Sunday, October 30, 2005

The Case for Authentic Cuisine

Here's a blast from the past in the form of an essay by Colman Andrews, in the October 2004 issue of Saveur:

An authentic recipe ought simply to be one that accurately reflects the way a dish was originally made, right? If only it were that easy. The term authentic is usually applied to traditional cuisine, and the problem is that traditional cuisine isn't created from recipes. It grows out of the lives that people who cook it - their geography, their history, their religion, their socioeconomic status. It is inspired by the world in which its creators live, imbued with the lesons of that world, and passed down a generation at a time, with infinite variation...

But the point isn't really whether or not a recipe can be authentic; it's more whether we can be. Can we ever really cook authentic traditional cuisine if we're not part of the tradition to which it is authentic?

So how does this apply to the art of restaurant criticism in Honolulu? I'll leave that for the rest of you to discuss.

UPDATE 10/31/2005: Those of you who think that I'm painting all restaurant reviewers with a broad sponge brush should rest easy that I love 'em all. Well, except for that putz who reviewed the Mexican restaurant two weeks ago for a certain publication with the word "Weekly" in their name, to whom this post is dedicated. Chin-chin!

Friday, October 28, 2005

The Next Best Thing

Well, it looks like we've got some bad news and good news.

The bad news is that I may need to take another break from blogging. Not a full-on break where I close the site down or anything; on the contrary, I might actually post a few things once in a while when I'm not stressing out over whether or not I should come up with content. Somewhere along the way I might end up rethinking the creative direction for the blog, but I'm going to keep things the way they are for now.

The good news, however, is that I'm going to take my break to work on a non-blog, non-school independent project - specifically, a novel that I wrote (as Not!Meimei) three years ago, which I have neglected until recently. It's now in the middle of a major rewrite, and I mean major. I've already edited out entire characters and story arcs to make the manuscript more readable, and possibly more palatable.

(Here's how I'd put it: If my novel was a baked good, my old manuscript would be a Christmas fruitcake.)

It's funny because it wasn't until just last week that I suddenly got inspired to work on the book; usually I have a problem with picking up where I left off with my writing, but somehow I was able to get past the writer's block and roll up my sleeves for the rewrite. Like I've mentioned in my previous entry, however, it's still a matter of time and confidence before I could share more about the book. And since I'm doing this while I'm going to school, it's too soon to tell what I'm going to do with the manuscript as soon as I'm done and satisfied with the whole project.

Anyway, I just thought I'd share the great news. Until the next update...

The Domesticity FAQ

Because it's about time I did one...

You sound so familiar. Didn't you used to write under another name?
Of course I did, and I don't regret it. Now if you're wondering what was so horrible that I've decided to post under a different name, well, I just thought I could use a change, so I decided to go with Meimei. Now, if you think I could hide my identity forever, well, I can't - I've already outed myself on Technorati. But that's as much as you're going to get about who I am when I'm not using my online identity, so if you want to ask me any more questions about the things I don't talk about online, I suggest you get a hold of me some other way, because I'm not interested in opening up my private life to scrutiny.

Come on, you already did that not too long ago in your old blog.
And old habits do die hard. Maybe I would do that again too, someday. Right now, though, it's a matter of confidence.

So why go with the whole Domesticity concept? Why blog about makeup/fashion/home decor/ pop culture when you could've been blogging about, you know, God or politics or whatnot?
Let me put it this way: It's already tough enough for me to get into arguments about how I'm supposed to change the world with people I already know in real life. At the end of the day, the last thing I want is to go on my blog and get into another stupid flamewar with people I don't know about things that cut too close to my heart. So I've decided to make it easy on myself.

And what is this that I hear that you're actually a Christian? None of your entries sound particularly Christian to me.
Let's get some things out of the way with the Christian question, shall we? First of all, I don't profess to have any mind-blowing expertise on theological matters, so I'd rather err on the side of caution and diplomacy. (In fact, I'd be happy to point you out to other bloggers who are more qualified to handle these kerfuffles than I am.) More to the point, though, is my own belief that being a church-goer doesn't mean that you have to swear off the makeup and the pop culture altogether. In my case, I feel like I still have a responsibility to challenge what the world tells us about what's supposed to be beautiful - and that includes certain standards of beauty and aesthetics. Again, that does not give me any authority to lecture you about what is theologically correct in terms of hemlines and high heels, but I am more comfortable telling you about what works for me and the lifestyle that I've chosen. Whether or not you agree with my motives, however, is not for me to judge.

I just read your entries about your celebrity crushes, and... I'm sorry, but you have bad taste in men.
Hey, I apologize, too. Let's just agree to disagree and move on from here. And same goes if you disagree with anything else that I've reviewed.

So... do you get paid for this?
No. And frankly, as much as I need the cash, I'd rather keep it this way: outside of corporate interest.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

The Case for the Shout-Out

Okay, now that I've been playing with Technorati (check out the new tag below!) it has finally occurred to me, three to four days later, that I have earned a place on the blogroll of none other than Spirit Fingers.

Oh. My. Goodness. What have I done to deserve this?

*pauses, takes short, sharp breaths*

EEEEEEEE!!! I can't believe it! One of my favorite blogs now has a link to me!

At this point, this is as good as a review. Thanks so much, Spirit Fingers; you're the best.


In other news, I'm already anticipating the backlash following my entry on This Old House, considering that most people still consider it to be Bob Vila's show. I'm going to hold my tongue about Bob Vila, but I'll also admit that I deserve a few brickbats thrown at me for not giving everyone else on the team credit for their expertise. Especially Norm Abram, who I will allow the privilege of torturing my boy Kevin.

And what I would give for a This Old House/ Extreme Makeover: Home Edition crossover! Preferably one where Kevin and Ty are forced to road-trip together (complete with inevitable bullhorn sequence) while Norm and Paul DiMeo bust out the mad carpentry skills, Tom Silva makes the cutesy girls work on the demolition, and Eduardo Xol stays shirtless.

Sunday, October 23, 2005

The Case for Better Eye Makeup

Those of you who are eye-makeup challenged should find this article on Beauty Addict super-helpful. Might as well do away with the speculation and get to the bottom of this eye-makeup business once and for all.

A note: If you live in Honolulu, you can go to your favorite Korean makeup store at Keeaumoku Street and put together your own eyeshadow palette - at the store where I go, a three-shadow case costs $10, and that's not including the shadows, which are $3 each. Drugstore and Wal-Mart fiends may also find the customizable cases from Cover Girl to be equally nifty, and Rimmel has a 3-color eyeshadow kit that contains nothing but sheer, pale highlighter shades.

Whatever you do, if you've got a tan complexion with gold undertones like me, it is never a good idea to wear any sort of pale baby-blue eyeshadow in any formula whatsoever; it distracts from the eyes and makes your skin look really ashy, which in turn makes you look cheap. Trust me, you won't want that.

Carry on...

Wednesday, October 19, 2005

What's Your Fantasy, Part 2: Get Out of My Dreams, Get Into My Front Loader

(Note from Mei: In case you missed Part 1, check out this entry from the August archive; also check out the "Gorgeous Men of Decorating" entry as a point of reference.)

For all the talk about home makeover shows and the hot handymen that populate them, it's easy to understand why This Old House doesn't get as much press. Compared to the younger-skewing shows, which promise swift, miraculous results in no time at all, This Old House is about gradual change, hard work, and small fixes so your house won't end up like a candidate for demolition. You have to sit through the whole season to see what the house will look like, from mockup to moving day. And the homeowners don't holler and burst into tears as soon as the house is unveiled.

All of these reasons, however, are enough to explain why I make it a point to watch the This Old House Hour every Sunday afternoon. Especially since - let's face it - none of the professional handymen featured in the show are anywhere near giving Carter Oosterhouse a run for his money in the hotness sweepstakes.

Wait, I take that last statement back. Because I think Kevin O'Connor is cute.

Of course he's married. Of course he looks more like the kind of guy who fetches the building permits for the other home-makeover guys while they sort through steamy love letters from the ladies. And even if he does scrap the plaid shirts for leather jackets and artfully disheveled rock tees, well, there's still no way he's hiding a six-pack under there, so there goes that fantasy.

That said, there really is something endearing about Mr. O'Connor. The guy's like a more laid-back, non-ADHD version of Ty Pennington: you could tell that he's passionate about his projects and he loves working with the guys, but not so much that every episode ends up becoming All About Kevin. There are times when he could be a prankster and play cute, but this is a guy who lets the project, the homeowners, and the experts speak for themselves. There is no way you would ever find this guy running around the construction site with a loudspeaker so he could harass the contractor for laughs.

(Not bad for a guy who used to be a bank executive before the TV gig came along.)

Like I've said, there's not a lot of things about this guy that makes me want to throw myself at him. And yet, what's so attractive is that I could watch This Old House and find myself sighing about how fun it would be to get together with a guy like Kevin - not just with the handy-round-the-house stuff, but because he just comes across as a guy with a certain kind of passion, who knows what it truly means to have a home. Even when he's talking about how his wife gives him grief about keeping the toilet seat up, he still comes across as the kind of guy who understands his passions and priorities - the kind of guy who will bring you breakfast in bed, even if said breakfast is a chocolate donut and a grande house half-caf from Starbucks...

...What? We've got an entire season's worth of home-building here! Wait till you see what they do to the house!

Monday, October 17, 2005

The Case for the Good Housekeeper

Last night I ran out of detergent - or did I lose my gallon again? - and I had to run to the store and get something. Unfortunately, the store ran out of my usual (All with color-safe bleach - I usually go for the foofy scents in the colored bottles) so I grabbed the next best thing: whatever's on sale.

Sounds banal, right? That's not even covering the part where I realized that I'd probably never find the brand I REALLY wanted to wash my clothes with: Method Triple Concentrated Detergent. I mean, look at it! The bottle's not clunky! The scents are not corny! Why, oh why, won't I ever get my butt down to Costco so I could reactivate my membership and see if they already have Method in stock? Why didn't I buy this on my last trip to the Mainland, where I spent most of my holiday season shopping at Target? Why doesn't Safeway have this in stock? WHYYYYY?

And this, my friends, is the kind of moment that drives the point of the Domesticity blog home.

(WARNING: Lots of personal touchy-feely whingeing in the next few paragraphs. I 'd break and fix myself a drink right now before continuing, if I were you.)

The first time I had an online journal, all I wanted to talk about was my life in college and the boys I was dating and how life was so unfair, blah blah blah. Like I've mentioned so many times earlier, I was young and I didn't know any better. But after a while, even I had to admit that it was getting really boring. Yeah, I wrote about a lot of outrageous things that were personal and profound to me, but so was everyone else, and there was only so much dilly-dallying that I could take.

Meanwhile, the dirty dishes were piling up in the kitchen sink, the laundry was going unwashed, and I was still wearing the same grungy hair and baggy clothes day in and day out. And sometimes without underwear, because I was too busy to take out the laundry.

Yeah, I get it, I told myself back then: I don't live with my parents any more, so I don't have as much time to devote to being cute and fabulous like I used to when I was younger. I still don't have the time, to be honest with you. But that doesn't give anybody an excuse to not take care of themselves - or, worse, to compromise on beauty.

All the shopping in the world can't make up for the laundry that's languishing in the hamper. All the makeup in the world can't cover up a life without priority. And while I did seem a lot more glamorous back when I was younger, my life was still a mess.

So if sex, drugs, politics and rock'n'roll gets boring after a while, then what's the opposite of that? Housework. Proper grooming. Good manners. A world where I could be proud to have a home - and stay there, if I want to.

I remember a tidbit from film class where the come-uppance of the femme fatale in early film noir often came as death or domesticity: if she didn't die by the time the movie ended, the next best thing was to subject her to a life where she would not have to live her life on the edge. If she didn't go to prison, she would have to renounce her evil ways and accept a proposal of marriage, where it's implied that she would have to trade in her allure for the white picket fence and the 2.5 kids. In real life, it doesn't always have to end this way; not all housewives turn out to be so desperate, after all. The older I get, the more I find the Zen in the mundane - and yet I don't feel like I've lost my edge.

Domesticity. It's the opposite of drama.

In the meantime: You know what I'll be using once I'm finished with the detergent I got last night? All Small and Mighty! Wheeeee!

Friday, October 14, 2005

The Case Against MySpace

Or: I Said, GET OFF MY LAWN, You Pesky Rugrats

Hey, kids?

I've said it before and I'll say it again: Stop lying about your age on MySpace, OK? And quit posting those naked photos of yourselves already; it's tacky, and I'm telling you this for the sake of decency.

While I'm at it? Let's not forget that the Internet is still a public domain, so no matter how many times you write "Don't Tell My (Parents/Teachers/Anyone Else) HEHEHE" on your blog entries, or how many times you decide to delete your entries, the world will still know you wrote it anyway. There's a reason why search functions and the Wayback Machine exist in the first place. Ask Uncle Greg to teach you how to write your own secred-password entries, or don't write it in your blog. Better yet, get your own freaking notebook, because at least you can hide that in your sock drawer and you'll get less spam from nasty pervs living across the country that way. Do I have to show you how to make a scrapbook?

Trust me, it's better than having somebody snatch you off the street and putting your parents through so much heartache. And it's cheaper than suing the blog service for not protecting you in the first place.

And don't look at me like I don't know what I'm talking about. I wouldn't be writing this if I didn't go through this myself. No, I didn't get stalked by a perv, but I did a lot of tacky things that ended up online, and... let's just say that my family was not happy. But I'm alive, aren't I? That's why I try to edit these posts like a fiend before I post them; you'd be surprised about what doesn't end up getting published in the first place.

Repeat after me: MySpace is not a private space. MySpace is not a dumping space. I will not use MySpace to post anything that I will regret for the rest of my life.

There you go. Now, where did I put my afghan?

Thursday, October 13, 2005

The Case Against The Celebrity Fragrance

In the category of Hell to the No, this tidbit from this morning's E! Online News First Look:

Marilyn Manson telling Women's Wear Daily he is in talks with a "major" cosmetics company to launch his own fragrance early next year.

I'd make a joke about this, but I blew out a few brain cells from smelling Fantasy Britney Spears at Macy's the other day.

UPDATE, 10/13/05, 1:15 PM: Apparently the Irish Examiner (quoted in Now Smell This) says that Mr. Brian Werner really is serious about this fragrance thing. Now, if you'll excuse me, I need to anoint my monitor with myrrh.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Case for a Super Sweet 16

Happy Birthday, Michelle Wie.

Yes, you're rich, you're famous, you'll be paparazzi fodder for the next few years. I don't know about golf, and if you ask me I was far from fabulous when I was your age. (Heck, I would have given anything to rock the dangling earrings when I was your age.) But take it from a sister who knows: You may be still young, but every decision you make from here on forward will have an impact on who you will become in the future. And it's going to suck even more when you've got the press on your tail.

I could give you some practical advice, like putting on sunblock, ignoring the media, not dating anyone sucky (let's just say that if Wilmer Valderrama calls, tell him you're busy), turning down any "recording" contracts and/or "guest appearances" on soap operas, and enjoying this for what it's worth, but I guess you're going to hear that from everyone else. So I think it would be best to leave you with a few wise words that didn't make sense to me until I turned 16:

You got to know when to hold 'em, know when to fold 'em
Know when to walk away, know when to run
You never count your money when you're sittin' at the table
There'll be time enough for countin' when the dealin's done

Sing it, Kenny.

Tuesday, October 11, 2005

The Case for What You Need, Part 2

Or: Thoughts from reading Allure's Best of Beauty Issue

- Usually I don't read Allure for the non-beauty articles, and this issue is not an exception: the fashion spreads were boring, Linda Wells' letter could've been funnier, and while I liked the article about hair loss during chemo, it wasn't something that made me want to say, “Gosh, I wanna read this again!” But I was surprised about the interview with Gwen Stefani; usually their cover-girl interviews often tend to paint their subject as the usual annoying celebrities (see: Portman, Natalie; also: Johansson, Scarlett) but I really felt for Gwen on this one, shooting down the reporter sweetly when it came to questions about her personal life. (Note to interviewer: Personal boundaries - look into it.) Still doesn't excuse her craptastic fashion choices of late, but at least she was pretty funny about the whole deal and not pretentious at all.

- Mark my words: Judging by the way this magazine has been scented, you will be smelling Prada at office elevators and Starbucks branches everywhere, and I mean everywhere. Conversely, Paris Hilton's new fragrance, Just Me, has replaced Glow by J.Lo as the Celebrity Perfume that Smells Most Like Hot Buttered Ass.

- Wait: New York has a Korean makeup store, and Allure actually likes it enough to make recs? So why aren't the hipsters raiding the boutiques at Keeaumoku Street with me?

- On to the Best of Beauty (and yes, I mean the makeup - not the pseudo-profound musings on missing blonde babes and Condi Rice's hairdo): The biggest drugstore winner was definitely CoverGirl Outlast Foundation - one of the few things that both the readers and the editors can agree on, which should be an incentive for me to go ahead and buy this for myself as planned. And apparently I can't argue with any of this year's picks at all - nothing predictable or boring now that the other favorites (Maybelline Great Lash and Cetaphil in particular) have been retired to the Hall of Fame.

- You know, I really wouldn't mind if they got me as a Dove girl. I'd probably be a step down from the ones they already have, who at least look better in white underwear than I do, but I wouldn't mind.

- Also pretty, if you ask me: As much as I hesitate to use the term “girl crush,” Daria Werbowy is probably the closest that I'll ever get to one right now. There's nothing boring, androgynous, or alien-like about her; she even looks more attractive when her makeup's been kept neutral.

- Best beauty advice I ever got? All of it came from my mom: drink a lot of water, don't smoke,eat your vegetables, read in good light, don't get too tan (and wear sunscreen if you can't stay out of the sun), and carry lipstick and balm with you at all times. Also, most people just need powder and lipstick anyway, so you don't need to use every piece of makeup in your cabinet - and if you're going to wear the stuff on the plane, you'll only annoy people by bringing that bulky makeup case anyway, so bring only the stuff you need (moisturizer, pressed powder, lipstick, and a little blush or eyeshadow) and stash the rest in your check-in luggage.

Monday, October 10, 2005

The Case for What You Need

Or: Thoughts from watching all the videos in the one-disc INXS Video Collection

- Michael Hutchence = sexy. Bearded or shaven, trouser-waist denim or low-riding leather, in a suit or a T-shirt, sometimes with practically nothing at all... and even with the chinchilla on his arm at the beginning of the "Need You Tonight" video, which at first I thought he was saving up for a snack.... yeah, sexy. But also a surprisingly versatile vocalist, too: depending on the mood, he can be sweet, funny, menacing, political, bluesy, love-struck, spriritual, or even subtle if he wants to. I spent all this time concentrating on his booty and I never noticed what an amazing voice he had. And that, my friends, is only going to make me more disoriented about JD "Antidepressant" Fortune replacing him.

- As for the rest of Our Band: INXS, here's how I rank them in cuteness: Garry Gary (in the early clips I actually said, "Oh my, he's just a baby!" - but then he got near shirtless on "The Gift" and all of that went out the window), Jon (nobody air-drums better), Andrew (yep, his pudge was yo-yoing back then, but I gotta give him some credit for the more-insightful-than-you-thought lyrics)... and in a surprising tie for last, Tim (now I can say with authority that I don't blame anyone else in the band for giving him the responsibility of saying "I'm sorry... but you're just not right for Our Band: INXS" - let's face it, though, he was a killer guitar player and a decent chap when he wasn't trying so hard) and Kirk (yeah, great sax solos and all, but not enough to erase memories of his John Waters-meets-The Wiggles performance on Rock Star).

- And speaking of Our Band in the "Need You Tonight" video - Hutch and the pet rat may have taken all of my attention back in the day, but I can't believe how visually striking and surprisingly funny the whole thing was, all in all. Gotta love the part with the other guys in white sweaters acting as backup singers before coming up with their own “choreography” for the chorus - hee!

- Wait... so "Original Sin" was actually that "Dream on white boy" song that I kept mangling back in second grade? Interesting.

- Hello, video for "Devil Inside," directed by Joel Schumacher. Thank goodness I didn't have to look at you all the way through. Which is a pity, because I will forever associate this song with a cute guy in 8th grade named Drew who once got this song stuck in his head and ended up singing the chorus while we were trying to figure out the periodic table. To make up for the video (and, Drew, if you're reading this - call me!) I will settle for the thought of JD covering this in concert.

- Also: “Elegantly Wasted” is still as annoying as I remember. I turned it off as soon as I saw Garry Gary sporting Kirk-style facial hair.

- And where is the video for "Not Enough Time"? That means I'll have to rent Disc 1 of I'm Only Looking...

Friday, October 07, 2005

The Case for a Moratorium

As much as I try to be pleasant and diplomatic, you know... if any of these things would Just Go Away, I'd so totally appreciate it, really. Thanks.

Jessica Simpson

Blog spammers

Laguna Beach

Every single person involved with or are currrently covering the Natalee Holloway case

Kim Gennaula and her fake-sincere attempts to make anything "newsworthy"

And while I'm on the subject of Hawaii media - shut up, Honolulu Weekly and your "coverage" of the Issues The Other Papers Won't Put On Their Front Page Like Their Lives Depended On It

Which reminds me: shut up, people who get interviewed on Honolulu Weekly so they can bitch about how bad radio has gotten in the last few years - all right, we get it, and now can we move on?

And while I'm at it - shut up, tech-illiterate people in Hawaii's music industry who bitch about "downloading" without realizing that iTunes is completely legal

Those "Christian" "covers" of Top 40 songs that were irritating the first time around

Seth McFarlane

Sales clerks who leave the PA system on at discount stores

Anyone who tries to over-analyze Arrested Development, or any TV show for that matter (unless said TV show is all eleventy chapters of "Trapped in the Closet" shown in complete succession, in which case... Oh my God, a rubber!) *

*EDITED 10/7/2005, 9:58 AM HST: Okay, AD fans, you can close your email windows now. I understand that overanalyzing is half the fun sometimes, but I'm the kind of person who just wants to watch and laugh, not watch and double-analyze GOB's spiritual motivations or whatnot. So yes, go ahead and get deep on Arrested Development - but getting deep on NCIS or Two and a Half Men? That's just wrong, yo. And: Oh my God, a rubber!

People who won't stop telling me, "Come on, Mei, you're only in your twenties" - um, hello, I'm already in grad school, I have my own apartment, I'm not dating anyone - what the heck else do you want me to do, people?

"My humps, my humps, my humps"

OK! Magazine

Hoodia Gordonii

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

The Case for Mondays

Or: Here we go again, another posting made up of Meimei's random thoughts

- Yo, yo, check out the new set of links for this blog. I've arranged my links in terms of regular reads and favorite blogs, so you can go ahead and click through 'em.

- Actual conversation that happened not too long ago with my sister. I kid you not.

Mei: I just saw the cover of the new Tyler Florence cookbook.
Sis: Yeah?
Mei: Looks like he gained a lot of weight.
Sis: Hmm.
Mei: In some of the pictures [in the book] he kinda reminded me of Jesse James from Monster Garage, with the beard and the pudge...
Sis: ...Eh, still cute.
Sis: I also noticed that he's wearing a wedding ring....

(Mei nearly drops coffee)

- That said: Remember not too long ago when I wrote here about my secret wish for Michael Vartan to guest-star on Kitchen Confidential? Well, apparently somebody must've read this blog (again?) because - a la peanut butter sandwiches! - he's showing up as a chef not too long after getting killed off on Alias. Heh. Personally, I was hoping that he would challenge Bradley Cooper to a dance-off instead, but that's just me.

- Which reminds me: After all these posts about hot men of decorating, not-too-hot men of TV cooking shows, and other random cuteness, now's a good time as any for me to deliver a little Wentworth Miller to this blog, don't you think? (Then again, I am guilty of watching his stellar turn as Mariah Carey's dream guy in the otherwise schaedenfreude-licious video for "We Belong Together.")

- Currently after my money this week: Kanye West (that "Gold Digger" song cracked me up in spite of myself - hey, if even the team members in our youth ministry are quoting this song at length, there's got to be something there), the October issues of Domino and Allure, and the college bookstore... though if the prof in my next class decides not to use any of our assigned textbooks, I'd be home free and end up buying all of the above anyway.

- Speaking of stores that want my money: There's a sign at the Ala Moana Lush store that reads "Reserved for The Black Pearl." Apparently they're bringing in a new bath ballistic from the UK. Since I don't have a tub (and won't have access to one until I get to Vegas) I think I'll just stick to the shower jelly, thanks.

Monday, October 03, 2005

The Case Against Burnout

So I'm back from my breather, and already I'm sucking down shots of Xango to keep myself from going under the crazy weather we've been having here on Oahu for the last two weeks. Already I've been able to enjoy whatever's left of my weekend before starting my next quarter of grad school: no partying (unfortunately - girl's gotta buy some textbooks) but a lot of lollygagging, and more Internet surfing than I would usually do on a non-school evening.

As I mentioned earlier, I am still looking for a scented candle for my apartment. I'm slowly beginning to see that candles are not the kind of thing I could skimp on price-wise: Right now there's this one candle I got from PriceBusters that started out nice but ended up totally waxy (irritating, since otherwise I get decent ones there), and the ones I saw at Ross aren't exactly appealing to me, either in terms of aesthetics or scent.

Part of the reason why my search for a good unscented candle hasn't yielded anything substantial has a lot to do with my respiratory problems, which means that I can't have anything that will result in tons of soot. I'm also easily annoyed by leftover wax, because I hate scraping the stuff off: I'd rather go for jars than pillars because I have a tendency to knock things over if I'm not careful, and even then I hate to be the kind of person who throws out whole jars with impossible-to-remove wax craters at the bottom. Also, no waxy buildup = no scrounging around looking for the wick before it all burns out.

So you could understand where I'm going with all of this. On the one hand, you have your Slatkins and Diptyques and Red Flowers, the ones that look and smell so good you don't even want to light them up: when you see them at the store you can all but hear them whisper, “I'm too sexy for your apartment.” On the other hand... Yankee Candle, which I would otherwise not mind if there wasn't so many Yankee knockoffs at Ross with the ugly jars and the overbearing fruity/foody “Grandma baking in kitchen” scents. (And it's a pity, too, because the other Yankee Candle fragrances are actually nice.)

Then there are soy candles, which I like - a lot - but the ones that I do like are a tad threatening to my pocketbook, like Soyology (mmm) and Malie Kauai (808 in the hizzy!) - yes, I know that soy candles burn clean and last longer, but ask me later when I'm not in such a financial bind.

While I'm still narrowing my search down for my next candle, I might as well go ahead and share a few finds along the way:

- Illuminations (at Ala Moana) is still my favorite candle store. I was pleased to find that they use vegetable wax for their candles, which result in a very clean burn - barely any waxy buildup at all. Their fruit and floral scents are pretty without being boring or obnoxious. And good deals are not that hard to find when things go on sale.

- Scents and Sprays (from Las Vegas) carries the best selection of scented candles that I've seen on the Web, plus they also have the matching bath and body stuff from the top brands. One caveat: Shipping to Hawaii (UPS or FedEx) will cost you buku bucks.

- Of course, you can also join me in counting the days until you can shop online at, since they'll never open a store here in Honolulu. Why, you ask? Henri Bendel candles - adorable and hip without the nosebleed prices.