Monthly Archives: February 2016

Favorite Budget-Friendly Winter Scents


Every woman knows that a season change brings about a perfume change. Some fragrances are more appropriate for certain times of the year over others. As a rule of thumb, heavier, more full-bodied colognes work better in the winter, while light, fruity, delicate scents are usually better in the summer.

I am by no means an expert at picking out the light nuances or individual notes of perfumes. My ability to explain to someone the “depth” of a fragrance or its “top notes” or how it will “dry down” is significantly lacking. But I know what I like. The products I discuss below are all surprisingly similar, so it appears that I, perhaps, am the one who lacks “depth.”

The following is a list and brief (and probably inaccurate) description of my favorite winter body fragrances that will not break the bank.


Bath and Body Works Twisted Peppermint Body Mist: I start with this because it is, to me, the easiest to explain. It smells like peppermint, as assumed from the name. It also has an equal amount of something sweet — caramel or sugar, maybe? It’s one of my hubby’s favorites.

Bath and Body Works Warm Vanilla Sugar Lotion: While I have — and really like — the body mist version of this popular scent, I especially love how the lotion smells when it dries down. Since I always layer my fragrance on top of lotion, I enjoy that this provides a hint of sweet sugary goodness without competing with whatever perfume I put on top. By the way, the vanilla is a very muted, inoffensive scent — I know that sometimes that straight up fake vanilla smell can be overpowering. This is not. Ever.

Bath and Body Works Dark Kiss Fine Fragrance Mist: I love that this body mist is a little heavier, darker, and longer-lasting than a lot of this brand’s other scents. It smells a little like raspberries and blackberries and a little bit musky vanilla, but not in a gross, outdated way. Throw it in your purse and take it along when you go out dancing on date night.

Bath and Body Works Secret Wonderland Fine Fragrance Mist: I told my husband that if Bath and Body Works ever discontinues this I would literally boycott the brand. I can’t emotionally afford to keep getting attached to smells they discontinue. This particular scent has been my favorite of theirs for years. It is a little fruity — think strawberries and raspberries mixed with peaches — with just a hint of floral, some vanilla, and a tiny bit of coconut. It’s definitely something I would wear, happily, every single day forever.

Snooki Eau De Parfum by Niccole Polizzi: Love her or hate her, the now virtually forgotten reality television star knows how to make a delicious-smelling perfume. This is sweet, cotton-candy and cupcake sugar meets fresh, light floral and powder. I know it doesn’t sound like those things would play well together, but they do and in an adorable pink and purple animal-print bottle! I’m most of the way through the largest size I could find, and when I finish this perfume I will immediately buy another. This is that good.

Pink Sugar Eau De Toilette by Aquolina: This smells caramel-sugary. That is all.

Lucky You Eau De Toilette by Lucky Brand: I started wearing this in college, so every time I spray it, it brings back great memories. I have used up four bottles of this perfume, and I love it as much now as the first day I smelled it. It is, not surprisingly, a fruity floral with a tiny hint of sweetness. It smells clean and has a touch of powder — but does not, in any way, smell like baby powder. It is a little bit heavier but really works for all seasons; I just particularly love it in the winter because it’s warm and comforting.

Victoria’s Secret Noir Tease Eau De Parfum: I used up the body mist and repurchased this version of this dark, sexy, fruity, floral, vanilla fragrance. It is a dupe for the pricier Viva La Juicy (I put one on my left wrist, one on my right, then forgot which was which but can’t tell a difference). It has almost a light caramel-vanilla scent. In fact, I got my sister hooked on this, too, and she hates vanilla. This is also one my hubby compliments every time I wear it.

Victoria’s Secret Love Spell Eau De Toilette: I also own the body mist of this fragrance. It is my signature scent. I’ve worn it since college and it’s my something that my husband always comments on. It’s fruity and a little floral. It’s a sweet, peach-based scent that is instantly recognizable. I would recommend this for a light, day-to-day scent in any season.

If you enjoy any of these, please let me know! Also, if you know of any fragrances similar to this, I’d love some suggestions. Peace and love.



World’s Worst Jobs: Part 2


I am fairly certain that everyone will wake up at least once in the course of their lives thinking, “Man, I really don’t want to go to work today.” If you have not experienced the dread that follows a realization that you must, indeed, change out of your pajamas, take some DayQuil, trudge through the blizzard, and pretend to feel healthy for eight hours, you have likely not had a full-time job on which all of your bills depend. (Side note: if that feeling is a daily occurrence or makes you cry regularly, you probably should consider a life change and start updating your resume. You need to rectify your situation before an actual depression sinks its claws in.)

Carrying on, I will now delve into some more of what I believe would be the worst career choices possible. The options below would cause me great personal angst. If you have not read part 1 of this series, please check it out!

Stunt Double: I realize there are people in the world, known as “adrenaline junkies,” who enjoy jumping off really tall things and sitting in really fast things. I don’t. In fact, I don’t even like the view from a plane as it comes in for a typical landing. So, to spend a lifetime doing the dangerous things a rich celebrity is unable — or unwilling — to do for themselves sounds like a waking nightmare to me. I never want to be on fire, even in a flame-retardant suit while a director yells, “Action!” I will never purposely crash a car, despite the profits a blockbuster might make at my expense. I have a bad back; jumping from a moving train is no longer on my bucket list.

Funeral Director: This business is unappealing to me for many reasons. First and foremost, I cry at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I cry at sad commercials. Once, I was crying for no reason, then started laughing about how I was crying at nothing, then started crying because I was embarrassed. I cannot possibly imagine how people who work at funeral homes can bear to wake up and put on their suits each day. At best, their lives consist of dealing in death, with their entire focus always being consumed with the end of life. “Honey, let’s plan our future together,” exclaims the wife exuberantly. “Why bother?” her funeral home-owning husband replies dejectedly. At worst, they get paid extravagant amounts by grieving families to pretend to care about their lost loved ones.

There will be more to come later in this series, so please keep an eye out! Peace and love.12514074_10207720742392366_2457589951942948995_o.jpg

The “Unpleasant Job” of Being Atticus Finch


In honor of Harper Lee (1926-2016).


mockingbirdIn the novel To Kill a Mockingbird, Miss Maudie perfectly describes the nature of her life-long friend, Atticus, who is a lawyer. Maudie tells his children, “I simply wanted to tell you that there are some men in this world who were born to do our unpleasant jobs for us. Your father’s one of them.”

The nature of his “unpleasant job” in the novel is simple: Atticus defends a black man against the blatantly, undeniably false charges of a white woman in the south in the 1930s. Atticus is ridiculed and threatened by the townspeople, who don’t understand why he is trying so hard to save someone they are convinced is guilty.

Atticus perseveres through the destruction of his reputation. He ignores the whispered criticisms and shrugs off the mocking insults. His belief in doing what is right enables him to wade through the venomous hate, so that he can teach his…

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Book Review: The Dark Half.

Title: The Dark Half
Author: Stephen King
**************************Spoilers Ahead*********************************
Summary: This novel describes a classic case of good versus evil, with the twist that both are sides of the same man, literally and figuratively. Thad Beaumont, a successful writer, struggles against George Stark, the ghost of his twin and the personification of his pen name. Thad attempts to kill his pseudonym by writing an article for People in which he reveals the truth. Stark, enraged, commits a killing spree and murders all involved with the article. Stark then kidnaps Thad’s family in order to force Thad to write another novel, so that Stark may take over Thad’s life. Thad calls upon sparrows — psychopomps of the living dead — to rid himself of Stark — his pseudonym, his double life, his “dark half.”
Reflection: This was my fourth — and only successful — attempt to read this book all the way through. It took forcing myself to watch the movie and then trudge through the agonizingly slow first three chapters to get to the point where I could enjoy the story.
Fun fact: Alan Pangborn is the sheriff of Castle Rock in this and in the novel Needful Things.

Why I Feel Everyone Should Read


I truly and wholeheartedly believe the world would be a better place if everyone considered reading as essential as other daily tasks. I realize that not everyone likes to read; some, in fact, claim to hate it and refuse to voluntarily skim through even a few books a year after they have completed high school.

The result has been, over the last few decades, a disintegration of our civilization on multiple — alarming — levels. As a society, our refusal to read has had detrimental effects: many people’s comprehension, vocabulary, communication, and logical thinking has suffered; they lack basic spelling, usage, and grammar skills; and they have trouble interacting appropriately with others because they are unable to empathize or connect emotionally. Additionally, while people turn away from books and embrace television and Netflix, for example, they are abdicating any responsibility for deep critical thinking or personal growth, as is it common knowledge that binge-watching American Dad cannot replicate the benefits of a focused long-term plot or the in-depth character study offered in books. Furthermore, by wasting time so contentedly on social media outlets like Facebook and Instagram, people are allowing others to dictate their ethics, self-worth, and interests. “Likes” are very important these days, and young people, in particular, will do or say just about anything to earn approval from strangers online.

Being an optimist, I refuse to believe this change to our culture is permanent. I know that reading offers too many benefits to allow it to “go gentle into that good night.” I will continue to promote reading and encourage my students to engage in it regularly. Below are a few reasons why.

Reading serves many purposes. Historically, story-telling was a way to preserve a culture’s beliefs and to pass on its values to younger generations. (In my opinion, it can definitely do the same today.) Problematically, modern-day reading is mainly seen as simply a leisure activity, done with the intention of providing entertainment, and therefore viewed as a “huge waste of time.” A lot of people would just rather “watch the movie.”

Many times, though, people do not realize exactly how much they can take away from reading, in general. We can study a character’s true motivations and analyze the factors that drive their behaviors. We can pick up on clues that a character may be “unreliable” (and, therefore, untrustworthy) through subtle hints and indirect characterization. We can assess the results of a character’s decisions and actions, examining how it impacts his or her life over a long span of time. We can gain insight by familiarizing ourselves with characters from all walks of life, with varying interests, abilities, and personality traits. This can train us for daily interactions with those around us and help us to better know ourselves.

For example, reading a novel which includes characters who are greedy or selfish can subtly demonstrate the danger of such behaviors in our own lives. Similarly, lovable characters can cause readers to forget their own loneliness for a short time, or lead readers to recognize desirable traits that they can adopt for themselves. Sympathetic characters can ease a reader’s feelings of self-pity by opening his or her eyes to other forms of pain and suffering in the world. Heroes fighting against villains — whether successful in their endeavors or not — can teach readers the importance of standing up for what they believe is right.

There are many genres from which to choose, so with enough searching just about everyone can find a novel that suits their interests. Some prefer true-crime documentaries while others enjoy romance novels. Mystery novels are fun because they enable people to piece together information and attempt to make accurate predictions — they keep people engaged. Science-fiction, fantasy, and mythology can expand people’s imaginations while, often, encouraging personal moral decision-making or ethical soul-searching. Nonfiction selections in the self-improvement, history, or autobiography categories are meant to provide useful information and can help people understand themselves and the  world around them more clearly. A few relate best to poetry, as they find that it succinctly expresses their own feelings in unique or unexpected ways, which can be quite comforting. Someone might prefer to read classics, from which they can deduce that, while the world itself has changed greatly over time, human nature and emotions have not.

Reading, most importantly, opens our minds. I have smiled when my favorite characters succeed. I have cried when innocent or helpless characters are killed. I have raged over the injustices characters suffer at the hands of their society. I have been uplifted when characters are able to turn their lives around and make a positive change. I have gained wisdom, courage, and strength from reading about the struggles in other people’s lives. I have educated myself on concepts, ideas, and philosophies about which I had no other way of learning. Reading lets me see the world from many perspectives and experience things I never would otherwise. It allows me to be part of other cultures and travel through time. It helps me to not only visit other worlds, but to live in this one more fully.

Peace and love.11215807_10205957227265590_2406978983197072906_n.jpg

World’s Worst Jobs: Part 1


I am a teacher. Most days, I can’t imagine doing anything else. However, human nature being what it is, my curiosity occasionally gets the better of me. I begin to ask myself, “If I had to choose a different career, what would it be?” The answer almost always comes in the form of a statement beginning with a phrase such as “Well, I’m really glad I am not” or “At least I don’t have to be a”. I have realized, over time, that there are many ways I could end those thoughts, and I genuinely pity the people who earn their bread and butter doing jobs that would make me distraught. Below are a few of the jobs I consider to be the most undesirable. I’m fairly certain they all, at one point in time, were real jobs.

Indian Rat Catcher: I will admit up front that I have a phobia of rodents. So, when I saw a documentary about the existence and necessity of professional rat catchers in India on the History Channel (or Discovery or the Travel Channel or TLC or whatever), I was simultaneously disgusted and intrigued. The special focused on a family whose business was currently, had always been, and will, assumedly, forever be catching and killing rats. Their unfortunate career pays much less than a living wage and earns them a place in the “untouchable” class in the social caste system. The family earns so little money, in fact, that they are forced to survive by eating the rats they have killed. Yes. You read that correctly. They can barely afford food, so THEY EAT GIANT FIELD RATS EVERY DAY. The documentary went on to discuss potential dangers of eating rodents, most notably the possibility of dying from a disease the unsanitary rats may have had. According to further research I have done, the Mumbai pest control department hires over forty employees as rat catchers, who must each kill at least thirty rats per night or they don’t get paid. This is a job created from my worst nightmare. I just can’t even.

Plumber for Sports Stadiums: Admittedly, I would not enjoy being a plumber in any capacity, but I feel true pity for the unfortunate soul hired to snake the toilets after the Superbowl. Whatever that professional is getting paid, it is nowhere near enough to compensate for the unfathomable hideousness that fills his evening.

Executioner: “Hey, Ma — I got the job! I start killing people on Monday!” I literally cannot imagine how anyone who gets paid to end people’s lives are able to sleep at night. I hit a pheasant with my car on the way to work one morning, and I was inconsolable. I called my husband crying. I couldn’t even pull the feathers off the bumper myself — I asked my coworker to do it (he seemed understanding but also a little annoyed). So, how does someone hired to be a professional murderer handle it? My gut instinct is that anyone who applies for this job is a sociopath, though I obviously have no credible knowledge or expertise backing that statement up. So, is there some sort of training involved (perhaps a good deal of brainwashing or hypnosis)? What are the qualifications on someone’s resume that make him or her a stand-out candidate for the position? What skill set makes one employable in this career field? What questions do they ask your previous employer? And, before you assume I “don’t support the death penalty,” let me be clear that I am not taking a position for or against it. I’m only saying I’m really, really glad that I’m not the one who pulls the lever. I clearly could not handle it.

That concludes this edition of “World’s Worst Jobs.” There are many more to come. Check out Part 2. Also, if you have some suggestions of awful jobs, I’d love to hear them!

Peace and love.10357778_10207715834429670_3686997172492148899_o.jpg