How I Met Portia. My Five Year APJ Contributor Anniversary. And a Lemming.


Val the Cookie Queen



I think it was around the end of 2012 that I read the APJ post where Portia announced that he was coming to Europe; along with the cities and dates that he would be around. So happy to see Vienna on the list, and not only that, I was actually gonna be in Vienna the day he was there. I emailed him asking if he’d like to meet up and I would bring cookies. We arranged to meet at the Café Mozart. I asked my daughter (the future BlondesWunder) to come along with me, as I was a bit out of practice at meeting random Aussie drag queens.

How I Met Portia.


Some of you know this story, you can skip the next bit. We had absolutely no clue as to what Portia looked like, nor if he would turn up in drag. It was a biting cold day as we stood outside the Café Mozart. As each person approached BlondesWunder and I would be staring like crazy women, wondering if it might be Portia. To no avail. We walked Into the Café to take look, but no one stood out as Portia Turbo Gear. Nope. Back outside we went. And then my phone rang, with and Australian calling code, Portia
telling us he was in the Café, over to the left of the entrance, and could be found wearing a M&S style vaguely Christmasy woolly. Which is of course exactly what I was expecting. I still laugh.

I know this picture has been used any times, we have no other one really from when I met Portia, but let’s look a little closer. Between Portia and my head, in the mirror is Hannah BlondesWunder taking the pic. To the right of Portia`s head, also reflected in the mirror, is Jin busy taking a few shots too. Behind the sugar shaker is the Chanel bag I had bought 31 Rue Cambon in a few months early. You might notice the bag is pimped with an armadillo sticker, and it was packed with cookies. And if you look really closely you can see that my ear is red. When I get nervous, or over excited, it does that. So annoying and a dead giveaway to those who know me. 🙂

My Five Year APJ Contributor Anniversary.

“Its been five years, my brain hurts a lot …..“ Bowie

APJ had not even had its first birthday when we met. As we drank tea and talked I said to Portia, hey, I could write something for APJ huh? I thought maybe once or twice. He´s like yeah, totally. And now it has been five years to the very day. Tuesday 13 March 2013 – Tuesday 13 March 2018. Five bloody years of running around like the proverbial chipmunk on crack, wondering what to write, and if I can meet my deadline. It was on this day in Vienna that I became Cookie Queen. It truly changed my life, and opened so many doors for me, I wouldn’t know where to begin. Portia, please may I say another five?

And a Lemming.


Christian Dior Oud Ispahan – A Lemming

Before Christmas I met up with APJ`s Sandra and the lovely Lady Jane Grey. LJG gave me decant of seven or eight mls of Dior´s Oud Ispahan, and I have used the lot. I have wanted to get into this oud thing but never liked it. I find the stuff very interesting and was privileged to to try a number of pure ouds when I visited Ellen Covey in Seattle a few years ago. But never say never, and I have totally fallen for this Dior. I don’t care if it is real oud or not real oud, the perfume is gorgeous. And I want it. Do I want a whole bottle? You can bet your ass I do. But as I have grown older I have gained a little wisdom so here’s what I am gonna do. LJG has offered to refill my bottle. (It is now empty). If I continue to wear it the way I have been, then yeah, I will buy a bottle. Portia said they do 40ml bottles in Paris, anyone know if they do that I all the CD boutiques?

Thanks to every single reader and commenter over the years. I love the APJ Family.

Celebratory Bussis

58 thoughts on “How I Met Portia. My Five Year APJ Contributor Anniversary. And a Lemming.

  1. THANK GOODNESS we met. I’d be lost without you Val.
    Thanks for being a massive contributor here on APJ but more than that THANK YOU for making me part of your family.
    Portia xx


  2. What a gem of a post, CQ. I ADORED reading all the little details about the photo that I had missed. Especially seeing the reflections of BW and Jin in the mirror 🙂

    I love looking back on those life-changing moments when we have not idea of how momentous they are at the time. It’s also funny how we get used to meeting online perfume people after being terrified the first time.

    Oud Ispahan is such a rock n’roll perfume. I can imagine it suiting you perfectly. The SA at the Chanel perfume boutique on the 5th floor of Harrods told Sandra and me that the small bottles would be coming in, so I’m sure you can get it in London.


    • Tara, friend extraordinaire. Without having met Portia ……. seriously, it really was a momentous meeting. And although had no idea at the time, you conking of se it in the photo huh? I hadn’t know him for 10 minutes. You know, I had Hannah with me as a support, in case this random Aussie drag queen was, uhh, difficult? Once I saw that it was a meeting made in heaven, I told her she could go off with her girlfriend ….. Not a hope n hell. She would not budge. Hahahahahaha. We will all be together next month. Counting the days. xxxxx


  3. Happy anniversary! Congratulations, and thank you for all the great blog entries you’ve written, for introducing me to some truly gorgeous scents, and for the comment chats!

    (You can get the small bottles in the boutique in the Glasgow House of Fraser, so they are already in some in the UK)

    p.s. I _love_ that armadilloed Chanel bag. Perfect.


    • Hi Crikey. Really, I think Chanel should add it to their bags don’t you? Its. great having you as a friend, along on the crazy perfume ride! All sorts of people huh? I love it. And extra thanks for the supplement tips. 😉 xxxxxx


  4. Fantastic story Val and happy anniversary 🙂

    I hope to meet the fabulous Portia in real life one day as well!

    Here’s wishing you many more years on APJ!


    • Hello chez Marzipan! Thanks you. Five years is really quite along while. Portia is a really special person, I cannot imagine mylife without him. I hope you can hook up with him one day! I hope I can manage a few more years too. So many deadlines …… xxxxx


    • Hello Jackie b. Hahahaha. seriously? It is such a great pic huh? Thanks for reading and taking the time to comment ro regularly. It means a lot and I now it takes time. Lots of love, Val xxxxx


  5. I‘m so proud of myself : I really managed to give Val the Cookie Queen a lemming !!! Hah, and that with a perfume I expected to do so the least… I was trying to convince Val about oud for ages, I was pushing my wrist, smelling like a barn full of goats and roses, under her nose – but nothing. And then, totally unexpectedly, a lemming was born …
    BTW, you never forget the day you met Portia the first time !
    Looking forward to possibly see you both soon again 😘


    • Hi LJG! I now – It totally shocked me too. I just could not stop wearing it. Perhaps there is a right time for our highly tuned noses to accept something new? Whatever it was, this is just beautiful, and I am so happy that you are willing to share such a thing with me. See you for breakfast next week. Same time, same place. xxxxxx


  6. Oh I say, V, what a pivotal** meeting that turned out to be with M & S woolly rocking blog mogul host(ess) with the mostest!

    I am so glad you said you’d give the blogging a go – and the rest is highly entertaining, sassy, smart, insightful, wisecracking history!

    If I sound wordy today, blame Eleanor O.

    **PS I was also going to go with ‘momentous’ or ‘life-changing’, but T has beaten me to both, hehe, so ‘pivotal’ it is.


  7. Val, I loved the story! But you missed the important part: what kind of cookies earned you that title?

    I’m glad you and Portia met: I think APJ fits you perfectly! You’re the only author (other than Portia) whose posts I always read.
    Happy fifth anniversary (not exactly of blogging but of the decision to do that 🙂 ), and keep doing that – you’re adorable in that chipmunk role 😉

    I completely understand both the lemming (I liked OI despite the “Oud” part – so no, most likely, it’s not real agarwood, but who cares?) and the wait for the 40 ml bottle (I’m waiting to get one of Ambre Nuit).


    • Dearest Undina. Probably the original chocolate chunk cookies, although the peanut butter and chocolate chunk could be the winner …. Thanks Undina. Yep. me too. You are another personI would not have met had it not been for this meeting with Portia. I amtouhed that you read the CQ posts! I feel very well at my APJ home. Really? I find my chipmunk mode utterly exhausting,but don’t always find myself able to get out of it. I keep practicing. Sigh. I shall see how long my refill lastsfromLJG before trying the newer version! Hugs. xxxxx


  8. Congrats. A lovely post. Now speaking of lemmings…I am blaming you totally, completely, thoroughly…and I usually do NOT like musks…but I decided to try it anyway. It’s all your fault. I am in love with L’Animal Sauvage! And I MUST have it. So sorta kinda thank you. :);)


    • Maya! How nice to see you. Of course you must have it . Fortunately it is not over-expensive. I am prepared to take the blame. It comes with the territory! But I must add here, I never rave on about anything that I do not absolutely love myself. Which does not mean that you will, but does mean that my love is genuine. You my dear, are more than welcome. Enjoy it. And roll on summer so I can try it in the heat! xxxxxxx


  9. I hadn’t heard the Val & Portia meeting story, so really enjoyed it and the photo! By the way, I like real Oud and it’s wonderful when blended well.


    • Evening Elaine! Cool, glad it wasn’t on repeat mode for someone! I am enjoying my slow descent into Ouddom, dunno hw deep I am gonna go. We shall see. Although I know so little about it, I think I can understand that it has to be well blended. Bussis. xxxxxx


  10. Totally enjoyed the story and your unique way of phrasing it all. You inject so much personality into your words; it makes me feel you are just down the road and not half a world away.

    What I love most about you, other than your killer hair and smokin’ hot red lippy, is that you take life with both hands and give your all. You feel fear, but you engage fully. I have a huge amount of respect for you, Val. You share, with us, the bits that aren’t pretty, yet it just adds to your allure and style.

    Stick around, baby. Xx


    • Oh Kate :). You are one of the few that I feel I have known for ever. I have said it before, but seriously, I so look forward to the day that we meet. Because we will. Yes, I am the original Anxiety Queen. which is why I spend so much time in the gym. Sending the hugest of tight hugs. Your comment made me cry. I’ll stick …. xxxxxx


  11. Val, do note the oud ispahan you experienced is original formulation so if it is what you fell in love with, you wont want to blind buy the latest one that, according to some people, has been cleansed up a bit. If you like the latest, it would be good for your wallet, too but if it is the vintage you fell in love with, it is going to be a more challenging hunt.


    • Hey Fazal! LJG beat me to it. I shall accept her refill from the very first original bottle of Oud Ispahan – and use it sparingly!! I heard from some else that the stuff had been reformulated. :(. That you so much for taking the time to advise me on not making a mistake. I take it very seriously. I am excited to maybe discover some more scents in this direction. I am in theLady Jane Gray´s very capable hands. Big hugs. xxxxxx


  12. Hi Val,love this story of how you met Portia, wish I was there! I always read your posts and enjoy your writing and personality very much.

    Well, when I first met you in Vienna, I told you I was a fan girl! You looked at me a bit shocked I think! I remember I was so happy! During that trip in 2016 I also got to spend time with Sandra G and Tara!
    This will be my first trip to Paris and London and so looking forward to seeing you again as well as Tara yay!! Will Sandra G be there, we shall see.

    Its all because of the wonderful fabulous fragrant Portia Turbo xxx
    so grateful xxx


  13. Well done on your fifth anniversary, Val. You are one busy lady. I always enjoy your contributions and am happy to be a small member of the APJ family.
    PS You are wearing a top that looks identical to one I’ve got. So you’ve obviously got great taste, haha.


    • cassieflower -good to see you, as ever! Busy or manic, that’s always the question! Aren’t we all though? I absolutely love leopard print, but it is surpassingly difficult to find ones that I like. The above cardigan washy favorite ever. It has died 😦 Love having you here, every family member is treasured! Bussis. xxxxxxx


  14. Hi Val and congratulations to your anniversary! I’m also happy to be a part of the APJ family for some two and a half years now.
    It’s the first time I hear this story so I appreciate it very much, as well as your posts (with recipes, stories about your cookies, reviews, etc…)
    Here’s to at least another five years!


    • Hi Neva! Fantastic. I was hoping it might be the first time for someone. It is a story I have returned to a number of time. It was pivotal moment in my life, and as I sat down at the table in the Cafe with Portia and Jin, it was if I had slipped back into a friendship that had always been. I am so thankful for those who read, because it takes two for it to work. Lot of l love, Val xxxxx


  15. Wow, I can’t believe 5 years went by so quickly. I’m so glad you met up with Portia because reading about your adventures since then has been wonderful. If having great friendships is a sign of being a beautiful person then you both must be truly lovely people. Congratulations on the first 5 years and I so hope I may continue to enjoy reading about the next 5.


    • Hello SonomaVelvet. Thanks for your kind words. Portia is one of the loveliest people that I know. I am so thankful that we have been able to meet in person several times of the years, and he has even accompanied on a Cookie Run. I too hope to carry on for the next five years, without having to smack my head against a wall too often. I will be seeing Portia next month in London,stay tuned! xxxxxxx


  16. This was so fun to read. I also meant to comment weeks ago, Val, when you posted an amazing picture of your ever so cool younger self – to go along with your ever so cool current self.

    Meanwhile I desperately want one of those awesome Dior bottles but can never decide which one. I like a few, but not sure which if any I love. Will retry OI!


    • Morning from here Amy! Hahahaha. I am an anxiety ridden, post menopausal, constant worrier. But yeah, a good picture is always fun! Yes, those bottle are really beautiful. But if I find out that the Oud does not smell like the one that I have (and I am picking up more next week) then I may have to turn into that annoying perfumista sort that says “I cannot possibly wear the reformulated version.” I shall report back! Nice to see you. xxxxxx


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