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Archive for the ‘La Dolce Vita’ Category

femme

Finally framed my Merglenn print! Isn’t it interesting where the flash hit?  Looks like I haven’t quite reached the third frame yet. But soon . . .

I was going to write a post with my *new* New Year’s Resolutions but got sidetracked.  It’s no big deal: Besides the generic “get organized, get out of debt and save money” I didn’t really have any.  I had purchased a scanner and planned to go paperless, but that would be a multi-year project.  I planned to spend more time on crafty/artistic pursuits, but had no specific goals, just a “do it already, get busy, do stuff.”  Meaningful stuff. Whatever that meant.

I took a loan from my 401K for my new roof

Last year’s resolutions were mostly met but for the financial ones. I have a good reason though: I was partially furloughed last summer and had to take a 20% pay cut. I was fully back to work after about a month and a half, but it was a setback nonetheless.

Things have been tight but I can finally see daylight at the end of the tunnel, so long as I’m not derailed by another medical emergency. First order of business after certain debt payoffs is a financial cushion, one I’ve not fully enjoyed for at least fifteen years.  Getting out of debt completely is second on the list, though it will take longer than a year to achieve. Still, the path forward is clear, and I look forward to a bright, sunny, debt-free existence in the near future.

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One thing I have “resolved” to do – which I suppose qualifies it as a “resolution,”  –  is spend more time in the sun. This decision came to me seemingly unbidden a few days ago, when I was  . . . well, doing whatever I was doing, minding my own business, probably housework.

While busy with this mundane whatever, something that *felt* like the last stanzas of a poem invaded my thoughts.  Something about putting my face to the sun before I die.  The thought, and the image it evoked, felt important, magical even.  So as not to dwell on it I quickly put it in a mundane context: “Okay,” I thought, “I will put my face in the sun. I spend too much indoors, could probably use the vitamin D.  In fact maybe it will prevent me from dying sooner.”

Jose Marti

Of course I Googled the phrase eventually, and found this poem by Jose Marti, the poet who inspired the Cuban independence movement:

I wish to leave the world
By its natural door;
In my tomb of green leaves
They are to carry me to die.
Do not put me in the dark
To die like a traitor;
I am good, and like a good thing
I will die with my face to the sun.

A Morir [To Die] (1894)

To the best of my knowledge, I’d neither read nor heard this poem before.  I’ll do my best to remain unperturbed that the poem is about death, which is *not* on my list this year.  Stepping outside to enjoy the sunshine, however, finally is.

This is always on my list

Drinking more wine is ALWAYS on my resolutions lists. A nightly glass of low-alcohol table wine really does seem to help my digestion.  My insides feel “healed” now, and I have a gut feeling (haha) that it’s due to important changes in my intestinal flora.  There is even evidence for this being the case, so . . . that’s my story and I’m sticking to it!

WebMD: Drinking Wine is Good for Gut Bacteria

Enough about the resolutions. So what’s new? Bunny is getting ready to graduate from UArts and recently announced a move to California with her boyfriend. Thinking about it feels a bit like the wind being sucked out of me.  Then I take a deep breath and remember that this is the way life is supposed to go:  Kids grow up, learn trades, find mates and fly the coop, not necessarily in that order.  My child is right on schedule, and all is as it should be.

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Folks, this is why I don’t go swimming in the ocean, even though it’s just a few minutes away!  This one was a catch-and-release in Ocean City.

Here’s a photo from our visit to Bradley Beach two days ago:  I love Summers’ End at the Jersey Shore because it feels as though we have the place to ourselves.

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Pinky being a little embarrassed by how much money she spends on beauty products

I did it again:  I bought another jar of LaMer The Eye Concentrate.  It’s my third jar  in two years.  I keep trying to find less expensive alternatives – I even tried coconut oil and plain old Vaseline – but I’m about ready to give up and admit I’m addicted to the LaMer.

I am resigned that my super-sensitive skin responds better to sea mineral creams than vitamin creams or anti-aging creams that use exfoliating ingredients; hence my attraction to La Mer products.  I haven’t been able to bring myself to pay for the Concentrate, however, because $275/oz is just nuts, even if devotees swear it’s cured their acne.

I even tried to “save money” (I know, what a joke) by buying La Mer’s new Moisturizing Soft Cream, thinking I could use it on my face and eyes.  Ounce for ounce the face cream –  no matter the formulation –  is less expensive than the eye creams.  Just know that the stiffer the formulation the longer the jar lasts!  The Soft Cream does work nicely, if you would like to have just one cream.

However the eye cream, which is actually a cream-gel, really is special.  It has a very low “melting point” and soaks into the skin without my having to rub or even pat it in.  It’s effects are also near-immediate, possibly an optical illusion but who cares:  The stuff makes me look more awake in the morning and that’s what matters.  I can put undereye concealer right over it if I want the extra coverage but most of the time I don’t need it.

What else have I discovered in the realm of anti-aging?  I learned that my Clarisonic face cleaner was worth the high price tag.  I don’t know whether or not the cheaper knockoffs work as well and don’t plan to try them, but if you have one, feel free to weigh in if the less expensive sonic care items work for you.  It’s too late for me but not for other readers, to save some money if they can.

Right now the jury is out on the Clarisonic Opal I purchased a few months ago:  I’d have to use it on just one eye-cheek for several months to know whether or not it makes a difference.  Right now I’m inclined to just take their word for it.

I had a late stage, very bad reaction to Prevage, so I had to quit using it.  The FAQ for Prevage says this happens sometimes, especially if a person is using other treatments like facial peels.  What a shame, because I was really liking what it did to my skin tone.  I now have a brand new tub of the night cream ($125) that I’ve not yet been able to pawn off on anyone. Maybe I’ll leave it in the ladies’ room at work with a sign “Free to Good Home.”

I don’t use Dermablend makeup because fortunately I don’t need to: It’s for people with serious skin troubles.  As might be expected the foundation  requires a cosmetic crowbar to remove. Fortunately the company has just the makeup remover for it and I’m happy to take advantage of its take-no-prisoners approach. One drop and makeup dissolves ($22), plus it’s gentle on sensitive skin.

Who in their right mind would spend $35 on a facial cleanser?  I did, and you would too if you tried Reluma Cleanser.  I found it at the Truth in Aging website, where it got rave reviews.  I bought my first pump-bottle at TIA as part of a kit to save money on the Reluma serum.  The cleanser dissolves whatever is on your face and rinses away clean. My face feels so soft after using it that when I ran out I ordered another bottle at Aspen Leaf Spa for a whopper 30% discount that I occasionally get from my plastic surgeon.

The Reluma serum was okay, but I found AQ growth factors worked better for me. I still use AQ Skin Solutions serum religiously and will try the company’s new eye serum when it’s time to reorder.  I actually get anxious when I’m almost out of product, especially during late summertime.  During the March-April timeframe I place a bulk order (three!) to hold me over until Fall. Each pump-jar lasts a month an a half if I use it sparingly. I only order beauty products through the mail in the winter so the heat won’t get to them, so come November I’ll be placing another order.  Will my last bottle last until then? Oh the suspense . . .

Osmotics Blue Copper products are great, especially on broken skin and acne breakouts. I’ve gone through two tubs of the cream ($85).  I’ve got the serum now (more sanitary) but I’m using it sparingly.   For a zit cream it’s awfully expensive ($75), but it works without making me peel.  Copper is a miracle mineral when it comes to healing!

When my face is extremely bothered, I use Weleda’s sensitive skin  cleanser and moisturizer or Avene products like Cicalfate Restorative Cream.  I also like Avene’s 20SPF sunscreen spray and use it on my arms and hands, even in the winter, because I get most of my sun exposure while driving my car to and from work.  It smells real nice.

So there you have it: Purchases adding up to over $1000 and that was just for the summer!  Still, I don’t mind promoting products for free when they feel good on the skin, smell nice and actually work. I’ve also managed – amazingly – to downsize my vanity cabinet and will be reporting on that project in a few months.  Did I cut my product usage in half?  Enh . . . maybe not half . . . maybe by a third, but it’s progress.

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I have been away for awhile.

I didn’t lose interest in my blog; far from it.  I was frustrated, though. I’d been living in a state of suspended animation for so long that I had forgotten what it was like to lead a normal life.  I was waiting for so much: The divorce, the wedding, a Big Economic Reset, enlightenment, a healing crisis, you name it, it was just around the corner. There was so much I could not write about, so my blog content became filler while I waited, waited, waited.

Well, that was dumb.

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Inkblot watching a pot that will not boil while he is watching

So I went cold turkey without even saying goodbye.  For those who may have found their way back, sorry ’bout that.

Things are good, life settled but still very interesting.  No wedding plans yet; there are other things we want to do first.  Spooky’s football team is winning, my job is getting better, my health is improving and my summer shorts still fit.  I even solved my fashion conundrum from last year!  More about that later, but I now can look shore-appropriate and elegant at the same time! Where there’s a will and a Soft Surroundings catalogue, there is a way.

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I believe this was 2008, at my house, just me and Bunny

Spooky is serious about ignoring Christmas, for reasons both practical and religious.  I’ve adapted pretty well considering how for years I used the holiday season as a creative outlet.  

I still insist on decorating a little bit, if not for Christmas then for the season itself.  I still put electric candles in the windows because it’s so nice to come home to them.  I put out white pointsettia and garlands in the Florida room to make it look less summery. It’s interesting how when one takes the commercial and religious artifacts and symbols out of the holiday mix the aesthetic result is very pleasing.  Elegant, even. 

I confess one cheesy Christmas habit:  My Pottery Barn reindeer cup.  It’s from a pattern that does not seem to be available anymore, at least online. It’s from a set I received as an engagement gift almost a decade ago.  Since I did not end up marrying the man in question it’s probably best that Bunny take it off my hands as soon as she’s settled down.

Ironically, with all the holiday performance pressure gone it’s actually possible to enjoy the season.  Cooking is fun when there’s no deadline to present a spread.  Visiting with friends and family is a pleasure when there is no obligation.  I write to whomever I want, and if a card doesn’t get to them before Christmas I don’t fuss about it.  I can offer someone a gift one year but not the next, as I’m so moved.  “It’s not a Christmas present. It’s a house gift.”  It’s enormously freeing and I recommend it to everyone whether religious or not.

Dinner this weekend will consist of roast quail and pumpkin pie, maybe, if we get around to it, unless we decide we’d rather have something else.  If this quail with balsamic reduction looks good to you, here’s a yummy looking recipe .  Happy holidays!

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My mother-in-law’s family were poor peasants, and they would tell the story of being so poor that instead of having meats at the center of the round of polenta, they had a single small anchovy hanging over the center, casting its shadow. They said that the shadow of the anchovy was all they had to bring a little richness to the polenta.

via Automatic Earth, a click to Shadow of an Anchovy, a story about what it felt like growing up in Italy countryside back in the 1970’s when Italians were poor.  It’s one of those makes you think stories, one that made me hungry for polenta and restless for that trip to Tuscany I always wanted to take but never did.  More than anything, however, it made me wonder:  If I were to be that poor (again) someday, would I be able to adopt an Italian attitude toward it? 

While searching for a photo to include with the story I found a review a curated exhibit inside the biggest 15th century palazzo in Florence that I’m sorry I’m going to miss:

Money and Beauty: Bankers, Botticelli and the Bonfire of the Vanities (Palazzo Strozzi, until Jan 22 2012): This exhibit introduces the Florin, the unit of exchange that kicked off the Italian Renaissance.  The show addresses the monetary unit, usury, exchange, merchant activity, sumptuary laws, bankers and artists, beauty, and crisis.   It features the conspicuous consumption of the time, including Botticelli’s personal and religions crisis, both of which may be compared with what the West is experiencing today.

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mmmmmmmm Manchego!

I’m taking a stand: Manchego is my favorite cheese in the world. Compact and buttery, mild but distinctive, I could eat it every day and get fat.

Manchego is made in the La Mancha region of Spain, with whole milk from Manchega sheep. The La Mancha region of Spain is south of Madrid, where the land is dry, high and intemperate.  It’s picturesque but not exactly a tourist attraction.

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The cheese has a literary pedigree in that it was mentioned by Miguel Cervantes in his classic Don Quixote of La Mancha.  Via Wikipedia:

Cervantes was making fun of this region, using a pun; a “mancha” was also a stain, as on one’s honor, and thus a hilariously inappropriate homeland for a dignified knight-errant.[3] Translator John Ormsby believed that Cervantes chose it because it was/is the most ordinary, prosaic, anti-romantic, and therefore unlikely place from which a chivalrous, romantic hero could originate, making Quixote seem even more absurd.

We’ve discovered Manchego cheese is best served plain and sliced very thin, served with bread, olives and red wine.

Recommended wine paring: Manzanilla Sherry

Delish: How to pair wine and cheese

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