The scent of comfort
You've heard of comfort foods, but how about comfort fragrances? That's the idea behind Demeter's scents: putting the familiar and homey into a fragrance for easy access and memory evocation.
The line includes lotions, bath gels and "Pick-Me-Up" cologne sprays that smell like sugar cookies, Altoids, dirt, snow, sushi, mold (!), brownies, martinis, lettuce, Laundromats, rain and -- well, you get the idea.
If it reminds you of something, chances are Demeter bottles its essence. You can find it online at beauty.com, the exclusive seller of a new, limited edition Demeter scent called Sugar Cane. The line sells for $8 to $18.
It's in the stars
In the long-lost masterpiece "White House at Night," Vincent van Gogh painted a compelling astronomical vision: a bright star blazing above a house touched with the half-light of evening.
But that "star" is probably the planet Venus, scientists have discovered. A bit of astronomical detective work led them to the actual spot in Auvers-sur-Oise, France, where van Gogh created his painting.
"We know exactly which way he was looking and exactly when he painted it," says Don Olson, an astronomer at Southwest Texas State University in San Marcos.
It was during the evening of June 16, 1890, that van Gogh painted the scene, the researchers concluded. And the house was at numbers 25 and 27 of what is now rue du General de Gaulle in Auvers.
After several sales, "White House at Night" lay hidden, first in a private collection in Nazi Germany and then in a Russian museum, which put the painting on display in 1995. It complements four other van Gogh astronomical scenes, which include the famous "Starry Night," says Olson.
Shedding some light
In an age when we never know when the lights will go out from a power shortage, maybe it's timely that there's a new book just hitting store shelves titled "Illuminations; Living by Candlelight."
Of course, you don't have to wait for a power shortage to use candles in your home. Want to make things a little more romantic or just hide the dust? Light some candles.
But, don't do it just any old way. Do it with style. That's what this book is all about.
Published by Chronicle Books, its 120 pages filled with examples and 200 color photos, instructions and advice on how to spiffy up your home with candles. With a suggested retail price of $19.95, it is available through most bookstores.
Toys are the new meal ticket
The Happy Meal toys your children collect are more than child's play. They may be worth money. They already are to Robert J. Sodaro of Norwalk, Conn., author of his first book, "Kiddie Meal Collectibles," a comprehensive price guide for the ever-growing market of fast-food toy collectibles.
Burger Chef, now Hardee's, was one of the first restaurants to give toys with meals. These included character buttons, wooden nickels, hand puppets and drinking glasses now worth between $4 to $10 each in mint condition.
In 1979, McDonald's was the first to launch a national giveaway campaign tied to a meal, now known as the Happy Meal. The first set was made up of four circus animals -- a lion, an elephant, a hippopotamus and a bear -- now worth between $10 to $13 each.
Sodaro adds that recent efforts to tie toy giveaways to film releases and popular cartoon characters has made collecting these items more popular.