In memory of my grandmother

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

My grandmother passed away yesterday. Mia, as we called her, was 89.

It is not that this was completely unexpected. She had taken a downhill turn several months back. I guess no one is prepared for the death of a family member. I know when my dad died, I knew it was coming and I was at his side, but I still was not prepared. I still, 3 years later, have difficulty believing or accepting that he is gone.

My grandmother was a strong, tough as nails Greek woman. She was also highly ambitious. She graduated from Catholic University in an era when women didn't commonly go off to college in search of a career. She started her career as a nurse and retired as the Administrator of a local hospital here in upstate NY.  Healthcare is the fastest growing job market in the United States, you can get your certification and others like it at a Guide to Career Education.  

People either loved her or the opposite because she had such a strong personality. That strength and defiant attitude allowed her to beat breast cancer and multiple strokes. Her attitude allowed her to get through losing her husband in the 90s and her oldest son 3 years ago. She was not a warm and fuzzy woman by any stretch--not one to sit on the floor and play with her grandchildren, and not the parent who was home baking cookies for her boys...she was at work, her true passion. Don't get me wrong. She did love her family in her own way, and we loved her.

I remember many things about my grandmother. I remember her drinking her crystal glass of Johnny Walker Red while admiring her geraniums (always red). I remember her elaborate parties and the delicious crab fondue. I do have many memories.

One thing I will always remember, though, is Mia's love of beauty and fragrance. Fragrance is emotional. When I smell Love's Baby Soft, I am reminded of my childhood. It was my first "perfume". When I smell honey, I think of my wedding day. I bathed in a honey bath and wore a honey lotion and made a honey and almond comfort scent to wear on that gorgeous 2001 day.
And when I smell White Linen, I am reminded of my grandmother.

She was heavy handed with the atomizer. The house smelled like White Linen. The white Cadillac she drove with her initials on the license plate smelled like White Linen on the interior. Even the soap next to the kitchen sink was liquid White Linen. Next to her bars of Dove in her bathroom, she had a golden tray of White Linen guest soaps.

When Popu (my grandfather) died in 1994, she stopped wearing White Linen. She had worn it since it came out. She switched and started wearing Red Door, also with a very heavy hand on the sprayer :)

Mia was quirky. She never washed her own hair. She did not have shampoo in the bathroom while I was a child. Instead, she went to her local Sibley's-- a now defunct department store--and had her hair washed and set 2 or 3 days per week. Until the past couple of years, she always had her hair done. ALWAYS. Mia always had her nails done nicely and her good jewelry on whether she was going to work or working in her garden. She read In Style in her mid 80s to try to keep up with trends. She tried to remain hip--even though I don't ever remember panty hose being in style with white walking shorts (or Easy Spirit shoes once she hit 80). As a child growing up, I recall her wearing black and white spectator shoes and carrying beautiful handbags. In the summer, she had sleeveless polo shirts with espadrilles in matching shades. She wore big sunglasses and carried a handkerchief.

As a small child, Mia taught me about "being a lady". I remember being taught at the age of 5 that "a lady always carries a hanky". And that she did.

Mia had her signature lipstick forever: Estee Lauder Rich & Rosy. It didn't go with the olive from her Greek complexion, but it suited her. I remember her coming to my Estee Lauder counter in 1998 and allowing me to make her over. I chose colors to go with her brown eyes and olive skin and I remember her being mortified as she looked in the mirror and then reapplied her Rich & Rosy over the bronze I had chosen for her summer look.

I'd like to take a moment to breathe in the air and recall the smell of her White Linen. Maybe later I will head to Macy's and go by the Lauder counter and spritz some on (not my taste at fact, I am wearing my chocolate blend as I type this) and that will be my own way of raising my glass to a woman who lived a long, beautiful life on her own terms.

I'm Mad About Sue!

Thursday, March 20, 2008

If you read my blog, you'll know how much I loved my Whipped Sugar Scrub in Italian Cream Cake from Mad City Soap.

I loved it so much I finished my 8 ounce jar in 7 baths.

Last week I ordered Sue's 15 ounce scrub in 3 scents: Italian Cream Cake, Sweet Madeleine, and Sue's Gourmet Cookies.

Let me first say that Sue's customer service is always top-notch. I sent her a convo through Etsy to let her know that I didn't care how or if it was colored or layered. I don't care as long as the product is wonderful, and I know her scrub is just that.

She let me know it was fun for her to make them look pretty. I ordered, I believe, on Tuesday. I had my scrub in hand Saturday. Keep in mind this was for a custom product.

My scrub was almost too pretty to use--it reminded me of rainbow sherbet. I had one layer of soft green, one of yellow and one of traditional white.

I am embarrassed to say once again that my scrub is more than half way gone. I think I used even more than before. It's not that I needed to. I am faithful at taking good care of the skin on my body just as I do the skin on my face...It's just that it smells so nice and works so gently that I cannot help myself.

I will say that last night's bath using this scrub was the best because the scents are at their prime since the scrub is truly cured.

Sue included a sample pot of her Soy Souffle in Cake Bake, which smells just like a yellow cake. It has parabens, so I gave it to a friend who hasn't tried this etailer and doesn't mind parabens in her items. It did smell wonderful, though!

If you're looking for a some great paraben-free body items (just check her ingredients, which are listed on her Etsy shop, as some still have them) and want outstanding customer service with fast turnaround time, Sue from Mad City Soap is one of the best out there!

A Look at Some of My Favorite Etsy Shops...

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

I'd like to devote this blog entry to some of the wonderful sellers over on Etsy. These are just a few of my favorites...I will talk about more in the very near future.

Etsy is a marketplace for crafters to sell their wares, and there is a plethora of talent over there!

I have been buying on Etsy for at least a year, and I also have had a couple of Etsy shops. You can find anything handmade on Etsy, from bath and body products to scrapbooking supplies to original artwork and glass jewelry. Hand-sewn handbags, scrapbooking materials, hair accessories, baby items--there are too many things to mention.

In all of the buying I have done on Etsy, I have yet to have a negative experience. People on Etsy appreciate the art of handmade items and the work that goes into them.

I'd like to share some of my favorite purchases. I love buying handmade items, and find that many are far superior to mass produced products are the market.


A recent, but excellent, purchase comes from Spa Therapy Works. Not to sound like a broken record (which I can do since this is my blog, LOL), but I am anti-paraben. You will not find a beauty product with parabens in this house. One product which commonly contains both parabens and aluminum (another no-no) is deodorant. Going without deodorant is simply not an option for me. I was going through stages of using Certain-Dri in the evenings before bed a few nights a week and then Secret Vanilla Sparkle of Mitchum Powder Fresh every AM. I've always been self conscious about this, and "natural" deodorants I have tried in the past (Tom's of Maine being one of about 7), all have left me a little bit TOO natural smelling for my own good!

One day when Ben was napping and Nick was at preschool I was browsing Etsy. I came across Spa Therapy Works and their natural deodorant. I thought I'd give it a try. I chose the Brown Sugar Almond scent, and to be honest had little hope that I'd I would like it. You can buy a 2 ounce size for $6.

I have been using this for one week now. First of all, it doesn't sting after shaving. It doesn't clump and it doesn't drip. It KEEPS me dry and ODOR-FREE from the time I put it on in the morning (roughly 7am) until I take a bubble bath at night. I was hesitant to go without an antiperspirant, but this actually keeps the skin under my arms dry. It is truly the best deodorant I have ever used!

I will be repurchasing soon in other scents. In fact Spa Therapy Works has a Pink Cupcake one I am eager to try!


I also have made another scrub purchase from Etsy's Mad City Soap (AKA Mad City Sue). Sue is FAST, reliable, and has impeccable customer service skills, as I mentioned in an earlier blog post.

My last scrub was so heavenly that I used it every night and emptied the 8 ounce jar in one week. I had the Italian Cream Cake fragrance (one of my favorite oils!) last time. Yesterday I was lemming some more of her whipped sugar scrubs, so I ordered a mammoth 15 ounce size with three scents: Italian Cream Cake, Sweet Madeleine, and Sue's Gourmet Cookie. I know I will love this scrub from Sue. I am not even tempted to try anyone else's scrubs because hers are the best whipped suagr scrubs out there!


The Love 2 Sparkle Boutique is another wonderful shop on Etsy. My precious niece, Matilda, will celebrate her third birthday in a couple of weeks and I was looking for some pretty hair accessories to adorn her brown curls. I found some at this little shop. The owner makes such adorable hair accessories for toddler girls! I chose a pretty pink pair of grossgrain ribbon clips with flowers as well as a purple polka dotted pair with daisies. The packaging is professional, the products are of high quality, and I can highly recommend this shop!


Fabulous Finds has been a favorite of mine since last summer. I love French Chic and Paris Apartment decorating styles and her wonderful paper products are gorgeous! I have used some as gift tags for customers' packages, as curtain tie backs, scrapbooking accents, even to decoupage a small table! Shipping is fast and everything here is tres chic!


While we're on the topic of paper items, an Etsy browsing experience wouldn't be complete without a stop at Pacokeco's Scribbles. She makes lovely custom printed thank you tags if you're a small business owner. When you receive an order from me and it has a thank you tag with my store name on it, it came from Pacokeco.


Several months ago, I purchased an art print at the Etsy shop called Jellybeans. Angela is a very talented artist. I was immediately drawn to a watercolor piece called "Brothers". It is is varying shades of blue and has two trees. The trees look very much alike on the surface, but when you look at them individually you will see how different they actually are. I bought this one right away because it reminded me of my boys. I am eyeing some other prints right now!


I have already mentioned at great length my favorite soaper: Nan of Aunt Nancy's Handmade Soaps. Please read my previous posts about why Nancy's soaps are "the bomb"! I just couldn't post about my favorite Etsy shops without mentioning this shop!
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