookworm herself suffered from the same condition as a baby, and it was a good four months before we got the hang of breastfeeding.  She’s clearly doing just fine now in the brains department.

SOTAfternoon/evening: Guerlain Vega, which is gorgeous.

Image is NZ-Winter from… I can’t find it.  I’d downloaded it from a free site to use as a background on my laptop, and forgot to save the source.  Oops.  It looks like it might be on the South Island, but I don’t know where, and of course it isn’t winter in the Southern Hemisphere now.  If you know from whence it came, please contact me.

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Originally uploaded by bill littell

Monday, Nov. 29: Happy Birthday, Dad! Lots of love to you.

Just heard from my mother last night that my grandmother, Mawmaw Nell (my dad’s mother), is in the hospital and not doing well. Her doctor says that she could very well recover from a kidney infection. Or, she might not. No news yet.

The CEO and I are at The Homestead for the annual Virginia Farm Bureau convention. The CEO gets to go to all the meetings, and I get to eat wonderful food and see some old friends, and in between work on the novel. It’s going surprisingly well, and I may actually finish today.

SOTD: Chanel 31 Rue Cambon. Gorgeous thing… I’m not alone in wishing for a parfum version of this, the classy floral modern chypre that comes in that Les Exclusifs vat. You need the vat, by the way, if you’re going to wear it frequently. It needs a little bit of oomph, and perhaps a bit more sillage, to be perfect, but it’s so close.

The CEO’s news: he ran for election to the FB state board of directors, and lost to the incumbent. The current director is a lovely lady, and no one had any complaints whatsoever about the job she’s doing, but she had said in her last election that she’d serve two terms and step down, and it was only after The CEO declared his intention to run that she decided she’d like to serve another term. I think that although he did lose, at least he’s got his hat in the ring for the next election in three years. I don’t think Evelyn will attempt reelection again, as she will be in her late 70s at that point.

Retesting Smell Bent Reindeer Games on the back of one hand.

My news: I WON NANOWRIMO!! Went typing away and suddenly found that I was near the end, and that I actually had about 51K. Wow! Last year, I was writing up until about 10pm on November 30. Was going to spritz Iris Poudre in celebration, but didn’t think it could compete with the 31 RC on my sweater.

Tuesday, Nov. 30: Chilly rain. Fires in the fireplaces at The Homestead. They’ve decorated for Christmas already, which I generally hate-I-mean-hate, but which here looks right. It’s a large building, so everything is on the grand scale: huuuuge 15-foot-tall Christmas trees in the Great Hall and in the ballrooms (there are… three here, I think) and in the large conference room. Christmas lights on the lawn in front of the hotel, which we can see very well from our room because of the way the wings are angled. Big wreaths, big red bows, enormous ornaments and 6-inch-wide ribbons on the trees; a train set in the atrium, moving among gingerbread houses… I’m certainly not going to be decorating at home until about halfway through December, but I’m enjoying it here.

SOTD: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, lovely creamy white-floral thing. Friendly yet quirky, with black pepper and plum under the tuberose.

Dinner is usually preceded on the second day of the convention by a reception hosted by the Eastern Shore county office, with crab legs, Virginia peanuts, and those delicious crunchy hand-cooked potato chips, and mixed drinks. Dinner is a little more elaborate than the other meals, and people tend to dress up. I wore my black jersey wrap dress, with pearls and my russet paisley scarf… and Iris Poudre. Ooooh.

Wednesday, Dec. 1: Drove home from The Homestead, 2.5 hours. I left right after breakfast, since I needed to be at work to send out account statements, but The CEO rode back with one of the other voting delegates from our county. The dog was glad to see me. The cat was nowhere to be found at first, although she decided to come out and yodel at me, probably expressing her annoyance that I wasn’t there to cater to her every whim.

SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum, which I’m enjoying so much that I am a) writing a review, b) planning on wearing it again as soon as possible, and c) scheming to get my hands on more. 5 ml is just not gonna cut it – this decant is going to disappear fast. I sprayed it again in the middle of the day, just to get another hit. (Uh-oh, looks like I’m hooked. Iris Poudre did that to me, too.)

Glad to see my sweet babies. I missed them.

Thursday, Dec. 2: Trying to catch up at work. Retesting Smell Bent Dr. Dreidel and Bi-Polar Express. It’s cold out but not miserable.

The CEO called me at work this afternoon to tell me that “They” (I will eventually identify the mysterious “they.” Wouldn’t be prudent at this juncture. Heh.) had asked him to come and interview for a job Friday afternoon, and he’d have to skip his last lab class to do it, but the department TA would step in for him.

Bookworm had a Christmas parade this evening, which I couldn’t go to because I had community chorus practice. Practice went well, which would worry me if it was the last practice before performance – if that happens, watch out, you’ll screw up something very basic. However, we have one more before we present Vivaldi Gloria and some other pieces. The Gloria is a lot of fun to sing; this is my… fourth? Yes, fourth performance of it. Good stuff, very listenable.

Mawmaw Nell will be going home from the hospital tomorrow, unless something unexpected and drastic happens.

Friday, Dec. 3: Taz has some sort of stomach virus, poor baby. Retesting Smell Bent Sexy Turtleneck and Elf-Fulfilling Prophecy. Still trying to catch up at work.

Called The CEO to wish him luck with the job interview. He said, “This may not pan out, and I don’t even know what exactly they are interviewing me for, unless it’s simple gratitude and they don’t have anything to offer me anyway. We’ll see.” He called me back right afterward and told me that he was considering taking this particular job, and wanted to know what I thought about the situation. Wow. That was fast… I’ll share details as soon as I am allowed to do so, probably by the end of the upcoming week.

Put on Organza Indecence at home and made some Chinese food (yum to both).

Saturday, Dec. 4: Cleaned house. Went to the second local Christmas parade to feature Bookworm’s band. Boy, parades are sure not as exciting as they used to be when I was a kid! This was was pret-ty darn boring. One marching band, some old cars, a few horses, a couple of Girl Scout and Boy Scout troops, the mayor and town council, only two floats (4H and a local church), some cool tricked-out trucks, and every single fire truck the town owns. That was it.

SOTD: Alahine. I love Alahine. And it’s snowing! It started with little flurries during the parade, and by the time I’d picked up Bookworm at the high school and we’d gone by the grocery store to pick up apple juice and eggs, big fat flakes were spinning down to land on my face. Made me think of Julie Andrews singing “My Favorite Things,” with the “snowflakes that stay on my nose and eyelashes.”

The CEO built a fire, I made hot wassail, and then we got a call from our farm guy about a cow in the barn lot that had done something incredibly stupid. She was in the barn, and instead of walking through some mud to get out the open door, she tried to go under the wall. Got stuck. Spent the night there, apparently. By the time Jeff and The CEO found her, she was cold and exhausted, and we don’t think she’s going to make it.

Sometimes farming really stinks. I mean, this was a cow nearly old enough to vote, and she was probably going to go to the cull cow sale (i.e., she was ambulatory hamburger) at the end of the month, and you have to expect that you’re going to lose one now and then, but it’s bad all the way around when you lose one to stupidity.

By bedtime, we had curled up in front of the fire with cider and watched the Hokies of VT romp all over the Seminoles of FSU to win the ACC football championship (there was much rejoicing), while the snow piled up to three inches’ worth. This is unusual for the time of year – we usually don’t get much snow before Christmas – but nice. Snow is great if you don’t have to go anywhere in it.

Sunday, Dec. 5: The snow has melted somewhat, but it’s still flurrying. The little sugar pumpkin that volunteered itself in the garden, which has been in the house since late September, has outlived its usefulness, so it’s now in the oven baking so I can make pumpkin puree out of it. SOTD: the long-awaited decant of F. Malle Portrait of a Lady. Denyse’s review at Grain de Musc says that while wearing it, she didn’t need any jewelry to be dressed up. When I see someone’s description of a particular scent as “frocky,” or “for dressing up and going out,” I’m usually amused, because the scent will typically strike me as something I feel comfortable and very “myself” in, though I rarely wear anything more formal than the aforementioned jersey wrap dress: Iris Poudre and Mary Greenwell Plum come to mind here. But with PoaL, I may have run across the rare scent too dressy, too evening-gowny, too femme and stately, for my personal everyday wear. It does have a resemblance to Malle’s own Une Rose, which I find frighteningly Gothic, and to Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Lumiere Noire pour femme, which I find drop-dead sexy, but there are differences. I’m not even sure I like it. Will review soon.

Church this morning was out of the question, with the snow… when you live half a mile up a steep, curvy gravel road, getting out is a problem. We might be able to make it this evening, but that’s iffy. School will probably go two hours late on Monday.

I’m not ready to do much in the way of Christmas decorating, but I did take down my fall wreath and the autumn dried arrangement in the old pickle crock, and put out my Nutcracker collection. I think in general we start too early and build Christmas up too much, so that it’s not the special day it ought to be. We’ll go get a tree about the 15th, and it will come down New Year’s Day. And I may go ahead and put up my Nativity scene – Reason for the Season, and all that.

Image is Littell – The Homestead decorated for Christmas, from Flickr.

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Saw this video last Sunday at church, and it’s made an impression on me.  Thanksgiving has always had strong religious overtones for my family, and that’s still true.  To whom to we give thanks, if not to God? 

Question:If you celebrate the Thanksgiving holiday and you’re not interested in religion, how do you celebrate it?  I’m not being snarky, I’m serious here.  I can certainly understand that Thanksgiving is attractive to people who’d prefer that God just Butt Out Of Our Lives, Please, for various reasons – getting the family together, the great food, the continuation of a tradition, the parades, the football games, the four-day weekend… 

…so if you don’t consider yourself a religious person and you celebrate Thanksgiving because it is, after all, a national holiday, I’d love to know how the day goes for you.  Is it a day for eating a wonderful meal with your family?  A shared cultural phenomenon you participate in because not participating would be weird?  A good excuse to lie on the couch and watch four football games, interrupted only by sage dressing and pumpkin pie with whipped cream?  Not that there’s, ahem, anything wrong with that.

We’re eating the main meal with The CEO’s parents and one of his sisters today, along with some other friends who are on their own.  There will be the traditional turkey breast and ham, sweet potatoes and pumpkin pie on the table, as well as my mother-in-law’s  broccoli casserole and grocery rolls.  There will be football, both on TV and outside (assuming it doesn’t rain).  My father-in-law will pronounce the blessing while we hold hands around the table.

I might have burned the pies.  Taz might have made rude noises about the smoked salmon and then kicked his sister.  Bookworm might have yelled at Taz, Gaze  might have slyly prompted them to have started a fight in the first place, The CEO might have disagreed loudly with his father over some element of farm management, or with his sister over the best way to invest.  But I will have spent some quality time in the Thanksgiving Chair, and not even (unburned) pumpkin pie could beat that.

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Commitments for 2010

I’ve committed to embracing a healthier lifestyle (exercise?  Who, me?) this year. 
I’ve committed to finishing my novel and editing it by the end of 2010.
I’ve committed to an Act of Kindness (random or planned) each week this year.

I’ve committed to being Myself, and to appreciating those around me.

Enough insufferable smugness – the purpose of this post is really to remind myself of what I’ve promised to do.  I’ll be revisiting the matter throughout the year.  (And there’s another commitment.  I’d better stop now, these things are multiplying like drunken bunnies.)

Here’s to being a “new bloom, spreading fragrance around.”

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Dear Scent Diary, December 23-29

Wednesday, Dec. 23: Chanel Bois des Iles, Les Exclusifs edt decant.  Family party (well, minus my brother and his wife and the New Universe) at my parents’ house. Dinner was ham and turkey with all the usual side dishes; it was delicious.  Nobody cooks classic food better than my mom.  It turned out to be Chanel Day, with Mom in her new (vintage via eBay) No. 5 parfum, my sister in her Coco Mlle., and me in BdI.  Sadly, I was the only person who thought I smelled great, but I did smell great.

Thursday, Dec. 24: Guerlain L’Heure Bleue parfum.  I like L’HB in parfum, though definitely not in edt, where it resembles the medicine cabinet of some evil apothecary.  All the same, I continue to wonder why Perfumes: The Guide includes it in the Top Ten list.  It smells good, and it reminds me of… of… of precisely nothing.  It does not clutch at the heartstrings.  It never brings vivid pictures to my mind.  I mean, honestly, I don’t even like Mitsouko, and even I think it’s a better perfume than L’Heure Bleue.  Wearing it, I smell sort of like almond pastries, but not really. Why do I own it? It Was Ridiculously Cheap – a slightly-used bottle, missing its front label and being sold by a rejected wife facing divorce, whose husband had given it to her.  (I did get a sample of the real deal from TPC, just to check.  It’s legit.)  Why did I put this on again? Oh yeah – Christmas, almond bear claws… I think I actually like this better in the summer: more anise, less pastry.

Friday, Dec. 25, Christmas Day: my new, lovely bottle of Teo Cabanel Alahine, which I reviewed a few weeks ago as I was falling in love with my sample.  The parfum is beautiful, but extremely spendy, and I actually prefer the sparkle of the edp (lucky me!).  I kid you not, this is what joy smells like.

Saturday, Dec. 26:  Morning test scent was Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, a sample I’ve been saving up for some time.  It was still cold today but not frigid; the snow that’s been clogging our streets for a week did melt somewhat. The crystal-clear air made me think of the air inside a refrigerator, and that made me think of a description of Carnal Flower I read somewhere (Donna’s, at Perfume-Smellin’ Things? I think so), so I dabbed some on.  Review of this one coming soon, probably next week or the week after.  Baked a pumpkin pie, thirty yeast rolls, and that sweet potato souffle’ casserole that went over so well at Thanksgiving.  Also made a bunch of country green beans (actually that should be, “I cooked up a mess o’ country green beans”) and a tossed salad – twelve people for dinner at my in-laws’ house.  In the afternoon, I put on some more Alahine.  Someday I may get to the point where I don’t feel unreasonably, outrageously, happy when I wear Alahine.  But I devoutly hope not.

Sunday, Dec. 27: Took the extremely crunchy cedar tree down this morning, as it was becoming quite the fire hazard.  We typically cut a cedar around the 15th of December, and then take it down New Year’s Day, but I could tell this one wasn’t going to make it another day.  We probably swept up a couple of gallons’ worth of dead needles – still green, but totally dead.  Eeek.  It’s a good thing we weren’t all charred to cinders in our beds. In any case, I wanted something very floral, so tried a new layering combo with some samples: DSH Perfumes’ La Fleuriste (her version of JAR Golconda – very florist-case carnation) and Parfum d’Empire 3 Fleurs (rose, tuberose, and jasmine).  It’s pretty.  It’s not sending me into ecstasy, but it’s pretty.  After that wore off, I was still feelin’ some tuberose, so I grabbed a quick spritz of Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose.  Yeah, you can be snobby and turn it down, but I like it.  It’s no Fracas, it’s no Carnal Flower, it’s no DSH Tubereuse, but it’s a nice (cheap) warm tuberose with a woody drydown.

Monday, Dec. 28: Back to work. Very cold, sunny but windy.  Tested sample of SSS Winter Woods.  This feels like somebody took a chunk out of Tabac Aurea and bottled it… pleasant but boring, I say.  Read March’s partial review of her Lancome La Collection set, and now I’m lemming Climat like you wouldn’t believe.   Oh, heck, I have given up on liking this Winter Woods thing… I’m going to go spritz some vintage Emeraude pdt on top.  That’s more like it.

Tuesday, Dec. 29:  The dishwasher has chosen this week to start not cleaning dishes, and with five people in the house all day (three children home from school, The CEO home from Virginia Tech until the second week of Jan.), we’re piling up a lot of dishes.  Repair guy scheduled for January 14; will I make it to then?  Tested SSS Femme Jolie this morning, which I’ve heard described as a version of Feminite du Bois, and… no.  Just no.  Remember my shaving cream rant? ‘Nuff said.  SOTE: Bulgari Black.  I don’t wear this often enough, but it is some Seriously Good Stuff.

Image is L’air du temps RICCI RICCI CHANEL Delice de Cartier FACTICE by parfumgott at flickr.

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Yeah, I know… it’s Christmas, that wonderful time of the year when we give each other STUFF, in honor of the greatest gift ever – which was not, I remind you, wrapped up in paper printed with Santa faces and tied with red sparkly ribbons.

I have way too much STUFF.  (The CEO tells me this all the time.  He’s right, but I hate to admit that to him!)  Probably all of us have too much STUFF, and what we really need are things that can’t be wrapped up in Santa-face paper:  Time.  Family.  Love.  Kindness.  Grace.  Patience.  Contentment.  Forgiveness.  Relief from worry.

How often do I assume that my friends and family members just need another gift card or sweater or jar of homemade raspberry jelly, rather than my love/kindness/forgiveness?  Pretty often.  It’s embarrassing.  It’s easy to spend money and hope that some of the feeling that inspires me to do so comes through, without making sure the gift recipients know that I love them.

I gave up making handmade presents a long time ago.  It was even more stressful than spending money, and difficult to make the right thing for the right person.  Cross-stitch makes my hands hurt these days.  So does crochet, and besides, once you’ve made someone a fuzzy scarf, you really can’t give them another one.  Food gifts are handy, and making them doesn’t induce unpleasant finger tingling – but they’re not very personal.  Once you’ve made twelve jars of mulling spices, for all your aunts and cousins and the newspaper carrier and your hairdresser, one jar isn’t very special, is it?

And if I do nothing, nobody has any fun.  Maybe the way to do this is to spend a small amount of money, and spend some of my personal time as well.  So I’ll go ahead and get my brother that kitchen thingy he wants – and write him a personal note, too.  It’s a plan, people.

As a side note to all these STUFF comments, I looked over my perfume collection and found things that I’ve discovered I just don’t love.  I’d like these scents – they’re mostly miniature bottles, with a few decants – to go to good homes.  So I just posted them on my notepad at makeupalley.com, and will be listing them on my profile at fragrantica.com as well (I’m mals86 at both sites).  There are a few small decants I’d love to swap for, but other than that, I just want these little bottles to go to people who’ll enjoy them. 

If you’re interested in picking out one of the mini bottles for yourself, post a comment.  I’ll get Taz, my nine-year-old, to draw a name out of his bicycle helmet.  Winner gets to choose a prize from my list of Adoptable Minis.  Drawing closes on Thursday 12/10 at 12 midnight.

Image is 3 Presents Waiting by jonmatthew at flickr.

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Holy Cow, It’s December!

Wow, I can’t believe it’s the last month of the year.  Time does march on… (duh!)
I have so much to do.  I’m really glad I completed my National Novel Writing Month project a few days ago (yeah, okay, I’ll shut up about it now), but I’m very far behind on the whole Christmas thing.  It’s December 3:  three days before Bookworm marches in the local Christmas parade, ten days before my community chorus concert, twelve days before we’ll go get a Christmas tree, and three weeks before the Small People Living In My House will be pounding down the stairs, demanding to open their stockings and eat homemade cinnamon rolls.
I need a lot more time.  I haven’t bought any gifts; I haven’t baked anything; I haven’t decorated anything.
Next project: Make Christmas happen, simply.  I mean, I need simple and inexpensive and easy ways to make it feel like Christmas around here without doing a lot of the work myself – and I could pick up Better Homes and Gardens or Woman’s Day or some other magazine, but that would feel like wasting time.  (Blogging’s not a waste of time, is it?  Please tell me it ain’t!) Might have to go check out the emergency holiday missions at FlyLady.org, too.

As I’m formulating the Christmas plan, I think I’ll start by cleaning up the joint.  (Eek!)  Get all the fall stuff put away, help the kids pack up anything they won’t need over the winter months, ditch the “I haven’t used this in months” items lying around.  We’ll see how it goes.

As an aside, I smelled the Laura Mercier Minuit Enchante’ parfum that people are raving about on my favorite perfume blogs.  I don’t live anywhere near a Nordstrom’s, but managed to hit the one in Richmond a few days ago, in the course of  attending a farmers’ conference and, incidentally, visiting my brother in order to hold the new baby.  (He’s precious, of course. I got to snuggle him and kiss his little fuzzy head, but not for long enough.)  Anyway, I was expecting a big ol’ dusty resiny Opium-like thing, and instead what I got was a gorgeous spice overload.  It spends about twenty minutes in the too-sweet zone, but then it’s a pileup in the spice aisle, with freshly ground cinnamon tackling clove, and nutmeg jumping on top of vanilla bean.  I thought it was terrific.  Better, I got some on the inside wrist of my jacket sleeve, so my jacket still smells great too.

On the other hand, my brother, when invited to sniff my wrist, jerked his head back as if he’d been slapped and asked what I’d done to tick off the sales assistant.  As if you couldn’t guess, he doesn’t care for perfume. Minuit Enchante’ is a bit linear, and seems more like a Generally Good Smell than a serious perfume.  I’d rather have Teo Cabanel Alahine, otherwise known to me as Happiness In a Bottle, Winter Variation.  But ME is a nice thing to see in a mainstream release.  Bottle’s pretty, too, with that heavy magnetic cap.

Well.  I’d better get cracking on that cleaning-up thing.  I plan to be back tomorrow with a review of Penhaligon’s Amaranthine (better known to my swap buddies as Amaranthigh, or Amaranthingy).

Here are links to a few other reviews of Minuit Enchante’:
Abigail at I Smell Therefore I Am
March at Perfume Posse
Angela at Now Smell This

Image is Advent Calendar by laurasjoquist at flickr.com.

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