Monthly Archives: May 2020

C-19 Reading Diary

The book I enjoyed reading the most last year (Station Eleven) was about a global pandemic. Turned out when I actually experienced a global pandemic, reading suddenly became less enjoyable.

I found it near impossible to read when things got serious in the U.K. The difference between the world in the book and the real world feel too jarring. For a full two and a bit weeks I didn’t read at all, which was very strange for someone who reads for several hours a day. I couldn’t work it out. I’d gone through anxiety as severe as I’d ever had not so long ago and reading was a blessed escape. So why not now?

I gradually realised that this was a different kind of anxiety which had triggered a state of hyper-vigilance. I was on red alert, as if constantly scanning the horizon for signs of danger. This meant I couldn’t focus on a book because my sympathetic nervous system didn’t feel it was safe to switch off.

I’ve managed to adjust enough to the ongoing situation to start reading again. However, I’ve had to experiment with what kind of books work for me at this time.

One Word Kill, Dispel Illusion and Limited Wish (Impossible Times Trilogy) by Mark Lawrence

If you’re a fan of Good Omens or Ready Player One, you’re likely to enjoy this fast and fun sci fi trilogy.  Author Mark Lawrence on GoodReads a long time. He’s an ex research scientist currently living in Bristol. I wondered how having grown up in America, he’d conjure up life as a teenager in suburban London in the late 1980s (which was my life). Aside from a couple of Americanisms, he did a great job. Teenager Nick is dealing with a cancer diagnosis when an unnervingly familiar looking stranger explains that there is a lot more at stake.  It was a rip roaring story of 4 nerdy boys and 1 cool girl trying to save the world. I was reading it as lockdown happened so maybe that’s why I didn’t love the way I might have done otherwise. 3/5

11.22.63 by Stephen King

“Yeah, but what if you went back and killed your own grandfather?”

He stared at me, baffled. “Why the fuck would you do that?”

stephen king

Nothing on my Kindle felt right. Maybe now would be a good time to immerse myself in the Stephen King universe for the first time. I’m not up for his horror novels but was intrigued by the premise of this book: a guy time-travelling back (yes, again) to prevent the assination of JFK. One of the things that has put me off King is that his books are like door-stops. This isn’t as long as some but it did drag. We have to wait for over 300 pages before our protagonist even catches sight of Oswald. I have kept hearing how he’s a great writer but not very good at endings which made me nervous after investing so much time. A bad ending can ruin a book for me. Happily this was tied-up extraordinarily well so I did smile when in the Afterword he mentions that his writer son, Joe Hill, actually gave him a much better ending than the original one he had written. A friend has recommend I read Lisey’s Story by King next so I’l do that. 3.25/5

Mythos: The Greek Myths Retold by Stephen Fry

“Gaia visited her daughter Mnemosyne, who was busy being unpronounceable.”

mythos

The world of the Greek mythology populated with larger than life gods and monsters has proved a good place to get lost in.  Some books manage to make these stories full of sex, violence, humour and revenge decidedly dry and academic. It’s no surprise that Stephen Fry completely avoids this. I especially appreciated how he adds various examples of how many of the words we use today are derived from the myths (my favourite being the eternal punishment of Tantalus is where we get the word ‘tantalise’ from). Zeus and Hera are the ultimate dysfunctional couple and their endless dramas involving both mortals and gods, never fail to enthrall to me.  4/5

Grownups by Marian Keyes

“Her outline kept slipping, like a wonky contact lens that wouldn’t sit on the iris…  Intense feelings would surge through her, both good and not-so-good, then her outline would detach again. She was living her life a short distance from herself.”

 

grown ups

Story aside, this novel was fantastically easy to read which was a relief. I’m normally turned off by family dramas but my love of Marian’s combination of humour and darker themes made me give it a go. To be fair, the first three quarters was a 3 star read for me as breezy as it was. We are following three brothers and their wives, not to mention 7 kids, living in Dublin. We get to know the characters and their various issues (including overspendng and more seriously, bullimia) as they congregate for a number of family trips. I think I prefer to follow one main protagonist in this kind of book so that I feel more invested. Not a lot seems to develop until the 75% mark when it all starts kicking off. I was then riveted by the final quarter which was 5 stars. 3.75/5 overall.

City of Girls by Elizabeth Gilbert

“…at some point in a woman’s life, she just gets tired of being ashamed all the time. After that, she is free to become whoever she truly is.”

Now we’re talking. This was a fizzy cocktail of a historical fiction and it went down easy. I can’t think of much Id rather read about right now than wonderfully shameless showgirls in 1940s New York City. Nineteen year-old Vivian Morris moves into her aunt’s rundown theatre in Midtown. In very short order, she loses her naivete and is kicking up her heels at The Stork Club by night and sewing costumes by day.  We follow her misadventures with a fabulous cast of colourful characters which are all vividly rendered and hugely enjoyable. Despite making a near catastrophic mistake Vivian learns that learns you can be a good person even if society doesn’t deem you ‘a good girl’.  Fairly short chapters helped to prevent me feeling overwhelmed (which ihas been my main issue). Its structure of a single 450+ page letter rather bugged me but not enough to spoil it for me. 4.25/5

city of girls

Have you struggled to concentrate on reading during this time or have books become a valued distraction? Do you have any light novels to recommend?

24 Comments

Filed under Book Review

Updates from the Cookie Kitchen.

Two weeks since the lockdown was lifted. Austria has had 16,358 cases, and 635 deaths, There are 190 in hospital right now, 31 of which are in the intensive care units. Figures taken from the official update Friday 22 May. No second wave right now.

Masks are everywhere. The most popular place to keep them seems to be hanging from the rear view mirror, followed up closely by in the pocket, or hanging around the neck, or pushed down under the chin. All the restaurants and bars have reopened, and life is moving on. The hospitality staff wear masks or visors. I had to laugh yesterday in Linz, I walked by a waiter serving on the terrace with his visor pushed up onto the top of his head in a kind of duck bill way. I fully understand. Talking with one of those plastic sheets in front of your face is awful. Still people are making the best out of it and not wearing them when you don’t have to. Except those that do, and these are the ones you see driving their cars with their masks on. Really? Folks are social distancing of course, to the best of their abilities. That did not include a huge group of leather-clad bikers at a burger stand yesterday. I guess there were around fifty of them, and at least thirty huge bikes. Definitely all one family.

IMG_3858

Conclusion? Masks on public transportation, in supermarkets and shops, banks and post offices, gas stations and the like? Everyone is doing it. Still, I do not see it catching on long term.

The countries around Austria will open their borders over the next month, that is the plan. And I cannot wait to go down to the beach in Italy for a few days. I am also planning a few days in Switzerland mid-summer, and will go on the train. Scotland was on the cards but I don’t see a trip to the UK happening this year.

Restaurants are slow, business is not back to usual by any stretch of the imagination. Shops the same. Economy suffering. I cannot imagine how bad the tourist industry is gonna suffer. The government is really pushing the “Holiday in Austria this year and help the industry” theme. Fair enough.

Cookie Kitchen is back in swing, but not as busy as usual. Yet.

MEANWHILE ……………

IMG_3857

I have never had a Holy Grail anything, that is until now. Fanfare. Tara introduced me to the NARS Soft Matt Complete Concealer a couple of years ago. It is amazing stuff. However, she also gave @b.londeswuder a sample of the IT Bye Bye Under Eye Full Coverage Anti-Aging Waterproof Concealer. Well I tell you, the IT stuff is incredible. It’s amazing. The texture, the consistency, the coverage, the colors, the tube it is in. The tiniest amount is all you need. My daughter is as blown away by it as I am, we bought our tubes together. Superb stuff. It stays put, does not melt, does not dry out, and I have ordered back ups. The NARS comes a very close second, but second is not quite enough.

IMG_3856

Malle’s Rose & Cuir has been my Scent of the Post-Lockdown.

So where y’all at?

“Apart from the sanitation, the medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh-water system, and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?” Monty Python. Life of Brian.

CQ.

14 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Lost Days – Lockdown Lethargy

I was chatting with friends in our WhatsApp group when I said how we are all having lost days now and again. We agreed it’s not something a lot of people are acknowledging in social media but is happening to many of us. While some are publically posting about their various projects, others are quietly having whole days either under the duvet or doing precisely nothing.

Sometimes I wake up and just feel down and/or lethargic and it stays with me all day. I don’t feel like working out, turning on the laptop or even getting dressed. This used to make me feel guilty which made me feel more depressed than I already was. Now I just put it down as a lost day and write it off, knowing that tomorrow is likely to be better (and it always is).

If you have empathy, it’s very hard to carry on in your own little bubble and not let what is happening around the world affect you. Sometimes it’s just too much, even though I’ve cut down on the news coverage. As for using this time to learn a new skill, that’s great if you feel up to it but this is not a sabbatical, it’s a global pandemic. Most of us are just in survival mode, living from day to day, coping the best way we can.

I experienced my first migraine preceded by an aura during my sixth week indoors. I suddenly found my vision was obscured with bright zig-zag patterns. A terrible headache followed around 20 minutes later. I concluded it was a combination of not sleeping well, anxiety and cabin fever. I’m immunosuppressed so am having to ‘shield’ myself inside for 12 weeks. I was bound to hit a wall. It’s nothing compared to actually having the virus or being on the frontline, but we are all affected in some way.

These lost days aren’t the norm though. Most are manageable and I do feel gratitude for the positive aspects of lockdown. I’m connecting even more with family than usual and I like working from home. It’s a chance to reflect on how I want things to be after this strange period comes to an end. As much as I miss my old life, it’s worth thinking about what I want to go back to and what I want to change. It’s rare that you get the opportunity to step back and assess the way you live for this long.

So, one day I’m over the moon that I can lay in the garden and enjoy the sunshine on a weekday, the next I’m down in the dumps even though nothing has changed. Life is a series of ups and downs and as we ride the ‘coronacoaster of uncertainty’ these emotional highs and lows are more pronounced than ever.

lost days

Are you experiencing highs and lows? Do you think about how you’re going to alter your life when we come out of this?

44 Comments

Filed under Thoughts

Mood Scent 4: Super Power Scents

Hey there A Bottled Rose, It’s a Mood Scent 4 week. WOO HOO! This month the crew are looking at Super Power Scents. Super Powers! We all want them, dream we have them, fantasise about which ones we’d get if we had a choice and use perfumes to add what we sometimes feel we lack. Here are a few of my favourite perfumes that make me feel like I have super powers.

Obviously, these choices are subject to change, daily.

Can’t wait to read about your favourite Super Power Scents in the comments too.

So excited to be blogging with these three superstars again: Esperanza L’Esperessence, Megan Megan In Sainte Maxime and Samantha I Scent You A Day. Check theirs out too.

Mood Scent 4: Super Power Scents

Continue reading

29 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

CQ’S WTF CV19 (THERE IS NO LOCKDOWN ANYMORE) TALES FROM THE COOKIE KITCHEN.

Saturday 2 May – Friday 8 May.

Life is pretty normal for me now. The restaurants re-open next week which means I am back to my cookie prep this weekend, and on Tuesday I will have the first Cookie Run (my weekly delivery to Salzburg) in about eight weeks, I will be wearing Malle’s Rose & Cuir. The longest break I have had from work since we started the business some twenty years ago. Despite it being a bit weird at the beginning it has been a pretty relaxed time. I know the I am both privileged and lucky to be able to say that. So many people have lost their jobs, are still in lockdown, are having to teach, feed, and keep kids happy. People have died, people are sick. I am aware.

I delivered some cookies to a store in a huge shopping mall just outside of Linz. As you know masks are mandatory inside shops and buildings, public transport and so on. We spent a good hour walking around the mall and I tell you this. There is no way I am gonna do that again. By the time we left we were ready to freak out. It’s like you can’t think properly with the mask on. Now don’t get me wrong, I am not against masks in any way. They serve a purpose and were necessary to get us out of the lockdown. We drove on into Linz city. I have no problem going into a shop on the high street wearing a mask, when you come out you can take it off. That is doable. But a shopping mall? No chance, I hate them at the best of times.

IMG_4782

In the Linz harbor, there are a lot of warehouses, containers, and cranes. The whole area has been pimped up by turning into a graffiti gallery. Some of the artworks are enormous. The artists came from all over the world, and it is quite a hotspot. It was not really open when we were there, but that has never stopped my husband and we were on our bikes so we just biked through the whole area. Very cool.

I am trying to call it physical distancing now, and not social distancing. Makes more sense.

7d2ff979-7c7d-4aa4-9281-670ebc6eaa0e 2

My cat continues to be fine, and I continue to find lurking bloody sneeze drops in the bathroom.

That is really about it. The drama of the last few weeks has died down for me, back to business as usual. Well, not quite. Gyms are not open yet, that will be at the end of the month. But I have done at least four proper workouts a week over the last eight weeks and am dead chuffed with myself. So —– I will pop back in a fortnight with an update and see how it is going with all of you in different countries. Anything dramatic should happen just drop it into the comments here at anytime, Tara and I wanna keep up.

C8BCF300-FFE7-4401-9324-26F12683AAFB 2

Lockdown Free Perfumes of the Week.

Chanel 1957 and Boy. Frederic Malle – Une Rose. Vero Profumo – Mito Extrait. Neela Vermeire Creations Mohur Extrait and a ton of Bombay Bling.

“And you may ask yourself, well how did I get here?”  Talking Heads.  Once in a Lifetime.

CQ.

18 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

Portia’s Lockdown Loveliness

Hey A Bottled Rose peeps. Hello from slightly unrestricted lockdown here in Sydney, Australia. I’d like to take a moment to virtually hug anyone affected by C19, including your crew and loved ones getting sick. We are watching a lot of the world with sad dismay. In Oz we are now allowed to visit in pairs of adults with attendant children. Especially to help the aged, disabled, solo or depressed. It is a small but significant step towards normal life. Our new cases confirmed rate has dropped below 20 per day for all of Australia over the last week. To today we have had 95 deaths in total in all of Australia and only three of them under 60 years old. We know it’s not over yet but it definitely isn’t looking so grim.

What have I been doing with my week?

Quite a bit of phone time, both face and audio, with mates around the world and here in Oz.

Watching Netflix. Jin and I have watched After Life S2 together, a couple of Korean reality serials (nope, still don’t understand a word), The Fast & the Furious series 1-7, everything that has Dwayne Johnson (the Rock) in it and other odds and ends.

Sleeping. Staying up late watching TV means I also sleep in. Some days till 11am! Plus I have an afternoon nap most days. I know right, HEAVEN!

Cooking. With Jin working I have done a lot more of the cooking than usual.

Cleaning. I’m now giving the apartment its thorough clean once a week still but now I’m also doing a couple of mid week spruces. Spending so much time at home I want it to be nice.

Reading. I’m rereading Dune and finding it really hard because my eyes are having trouble with the light reflected off the page. I do have a Kindle but it feels so good to be reading a BOOK even though it’s also torture.

Running Turbo Trivia LIVE in Isolation on Friday and Sunday has been fun. If you’d like to join in go check the Turbo Trivia Facebook page for details. https://www.facebook.com/TurboTrivia/ Even if you can’t be there for it live you can still play the game later. Zoom with your friends and play against or with each other.

Wearing perfume! Here is a small selection of the stuff that I’m spritzing. I have been wearing a lot of the ends of decants as well, grabbing the last few ml and spritzing the whole lot! HUGE!

Hedonist Iris Absolute by Viktoria Minya

I’ve nearly finished my 15ml of Hedonist Rose Absolute. I sent a bit to friends I thought might like it and have worn it a LOT. Now I’m hitting the Iris version hard. It smells so good. For any iris averse peeps out there I think this might be your gateway drug. It’s iris but not as you know it. Darker, more mysterious and charred.

Gardelia by Bogue

No, I do not have a bottle. WISH I did. This crazy assed bottle is to freaking die for. Antonio very kindly gave me a decant before release and I’ve been eeking it out until lockdown. Suddenly I want to smell like this ALL THE TIME! Breathy, poopy gardenia done right. I have not yet had the courage to leave the house wearing this monster.

Granville by DIOR

The loveliest spring style green of them all. It seems to also be fitting my 2020 autumn lockdown.

Samsara by Guerlain

What is it about this OTT diva of a scent that grasps me so firmly? Is it the creaminess, the tropical vibe, the ultra deluxe glamour or the screaming madness? ALL of the above. Samsara is exactly how I want my sandalwood treated.

Tendre Nuit by Isabey

This strange and lovely sweet nothing by Isabey is now about 1/3 empty. I don’t know why I love it so much. Sweetly almond and stuff that just seems to hit the spot perfectly every time.

Misia EdT by CHANEL

Hiding away in its box unloved since my first mad crush on her, Misia is back in action. Lipstick style iris, all waxy, powdery and rose tinted. It’s hard to feel blue when you smell this fabulous. My favourite of all the makeup style fragrances. YUMMERS!

Also, I got challenged to do one of those Facebook seven days of photos. It was really fun to go through and pick some I loved. Here are four that didn’t make the cut. These are the three men I have long term loved. First is Paul, yes he was and still is a handsome rake. This photo was taken maybe 1991 at the inaugural DIVA Awards when the group I was in won Best Show! Second is Varun, also extremely handsome and with a body to die for, we spent an amazing couple of years in Sydney and then another bunch of years long distance because he had to move back to India to run his family’s hotel business. In this 2003/4 picture we are traveling India and up in Jammu Kashmir for our friends’ wedding. The last two are my gorgeous husband Jin. The man who has provided the easiest, most wonderful, fun filled years of my life. Of course it mayn’t last forever, as many beautiful things come to an end, but I enjoy every day we spend together and all our friends, plans, holidays etc. He is a seriously lovely man and I’m still gushy-gushy in love with him. First pic is at the Fullerton in Singapore 2016/7 and the second is Christmas 2018.

Yesterday (Sunday) while Jin was at work I had both Kath and Alice over for lunch. It was the first time the three of us have been together in about 5 weeks and it was absolutely terrific. We chattered and laughed a couple of hours away. I made us Boscaiola Pasta and Kath snapped this shot of it. I was too busy enjoying the girls company.

Hugs and love till next week when we have a Mood Scent 4 project for you all,

Tell me what you’ve been up to, wearing or making while in lockdown?
Portia xxx

38 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews

CQ’S WTF CV19 (WE ARE NOT IN LOCKDOWN ANYMORE) TALES FROM THE COOKIE KITCHEN

Tomorrow at 07:30 I will be at the hair salon. And taking brownies for the reopening.

IMG_3493

Saturday 25 April – Friday 1 May.

It is Friday morning and I am writing this update a little earlier than usual. It’s my radio show tonight and wanna get ahead of myself. Today is May Day and a national holiday here. It is also the first day of no lockdown. That ended at midnight yesterday. Seven strange weeks.

The rest of the shops will open tomorrow, the shopping malls, etc. I am guessing that the fire brigade, or police, or army, will be patrolling the parking lots of the bigger complexes. After living with the same furniture for seven weeks, IKEA would be your first stop huh?

Restaurants will open on the 15th, which is what I have been keeping my eye on, as my cookie business depends on that happening. Four adults will be allowed at a table, along with their kids if applicable. There will be social distancing between tables of course, but not at the table you are on. Obviously. Waiters and waitresses, and the cooks, will wear masks. You cannot choose the table you want to sit on. I think you may have to put on a mask if you get up to move around the restaurant or go to the bathroom, but don’t quote me on that.

Churches and some schools will open at the end of May, as will hotels and swimming pools. There are certain rules accompanying these openings, just ask me in the comments if you really wanna know. Universities will stay online for the moment.

We can meet up with friends again and legally go hangout with Oma and Opa for hours. Masks will remain mandatory in all shops, and on public transport. I will update you on theaters and cinemas and stuff when there is information.

Life has felt much more normal the last couple of weeks, but then when you look around in the supermarket and everyone is masked you know things really have changed. I mean I now keep a mask stash in the car. As one does.

IMG_3454

This is my cat before the drama and after the drama and when there is no drama tbh.

CAT DRAMA

Tuesday evening the cat suddenly got a nosebleed. And by that I mean the blood poured out of her nose and it did not stop for 20 minutes. We called the vet who told us to put her in her carrying box to calm down, and to go to the vet in the morning. The bleeding slowed down as she sat in the box, and if a cat can look green, she did. So did we. She started to rub her head on the bars of her box, and I chose to let her out as I was sure that would start it all up again. I Googled it and then stopped as I did not want to read about cat tumours. She went out and hung out on the balcony most of the night, and appeared normal enough in the morning. Until she went into the bathroom and sneezed. It looked like a scene from Carrie. I put her in the box and headed to the vet. We got seen immediately. He checked her mouth and teeth and throat and ears, took her temperature and all that was okay. He did say that if it was a tumour in the nasal passages he would not be able to detect that and we would have to go to a specialist. She got an antibiotic and cortisone and who-knows-what-else shot and we went home. Yeah well, three days later and she appears to be fine again. I know it could recur but hope it doesn’t as that would indicate a bigger problem. I went and bought her some special cat treats and some new expensive gourmet cat food, She rejected the lot. So far, so good.

BB4D8BFC-6EFB-4230-A803-A9843A2617D7 2

(Last week of the easing up) Lockdown Perfumes of the Week.

Frédéric Malle – Portrait of a Lady and Dans Tes Bras. Vero Profumo – Rubj EdP. Chanel – 28 La Pausa. Neela Vermeire – both of the Mohurs.

No lockdown, semi-lockdown, who-knows-when-it-will-end-lockdown? Update us all please.

“You keep me running round and round, well that’s alright with me, nothing, nothing, nothing’s gonna step in my way. Living on the ceiling, no more room down there, things fall into place, you got the joke, fall into place.” Blancmange. Living on the Ceiling. 1982.

CQ.

16 Comments

Filed under Perfume Reviews