What I’ve Been Reading, October 2016

kindleI’ve been reading. (Surprise, surprise!)

Mostly on my Kindle, mostly free fiction I pick up from my Book Bub subscription (also free, and you can subscribe for e-book bargains here, and btw I’m not affiliated but I’ve been pleased). Also books from the library. By the way, most of the links in this post are to Goodreads, except the one to Book Bub, the one to IMDB, and the one to an author page. Not pushing you to buy anything. 🙂

I told you how I finished The Wheel of Time recently, but I also read Room and Bastard out of Carolina (both heartbreaking, both worthy).  I started Prodigal Summer by Barbara Kingsolver, whose prose can sing when she’s not flat-out hectoring people, but she began to hector, and I stopped reading.

Kingsolver’s technique reminds me of the story about the minister newly installed in a church in Virginia horse country. The first Sunday he preached a sermon warning of the evils of alcohol, and afterwards was greeted by an elderly churchgoer at the door. “Mighty fine sermon, preacher, mighty fine,” she told him. The next Sunday he warned of the dangerous risks of dancing all up-close-and-personal, the way people do at honkytonks (how shocking!), and his parishioner pronounced his sermon “mighty fine” again. On the third Sunday, he preached against the uncouth and troubling habit of cursing, and again his favorite member of the flock congratulated him on his fine sermon.

On the fourth Sunday, fired up from his success at renouncing ordinary evils, he preached an inspired message against the evils of gambling. He warned against playing cards for money, or gambling on a game of pool, or betting on the ponies. Even those $1 lottery tickets down at the Piggly Wiggly, he claimed, were instruments of the devil, for making people believe they could gain riches from anything other than the word of the Lord, and for taking the bread out of the mouths of babies. He shook hands at the door afterward, already planning his next sermon to address the sin of smoking tobacco and expecting to be congratulated again by this elderly lady.

However, she set her cane close to his toes with a thump and pointed a finger at his chest, and said, “Preacher, you have quit preachin’ and gone to meddlin’, and that’s about enough of that.” He watched her high-dudgeon exit with his mouth open, and it was only then that one of the deacons explained to him that she owned a string of racehorses and had been involved with the racing industry since her childhood, and any criticism of gambling on her beloved horses was bound to meet with stony disapproval.

Am I criticizing Kingsolver for having an opinion on issues and trying to convince people that her view is the right one, through her novels? Nope. I’m not. I am, however, criticizing her for going at it all ham-handed and pretending that she’s “just telling a story,” when she has a thinly-disguised agenda. Her subtext has become her text, and it’s clumsily done, poor noveling, and I do not approve.disapprovalI have also been reading some lightweight romance novels – largely because that’s the genre that most often shows up for free on Book Bub. #sorrynotsorry Some of them aren’t bad. Some of them, are just awful. Unbelievable characters, improbable plots, ridiculously perfect best friends… Sigh. Trouble is, you never know just from the description which ones are going to be good, and which ones clunkers. You have to get at least a couple of chapters in before you can tell. I think I won’t bother to tell you which ones I enjoyed and which were duds; it’s kind of pointless because these books are like popcorn and it’s hard to distinguish between kernels.

The other thing I’ve been reading lately is The Circle of Ceridwen, by Octavia Randolph. This is a four-book series set in Angle-land (England) of 871, a time of war and politico-cultural upheaval on this island that would become so powerful centuries later. Ceridwen, aged 15 when we first meet her, is the acknowledged illegitimate — and only — child of a Saxon thegn (thane, a minor lord) in Mercia. Her mother was Welsh, enslaved through war, and Ceridwen thinks she might be dead because she has never met her. Her father died a few years before, and the local priest seized his lands on the grounds that he was a heathen, devoted to his Saxon gods. Ceridwen came of age in the priory, having been taught to read and write, as well as to perform tasks expected of a highborn wife and hallmistress: spin, weave, direct servants, and oversee a household. As the book picks up, she has decided to refuse both of the choices for husband the prior has offered her, and to run away to find a situation more acceptable to her. On the road, she meets Ælfwyn, daughter of a higher-ranking Saxon lord who has promised her as peace-making bride to one of the most powerful Viking raiders now gaining a foothold in the country, and proposes to serve her as friend and companion in the Norse town where Ælfwyn is bound.

The four novels cover the next 12 to 15 years of Ceridwen’s life, which not only involves the marriage and childbearing that would have circumscribed the life of a typical woman of her time, but some extensive travel, war experiences, and changing circumstances. She’s an enjoyable character — quick to take sides and make judgments, brave, resolute, and warm-hearted. Sometimes that warm heart and impulsive judgment gets her into tangled situations, but her deep desire to improve the lives of those around her allows her to salvage much. 

The mixing strains of Welsh, Saxon, and Norse cultures point out how much of a “melting pot” England itself was, back in the day. Interesting. Much food for thought.

The series was recommended to me thusly: “If you love Outlander, you’ll enjoy The Circle of Ceridwen.”  It’s not a terribly valid comparison, except that they’re both historical novels that also have elements of romance, everyday life, battles, and strong heroines. I can see them appealing to the same kind of reader, but it’s more a Venn diagram thing; there will be people who like one and not the other, as well some who have overlapping tastes. You might try if it you liked Karen Cushman’s YA historical novel-in-journal-format, Catherine, Called Birdy. Bookworm had to read it for class in middle school, and liked it so much that she bought a copy at the book fair, and then she made me read it too. How do you not love a teen novel that begins, “Corpus bones! I utterly loathe my life”?

(I do love Diana Gabaldon’s massive Outlander series, now comprised of 8 giant enormous main novels, 3 shorter emergency backup novels, 6 tangential novellas and a short story. Very highly recommended, but only if you don’t read slowly.)

So what have you been reading lately?


Scent Diary, Oct. 10-16, 2016

Monday, Oct. 10 – Jenny the donkey is settling right in – and no sheep jailbreaks since she got here. We moved the sheep from the shop lot right next to the house out into the large pond field pasture, in with the cows. (They could get out under the gate, but why would they want to? No grass on the road that runs next to it.)

The leaves have juuuuuust started to turn. YAY FALL!! SOTD is Cuir de Lancome, gorgeous almost-smoky floral leather.

Yeah, so I like candles... the Paddywax one is the black one right in front of the dried-flower arrangement.
Yeah, so I like candles… the Paddywax one is the black one right in front of the dried-flower arrangement.

Tuesday, Oct. 11 – I am still digging that Paddywax Pumpkin Spice candle, because it smells a lot like drinking a PSL coffee* while wearing Tabac Aurea. Yum.

*Er, not that I do that often. I’m actually not a big Starbucks fan: it’s too expensive for me. I’ve had a Pumpkin Spice Latte exactly three times in my life, and while it is delicious, it is also pretty much more dessert than beverage.

SOTD is beautiful Le Temps d’une Fete.  The weather is cloudy and chilly, and I needed some green-and-gold sunshine today.

Wednesday, Oct. 12 – Big day. Beeeeg, big day. Our cross-country team hosted a 12-school invitational meet, our first at the new course, and The CEO was just totally crazy right now with organizing stuff for it.

Varsity team with their trophy. L-R, that's Cade, Shaun on Gaze's back, Jake, Noah, Sam, and Ryan.
Varsity team with their trophy. L-R, that’s Cade, Shaun on Gaze’s back, Jake, Noah, Sam, and Ryan.

The meet turned out quite well, actually, no major problems. The closest thing to a hiccup we had was with some runners taking a much longer time than anticipated to finish, and I think most people understand how that can cause delays. Typically, high school female runners’ times will range from 19 minutes to just over 30 for a 5K distance, but we had a couple of runners take more than 45, and one almost 50. (For comparison, the slowest varsity male runner was just under 27 minutes.) As it turned out, our boys’ varsity, boys’ junior varsity, and girls’ JV teams won, and we had the first individual finisher in each race. On top of that, most of the coaches were pleased with the course and meet organization, so we hope they’ll come back again next year.

SOTD was Le Temps d’une Fete, with a little dab of DSH Chypre to amp up the base notes. Nice.

Thursday, Oct. 13 – Happy birthday to sweet Gaze! He’s 18 today. Can hardly believe it.

I made four batches of cupcakes for the band kids, since they would be playing in the Fire Parade this evening and boosters were providing food after school. SOTD was the friendly Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano. It’s a floral, but a creamy fruit-salady one. Nice.

Friday, Oct. 14 – Gray and chilly today, a real contrast to Wednesday’s absolutely-perfect autumn weather. I should have done laundry and hung it out on Wednesday, but was too busy, so today it’s all going into the dryer. 🙁 The weather is, however, wonderful for SSS Tabac Aurea, which I lurve, and The CEO smelled really fabulous in his sexxaay Halston Z-14.

Incidentally, a number of fragrance reviewers, mostly the guys who do Youtube videos, have called the current formula of Z-14 an abomination because it’s so different from the old stuff. They say it used to be chock-full of moss and patchouli and other good stuff now restricted (and expensive), and that now it smells mostly of cheap furniture-polish lemon oil and Big Red gum. I don’t want to call them crazy, because we allll know that reformulations have messed with so many of the classics. And I don’t want to call them whiny, because I certainly have complained about the changes to Le Temps d’une Fete (yeah, before it finally got the axe  🙁 ). BUT. I picked up a tester bottle for Z-14 in the summer of 2015, and spritzed it on a card… and my knees got weak. I was reduced to near-incoherence at how wonderful it was. Reader, I bought it on the spot. There’s cinnamon in there, but it only peeks out from the woods from time to time, and the citrus note is subdued. It smells like a Rainbath Intense EdP, and I love Rainbath. Shrug. I don’t care that it’s been messed with, I just know it smells great. If the old stuff smelled better than this, my knees had no chance.

Chaperoned the band to the football game… where we lost, to a local rival who has been so awful in prior years that they didn’t win a single game. Apparently they’ve got their stuff together this year.

Saturday, Oct. 15 – Even though we got home late (after 11 pm) last night, poor Gaze had to get up at 5:30 to get breakfast before he and Taz got to the high school to go to an all-day cross-country meet just south of Richmond. It’s a four-hour drive, and neither The CEO nor I felt compelled to go. SOTD was By Kilian Sweet Redemption, yummy candied orange blossom. (OB tends to go either sweet or soapy on me, and I much prefer the sweet version.) We cleaned up, and he watched college football, and I searched the internet for “upgrade bathroom mirror,” because the one in the powder room just off the kitchen is showing its age.

See the discoloration at the bottom of the mirror?
See the discoloration at the bottom of the mirror?

Most of the stuff in this house was builder grade to start with, which was fine with me at the time. Building a house is expensive, and I didn’t feel the need to ask for high-end finishes when we were paying hundreds of thousands of dollars for the entire house! I didn’t mind the cheapie mirrors put in with metal clips, and I didn’t mind the very basic faucets. Over time, I’ve managed to replace some of the towel bars and toilet paper holders, and paint most of the rooms, as well as replace some of the horrid baseline light fixtures. But now this mirror is losing its silvering, and like I say, it’s never been interesting. That’s about to change. Pics to come, as the project is complete.

james-milestat-2016-8th-jvThe boys got home after 10 pm, with the news that Gaze had run something similar to his previous times, and Taz finished 8th out of 297 runners in the JV race. He’s got a new 5K PR time of 18:20, as well.

Sunday, Oct. 16 – Taz came down with some kind of stomach bug last night, right after he showered. I felt so bad for him! And Gaze has been just run off his feet lately. We let them sleep and went to church without them. SOTD was Tauer Une Rose Chypree, from a large sample I’ve now had for… gosh, must be 7 years now, because I got this sample when the fragrance was new. It’s almost gone now, despite the number of times I’ve worn it; URC is sort of nuclear in its lasting power so I only wear a tiny bit at a time. It’s perfect at this time of year.

I mowed the grass, The CEO did laundry, Gaze did homework, and Taz recuperated. It was an absolutely gorgeous day, 68F, sunny, with the sky that stunning autumn blue. Sigh.

After I mowed, I had to shower – I’m allergic to grass, and my lawnblower blows bits of it everywhere, so I itch and itch until I shower it off. I used a small bottle of gel I picked up on a whim for $3 at TJ Maxx recently: The Body Shop Smoky Poppy. Now, I know that Smoky Poppy was supposed to be sort of an homage to YSL Opium, which you probably remember that I haaaaaate. And I didn’t like the fragrance spray when I tried it at the Duty Free shop, but the shower gel smells great and goes quite well with URC, if you were wondering. I was a little freaked out to find that not only is the bottle black, so is the gel! Oy. Creepy… but I do smell good. Gaze told me that when he hugged me good night.


Scent Diary, Oct. 3-9, 2016

Blue Ridge Autumn
Blue Ridge Autumn

Monday, Oct. 3 – Another first Monday of the month, another band booster meeting… It’s finally gotten cooler, though I’m still spending the days in capri pants instead of long ones, and I only need a jacket or a sweater in the evening. A friend on Facebook was bemoaning the end of summer; I think she’s crazy. This is perfect weather. SOTD is Safari.

There was also a meeting for the Homecoming Court and their parents, to practice for the court’s introduction at halftime of the football game on Friday (which is in danger of being interrupted by nasty weather, courtesy of Hurricane Matthew). You wouldn’t think it would take 75 minutes to figure out where we’re supposed to walk and stand, would you? Sadly, it did.

Tuesday, Oct. 4 – Have been making icing decorations to place on cupcakes I plan to take to the cross-country meet tomorrow. It’s fun, but probably a waste of my time. SOTD is Mariella Burani.

Hunter-doggie had an exciting day, because the sheep escaped through the gate into the front yard. He really wanted to play with them! really really! I escorted them back into their lot and gave them some sweet feed, and got rewarded for my efforts by canine pouting. But I wanted to play with them, Mom! poutpout

Taz is 16!
Taz is 16!

Wednesday, Oct. 5 – Happy birthday to Taz! He’s 16 today. The boys’ team came in 3rd at the meet, with only one kid in the top 15 but everybody finishing with a decent time. The girls fared less well, except one who finished 9th. It’s a difficult course. The cupcakes went over well.

Weird fragsperience today: I pulled out a half-empty decant of Iris Poudre and spritzed it hastily on my way to the meet, and it smelled truly awful for the next hour before gradually returning to bearable. Up close, it smelled normal (a pale floral wrapped in a fluffy feather boa), but the waft! Remember that elderly lady who used to trail overspritzed White Diamonds behind her through the grocery store, and she smelled like a giant hotel-lobby flower arrangement accented with giant messy diapers? This was like Iris Poudre’s incontinent little purse-dog.

I suspect — I hope — that it was merely some juice caught in the sprayer and contaminated by air, or perhaps an adverse reaction to something on my skin. In either case, let us hope it never happens again, because GAH AWFUL.

pc-cupcakesThursday, Oct. 6 –  I tried hanging out some clothes to dry on the line, but it’s both overcast and chilly, so it’s not working. Dryer to the rescue. The sheep knocked the gate off its hinges AGAIN (that’s the fourth time in ten days), but since I can’t rehang a gate by myself, I propped it back up and buttressed it by shoving the cooler full of Gatorades from yesterday’s meet in front of it. It weighs about sixty pounds, so they could knock it over if they really gave it a concerted effort, but they’re sheep. I sincerely hope they’re not capable of concerted effort.

There's no discernible rose note in it, but Floral Romantique smells like these David Austin Juliet roses look.
There’s no discernible rose note in it, but Floral Romantique smells like these David Austin Juliet roses look.

SOTD is the last half-ml of a sample of Guerlain Elixir Charnel Floral Romantique, which I tried a couple of years ago and got rave reviews on. I had been considering getting a decant of it, if not a bottle, but it is riDONKulously pricey, so I zipped over to The Posh Peasant and picked up a large-ish sample to help me decide whether I really want that tester bottle from German eBay. I guess I don’t, but since the decant services recently closed out all their Guerlains, my only other option for getting any at all is a 3ml manufacturer sample also on eBay, for $25. Grrrrr.

I should try to find a dupe of this somewhere, because it is really nice on me, and it does have that wonderful your-skin-but-better quality. CEFR has gotten a long string of, “Come on, Guerlain, you should be producing better stuff than this nondescript mall-rat juice!” reviews from perfumistas, and I don’t want to argue with those, exactly… but it’s just so NICE. Sigh. Victoria at Bois de Jasmin called it an overpriced orange-blossom version of D&G Light Blue (I get tiare instead of OB, fyi); Olfactoria’s Travels said it was the most generic white floral to ever come from Guerlain; Perfume Shrine deemed it boring (see the comments).  Only Mark Behnke at CaFleureBon enjoyed it, calling it luminous. I don’t care. It “melts in” and smells lovely.

Finally closed the windows this evening, because it was 55F outside. Brr.

Gaze escorting Celie, who would be chosen Homecoming Queen just a few moments later. Photo by David Gravely.
Gaze escorting Celie, who would be chosen Homecoming Queen just a few moments later. Photo by David Gravely.

Friday, Oct. 7 – Wearing Iris Poudre again, and luckily the Nasty Waft seems to have worked itself out. It smells right, so probably there was just some juice caught in the sprayer, and air exposure decayed it. The decant is fine now.

It is raining. (Thanks a LOT, Hurricane Matthew. For the record, nobody invited you to Homecoming.) The Cougars won their football game, and the members of the Homecoming Court looked nice. It rained so much that my behind got soaked from water collecting on the concrete stands! Gah.

homecoming2016Saturday, Oct. 8 – No fragrance today. House cleaning instead. H. Matthew is sticking around and making a nuisance of himself, while all the ACC teams are practically swimming up and down the football fields. My brother and SIL who live in Florida lost power for about half a day, but the rain seems to have left them behind and hit farther north with a fury.

Gaze looks nice dressed up for the dance, doesn’t he? So does his lovely friend Cayla. From all accounts, everybody had a nice time. Man, Homecoming is a lot bigger deal than it used to be in the 80s – hardly anybody dressed up, if they bothered to go to the dance at all, and it was right after the football game anyway. I was usually too tired after doing band stuff all game, and just went home.

jenny-oct-9-2016Sunday, Oct. 9 – Michael, our farm guy, bought a donkey last night and brought her over this morning to hang out with Gaze’s sheep. Jenny will provide security for the sheep, in exchange for companionship and good pasture. Hunter is dying to meet her (not that he can escape the Invisible Fence to do so).

SOTD is Cuir de Lancome. I smell great!

Exciting baptism at church this morning, and then we had a joint birthday party for Taz and Gaze this evening with their grandparents. Since I made a gazillion cupcakes for Taz’s birthday on Wednesday, and will be making two gazillion this coming Thursday for Gaze’s birthday, we decided on chocolate satin pie instead of a birthday cake. Yummy!


Scent Diary, Sept. 25 – Oct. 2, 2016

boys-airport-raceSunday, Sept. 25 – Pretty day for a race! The New River Valley Airport (open to cargo and private aircraft) has been under construction to improve its facilities. It had to be closed to air traffic due to the construction, and the manager offered the airport as the site of a 5K race to benefit the high school cross country team. (Thanks, Keith.) SOTD was Chanel No. 19 EdP, delicious. I helped register runners and do administrative stuff; all three of my boys ran in the twilight, with the airport lights shining. Gaze won! And Taz came in first in his age group. The CEO, who ran in high school, finished with a decent time as well. I’m proud.

Monday, Sept. 26 – SOTD was the lovely and comfortable Mariella Burani. Thing’s an aldebomb, but the drydown is just gorgeous. Sigh. I managed to get all the race results tabulated.

Tuesday, Sept. 27 – I am glad to see the end of September (though not quite as grateful as I was for the end of Hateful August!) and the beginning of cooler weather. The CEO brought me some lovely pumpkins and potted chrysanthemums to decorate the porch, and I am happy to be wearing Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea again. I also picked up a “Pumpkin Spice” Paddywax scented candle at TJ Maxx recently, and it has a mellow tobacco note to it that blends really nicely with Tabac Aurea. Yum.

mvc-noms-sept-2016This seems to be a very good season for Gaze, as well. He was selected as one of the five nominees for Most Valuable Cougar (the cougar being the high school mascot). The program honors students who were voted by their peers as being engaged in many aspects of student life, intellectual, athletic and/or talented, of good character, and friendly. Bookworm was also nominated for this honor her senior year as well. He just won that 5K race, and has now been selected for the Homecoming Court.

Well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit! Homecoming Court. Huh. Who’da thunk?

Wednesday, Sept. 28 – Sent off Gaze’s applications for Senatorial recommendations to the service academies today — FedEx. 2-day service, $34, ouch. His application to our Congressman isn’t due until the second week of October; I suspect that if he receives the necessary and sought-after recommendation, it will be from Morgan Griffith and not from Sen. Kaine or Sen. Warner. Virginia’s a tough state to get that recommendation from a senator, because there are just so many students applying for it. Virginia has a large contingent of military families. SOTD is Cuir de Lancome, and I smell faaaabulous.

Thursday, Sept. 29 – I wonder where I put my vintage mini of Lanvin Arpège extrait? The weather is absolutely perfect for it. The box is in the cabinet, but where’s the juice?? Puzzling. Arpège is technically a floral aldehyde, but to me it is far more woody than it is aldehydic. That drydown… sandalwood and vetiver and totally addictive. I am sampling Chanel No. 5 L’Eau today, and while I don’t think it is a total disaster or a stupid waste of time — for some reason, I just don’t like it, due to the presence of that dreaded baby-aspirin/Tang-dust note. Bleargh.

Friday, Sept. 30 – The marching band was not required to attend the football game tonight, so Gaze stayed home to study for tomorrow’s SAT exam, and I didn’t go either. The CEO went, and watched the football team’s first loss of the season. I cuddled up in Ralph Lauren Safari instead. PSA: Safari is Just SO Good.

autumn-bridgeSaturday, Oct. 1 – YAY OCTOBERRRRR!! All my Facebook friends are posting cozy soup recipes and links to cute Halloween crafts and talking about Peak Fall Foliage. I love autumn, too, but I’m just trying to avoid the ugly political beast right now, and I’m sorta skimming through my FB feed with one eye closed (and hiding every single political post that pops up, because UGH NO). SOTD is Soivohle Centennial, because it’s chilly and Centennial is gorgeously fuzzy and warm. I could have worn Organza Indecence, but I think it’s tucked away in a purse I haven’t worn since, like, February.

Sunday, Oct. 2 – I have been reading the series The Wheel of Time, by Robert Jordan (later books co-authored by Brandon Sanderson). I’m still puzzled as to how I missed reading it when it was new in 1990, fantasy-book freak that I was. Maybe I was too busy? Maybe I heard they were too involved? Not sure. As for now, I’m glad I’ve read them, but I’m also glad I waited until the series was complete, because A) I had none of the impatience of having to wait six years for the next book to be published, and B) I don’t love this series. Why not? I don’t know. I don’t mind the ridiculously long cast of characters, nor the glacial pace of the books in the middle of the series (okay, Book 11 was frustratingly slow and very little plot development occurred), or the excruciatingly detailed descriptions, all complaints that have been leveled at the books. I think it’s just that I don’t love any of the characters.

I have, to be honest, given up on GRR Martin’s Song of Ice and Fire. I have grown tired of seeing my favorite characters either killed or grown hopeless in the face of loss and despair. I will read no more of that series – and yet I still somehow care what happens to Jon Snow and Arya Stark.

The difference? I have no idea.

SOTD was lovely Teo Cabanel Early Roses, although Late Roses might suit the scent better, with its deep ambery-woody drydown. I still have bright pink blooms on my Knockout Rose bush.


Early Fall Seasonal Switch, Sept. 2016

early_autumn_path_falling_rays_nature_nice_hd-wallpaper-1592318Autumn is coming. It’s still hot during the day – middle to upper 80sF, but we’re heading into the time of year when it’s a little cool in the mornings, and foggy enough that you must drive with headlights on until the sun burns the fog off. Then it’s wickedly humid and steamy from 11 a.m. until the sun starts to go down around 7 p.m.

And there’s the matter of the light. The earth has tilted enough on its axis that the sunlight has lost its ugly summer glare and become mellow and golden, a blessing on us. The trees are still very green, no leaves changing color yet. Everything is green and gold, glorious, peaceful.

I need that peace. Fall tends to be a hectic time of year at my house, what with marching band in full swing and cross-country. Since The CEO teaches at Virginia Tech and only farms in the summer, we don’t have the crazy weeks of third-cutting haymaking and silo-filling that we used to have when he was farming full-time, thank goodness, but it’s still busy. There’s usually one all-day kid activity every weekend plus a couple of late nights every week (XC meets or football games where the band is playing). There won’t be many of these busy fall-sport seasons left to us: Gaze is a senior and Taz a sophomore. Carpe diem, baby, carpe diem.

Since the weather changed from Ungodly Miserable Sweaty Heat to Still Hot But Less Pit-of-Hell, I switched out some of my summer fragrances for others. I put away DK Gold, with its heady warm lily. I put away Elizabeth Arden Green Tea Yuzu (a $9.99 TJ Maxx purchase) and Moschino Funny!, the light citrusy scents I wear in lieu of cologne proper in horrible summer weather.

This is the current rotation (front to back, left to right):

Yes, that's a 2015 pic of Gaze in his band uniform up there in the corner of my dresser mirror.
Yes, that’s a 2015 pic of Gaze in his band uniform up there in the corner of my dresser mirror.

Front row:
DSH La Fete Nouvelle – the only fragrance I’ve ever found to smell like drying hay: fresh, airy and sweet, like featherlight baked goods made out of grass. La Fete Nouvelle’s got some meadow flowers in it and a sweet musk as well, but it gets the drying hay smell just right and it’s perfect for the tail end of summer. I liked it in the oil version too; don’t know if it’s still being sold.
Carven Le Parfum –  It’s another of the ubiquitous pink chypre Coco Mademoiselle clones, but one that doesn’t set my teeth on edge. The flowers sparkle and the patchouli is very very clean, and the whole thing is just pretty.
Chanel No. 19 eau de parfum – No. 19 is symphonic in the best kind of way, in that I can identify individual notes in it (primarily galbanum, rose, iris and vetiver), but it mostly smells like itself. I like both the softer edp and the sharper-edged edt; there’s also a decant of vintage edt that lives in the Current Rotation Hatbox.
Ines de la Fressange (1999 Calice Becker version) – this is a fruity floral done right, like a mimosa with the balance of champagne and orange juice just perfect. A garden-party sort of fragrance. Sadly, it’s long gone, and my bottle’s getting low. Also, the first minute I see a leaf fall, Ines will go straight into the bedside cabinet.
Second row:
Mary Greenwell Plum – a pink-and-white floral (rose, tuberose, jasmine) sandwiched between a tangy, acidic fruit top and a svelte modern-chypre base.
Smell Bent One – a cozy, sheer spiced wood, lightweight enough for cool evenings.
Teo Cabanel Early Roses – At first you think it’s just another boring fresh/simple rose scent, but the woods and light amber keep it grounded and warm.
Hermes Kelly Caleche eau de parfum – grapefruit, rose, vetiver and leather. Very refreshing. (I find the edt considerably too vegetal. No, thanks, I’d rather not smell like carrot peelings and celery root.)
Mariella Burani eau de toilette – basically, this thing is bergamot, aldehydes, warm-skin musk and vanilla-y benzoin. It doesn’t smell complicated; it just smells nice.  Too bad it’s discontinued.
Back row:
L’Arte di Gucci eau de parfum – Diva hot-pink rose with sculpted cheekbones, wandering an untended Gothic garden barefoot with spike heels dangling from her hand. I don’t wear this one often, but sometimes nothing else will do. It never leaves the current rotation, so that should tell you something. Another discontinued gem.
Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fete – Green and gold glory: galbanum, jasmine, narcissus, sandalwood, a very green-smelling aged patchouli, and honeyed opoponax. Green and gold, green and gold. I’m utterly wrecked that it’s discontinued; even in its later, much lighter, iterations, it was perfect. (I pulled out my empty 2010 bottle the other day – I can’t get the last few drops out via the sprayer, but when I take the cap off I can smell it, a thrumming woody base under all those flowers and all that galbanum, an alto vibrato of emotion.)
Jacomo Silences parfum de toilette (vintage) – Otherworldly silver and green, comtemplative as a Zen Buddhist monk. Again, discontinued, though the modern take on it, Silences eau de parfum Sublime, is pleasant.

This is the hatbox where the current rotation (whatever season) lives on my dresser. The lid keeps light out.
This is the hatbox where the current rotation (whatever season) lives on my dresser. The lid keeps light out.

Not pictured (because the bottle was either on my nightstand or in my big tote purse): Ralph Lauren Safari – I love Safari. Love it. It was not love at first sniff, because I think I’d been expecting it to be a cool green like No. 19, and also the parfum I first tried was heavy on the sweet base notes. But my response to it at the second trial was immeejit Baby-where-you-been-all-my-life.  It’s a dappled, warm, sweet green, and a year-round favorite now.

I’m eagerly awaiting cooler weather. You?


Her Life Was on Fire, But at Least She Smelled Good

“Farmhouse Fire” by Fishin Musician on DeviantArt (click through for link)

Ever had one of those life-upheaving events happen? Where you’re not sure where you’ll be tomorrow and what you’ll be doing? And you don’t know who will be with you?


This has been my life, since April. I’ve managed a couple of posts since then, but it was in the spirit of stiff-upper-lip, steady-the-boat “normality.” That was probably a mistake, but then I’ve made a lot of those at this point.

Things are starting to settle down a bit. Things are looking up a bit, as well. (Counseling, reordered priorities, heavy-duty prayer, stuff like that. The fire is out, for the time being, and rebuilding is going on.)

The constant? You won’t be surprised to hear that I smelled good the whole time. I turned first to sweet, gentle roses, because roses smell like love, and they will heal your heart. Then my greenies came into play — because with me there are always greenies! — for spring, and for delight.

I was a little worried that I might accidentally ruin a favorite by associating it with a time of upheaval. It didn’t happen. I’m not sure why, except that I might have been conscious of wearing perfume for my own comfort, and I tended to choose fragrances I find comforting – nothing “difficult” or odd.

Joseph's Coat climbing roseI even bought something new: a slightly-used bottle of Teo Cabanel Early Roses, on eBay, at a very steep discount. I’d used up two samples, so it wasn’t a blind buy, and it had been on my vague and nebulous To Buy list, but it leapfrogged over a couple of other fragrances because of the bargain. I’m loving it. (FYI, it’s a gentle fresh rose over ambered woods, soft and pretty and uncomplicated.)

I’ve been running around like a no-headed chicken this summer, what with Gaze’s crazy schedule, and then there was a tropical vacation, and then we all got sick, but things are better now. More on The Suitcase Summer later.

Here’s to rebuilding. And smelling good no matter what. Love y’all.



Flip-Flop. Again.

flipflop111I’ve changed my mind on perfumes before.

Just to name a few I went from disliking to loving, and my original perceptions of them: Ralph Lauren Safari (too sweet), Jacomo Silences (too screechy), Amouage Memoir Woman (weird enough to come out of some sorceress’s grimoire). And then there was Guerlain Mitsouko, which I tried and tried and didn’t get, and then I got it, and promptly decided I didn’t love it and need never try it again.

I’ll probably reverse myself at least once more at some point in the future. There was a guy who used to work for my father-in-law who would say, “Uh-oh, we’ve got this back’ards. Got to flip it a hunnerd degrees the other way.” He meant 180°, of course, but you had to speak Charlesish to translate.

jasmine-poet-10I’ve flip-flopped, a hunnerd degrees different, lately.  Y’all hold on to your seats, because this one startled me.  I, like everybody else, have my preferences. I love rose and tuberose and narcissus, galbanum and aldehydes. I really hate balsamy orientals and I loathe patchouli in its earthy, dusty, cocoa-powder role; if it smells like Youth Dew, or God forbid, Opium, it is an abomination to me. Lavender gives me massive headaches. Indolic jasmine smells like soiled panties; the “clean” kind you find in, say, Jennifer Aniston‘s fragrance works my last freakin’ nerve, so jasmine soliflores are pretty much off the table.


Photo stolen from Bois de Jasmin (click for link).
Photo stolen from Bois de Jasmin (click for link).

I resniffed A La Nuit. And guess what happened? I liked it. It wasn’t poopy-diaper jasmine, or Ho Panties jasmine, or high-pitched squeaky-clean jasmine. It was just flowers. It made me relax enough to get sleepy, just from one hit.

So I wore it one evening. I still liked it. No poop, no panties, no screech. Instead, narcotic.

Huh. I’m hangin’ out with Jasmine the cool girl and we’re getting along just fine.

A Cautionary Tale: remember me and Chanel Cuir de Russie? I should have loved it. I like Chanel, I like aldehydes, I like floral leathers. In actuality, I hated it because it was such an odorealistic presentation of the cattle working pens here on the farm (iodine, rawhide, dust, dried manure, and fear). People kept telling me I was wrong, it was the softest pink leather imaginable, and one day, one day! it smelled like a perfect leather purse full of flowers, and that was wonderful. The next six times I tried it (differing concentrations/sources/weather), it was back to Virtual Working Pen, and I was back to hating it.

Here’s hoping I don’t start hating A La Nuit.

Jasmine. Who knew?


Parfumerie Generale

How come nobody ever talks about PG anymore?

PG, from his Facebook page (yes, he has a FB page! you can friend him yourself!)
PG, from his Facebook page (yes, he has a FB page! you can friend him yourself!)

Pierre Guillaume is still pretty dang good-lookin’. His Huitième Art Collection gets some press these days, and there’s a new house called the Pierre Guillaume Collection Croisiere. Of course Now Smell This is faithful to report a new Parfumerie Generale fragrance release. But people talking about the regular PG scents lately? Nope. (If they are, and I’ve missed it, please let me know.)

In sorting my samples, I ran across a fairly large pile of PG vials, and then I realized that I’ve tried far more of the house’s fragrances than the ones I still have. (Pretty sure I passed a few on to a friend.) And I realized that I had a mental impression of Parfumerie Generale fragrances as a whole: solid, made of nice raw materials, sometimes interesting and sometimes different takes on well-established/well-known scents, but none of them seizing me by the heart.

Shrug. If that happened every time, I’d be living under the bridge and eating out of Dumpsters, the best smelling homeless person ever.

I decided to post a swift rundown of the current Numbered Collection that I’ve tried, as well as some limited editions and some from the Private Collection. The Private Collection cannot be reached through the main website, and is described as “by invitation only,” though you can find some of them through retailers like LuckyScent.Aromateka-Moscow-4-450x300PG03 Cuir VenenumNotes of lemon, orange blossom, coconut, leather, musk, myrrh. A white-floral/leather, with the orange blossom amping grape-flavor methyl anthranilate to the max. A friend of mine describes this as “Grape Slushee on my suede boots.”

PG04 Musc MaoriNotes of cacao pod, tonka bean, amber, vanilla, white musk, woods, coffee, floral notes, green notes. Basically, this smells of milk chocolate, a Hershey bar in a bottle. Interesting, but I really hate cocoa/chocolate in my perfume. And for what it’s worth, I can hardly stand to eat milk chocolate; it’s too sweet.

PG10 AomassaiNotes of spices, wood resin, hazelnut, caramel, vetiver, incense, licorice, bitter orange, resins, hay, woods. I remember this one as being a strange almost-dessert smell, with something burning keeping it from being edible. Weird and nice, but also not really a scent I would like to wear. In color, it’s a brown so dark it’s almost black.

PG11 Harmatan NoirNotes of salt, tea, woodsy notes, citruses, green notes, virginia cedar, jasmine, mint. If the idea of salty mint tea drunk while sitting on a big piece of driftwood appeals to you, this scent will too. It is not “noir” in the least.

PG13 Brûlure de Rose – Notes of  litchi, Brazilian rosewood, amber, musk, raspberry, vanilla, cacao, raspberry and rose. The name means “Burning Rose,” or something like that, but where one might expect woody notes and incense along with the rose, instead there are fruit and caramel. This is Rose Crème Brûlée, maybe. Nice.

PG14 Iris Oriental (formerly Iris Taïzo) – Notes of fig honey, iris, Mexican vanilla, cardamom, kyara incense (olibanum) and woods, according to Fragrantica. The PG website says, “An ‘Orris Honey’, fruity and woody… Guatemalan cardamom, iris, Jinkoh wood, fig-tree honey and precious unguents infused with the warmth of the sun.” Well, all righty then. I don’t remember this one being honeyed at all – more a dry, lightly spicy woody scent with a bit of orris root, also dry and woody. (Thank heavens, no fig leaves.)

PG15 Ilang IvohibéNotes of Madagascar ylang-ylang, vanilla, California orange, Egyptian jasmine, lavender, orris, patchouli. At one time, I had a sample of this one which I cannot find now. I remember it as being very “golden,” except for the topnotes which I did not like (probably the lavender), but a bit too vanilla-sweet in the drydown.

PG16 Jardins de KerylosNotes of green fig, white peach, sycomore, herbal notes, and tuberose. I did not like this one at all, but then I really hate fig leaf.

PG17 Tubéreuse CoutureNotes of kalamanzi oil, green jasmine shoots, ylang-ylang, sugar cane, Indian tuberose, Sumatra benzoin and papyrus. Kalamanzi is a small citrus fruit (also known as calamondin, among other names) similar to a kumquat. I like this one a lot; it’s a bit green in the opening, and then candied tuberose later; it’s like a sweet fruit drink made with sugar and tuberose. Yummy. If Fracas is opaque and heavy, this is light and “clear.”

PG21 Felanilla – “Feline vanilla.” Notes of iris, amber, hay, saffron, banana leaf, Tahitian vanilla. Really pleasant, both dry and sweet.

PG23 Drama Nuuï Notes of absinthe, spices, jasmine, woods, musk. It’s mostly a green jasmine (“virginal jasmine,” according to the PG website), with an unfortunately honking laundry musk that takes over completely. I’m not a big jasmine gal anyway, but even I was disappointed when the musk muscled everything else out of the way.

PG24 Papyrus de CianeNotes of galbanum, grass, broom, oakmoss, musk, powdery notes. I should have loved this one. I didn’t. It is musty, earthy, and pale after a sharp green opening. I might like to smell this in a room, or outside, but not on myself.

From the Private Collection:
Bois BlondNotes of grass, galbanum, wheat, cedar, hay, ambergris, musk, blond tobacco. I should try this again; the first time I tested it, I was looking for The Hay Fragrance For Me, and it was a fail. But the more I look at that notes list, the more I think I might like it if I tried it without expecting anything in particular. I’d have to get another sample, since I gave the first one away.

Bois de CopaïbaNotes of orange, ginger, sandalwood, amaretto, mahogany, myrrh, copahu balm. I barely remember this one, except that it was boozy and I gave my sample away. Did not love it.

L’Oiseau de NuitNotes of artemisia, leather, davana, labdanum, benzoin. I gave this one away too (why? maybe someone wanted them?), but I remember it as being rather similar to Shalimar, without that light/dark effect you get between the bright lemon and the shadowy woods. It seemed dark blue to me somehow. I love the name, Night Bird.

Praliné de SantalNotes of heliotrope, sandalwood, hazelnut, cedar, cashmere. Sandalwood smells almost edible anyway, and adding heliotrope and hazelnut to the mix pushes it even farther to the gourmand side. Cashmeran and cedarwood push it back to the woody side, so it hovers between edible and inedible. Nice stuff.

QuerelleNotes of citrus, cumin, cinnamon, myrrh, caraway, incense, rose, vetiver, oakmoss, ambergris. This one I did not like; it seemed dissonant, with spices that really were not friendly to each other. (Shrug. Maybe it’s me.)

TonkamandeNotes of aldehydes, almond milk, tonka bean, wheat, sandalwood, vanilla, amber. The difference between this one and Praline de Santal is… um… okay, I forget (I gave this sample away too). Maybe this was less sweet, more milky? They’re variations on a comforting theme, anyway.  I can no longer find it on the PG website, but LuckyScent still has it.

Une Crime ExotiqueNotes of Chinese osmanthus, gingerbread, tea, cinnamon, star anise, vanilla, maté, sugar, sandalwood. Again, a variation on the almost-edible woody gourmand, except this one is more definitely gourmand. You could almost eat it. Name’s weird, but it’s pleasant. Also no longer available on the PG site or at LuckyScent, so I guess it’s really gone.

What about you? Have you tried any PG or Huitieme Art fragrances? Do you have a favorite, do you get on with the house, do you have any idea what I’m talking about since nobody seems to mention PG anymore?


Sample Sortage and Storage

Pic stolen from Clouddragon.
Pic stolen from Clouddragon.

For at least a couple of years now, I’ve been keeping my samples in two compartmentalized plastic craft boxes, vaguely organized by house alphabetically. However, I had neglected filing them, and they were starting to pile up around the bedroom. In cardboard boxes… in the cute little carved wooden box my mother bought me at the Wolfahrt Haus gift shop… in the pink depression-glass bowls I have slung around the bedroom to corral the clutter.


I bought another craft box and started sorting: A-H in one pile, I-P in another, Q-Z in the last. I had thought there would be tons of Ps, with all the houses named Parfums de Something, but the A-H pile was almost twice the size of the other two. Only at that point did it occur to me that there are a lot of perfumes from houses beginning with A, C, or G, and it’s a good thing one of my sample boxes is much larger than the other two.

I ran into a minor snag or two, when deciding how to file. Patou fragrances wound up in the J category, because the house is really called Jean Patou. But Balmain, although the house is formally known as Pierre Balmain, stayed in the B’s. Why? No good reason, except that’s how I think of them. (Balmain, incidentally, uses that B on its packaging, whereas Patou uses JP on its bottles.)

So. I have no “before” pics (no, this is a good thing. You’d be calling Social Services on me), but here are a few of the completed project.

The Big One, A-H
The Big One, A-H

Here’s Elisa of Bois de Jasmin on the way she stores her samples: http://boisdejasmin.com/2015/11/perfume-samples-where-to-get-and-how-to-store.html. The “sort into bags by genre” works for her, would probably drive me crazy. Whatever makes sense to you intuitively is probably best.

Box #2, I-P
Box #2, I-P

I’ve been finding things I haven’t tried, and things I really liked but not enough to buy a larger portion of, whether decant or full bottle. I’ve also been finding things I hated and wouldn’t touch again if you paid me — often things that other people find pleasant! — so I need to find them a new home. They’re mostly things that would only be appreciated by other fumeheads, so I don’t really see myself dropping them off in a ladies’ room at the mall. Can’t take them to the local women’s shelter; they don’t allow donations of used personal care items. Gah. Could maybe offer them for a penny plus shipping costs on ebay, I guess.

Box #3, Q-Z
Box #3, Q-Z

I do like to keep samples for reference sometimes, but sometimes they evaporate or turn, so they’re less than ideal for long-term storage. I shall endeavor to use them up — in the bathtub, if necessary.

I think I shall do another Rose Week soon! Apparently I never met a rose frag that I didn’t at least want to try, so I have a lot of samples here…

… a LOT of samples…


Oriza L. Legrand samples

I was going to do my usual history-in-brief, but I think I’ll just link to the Fragrantica info on this perfume house, and get straight on to the frag reviews. My sample set came with seven scents, really nice sturdy 2ml sealed glass spray vials, and then I managed to scrounge up a couple more in the standard decant service 1ml dabber vials. Deep breath. Okay, I’ll start with the ones I didn’t hate and proceed from there.

Small historic church interiorReve D’Ossian – The name makes reference to Ossian, the purported author of a cycle of epic poems in Gaelic (really the 18th-century work of James MacPherson), and the notes are aldehydes, incense, pine, cinnamon, benzoin, elemi, tonka, guaiac wood, opoponax, balsamic notes, sandalwood, leather, labdanum and musk. Longtime readers will look at that list and think, Okay, Mals is gonna definitely hate this. I thought I would, too. I don’t. It might be my favorite of the nine I tried – not that I’m jonesing for a larger amount of it, but I enjoyed wearing it. It does that cool-and-meditative thing that incense does, and when it softens into the basenotes it gets comforting. Not ground-breaking, quite linear, but it holds a feeling of quiet, expansive equanimity for me.

Heliotrope Blanc – I’m iffy on heliotrope, too. (Never once has perfumery heliotrope ever smelled like the plants I had growing in the front flower bed – those smell like jelly doughnuts! – but often will go very powdery or Play-doh-y.) This one is powdery, but pleasant nonetheless. Did I love it? Nope. Notes are orange blossom, heliotrope, violet leaf, almond, mimosa, iris, musk, rice, benzoin and tonka. I tested this on one wrist, with Parfums de Nicolai Kiss Me Intense on the other, and KMI was far more to my taste.

Marions-Nous – The silly name means something like “let’s get married,” and of course it is a floral bouquet – with aldehydes, orange blossom, hyacinth, rose, carnation, ylang, iris, jasmine, cloves, tonka, civet, musk, and sandalwood. The preponderance of orange blossom in there pretty much guarantees its resemblance to scented soap to me. I mean, it’s nice soap. Nice soap is better than most of the rest of this fragrance line, IMHO.

Relique d’Amour – okay, I didn’t hate this one either, though I didn’t mind it. It’s faint lilies, incense and a cold stone effect, but there’s also a hint of old vasewater and celery in there too. Official notes include: fresh herbs, pine, white lily, powdery notes, pepper, oak, incense, myrrh, elemi, musk, moss, waxed wood. I wished to pick up the “waxed woods” note, but didn’t find it.

From here it gets much, much worse. #sorrynotsorry

Oeillet Louis XV – Y’all know I love carnations, except when they go bitter-soapy. This one is bitter, soapy, AND powdery, on top of cloying honey sweetness, and I really hated it. Official notes are carnation, pink pepper, mandarin, honey, white orchid, iris, rose, clove, rice powder, musk, woody notes. The topnotes are okay, and from there it keeps devolving further into OMG why did I put this on my skin? gedditoffme.

marcy_borders_c0-17-640-390_s885x516Jardins d’Armide – I suppose it’s not all that weird that a company that used to make scented wig powder should feature powder in its modern creations, but this thing is OTT powdery. We are talking baby-powder BOMB, people. It starts off promisingly enough – I get the heliotrope right off the bat, and there’s a nice rose-violet, and then five minutes later I’m blinking from a Dumpster’s worth of powder. Remember the picture of that lady who was covered in dust after the World Trade Center bombings, and who died of cancer last year? (Prayers for her family.) That’s how I feel wearing J d’A. Official notes are rose, powdery notes, orange blossom, orris root, violet, carnation, wisteria, honey, almond, tonka bean and musk.

oh heck noHorizon – I didn’t expect to like this “oriental fougere”, and I sure didn’t. Petitgrain, tangerine, marmalade, rose, cognac, amber, tobacco leaf, cacao, almond, oak, patchouli, benzoin, ambergris, white tobacco, vanilla, honey, leather and peat.  Sounds great, right? But on my skin, it’s a big ol’ slug of patchouli and sweated-out booze, and it smells like poor judgment – not just no, OH HE** NO.

Forest StagChypre Mousse – this is the reason I bought the sample set. I blame Kafka for this one; she is my Mostly Evil Scent Twin, but every now and then we have congruent tastes. I was expecting something like vintage Coty Chypre, or even original Miss Dior (which is an acquired taste, to be sure): green notes, moss, woody notes, and labdanum, a veritable Bambi’s Forest right there on my wrist.


garbage forestInstead, I got this pile of garbage right in the middle of said forest. Yes to moss and a hint of galbanum, but also tons of dirt and garbage atop it, with the sour fizz of rot over all. It gives me enormous stonking headaches every time I try it, and terrible nausea. Every member of my family recoiled from me with horrified expressions, so it wasn’t just my sniffer. Sprayed on paper, I pick up fleeting impressions of various woodsy things – wet fern, mushroom, raw chestnut, something sweet like pipe tobacco, and was that mint? – amid the overall greenness. On my skin? Awful. Indescribably awful. A decomposing mess.

But the worst disappointment for me was Deja le Printemps. Described as a gentle green floral, it seemed like the one most up my alley, and I didn’t check the notes list (mint, orange blossom, chamomile, fig leaves, clover, mown grass, lily of the valley, galbanum, musk, vetiver, cedar, moss) before trying it on skin. You saw it in the list, right? It’s there. I should have known: those blasted fig leaves.

It looks so innocuous, doesn't it? NOT.
It looks so innocuous, doesn’t it? NOT.

I’ve never experienced live fig trees or eaten fresh figs (I love the dried ones, which are the only ones you can get in this temperate zone), so I do wonder how I’d react to this bitter, acrid green scent in the wild, so to speak. I don’t usually mind sour, pungent notes like blackcurrant or grapefruit – but fig leaf just does me in. I hate it. I could not wait to get Deja le Printemps off my skin. I stuck it out for two hours, and then just could not stand it any more. The galbanum in this thing was pretty and soft, and everything else just lovely, but that (@*% FIG LEAF… I’m still mad about it.

Oriza L. Legrand’s range includes sixteen fragrances; I tried nine. I might be interested in giving Muguet Fleuri a go, and I wouldn’t turn down a shot at Violettes du Czar either, if I didn’t have to buy it. I don’t know how different Royal Oeillet is from the earlier rendition of Louis XV or whether to bother with it. However, I have zero interest in Villa Lympia, Vetiver Royal Bourbon, Foin Fraichement Coupe (perfumery hay absolutely never smells like hay to me) or Cuir l’Aigle Russe.

I am now sending my Oriza samples off to a new home, where I hope they’ll be welcome. How have you done with this house? Like it, love it, hate it?


Rose Week #1, spring 2016

mycityflower pink roseThe Now Smell This Friday project is “wear a rose perfume.” I’ve taken the opportunity to make this a rose week. ROSE WEEK YAY!

If I’m being truthful, I probably have enough samples of rose perfumes that I could do a Rose Month. Maybe two months. 😳 And yes, rose perfumes come in many moods, so I could run the gamut from vampy, Gothy dark roses to fresh-cheeked sweet roses, to rose chypres and rose gourmands and woody roses and citrus roses and fruity roses and incense roses and…

Okay, you get the idea. In any case, what I’m longing for now is the gentle, uncomplicated ones, the ones that “feel pink” on my skin and just make me smile. I didn’t even have to dig very far to find several gentle pinkies. Here’s what I wore this week:

My bottle of Petite Cherie looks like this, all lovely celadon green frosted glass.Monday, April 12Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, edt. This is very definitely a fruity rose, and rather simple, which isn’t odd considering that it was created for Annick Goutal’s young daughters. It’s cut grass, pear, peach, rose, vanilla and musk. I never smell peach in it – or vanilla, for that matter. Instead, it’s pear, cucumber, and rose, and it evokes a sweet childhood memory for me, so that I find it extremely comforting. There was a time when Gaze used to ask me to spritz it on the hem of his sleep shirt… (why do they have to grow up? sigh.) My bottle is the pale celadon-green frosted glass one, 25ml, and I keep it in the fridge since it’s so well-known for going off; it’s now seven years old and smells just fine.

paris YSLTuesday, April 13Yves St. Laurent Paris vintage parfum. I bought this mini recently on ebay and am utterly floored by it. It’s like rose liqueur – heady, intense, very beautiful. Not that I’ve tasted rose liqueur, but I’m sure it exists. (It does, I just looked it up. Pretty sure they don’t sell it at my local ABC store. They do sell moonshine there, though!) Man, if you sprayed the parfum on, you’d radiate for three city blocks. Not that that would be a bad thing.

roses and peoniesWednesday, April 14Parfums MDCI Rose de Siwa. I can’t help sighing in pleasure over it, because it is just the pinkest, prettiest, un-Barbie-est floral ever. If you hate it, you probably hate kittens and babies and flowers, and I’m not sure I wanna be friends with you.

(Just kidding.)

Thursday, April – Testing Parfums de Nicolai Rose Pivoine… and I don’t like it. Not enough peony, too much geranium for my personal taste. Once that wore off, I tested Ann Gerard Rose Cut, which I cannot now make up my mind whether I like or not. I did love the first hour of it – a gorgeously jammy rose, with a hint of patchouli and just a tad of vanilla. From there it got more and more oriental-balsamy, and by the end I was just waaaaaiting for it to wear off.

creme de la cremeFriday, April 15Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete. Okay, I admit it – for all my yarking on about pink roses, the yellow ones are really my favorite. Rose d’Ete smells like yellow roses – a soft hint of apple, and a gentle powdery rose that makes me feel joyous. I think this one might have been THE first niche fragrance I ever bought, and I still love it.

I found so many rose perfume samples in my stash that I’ll be sure to do another Rose Week soon! This was fun.


Violet, you’re turning violet, Violet!

This image, from Wikimedia Commons, makes me think of the Prince lyric, "An ocean of violets in bloom" (from "When Doves Cry").
This image, from Wikimedia Commons, makes me think of the Prince lyric, “An ocean of violets in bloom” (from “When Doves Cry”).

I already did a post, five years ago, on violet fragrances (The Big Violet List, November 2010). But here I am wearing violets again, so I thought I’d revisit the topic. (And yes, I still hate purple. Don’t let’s dwell, ‘kay?)

Miss Piggy with Carol Channing. Probably from The Muppet Show; I don't remember this episode, but I bet it was an inspired duet.
Miss Piggy with Carol Channing, singing “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” on The Muppet Show, 1980.

Just for fun, here’s a three-second “Violet” clip from 1971’s “Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.”  I was always troubled by that movie’s divergence from the book, when the book was perfectly excellent as it was! However, I loved Gene Wilder. And I loved Veruca Salt’s paean to hedonistic selfishness, “I Want It Now,” with its delightful, horrible lyric, “I want a party with roomfuls of laughter/Ten thousand tons of ice cream/And if I don’t get the things I am after/ I’m . . . going . . . to . . . scream!” (Taz can sing the heck outta that, btw.)

If you're telling me you don't see it, you should maybe get your eyes checked, stat.
If you’re telling me you don’t see it, you should maybe get your eyes checked. I mean, stat. Eerie. They eyebrows are not helping.

The 2005 Tim Burton version with Johnny Depp was equally disturbing, but for different reasons — one of which was Depp’s appearance as the love child of Carol Channing and Michael Jackson. Ugh, it’s still creeping me out. Let’s just not talk about it, hmm? Let’s just all go read the book instead.)

Back to lovely springy violets. I’m still wearing the ones I loved in 2010, but there are a few more I’ll bring to your attention. Violets are perennial, so there are changes in the violet frag-scape all the time. Guerlain’s gorgeous violet/rose/ambreine Attrape-Coeur (or Guet-Apens, or Vol de Nuit Evasion, as it was tweaked and rereleased) is gone. Alexander McQueen’s My Queen, too.

Tom Ford Black Violet hit my radar and then disappeared within that timeframe, too. But not without my seizing one of those adorable 4ml mini bottles on ebay, despite its being what Patty at Perfume Posse called “a scary violet clown” in her long discussion of violet frags (link at the end of this post). Yeah, it’s weird, and yeah, wearing it is like forcing myself to look over the edge of the balcony at the ground sixty feet below, or like watching the disturbing but sweet “Edward Scissorhands.” (There’s another Burton/Depp collaboration for you.)  But there are days I crave it.

Balenciaga Le Dix has been gone for some time; so has Houbigant Demi-Jour and Diane von Furstenberg Volcan d’Amour. I’m not going to talk about the reformulations of Caron Violette Precieuse or L’Artisan Verte Violette  (neither of which I liked). I can’t bear to talk about the less-violet, less-heliotrope, more-iris post-2011 refo version of Guerlain Apres l’Ondee (it was basically perfect; now it’s not).

violetI won’t completely rehash The Big Violet List post – it’s easy enough to click through to read it. Here are some new ones, as well as a few I didn’t mention before :
Mona d’Orio Violette Fumee – violets and tobacco.
Van Cleef & Arpels Feerie – reportedly, a fruity violet.
DSH Perfumes La Danse des Bleus et des Violettes and Giverny in Bloom – I haven’t tried the blues-and-violets, but Giverny in Bloom is a lovely galbanum smack followed by some noticeable violet and vetiver, with too many other notes to name. Reminded me just a tad of Jolie Madame (which I love).
Imaginary Authors Violet Disguise – a plummy, dried-fruity, balsamy violet, which does not sound like my sort of thing at all.
Smell Bent Violet Tendencies – leather and violet leaf.
Giorgio Armani Armani Prive Cuir Amethyste – I have a ‘fume friend who calls this one “Grape Slushee on my suede boots.”
Balenciaga Paris – citrus, violet leaf, half a violet petal, and lots of sawdust. Nice, but dull if you ask me.
Lolita Lempicka – I can’t believe I forgot to mention this little gem, green and licorice and violet and vanilla. I first tried it in Rome and have found it delightful every time I’ve tried it since, but I still don’t feel the need to own more than a sample or two.
Tom Ford Violet Blonde – The baby-aspirin/Tang-dust chemical-orange note up top pretty much ruined this one for me, but it’s violet leaf, pepper, jasmine, iris, and some woody suede. I don’t remember much actual violet in it. Do Not Want.
Serge Lutens De Profundis – I still (still!) haven’t tried this, since Oncle Serge is not my bon ami. Also, I am wary of the chrysanthemum.
Histoires de Parfum Blanc Violette – violet, a particularly vicious violet leaf, and powdery white musk. Ehhh.
Parfums d’Empire Equistrius – powdery violet iris.
LUSH/Gorilla Kerbside Violet – violet, jasmine, woody notes.

You can find other violet lists at Perfume Posse and The Non-Blonde, as well as The Candy Perfume Boy and Blogdorf Goodman (share if you’ve found other helpful lists, too).

I’m still wearing Penhaligon’s Violetta and vintage Balmain Jolie Madame parfum, as well as YSL Paris. Now and then I have delusions of hunting up a bottle of CdG Stephen Jones, that weird but fascinating violets-blooming-on-black-lava-rock thing, since my sample is long gone.

What are your favorite violets, if you like them?