Le Labo: Palo Santo 14 & Bergamote 22

L. Bergamote 22 Shower Gel(8 oz/$52)
2. Palo Santo 14 candle(8.6 oz/ $75)
3. Bergamote 22 body lotion(8 oz/ $68)

Diptyque Amber(6.5oz) vs Le Labo Palo Santo 14(8.6 oz)

Diptyque Amber(6.5oz)
 Le Labo Palo Santo 14(8.6 oz)
Jo Malone English Pear & Freesia (7oz)

Le Labo was one of my best finds of 2016.  I started with some samples directly from their website and from there bought the Thé Noir perfume from my local Nordstrom.

I knew I would go back to Le Labo for Bergamot 22 eventually because if you recall from my post (here), Bergamot 22 was one of the samples that I really liked. I ended up picking up the shower gel and the body lotion. Le Labo describes Bergamot 22 as a delicate floral with the sweetness of amber and musk with a touch of vetiver. I think it's a great scent for spring. Le Labo did a great job with the formula in the shower gel and lotion. So whether you layer both or just use one, you get the same lovely scent to carry you through the day. I found the shower gel to be about average on the suds and it rinses clean. The body lotion absorbs well without leaving a white cast on my skin.

The Palo Santo 14 candle is one of Le Labo's newest offerings. If you are a fan of incense or Palo
Santo sticks this candle gives you a lighter, less heady dose of that sweet smokey goodness. Quite a few folks feel that burning Palo Santo clears away bad vibes. I loved the smell of this candle and the way this year is going I'll take all the help I can get.

You can find Le Labo at Nordstrom and online here.


Aruba:12.5211° N, 69.9683°W

Last month I took a couple of days off for a quick getaway to the Dutch island of Aruba. I booked it with Jet Blue shortly after the holidays during one of their vacation specials. If you like to travel Jet Blue should definitely be on your email list as they offer great specials throughout the year.

Aruba is in the southern Caribbean close to Venezuela. From my neck of the woods I was able to take a direct 2.5 hour flight to the Aruban capital of Oranjestad. Their national slogan is "One Happy Island." According to the people I met the island has very little crime and a year round pleasant climate. They claim to have the most sunny days of any island in the Caribbean. They are also so far south that they are usually outside of the hurricane belt. All things that would make for a happy island.

The official currency is the florin but US dollars were accepted every where I went. During my stay in March the weather was warm and very, very windy which the locals told me was the norm. It was so windy that while at the restaurant taking the picture I posted above the wind picked up some of my salad before I started to eat.  I wasn't fast enough to get a picture of my lettuce swirling away but trust me when I tell you it was a sight to see.  With all that wind it never really got too hot so you could walk around the island and on the beach at any time during the day.

Most of the people I met spoke English, Spanish and French. The official languages of Aruba however are Dutch and Papamiento which is a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese and Creole. I found a super cute video with a five minute Papamiento lesson here.

I spent most of my time at Eagle Beach, which has been ranked as one of the best beaches in the world. As you can see from the pictures I also stopped to snap each and every cactus I saw along the way! I found it very strange in an interesting sort of way to see cacti so close to a beach. I'd never seen anything like it so I'll fully admit that I might have gotten carried away. All in all it was a good trip. I would highly recommend Aruba to anyone looking for a nice place to get away from everything and relax.

Have a great week! 🌵


Colleen Rothschild Home: Róisín Candle

Colleen Rothschild Róisín Candle Set $69

I have no idea what Internet rabbit hole I entered to get to the Colleen Rothschild website(here). I probably started out googling something completely unrelated like the water levels on Mars and somehow found my way to someone that had reviewed their candles with a link to their site.  I love candles and I'm a sucker for nice packaging so when I saw that beautiful matte black container I was sold. I was very impressed when I opened the boxes the candle, wick trimmer, and snuffer came in with how lovely they were packed.

Róisín is described as a mix of rose, bergamot, vanilla and clove.  I got hints of all of those notes but the stand outs to me were the vanilla and the clove.  Burn time was estimated at 50 hours for the 8 oz/227g candle and I agree with that. The one pictured above is long gone. It burned evenly and the throw once lit was perfect for a small room. This is not the type of candle that will fill your entire house with its scent. I burned mine in my bedroom at night while reading and found it to be subtle and soothing. The candle was being offered with the wick trimmer and the snuffer which was such an amazing deal that I bought a second one as a gift... for myself. 😜


The Story of a Brief Marriage - Book Review

"Perhaps it had to do with the fact that in crying for yourself you were acknowledging your vulnerability, acknowledging that despite your various efforts and postures you can be and have been hurt by the world." - pg. 151

Set in Sri Lanka twenty plus years into a civil war between the army and the country's Tamil minority The Story of a Brief Marriage is a beautifully written book. The first couple of pages are devoted to a rather common bodily function but trust me stick it out or skim through those pages if you are somewhat squeamish like me and it will be well worth it.

The main character in the book is Dinesh an evacuee working and living in a refugee camp when he is confronted by an old man who proposes that Dinesh marry his daughter. When we first meet Dinesh it's clear that he is a sensitive soul trying to find that balance between doing and feeling that a human being would need to navigate in order to survive under unimaginable circumstances. I found myself while re-reading the many moving passages found throughout the book wishing in vain for some type of deus ex machina. I practically held my breath during the last twenty pages. It was silly of me yes I know because the author set his intention very clearly with the title. But still I was rooting for him, for them, and probably in some small unconscious way for me. I'm not male and I have never been a casualty of war but throughout the 193 pages I felt like I was seeing Dinesh from the inside out. I felt his loss, his fears, his innocence, his grace, and his fleeting sense of something that closely resembled joy. Such was the pull of this book that when the end came I was right there with him.  I can't say much more without giving away the entire plot but suffice it to say this one will stay with me for a while.

This is the first work by Anuk Arudpragasm. The book jacket for The Story of a Brief Marriage  has some glowing reviews but one that stood out to me because I agree with it completely was one from Laird Hunt who apparently wrote a book called Neverhome.  He said, " Read this novel. See what he has done." To that I add please do.

If you've read this book I would love to hear what you thought.


Havana, Cuba: 23.1136° N, 82.3666° W

I went to Cuba over two months ago but it has taken me some time to gather my thoughts about my trip.  Part of the reason is my busy workload this quarter and the other part is probably due to me attempting to process all of the changes happening in my corner of the world. 

If you live in the US travel to Cuba is only permitted under certain circumstances (more info here). My trip fell under the category of Educational/People-to-People exchange. What that meant for me was that I stayed with locals to immerse myself in the culture and have a true interchange. 

Image of Ernesto "Che" Guevara on the side of a building in Havana

Sculpture of Jose Marti outside the Jose Marti Museum in Revolution Square 

My hosts suggested that in order to try to understand Cuba I should start from the beginning. So the first place they took me was to the Jose Marti Museum in Revolution Square.  Jose Marti as it was explained to me is widely regarded as the founder of the Cuban nation. Born in Havana in 1853 he was a poet and a revolutionary thinker who died in 1895 fighting for Cuban independence from Spanish rule. His museum as you can imagine was a love story to their beloved patriot.

"La justicia, la igualdad del mérito, el trato respetuoso del hombre, la igualdad plena del derecho: eso es la revolución. "
  - Jose Marti 

The Christ of Havana by Cuban Sculptress Jilma Wood

Plaza de Armas- Havana

I found the architecture in Havana to be similar to that of any large European city. The food was just so-so but that was probably because as a vegetarian my options were fairly limited. I had better luck with their juices and desserts.

Twinning with my dessert 😃. Pants are from Express. 

In Havana locals are not allowed to have Internet in their homes. It was explained to me that in order to get Internet local Cubans have to go to parks like the one pictured below and pay to access government monitored Wi-Fi.  I was trying to be as inconspicuous as possible when I took the picture but if you look closely you will see everyone in the shot is peering over and sharing some type of electronic device.

Internet Park in Havana

The picture above is the message you get on your phone when trying to access the Internet in the government run WI-Fi Park.

It's been widely reported that the average monthly Cuban salary is about twenty dollars (US) a month. I don't have any statistics of my own to support or refute that claim but I can say that I met a teacher who told me she stopped teaching because she was able to make more money working as a housekeeper for a well off family.  I met another guy who shared that in the past five years many Cubans have taken advantage of some of the loosening of the restrictions on the communist island and started renting out their homes and using their personal vehicles as taxis. He also noted that there was no freedom of speech in Cuba so you had to be very careful that nothing you said could be misconstrued as a political critique.

Santa María del Mar
Santa María del Mar

I think one of the great things about travel is that it can give you perspective on where you are in your life and what's going on around you. The local Cuban in Havana lacks many of the creature comforts that I sometimes take for granted but I didn't sense any bitterness or resentment from the people I met. They were very patient with what turned out to be my not so intermediate Spanish and were eager to practice their conversational English speaking skills. I found them to be very friendly, enterprising and hopeful. Having been there I can see why Cuba was once considered one of the pearls of the Antilles. I think if the opportunity presented itself the Cuban people could easily reclaim that title. I wish them well in all their endeavors.


We The People



Boots: Tory Burch - old
Jeans: Lucky Brand Charlie Skinny here
Jacket: The North Face  here
What you can't see- Fruit of the Loom thermal top and bottom here (Trust me when I tell you they made it all possible 😝)


A Fresh Start

I realized I had turned a corner in my life when two things happened. The first- I could no longer wear four inch heels for a ten hour day.  The second- I found myself getting excited about cleaning products. I think it's safe to say that my chandelier swinging days might soon be over as my most worn shoes are a pair of comfortable flats and I'm seriously considering signing up for a subscription service for my favorite household cleaning brand. *

That favorite would be Caldrea. I'm pretty sure I discovered Caldrea on one of these types of trips to Marshalls. I think I was just starting my Clean All The Things phase and the products I found in Marshalls seemed interesting and smelled amazing.  I picked up some dish washing liquid and a counter spray. I came home and googled the brand and the rest as they say is history. Of course the scent I got from Marshalls was discontinued. Oh Marshalls you giveth and you taketh away. But never mind the website had tons of options to choose from.  Some of my favorites are pictured above. The scents I've tried have been very light and clean. I really like the french sponges that expand when wet and are sold ten to a pack. I also like that their products are reportedly not tested on animals or made with artificial colorants.  Per their website:



Our products are free of ammonia, chlorine, glycol solvents, parabens, phthalates, formaldehyde, artificial colorants, phosphates or petroleum distillates.

We do not test our products on animals, nor are our products made with animal-derived ingredients. Caldrea is a member of the Leaping Bunny Program, an internationally recognized campaign in North America and the European Union to eliminate cosmetics, personal care and household product testing on animals.

Yes I get that a bottle of Fabuloso works fine for most. But humor me. I write a blog dedicated to sharing things I find beautiful so it should come as no surprise that I would love a company that offers what is essentially a fragrance wardrobe for your home. Caldrea offers most of their products with the option of receiving them monthly to every 5 months. I haven't signed up for any reoccurring purchases yet because a little goes a long way.  In the six months since I was turned on to them I've ordered from them twice. I got my second order just before the new year started. So while just about everyone seemed to be planning their outfit for the big count down yours truly was looking for my ladder to clean the ceiling fan in my kitchen.  I woke up to a new year and a clean house just the way I like it.

Thanks for reading. Sending you all lots of 🔆💖😂🌺 for 2017!

*Chandelier swingers with cleaning product subscriptions I mean you no offense.