Scent Diary, Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2018

Monday, Jan. 29: Warm for January, in the upper 40s. I did errands and made lasagna for supper. The CEO went to Taz’s academic challenge team match (which they lost, by one question, because Taz didn’t buzz in with the answer quickly enough).

I’ve been in communications with my webhost tech support about disallowing comments. They keep thinking they’ve gotten it fixed, but since I haven’t had comments for several weeks, I don’t think so.

SOTD was Mary Greenwell Plum, which was nice for about two hours but then shrank down too close to the skin. (Maybe the house is too dry? my skin is too dry?) I put on some Tabac Aurea before bed, when the wind picked up and temperatures began to drop outside. We got a robocall from the school system alerting us to a two-hour delay for Tuesday, due to expected high winds, low temperatures and snow.

The project for the week is Finding My Vanilla Scent. More info to come, but it’s not exactly going well.

Tuesday, Jan. 30: School was canceled early this morning, though why I don’t know. We only got a dusting of snow! And the temps aren’t that bad, either: 10F with the wind chill. (I’m feeling smug and puzzled because I had a 1970s childhood and would wait for the bus outside in this kind of weather on a regular basis in the winter. What, they don’t make coats and gloves and hats anymore?? The buses can’t run if there’s a quarter of an inch of snow??) The high for tomorrow is supposed to be in the 40s again.  Taz, of course, was jubilant at getting a day off until The CEO ordered him to do some housework.

SOTD is Ralph Lauren Safari. Good stuff, so good. I notice the ambery drydown more in cold weather, but this is a year-round favorite.

Wednesday, Jan. 31: Testing Guerlain Cuir Beluga today. Not impressed. Powdery vanilla suede, sorta kinda. Meh.

Thursday, Feb. 1: Warmer, with rain on the way. I’ve been testing Tom Ford Vanille Fatale today. I’m on the fence about it. It starts odd, with a twangy herbal thing, then slides into pretty-much-straight-up-vanilla extract. After that, it goes through a couple of weird stages that I don’t much like, with odd effects including smoke, slightly-rancid butter, and wet dog. But the drydown is gorgeous and reminds me quite a bit of PdN Vanille Tonka: a root-beery vanilla leather smell. Which is quite nice. On the other hand, if you were wishing (as I was) for the long, long delicious drydown part of TF Tobacco Vanille, that gorgeous clear nonpowdery vanilla-liqueur portion of it, you are out of luck.

Also, Vanille Fatale runs $230/50ml and Vanille Tonka, even with its originally wonderful lime topnote reformulated out, runs $155 for 100ml. I think the choice is clear, friends.

I think I might be coming down with something. Hope it’s not the flu, but I’m achy and my head hurts.

Friday, Feb. 2:  Groundhog Day, and a happy birthday to my cousin Holly! We were awakened at 6 a.m. with a robocall from the school system again: 2-hour delay. Then at 6:50, another call: school closed. It has been blowing snow all morning and the accumulation is about half an inch, if that. Temperature is 23F at 10 a.m., and with the wind chill it feels like 13F. So. Yeah, cold, but I can remember waiting for the bus in below-zero temps (and hey, metric system peeps, I mean below-zero Fahrenheit, so -18C). WIMPS.

SOTD is Amouage Memoir Woman. I love Memoir, but it is an all-day commitment, and sometimes it can get A Bit Much. Today I just don’t care. I’m luxuriating in cozy weirdness. And I feel better.

Saturday, Feb. 3: Cold again. The CEO built a lovely fire and then took some wood to a friend; the rest of us cleaned up the house and drank hot chocolate. SOTD was delicious Prada Candy, and we went to see the high school’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” (Which I admit I’ve never thought much of. It’s like somebody’s senior high school music-writing project — great for an early effort, not great as a product of a mature composer.)

Sunday, Feb. 4: Woke to a light snow turning to sleet. It’s getting icy out there. No church today. Bleagh. Worked on structure for the new novel — I know where it starts and where it needs to go, but the middle part is nebulous. SOTD began with some vintage Arpege extrait, but I suspect this one has gone off. It’s not pleasant. I scrubbed and put on Organza Indecence for the rest of the day.

We ate snacky food (boneless buffalo wings with celery and bleu cheese dip, mozzarella sticks and marinara, spinach dip with pita chips) for dinner and watched the Super Bowl. GO EAGLES!

Well, okay, I’m not a big Eagles fan, but I hate the Patriots. Hate ’em. They’re a trashy organization from the administration down and I’m glad to see them lose. (Feel free to lob rotten tomatoes if you like.)


Scent Diary, Jan. 22-28, 2018

Pulled by light on a winter’s day by Simon Matzinger, via Pexels

Monday, Jan. 22: Wow, three weeks into January already. The CEO just commented that January lasts forever, but I think it’s been zipping by. I’ve been working on the new novel, but after the weekend’s conference I have an idea how to deal with the structure problem that’s been making the old one tough to revise, so I’m rewriting some scenes for it. SOTD is Mariella Burani.

Tuesday, Jan. 23: More writing, and some cleaning up. Bleah. SOTD was Parfum Sacre, after testing Abdes Salaam Attar Benzoin

Wednesday, Jan. 24: Taz has a MACC (academic challenge team) match this evening — hope they win. Tested Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille in the morning. SOTA was Hermes 24, Faubourg, which is still just a tad too orange-blossomy-soap to be a love for me, but which reminds me in a pleasant way of the  Karl Lagerfeld Chloe I wore as a teenager. I miss Chloe and it was a genius scent, but I really cannot wear it now. I’ve tried.

Thursday, Jan. 25: Chillier in the morning, but warmed up by the afternoon. Decent choir practice this evening, and I like most of the music selections for this semester. SOTM was a sample of Seveline Vanille de Madagascar (as part of my unofficial Vanilla Exploration Project); SOTE was Parfum Sacre.

Friday, Jan. 26: Weather is still warmish for January, which I don’t like. SOTD was Parfum d’Hermes. I continue to try with this one, but I just don’t love it. It reminds me a little of Chamade, and a little of Deneuve, but I can’t put my finger on why it fails to hit a sweet spot for me.

SOTE was a goodly spritz of Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea, which has hit that sweet spot for me since first sniff in fall 2009. I’m sad that SSS perfumer Laurie Erickson is ceasing production, but I wish her well in her new endeavors (I think she may be pursuing photography) and I do hope she is able to sell SSS to someone who will be able to keep the company going and producing Laurie’s wonderful fragrances.

Sharry Baby orchid image via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, Jan. 27: Taz had an outdoor indoor track meet today. (Ha. I mean Indoor Track, the sport, held a “polar bear” meet outside today. Temps were middle 50sF, so not all that cold . . . but still not great running weather. He PRed in the 1000M, but didn’t run his 2000M well.) The CEO went with him. Bookworm and I went shopping for a baby shower gift, and did some house cleaning. SOTD was LeLong Pour Femme, which is a pretty, smooth floral-oriental — it’s mostly orchids and sandalwood, and pink in a very grown-up way.

The CEO and Bookworm and I went to see a Tom Petty tribute band at the local theater tonight. It was fun, Free Fallin’ was good, I love TP music, so an enjoyable evening. More LeLong pour femme.

Sunday, Jan. 28: SOTD was a half-spritz of Memoir Woman. Which is big. And rich. And weird. And probably too intense for temps in the upper 40s, but I don’t think I gassed anybody out at church. The drydown was amaaaazing. Sometime around 5 pm I was sniffing my arm with delight. So I respritzed after my evening bath. 😀

Beautiful service at church today.


Scent Diary, Jan. 15-21, 2018

Not my house. I WISH we were getting snow.

Monday, Jan. 15: Chilly but not ridiculous-cold. Wearing Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences again from a sample and thinking, “Ehh. Meh.” It’s not bad, mind you, it’s just not exciting.  It’s sad, because the bottle’s gorgeous. It’s Vanilla Week at Now Smell This, so I’m gonna try.

Tuesday, Jan. 16: So The CEO forgot that he was going to take Taz to school, and I wound up taking him (without getting my own breakfast. or wearing makeup. or, heaven forbid, making coffee). And just as I got home, I found The CEO waiting for me in the driveway — really late — saying that Cameron (his Camry) was making the weird noise it makes when it’s low on oil, and that he would need to take Thorin (the Sorento, which is ostensibly mine to drive) and I would need to take Cameron to the lube place to get an oil change and, oh yeah, get it inspected because the sticker runs out at the end of the month. And he gets into Thorin and zooms off.

Slightly taken aback, I shook my head to clear it and went in to eat my now-cold scrambled eggs and put on a scosh of makeup and brush my hair. Then I mentally shrugged at Vanilla Week, stuck a Safari parfum mini in my pocket and zipped out the door to the lube shop where we get oil changes, because the Serious Repair Shop is short-handed these days and it’s tough to get common jobs scheduled there.

So the Safari was delicious, as usual — every time I wear it, I wonder briefly to myself why I ever wear anything else — but that was the only good thing because a) I had no coffee
b) the oil change guy said that Cameron needed an alternator
c) Cameron failed inspection due to two nearly-bald tires on the back.

So I called The CEO and he wanted me to go get his buddy at the serious-repair shop to look over the car and give his opinion on whether it really needed an alternator, and if the tires were really bad or if the lube shop was just trying to make bank out of a clueless female. However, the serious-repair shop was covered up with customers, so I made an appointment for Wednesday.

Wednesday, Jan. 17: Woke to an official robocall saying that the school system’s status had changed from “two hours late” to “closed.” Taz was joyous that he’d get to stay home. Bookworm and The CEO had to go to work anyway, and of course none of Gaze’s activities were suspended. I’m sure he was out with the Army ROTC for PT at 5 am as usual. (Brrrr!)

There wasn’t much snow, only about an inch, but it was slick. Conditions worsened as the day went on, because traffic melted what was on the road, and then it would freeze as ice. School will be closed tomorrow as well, not because we have a lot of snow, but because the roads are icy. Sure, you Northeasterners are laughing — but I guarantee you that you don’t know what it’s like to try to drive a school bus down some of the narrow twisty roads in the Hiwassee area. Add ice to those roads, and you got Accident Waiting To Happen.

SOTD was a spray sample of Natori, which nobody talks about anymore. I guess because it’s discontinued? Shame. It’s a velvety, plummy oriental that I can wear for a lonnnnng time — like 7-8 hours — before it starts pulling up that dreaded Youth Dew Accord and I have to wash it off. It reminds me, actually, of the also-late-and-lamented, by me, Tom Ford Private Blend Black Violet, of which I only have about 3 mls left in a mini. (PSA: if you didn’t manage to grab a bottle of Natori back in the day due to cost, check FragranceNet, where a 50ml is running about $17 and the 100ml $20. I actually considered the shower gel momentarily before deciding it would probably go very Youth Dew on me, and we can’t have that.)

My actual face.

I took Cameron to the Serious Repair Shop run by a school friend of the CEO’s for the new alternator, since Terry commented the old one was spitting sparks all over the place.  😯 Then, as I promised The CEO, I asked Terry if the tire tread would pass inspection.

He laughed. Hard. And then he said, “There isn’t enough tread on these for me to even measure. They’re toast.” So we ordered tires, too, which they’ll put on tomorrow afternoon. This whole little “Hey, take my car to get an oil change and an inspection,” suggestion of The CEO’s has turned into $600+ of necessary repairs, not to mention several hours. Of my time. (Which, I assure you, I would have been much happier to donate if I’d KNOWN this would take hours. Or if the Ranger hadn’t also been in the shop, so that I could have dropped the car off and left it there to be dealt with instead of sitting in the waiting room.)

Or if I’d gotten more than an offhand, “By the way, thanks.”

I’m thinking I deserve something good in return. Like maybe a bottle of Lubin Epidor? Or maybe just a hefty decant, so I can see how it wears when I spritz it out of a normal spray mechanism, as opposed to the plastic spray sample. Oddly, none of the usual decant services have Epidor in stock. Well, okay, Lucky Scent does, but they only either sell you a full bottle or a .7ml dabber vial, and I’m well past what a dabber vial will do for me. #firstworldproblems #i’llshutupnow

Hey, in any case now I have proof that the lube shop is not only competent to diagnose things like bald tires and alternators spitting sparks, they’re comparable to the serious-repair shop in terms of pricing.

Thursday, Jan. 18: Chilly weather. Spent a long time at the garage, waiting for the tires and shivering every time somebody opened the door (brrrr!). I’d made an appointment, but apparently it takes 2.5 hours to rotate and align tires. Shrug. The Ranger is still waiting for parts to be shipped, so it’s not ready yet. SOTD was Hermes 24, Faubourg.

Good community chorus rehearsal this evening — first one of the semester. The CEO eventually thanked me for going above and beyond in getting Cameron serviced.

Friday, Jan. 19: More chilly weather. SOTD was a half-spritz of Shalimar Light (lemon-vanilla powder, nice) for housework and writing, so I could actually wear something vanilla for the last day of this week’s NST challenge.

SOTE was Chanel 31 Rue Cambon (the edp, from my newish decant); I went to a writers’ conference in the evening. I had been to the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference several years ago, not long after I started blogging — either 2009 or 2010, I think, and hadn’t been since. I’m not sure why not. Sharyn McCrumb spoke at that earlier conference; she was really funny. I like her books, don’t love them, but she’s amazing. Tonight was good.

Saturday, Jan. 20: Temps in the mid-50sF today, which was certainly a switchup. Conference all day, wearing more 31 Rue Cambon. Incidentally, I’m not getting a big difference between the edp and the old, original edt (if indeed you can call something released in 2006 “old”). The edt might have been a bit more irisy in the drydown, maybe. And tighter restrictions on citrus and jasmine since 2006 have definitely taken some of the sparkle out of 31 RC, but it still smells like itself: classic, retro rather than vintage, and tastefully rich.

Conference was very good. I got something out of almost every seminar, and I’d even say that I got more out of the seminars today than I did from the very large Writer’s Digest conference I attended in Nashville last summer.

Then I had dinner with a college friend who lives in Roanoke and who I never manage to go see, because if we’re going to Roanoke, it’s pretty much to see my parents. That was lovely, and it was fun to meet her son, who reminds me a good bit of Taz.

This bottle. My mini came from eBay with no box, but it has that gold embossed cap so I know it’s the “fleur de parfum” version.

Sunday, Jan. 21: Still warm. Which is nice, but worrisome. I don’t like this big weather swing in January, I think it’s going to make us all sick. SOTD was a dab of vintage YSL Paris parfum, and y’all, that stuff is literally BIG PINK NEON ON SKIN. But gorgeous — it’s a huge exuberant flowery hug.

Member lunch and meeting after church. Then we had Breakfast for Dinner later on, and it was yummy but I am missing Gaze.


Mini-Review Roundup, Jan. 19, 2018

Penhaligon’s Orange Blossom, 2010 reorchestration of the 1976 release, composed by Bertrand Duchaufour: really very nice. I had bought this small split portion a couple of years ago, and then apparently “put it away for safekeeping”, which any fool knows is like tossing things into the Bermuda Triangle: you never know if you’ll see those items again. I found the decant when cleaning out my closet recently and, despite barely remembering buying it, decided to give it a shot. Regular readers know that I Haz Orange Blossom Issues, by which I mean that OB fragrances nearly always smell like soap on me. I mean, it’s generally nice soap, of the creamy Dove kind, but still: soap. Bleagh. Don’t get me started on the list of OB scents that do not work for me, because it’s long. If they don’t smell like soap, they smell like candy. I really like By Kilian’s (pricey) Sweet Redemption, which is orange blossom and myrrh, but every time I wear it, Taz says I smell like grape and root beer lollipops. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Honestly, I can’t remember why I went out on a limb for a 5ml split portion of the Penhaligon’s, other than I remember hearing it was good.

I’m glad I did, though. This one is distinctly un-soapy, which is a blessed relief, and more floral than candy-sweet. It’s a simple-seeming floral fragrance that is what I’d call a true soliflore, in that although there are materials in it other than orange blossom (notably petitgrain, jasmine, muguet, violet leaf, virginia cedar, vanilla), it mostly smells of orange blossom all the way through. The angle of light shining on the flowers changes, from a lemony-green sparkle up top to a warm, mellow, honeyed base. It’s lovely. It also only lasts about three hours with a moderate spritz, so the Annick Goutal spray-until-wet method would serve you well with it.

A couple of other reviews of the Penhaligon’s: Persolaise, Scent Epiphany and Olfactoria’s Travels.

Lubin EpidorAngela’s review on Now Smell This last May made me think that it would not be up my alley in the least. “Thick”?  Not my kinda thang. And Lubin’s ad copy mentioning peasant girls and ripe wheat and dreams is soppy and even more useless than ad copy usually is — even from Lubin, which is famous for its ridiculously OTT ad copy.

But then my almost-Evil Scent Twin Kafkaesque reviewed it and said it was very simple, linear, but called it “cozy comfort” and said she needed a decant. And then March’s review of it on Perfume Posse in December made me think that I needed to try this. She called it “unashamedly romantic” and “narcotic,” and told me the base was more hay/woody than sweet vanilla. So I ordered a 1.2ml spray sample.

La Faneuse by Emile Claus. Epidor smells like these colors: wheat and white and blue, all layered with honey-golden light.

And y’all, it’s gone already. I used it up. I like it that much.

The notes include violet, plum, orange blossom, jasmine, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla and tonka bean. It is not complicated at all: it is just so golden and pretty. I get lots of violet, a haze of white florals, then a gentle wheaty, almond-cake drydown. Which sounds like not much, right? but it’s just so dang pretty, and it smells relatively natural. None of that blocky, lab-created jasminoid thing that annoyed the pants off me in Twilly d’Hermes. No buzzy Ambrox. I’m not saying there aren’t any synthetics in it, I’m just saying that the synthetics in it are not ones that trip my “this smells like Chem 102 lab” threshold.

Pretty, isn’t it? Also kinda floofy.

Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences

Ad copy mentions sparkling champagne and sequins; the bottle is floofy (see left). But the notes list is pretty simple: bergamot, black pepper, tonka, frankincense, white flowers, vanilla, white musk. The fragrance is pretty simple, too. It’s basically . . . vanilla.

To confess, I’ve never tried what’s generally recognized as the ne plus ultra of vanilla fragrances, Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille. (SDV itself has been revamped in the last couple of years anyway, and aficionados say it isn’t as long-lasting now.) Never mind the fairly malicious review of it in Perfumes: The Guide, because people who love vanilla still love SDV. Haven’t smelled L’Artisan’s late, lamented Vanilia, either. I did enjoy a sample of Dame Perfumery’s Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, though it’s a tad more powdery than I’d prefer.

The thing is, I love vanilla-flavored anything, so long as it’s real vanilla. Offer me a choice of vanilla or chocolate cake? Vanilla, please. Vanilla or chocolate ice cream? VANILLA. Hands down. But for some reason, I generally don’t want to wear vanilla perfume. (See the Sexy Cake post for further explanations.)

In fact, on my skin Nuit et Confidences was so straight-up vanilla that I got out a bottle of vanilla extract to compare it. The extract lasts longer — and is significantly less powdery.

Now, for full disclosure, my bottle of vanilla extract is actually double-strength Madagascar bourbon: fairly expensive stuff from The Spice House, with vanilla bean in the bottle, absolutely worth its weight in gold. It has taken me three years to get the bottle down to the last teaspoon, and that vanilla bean has been macerating in there for long enough to infuse the stuff with real magic. At the current price point, it’s $26 for a 4 oz. bottle, compared to $190 for 3.4 oz. of Nuit et Confidences (currently out of stock at the Goutal’s US website). Frankly, my dear, I’d rather have another bottle of the double-strength vanilla extract.


Scent Diary, January 8-14, 2018

Huh. I’m getting used to writing 2018 already. Usually it takes me a good month to automatically write the correct year on my checks.

Ironic yay balloon.

Monday, Jan. 8: We’re supposed to get freezing rain today. Poor Bookworm, after her disastrous trip home in the snow last month, is anxious.

I have a mammogram and another test scheduled for today. That means no deodorant, powder, or lotion. However, I have cheated and spritzed the web of my left hand with calming Iris Poudre.

I opted for the 3D imaging, mostly since I haven’t had a mammogram since 2011. I think it hurt less than last time, but as the day has gone on I’ve become more sore. Ouch.

The “freezing rain” started out as sleet (nasty enough), but the weather turned warmer and it became just rain by the time Bookworm left work, so there was no need to worry.

Tuesday, Jan. 9: More Iris Poudre. Boring day, considerably warmer than it’s been recently. I suspect I won’t sleep well tonight; I never do when the weather suddenly warms.

Wednesday, Jan. 10: . . . and I certainly didn’t. Sleep well, that is. It’s warm again today (50F), and this bouncing around from temperature extreme to extreme is certain to have everybody sick soon.

Tested — from a blind-buy decant that I somehow misplaced when it was new, ahem, a couple of years ago! — Penhaligon’s Orange Blossom. This is the re-release from 2010 orchestrated by Bertrand Duchaufour, not the original 1976 version. It’s really quite nice.

Bookworm made a wonderful birthday meal for me: fish tacos! I love fish tacos. Got some lovely birthday loot, too: some CDs, a nice scarf from The CEO, and a lightweight cardigan.

Scent of Bedtime was about eight spritzes of Mariella Burani. The thing about MB (sadly discontinued these 8-9 years ago) is that it is cozy and comforting without being heavy at all: lightly powdered aldehydes, soft citrus, musk, vanilla and benzoin. It doesn’t sound like much, and I suppose it isn’t; in a way it feels like Shalimar as a young and very innocent girl.

Still woke up about 2:30 a.m. Bummer.

Thursday, Jan. 11: My actual birthday. I overslept and had barely managed to drag myself awake about 20 minutes before my sweet MIL arrived to take me out to breakfast! It was quite nice. SOTM was a teeny half-spritz of MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme, which was probably too evening-y for a rainy warm winter morning, but I felt like it anyway.

My mammogram came back fine, so that’s good.

Still warm, but a little cooler than yesterday. Feels like winter. SOTA, after the half-spritz of Lumiere Noire wore off, was a huge honking application of vintage Parfum d’Hermes, which I am going to have to talk more about soon.  That deep red is about the color of the box, but the fragrance doesn’t smell that color to me. Actually, I am not sure which color would be best for it — I haven’t figured it out yet.

Friday, Jan. 12: Rainy. Gloomy. Considerably colder than yesterday. Gaze is going back to college this afternoon, because the Highty Tighties are marching in the governor’s inaugural parade tomorrow and the band members have to be back early. 😥 😥 😥 Oh well, it’s been nice having him.

SOTD is beloved joyful Alahine. My 2010 original-formula bottle, now half empty, is being rationed because the recent (-ish. 2015? 2016?) reformulation is such a disaster. But today’s a good day for joy.

Saturday, Jan. 13: Woke to a dusting of snow (yikes, poor Gaze will be cold today) but at least it’s not raining now. Rain is far worse than cold when you’re marching in a parade, in my experience.

The CEO made a lovely fire, and we cleaned house. SOTD was SSS Tabac Aurea, so golden and warm. Right after lunch everybody decided they wanted beef-vegetable soup for dinner, so I went spelunking in the chest freezer for some beef. All I found in the way of stew beef was either a small roast or something labeled “soup bone,” all of it from an old cow (and all of it has been in the freezer for at least a couple of years, because it’s been a long time since we took an old cow to be butchered). So I thawed both out and popped them into the slow cooker for four hours. After that time, the roast was sliceable but definitely not what I would call tender enough to eat. (Old Cow. Obvs.) So I cut it into chunks and put it back in for another hour before it got really edible.

The CEO says that it’s fine with him if I buy steaks and roasts at the grocery store now, rather than suffering with Old Cow any more, now that he owns far fewer cows. Which is great, trust me, but meanwhile we still have several packages to go through.

Gaze is second from the left in the second row. Marching alongside the group on the near side is Highty Tighties director Senior Chief Bean (in Navy uniform). In the background is the Virginia Washington Monument, depicting General George Washington — a Virginian — on horseback. Photo by Anne Simmons, all rights reserved.

We did manage to find the inaugural parade for Gov. Northam on TV, but owing to camera angles, could not specifically identify Gaze in it. Luckily, another cadet mom was taking pictures at the parade. And although the decision was made that “Harry Potter bag” — the nickname for the cadets’ hooded overcoats — was unnecessary, they looked chilly to me. See all those pink ears? Poor Gaze was already cold, having had the sides and back of his head “zeroed” yesterday before he went back to campus. There’s no wind protection from those visored caps.

Sunday, Jan. 14: Really cold. It was 14F (that’s -10C for you non-Americans) when I got up at 8:30. I put on a camisole under my sweater. Wore a tiny dab of Organza Indecence (nice cinnamony patchouli-vanilla, incidentally one of the few noticeably-patchouli fragrances that I don’t hate) and then later tested Lubin Epidor.

Am now plotting how to get more Epidor. Full review to come later, probably this week.


The Terracotta Army

Image from today-i-found-out article; click through for link.

In 1974, a group of Chinese peasants digging a well in Shaanxi Province made a stunning discovery: a life-size clay statue of an ancient soldier. They notified authorities, who dispatched a group of archaeologists to investigate.

The archaeologists didn’t find just one soldier. They found thousands, meant to be an army serving Emperor Qin Shi Huang in his afterlife. (Read more about Qin and his army here from National Geographic, and here, from Smithsonian Magazine.)

Image of the dig site, now under roof, from Wikipedia.

They found more than eight thousand terracotta (baked clay) figures, mostly soldiers but also court officials, horses, acrobats, dancers, musicians, and servants. The kicker? Each one was unique. Some groups might all be wearing similar armor or clothing, but each face is different.

The General. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

Among the photos of the seven similarly-accoutered generals (distinguished by the tassels on their armor, their elaborate hats, and their pointing index fingers), for example, I see that one has a narrow face and tilted eyes, one has full cheeks and sideburns, one has flat broad cheekbones and worry lines on his forehead.

Horse and rider. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

This aspect fascinates me most. Did each person of Emperor Qin’s army pose for the clay-figure artisans? Or were the artisans given free reign to portray various personalities as they liked, representing different ethnic or cultural groups in the Emperor’s army? Or were only the figures of high rank actual portraits, while those showing lowly foot soldiers or archers just representational? I don’t think we’ll ever know for certain, though some research indicates that the figures are truly individual portraits.

The officer. His weapon (probably a sword) disintegrated over time. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

Qin’s legacy includes a group of former principalities unified into one country, the standardization of monetary units, weights and measures, vastly increased infrastructure and commerce, and the first version of the Great Wall. (Dude was busy.) However, his legacy has been somewhat tarnished by the recognition that he only managed to do all this with forced slave labor. Then, too, his heir survived only three years past Qin’s death due to assassination, and dynastic rule passed to another family.

Kneeling Archer, originally holding a crossbow. Check out his upper-body armor. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

However, the incredible tomb complex — which has not been fully excavated — is amazing. Read more about recent discoveries here.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond is currently hosting an exhibit of several of these figures, as well as other artifacts from this time period. See here for more details about the exhibit itself. If you’re within driving distance, please do yourself a favor and go.

A foot soldier, originally armed with a spear. I love this photo for its detail of the soldier’s face. Even the chip out of his right eyebrow doesn’t detract from the strong facial features. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

The CEO took some wonderful pictures at the exhibit (flash is prohibited, by the way). These photos belong to him, so please don’t steal them. If you’d like to use one, just email me and I’m sure we can work something out.

I have not included here photos of the small stableboy figure, the court official, the full-size charioteer, or the quarter-size statue of a chariot drawn by four horses and manned by a charioteer under a bronze sunshade. I’ve also not included several interesting photos of decorated roof tiles and drain pipes, or some really lovely pottery ware from the period, also on exhibit. There was just too much to highlight it all.

Standing Archer, in the process of readying his bow. Note that in contrast to the Kneeling Archer, who would have been closer to the front, he has only a padded tunic and no armor. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

It was interesting to me that my family members had different favorites, of the figures on exhibit. Bookworm liked Kneeling Archer best, for his clever, narrow face and his battle-ready position. Taz preferred the horse and rider for their similar expressions. Gaze was most impressed with the General’s stalwart, assured stance. The CEO and I both chose the Standing Archer. The CEO favored his dynamic pose, and I liked his calm, alert face.

Look, doesn’t he have a cool face? I would be friends with this guy. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

The VMFA gift shop had several sizes of reproduction figurines for sale, the smaller ones quite reasonably priced and all beautifully made. Unfortunately there are none of my standing archer, and the general figurine has a different face than the one on display, so I didn’t buy one. I hope I won’t regret that. (Though there’s always eBay, should I change my mind later.)

I’ve been fascinated by the Terracotta Army since I was young and National Geographic did a story on the recently-found figures. It was so gratifying to finally see them and to recognize that they were even better than I’d imagined them.





Scent Diary, Jan. 1-7, 2018

(It always feels different writing the new year for the first time, doesn’t it?)

Monday, Jan. 1: Still cold. High today of 18F. SOTD was Memoir Woman, because it is both delicious and really freaky. We took down some of the Christmas decorations; I think The CEO might be kinda ticked at me for asking him to go out into the cold and remove the wreath from the big second-story window as well as the garland and lights from the porch.

Tuesday, Jan. 2: So I’ve started a trial membership at This came about for two reasons: A) my sister is very interested in tracking our family but hasn’t been able to join the site, and B) on Saturday during our trip to the Virginia State Capitol, we were talking about famous Virginians. That discussion included Sam Houston and another Virginian who went to Texas and became prominent — Stephen Austin (namesake of the city of Austin, TX). Who I am related to, distantly, through my paternal grandmother. The CEO was not aware of this, and somehow neither were my kids, so I thought it would be good to fill out my side of the family tree for them. Some relatives of The CEO’s have done a thorough tree several generations back, so the kids have access to that, but the other side is fairly mysterious to them.

SOTD is Shalimar Light with a scosh of Organza Indecence on top. It’s still quite cold.

Wednesday, Jan. 3: Still cold. I noticed last night that the tree was getting a bit crunchy despite our plan to leave it up until Epiphany (Jan. 6), so we undecorated it. The Nativity and snow village and nutcrackers are still on display, at least until Saturday. SOTD was just a bit of Tauer Rose Delight body oil.

Just heard today that our former band director (Gaze’s, not Bookworm’s) had died as a result of injuries from a car accident. I’m stunned. You never expect things like that.

And our neighbor (the one with the goats) was on his cattle farm in a nearby county trying to coax a bull back through the fence the bull had broken through, and the bull took offense and knocked him down. Neighbor is in the ICU in Roanoke (50 miles away) with ten broken ribs and at least one cracked vertebra. If you feel like throwing up a prayer for Tommy and his family, please do.

Thursday, Jan. 4: Drove to Roanoke with Gaze to help my parents put away their Christmas decor. Mom’s just not up to moving boxes around, and it tires my dad out.  SOTD was DK Black Cashmere (yum) with a dab of Vero Perfumery Rozy edp on one wrist and Shanghai Tang Rose Silk on the other. Frankly, the Shanghai Tang is to me far preferable to the Vero; Rozy has that oddly flat fuzzy vanilla-dusty patchouli angle that makes me dislike it.

At 7 pm it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit, by the thermometer. With wind chill? -5. NEGATIVE. FIVE. (Bizarrely, the dog keeps wanting to go outside, five minutes at a time, three times an hour.)

Friday, Jan. 5: COLD AGAIN. 8F. Brrrrr. Nice to stay inside. I need to take the recycling to the town center because it’s starting to pile up, but it’s COLD, Y’ALL. It can wait. SOTD is vintage Coty Emeraude parfum de toilette, ca. 1973, rich and plush and a gentler take on Shalimar, for me. I mean, if you love Shalimar, more power to ya, I don’t mind smelling it — I just don’t want to wear it.

Also retested the Vero Rozy edp and instead of just disliking it, I hated it. Total scrubber. It wasn’t the dusty patch-nilla this time, it was a disturbing unwashed-body smell. (There’s honey in it. Maybe that.)

I had a free Redbox coupon code, and we’d been wanting to see “Dunkirk,” so I rented that. We Yanks don’t generally know a lot about what happened at Dunkirk, unless we’re WWII history buffs. I’ve read my share of British novels set during WWII, some of which mention this amazing rescue of the British army from the coast of France in 1940, but I really did not know many details. (And probably still don’t, since films based on historic events typically gloss over or omit, or even mischaracterize, significant details in favor of compelling storytelling. Which doesn’t bother me that much, to be honest, because I’d rather watch a compelling story and look up the reality later.)

It’s a very good movie. Part of that is that the real-life event is such an amazing story in itself — the removal of 338,000+ British and French soldiers from the coast of France where they’d been soundly routed by the Germans, to England, by some 700 civilian-owned seacraft and the British navy. True patriotism, true sacrifice, true heroism. Part of the movie’s excellence is the direction of Christopher Nolan, who makes such good use of his actors and his score and his visual approach. Dialogue is limited, and the trick of dumping viewers right in on top of characters we don’t know and letting us find our place as things progress is successful. Then, too, Nolan has a gift for using very talented actors and keeping them restrained.

If you remember, I was complaining recently about Kenneth Branagh’s self-indulgent turn as Poirot in the visually-lavish “Murder on the Orient Express”. Well, Ken was directing himself in that. Nolan keeps him on a tighter leash, and Branagh’s reserved and heartfelt performance as the British naval officer in charge of the evacuation is a reminder of how good an actor he really is when he’s not chomping scenery. Tom Hardy’s sub-5-minute screen time as a Spitfire pilot with a low fuel supply is a highlight. (Having only seen the poster showing a sea of tin hats and one tommy looking up, I didn’t even know TH was in it until that distinctive mug briefly popped out from behind his oxygen mask, and then I was all ooh look my boyfriend’s in this one! bet he dies tho. So of course when I went to Youtube to look for a trailer to embed here, he’s front-and-center in it! I don’t know how I missed it this past summer.) The rest of the cast, including several big-name British movie actors as well as theater stalwarts and some new faces, is uniformly excellent as well. Highly recommended.

Saturday, Jan. 6: Indoor track meet for Taz; The CEO went as well. It went badly. For one thing, it’s been far too cold for the distance runners on the team to adequately train. For another, the meet organizers somehow decided to combine two sections of the boys’ 3200 — and wound up with 38 runners in the race. That’s terribly crowded, and crowding has the effect of making the runners go out too fast in an effort to spread themselves apart, so the first half of the race was ridiculously fast and then the second half was ridiculously slow. Bad idea.

RIDICULOUSLY cute packaging. This vibrant color combination just makes me so happy.

SOTD was, first, Twilly d’Hermes from a spray sample. From reading (generally positive) reviews, I had expected something pretty, lightweight yet substantial, a sheer tuberose with ginger. What I got: that raspy, chalky orange-baby-aspirin/Tang dust effect, plus that synthetic spiky jasminoid thing that takes a Skilsaw to my nerves. Only after that stuff wore off, about an hour in, did it turn sheer tuberose. I never got much ginger, unfortunately; I think it was underneath the baby aspirin. The ad campaign’s bright colors (I love the color scheme!) fit the fragrance, and if you’re not sensitive to those two particular aromachems, you’ll likely find Twilly really attractive. I’m sad that I am sensitive to them.

In the evening, I sprayed some new/vintage Parfum d’Hermes. (Vintage bottle in box, batch code dating to 1990, but new to me.) I’m uncertain about it. It does remind me a bit of vintage Guerlain Chamade, but just a bit, and only the higher concentrations of it. And the thing  is, really, I don’t love Chamade. I only like Chamade. Further, if Kafkaesque is calling this thing (in vintage form) a powerhouse, then it ought to BE a dang powerhouse. And it’s not.

Maybe this bottle has aged badly. (Unusual for something still in a box.) Maybe this particular batch was improperly mixed or macerated. Maybe I’m anosmic or hyposmic to something in it, so that I’m not smelling it properly. (This is possible; when The CEO got home last night, he was most appreciative of my fragrance. “This room smells good. Hey, you smell good. You smell really good.” And I’m sitting there thinking, Wow, you can smell it? I can barely smell it.) Maybe the very low humidity in the house is affecting my nose. I don’t know.

Sunday, Jan. 7: Birthday lunch with my parents, a little early but Mom wanted to have a family get-together while Gaze was still on break. He has to be back at Virginia Tech on the 12th. As it turned out, the memorial service for Mr. Shrewsbury was at the high school this afternoon, and he had to leave early.

SOTD was more of the unsniffed-blind-buy Parfum d’Hermes. I like it, but to be honest, I don’t love it, and I only like it a little more than I like Chamade. And the more I wear it, the more I start thinking, the heck with this, I feel like wearing Safari instead.

We should be getting a break from the cold pretty soon, though. That’d be nice.


Mini-Review Roundup, Dec. 2017 – early Jan. 2017

Yee-haw! Round ’em up, the short reviews of new (to me) things I’ve been testing:

Blackbird Perfume The Minimals Apricot
From the Surrender to Chance website, where I ordered this: Blackbird was first an award winning menswear store that opened in 2004 in Seattle. Nicole Miller, its founder and creative director, brought Blackbird to new heights in 2013 when she decided to focus on distributing the Blackbird brand internationally and closed her stores. Today Blackbird is known worldwide for its unconventional and remarkable fragrances and grooming products.

Apricot is from The Minimals Series which is a limited edition experimental natural perfume collection designed to be layered or worn alone. Each scent is a single ingredient distilled purely from nature in its raw form.

So, okay, an all-natural from an indie perfumery. Apricot is light and fresh in the matter of slightly-unripened fruit, tart and delicious but smelling somehow more of the twigs of the tree bearing the fruit, and of leaves, than of ripe jammy fruit. It’s airy and full of sunshine, a happy smell. It doesn’t last long on my skin, maybe a couple of hours (about par for an all-natural), but it’s wonderful while it does.

Like the above copy said, this was a limited edition that is not now being sold at Blackbird, so there was little point in mentioning it except that I liked it and found it interesting. I probably wouldn’t have bought it anyway: too short-lived.

Guerlain Bois d’Armenie
I’ve read multiple times that if you like benzoin, you must try Bois d’Armenie (based on the smell of Papier d’Armenie, which is paper impregnated with incense and benzoin that you’re intended to burn for . . . um, I guess a pleasant smell in the air? BdA had been on my wishlist at the decant services for, like, two years straight before I finally caved (hey. during a 20% off sale) and ordered a sample.

Turns out I needn’t have bothered. This is nice, very nice indeed, but not all that interesting. The notes are pink pepper, iris, rose, coriander, benzoin, Indonesian patchouli, incense, precious woods, musk and balsams but all I get is smoky benzoin, period. Pleasant, but oh well.

Amouage Figment Woman
I had completely written off trying this one because I thought it was a Fig Perfume. Which I hate, because Fig Leaf YUCK. (I still think that would have made a great fig perfume name.) Turns out it’s a Big White Floral instead — a “deconstructed tuberose,” several blogs are calling it.

Which, yay. Because the last time I tried an Amouage BWF with tuberose, it was Honour Woman. I really liked it for the first two hours (cue ominous music) AND THEN IT BECAME FROGS, so I was horribly disappointed. I was happy to give Christopher Chong another shot at wowing me with an Amouage white floral as fabulous as the packaging. This is really pretty packaging, y’all, probably my favorite Amouage so far, and that’s saying something.

The notes are Sichuan pepper, saffron, gardenia, tuberose, jasmine sambac, lisylang, cassia, orris, papyrus, incense and patchouli, and it looks like it would be a heavy hitter, doesn’t it? Incense. Patch. Spices and all the usual suspects of the BWF. The notes list makes me think to some extent of that massive and scary-weird deconstructed-tubey frag, Comme des Garcons for Daphne Guinness Daphne.

However, I was surprised to find Figment a whitish haze of nothin’-much that gradually devolved into that jasmine aromachemical that sets my teeth so absolutely on edge that eventually I have to scrub. Again a disappointment. I am about to give up on Amouage. (My wallet is relieved, I must say.)

Demeter Petrichor
You do know this smell, right? The smell of rain hitting dry earth. Petrichor is the reason you open your door after a summer rain and inhale and inhale and inhale, sucking all that good freshness in until you get light-headed, and then you have to lie down and thank God you’re alive, because petrichor.

By Viromnibus
The world where I stood was a desert
longing for a kiss that never came.
Not until you did.

Demeter’s rendition isn’t quite that transformative. It lasts less than an hour on me, and only smells like real-life petrichor for about 15 minutes. But it’s a lovely 15 minutes.


Scent Diary, Dec. 25-31, 2017

Monday, Dec. 25: Merry Christmas! I hope you had a lovely day, if you celebrate.

Beautiful original Alahine today for a lovely day with the family. Bacon and homemade cinnamon rolls and my mom’s delicious scalloped apples for breakfast. Stockings and gifts, lovely surprises.

We went to see Star Wars: The Last Jedi as a family in the afternoon and then spent a good bit of time talking about it. No spoilers, but we felt that we could have written a considerably better script.

Tuesday, Dec. 26: Another nice (if chilly) day, spent with The CEO’s family. I had recently cleaned out a closet and found a few samples in a box, along with a Travalo atomizer, full but unlabeled. I’m not absolutely sure what’s in it, but I think it’s Prada Infusion d’Iris. Which Bookworm once misread and called “Infection of Iris,” and from there it morphed into “Infectional Virus,” which might be juvenile and crass but it makes us laugh. That was my SOTD. It’s funny, but there are a fair number of perfumistas who consider Id’I (Infectional Virus, wink wink) the gold standard for wearing to a dentist visit. Apparently we tend to find it inoffensive, pleasant and calming.

Vintage Samsara parfum in the evening, for coziness.

Wednesday, Dec. 27: The CEO, along with Gaze and his first cousin Curiosity, and Curiosity’s dad K (who was The CEO’s roommate at Virginia Tech, way back in the day, before he married The CEO’s sister E), went to a basketball game at VT before they delivered his sister J to the airport and went home themselves. Bookworm and Taz and I rested and cleaned up a bit. I’ve made three giant vats of spiced cider this week, and the third batch is almost gone already. SOTD was Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique from an old sample. This one is really nice, a pleasant spicy woody vanilla; I was surprised to find out that it’s been discontinued. Huh.

The general talk about PG in comments on Now Smell This is that Pierre Guillaume is perhaps too expansive with his product line, both with the original Parfumerie Generale and the more boutiquey Huitieme Art house. Then, too, as far as I understand, he is also the perfumer for Phaedon Perfumery; I’m not sure whether he’s materially involved in owning Phaedon or not. The perfumista complaint is that he seems to always be promoting the new-New-NEW stuff and ignoring the marketing of the original products, to the detriment of sales. PG himself does come off looking a bit vain (go check out his Facebook page, which despite being designed as a public figure/business type page has a fairly large number of pics of him posing like a model). I don’t know. I do know that Un Crime Exotique was really good and I am wishing I had a small decant of it. I liked Felanilla, too. Have not smelled any of the more recent PG fragrances, nor any Huitieme Art nor any Phaedon.

Shrug. So many MANY fragrances, so little time. (So few available to me to smell for free, as well.)

Thursday, Dec. 28: SOTD was Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit. A writing day/cleaning up day — though we won’t really dismantle the Christmas decor until New Year’s. It is COLDDDD.

Friday, Dec. 29: Took Thorin (the Sorento) to have his oil changed and the slow leak in his rear passenger tire repaired, and it took so long that after that and swinging by the grocery store, there was practically no time to do much else. Virginia Tech lost its bowl game, unaccountably. Of the numerous VT sports writers around here, nobody seems to understand exactly why it was so unsuccessful against Oklahoma State.

In the evening, we decided that we would get up early and drive to Richmond to see the Terracotta Army exhibit at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts. I’d visited that museum once before, with my sister. She did her best to explain modern art to me, but I suppose I am a philistine. So much of it I just don’t get. Quite often I’m looking at it and thinking, “Um, so? What exactly about this is art? What am I supposed to be thinking or feeling? Because I’m thinking, ‘my preschooler did something remarkably similar to this,’ and ‘this is basically A Colored Rectangle and I have no feelings about it one way or another.'” Sometimes the sculpture has an impact on me and I enjoy it, but a lot of the 2D stuff, nah.

But the terracotta army? Fascinating! I will be posting a separate article on it, with The CEO’s pictures, in a few days.

After the art museum we visited Virginia’s historic and beautiful state house. The last time I’d been there was ca. 1978, when I was a fourth-grader on a field trip, and it was exciting to see the new entrance to the building, constructed under the hill in 2007. I could spend a lot of time talking about this building, which is the second oldest state house or state capitol building in the US (behind Maryland, although Virginia’s state legislature is the oldest body continuously in existence, because the Virginia legislature moved its location from Jamestown to Williamsburg and only then to Richmond). It was designed by Thomas Jefferson and would look quite familiar to many Americans because of its similarity to much of the architecture of federal buildings in Washington, D.C., and indeed to many government buildings throughout the United States. It does contain an interior dome not visible from the outside, but maintains a clean and simple exterior roofline.

Thing is, the Virginia State Capitol was conceived and its cornerstone laid in 1795, five years before Washington, D.C. even existed, much less before a building was constructed inside the new capital city. Neoclassicism as used in American governmental buildings really began with Jefferson’s architecture based on ancient Roman temple Maison Carrée in Nimes, France. The Virginia General Assembly still meets in this building, albeit in wings built in 1904.

This building also houses the only statue of George Washington created from life studies, by French sculptor Jean-Antoine Houdon. (More than two dozen bronze copies of this statue exist in various places, including the Washington Monument, so undoubtedly you’ve seen one of those — but this one in glowy Carrara marble the color of moonlight is the original.)

We got home late but glad we took the opportunity to go.

Sunday, Dec. 31: L’Arte di Gucci for this quiet day at home. The CEO built a fire and edited his photos of the terracotta army, and we cleaned up before spending the evening together.


Sorta Kinda “Best of 2017 in Fragrance” Maybe Not Really

So all the other serious fragrance bloggers are doing a “best of 2017” post, and I can’t (whine) (pout) do a serious one because A) SO MANY scents were released this year SO MANY SO MANY, it’s like a firehose blast of mostly-horrible or at best boring nonentities, and b) I still have to buy samples if I want to try anything that’s less mainstream than Macy’s, so there’s THAT.

I will,  however, tell you what I thought of the new releases this year that I did manage to test. It’s a short list, so bear with me.

Chanel Gabrielle: The first new (non-boutique) pillar fragrance since Chance edp in 2002, Gabrielle was supposed to be “a radiant and sparkling, purely feminine Chanel blossom” based on jasmine, ylang-ylang, orange blossom and tuberose. I like the bottle, and I like a just-pretty floral.

And, you know, that would have been fine . . . if Gabrielle only smelled like actual flowers instead of lab-created ones. Harsh citrus notes and that screechy nerve-wracking jasminoid thing I hate so much are cheapening the Chanel legacy for fine fragrance (especially after the laundromat-y No. 5 l’Eau).

Dior Poison Girl edt: I know I’m not the only person who remembers when Poison was, well, poisonous, with its toxic/intoxicating tuberose and its overwhelming cough-syrup-on-steroids menace. It was strong, it was polarizing, it was daring. (It was also durn near ubiquitous. You couldn’t walk through a girls’ dorm back in the day without coming out smelling of Poison yourself.)

Poison Girl (in either the 2016 edp or the 2017 edt) is barely there, and what I can smell is strongly reminiscent of some kind of frooty-caramel Sno-Kone syrupy thing you’d get at the fair. Another cheapened legacy (and I’m not even talking about what they did to Miss Dior and Diorissimo). Shame.

Papillon Dryad: Papillon, in contrast to those two mainstream releases, does itself proud with a green/earthy woody floral in a classical, yet very nature-conscious vein. It’s little more vetivery than I could have wished for, but is still amazingly good. Narcissus, jasmine, greengreengreen and foresty, then dry and haylike. It doesn’t quite measure up in my opinion to my beloved Le Temps d’une Fete — but then, I’m not sure anything could. Dryad is thisclose. Lovely in itself, really gorgeous stuff.

Amouage Figment Woman: Once I got past the erroneous mindset that it was going to be a fig perfume (shudder), I was quite looking forward to this “deconstructed tuberose.” On the contrary, it turned out to be a wisp of a really dull and not particularly pleasant floral thingy, in a deceptively pretty bottle (that blue is gorgeous!). MAMA IS NOT HAPPY.

Amouage, I swear, given me one more unwearable release and you and I are finito. I loved the original Lyric Woman. I struggled with Memoir Woman until I fell in love with it. I suffered through Honour Woman and Sunshine and Interlude W and Beloved W. I kinda sorta got on with Myths W and Bracken W. I said Gold and Epic and Journey were just “not my style.” I even defended you when people said you were too costly; I said you were worth it. But now? this? is the next-to-last straw. Get the next release right, or we’re through and I’m getting a restraining order.

Demeter Petrichor: “Cheap and fleeting but accurate” is Demeter’s unwritten motto for its real-life-smell fragrances, and Petrichor does not disappoint. Sure, it only lasts 50 minutes, and only smells like that intoxicating rain-on-dry-ground phenomenon for the first half before going weirdly chemical, but wow. Those first twenty minutes are a fabulous trip back into all the “dancing in the rain” experiences of your life. Add in a “Dr. Who” reference, and it’s pretty exciting.

January Scent Project Eiderantler, Selperniku, and Smolderose (the 2017 edp version of an earlier oil-based scent): Complete reviews of these are in the works, so I won’t be detailed now. I’m still not sure any of these are “me,” but they are bold and unexpected and, best of all, wearable. Hurrah for the indies.

Arielle Shoshana edp: You don’t even have to share the recent taste (ha, pun) for fruit in your fragrance to like this, because it is the sunniest, tropical-iest, happiest fragrance I tried this year. The passionfruit is big and real and smile-worthy, and it’s followed by a comfortable, creamy sandalwoodish drydown of great pleasantness. There’s ambroxan in the drydown and the sandalwood is probably Australian, but it’s nice all the same. I’m waiting for the 1-ouncer bottle, but it’s definitely on my wishlist. As it is, I need another 1.5 ml sample.

Neela Vermeire Rahele was released in late 2016, but did not reach the US until January of 2017, and I didn’t smell it until summer. It could have been so good. It could’ve been sooooooo good. Rahele should have been right up my alley: osmanthus, leather, rose, oakmoss, very classical and French.

Instead, somebody let B. Duchaufour use that fetid pondwater vetiver material he loves so much (paging Le Labo Ylang 49!), and it just ruined Rahele for me. I was disappointed. Your mileage may vary, of course, and the thing is well-composed and otherwise lovely.

That was it, those were the only 2017 releases I tried this year. Ten out of the more than 1400 (according to Basenotes), an abysmal percentage.

Oh well. Here are some 2017 releases I wanted to try, and may yet manage to smell in the coming year:

House of Matriarch The Longing (buttery floral gourmand, unfortunately a limited edition)
Jo Malone Green Almond and Redcurrant (woody-fruity raw almond, again a LE like so many of the JMs, and I wish they’d quit doin’ it, but it must make them some cash so I bet they’ll keep on)
Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences (tonka vanilla)
The two rosy “Grands Crus” releases from Lancome, Roses Berberanza and Parfait de Roses (oriental rose and jammy rose-vanilla, respectively)
Lubin Epidor (golden floriental)
Twilly d’Hermes (ginger tuberose)

What did you smell that was new (and good) in 2017? What are you looking forward to in 2018?


Scent Diary, Dec. 18-24, 2017

One of my favorite ornaments, hand cross-stitched by me in December of 1989.

Monday, Dec. 18: First GYN visit in several years, since Dr. Young retired. Am overdue for a mammogram. Bleagh. SOTD was a tad of comforting Parfum Sacre.

Spent the afternoon wrapping gifts. I’m still behind.

You’re sensing a theme, aren’t you? Not every ornament on my tree is a nutcracker, but there sure are a lot of them.

Tuesday, Dec. 19: A little warmer today. This is The CEO’s last day to teach this semester, and spring semester doesn’t start until January 16th. SOTD is pretty vintage Samsara parfum, from one of those cute mini bottles I found for cheapie on eBay a couple years ago.

The current sample of Alahine arrived yesterday and I put a dab on the back of my hand. Kafka’s right, They Done Rurnt It. (Sorry, that’s Redneck for “it’s been ruined.”) It really, really is a mess now: half its former tenacious strength, with some unidentifiable and migraine-inducing basenote snaking its way up to strangle your brain. Iso E Super? I can’t really smell much of it, but having once overdosed to the point of nausea on three spritzes of Ormonde Jayne Ta’if (the OJs are FULL of Iso E Super), I know this might be an issue for me. On the other hand, SSS Tabac Aurea has a bunch of it, too, but TA doesn’t bother me. Karanal — the woody amber stuff in F Malle Une Rose — makes me feel stressed and anxious, so I don’t think it’s that. (But maybe it is, because I spent the rest of the day yesterday being crabby for no apparent reason. Though that could be perimenopause. Or the holidays. Or having the house full of people and consequently very cluttered.)

Frankly, I do not know what’s in there, but it’s awful. I shall be hoarding my vintage Alahine now, saving it for Decembers because to me it smells of Christmas.

My vintage bottle. Wasn’t it an elegant presentation?

Wednesday, Dec. 20: I gave the sample Alahine another shot. Maybe it was something on my skin, maybe it was something in the air, maybe I was wrong about it.


It is not simply a bad reformulation now; it is a truly bad perfume. I generally have significant tolerance for most synthetic materials, but whatever is in there now is just awful. I scrubbed it off and gave myself the smallest half-spritz of real, vintage Alahine from its pretty glass bottle, in honor of joyful Christmases past and in mourning for that which is gone.

Thursday, Dec. 21: Gaze has managed to go back to campus, a thing most college students on break would probably tend to avoid. He’d volunteered to assist with the commissioning ceremony for cadets graduating in December, because we live close and he’s finished with exams. SOTD is By Kilian Sweet Redemption, because who doesn’t need to smell like oranges, flowers and candy at Christmas?

The soldier guy top right was a gift from my grandmother Nell when I was, oh, maybe twelve? He started the whole nutcracker thing for me.

I still need to mail some gifts. They may not get there in time, but I am still finishing up the wee nephew’s crocheted hat. SOTD is Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit (2013).

Went to court with Taz to receive his official driver’s license. We do that in Virginia: teenagers who’ve finished the coursework, the behind-the-wheel instruction, and the 50 hours of supervised driving time with a learner’s permit take the exam, and those who pass are issued a paper temporary license until the Division of Motor Vehicles issues the real one. DMV sends all the new licenses to the court, to be issued personally by the circuit court judge to the parent or guardian of the teenage driver, along with a short, sensible “these are your rights, these are your limitations until you’re 18, and these are your responsibilities,” presentation. Yay, he’s legal now!

Friday, Dec. 22: Gifts shipped via UPS (finally)! I was right, they won’t arrive until next Wednesday. I should crochet faster.

Photo stolen from, mostly because a) I don’t have a photo of my own, and b) the nutcracker mugs are cute. Click through for link.

Made a big pot of spiced cider. Yum. SOTD is glorious vintage Alahine again. Finished the shopping, including stocking gifts.

Saturday, Dec. 23: It’s cold! Bookworm has the weekend off, plus Monday and Tuesday, so I’m glad to have her home with us. Christmas music on the stereo and my Spotify. A tad of vintage Dior Dolce Vita parfum today. This is such nice stuff: woods, benzoin, rich dried fruit.

Taz’s last gift arrived today, in the nick of time! Enjoyed the “Eve of the Eve” Christmas service that our church joins with three others to host. A lovely night.

Sunday, Dec. 24: Spent the afternoon at my parents’ house doing Christmas with them. SOTD was a very light application of Parfum Sacre again. Turkey, ham, Nana’s best cooked apples, and way the heck more dessert than seven people (one of them diabetic) really needed.

Christmas comes but once a year, right?