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Of all our senses, smell is the one I’m pretty sure (judging by the panic and upset/depression I get with a blocked nose) I’d want to lose the least. If you’ve been reading this blog a while now, you’ll know I’m obsessed. And that I abhor anything that hints at duty-free. Or is akin to the stock market. More on that later.

I definitely cloak my descriptions in overblown adjectives, because, well, perfumed water is such an elusive beast. Sometimes you need a big cacophony to even get inside the (first) front door. Sometimes you need to invoke every gorgeous flower that ever was placed in a bottle. Because fragrance is ravishing whichever way you look at it. Whether it’s devoid of sex, a bit risqué, totally virginal or romantic, olfactory taste seems to be a matter of pure aesthetics. When I’m around a person who says “man it smells good in here,” I always want to offer up my wrists and sometimes my collarbone, so they know it’s me emanating something kinda wonderful, and not just the room. Olfactory vanity? Guilty as charged.

My dalliances with perfume are best described as flirty and (mostly) unfaithful, because I’m constantly on the lookout for that fantastical, otherworldly scent made flesh. I blame my mother. Partially. She’s been wearing Fracas, that masterpiece of heady tuberose, since I was a baby, and if you grow up around that kind of velvety lushness, a one dimensional buttery-soft imprint just doesn’t really cut it. Plus, for here’s the thing I’ve discovered: people who smell, who really sniff into life, are passionate purveyors of incandescent trails, and almost by definition, more interesting to talk to. Tapping into senses for something as quixotic and emotional as smell makes them mighty, mighty grand. I’ve had some of the best nights in the company of scent junkies. Like great foodies, you find yourself instantly hooked. And maybe even diving unwittingly into an unsuspecting neck.

 

 

source: cora kps

 

 


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For a book to really change your life, you have to be young, your relationship to the world still pliable. Which is why Shel Silverstein’s Where The Sidewalk Ends shot an arrow through my heart that I’m positive still hovers today. The cover I can always see in my mind’s eye, along with the three basic truths that seeped deep into my bones: that the universe is very large, that there are many ways to take it in, and that you should have fun while you do it.

What I gleamed on multitudes of crisp pages was always best viewed as an adventure, one that I was just about to embark on, setting my sails anywhere I wanted. I get tingles when I think of it even now, because that immense feeling has stayed with me my life thus far. And even though at times I’ve been cautious, I’ve followed those proverbial and literal stars across continents, down through valleys, up into mountains and onto plains that seemed to flatline pretty nicely, even if just for a hot minute. The book made me an optimist, and as such I remain.

 

source: goodreads.com


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If winter is a shower of shooting stars, then spring is a hop, skip and a jump through lush meadows. I love me a shower. I really do. The lengthier the better. But then I feel the antithesis of green and pretty guilty. I recently read that whilst working on an academic project with Nasa, Mehrdad Mahdjoubi, a Swedish industrial designer, realised there could be parallels between sustainability in space and on Earth. The extremes of space require that the vital resource of water be used in the most efficient way possible, and so, inspired by those experiences with the space agency, Mahdjoubi created a shower system that reuses the same water in a circular loop, while two filters take out impurities as it circulates. This Shower of the Future, from his company, Orbital Systems, can operate on five litres of water. The water constantly circulates for 10 minutes or so – the time of an average shower apparently – in turn saving on energy. I think we should jump on this bandwagon. Tout suite.

I go through all the typical shower rituals — washing, washing and then some — until I’m ready to steam it up a bit. I put a few drops of essential oils on the floor, giving me a rise of note and my very own makeshift inhalation. Lavender, geranium and eucalyptus are a potent little triumvirate for an invigorating and sometimes soporific boost, but I also keep Aura Cacia Shower Tablets around. Place one on the floor in the direct stream of the water and then languish under the beat, sucking in what feels like a field of herbs in Provence (that’s my kind of kick mind you), just with fun effervescent bubbles beneath your feet.

And then I go nuclear. Or Arctic to be more precise. I grab the handle for the water, pause, take a deep breath and then turn it to all-the-way-cold, or freezing. The thing that most draws me to the cold water is also the thing that most repels me: It’s really hard to do but it feels all sorts of amazing afterwards. And your circulatory system will be ever so grateful. And that, in a nutshell, is the biggest reason to do it (with the caveat that if there is a water shortage in your area, you should find something else to do that is hard). It reminds me a little bit of that Mark Twain saying, “Eat a live frog first thing in the morning, and nothing worse will happen to you the rest of the day.”

 


 

When I first saw emeralds of that colour in Victoire de Castellane’s creations for Dior Fine Jewellery, I was bewitched. Seeing stones larger than an elephant’s eye and scarfs of rough diamonds meant to evoke ivy growing through cobblestones made me fall in love with her work completely. Every collection I’ve ever seen only dazzling creations have abounded. I love her whimsical and kaleidoscopic designs that marry flowers with skulls, where rings take the shape of gold slippers (Cinderella is my favourite fairy tale after all) and all my childhood girly fantasies come true in a trail of coloured diamonds. I also love her signature blunt cut fringe because I’ll never be able to have one, and that she’s inspired by everything from vampires to snow globes – it’s sort of like a two fingers up to fine jewellery and I find it infinitely exciting.

 

source: luxe-magazine.com


 

‘And in the morning they shook their pillows violently, hoping all the dreams they lost that night would tumble out.’

No such exertion is now needed with Sharonna Karni Cohen’s (excuse the pun) dream app. With a current crop of eleven artists from cities as diverse as Warsaw, Osaka, Johannesburg and New York, Dreame allows you to choose the one whose work resonates the most, and in return you’ll get your dream turned into a one-of-a-kind illustration. For those of you who like me mine their nighttime reveries for clues to their inner lives, for creative insight, and even for premonitions, this is a fascinating exercise in objective interpretation. I think it’s hard not to believe that at least some of our sleep-time scenarios are imbued with significance and it’s a fun digital visual to refer to, perhaps helping us to decode the messages that we might otherwise miss. All you need now is a dreamcatcher!


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Every Valentine’s for as long as I could remember – or read – my father would send me a card. He’d always deny it mind you, but his handwriting, swirly and distinguished, gave him away. There would be nothing inside except a heart (hand drawn) and a K (for Kayla) next to it. I think it became a game of the soul. Him, knowing my glee upon receipt and me, knowing that he took the greatest pleasure from the simplest act of love. And maybe it was just a kindness. Because I think that’s what love is all about. If you look up ‘kind’ in a thesaurus, all these palpable synonyms come up; affectionate, compassionate, understanding, tenderhearted, benevolent, humane and gracious. Mighty, mighty words. But in essence, just kind. And every letter bursting with love.

When once we stumbled on a poetry book together and found my now favorite E. E. Cummings verse, I realized that carrying someone else’s heart was the greatest and luckiest responsibility we could ever have. So for all the lovers (in whichever way love is for you right at this moment) I hope this makes you fuzzy and sparkly. It does me.

i carry your heart with me (i carry it in
my heart) i am never without it (anywhere
i go you go, my dear; and whatever is done
by only me is your doing, my darling)
i fear
no fate (for you are my fate, my sweet) i want
no world (for beautiful you are my world, my true)
and it’s you are whatever a moon has always meant
and whatever a sun will always sing is you

here is the deepest secret nobody knows
(here is the root of the root and the bud of the bud
and the sky of the sky of a tree called life; which grows
higher than the soul can hope or mind can hide)
and this is the wonder that’s keeping the stars apart

i carry your heart (i carry it in my heart)

 

source: present&correct

 


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When I was 13 years old I discovered the first perfume I ever fell in love with. It made me feel like an adult and yet I was just on the cusp. It was juicy, opulent and so grownup. Let me try and describe Amarige for you. The opening is a knock-your-socks-off neon bright white floral (think tuberose and gardenia) with some fizzy peach that dries down to a hot smokiness, like glowing embers on a campfire. It doesn’t smell like a campfire, just hints at the feel, but it’s more the slightly slutty, spicy scent of a women with a secret. You’re left wearing a lingering trail of something so gloriously creamy and lush, akin to warm sun-kissed skin. How good does it sound?

More than fifteen years later when I started playing with some Frederic Malle Editions – Carnal Flower, Portrait Of A Lady and Vetiver Extraordinaire – I discovered that their creator Dominique Ropion was the magician behind Amarige. A full circle moment, amplified by the nearly empty bottle on my dresser that still releases a faint but ever present scent, a reminder of the girl I was and the woman I wanted to be.


 

 

Maybe it was because it was electric pink like Hubba Bubba or Calamine Lotion, which I always tried to paint myself with, or maybe it was because my nanny brushed with it and I wanted to use what she did (especially her Clinique 3 Step). Plus she always smelt spicy when she talked and that was reassuring.

The first time I ever tried Euthymol toothpaste I thought I’d burnt my tongue, and couldn’t wash it out quick enough; it tasted like cloves and cinnamon and antiseptic. As I got older and started living a little it tasted exactly like Root Beer, which might sound odd to Americans. But it was a guilty pleasure and I kept on going back for more just to see if it still burnt as much. Invariably it did, but I became accustomed to the medicinal tinge. In an era of whitening toothpastes and icy striped brushes, I think squeezing out Pepto-Bismol colored lines of paste is much more interesting, not to mention deeply nostalgic – I still feel like a little girl trying something again for the first time, especially when I spill it down my pajamas.

The box it comes in advertises its contents as ‘a scientific dental preparation’, and it’s still packaged in aluminum tubes as opposed to the modern plastic ones. I think they might be the most ironic as well as chicest squeezies, and have become a template for an imaginary cosmetics line appealing to all my visual and olfactory senses. Psychologically I also am convinced it does things to my teeth and gums that normal toothpaste just doesn’t, and that’s half the battle. Yes, it has to work, but if you feel like it does, then the stars align and a product goes from being something ordinary to something extraordinary, transforming the activity of teeth brushing from the mundane to the sublime. And I taste a bit spicy.