Shopping

Maison Francis Kurkdjian’s Ciel de Gum

The French are correct—a woman’s fragrance collection changes with age. As some of you recall, I started looking for an alternative to Estee Lauder’s Beautiful about 3 years ago. Well, two days ago, I found it.

Don’t get me wrong; Beautiful is still—beautiful. It’s what my husband and children know. I’ve worn it since age 16. Beautiful is what I gravitate towards when I seek comfort or when I’m under the weather. It’s home. Which is why I’m not getting rid of it.

Ciel de Gum (CDG) is just what I’ve been looking for these past couple years—again, not necessarily as a replacement to Beautiful, but an alternative to keep.

This is what I imagine Joan Collins must have smelled like on “Dynasty”—fiercely feminine and SPICY. This is the spicy floral that I have been looking for. Contrary to many reviews, it does not smell like red hots. On me, it smells like the mother of all spicy florals (it’s what all in the category aspire to be). It has a bit of vanilla (which I’m usually not a fan of). But it is quiet; cinnamon, floral, and amber take center stage. As a voluptuous floral, Beautiful is beautiful and feminine. CDG is just as feminine but has spice and bite. It so fits me at this stage in my life. This isn’t a scent for girls (who often prefer sweet smells); it’s for women. There’s an innocence in Beautiful that isn’t there in CDG.

The fact that it’s not popular is a bonus (the fragrance is exclusive to Maison Francis Kurkdjian boutiques and the GUM Department Store in Moscow). There are currently no matching body products (soaps, lotions, etc.) and part of the reason I am posting this review is a selfish one—I am hoping that the parfum will become popular enough (but not too popular 😉) for MFK to develop matching body products. In the US at this time, CDG can only be purchased at the MFK boutique in Miami (the only MFK store in the US) and on the brand’s website.

Holiday Gift Ideas

Holidays are just around the corner and since everyone else has come up with his/her “gift ideas list”, I thought I’d share mine (all of these have been tested and approved by yours truly)!  (FYI:  I am not receiving any compensation for these links and/or recommendations.)

WOMEN

(1)  Lagos Sterling Silver “Love Knot” Earrings

(2)  Lagos Caviar Hoop Earrings

(3)  Whole Foods Gift Certificate

(4)  Prepared Meal and Fresh Flowers Delivered by Instacart

(5)  Barefoot Dreams Cozychic Luxe Laguna Jacket

(6)  Greg McKeown’s ESSENTIALISM:  The Disciplined Pursuit of Less

(7)  Museum membership or membership renewal

(8)  Donation to a charity in her honor

(9)  A basket of her favorite jam and/or honey

MEN

(1)  Patagonia’s Better Sweater Vest

(2)  Museum membership or membership renewal

(3)  Donation to a charity in his honor

(4)  Gift card to COMIXOLOGY

(5)  Stephen King’s Doctor Sleep

(6)  Canali Reversible Belt

(7)  Peter Millar Sweater

(8)  His favorite home-cooked meal and movie

(9)  Dinner at his favorite restaurant

CHILDREN

This list does not include gift ideas for children because there is such a range of preferences for parents and children themselves depending on their ages.  But from personal experience, books, Lego sets, and visits to the museums/zoos are always hits!

Empress’ New Clothes

pregnantshopping

So I finally took the plunge and started getting a few pieces for my fall and winter wardrobe.  Given the fact that I’m in the second trimester, it won’t be long before my belly doubles in size.  My sundresses will only last until the end of summer and my leggings are begging for dear life.  Plus, wearing D’s T-shirts to run errands won’t fly when it’s 50-60 degrees out.  Time to get maternity clothes.  *SIGH*  So, here’s what I ordered:

(1)  Ingrid & Isabel Maternity Wrap Dress in black and gray

(2)  Eva Alexander Maternity Wrap Dress in black

(3)  Isabella Oliver Maternity Wrap Dress in gray

(4)  Everly Grey Maternity Wrap Dress in black

(5)  Spanx “Power Mama” Maternity Power Panties in nude

(6)  Spanx “Mama” Maternity Pantyhose in nude

(7)  Topshop High Waist Maternity Leggings in black

As you can see, I’m a fan of wrap dresses, leggings, black and gray (for the cooler months), and Nordstrom.  They’re just so versatile.  And since this is all new to me (the realm of maternity wear), I feel more comfortable knowing that if anything happens (poor fit, broken zipper. wrong color, etc.), I can always return anything and everything back to the store with no questions asked.  For those of you who don’t know, Nordstrom will take anything and everything back at any time as long you have the tags and receipts.  So save your tags and receipts!

The above should be enough to get started.  Other things I’ll need include a good coat (which I did not see on Nordstrom’s site or anywhere else) and a couple sweaters and cardigans.  Next stop:  baby stuff.

Spring Cleaning

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Spring Cleaning for Charity.  Ladies and gents, it doesn’t get any better than this–for every five items you donate from your closet, you receive a $40 Nordstrom gift card plus a tax receipt.  Copy, paste, and forward:  https://www.fashionproject.com/i/d3d4b0b6

For details on this and other updates, please feel free to follow me on my Facebook page!

Afternoon Tea

Teavana

So I’m a regular customer of Teavana (which is a chain tea shop located in many malls across the country).  I like its tea.  It’s basic loose leaf tea but very overpriced (perhaps due to the fact that the stores pay mall rents).  During my visit to the store today (and every other time), I noticed that the salespeople intentionally over scoop when selling loose teas (funny how they don’t do that when you order by the cup as their hot teas were so light that I stopped buying them).  The question is where the hell are Teavana’s competitors?  It would be nice to have other local options to purchase bulk loose leaf tea.

Don’t get me wrong, I’ve worked in sales my entire career so I “get” the whole sales and marketing thing.  Trying to close a deal is one thing but blatantly ignoring your customer (scooping 5 oz. when the customer requests 3 oz.) and being overly pushy (describing the “benefits” of a more expensive tea when the customer requested a less expensive kind) is another.  Teavana needs to invest in more sales training for its employees (who need to learn the concept of the soft sell and the using education/information as a marketing tool).  Because of my experience at Teavana (again, this has nothing to do with the teas themselves) and various reviews on the treatment of customers and employees, I am making it a mission to find good alternatives and will keep you all posted.

Wondrous World

las-vegas

It’s the most wonderful time of the year.  Especially to be in Las Vegas.  I’ve been coming to Vegas every Christmas since my mother moved here about a decade ago.  The shows, the glitz, the glamour, the shops, the restaurants, the sights–there’s no place on earth that compares to this city.  Whether you’re a shopaholic, wine snob, casino player, restaurant connoisseur, show lover, or spa goer, this town has something for every one.

Hotels.  My favorites include the Flamingo (family and dog-friendly; great location), Rio (newer than many of the other hotels, has fantastic restaurants, and houses the Penn & Teller show), and Caesar’s (most convenient location overall for food/shopping/entertainment).

Shopping.  Where do I begin?  Other than the magnificent Fashion Show Mall on the Strip (which houses Neiman’s, Saks, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Dillards, Louis Vuiton, and other familiar stores), there is a myriad of options.  My other favorites include the Grand Canal Shoppes at the Venetian and Palazzo (which houses Barney’s, Christian Louboutin, DVF, Chloe, etc.) as well as the shops at the Wynn (Chanel, Bottega, Fendi, Manolo, etc.).  Did I mention that all the shops and boutiques in the hotels are open on Christmas Day?  Yes, you heard correctly, my friends.  Designer shopping (and discounts) on Christmas Day.  Happy holidays, indeed.  A shopper’s paradise, really, especially during Christmas time when many markdowns are up to 60% off.  Need I say more?

Entertainment.  Vegas gives New York a run for its money.  Jerry Seinfeld, Celine Dion, Britney Spears, Bette Midler, Rod Stewart, among other big headliners have always come to Vegas this time of year (great minds think alike, you know).  All the shows, concerts, and other entertainment here are everything the Big Apple has to offer but on steroids.  This place is a well-oiled machine that knows how to please all the senses.  Every show I’ve seen here is ten times better than the same show in New York.  You have to see it to believe it.

Food.  This town is a mecca for foodies.  Whether you’re craving cheap eats or high-end dining, Vegas offers everything in the spectrum.  The diversity and variety of the city’s cuisines reflects that of its residents and visitors.  What ever you want, it’s there (on and off the Strip).

If you’re planning a trip to Vegas, Christmas time through New Year’s is the best time to be there.  Travel tip:  Book your flight early and (assuming you’re staying at one of the larger properties–Caesar’s, Flamingo, Bally’s, Planet Hollywood, etc.) your hotel room through a casino host.  Why?  The flight is self-explanatory.  Booking your hotel room through a casino host has several perks.  First of all, it’s a free service.  Secondly, a casino host is your “inside guide” on anything and everything going on in your hotel and its sister properties which means if you’re staying at Caesar’s and there’s a show you want to see at Planet Hollywood, he/she may be able to get you free tickets.  Loyalty pays off so find a casino host you like to work with and stick to him/her.  If you need help finding one, I’m happy to recommend one I’ve worked with for years (she is a professional and truly a veteran of the gaming industry).  Also, always sign up for the hotel’s rewards program/card (even if you don’t play in the casinos).  You receive points on your rewards card every time you play in the casinos and at many of the restaurants (just don’t forget to present your card before playing and/or dining).  The points are then redeemable for discounts and/or freebies (depending on the number of points you accumulate, you can earn anything from free hotel suites to free breakfasts).  And with the number of opportunities to spend money in Vegas, those points can add up.  Bottom line:  start booking your (first or next) trip to Vegas for Christmas time via a casino host now!