I have never in my life consumed instant coffee. I own a bottle of instant espresso, but that’s for baking and not for drinking. If I want an espresso, I have four different machines in my house that are perfectly capable of that without having to boil water and pour it over dehydrated chunks of dirt. I have become an insufferable snob. That’s me. It’s who I am as a person. When I was in the south of France last month, the apartment I rented had nothing but a kettle. There wasn’t a stovetop espresso brewer and there was nothing like a French press in the tiny cell-like chamber I was living in. So, I wore a big floppy hat making sure that I wouldn’t be recognized as I scurried into Carrefour and bought a box of instant coffee. I made it with disdain. I stared at the mug full of dark brown liquid with hatred. Then I took a sip. And then I took another. Then I said, “Oh.” It wasn’t bad. In fact, it was rather all right. I am appalled with myself. But I suppose it’s better than the Sanka garbage that was advertised on I Love Lucy. Now that I’m back in America, though, I’m back to my espresso machine. But I’ve learned a valuable lesson.
SurfacePad iPhone Case:
Some things in life are destined to be yours. You are drawn to them for no rhyme nor reason. You just know that eventually it’ll be in your possession or résumé or list of accomplishments. I know that someday I will own a Parisian apartment, and I’m perfectly confident that I will one day climb Mount Everest. I really do think I will. On a much less exciting scale, I have always known that I would buy this case. I saw the very first model ages ago on an old Apple news site and found myself enamoured with the folio case the subtly covered the iPhone and adds a bit of storage for credit cards and some cash. I never did buy one, though, and I forgot about it. That all changed when I saw a Louis Vuitton folio case at Disneyland and I knew that I would be getting either that or the SurfacePad the second I got my iPhone Six Plus. It took me a bit longer to actually remember to order it, but I’ve been using it since my return to America, and I adore it. The case is beautiful, the camel colour looks stunning with the gold iPhone, it’s functional, and it makes my iPhone feel even more luxurious than it does alone. I’m a total convert and will be getting the iPad version the second I get my next iPad. I’ve had mine for ages; it’s time for an upgrade. Go buy beautiful phone cases, reader.
Baxter of California Deodorant:
A fun fact about me is that I am incredibly allergic to almost every deodorant in the world. I put some on and five minutes later, my arm is covered in lumps and bumps and I’m itching myself like a deranged orangutan. It isn’t a good look, reader. I have spent hundreds of dollars looking for one that doesn’t make me want to die. I have rubbed crystals on my armpit and I have shaken baking soda on me. I have tried clinical products and I have spritzed myself with Chanel cologne. Crystals do nothing. Baking soda is harsh. Chanel smells delightful, but it is not a deodorant. Finally, after years of being accustomed to my skin being covered in scabs and randomly bleeding in the attempt not to smell in public, (I do this for you, people), I found a deodorant sample in my Birchbox that seemed different. I had no expectation of it doing anything, and I certainly had no expectation of it working. But it did. My skin is smooth and gorgeous and I don’t smell. So, I order it every time even if it costs twenty dollars a tube. My life is changed.
The Keys of Egypt:
I just started this marvelous book, and it has kept me captivated from the start. You know that I am a passionate amateur Egyptologist, so anything related to the subject keeps me in its thrall. This one, though, is more riveting than any others because I have first-hand knowledge of many of the people the story is about — well, their graves. Years ago, I stumbled across a tomb at Père-Lachaise in Paris. It was terribly eroded, and the name was indecipherable. A bust sat in a little alcove with the nose weathered away. Nothing about it was remarkable, except for the Egyptian motif. I thought that it was just something that was in vogue at the time. Eventually, I discovered that it was the resting place of Joseph Fourier, who you may know as a mathematician or scientist. Probably not, though. I didn’t. Eventually I learned that he was a great help to Jean-François Champollion, who later went on to translate hieroglyphs. They’re buried quite nearly side-but-side, but I didn’t realize that for years. This book has taught me so much more about these two men and how important they were to the study of Egyptology. And I have learned so much about names I’ve heard a thousand times like Denon and others that you see in Paris, but don’t ever know the meaning of. It turns out they’re all from the Napoleonic expedition to Egypt. I’m routinely left with my mouth agape as connections are made. I love learning about things I care about! If you like Egypt, pick up a copy. If not, don’t bother.
Writing Away From Chez Betty:
If you read my travel blogs with any regularity, which I sincerely hope you do, you will be aware that I found the most wonderful place in the world. In the picturesque village of Villefrance-sur-Mer is a café called Chez Betty. The have generous glasses of rosé for €3, excellent espresso, a charming woman behind the bar, and the most extraordinary view of the sea. When I was perched in one of the comfortable chairs there, sipping my wine, and gazing at the distant waves, there was nothing easier than writing. The novel was flowing from my fingertips. It was effortless, and I could have written a hundred pages per day if I was there from dawn to dusk. Unfortunately, I had other things to do while I was in France, so I couldn’t churn out more than ten pages or so during each visit to that perfect little café. I’ve been absurdly busy since I left France, so when I finally had a moment to get back to writing, I was horrified to find it difficult and the prose flat. It was as if the spirit left me. There was something so marvellous about writing in the city where the story actually took place. It’s a bit of a challenge when you’re thousands of miles from the turquoise water of the Mediterranean. I know that I will find the rhythm again. (I hope.) And if not, I suppose that absolutely justifies another extended holiday in the south of France.