Saturday, April 11, 2015
Like most little girls, I found the lure of grown-up accessories astonishing - lipstick, perfume, hats and gloves. Which takes me way back to a specific day when I was I believe around 8 years old. My favorite auntie came for a visit from Germany to Croatia where I lived with my family at the time. She was one of those women I always admired and aspired to be like when I grow up. She did as she pleased. Went wherever she wanted. Said whatever she meant....no matter the situation without apologizing about it. Despite her carefree spirit, she was always a lady first. Her fashion was always on point and her love for perfume.....impeccable.
When I think of the history of perfume, it takes me back to ancient Egypt where it was used used by the Egyptians as part of their religious rituals. The two principal methods of use at that time where the burning of incense and the application of balms and ointments.
Perfumed oils were applied to the skin for either cosmetic or medicinal purposes. During the Old and Middle Kingdoms, perfumes were reserved exclusively for religious rituals such as cleansing ceremonies. Then during the New Kingdom (1580-1085 BC) they were used during festivals and Egyptian women also used perfumed creams and oils as toiletries and cosmetics and as preludes to love-making.
The use of perfume then spread to Greece, Rome, and the Islamic world. And it was the Islamic community that kept the use of perfumes since the spread of Christianity led to a decline in the use of perfume. With the fall of the Roman Empire, perfume's influence dwindled. It was not until the twelfth century and the development of international trade later that this decline was reversed
Perfume enjoyed huge success during the seventeenth century. Perfumed gloves became popular in France and in 1656, the guild of glove and perfume-makers was established. The use of perfume in France grew steadily. The court of Louis XV was even named "the perfumed court" due to the scents which were applied daily not only to the skin but also to clothing, fans and furniture. I found that part so charming :) The eighteenth century saw a revolutionary advance in perfumery with the invention of eau de Cologne
Going back to my childhood, that specific crisp fall day, my aunty was shopping for a bottle of her favorite perfume - Coco Chanel. Coco by Chanel which is an oriental spicy fragrance for women. Coco was launched in 1984. The same year I was born :). The nose behind this fragrance was Jacques Polge. Top notes are coriander, mandarin, orange, peach, jasmine and bulgarian rose; middle notes are mimosa, cloves, orange blossom, clover and rose; base notes are labdanum, amber, sandalwood, tonka bean, opoponax, civet and vanilla Though she always had a quite the collection of beautiful bottles of exquisite perfume, Chanel line of perfumes was always on top of her list. I remember being utterly fascinated, looking at all the endless shelves filled with intricate bottles of different designs and colors while sitting in a big plushy comfortable arm chair in one of the upscale department stores waiting for her while the beautiful sales lady helped her go through different scents available.
One of the peculiarities of Coco is that it was among the first perfumes to be conceived not as an extrait de parfum first but rather envisioned in its diluted form of eau de parfum. The market had gone away from the more discreet, more intimate use of parfum extrait and demanded a really powerful spray that would announced the wearer before she was seen; ergo the eau de parfum (and sometimes the parfum de toilette) concentration, less expensive than extrait but rivaling its lasting power, while at the same time being extra loud thanks to the volatility boost via the spraying mechanism. The secret ingredient in the formula of Coco by Chanel is the inclusion of the base Prunol*, a rich and dark "dried fruits & spices" mélange famously exalted in Rochas Femme by Edmond Roudnitska, which gives Coco a burnished hint of raisin. The cascade of honeyed spices immediately asserts itself: pimento, cardamom, cinnamon, cumin and clove, while the overall feeling is one of amber plush and resinous warmth (with a wink of leather) with the flowers folded into a rich batter and undiscernable. The patchouli (tucked into the Prunol base) gives a whiff of chocolate, though, in the words of Susan Irvine, not even a fashion innovator of the magnitude of Chanel would have considered a note reminiscent of a bedtime drink as worthy of consideration in fine fragrance. (One would perversely wish she had lived through present fruitchouli-infested times to see how she'd chuckle under her smartly cuffed sleeve.)
I remember thinking to my self "One day I want to be just like her" ....mesmerized by all the things we did together and by all she was as a woman. She was always so different than anyone I knew. So carefree, happy, full of energy, determined, unique in the way she present herself both fashion and personality wise. And while I will never forget our special shopping trips or our love for delicate and beautifully crafted european cakes. One thing I will never forget is the signature fragrant aroma/scent of her favorite perfume .....which always brings me so many memories no matter where I am in life.
The appeal of perfume is that it is at once ephemeral and empowering. It creates a shimmering invisible armor that lingers in a room long after its wearer has gone and infuses our imagination with a subtle power, hinting at a hidden identity. My auntie's demeanor always showed little hint of glamour, yet her dresser and bathroom windowsill where always loaded with jewelry and perfumes in sensuous bottles. Their fragrances always made me feel wonderful and at home.
In today's world though, the perfume is a luxury industry as never before, which like other economic sectors goes into financial decline at times. This industry doesn’t count for anything if it doesn’t use marketing strategies. A much larger and an ever demanding clientele has to be appealed to. As the times change so do the trends and preferences of course, and because of this in turn the perfume of the 21st century had to also be improved. As a consequence of the progress in the chemistry, the perfume industry will easily face the fashion fads of the 21st century, and will have to develop revolutionary technologies, such are those in the field of genetics. Indeed, without loosing track of the artistic side of the profession because ultimately perfume ....has always been an artistic expression :)
Today I'm my own woman with my own preferences of fashion, scents and the way I choose to portray and express to the world just who I really am as an individual. I have come to understand with the passage of time just how much scents can influence our memories,, perception, feelings and mood. Regardless of it all for me she was, still is and will always remain my inspiration and whenever I dab a bit of her signature favorite on my wrist my childhood nostalgic memories come back .....and they feel so intense and clear like everything happened yesterday, though in reality it happened almost 2 decades ago. There is just something so special and profound about that. I believe that is the true and ever infinite power of a perfume....it never lets you really forget. That is exactly why I have my own signature favorite ......no matter how big my fragrance collection gets over the years there is always that constant one that I reach for always. Simply because I want to be remembered by others ....the way I myself always remember her.
Tuesday, April 7, 2015
This week I want to talk to you about something that is very hard for me sometimes to talk about to .....or with people who are not involved in my life on a more personal level. It really takes courage and strength to talk about things like these, exposing yourself and being vulnerable ....especially on the Internet where people tend to me more confortable with lets just say.....being unkind to others while hiding behind the screen. I want to talk about the eye condition I suffer from since I was born. I want to talk to you about my experience with Congenital Nystagmus with Strabismus.
Nystagmus is usually infantile, meaning people have it from a very early age. Experts say that about one child out of every several thousand has nystagmus. So that basically means I'm not exactly alone ....but sometimes the condition can feel quite isolating.
Congenital nystagmus is present at birth, which is the eye condition I suffer from. I was born with it and never really experienced life or my vision to be exact without it. With this condition, your eyes move together as they oscillate (swing like a pendulum). Most other types of infantile nystagmus are also classified as forms of strabismus, which means the eyes don't necessarily work together at all times. Which as I mentioned above, I also have and in layman terms is called being "cross-eyed".
All forms of nystagmus are involuntary, meaning people with the condition cannot control their eyes. Though I was never really targeted or picked on in school about it and was a rather quiet and reserved type of a child who spent the wast majority of their time in library reading tons of books. I remember, when I was younger other kids would ask me "How do you do that thing with your eyes?" I used to laugh it off and answer them "Well it's a secret but I bet you can't". This was my way of coping with something I felt self conscious about since I can remember. Nystagmus improves slightly as a person reaches adulthood; however, it worsens with tiredness and stress. I have noticed that when I'm especially stressed, nervous or upset about something my eyes will move more rapidly.
Having nystagmus affects both vision and self-concept. Most people with nystagmus have some sort of vision limitations because the eyes continually sweep over what they are viewing, making it impossible to obtain a clear image. For this reason, sometimes it takes me longer to either notice things at a distance or sometimes focus on a particular thing I'm trying to see better.Some people with nystagmus have so many vision problems that they can be considered legally blind.
I remember as a child I would frequently be perceived as clumsy when in reality nystagmus can after your vision's depth perception. visual ability to perceive the world in three dimensions (3D) and the distance of an object...so sometimes I would trip or hit into things that are other people had no issues seeing. Even people wearing glasses ....but without having this condition. is the
If you have nystagmus, not only is your appearance affected, but you literally see in a way that is different from people who don't have the condition. Your eyes are in constant motion and the constant questions and confusion about your eyes by others (mostly strangers you encounter everyday) is a sometimes a very clear reminder of how "different" you are from others. And sometimes that is not the easiest to deal with. I guess it would depend on your emotional state at the time of when the questions are asked. But admittedly for the most part things can feel more uncomfortable than necessary....
When you have nystagmus, you must deal with the personal and social consequences of this difference. We are all judged everyday by different people in our lives on different things. That is something nobody can escape really. But when you have an eye condition such as congenital nystagmus people may conclude you maybe less capable than others right off the bet which is not true nor exactly fair in many cases.....though in some it could be that the condition is so severe that it literally disables the person from having and leading what the majority would consider a "normal" life. So sometimes it can feel like being turned down before getting a fair chance even .....which can be to say the least very frustrating. Nystagmus can affect nearly every aspect of your life, including how you relate to other people, your educational and work opportunities and your self-image.
I have many hobbies and many things I love to do. I love to cook, travel, swim, write, read, fashion design, travel, languages, learning about different cultures, shopping, makeup, painting and drawing (which some people can't understand how I am able to do with my vision and eye issues). I'm just a person who is passionate about life and things I love to do ....and I have decided long ago not to allow nystagmus stop me from living and enjoying my life even though sometimes this is hard to put to practice. But.....there is always a but somewhere :) ......congenital nystagmus is an eye condition not who I am.....therefore it should not define me as a person. I should not ever allow it to. If you are reading this and you or somebody you know suffers from this or a similar eye condition counseling may be helpful as you face the social and personal challenges often associated with nystagmus. Perhaps learning more about it and reaching out to others in similar situations might be helpful.
Several medical and surgical treatments that sometimes help people with nystagmus are available. Surgery usually reduces the null positions, lessening head tilt and improving cosmetic appearance. Drugs such as Botox or Baclofen can reduce some nystagmic movements, although results are usually temporary. Some people with nystagmus benefit from biofeedback training and generally contact lenses tend to be more beneficial for the clearer vision and for preventing or slowing down the eye movement.
I'm not sure how many of you that don't know me in person, have actually noticed my condition. Because I do try to hide it to some degree in the pictures and videos I have put out there. And, nobody ever asked me about it .....well there was one person who did few years ago thru You Tube, because her daughter had it......but besides that I never was asked about it online nor I really wanted to discuss it further. Partially because sometimes it can be very uncomfortable talking about it ...and partially because of my need to be "normal" like everyone else. Which I think is very understandable by most of us. Today though I decided to actually acknowledge that I'm definitely not like everyone else :) ......and I decided to open up and talk about this straightforwardly in hopes of helping someone out there who might be stoping themselves from living their life to the fullest potential because of this condition that they never wanted or had control over.
Wednesday, April 1, 2015
It's kind of ironic how I just wrote about my ongoing weight-loss journey in my latest blog post few days ago, simply because what I'm about to write about right now is about to get very and I do mean very sweet :)
I will never deny that loosing weight and keeping it off did not come with its ups and downs. Indeed, I have learned a lot about portion control, calories, healthy and well......not so heathy options out there. I have also discovered that while my passionate, over the top love affair with dessert has gotten me in trouble many times in the past, I was not yet prepared to give it up completely. Even while loosing all that weight. Because I knew that my weight-loss doom would always result from deprivation. Not only of dessert but of anything really.the trick for me as with everything else was to find that balance and have a bit of everything in moderation.
My solution and my way of keeping things in check is to allow myself once in a while to actually have my cake and eat it too :). By once in a while I actually mean once a week. What I mean by that is that I actually do have guilt free desert ....and I do mean indulgently rich kind of dessert. The kind that makes me feel downright bad after I had devoured it ravenously. I never believed in watered down desert .....we all know the kind I'm talking about. I always believed dessert should be indulgent ......but also portioned and worth eating. It should be something you really enjoy since you don't get to eat it in limitless quantities or often......in other words I'm not a fan of wasting my calories on things I felt just so-so about.
So my favorite types of dessert are truffles and European cakes and pastries usually eaten with coffee....all of these options are needless to say are very bad for weight-loss if eaten in abundance. However, I simply must have these once in a while and they must be best tasting and of the highest quality I can get. I'm the type of person who would rather eat one over the top dessert per week than spend all week eating random sweets here and there....that where not as good but much more affordable. I'm not sure how or why but my strategy so far has kept me out of trouble in terms of getting of track when it came to desert in general. Let's just say I have learned to keep my sanity this way :)
So, last week was my birthday and when hubby asked if I wanted a cake I simply said no. I told him I wanted a box of my favorite truffles instead. There where actually two very specific reasons for my answer that day, because let's face it turning turning 31 does require a cake for sure :). The first was because the truffles I could actually eat little by little overtime instead of having a huge cake I had to eat quickly before it dries up in the fridge and goes to waste. The second reason was that the weekend following my birthday I was actually going to be in Vancouver BC, Canada. While there, I was planning to visit Thierry: a French Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe, where I was planning to get really really bad :). Knowing all this made my decision of not having a birthday cake that much more easier .....
Voted “Best Desserts” and “Best Pastries” in Vancouver, Thierry offers a contemporary approach to the finest handcrafted chocolates, macarons, pastries, and desserts where renowned Pastry Chef Thierry Busset’s can often be seen working in his open atelier. I must admit, after reading all the wonderful online reviews about this place there was just no way I was able to stay away. I must say their Chocolate Marquise Cake was to die for. The hazelnut dacquoise, salted caramel, crisp praliné and chocolate mousse made me want to eat my breakfast, lunch and dinner there for the next year .....but unfortunately or should I say fortunately for my waistline I had to leave in three days.
Ultimately I have realized my love of desert never really went away completely, it just got more and more refined as the time went on and the pounds came of :)