Saturday, August 6, 2011

Scents, Sense, and Cents

I used to be a store manager for the French soap and skincare boutique, l’Occitane.  Originating in Provence, in Southern France, l’Occitane has stores all over the world.  I fell in love with the fresh and honest fragrance that is the signature characteristic of all the products sold, and would invariably come home with a bit of it all.  Now, ten years later, I still have a few bars of soap and assorted other lovely scented goods but nothing new.  
Good stuff, even ten years later

When we remodeled our bathroom it was because I wanted to luxuriate in a soaking tub with the salts and the candles and the body lotions and all those other wonderfully fragrant items that I sold every day.
Alas, those days are gone forever.  But maybe not alas.  Today, I can walk through my lavender plants and let the fragrance be released as I pass my hand over the blossoms. 

I can watch the bees get drunk on the bounty of lavender as they are completely oblivious to my presence as I snap a picture or two. 
Happy bee in the lavender

I can harvest the long stalks and use the buds as part of my herbs de Provence mix which flavors almost everything I cook. 
Lavender in the kitchen

My nose can follow the scent of the jasmine in the garden, the lavender, or the herbs and even tomato plants.  Best of all is the scent of feverfew, otherwise known as chamomile, which seems to grow wild everywhere, self seeding with abandon. 
Feverfew, tucked in with the hosta and bleeding heart

I often wrench out many of the plants as they can take over the garden.  It doesn’t seem to matter since they come back year after year, looking like little daisies on their tall stems.  I think I should make tea with the leaves for the medicinal properties.  Feverfew is an anti-inflammatory which can be helpful with migraines and even arthritis.  I should definitely make tea!
I used to put some very expensive products on my face—as many of us women of a certain age want to do whatever we can to look a little younger and maybe even reduce some of those tell tale wrinkles.   My favorite product was something derived from what l’Occitane called Immortelle, the plant otherwise known as Everlasting.  But does anti-aging skin care really work?  I don’t know, except that I really liked the way it felt on my face.  There came a day, not so long ago, when I finally had to classify this lovely lotion as an expensive luxury I could no longer justify.  It dawned on me that if l’Occitane makes olive oil soap and skin care products, maybe I could use the straight stuff on my face—and on my elbows, and hands, and heels and every place else!
Extra Virgin Olive Oil for my face--keeping it virgin pure!

Olive oil is the most ancient of skin care products and I’m certainly aware of all its health benefits as an antioxidant and a source of good cholesterol.  Maybe I’m as healthy as I am because olive oil is so basic to everything I do in the kitchen.  I use extra virgin olive oil (it’s the least processed) practically by the gallon.  Now, I not only cook with it, I slather it all over my face and body as well.  I especially like that I get four liters of extra virgin olive oil for $21.99 at Costco.  L’Occitane’s Immortelle Elixir was $55 an ounce the last time I bought it.  Some things are not worth the price.


  1. I love the scents that come from the garden more than anything bottled, don't you? I mean if it's good enough for the bumbles and honeys it's good enough for me. Olive oil is a staple in my kitchen too. I don't use it for skin care though but you've got me thinking... :)

  2. I'm so suspicious of the manufactured soaps and lotions now. I found a lot of recipes for homemade. I made a four ingredient soap to which I added lavender essential oil .... You will have to wait for Christmas though :)

  3. Love the title of this post (and the content, of course)! You are such an inspiration and always add sunshine to my day! By the way, your pictures are wonderful!