Category Archives: Scent

pura d'or, argan oil, organic, paraben free, curls, curly hair

Adventures in Argan oil

I’ve been meaning to try Argan oil for ages, so when I had the opportunity to sample a product from Pura d’or, I jumped at the chance! This review will focus on the Pure and Organic Argan oil, which you can use in your hair and on your body (head to toe). I focused on my hair for this review, but will consider trying it during any future eczema outbreaks.

For the all-natural and cruelty-free consumers, check out these anecdotes about the brand:

For more than four years, Pura d’or has been growing a culture planted on a natural set of values and beliefs. But when all is said and done it comes down to one unified mission—to create organic personal care solutions that naturally work.

All ingredients are grown on trees, not in test tubes. They are artisanally handcrafted by a hybrid team of artists and scientists, not by machines. Pura d’or creates better beauty products from ingredients that are not only naturally beneficial, but are also sustainably grown and raised with respect for the animals that eat them and the people who produce them.

I’ve been using the Argan oil sporadically for the last 2-3 weeks. Upon application, I’ve noticed a marked difference in how my hair looks and feels- much softer, shinier, and less “flyaway”. The scent is light and unoffensive- similar to what you might expect from a “natural” product but not too “hippieish”. I’ve used it as an “on-the-spot” treatment on dry or damp hair. Sometimes I have mixed the oil with another product- a curl-enhancing gel or cream, and I’ve had really great results with this!

Here are a few “before and afters” of my latest application:

Before:

I apply a small amount:

Argan oil, all natural, organic, paraben free

Pura d’or Argan oil

And get these results!

Fruity Fair Trade Chocolate

If you haven’t already noticed, I am a chocolate lover of the highest degree. One of my latest favorites is a bar by Madecasse, heirloom Madagascar cocoa. I love the fruity notes present in the chocolate. It is truly as described, “bright with a fruity finish”.

I love the careful attention that was paid to the packaging.The chocolate lover has a little work to do in order to get to those luscious morsels, starting with untying the small tie at the top of the bar. Lift open the flap. Bring your nose a little closer and breathe in deeply. At next glance, you’ll see that the bar is wrapped in foil. Tear it open gently and break off a rectangle. Pop it in your mouth and savor it.

Madecasse, chocolate bar, fair trade

Madecasse bar

broccoli rabe, arugula, chicken, lemon pizza

Getting Our Greens (and Carbs!)- Pizza with Broccoli Rabe & Arugula

I had some arugula in the refrigerator and a vision of pizza in my mind. On my trip to the store, the pizza crusts were on sale, further proof of the “meant to be” serendipitous nature of my culinary idea.

First, I set to work zesting a little lemon, juicing it and mixing it with some olive oil, basil, and parsley. I let the mixture settle into the chicken breast I was about to saute (in butter).

Next, I chopped up the garlic that is so necessary for broccoli rabe. It emitted its familiar aroma. Washing the broccoli rabe, I took note of its crisp leaves, which always feels like the sound of the word “cruciferous” to me. I cooked it up, watching its green color deepen and its leaves start to wilt. I also added some red pepper flakes for a little extra oomph.

After the chicken and brocooli rabe were cooked up, I went to work dressing up the pizza crusts- one with marinara sauce, one without. Then I spooned the broccoli rabe on top. Amply sprinkled shredded cheese over it. Arugula. Raw onion slivers. Chicken. More cheese. On the sauce-free one, I added the leftover lemon juice and butter.

Baked them for 22-25 minutes and admired them once out of the oven. The onion with its crisp burnt edges, the chicken with its burst of lemony flavor. Aaaahhhhh……

Nostalgia Time, part 2

Did you enjoy coloring as a child? I always loved a new coloring book and a set of crayons (the 64-set with the built-in sharpener was the best). Naturally there is a lot to be said about the familiar scent of a fresh batch of crayons, but I also always loved smelling the paper of the coloring book. There was just something very distinctive about it- merely thinking about it can bring up the scent in my mind.

One of the other ways I relieved stress and found a comfortable spot to sit in trying times was by coloring. When the workpile was a little larger than normal, lunchtime was a great opportunity to bust out a coloring book and crayons. There’s almost something meditative about it, and I gained great comfort out of the swish-a, swish, swish-a swish-a sound of crayon against the nearly-rough textured paper. And the meld of the scents– always a delight.

Today’s post showcases a coloring book and colored page from my lunchtime artwork:

Play-Doh

Nostalgic Odors- Play-Doh

There’s just something about a container of Play-Doh that brings me right back to childhood. Sure, the familiar logo and yellow canister plays a role, but the main thing that transports me is definitely the smell of that stuff. Even though it’s not the most pleasant smell, there is something very comforting about it. So much so that a former colleague of mine brought in a couple of mini canisters in to work a few years ago so that we could have the “back to childhood” experience when things got too rough at the office.

It’s been over two years since I’ve been at that job, and today I just so happened to be clearing out some old things. I came upon that mini canister. I smiled to myself as I remembered the comfort it brought me.

Play-Doh

I cracked it open:

Play-Doh open cover

I did what anyone else in my position would have done:

play-doh, sniff

Going in for The Sniff!

And even took the Play-Doh out of its container and gave it a squeeze:

Squeeze it!

Squeeze it!

Stress-reliever!

Stress-reliever!

And marveled that it was still soft, after all those years, and enjoyed my little trip down memory lane.

Slow Cooking with Beer, Part 2

Thanks to the BF’s DRAFT magazine (I scored a deal on Groupon for the subscription, thank you very much), I’ve been making better use of my crockpot. Or rather, I’ve been actually using my crockpot. I don’t know why I didn’t get into this sooner. I am loving this thing. And making Italian Pork Roast with Fennel and Potatoes was the most fun I’ve had with food preparation in a long time. It was just a great sensory experience, starting with the mashing of garlic and salt in my mortar and pestle. Nose bliss!

mortar, pestle, fresh garlic

Pestled up fresh garlic, salt, lemon rind, and fennel seeds.

The aroma was so freshly nostalgic and wonderful. I just had to sit and experience it for a few short moments before I continued. Then I added the fennel seeds and lemon zest (which I vigorously zested), and went back to work at pestling up the ingredients.

As as an aside, isn’t the smell of freshly grated lemon zest delicious? Refreshing? Invigorating? Yes, I think so too.

This one rare time, I did actually stay pretty true to the original recipe (for the most part). I may have fudged the measurements for certain ingredients, and of course I used flower pepper as opposed to “regular” pepper, and maybe threw in a couple of other dried herbs here and there, but for the most part, the ingredients themselves are unbastardized.

Next I “butterflied” the pork loin- as directed- but when I noticed that the recipe stated that I should coat the inside of the loin but not the outside, I threw out all hopes of being true to its intended form and just started rubbing that spice mixture all over it. I believe that it thanked me.

I also had no “kitchen string” and hence opted not to bother tying it together. A little rebellion, a little improvisation. I browned the meat on all sized and let it rest on a plate while I went to work on the fennel. Real fennel, bulb fennel. You might also know it as finocchio (say it with an Italian accent).

fennel, finocchio

Fennel, finocchio

To get the brown bits out of the pan after I shifted the fennel into the crockpot, I heated up the beer to be used for the recipe. I did not have Helles lager or witbier (I’m not the beer connoisseur, so don’t even bother asking me what those are. I only that I did not have them in my possession), so I used a saison (Sneak Attack). As far as the end result goes, I think it matters not.

I finished off by cutting up the potatoes and throwing them into the crockpot (on top of the fennel), adding the heated beer, and gently placing the already-browned loin on top of the whole mixture. Slow-cooked it up for several hours and had a meal for the next evening:

Italian pork roast with green beans and focaccia

Italian pork roast with green beans and focaccia

Served it with a side of green beans sauteed in oil and breadcrumbs, and a piece of focaccia from Piece-A-Cake. Delicioius!

Sweet Sniffing

A couple of weeks ago, I indulged in a scented purchase at Pier 1 Imports. I’m happy to report that the fragrance is long-lasting, pungent, and can be smelled throughout most of the house. That’s a good deal!

What I’m liking about this scent in particular is that though it is called “Sweet Pumpkin”, it doesn’t smell much like pumpkin. This appeals to my “avoid all things trendy and disgustingly over-popular” side, particularly as we have been inundated by a sea of “everything pumpkin” since the end of July.

My nose picks up the sweet, warm scents connected to freshly-baked cookies: vanilla and sweet cream, perhaps a little cinnamon. Not much pumpkin. I’m good with that.

reed diffuser, Pier1 Imports

Sweet Pumpkin reed diffuser- Pier 1 Imports

Oddly-Flavored Tea Favorably Tickles Palate

I have never been a big tea drinker. I had inherited my mother’s “tea is for when you are sick” stance on the beverage and my father’s penchant for coffee, but in recent years I’ve become a bit more fond of the stuff. I’m intrigued by the different flavor palettes and countries of origin, and as I educate myself, I’ve come to learn that tea is far more than the Lipton of my youth.

I attended the 2013 Coffee and Tea Festival in NYC and became even further acquainted with tea. In our gift bags, we received several different samples, a few of which came from Numi Tea’s Savory Tea collection- Tomato Mint and Carrot Curry. They were both pretty odd in that the flavors are unexpected for beverages, but…I fell in love with them. There is just something about that crazy savory taste and aroma that gets me every time.

Now, I’m not as enthused about the Carrot Curry as the Tomato Mint, but the latter definitely pleases me every time. I’ve come to enjoy the “ritual” of boiling water, eagerly opening the pack holding the tea bag, and plopping it in, pouring the water into my favorite gigundo mug, and waiting (patiently. Wait, am I waiting patiently? It seems to be the proper way to wait, but I’m not sure how effective I have been at this patience thing) until the tea is ready.

Numi tea, tomato mint tea, aroma, tea, tea culture, taste

Tomato Mint Numi Tea

I love the different tastes that emerge as I drink. The tomato, the little hint of cool mint, cinnamon, and lemon. I get it now- there is just something majestic about sipping a cup of tea! I’m glad that I have started to include it in my sensory reveries!

Tomato Mint Numi Tea

Moroccan Beef Stew

After becoming acquainted with ras el hanout a couple of years ago, I’m always excited about finding a recipe that makes use of it. And we indeed found one while flipping through the BF’s latest copy of DRAFT Magazine- Moroccan Beef Stew.

My hankering for not following a recipe to the letter was in check on the day I made this delight, particularly because of the lack of vegetables in the original recipe. So I included some baby carrots and celery to the mix (and served with a side of broccoli and cauliflower braised in a bit of beer). I also doctored up the recipe with some dried apricots (in respect for Armenian-American family friends, I sought out a variety that did not come from Turkey) and dried cherries- just a few for taste. I did not want to veer too far off from the intended flavors of the meal.

golden raisins, dried apricots

Golden raisins and dried apricots

In place of the black lager, I used peanut-buttery Sweet Baby Jesus by DuClaw. Whoa. That was some seriously peanut-buttery smelling brew! The entire house smelled of it as I simmered my sauteed onions, celery, and garlic in it.

Sweet Baby Jesus, porter, beer, DuClaw, Du Claw

Simmering Sweet Baby Jesus porter with onion, celery, and garlic

I coated the stew meat with the ras al hanout (and freshly-ground pepper) before browning…and after browning:

stew meat, ras al hanout, ras el hanout

Browned stew meat with ras al hanout

And added the other ingredients (olives, tomatoes, and the like):

olives, tomatoes

to the crockpot, letting all those flavors go to town and meld together to create something delicious! We served the first batch with couscous, which was a perfect compliment to a Moroccan-inspired dish.