Monday, February 28, 2022

We're All Looking for "Someone to Say"

The more Cyrano's release date kept getting pushed back, the more excited I became for the film (directed by Joe Wright). While I've always been familiar with the basics of this story and while I have read the play, it's been a few years since that reading. Rather, however, than do a reread in preparation for the film, I decided it would be best to go in and simply let it be what it would be. So I'm offering very little adaptation analysis. My spoiler-free commentary is that they did a fantastic job and created a fresh take that also gave relevant thematic material for the modern audience.

Now for more detail that may include spoilers if you don't know the story basics. I had no familiarity with the musical from which they based the film. Style-wise, I would call it a less traditional musical. When the actors sang, it felt not so much like they were breaking into musical numbers as that their words had too much emotion for regular speech and needed to be sung in order to fully impart their hearts. That is, I fully bought in to the creative choices. This highly emotive style reminded me more of how characters sing in an opera than in a musical (in general) (and I of course don't mean in terms of musical style). It also goes well with the story's focus on poetic language: the words are so full of meaning that they become musical notes. 

And I really enjoyed the way in which the songs became anthems for all the people instead of just our main characters. Christian's song upon seeing Roxanne also reaches the lips of the people in the crowd at the theatre. Cyrano's advice to the baker about his poetry becomes a whole scene with the various people who work at the bakery. And, most movingly, we see the different men on the front line singing the last words they will write to their loved ones. All of these inclusions show the universality of the longing for love and human affection. Everyone has a story and everyone has feelings about the people in their lives. When Christian, Roxanne, or Cyrano sings, their words are very personal to him/her and yet they are also reflections of their very personal longings of all of our hearts. And I do want to take a moment to especially appreciate Haley Bennett's vocals; if we're asking for a double balance of emotion and aesthetics, there it is in "Someone to Say."

As for the casting of Peter Dinklage, this was a smart way to reinterpret the adaptation and also to give a good role to a good actor. Although our modern sensibilities do still have preconceived ideas of beauty standards, we would find an overt plot based around a man's ugly nose a little too much, unless it were a tongue-in-cheek sort of comedy. But to judge over height, well, we can understand that pretty easily because it's undeniably true. We may appreciate actors like Peter Dinklage or Warwick Davis for the roles we've seen them in, but we all know that there is a real struggle to get cast in good roles when you don't (literally) fit the mold (and that's to say nothing of their personal lives). So we can understand Cyrano's real heartbreak in knowing that he is judged by his physical appearance, as the actor behind him also is. 

And yet. We're not left there. This is a hopeful story. We have Cyrano, who feels like he can never be fully accepted. We have Roxanne, an orphan who longs to be loved. And we have Christian, who indeed enters the scene full of hope and brightness. In Christian's encounters with Roxanne and Cyrano, he begins to sicken under the lie he lives. We started out the story with Roxanne singing about wanting love; she wants something other than the false courtships and marriages of convenience. She wants something real. And so, too, does Christian. In the end, he realizes he would rather die than continue the lie. If he is to be loved, he wants to be loved for himself. If he has no skill with words, then he wants to be loved with full knowledge of his lack of poetry. He feels, in a way, just as used as Roxanne was by De Guiche. 

What did we learn from the tragedy? A hopeful message. We learn that Christian should have faced Roxanne as himself. If she rejected him, then he could have moved on and he wouldn't have led either her or himself on. He could have found love elsewhere, instead of just choosing Roxanne for her beautiful face. And Cyrano should have been honest with Roxanne. She loved his letters and she loved him as a friend. If she had realized sooner that the two went together, then she could have fully realized the love and connection for which she longed. And Cyrano could have embraced her acceptance instead of focusing on the world's rejection. 

The vehicle is a delightfully sappy love story. The message is simple: be yourself and be honest and that is how you will find true relationships with others. And that message never gets old. 

Friday, February 25, 2022

1934 Jane Eyre

While there have been many book to movie adaptations of Jane Eyre, most of them seem to miss the mark pretty widely. The 2006 version I really like, and the 2011 did a pretty decent job, although I don't think it got to the core tone as well as the 2006. The 1996 just made a generic love story out of it all. There is an element of "pleasing love story" to the book, but there are so many more layers to it than just that.

I've put a lot of space before digging into more because, well, I didn't feel like I had much incentive to watch more adaptations if I didn't think any of them would be much good. But it's come time to start back in, beginning with the 1934 version directed by Christy Cabanne and starring Virginia Bruce and Colin Clive. Interestingly, the screenwriter was a woman, Adele Comandini. We make a big deal out of female screenwriters today, but this film is close to a hundred years old. 

Almost as soon as the film begins, the changes made in the adaptation are so great as to be entertaining in their own right. I didn't really feel sympathy for young Jane, and the girl playing one of the Reed sisters looked too cute delivering her lines to be a snobby bully kid. Jane is sent to an orphanage rather than a "school," which I suppose matters little. But she leaves because she's fired not because she has taken the initiative to advertise and get a governess position outside on her own. Jane says she'll be okay because she has enough money that her uncle left her to get by until finding another position--instead of receiving the inheritance at the end as a sort of redemptive gift. 

Oh, yes, and Jane is described as beautiful in the film and she can sing and she has a fancy evening gown and she's quite a spitfire. She isn't a plain, trodden down shadow desperately trying to be seen. And Rochester. If they didn't call him Rochester, we wouldn't even recognize him as the character. He's polite and gentlemanly and attentive and also affectionate toward his "niece," Adele. I guess they thought it would be less scandalous to have Adele be his niece instead of his possible daughter. 

The effect, then, of this Rochester with his loving niece Adele becomes more like a touch of The Sound of Music. It's just a man naturally inviting in a woman to share his life and family in spite of a difference in class. It isn't a woman desperate for affection finally feeling like she is being seen. And Bertha? Whew, what changes they made there. In trying to lessen the blow of Rochester's lies to Jane, in trying to make him less of a bad guy, they in fact removed the chance for a redemption story. The story has to go to a very dark place and both Jane and Rochester have to, in their own ways and on their own, pass through a kind of death before they can find new life. 

This movie just didn't portray any of that. Instead, its focus was more on the element of family. Jane's relationship with Adele gets more focus, and so even her relationship with Rochester takes on that father figure element. Having no father, she falls in love with the man that she sees is a good father figure toward Adele. Adele is the orphan that Jane wishes she could have been. It's okay as a story--but it's so very different from Rochester's actual character. 

I thought that, as the first talking adaptation of Jane Eyre, this film would by default be boring because it's so old. But it's actually vastly entertaining. If you're a fan of the story and doing analysis like this, it's quite a novelty to watch. Watching something more recent like the 1996, you're just disappointed that they didn't do a better adaptation. But with something so old, created in a time in which film was such a different medium, there is some separation. So you can just create a running commentary of disbelief at all the changes they made, and that's some good entertainment. 

Tuesday, February 22, 2022

The Renaissance Playground

The Renaissance Festival essentially has nothing to do with history. And that's okay because historical accuracy isn't the goal. The aim is simply fun. So the Renaissance Festival is a place to embrace whatever you wish. A skirt, a sword, a pet dragon, floral jewelry, wings even? Whatever it is, wear it--it's the place where there are no rules and where play and whimsy rule the day. 

Clothing would be enough to entertain me, but it goes further than that. You can make your experience whatever you want it to be. You can just shop--the artisans may pretty much be the same year after year, but there are some great, handmade products. My preferences lie in the tea, amber, and leather. You can get the novelty products, sure, but there are also plenty of things that can make it into your daily life, like silk scarves, earthenware mugs, and jewelry. 

Or you can go for shows. Again, the experience you get is completely up to you. You can go just to eat and watch jousting. Or you can look at the schedule ahead of time and hop from one show to the next all day long. There's music and dancing, as well as the acrobatics and comedy and animal shows. Just know what type of thing interests you and you can see what you want and avoid what you don't want. And none of it has to have anything to do with the Renaissance. It's just an excuse to get together and watch whatever it is you've chosen--like with the artisans, there's some good talent in some of these shows that just needs a venue like this to be in. 

Walking out at the end of the day, I was sad to think that we were all going to go home and change into our "normal" clothing and go about our regular lives. There's such freedom in being in a giant adult playground. In being whoever you feel like being.

Maybe we can take a bit of that into our daily lives, eh? I'm already someone who dresses a little differently from the crowd--maybe because that's the way I feel like I can be myself easier than saying it out loud. So maybe I can practice a little more of embracing being. Ask me questions and I'll gladly answer them; but otherwise I tend to sit in the sidelines and hope my shadow isn't bothering anyone. I forget that, like the people who might like my outfit at the Renaissance Festival, people in the "outside world" might like to know who I am, what I like, and what I think. So here's to freedom of being.

Wednesday, February 16, 2022

To Reach the Top

In the middle of the McDowell Sonoran Preserve, Tom's Thumb has long caught my interest. Before I even realized it was a place to which one could hike, I would stare at it while passing by on the freeway. The granite boulders, from that distance, make it look like the ruins of an ancient tower--especially given that the rest of the mountain, from that view, has no granite boulders. So those stand out as if they were brought in versus being part of the mountain. 

Hiking still is a newer thing to me. I'm still figuring out what my ability level is--and how that matches up to trail descriptions. Tom's Thumb I thought was out of my range. But not so. There are two ways to get there, the longer way through the Gateway Trailhead and the shorter way through the Tom's Thumb Trailhead. At around four miles, the latter is a similar length to the Gateway Loop, with which I've come to be very familiar. So a couple of weeks ago when the weather was nice and cool, I decided it was time to seize the moment and go.

Terrain-wise, the look is more similar to nearby Pinnacle Peak. The backside of McDowell Sonoran (where the Tom's Thumb Trailhead is) has more of those granite boulders, whereas the Gateway side is more about sharp, dark, volcanic rock. From the parking lot, the Thumb looked so close, like I could reach it in twenty minutes (since this side starts off at a higher elevation). But of course the trail doesn't go straight up and distances look closer than what it takes to travel them by foot, so it took me about an hour and ten minutes to get to the top.

All the little look-points offer great views, though the extra few steps it takes to get to them can be reluctantly traversed when you're on the uphill. The trail was much smoother than the Gateway Loop, which has those aforementioned sharp rocks. But here of course the smooth gravel was also much steeper. Yet there's grace in that: because it's steep you can go as fast or slow as you like. And you know what, even though Pinnacle Peak is a shorter little route, I preferred Tom's Thumb (among other reasons) because it doesn't have steps. We people with shorter legs prefer to take small steps up the steep slopes than to have to be stepping so high onto pre-made steps. 

It was a pleasure to be able to see things I'd seen only in pictures and to get closer and closer to the treasured Thumb. Close to the top, this lion-profile boulder reminded me of the Cave of Wonders in Aladdin

There's a certain power in having stared at something for a long time and then finally trying it and realizing it's well within your ability, after all. This was a beautiful hike, and each McDowell Sonoran trailhead has such different terrain and views that it's well worth exploring them all. To step out and see possibility and to step out and have the most pressing thing on your mind be the physical steps that you are taking--that's quite enjoyable and refreshing. 

Monday, February 14, 2022

Black Butterfly: Valentine's Day Selection

Whatever one's thoughts on Valentine's Day, most any holiday makes for a good excuse for some Black Butterfly chocolate, right? While last year's Valentine's offerings were quite tempting, I didn't get any then because I had just ordered quite a bit for Christmas (and because I wasn't going to be in Prescott in February). But this year I was already going to be in town and I didn't do any Christmas orders this winter. So I went ahead and did a pre-order of three of this year's Valentine's Day offerings. 

If you are going to do special occasion or gift chocolate, this is the way to go. All three are absolutely beautiful. The two smaller hearts (which were $10 each) are about three and a half inches tall, while the large, 3D heart is around five and a half inches (and came in at $25). 

The Diamond Cut Heart is classic in both its look and flavor, which is Peanut Butter Sizzle. The multi-faceted, red surface does indeed resemble a giant gem, smooth and enticing. The shell is neither thick nor thin and houses a familiar peanut butter filling. As Americans, we all think first of Reese's Cups when it comes to peanut butter chocolate. And Reese's Cups are most notable for their saltiness, which is recreated here as well as I have ever seen it done. 

Not to say that this is a recreation of a Reese's Cup, though: I simply mean to say that it acknowledges what our palates automatically expect from a peanut butter chocolate. After that, it's in a completely different range. The roasted peanut flavor is stronger and fresher, and the filling is a dash creamier and less crumbly than with Reese's. So you get some of those familiar notes but in an elevated and therefore completely different way. The effect of this filling is more like a truffle's ganache.

The Pistachio Rose White Chocolate Heart is in a bark style. That is, it's a more flat piece of white chocolate with the pistachios, rose petals, and rose crystals sprinkled on top. The rose aroma spreads in your mouth when you begin biting in, then the creamy white chocolate takes over. The rose sugar creates a delicate and flavorful crunch, and the rose petals leave a floral aftertaste. Pistachios of course add in the nutty element that gives the earthiness to ground all of the sweet and floral flavors.

And third we have the Smashable Heart, which came in four styles. Mine is the Butterfly Love, so it's in Black Butterfly's signature purple. It's a beautiful look, like a celebration of all we love about Black Butterfly chocolate. Perhaps, though, someone choosing to give to their sweetheart might prefer one of the red styles. But I like that there are options besides the standard reds and pinks. 

Yes, you did read that right that this is a Smashable Heart, hence the little wooden mallet that comes in the box. Inside are various chocolate treats. Taking a mallet to a Valentine's Day heart can take on all sorts of levels of meaning, and I'm kind of loving that. You can simply break in to find the buried treasure inside to share with your loved one--you can even make up some sort of game about taking turns to break into it or to choose what to eat from inside. Or you can smash it to smash away painful memories of an ex. Or you can just take charge of the pure delight of opening it up and treating your single self to a chocolate feast inside. 

The chocolate does have to be thick enough to stay stable, but it's thin enough that you only need a medium tapping with the mallet to start it breaking. If it's a shame to eat Black Butterfly chocolates for their prettiness, it felt even more a shame to break this one--that is, until I had the mallet in my hand. It's fun to have free rein for a little harmless violence, eh?

Because I didn't want to make a mess, I tapped one end and then the other and then the middle. Inside I found the delightful treasure: two milk chocolate squares, two dark chocolate squares, two pretzels, two turtles, and crispy pearls. Did I mention fun?

The milk chocolate squares have almonds and cookie pearls along with a good sprinkle of salt; the chocolate is deep/thick, so you get a good bite of sweetness. The dark chocolate squares are shallower/shorter and come with pistachio and cranberry, so you have those classic nutty and tart flavors on the sweet dark chocolate base. The turtles are big and classic in style with a good helping of caramel. You can taste the delicate vanilla notes of the caramel. All of those crispy pearls make the perfect addition to the mix: they visually fill in the empty space and add to the "treasure" feeling. Plus, chocolate pearls are just a great concept, little balls of crisp texture and simple, sweet flavor.

And after all of that, you of course will still have all of the plain dark chocolate from the heart's shell to enjoy. It's a 61% cocoa content, so it's on the sweeter side, which goes well with the playful nature of this piece. 

I can't choose a favorite from these three hearts: they're all so different and each offer something unique. Simple, floral sweetness with the Pistachio Rose. Sleek style and indulgent flavor with the Diamond Cut Heart. And a fun experience as well as a chocolate feast from the Smashable Heart. It is well worth it to order from Black Butterfly for future Valentine's Days--or holidays in general. You'll get something truly unique. 

Wednesday, February 9, 2022

Valerie Confections: Small Truffle Assortment

First I started the tradition of ordering something from Valerie Confections around Valentine's Day. Then I guess last year I added to the tradition by figuring that, while I was doing an order, I might as well also add in a small box of something extra, too. Last year it was the toffee. This year it's a Small Truffle Assortment. Instead of the usual white boxes, this set comes in a clear box that showcases the unique shapes of the nine truffles. There is a standard set of flavors, but their website lists that there can be variations based on availability. I got most of the flavors they listed, with just one that was different. 

Liquid Caramel - This was pretty much a blind tasting, as I had no idea which flavor was which except of course for the one white chocolate. This dark chocolate, square shape with lines running across the top was the one I chose to cut into for a picture. Naturally I made the worst choice for cutting by unknowingly going for the liquid filling. But at least things didn't get too messy. I've had caramel from Valerie before. The sort of burnt sugar flavor goes well with the sweeter notes of the dark chocolate. 

Scotch, Champagne - These are two separate chocolates, but I wasn't completely sure from tasting which was which. I'm going in order here of how I went through the box, so my second choice was the milk chocolate, geometric shape (the one in the top middle). It had a delightful booziness in a creamy silken ganache, so at first I thought it was the Champagne. But my next selection happened to be the milk chocolate square with slanted corners. It also had an alcohol flavor, but it was overall lighter and creamier. I'm concluding then that this was the Champagne (which I've greatly enjoyed before) and the first one was the Scotch (which I've also tried in the past).

Earl Grey Tea - The milk chocolate square with black sprinkles did rather naturally have to be either the Earl Grey or the Jasmine Tea. I like this chocolate even more than the Earl Grey Petit Four. It's like a fresh cup of Earl Grey along with the creamy chocolate base. Stellar.

Mezcal Caramel - I was thrown for a loop by this one. I bit into what I'll refer as the dark chocolate twisted square and found the weirdest caramel with a stingy alcohol flavor. The caramel isn't liquid, but looks extra soft and has a layer of almost liquid type of caramel above it. And that flavor bit me right back. I couldn't figure out what it would be from the listed flavors, so I snooped around Valerie's other flavors and concluded that this must be the Mezcal Caramel. Mezcal fits in with the unique biting nature of the alcohol flavor. When it comes to alcohol truffles, I like to stick to classic Champagne truffles; otherwise, I'm usually out. So perhaps my complete distaste for this one would be delight and fascination from someone else who's more of an alcohol enthusiast. I would have much preferred to have the Moroccan Mint Tea (which was the only flavor I didn't get).

72% Bittersweet - This is the dark chocolate round, which contains a plain ganache. After the previous funky flavor, the simplicity here was a welcome relief. Even Valerie's dark chocolate comes on the sweet and creamy side, which can be pleasing in its own way when it's done like this. 

Jasmine Tea - Here we have the dark chocolate version of the geometric shape. I'm a big fan of these unusual, yet still sleek, shapes; they add quite the visual twist. This tea flavor doesn't hit as strong initially as the Earl Grey does; here it takes time to build. But it's still nice and fresh, and the Jasmine works better with the dark chocolate base. A cup of Earl Grey can have cream and sugar in it, but Jasmine is usually served black. So the dark chocolate works as a better accompaniment. 

Matcha Tea - I saved the one that I for sure could identify for last. Obviously this is the only white chocolate, and inside is that distinctive green from the matcha. It's nice and creamy from the white chocolate. I don't know if I'm just so used to matcha these days (even though it isn't as though I have it often) that this didn't taste particularly strong to me. So perhaps that means this would be a welcome way to ease into match if you do find matcha a little strong in general. 

Gilded - There was also this one, which is also identifiable from the fleck of gold on top. But I set it aside since I've had similar things from Valerie in the past. So no thoughts from me here except that the look is nice and classic.

There was such a variety of flavors here that it's no wonder my comments were somewhat mixed. Plain truffles, tea truffles, alcohol truffles, and the caramel. I can easily see most people preferring one half of the box to the other. I liked the tea chocolates best; along with the Liquid Caramel and the Champagne, they're the best display of what I enjoy about Valerie Confections. The Mezcal Caramel, on the other hand, was an unwelcome addition to what you might call the more feminine flavors of tea and such. So while a box like this is great for getting to try several flavors, just be aware of course that the variety might mean that you'll have some dislikes along with your favorites. 

Monday, February 7, 2022

Dinosaurs: Reaching into the Past

Most of us probably know that the word "dinosaur" didn't exist before the nineteenth century. Further, if you look at dictionaries before about the 1950's, "dragon" meant dinosaur. Dragons, dinosaurs, it's all the same thing. Some is based on truth; some is fictionalized. Some is based on stories handed down over generations; some is based on fossil observation. Whatever is true or real we don't always know, but either way dinosaurs have always captured our imaginations. 

Natural curiosity has plenty of material to ponder over when it comes to extinct reptiles. The puzzle of figuring out what is what would be enough to keep our minds excited. But more than that, dinosaurs bring us to wonder what the past was like. We imagine these creatures and imagine what their behavior and lives were like and what kind of world they lived in. 

Species are going extinct all the time, and the dinosaurs were no different. And when you don't have a live animal in front of you, what you can know for certain about it is limited. If I lived one or two hundred years ago and heard someone telling stories about a platypus or an ostrich or an anteater, I would have a hard time believing them. Actually, I still marvel at the fact that such a creature as a platypus exists (it looks like a beaver and has a duck bill and poisonous ankles, really?). Animals are pretty amazing. 

If you were looking at, for instance, fossilized platypus bones it would be difficult to tell what a platypus was actually like alive. Paleontologists are always recategorizing dinosaur types and rearranging their skeletons and coming up with new info on their supposed behavior and diets. So how do we know that what we now "know" is pretty close to the truth if dinosaur facts 150 years ago were pretty different? We don't; we just enjoy the process of learning and imagining. 

It's like we're trying to reclaim the past, reconnect with it. How were dinosaurs created so perfectly and splendidly that they continue to fascinate us even when they're dead? They're like diamonds, those little gems stuck in the ground for us to dig up and ogle over. The fossils, too, are there for us to dream and imagine and to study and learn. Little secret puzzles for us to play with. 

Thursday, February 3, 2022

Valerie Confections: Petit Four Bouquet

Nearly ten years ago, I first tasted a Rose Petal petit four from Valerie Confections, and I've been wanting one again ever since. For the last couple of years, I've been making it my annual tradition to order a box of confections from them around Valentine's Day. This year, though, I found that I've tried most of the Valentine's offerings already. They do slightly different collections each year, but mainly with the same type of chocolates. So instead of getting a Valentine's box, it was time (at last) to order some petits fours.

If you visit the shop, you can of course just get one petit four. Online, though, they come in boxes of twelve. So you can get "a dozen roses," that is, twelve Rose Petal petits fours, or you can choose other flavors. Fond as my memories were of the Rose Petal ones, I had to take the chance to try some other varieties, as well. I chose the Petit Four Bouquet, which came set with a sort of dusty-purple-mauve ribbon. At $55, these are well more expensive than a box of twelve truffles, but they're a special occasional indulgence.

Rose Petal - Though not all of Valerie's petits fours are white chocolate, the four flavors in this set are. Like before, the Rose Petal comes of course with a sugared rose petal on top. I would definitely call it the prettiest and most visually unique of the four given that the other three garnishes are fairly common garnishes among fresh truffles. Or maybe I just have a bias for roses. The rose petal also gives a light texture to the soft cake because of that sugar coating. Combined with the delicate vanilla cake and the sweet white chocolate, the rose flavor gives a wonderfully feminine quality to these confections. It's an effect quite unlike anything else.

Lavender - The lavender on top also makes these an easy one to identify. Instantly, the cake has that sprightly, springy, bouncy flavor of lavender along with the sweetness of the chocolate. I like quite a present floral flavor, and this lavender is well-pronounced. If it's too mild, what's the point, right? As with all of these, the cake comes in three layers that are soft and not at all dry. And they're also not completely like eating a slice of cake because the layers are so thin. Each petit four is like a giant truffle, so they're not big. They're quite luxurious little layered sweets.

Earl Grey - This is the only one that isn't instantly recognizable: it's topped with a bit of gold rather than with Earl Grey tea. Gold is a better idea. It's also the only one of these four that does not white cake. I'm not certain, though, that it isn't still the same vanilla cake base as the rest have: I believe it's just colored by the inclusion of the Earl Grey. You can see little peppery specks within the cake layers. Earl Grey always makes for an interesting flavor to add to non-tea items because Earl Grey simply means bergamot added to black tea. And bergamot is citrus, so this is essentially just another citrus flavor in addition to the lemon coming up next. Two citrus and two flowers, is that really a bouquet? Well, bergamot and lemon also have flowers, so I suppose it works. Anyway. Bergamot is a light and bright type of citrus; it reminds me more of lime (which I prefer to lemon). That means that this Earl Grey makes for a nice bridge between the springy flavor of the Lavender and the more traditional citrus note of the Lemon. 

Lemon - I always balk a bit at lemon-flavored sweets and then usually find them much more pleasant than I'd imagined. Such is the case here. The lemon taste is light and sweet with just a delicate tartness that pair well with the creaminess of the cake and white chocolate. It's a very classic effect. Maybe because this time this was the new flavor, but this time it was the Lemon more than the Rose Petal that put me in mind of a Victorian tea party. 

Did my memory of these petits fours hold up? Yes, I it quite did. Now, though, I'm strangely unsure about which was my favorite flavor. Normally rose-flavored things are most exciting to me both because I like rose and because it isn't the most common flavor to come across in the chocolate (or dessert) world these days. And they are beautiful. But I find myself leaning towards the Lavender this time. Maybe it's because of all the lavender products I took in from Los Poblanos last year, maybe they've left me with an extra fondness for lavender.