Showing posts with label love. Show all posts
Showing posts with label love. Show all posts

Sep 11, 2017

Perfume Review: Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs

life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
Orangers en Fleurs eau de parfum
Today I thought I'd do a review of my favorite perfume, Houbigant's Orangers en Fleurs. This new interpretation of orange blossom is not just a simple soliflore. It's a lush bouquet of orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, Cormoros ylang-ylang, and Egyptian jasmine. Spicy nutmeg, eau de brouts, sheer cedar, and a base of clean musk temper this heady white floral. I'm certain reading Bibi rave about this overlooked gem is far more interesting than listening to her kvetch and crab about the Monsoon heat, eh? 
Matryoshka dolls
I first came across this perfume in a small duty-free shop in Moscow's Sheremetyevo International Airport in 2015. I had a 7 hour layover and was leisurely perusing all and sundry luxury goods on offer in the airport. I was expecting amber, vodka, caviar, matryoshka dolls, t-shirts, and perhaps furs? Nope! It was all perfumes and makeup - Bibi's most favorite things! And we're talking everything in the way of fragrance- Amouage, Montale, Escentual Molecules, Juliette has a Gun, Clive Christian, Chanel, Hermes,-you name it they had it. Bibi was in perfume heaven!!! So after about an hour of sampling at the bigger shops I stumbled across this tiny boutique at the end of the terminal. This little boutique had quite an odd assortment of brands. One wall was devoted to the Arabian brand Ajmal, there was a small selection of uber expensive Amouages, and another counter had an assortment of trendy niche brands like Byredo. I tried a few Byredos and other niche offerings and was rather unimpressed. I've already tried every Ajmal in existence so I declined sampling those. Then I spotted the tackiest 70's looking clear lucite display you can possibly imagine on the back wall. 
Orange blossoms
The garish fluorescent-lit display was devoted to three new offerings from Houbigant: Fougère Royale, Quelques Fleurs Royale, and Orangers en Fleurs. I was thoroughly underwhelmed upon trying the Quelques Fleurs Royale (2004). I tried the new version of Fougère Royale and was AMAZED but I know the Sheikh would never wear anything that bold or complex. The pristine crystal flacon of Orangers en Fleurs intrigued me. An orange tree in bloom? That sounds like a rather unoriginal and uninspiring premise for a luxury fragrance. However, white florals are my jam so I had to try it! And it was love at first sniff. Like the heavens opened up on that grey September day in Moscow and a brilliant beam of white floral bliss sparkled down from paradise. I asked the price. The saleslady said $80. I said, "I'll take it!" The owner of the store exclaimed loudly, 
"But that's the cheapest perfume in the whole store!" 

I replied, "It's the best thing I've tried in the entire airport." Her eyebrows about flew off her head. Guess they have crappy service in Russia too.
life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
My box has a white satin lining not this pink bathroom wallpaper stuff.
So I waited patiently until I arrived in Delhi to unbox my new treasure. I opened the immaculate white box stamped with a gilded logo of stylized orange blossoms and lined with elegant white satin. The crystal flacon has a nice heft to it but I will say I was a bit disappointed that the cap is plastic. I spritzed myself lightly before dinner. Would this turn out to be a disappointment as some other love (or like) at first sniff purchases have been? Would it simper off into nothingness in the searing heat of Delhi or morph into something monstrous? The sharp opening of the dry, gorgeously green, and petitgrain-like note of the eau de brouts was refreshing in the heat of the Subcontinent. The honeyed brightness of the orange blossom came shining through next. But then the real star of the show came forward...

Tuberose
A lush and buttery tuberose! The heady tuberose is the perfect foil for the soapiness of the orange blossom. Then Egyptian jasmine absolute appears adding further warmth yet remaining elegant, not animalistic. The prim Turkish rose absolute imperceptibly blends with the orange blossom. Cormoros ylang-ylang brings yet another facet with it's tropical note. Nutmeg chimes in delicately with a subtle citrusy spiciness completely in harmony with the orange tree theme. The cedar is so sheer it simply comes across as part of the tree. As the fragrance dies down a base of clean white musk is revealed. Nectarous orange blossom does continue to linger well into the dry down lightly hovering over the musk for hours (if not days). A deeper whiff reveals that intoxicating tuberose seductively lurking. This perfume gets an A+++ from me for a tenacity of over 12 hours in withering South Asian heat and humidity. In spite of this longevity it remains a well-behaved white floral that never goes indolic, sweaty, skanky, or fecal- YOU CAN WEAR THIS IN THE ELEVATOR!

YAY! A white floral that won't asphyxiate people in close quarters.
I've read reviews complaining that Orangers en Fleurs is overly simple, unoriginal, and just pretty. It is a very traditional floral-woods-musk composition. For me it's simple beauty and sophistication harken back to the classic style of Houbigant's older floral fragrances such as the iconic Quelques Fleurs, Les Violettes, and La Rose France . The perfumer is showcasing the quality of ingredients and their innate complexity perfectly. All those gorgeous absolutes are multifaceted and develop quite enough to keep me interested. This is also one of those amazing perfumes that definitely has a vintage feel to it but is somehow thoroughly modern too. No synthetic sleight of hands nor artifices required. Sometimes pretty and uncomplicated is what's called for. I certainly don't want to compete with the cacophonous and often overwhelming stench of South Asia. At least it isn't yet another one of those ubiquitous pink fruitichouli or gourmand things so popular nowadays!

life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,

Orangers en Fleurs was launched by Houbigant in 2012. Apparently, it was initially only available at Bergdorf-Goodman and Neiman Marcus. The price started out at the princely sum of $180 for 100mls of the eau de parfum and $600 for 100mls of the parfum. I've now seen the eau de parfum priced as low as $60 for 100mls at online discounters. It's such an underrated bargain! I'm not sure if it wasn't a huge success because florals aren't trendy now or that hip niche houses are considered more fashionable ? I do have to say that Houbigant could have done a lot better with their marketing of the fragrance. I mean look at that ad -
WHY ARE THERE PINK ALMOND BLOSSOMS ON AN AD FOR AN ORANGE BLOSSOM FRAGRANCE!?! 
Pink has nothing to do with this fragrance!!!! White, green, and gold are the colors of this perfume. Almonds?!?

Kirsten Dunst as Marie-Antoinette frolicking at the (relatively) understated surroundings of the Petit Trianon
Houbigant has a long history of purveying to the French, British, and Russian aristocracy. Obviously, Houbigant wished to draw on it's legendary past with that classic Baccarat style flacon and the retro floral feel of Orangers en Fleurs. Marie-Antoinette was a famed client of Houbigant whose passion for feigned rusticity started the trend to lighter floral scents. Because of Marie-Antoinette the dense animalics so popular in the 17th century faded from popularity. Ethereal and elegant compositions of florals and woods became en vogue. Why not get a Kirsten Dunst look-a-like in a flimsy muslin chemise a la reine lolling about the Petit Trianon sniffing an orange blossom posy for the ad? Or just a boxed orange tree amongst the parterres of the Orangerie at Verailles in the background to infer an aristocratic bent?

Queen Victoria's wedding portrait
Here's another royal patron of Houbigant with a love for orange blossoms. Queen Victoria donned a pastoral coronet of orange blossoms on her wedding day. Her white gown and orange blossom headpiece set the style for western weddings for the next 200 years. Why not a simple orange blossom wreath or tiara next to or around the bottle for the ad? Oh well, I doubt Houbigant will be calling me for advertising advice.
life, love, houbigant, Orangers, Orangers en Fleurs, perfume, fragrance, review, orange blossom, tuberose, Turkish rose, ylang-ylang, Egyptian jasmine, nutmeg, eau de brouts, cedar, musk,
Boxed set of Orangers en Fleurs eau de parfum with scented lotion
(What is up with that tacky peach and green print on the box? It looks like a feminine hygiene product.)
Anywho, by now you've probably guessed that I absolutely love this perfume. From start to finish this perfume is just absolute perfection. Indeed, if I had to choose a signature scent- this would be it! Despite florals not being 'on trend' nowadays I get all sorts of compliments on this fragrance. A Chinese lady chased me down the street in Kathmandu last month wanting to know what the "powdery" perfume was that I was wearing. The Sheikh can be rather persnickety about perfumes but he has actually asked me to wear this one! I'd love to try the extrait. The eau de parfum is pretty potent so I'm curious as to how the stronger extrait would wear. I'm not certain if I could convince the Sheikh it's imperative that we buy a $600 bottle of parfum for me to try though ;)

What's your favorite perfume?
Any new white florals or tuberoses out there you think I should know about?
I am anxiously awaiting Gabrielle (the new Chanel tuberose)!
Hope your Summer went well and you're ready for a glorious Fall!

Sep 4, 2017

Monsoon Blooms & Eid al-Adha 2017



As the Monsoon winds down the holidays begin in South Asia! We celebrated Eid al-Adha this weekend with plenty of treats and my summer garden is still blooming. Above is the very buggy and messy but beautiful rose of Sharon in luminous lavender and cerise pink.


A gorgeous double apricot hibiscus is one of the few flowers that consistently endures the constant rain and humid heat of the Monsoon. 


This is a blackberry lily or leopard lily. Belamcanda chinensis is actually not a lily at all but a member of the iris family. In the US I've only seen these grow to about 3 feet tall but here in Nepal they grow to an amazing 5 feet in height. 


If you're wondering why they're called blackberry lilies it's because the flowers are followed by shiny dark purple seed pods that look like blackberries.


And yes, it was one of the holiest days of the Islamic calendar, Eid al-Adha! Also known as Baed Eid or the Feast of Sacrifice, it's a celebration of the sacrifice Abraham almost made when he was commanded by Allah to kill his son, Ishmael. Abraham was about to kill his son, (who was a willing offering) when Allah stopped him and rewarded him for passing this test of devotion.


Here are our guests of honor! We opted for proper sheep this year. (NOT @#$%%!! GOATS) I prefer the long-haired mountain goats called chang-rah but it was too hot for them to come down from the mountains yet. Anything's better than goat in my humble opinion.



I did some baking last week for the celebration. Date and crispy rice laddoos are on the top tier, chocolate crinkle cookies on the second tier, and a new recipe I'm trying out for eggless sugar cookies on the bottom. Trying to bake with random electricity outages is a PAIN!


Snacks a'plenty were served alongside numerous pots of noon chai (salt tea) and masala chai (spicy tea).

Here's what's in those bowls- Haldiram's! Haldiram's is kind of like the Frito-Lay of India. Founded in 1937 they are a major Indian sweets and snacks manufacturer. Personally, I think they make the best snacks on the planet! Spicy, salty, sweet, crispy, crunchy- with over a 100 different products Haldiram's has you covered! My favorites are any of the savory and spicy fried chickpeas, a great low carb treat.



The Sheikh (my husband) bought some local ghee and honey for the occasion. We live towards the edge of town and porters carrying goods from the mountains come walking by our house frequently. One porter was selling this 'homely' ghee and honey so the Sheikh bought all his wares. That was one happy porter! That's like a good 3 liters of ghee and at least a liter of honey. (The teacup is in the photo for size reference.) There's enough ghee and honey there for at least 3 years in our house so I gave some to the maid. The honey is quite floral while the ghee is very smoky in taste. The smoky flavor in the ghee is from being rendered over a wood burning chulo or stove in the mountains. I like to put a scant tablespoonful in meat curries and dal for richness and smoky flavor. Any more than a tablespoonful though and your dish will have a distinct and unpleasant creosote note.



And here's the inevitable food coma after partaking of all the goodies! The kitties crashed on Bibi's potting bench after feasting upon mutton all day. My potting bench is probably the only shady and dry spot outdoors in the yard. Those are some very happy kitties!

Hope all of you who celebrate Eid had a happy one!
How's your Summer going where you're at?
Ready for Fall?

Calmly Currying on,
Bibi

Aug 21, 2017

Ladies in red: Time for Teej!


Last Friday the Hindu festival of Teej began in Nepal! Teej is dedicated to the Goddess Parvati and commemorates her marriage to Lord Shiva. The three day long festival is primarily celebrated by women and involves feasting, fasting, dancing, singing, worship, prayers, and ritual bathing.


Lord Shiva and his wife the Goddess Parvati are deities in Hinduism. Lord Shiva is often pictured with a serpent around his neck, adorned with a crescent moon, the holy river Ganga flowing from his hair, and a third eye on his forehead. The Goddess Parvati is often pictured as beautiful, benevolent, and wearing a red sari. She is the Hindu deity of love, devotion, and fertility. Parvati is also the daughter of King Himavan, lord of the Himalayas, and thus has special importance in Nepal. 


Teej is said to be held upon the date of the marriage of Lord Shiva to the Goddess Parvati and is symbolic of the perfect union of male and female. Thus Parvati is the primary deity of Teej which celebrates married life and family ties. Above is a photo of a Shiva-Parvati temple in Nepal. See the images of the divine couple looking out the window of their temple in the above photo.


The red velvet mite (Trombidium) is called teej or rain bugs. This insect only appears during the monsoon season. It is thought that the mite is named after the festival, or possibly vice versa. Red, green, and gold are the auspicious colors of this festival.

Unfortunately I arrived at this Teej banquet a bit late, the ladies were already feasting so I didn't get a pic of the beautiful food.
The first day of Teej is called Dar Khane Din. It is a day of feasting. In Nepali, daro khana (दर्हो खाना) means heavy or rich food and din means day. Women work hard throughout the year but not have to do anything on this day. The feast is hosted by the menfolk. The women spend the day indulging themselves in sorha singaar - dressing up in their best clothing, adorning themselves with jewelry, eating delicious food, dancing, and singing. This is the only day of the year that allows women full freedom of expression here in Nepal. Consequently, women have traditionally used this occasion to commiserate and complain in the songs they sing while dancing. The celebration sometimes goes on till midnight, after which the 24-hour fast starts.


Often women are invited to multiple feasts. They try to dance off the rich and abundant food so they can eat more. This holiday is a very rare opportunity for married women from rural villages to go to their mother’s home. Parents will send an invitation or someone to bring their daughters to their home a day or two before the festival. The daughters help to prepare of the delicacies for the feast beforehand.


The second day of Teej is the fasting day. Some women fast completely not even taking a drop of water. Some women limit themselves to fruits and liquids. The fasting is to gain divine favor. The day is also devoted to poojas and prayers. Married women dress in their very finest outfits and jewelry to pray for the longevity, peace, and prosperity of their husband and family. Unmarried women dress in their finest and pray to be blessed with a good spouse. Men are not allowed to enter the most of Shiva Temples on this day.


Many women go to the nearest Shiva temple on the second day of Teej too. The holy Pashupatinath temple in Kathmandu is thronged by women in red to offer prayers to Lord Shiva. Above is a photo of ladies cueing to enter Pashupatinath temple during Teej. Don't be surprised if these ladies bust out in song and dance while waiting!


Women gather in the temple and circumambulate the lingam (pillar-like symbol of Lord Shiva) propitiating it with flowers, sweets, milk, and coins. The saucer-like dish around the base of the lingam represents the Goddess Parvati.


If a temple is not nearby beautifully decorated idols of Shiva and Parvati are offered fruits, flowers, and poojas at home. Above you see a pooja or ritual prayer ceremony by women during Teej. 


The ritual prayers beseeching favor from Shiva and Parvati can also be solitary, simple, and heartfelt as shown in the above photo. The most important part of the pooja is the oil lamp. The lamp should remain burning throughout the night. An oil lamp which burns all night is believed to bring peace and prosperity to husband and family.

Last day of Teej, ladies bathing in the sacred Bagmati river with datiwan leaves
The third and final day of the festival is called Rishi Panchami. After the completion of the previous day's pooja, women pay homage to seven saints or sages or sapta rishi and offer further prayers to deities. A special bath is taken with the leaves and red mud found on the roots of the sacred datiwan bush. This act of purification is the final ritual of Teej. After this cleansing the women are considered absolved from all their misdeeds and transgressions for the year.


Teej celebrates a wife's love and devotion towards her husband as symbolized by the union of Shiva and Parvati. Teej ushers in the advent of the rainy Monsoon season too. Everyone takes a break from the sweltering heat of the Summer to enjoy the festivities and cooling rains. The backbreaking and muddy chore of weeding the rice paddies is done. It's also a rare occasion for married women to visit their parents and return with gifts for their in-laws and spouse. As with most festivals, Teej provides an opportunity to renew family bonds.

Hope all is well wherever you're at in the world! 
Any festivities going on where you're at? Do tell!

Bibi

Aug 14, 2017

Monsoon Misery: 49 dead, 17 missing


Yep, the Monsoon is in full swing here in Nepal. Forty nine dead and seventeen missing in floods and landslides since Friday. Heavy rains are pelting northeastern India and Nepal forcing the evacuations of more than 13,000 people and threatening to trigger unprecedented river flooding. Infectious waterborne nasties are soon to follow. The death toll is predicted to rise. 

Basically here's what happens every year during the Monsoon: it rains a lot from mid June and throughout August. As in everything from torrential downpours to constant drizzling. All the rain that falls in the Himalayas drains downwards onto India. The swampy delta-like areas along the south of the Himalayas where the water drains is called the Terai. On the map above you can see the areas of the Terai highlighted in bright green along the southernmost border of Nepal. There are very few dams, drainage projects, nor any sort of water management systems in place here. 

via
And this is what happens every year: the Terai floods. Every. Single.Year.

via
And thousands are displaced. And rescue and relief efforts are launched.

via
And lives are lost. These are the bodies of three children whom were in their house when it collapsed in a flood on Saturday. This was in the Terai town of Nepalgunj. That debris you see is what's left of the house. 

via
 And livelihoods destroyed. This is a cornfield destroyed by floods in Dang on the Inner Terai on Saturday. The Terai has the most perfect rich loamy soil for growing just about any crop you could want. Every Monsoon brings new, fresh topsoil down from the Himalayas.

via
And livestock destroyed. This is what's left after the flood on Saturday at a chicken farm in Dang. Another livelihood destroyed. 

via
This is a section of the East-West Highway that was flooded this weekend. This is the same road we drive to Kathmandu on. 


But here in Nepal we have a saying, "Athithi Devo Bhava", which means "the guest is God." Above you see tourists being rescued on elephants. This picture was taken at the popular jungle safari resort of Sauraha in Chitwan located on the Terai. Hotels were forced to shift their guests to higher floors as water rushed in.


Around 600 tourists were stranded due to flooding. Elephants were used to transport tourists to the nearest open highway and airport to help them return to the capital Kathmandu. How's that for hospitality, eh? Supposedly the Nepali government is sending rubber rafts to help evacuation efforts. I'll bet there are more elephants in Nepal than rubber rafts!

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Doesn't look like we'll be flying anywhere soon. This is the airport at Biratnagar. I think I'll wait for the elephants.


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This was the damage when a local river overflowed it's banks in our district last Wednesday. Twelve homes were destroyed. Fortunately there were no human casualties as the village had been evacuated. But four goats, one cow, and 225 chickens were swept away.

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And life goes on. Inevitably homes will be rebuilt in the flood zone. Crops will be replanted in the flood zone. Livestock will be raised again in the flood zone. And the same thing will happen again next year. As it has for generations. Last year 102 Nepalis perished in the first week of August from floods and landslides.

We're averaging about an inch a day of precipitation in our little valley this August.  I think I'm sprouting webs between my toes! ;)
How's your Summer going?
Hope you're high & dry wherever you are!

Bibi

Jul 31, 2017

Monsoon Mayhem: Murder, Matrimony, Rubbish, & Makeup


Yes indeed, the Monsoon has begun in all it's miserable muggy buggy glory! Above you see an example of the ongoing carnage in my garden. I was deadheading the Mexican sunflowers when that pale green spider leapt up and savaged that poor little European honeybee. Flies of some sort soon joined in the gruesome feast. The dismemberment and digestion of that poor murdered honeybee went on for a few hours. I grabbed my phone and snapped this photo as I'd never seen a honeybee attacked like this. What's even more amazing: I can hold a tiny, moderately priced piece of technology in my hand and snap a photo with such incredible detail with minimal photography skills. Then I can miraculously pop it on the internet for all the world to see in minutes! What wondrous times we live in, eh?


That very night a violent squall blustered down from the Annapurnas and completely flattened my humongous hedge of Mexican sunflowers. The storm only lasted about an hour but it knocked down two of the neighbors' banana trees too. The Mexican sunflowers had grown to an incredible seven feet in height. Above you see all that is left of the Mexican sunflowers. After tossing them on the compost heap I gathered some seed heads to dry and a few last cut flowers for a farewell bouquet. Those big aluminum American cookie sheets work well for drying herbs and seeds and such. I shall have Mexican sunflowers now in perpetuity.


@$^&@!!! snails have been ravaging the tomato crop!!! At least finish eating the tomato rather than just eating a hole through you rude !@#$%^&!! snails.


While I was hanging clothes to dry on the roof one morning a russet-hued cloud of these dragonflies arose from the vacant lot/swamp next door. All whirring and clickety-clacking and coppery glinting in the sun. These dragonflies are a bit smaller than the ones we had in California. California dragonflies come in all sorts of wild colors like metallic peacock blues, gossamer greens, and iridescent purples. The dragonflies here in Nepal are all that reddish brown. The dragonfly in the photo above alit on the clothesline and began chattering at me. Upon closer inspection his wings were a bit cattywompus and floppy. You can see his top wing still had a bend in the tip. As he sunned himself the wings unfurled and straightened out. I'm guessing there was a mass hatching and that whirring noise was a lot of newly hatched damp and wrinkly dragonfly wings.


Who's this coming down our street? He sure looks happy (NOT). This young man is part of our fairly new household waste collection system. In Nepal residents must haul their trash to a waste collection vehicle which makes frequent stops around each neighborhood. You don't put your bin to the curb on a designated day of the week as one does in western countries. The waste collectors indicate their presence by honking a loud horn. The man in the above photo is walking before the trash collection vehicle (the green truck) honking a large and loud horn that goes WANK-AAH WANK-AAH WANK-AAH!!! It sounds like a rodeo clown horn to me.


The sound of that horn is Bibi's cue to drop everything, grab the full garbage bags hanging on the back fence, and run like heck to the front gate. Of course the kitties have to check out what all the excitement is about. Ms Dawg is poised for action too- she's sleeping under the chinaberry tree across the street out of frame though. There isn't any schedule, rhyme, nor reason as to when the garbage collectors show up. Last month they came two consecutive Tuesday afternoons then they didn't show up at all for three weeks.


And then sometimes they don't even stop! Looks like Bibi's going to have to drop the camera and run to toss her bags to the guy in the back. Wheee!!! A few years ago we were just left to fend for ourselves as far as waste disposal went. What didn't get sold to the kabadiwalla, composted, or burned was buried or nocturnally tossed into the vacant lot.


Mission accomplished! So there's the waste collection vehicle lumbering on down the road after I've thrown my rubbish bags up to the guy at the back of the truck. I guess they aren't working for tips. Every time there's a different crew. The time before this the entire crew was a bit drunk. When I handed the bags up to the guy at the back of the truck he grabbed my arm and started to pull me into the truck! Thankfully Ms Dawg loudly, viciously, and vehemently intervened and I escaped unscathed. Which may be the reason the waste collection vehicle isn't even slowing down by our house. 


A Monsoon wedding on our street! Here's the groom's party returning after fetching his beautiful bride to be. They're a jiggy lot aren't they? They may be few in number but they're certainly festive! I've noticed that most of the marriages in agrarian families take place during the Monsoon. City folks seem get married in Winter.


This lady wins Bibi's award for best outfit of the decade. Shout out to Ms Wintour, Mr Lagerfeld, Mr Jacob, Mr Ford, Ms Versace, & the gang! This is true GLAMOUR. This is how it's done. Timeless, elegant, classic style that works no matter what the trends. This is how pink should be worn. This works for the red carpet as well as an outdoor summer wedding. Suitable for any size, skin tone, or figure. From the pale gold choli (blouse) to the zari stitching on the border of the sari this is bomb, hundo p, slayin' and then some. Nepal might be beyond the arse end of nowhere but fashion never passed us by! All that and she's got a matching quilted clutch and bangles. Probably a matching beaded dupatta/scarf and bejeweled lamé  jootisslippers too. Dang. I need that outfit! 

#sheslays



And here's the lucky couple! I don't know. I kind of feel sorry for the bride. But I love this photo because if you look closely the bride's eyes are glowing. I'm not sure if she's terrified, angry, demon possessed, or if the sequins on her veil are just reflecting oddly. Maybe all three? Anywho, the groom looks thrilled and so does the boy on his left. 


Last month was my birthday and the Sheikh surprised me with some makeup! The Sheikh gifted me an entire selection of products from GOSH Cosmetics of Denmark. I'd never heard of the brand but apparently it's a new line carried by my favorite little makeup store in our little town. Gosh is priced on the high end of drugstore cosmetics so I was curious to test these products out. By the sleek and chic looks of the packaging and product they're trying to compete with trendy brands like MAC and Urban Decay.


Above you see the Smokey Nudes 002 palette which consists of 5 matte and 5 pearl shades. The palette is rather luxuriously packaged in a very sturdy black vinyl laminated cardboard case with a very secure magnetic closure, a mirror, and a typically useless brush. It's definitely meant to be a dupe of the iconic Urban Decay Naked palettes with it's rectangular pans and gradient layout. There weren't very many positive reviews for Gosh eyeshadows online. The palette is made in PRC. As with most eyeshadows from PRC the shadows very pigmented but unfortunately so dry and hard in the pan you can barely load your brush with it. Seriously, some of these are like pans of watercolor paints. When you eventually scrape up enough eyeshadow it applies well and is blendable. Overall you've got your basic tans, taupes, and browns of varying intensities you'd see in any nude palette. Not much really screams "smokey" in this palette to me. The darkest shade you see on the far left of the palette is a charcoal gray not a deep, intense black. I'm of the opinion that any palette that dares to call itself smokey must have a deep, intense black!!! The pearl shades are so faint they may as well be satins. To really be 'on trend' those pearl/shimmer/satin accent shades should have been bold metallics or brilliant jewel tones. Other that it's been a fun palette to play with. I've never owned one of these huge palettes with multiple shades that have become so popular. I've had quads, trios, and duos of various brands though. I don't think I'd choose a 10 pan palette with this much brown in it. Most of the looks you get with just these shades are too similar. But the Sheikh (or the lady at the makeup store) and bought this too:


Gosh's To Party in London was the other palette the Sheikh bought for me. Housed in a sturdy and chic heavy black plastic case this palette of 9 metallic shadows is made in Italy. These shadows have the opposite problem as the ones in the Smokey Nudes palette- they are so ridiculously buttery and soft you'll gouge a huge hole in them if you use a brush! So I just pat these on with my finger gently and then blend them out on the lid with a brush. The metallic effect is a fine shimmer not glitter and can easily be built up in intensity to an almost foiled effect. To get these shadows to really pop it's best to layer them over a matte dark gray or black. It just so happens the 'on trend' look this Fall is the "metallic smokey eye"! So Bibi is all set to be hip and happenin' as far as eye makeup goes between these two palettes! My only complaint with these metallic shadows is that they fade to a light wash of color after about four to five hours. This is a common problem with metallic eyeshadows even in high end brands though. Gravity takes it's toll on the the heavy bits of mica that give the metallic effect and they fall off. There are special primers to deal with this type of fallout. Overall I've had fun playing with this palette too. It took me about two weeks to realize there were three colorways going in this palette. At first I just though it was just an accent palette of glamour shades for party looks. But if you look at the rows going left to right you'll see there's a theme to each one. The top row in neutral toned with pink shimmer in a champagne, rusty brown, and chocolate brown. The middle row is warm toned with gold shimmer in a pale gold, saffron orange, and a sienna brown. The bottom row is cool toned with a lilac shimmer running through a pale silver, lavender, and anthracite gray. All rows have a highlight, midtone, and deep shade for at least 3 very different complete looks! 


So here's a FOTD by GOSH I did on my birthday. Yes, Bibi reverts to a 5 year old when she gets new makeup and has to try out everything immediately. I'm also wearing GOSH Foundation Plus Cover + Conceal in shade 002and GOSH lipliner pencil in the shade Dusty Rose. The foundation/concealer and lipliner pencil are actually really good quality. Both applied easily, wore comfortably, and lasted a good 6-7 hours. My nose looks a bit chalky because I set it with an Essence transparent fixing powder that apparently is not photo-friendly. I really wouldn't recommend the eyeshadows as I think you can get much better quality for less money from other drugstore brands like Wet-N-Wild or Coastal Scents. Eyeshadows seem to be a difficult thing for drugstore level products to get right. Another thing about those two GOSH palettes- I can not find a listing or review online for them anywhere! There is another Smokey Nude palette by GOSH I found online that has plums, purples, and an inky navy blue shade but not the same as mine.  I could not find the To Party in London metallic palette listed anywhere. No reviews, no eBay listings, no mention on the GOSH website- NADA. The little makeup store where the Sheikh bought these gets big boxes of all sorts of odds and ends from European cosmetic companies. Testers, limited editions from years ago, things that are not 'first quality,' and just stuff that did not sell. I wonder if these were just products that were never released or discontinued before launching due to quality issues or what? My Swedish girlfriend says she thinks these were a 'gift with purchase' last Fall. Anywho, no point reviewing products that no one can buy anywhere, eh?

That's all the excitement around here. It's been drizzling here for 3 days straight. Great weather if you're a frog! 
How's your Summer going?

Calmly Currying on,
Bibi



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