Fresh vanilla beans inspire new tradition

Pods-on-the-vine-of-the-vanilla-orchid-Vanilla-planifolia

Vanilla beans grow on orchids, something I didn't know until a dear friend showed me the budding plants in her yard. Each year she pollinates the orchids by hand using a small paintbrush and hopes for a crop. Last year she collected about … [Read more...]

Lose smell, keep taste

strawberries-dusted-with-sugar

When we're sick with stuffy noses, we don't smell or taste much of anything. This experience forms the basis for a common misconception that if we lose our sense of smell, we also lose our sense of taste. But a group of researchers studying the effect of smell on taste have reached a different … [Read more...]

New tablecloth burns my hands

new-table-linen

With the holidays coming, I found myself in need of a new tablecloth. So I went shopping, something I dread this time of year. At the first two stores, I found picked over linens sections. At the third store, my head ached and I was overwhelmed with aromas. But I finally found what I needed: a plain … [Read more...]

Cream and lotions spoil after a year

grooming-cream-spoils

I reached into the back of the medicine cabinet and discovered a tube of hair grooming cream. It wasn't exactly ancient; I remember buying it around the time of my wedding, which was about four years ago. The tube was more than half full. I decided to pop open the cap and take a sniff. … [Read more...]

Red twists sing baby powder

red-twists-vines-candy-smell-like-baby-powder

My husband and I went to the movies the other night. He bought a pack of red twists and tore it open. I haven't smelled the candy in years and was instantly transported to junior high, when I went on a summer camping trip with a friend. We lay around the camper for a week, eating boxes of … [Read more...]

Twenty year old blue carpet

I walked into a university classroom about five minutes early for a public lecture. I found a seat in the back and plunked down into a creaky armchair. The room was nearly full of students, many of whom had removed their shoes and were wiggling their toes into the well-worn speckled blue carpet. I … [Read more...]

Miniature milk chocolate bar

I found a few pieces of leftover Halloween candy sitting in a bowl next to a toothpick holder at our favorite neighborhood restaurant. We were coming in for dinner and waiting for a table. I picked up a miniature milk chocolate bar. It's an iconic American brand with a town named after it. … [Read more...]

Lemon juice deodorant

Colder weather has inspired me to eat some different spices and a little more meat lately. I've noticed that my armpits stink like the stews I've been savoring, despite my use of deodorant. When you can smell your own armpit stink, it's a clue that it might be a strong odor. I decided to look … [Read more...]

Black spray paint

My neighbor three doors down repainted their metal gates this weekend with black spray paint. It was a sunny afternoon, and I had my lanai door open. An acrid aroma wafted into my living room and found its way into my brain. Before I could act, I was instantly transported to my grandparents's musty … [Read more...]

Citrus cleaner

The lime tree potted in my front yard has started to bare fruit. I picked a ripe lime and carried it to my kitchen for squeezing into a soup. On the way I scratched the rind with my thumb and delighted at its bright, sunny aroma. Later in the day I was cleaning my kitchen with a citrus cleanser. It … [Read more...]