Saturday, March 20, 2004

A passion for cardamom

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Cardamom is a spice that people in the area of the world from the Middle East to South Asia use to flavor coffee and tea. It is also popular in Scandinavian baking.

Badger Lip & Body Balm, Chai Rose

This aromatic spice may be found in Badger Lip and Body Balm in Chai Rose, "an exotic mélange of Cardamom, Rose and Vanilla"

Speaking of chai, here is my recipe for Indian chai (adapted from the More-With-Less Cookbook):

Boil 1 Tablespoon loose black Tea in 1 cup (250 ml) to 1-1/2 cup (375 ml) water (depending on strength) in a saucepan for 5-10 min

Add 1 cup (250 ml) to 1-1/2 cup (375 ml) warm milk (you can preheat milk in the microwave). Toss in a cinnamon stick (break in half), a few whole cloves, and a few cracked cardamom pods. Heat to nearly boiling.

Pour everything - including the loose tea, cinammon stick, cloves, and cardamom pods - into a teapot. This will allow for extra time to steep the chai. You may warm the teapot beforehand by adding a small amount of boiling water to the pot and then draining the pot.

Pour and strain tea into tea cups. Add sugar or honey, if desired.

Serve with cookies or crystallized ginger.

Hint: you're paying for the packaging when you purchase tiny bottles of spices at the supermarket. Go instead to an Asian market where they sell spices in cellophane bags.

Hint: Do not use cardamon powder. As Andrew Dalby notes in his book Dangerous Tastes: The Story of Spices, the seeds soon lose their aroma when they are removed from the pod.

Thursday, March 18, 2004

AlterNet: Women Deserve "More"

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Women Deserve More, by Sheila Gibbons of Media Report to Women is an interesting article about the ambivalence of MORE, "the one magazine that celebrates women over 40," towards its target audience. The host web site AlterNet describes itself as "a project of the Independent Media Institute, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening and supporting independent and alternative journalism" and is liberal-to-leftist in its orientation.

Kudos to Marlene Eskin, who identified this article through the 2004-03-18 update (select What's New) of

I plan to read Spin Sisters : How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness --- and Liberalism --- to the Women of America, written by Myrna Blyth, founding editor-in-chief and publishing director of MORE magazine. As you can see, views expressed on about Spin Sisters are strongly divided, with some thinking that Ms. Blyth is reinventing herself as a conservative pundit.

Tuesday, March 16, 2004

What Guys Want

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I picked up a copy of the premiere issue of CARGO, the men's version of Lucky magazine.


I've been a fan of Lucky from the beginning. The main purpose of women's magazines is to deliver their audiences to the advertisers. Magazines such as Vogue often have a disconnect between articles on social and political issues on one hand and opulent fashion spreads on the other. (Yes, I know that I'm writing this after sending two messages to The Style Page e-group about the terrorist attacks in Madrid - a member from Malaysia unsuscribed that day. Coincidence?) Lucky, I think, is much more honest in that it dispenses with everything except delivering the audience to its advertisers.

But anyway, back to Cargo. Whereas Lucky focuses on fashion, beauty, and lifestyle, Cargo focuses on "Tech" (consumer electronics), Style, Cars, and Culture. "Culture" here is a catchall that encompasses interior decoration and food & drink, as "culture" on Queer Eye for the Straight Guy is a catchall that includes etiquette and nice manners. Another difference is that Cargo is much more wordy than Lucky - are guys really more concerned with how things perform, while women are more concerned with how things look, or is that just a myth?

I was rather turned off by the blatant approach to sex in Cargo. There is a short feature on the Trovata clothing design team, whose T-shirts and cargo pants feature "nudie" graphics, another feature on buying roses that says that peach-colored roses mean "Sheer lust, Baby," and lastly, a feature on what to wear on a third date, as many women say that they'd go to bed with a man by the third date.

I can't resist bringing up Queer Eye again. The thing that I like about Queer Eye, and what I suspect that many other women like, is that it's about pleasing the woman in one's life and romance. Cargo, on the other hand, is more about getting laid.

BTW Cargo's interior design feature was done by Thom Filicia, Queer Eye's "Design Doctor," who just signed a contact to serve as a spokesman for Pier 1.

Thursday, March 11, 2004

Cosmetics Settlement Could Mean Free Makeup

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High-end cosmetics brands and retailers were defendants in a class action suit alleging that they were involved in keeping the price of cosmetics artificially. They decided to settle rather than risk going to court. The final hearing for the approval of the settlement is scheduled for June 8.

For more information, see Cosmetics Settlement Could Mean Free Makeup

Telegraph | Fashion | Return of the shops that time forgot

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An article on "bijou beauty boutiques" from The Telegraph(UK):

All brands mentioned in this article, with the exceptions of Scent Systems and Zarvis, are already listed on The Style Page. Scent Systems and Zarvis will be included in the April 2004 update of The Style Page.

Tuesday, March 09, 2004

A passion for sandalwood

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Sandalwood is my favorite fragrance. It is typically used as a base note in a perfume blend.

Sandalwood is a slow-growing tree. The June/July 2003 issue of Real Simple featured the story of Michelle Rose, a former flight attendant who is trying to bring back sandalwood to Hawaii. The first partial sandalwood harvest won't be until 2028, and the first full sandalwood harvest won't be until 2053.

I'm not big on wearing perfume, but my first "signature" scent was the single-note Sandalwood perfume from Floris of London. Now I like Annick Goutal's Heure Exquise, a blend of "Turkish rose, a gentle powdery base of iris from Florence and Mysore sandalwood."

Annick Goutal Heure Exquise Eau de Toilette

Here are other sandalwood-fragranced products worth noting:

Mysore Sandal soap- the original. A guest size bar will fragrance the entire bathroom.

Splash Bath & Body Gold Rush soap - a unique blend of lemon, cinammon, and sandalwood. Regrettably, I don't see it among Splash's current products.

Ohm by Olay Sandalwood & Chamomile Body Wash - this is a mildly fragranced moisturizing body wash, which comes in a light blue color.

Sunday, March 07, 2004

How to Clean the Bathroom

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I took a bath using the ME! Bath Ice Cream bomb in Vanilla Purity, which turned my bathtub into an oil slick. It was time to clean the bath tub and the whole bathroom, in which case I decided to offer some tips on cleaning bathrooms.

I like using Marla ("FlyLady") Cilley's (search "FlyLady" on The Style Page) approach to cleaning tubs and sinks: fill the tub or sink with hot water, add chlorine bleach, and let sit for one hour. Afterwards, scrub the tub or sink with scouring powder (I like Bon Ami). If you wish, you can wipe down the tub or sink with a window cleaner like Windex. Be careful if you decide to subscribe to her e-group! I did, setting the option to "individual mails" and my Email box was flooded!
Swiffer starter kit

One hour gives you a lot of time to do other things - set the kitchen timer for one hour and find out. Clean the toilet - 3M has come out with the Scotch-Brite Disposable Toilet Bowl Scrubbericon with built-in cleaner. Freshen your bath mat by running it in the dryer - I prefer terry cloth bath mats to bath rugs because they're easier to wash and dry. Clean the floor - I use the Swiffer dry mopicon to lift up hair. Empty the trash can and install a new roll of toilet tissue if necessary. I use Lysol disinfectant wipes to clean the interior of the trash can. Housecleaning experts like Don Aslett recommend that you clean top down, but with Marla Cilly's shiny sink, you can't use this approach. At the end, I clean the bathroom mirrors and any chrome fixtures with window cleaner.