Tag Archives: videos

The Senses of Scents

I had to pick my jaw up from the floor after watching the new J’Adore commercial. Wow! It’s so glamorous and glitzy, oozing with opulence, luminous and golden. The radiant Charlize Theron blew me away, and with Galerie des Glaces, Grace Kelly, Marlene Dietrich, and Marilyn Monroe caught in beautiful moments — it all engulfs the film with timeless magic, the past converging with the present. It all just got me thinking…

Fragrances are just about smells, right? Well, it may seem to be so at first, but eventually experience will reveal it to be otherwise. We buy perfumes and colognes to feel good, and more often than not, what makes us feel good is not confined to the scent. Smell ends up as a mere factor in combination with a whole bunch of other emotional values other than olfactory ones.

It’s not a bad thing. It’s just how we people are wired. We are reservoirs of emotions, memories and subconscious yearnings.

So just what are these fragrance ingredients that have nothing to do with fragrance?

Designer origins

A fashionable lineage gives a scent instant personality long before it is released to the world, long before it had a name, when it was just a glimmer in the eye of its designer parent.

Case in point — Chanel No. 5, Carolina, Diorissimo, Versace Men, all derivative names of designer houses. The creator of a dress you’d love to put on would probably make a scent you’d want to wear.

Potent Names

What’s in a name? Letters, sounds, meanings. It is the nature of words to come packed with some kind of psychological wallop. Some are subtle, some are not. Emblazoning a word on a bottle bestows all that power to the liquid within.

Consider the names: Eternity, Pleasures, Happy, Romance, Cool Waters, J’Adore
Imagine the feelings elicited by dabbing each of these names on your wrist.

So greatly do these bright and light names stand out against each other, while even more deeply contrasting with names with darker themes like Poison, Opium, Envy, Guilty, Obsession, Insensé. Think of how you’ll feel when you touch these scents to your throat.

Sculptural Bottles

Perfume bottles are gallery-worthy works of art that you can put on a dresser. They come angular or curvy, sparkly and faceted, or smooth and sleek, entrancing you with their gorgeousness even before you smell them.

Celebrity Factor

Whether we know it or not, we want to be the people we admire — whether it’s J.Lo, SJP, Beyonce, Michael Jordan, or the Old Spice Guy. So when these fabulous individuals give their name to a fragrance, or appear in print ads and commercials, we subconsciously get that if we could spritz on whatever it is they spritz on, we can acquire some of their magic.

Striking Images

Perfume ads are some of the most striking images you’ll find in a magazine, loaded with  subtext, representing feelings and concepts that we like to flash in our heads whenever we dab some on.

Kirsten poses with a lion in this Bulgari Jasmin Noir ad

This has all the bases covered -- designer brand, sexy name, and Evan Rachel Wood in a raunchy photograph.

Posted in Culture, Design, Fashion | Tagged , ,

Food and Film Combo Treats

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

A screen shot from the Japanese movie, "Tampopo"

I think we can agree that food is more than mere biological necessity, given the great pleasure we take in its creation as in its consumption. We enjoy food with all of our senses, sight, sound, smell, taste, touch — and with our whole being, body, mind, soul, and spirit. Food is not just food, a meal is not just about eating. Mealtimes cement relationships, and mark celebrations, and are inextricably chained to memories.

And when films are written around and about food, there truly is great magic — even when the film is Supersize Me.

The Toronto International Film Festival is well underway, and as we celebrate the art form that is film, let us take a look at what happens when film and food come together in a genre all its own…

Tampopo – 1985

The central character is a young widow named Tampopo, who is on a journey toward making great ramen. She’s a kind of Dorothy easing on down the yellow brick road to a culinary Emerald City. She is also accompanied by four friends who help and teach her, one of whom is played by a fresh-faced Ken Watanabe.

But equally riveting are a zillion little fascinating gastronomical vignettes woven into the film — some funny, some sweet and  touching, some sexy — but all very sensual and poetic.


God of Cookery – 1996

Food meets Kung Fu in this hilarious Stephen Chow classic. Watch soup, meat, and vegetables perform awesome, gravity-defying stunts. Who knew cooking can be so action-packed?


Babette’s Feast – 1987

Based on Karen Blixen’s (writing as Isak Dinesen) novella of the same title. The story takes place in such a cold, stark, gray setting, in a stark, staid, ascetic culture. A strange location for a feast, and the perfect foil for the grandeur and lavishness of French haute cuisine. It makes a startling allegorical statement about generosity, art,  joy, the mingling of physical and spiritual hungers and their satisfaction, the breathtakingly beautiful infinite breaking through the stale and finite.

Here are some clips and a short commentary by the New York Times’ A. O. Scott.


Ratatouille – 2007

Another notch in the belt for Pixar. An extremely well-put-together film about how talent and passion overcome obstacles, and that, seriously, “anyone can cook.”

Julie & Julia – 2009

Two of my favorite actresses portraying adorable foodies… Whoa, Momma! It’s actually two separate true stories from 2 different time periods, linked together by Julia Child’s passion for food and life extends beyond her own space and time and permeates another woman’s life. The two women’s stories are woven so seamlessly together so that it feels like one story. It’s such a sweet, charming, wonderfully crafted film.


Une affaire de Goût (A Question of Taste) – 2000

I’ve only seen this movie once, but it stayed with me, primarily because it is incredibly twisted and creepy, and it haunted me for a while.  But it is quite a fascinating puzzle that I was compelled to return to and ponder on. It’s about a food taster and his wealthy employer, but underneath all that food tasting is a story of power and possession, driven by some complex web of machinations and manipulations. Very exciting stuff.
Here’s a trailer, I think. Can’t find one with subtitles.


Waitress – 2007

Such a dark and funny film. What amazes me about Keri Russel’s character in this movie is how out of every sad situation and negative emotion, she can make a gorgeous scrumptious pie (e.g.”I Hate My Husband Pie,” “Pregnant, Self-Pitying Loser Pie”). So moral of the story: no matter how your life sucks, you can make something sweet out of it.


Ramen Girl – 2008

This movie reminds me of Tampopo, mainly because of the whole teacher-learner set-up. And because it’s set in Japan. And because of the centrality of ramen. Okay, it’s a lot like Tampopo. But it’s a totally different film. Story may be a tad loose at times but it’s actually a lot of fun to watch. Brittany Murphy’s character may seem like an airhead for so much of the film, but she manages to win you over so that you forgive her for it.


The Big Night – 1996

Long before Stanley Tucci played the pervy serial killer in The Lovely Bones, long before Tony Shalhoub become the nutty OCD sufferer Monk, they played dashing Italian brothers and restaurateurs in The Big Night. It’s an engaging slice-of-life film about passion, food and family, art, perfection, and compromise. It seeks to define success, but in the end leaves it up to the viewer.

Posted in Culture, Food | Tagged ,

Eat, the Short

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

No it’s not a quote from Bart Simpson.


An Australian travel agency commissioned a trio of young wanderers to go forth into the world and make some of short films. The result was a trilogy of minute-long montages entitled “Eat”, “Learn”, and “Move”.

“Eat” is the first in the series, and appropriately so. Nothing threads together the fabrics of different culture the way food does. The whole of humanity shares the same need for nourishment, but fills it in oh-so-many gorgeous and pleasurable ways. Eat, the short, is a delectable minute that’s filled with best eats to fill your plate with, shot in 11 different countries over the course of 44 days. It is deliciousness on top of deliciousness, punctuated by an equally toothsome young man taking big tasty bites.

The visual feast is a great fun to watch, and achieving the objective of awakening a certain wanderlust in the viewer, a desire to see the world and immerse the senses into the experience.

Check out and enjoy too the other two short films in the series — “Learn” and “Move”.



Posted in Culture, Food, Travel | Tagged ,

A Day at the Beach

A Day at the Beach by Samantha French

Yesterday we headed to the beach on Toronto Island. It was a beautiful day with sandy kiddos,  a casual picnic and lots of sunshine. A few hours at the beach was just what I needed to clear my head and brighten my outlook, so today I thought I would dedicate a post to all things fun and beachy. With any luck you’re headed to a sandy shoreline of your own this weekend. Happy Friday Everyone!

Fire Island Beach House by Alexandra Angle Interior Design

Who doesn’t dream about a house on the beach? This home in Fire Island is everything a beach house should be, colourful, full of light with incredible views from every room. Below is a picture of the exterior, but for even more glimpses of the inside of this gorgeous home you can go here.

Fire Island Beach House by Alexandra Angle Interior Design

Deck Chair from Gallant & Jones

I can’t imagine a better place for lounging and watching the tide come in than one of these teak and fabric deck chairs from Gallant & Jones. It comes in a number of different fabric options, but I’m especially fond of this blue and orange striped pattern. All it needs is a nice big beach umbrella.

This luxe beach umbrella is from Basil Bangs. The black fringe is a sexy touch (never thought I’d be saying that about a beach umbrella). It reminds me of an old boudoir lamp. This umbrella would be just the thing for a glamorous beach house, don’t you think?

Wayne Pate Brighton Tote Bag

Loving the vintage style illustration on this beachy tote by Wayne Pate. What a great tote for carrying your towels, books and other beach day supplies.  This image also comes in a print so you can hang it on your wall.

Sand Art by Jim Deneven

Jim Deneven creates large scale artwork in the sand of beaches all over the world. All of the images on his site are fantastic, but the ones of him creating his giant sand works of art are my favourite. This tonal geometric pattern is captivating, and it’s interesting to see how the rising tide slowly eats away at the design.

Gulp by Sumo Science found via Make

Have you seen this incredible animated short from Sumo Science. It’s large scale stop-motion that uses the sand and waves of the ocean. It’s the whimsical story of a fisherman who escapes being swallowed by a fish. To truly appreciate the amount of work that went into this video I highly recommend watching the making-of which you can find here. Incredible!

Posted in Culture, Travel | Tagged , , , ,

Kids in the Kitchen

It’s Foodie Tuesday!

We love to cook and we love to eat and naturally we want to pass on our healthy and enthusiastic relationship with food to our kids.  Apparently it’s easier said than done given the reluctance of our 17 month old to eat much of anything these days (teething pain).  But it definitely helps to involve him in kitchen – and beyond!  Looking to cultivate a master chef, or at least an adventurous eater, some tips from the experts:

The Tiny (but Mighty) Sous Chef

At 16 months, my son’s first sentence was “I crack eggs” as he lunged for the carton in the open fridge.  So we do a lot of that.  If he’s involved in the cooking, he’s less reticent to eat. And he marvels at how the many eggs he cracks can become everything from a scramble to pasta.

  • When your sous chef is pint sized it helps to be organized.  Delegate those ability-appropriate tasks to kids but remember to tidy the rest of the work area of sharp utensils, raw meats, antique dishes, etc.  And give kids the low-down on what’s off limits and why.  Check out this resource from the Food Network for loads more tips.
  • If it’s a really little one you’re involving, try bringing the high chair into the kitchen and narrate what you’re doing.  Talk about the smells of the ingredients, bringing each up to her nose.  Texture games can also be fun:  letting them muck about in a bowl of lentils or flour.

These little piggies went to market

Image courtesy of Nature Moms

Every Monday there’s a beautiful farmer’s market in a nearby park.  It’s become a fun excursion for us:  rolling around in green space, learning about fruits, veg, cheese and meats from the farmers.  The little guy chooses a favourite fruit and vegetable each week.  Rationale: giving kids vegetable autonomy increases likelihood of consumption.  Sounds science-y right?

Toddler Dinner Parties

Too young for cooperative play, but sharing a meal is something that my toddler and his friends love to do.  And nothing’s cuter than two toddlers chatting across the table, clinking sippy cups, and sharing a meal.  We’d host them three times a day if we could.

Junior Master Chef Australia

Thanks to Nathalie for turning me on to this fabulous Australian cooking competition.  50 kids aged 8 to 12 cook the most amazing meals in a bid to become Junior Master Chef.  It’s amazing!  It’s inspiring!  How wonderful would it be to have a kid that cooks?  Now if I could just get mine to eat breakfast…

Any one else lived to tell the tale of a finicky eater turned food-loving grown up?