Savvy, eh? Not about candles, apparently.
Until yesterday I had no idea that most scented candles are toxic. That the “petro-soot” given off by paraffin candles is as carcinogenic as diesel fumes or secondhand smoke. That the “natural fragrances” in most aromatherapy candles are synthetic and have no healing properties.
I saw the light after a chat with Berwyn gardener, Anglophile and home cook extraordinaire, Sandy Dalby, hands-on proprietor of A Charmed Garden, a line of organic candles, sprays, soaps and such.
Don’t let the professional packaging fool you – Sandy cooks up every candle herself in the kitchen of her restored farmhouse.
Each is made from 100-percent vegetable wax (no paraffins), wicks are simple cotton twists (no toxic lead) and scents come directly from essential plant oils.
It’s too bad the oils can’t be extracted from Sandy’s own gorgeous garden. If she harvested her lavender walk, for example, she says she’d only get enough oil for about a quarter of a candle!
Sandy’s candles have both cold and a hot “throws,” which means you get the healing properties of the oils, lit or unlit. (Sandy says studies show inhaling real aromatherapy candles actually changes brain chemistry. Who knew?)
If you want your whole house to smell like apple pie or pine needles, by all means buy elsewhere.
But if you want a healthy, healing, long-burning flame with a subtle scent, pay a virtual visit to A Charmed Garden. Candles are $42. Linen sprays are $11, body mists and home sprays $14, hand soaps and shower gels $28.
Along with a growing list of celebs, I’m seriously smitten with Jeffrey Levinson’s cool clutches.
The 44-year-old Wynnewood dad drew on wide-ranging interests in art, business and technology to launch his own luxury accessories line. First out of the gate: a hard-shelled beauty of a bag that’s as sleek, sculptural and timeless as the Jaguar cars he once marketed.
Talk about your clutch moves.
A feat of engineering, each bag is handmade in the U.S.A. to exacting standards – two aerospace-grade aluminum shells joined without hinges or edges. Contrasting linings are hand-sewn Italian lambskin and the patented ring-bale clasp is hand cut and polished.
They come in in an array of solid colors and finishes, fit the iPhone 6 (!), and start at $900. For a more ferocious statement, grab a dragon ($2,195), hand-painted by South Philly artist Fred Sicoli (Killer Kreations).
JL clutches have been spotted in the hands of Diane Guerrero (Orange is the New Black), GMA weather gal Ginger Zee and socialite Olivia Palermo, among others.
Splurge on one for yourself (or your honey) at jeffreylevinson.com.
We lobster lovers have never had it easy. We either pay dearly at a restaurant (dorky bib included) or put up with the fishy smell, squirting mess and sheer nastiness of killing the poor creatures at home.
And frozen tails are even worse: rubbery, tasteless meat made palatable only by the melted butter we douse them in.
Enter Absolutely Lobster by Philly-born Alison Barshak, onetime chef at Striped Bass and Alison at Blue Bell, a gal who’s long had her way with seafood.
In town to hawk Absolutely Lobster on QVC this week, Alison invited me to a taste test at a friend’s home in Bryn Mawr.
Alison spent a few years in mad-scientist mode, perfecting a lobster tail that goes from freezer to fork in 3 minutes. Basically, you cut a slit in the top of each single-serve vacuum pack, pop it in the microwave for 2 minutes and 55 seconds, cut open the bag and serve. (Defrosting first actually ruins it.)
It’s Lobster for Dummies … and it’s yummy.
Included with each 5-6 oz. tail is a generous chunk of “classic” or (truly decadent) “truffle” butter that turns into a briny, rich broth when it’s nuked with the shells.
Plop your tail over pasta (there’s plenty of buttery juice for the sauce), stir it into lobster mac ‘n cheese or risotto, or go the surf and turf route. Just be sure to have crusty bread on hand for dipping.
Tails are antibiotic-, preservative-, gluten- and GMO-free and are prepared and frozen less than 36 hours after they’re caught in Maine.
Order online ($50 for four tails) to ship as a gift. Or buy them for yourself in single-serve boxes at DiBruno Bros. in Ardmore and Philly.
When your house is burning, grab the photo albums first.
Quaint advice, right?
Keeping photos safe is a lot more complicated in this era of crashed hard drives, lost memory cards and technology that’s outmoded weeks after it’s released.
That’s why I just opened a FOREVER account.
FOREVER is the world’s first company that guarantees safe and full-resolution storage of your photos for future generations – “your lifetime + 100 years.”
Apparently, all those photos you’ve parked in Dropbox, Facebook, iCloud and Google aren’t guaranteed to be permanent. And that external hard drive you’re counting on? It will eventually crash and burn, too, experts say.
With FOREVER, you simply upload photos then delete them , freeing up huge chunks of valuable memory on your phone or computer. You can also rig it so every time you take a photo on your phone, it gets beamed up to your personal cloud.
Triple secured on three, geographically distant servers, your photos can be viewed and shared from anywhere on today’s devices and – get this – any device that comes down the pike in, say, 100 years.
Typical cloud storage lasts only as long as you pay monthly fees. (Try adding those up over 100 years!) With FOREVER, you pay upfront for a permanent, private account, accessible only to you and those you designate, e.g. your kids and grandkids. Plus, the company has figured out a way to NEVER go belly up.
FOREVER is full-service site with photo gifts, books and greeting cards. I plan to order one of their insured, postage-paid boxes ($79-$399), stuff it with old photos, and mail it back to them for digitization so EVERYTHING can float happily on the cloud.
Full disclosure: I am indeed a FOREVER fan but my sister, Marianna Curran ([email protected]) also happens to be a FOREVER Lead Ambassador – as well as a professional photo organizer and personalized photo book designer. From Dec. 12 – 30, you can get 20 percent off a FOREVER account with coupon code MERRY20: $279 for 10 gigs, $559 for 50 gigs, and $799 for 100 gigs. Gift certificates are available, too.
A finally, a SAVVY shoutout to the four local ladies honored at last Friday’s CASA Youth Advocates Gala. Kudos to Christina Wiita of Narberth, Maureen Rodenhiser of Malvern, Francy Strathmann of Newtown Square and Carolyn Longo of Media for championing the rights of abused and neglected children in Delaware and Chester counties!