Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Makes Scents to Me (Part II)

            I’m not sure of the exact date my preference in scents switched from those that came in a bottle to those that came from plants. But while I don’t recall the exact date, I do recall the incident that brought me to my current “scentses.”

The sweetheart roses which
began my outside
"scent"imental journey.
             One spring evening a few years ago, I was sitting in my little outside alcove—can’t really call it a porch—and caught a whiff of the sweetheart roses on a bush near my front door. Nothing heavy, just a light aroma wafting on the evening breeze. Up to that point, my plant choices had been mainly based on sight—what had showy blossoms, what provided the most color, what filled out space the best. But that evening, as I breathed in that airy sweetness, I made the conscious decision to consider my sense of smell in future planting. And I also began making the effort to appreciate the fragrant gifts of plants already established. So these days, I no longer linger at the Dillard’s or Macy’s perfume counter, inhaling the floral or musky scents provided there. Instead, I do my lingering outside—more specifically, in my own yard—and enjoy the offerings from the most creative perfumer of all, Mother Nature.

The smell from this lilac bush is especially sweet since it was a rescue plant and cost me next to nothing!


Does anything beat the heady scent of honeysuckle in full bloom...

unless it's jasmine?

And don't forget the mouthwatering aromas of fresh herbs. My all-time favorite...fresh basil. Even if I'm not going to cook with it, I'll crush a leaf in my fingers and inhale.

Knockout roses are appreciated more for their blooms than their scent, but I've found if you get up close and personal and inhale deeply, they'll reward you with a subtle rosy aroma.


This beauty doesn't actually belong to me. It's in my neighbors' yard. But since it's on the edge of their property, I sneak over and "borrow" a whiff  from time to time. Even this bee can't resist its citrusy reminder of southern summers.

         A disclaimer: Lest, I give the impression I live in the middle of a sprawling garden like those featured in Southern Living, I don’t. I don’t even live in a charming, nostalgic neighborhood with lush cottage gardens and picket fences. I live in an ordinary suburban neighborhood, on an ordinary-sized lot, most of which is covered with ordinary green grass. But “blooming where I’m planted,” I try to make the most of my limited space and my limited horticultural abilities. And these days, I'm happy with that! 
          Do you have a favorite perfume offered up by Mother Nature? Please share!

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Makes Scents to Me (Part I)

Back in the day, this
little bottle couldn't have
cost more than 25 cents.
Today, it's listed on eBay
for $35!!!
            The very first scent I can ever remember using was Tinkerbell toilet water. Actually, I think it belonged to my sister, but that didn’t stop me from “borrowing” it. I’d liberally douse myself with its sweetness before I headed outside to play. The scent lingered about as long as it took the alcohol in the water to evaporate, and that most likely was a good thing. The smell of baby-powder mixed with a six-year-old's sweat couldn’t have been a good combination.

Those of a certain age
will remember this
iconic blue bottle.

            From Tinkerbell, I graduated to Evening in Paris, which once again I borrowed--this time from my mother. In fact, it was the very bottle I’d bought for her at Woolworth’s for Christmas. For some reason, she didn’t use it much herself.

           Junior high and high school found me reeking of Heaven Sent. I didn't personally care for the smell all that much, but the TV ads insisted it would make me "a little bit naughty but heavenly," or   --I'm almost too embarrassed to write this-- like "an imp wearing angel wings." So I went with it. 

            My first gift of perfume from a boy was—what else in the late ‘60s?—Youth Dew by Estee Lauder. I loved it then, but now...pee-YOO! And as I think back on it, I suspect the boyfriend might have distributed several bottles of it. pee-YOO to him, too.
My dislike of this perfume might
have more to do with its
association to a certain boyfriend
rather than the actual scent.

            Fortunately, in the ensuing years, my taste in smells (does that even make sense?) grew more sophisticated and, I hope, more subtle. And these days, my favorite fragrances don’t come from a fancy bottle at all. The original intent of this post was to write about those, but as you can see I got sidetracked. I hope you'll check out my next post when I share my current favorite perfumer. 
           In the meantime, do you have some nasal nostalgia you'd care to share?


Sunday, June 8, 2014

Spilling the Beans about Bush's Beans

            Remember in National Lampoon's Vacation when Clark Griswold is excited about seeing the "second largest ball of twine on the face of the earth"? Well, I’m with Clark on that one. For me, one of the best parts of a vacation is discovering those little known, off-the-beaten-path places that don’t attract swarms of tourists but do give a unique peek into a region or event. And with that mindset, last week, while on a rather impromptu vacation, Bill and I jumped at the chance to visit the Bush Brothers Visitor Center in Chestnut Hill, TN. No, not those Bush brothers, but the Bush brothers of bean fame. You know—Jay Bush and his golden retriever Duke, and the secret family recipe, and “beautiful bean footage”?
            I can hear you asking, “How interesting can beans be?” I asked myself the same thing when a guy at the hotel suggested we take in that particular attraction. But when he described it as a little “funky,” he caught my attention. If nothing else, it offered a refreshing alternative to chain restaurants, water slide parks, and miniature golf. So we decided to check it out, and—to answer, the above question—"If you don't know beans about beans, pretty dang interesting!”
            To save you the verbal equivalent of “slides of my vacation,” I’ll just provide this link to the visitor center—along with a few highlights and a couple of pictures to prove I really was there.
§  A beautiful drive through the lush, verdant foothills of the Smoky Mountains

The Bush family homestead in the
quaint town of Chestnut Hill
§  An on-site restaurant with very tasty food, including bean of the day appetizers and a pecan pie made of—are you ready for this?—pinto beans
                   §  A small museum which provides interesting history of the company's beginnings and
                      some amazing facts about the bean canning and distribution process (Please don't
                      tell me to get a life.)

§  A cute country store with lots of Bush's Beans gimcrack to choose from

Me with local celebrities--Duke and Jay.

A handy and useful souvenir--
a tea towel!


         Now, before I create a tourist assault on this quiet, unpretentious bit of Americana, let me say that I wouldn’t plan a two-week vacation around it. But if you happen to be in the area, give it a visit. Chestnut Hill is not your ordinary hill of beans.   
            Like I said, I love side trips to out-of-the-way places. Any favorites you'd be willing to share with me?