Five Fragrances for Summer, 2017

Summer looks like this.

I don’t always do seasonal-picks posts. Mine kind of get repetitive because I’m a creature of habit who tends to wear the same things over and over, and also because I don’t really care if I’m recommending something discontinued. (I’m sorry about that. Well, a little bit sorry.)

But! I have a New Shiny, so you get a Five for Summer this year.

The New Shiny is something I’ve mentioned before, albeit in the context of, “I want this but I probably won’t buy it,”: Parfums DelRae Wit. Based on the lovely scent of spring-blooming Daphne cnoreum, Wit starts off with a sunshine-bright lemon and continues into a jasmine/neroli heart accented with a beautiful, not-very-clean narcissus. Wit is maybe a bit heavier than my usual floral choices for summer, especially since its heart is lush instead of airy, but it is just so darn pretty that I don’t mind its bigger sillage. I also notice a definitive spicy note that I can’t quite place; it’s not quite clove, not quite pepper, not quite cardamom, but something in the general vicinity. I love that. The narcissus becomes more prominent near the drydown, and then there is a soft woody vanilla musk toward the end.

So how’d I get hold of this beauty? Perfumista RAOK, of course. Waterdragon, who comments frequently on Now Smell This and who lives in New Zealand, was looking to divest herself of a bottle of Wit, a blind buy that didn’t work out for her. She and her partner (whom she calls The Dear Man), recently visited the West Coast of the US, and very kindly braved the USPS in order to send it to me. I don’t know why it didn’t suit her, but I suspect that musk. It doesn’t read as uber-clean boring white laundry musk to me the way that No. 5 L’eau did, but I can see where it might veer in that direction. In any case, I’m glad it didn’t suit her.

Chanel 1932 EdP (Les Exclusifs collection) is becoming my second go-to this summer. I only have a decant, but it’s wonderful. Longer-lived than the effervescent original eau de toilette version, it’s missing the jubilant citrusy sparkle but has a stronger drydown that reminds me of Chanel’s 31 Rue Cambon. I’ve drained two 10ml decants of 31RC over the past 8 years but don’t feel the need to buy a full bottle, and to be honest, sometimes it’s just too darn much for me… but that drydown is so elegant: iris and sandalwood.

Moschino Funny! has been a summer favorite of mine since I bought it some years ago. Cheerful, mischievous, and refreshing, it fills the same sort of niche that Tommy Girl (yeah, yeah, put your snobbery away) does, for a quick pick-me-up. Grapefruit, blackcurrant, jasmine, green tea, cedar, musk. Simple.

Marc Jacobs Daisy was one of the first department-store scents that I smelled after my long hiatus from perfume, and you know what? I still like it. I waited several years and bought it on ebay, slightly used, for a song. It’s a very happy, feminine scent, and easy to enjoy in the air: fruit, a gentle white floral, and a woody-musk base. Complicated, original, unexpected, quirky? Niche quality? Nope. And I don’t care. It’s like cake made from a mix instead of from scratch. You might complain if you’re a serious foodie, but the rest of us perk up, because cake, y’all.

And one more: Hermes Kelly Caleche edp. I did not like the original version of this, in the eau de toilette, which I found unpleasantly vegetal; i.e., it smelled like celery to me. (I eat celery. By itself it’s pretty good, and if you slather it with crunchy peanut butter it’s even better. But I don’t like it in a tossed salad, where it tends to make everything in the salad taste only of celery. And I hate V-8, which combines the gross feeling of thick tomato juice with the oppressive smell of pulped celery, ew.)

Anyway. Kelly Caleche is an airy floral leather that begins in tangy grapefruit and slides its way down to a gentle sueded leather ice cream cone, by way of rose, iris and mimosa. Pretty, refreshing, and unobtrusive.

What’s your summer jam of 2017?



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?


Five for Summer, 2015

summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons
summer wildflowers, from Wikimedia Commons

HOLY MOSES, it’s summer already. I’ll let you in on a little secret: I don’t like summer. It’s hot, it’s sticky, it’s boring. I’m not a beach person. Gah. But I do change my seasonal perfume rotation to deal with summer, and here are a few fragrances I really enjoy wearing in hot weather.

Cool and refreshing: Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl. Go ahead and roll your eyes, perfumistas. I’ll wait.

You done? Okay then. There is something so unmussable about Tommy Girl, which survives heat and humidity with aplomb. Her hair doesn’t go limp (or frizzy) in the heat; her clothes don’t wilt. She goes on radiating relaxation and freshness for a long, long time, and that effect of drinking iced lemon tea on the porch near the flower beds is very welcome to me when I’m outside in our muggy summer weather. Don’t shoot the messenger, but Luca Turin was right about this one.

So Pretty: Carven Le Parfum. I know a lot of perfume people found this one underwhelming, but most of them have less interest in the Just Pretty than I do. I love a just-pretty, and this one is wonderful if you like that kind of thing. I like that kind of thing. It’s basically mandarin, sweet pea, jasmine, rose and a very cleaned-up patchouli/quiet woody base that lasts fairly well.

Green and composed: Jacomo Silences, the original. My bottle is the old 80s parfum de toilette, which has aged very well, probably due to its black bottle. It’s an air-conditioned blast of galbanum and the restrained elegance of iris and moss, with florals, particularly rose, in between. I have the reissued Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime, and it’s nice, but it lacks the bold eerie calm of the original, which has just been discontinued. Go buy some now, before it disappears from the discounters.

Zingy floral: Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune. Grapefruit, blackcurrant bud, petitgrain, something floral that I swear smells like rose to me, neroli, clean herbal patchouli and woody notes. Yeah, sure, it’s got that almost sulfurous thing going on up top, but I love it, and this citrus/floral thing is really refreshing in the heat. I’m less happy about the patchouli in the drydown, but I don’t like patchouli in general. It’s saying something that I don’t want to scrub this off when the patch floats up; instead I just want to reapply.

Most people love citrus fragrances. I usually don’t – the only traditional citrus/herbal/floral cologne I own is a small decant of 4711, and I don’t use it all that often. But I love a citrusy floral, and Pamplelune hits the spot. I’ve gone through a couple of minis so far, and I keep waffling on whether to buy a real bottle. Perhaps I will, when my Moschino Funny! is all gone.

And of course, I have to have a BWF. Always need a Big White Floral. Doesn’t really matter which one I pick, because they’re all good in the heat. Maybe not so great if you’re trying to get work done, because they can eat your head and monopolize your senses. But there’s nothing more swoony. Suggestions: Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower or Le Galion Tubereuse (the rerelease), if you like your BWFs joyful and lighthearted. Escada Margaretha Ley (discontinued. #sorrynotsorry) or Honore des Pres Vamp a NY (bonus: all-natural) if you like them coconutty and tropical.

(Heh. I just crammed four perfumes into a one-perfume slot – how about me?)

So – what’s for summer wear in your neck of the woods?


Winter Perfumes, 2015

Well, it looks like we’re sliding into spring (on all the mud left behind by our late-winter snows and recent rains. MUD, I tell you). And I never did a post on winter fragrances, did I? Well then.

My winter loves haven’t changed much since I started blogging in 2009. I’m still a big fan of “cozies” in cold weather.

First, and always, Teo Cabanel Alahine. Beautiful, warm, forceful and joyous, this floral amber accompanied me on happy days this winter. Smells like church bells sound.

A fluffy thing, in this rich color. Very cozy.
A fluffy thing, in this rich color. Very cozy.

Soivohle Centennial is still the closest smell ever to a comfortable, soft, dark peach angora sweater that I used to own in college. (I wonder what happened to that sweater… probably I sent it to Goodwill, ages ago.) Centennial is based on a classic floral chypre recipe, according to Liz Zorn (it was originally called Historical Chypre), and it is very floral (jasmine and rose, with some ylang, I think) atop a seriously-chypre backbone with plennnnnty of oakmoss and patchouli and amber. I don’t know exactly what it is in the base that feels fuzzy, but it certainly does. I go through stages of being addicted to this thing.

Tom Hardy. Leather jacket. What's not to like?
Tom Hardy. Leather jacket. What’s not to like?

I wore Amouage Memoir Woman a lot this winter, too. Memoir Woman is downright freaky, and I admit that it took me about nine wearings of it to really figure out what it even was: jammed full of every herbal/spicy/medicinal smell you could imagine up top (Band-Aids! Myrrh! Anise! Clove! Other weird stuff that makes you think of witches brewing up potions!), followed by a big luxurious armful of jasmine, ylang and tuberose in the middle, and the whole thing resting on an animalic-chypre platform that is mostly about leather but also smells a bit like fur and civet and incense. This one smells like Tom Hardy… if a bearded Tom Hardy should somehow show up at my door, wearing a leather jacket and bearing white flowers. And a love potion. 🙂 Rrrowwwwwr.

What is this bottle - a mouse? A worry stone? A hot rock from the massage room of a fancy spa?
What is this bottle – a computer mouse? A worry stone? A hot rock from the massage room of a fancy spa?

It doesn’t get any cozier than Donna Karan Black Cashmere. This one was discontinued, then brought back in a slightly-reformulated version (no, it’s a good one) in a boring cylindrical bottle with none of the charm of the original “pebble” bottle. It’s spicy, woody incense with a side of warm milk, and I find it very comforting. Despite the name, it isn’t black at all. It’s a lovely warm deep rusty-brown color in my head.



And of course I can’t get through the winter without a honkin’ Big White Floral!  I wore so many different ones that it’s tough to choose just a single BWF, but Frederic Malle Carnal Flower, ByRedo Flowerhead, Le Galion Tubereuse, Dior Poison, and Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur all figured prominently in my winter wardrobe. Yum. There’s nothing more luxurious than white flowers, nothing. Nothing. And I know they’re actually white, but somehow in my head, they’re pink. Like, Marilyn Monroe’s “Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend” pink.

All the same, I’m glad to be turning the corner toward warmer weather. You?


Green and Gold

mountainsIt’s September. It’s the Autumnal Equinox, and I’ve been watching the color of the sunlight shift ever so slightly away from hot summer glare, almost metallic, to the gentle warmth of Autumn afternoons.

The whole world is green and gold, rimmed in deep blue enamel. I love this time of year. Soon enough the mountains will go all russet tweed, but not yet.  For now I am wearing green and gold perfumes and glorying in this all-too-brief weather. It’s perfect.

Horse chestnut tree in autumn
Horse chestnut tree in autumn

Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete is still beautiful, even in its current eau de toilette state. The old stuff was labeled EdT, but it wore more like an EdP – deep, rich, floral but glowing woody underneath. Almost too wistfully gorgeous to bear. Smells like sunshine through leaves.

Ralph Lauren Safari is another green-and-gold I am learning to love, after finding the parfum version too sweet. Safari smells like cut grass drying into hay, plus freshly waxed wood furniture and a hint of vanilla. Its green shades straw-colored, and its gold is the warm gold of polished maple.

Guerlain Chamade is a round ball of bitter-green that gradually melts into the creamy pale gold of good custard, from cold shoulder to surrender.

Cstormy fieldoty Chypre (the really old stuff, not the 1980s Chateau Collection rerelease) is an elemental green, and there is a power and strength to it that smells like being outside with a storm approaching… eerie billowing shadows of clear olive green and dark gold.

There are other green fragrances, certainly, and I’ve made no bones about how much I love greenies in general, but these four capture my heart in early fall. Soon enough I’ll want leathers and spices and dried fruits, Smell Bent One and Givenchy Organza Indecence and Jolie Madame and Amouage Memoir Woman… but for now, I luxuriate in mellow, vibrant green and gold.


Scent Diary Summary, most of May 2014

Scent Diary, Summarized, May 7 through June 3, 2014

I have not been keeping a good diary recently. It has been pretty busy here, with attending end-of-school activities and planning for some summer ones, so I’ve only got some “here’s what’s going on around the place these days” notes.
As for the house and yard, they look pretty good. We’ve been getting some good rain interspersed with sunny days, so the grass is thick and green and the trees are beautifully full of leaves. The fruit trees are leafed out well, and there are even baby apples on one of the trees – I think it’s the Gala. I got the annuals (pink zinnias and those tall Mexican orange marigolds) planted in the front bed, and the hanging baskets (pink and red geraniums and hot pink vinca) up on the porch, too.

The peony bush we planted near sweet Hayley-dog’s grave seems to be thriving. We all miss our doggie. It’s the little things, you know? Like I’ll be getting home in the evening and thinking, “Look at the time, it’s Food the Dog O’Clock – oh, wait. No, it’s not. Sigh.” Or we miss the thumping tail on the landing in the morning, or we don’t hear barking when someone pulls up in the driveway… We miss the canine affection, too.

We do want another dog, but not yet. Probably by the end of the summer we’ll start looking; I’ve already been looking online at the animal shelters to see what’s available right now. There are a few dogs close by but nothing that automatically jumps out to me to say, “I’m your new dog!” We have set some criteria: House-trained (that one’s non-negotiable). Not a puppy, and not a senior dog (I don’t think we could stand to lose another one within a couple of years). Medium size, between 25 and 45 pounds – Hayley was on the upper end of that range. Not a yapper. MAN, I hate a yappy dog. Barking is one thing, but a high-pitched constant yap? NO. Absolutely not. We’re flexible on breed; we’d probably rather not have a purebred dog, but we wouldn’t turn a shelter or rescue dog down if we had a connection to one that happened to be a purebred.

We decided last year when Silvia died that we would not get another cat; Taz is allergic to them. While we wouldn’t get rid of a cat (particularly an elderly one) for that reason, it’s enough of one that we felt we wouldn’t add a cat back to the household.

We do need to pull out that dogwood tree in the front yard that struggled for a few years and then finally gave up the ghost last summer. It’s the middle one in a row of five, so I think it would look odd to put in something else there, but that means getting as much of the old root system out as we can since the dogwoods are at least eight years old. I also lost one of my Knockout roses over the winter. One of them was pretty stressed by Japanese beetle attack, and didn’t survive the cold. The other one? Looks great. Go figure. I did buy another Knockout – the standard color one, instead of the pink it will replace, but I think they’ll look nice together.

It ended yesterday. Graduation for the high school was actually last Friday, because that date was set early. However, due to some late bad weather, the superintendent was forced to add a couple of days of school for everyone not graduating. I notice that the high school parking lot was pretty empty Monday and Tuesday, though, so I bet a lot of kids just skipped those last few days.

Gaze had a good year both academically and with regard to extracurriculars. He was selected as trombone section leader for next season’s marching band, and was also voted “Outstanding Trombone Player” and “Outstanding Rookie” by his peers. I was very proud. He’s only a rising sophomore, but the band had a run of several years with no trombone section marching – I think because Mr. Butler, our previous director, didn’t want to have only a few trombone players. He opted to have those few switch to baritone horn, which has a similar range, instead. There was no trombone section all the years Bookworm was in band. But now there is – and that means that Gaze is one of the oldest players in that section. I think he’ll do fine as he’s very responsible. In any case, his FFA team was successful, his academic challenge team (social studies) was the champion, and he was a member of successful cross-country and track teams as well. Also, this year he’s grown several inches.

I must say, it’s awfully nice to look at the mantel shelf and see Gaze’s Outstanding Rookie trophy right next to Bookworm’s.  We never expected that, and there for awhile Gaze was pretty insistent that he wasn’t going to march, that was Bookworm’s thing, he didn’t want to put that much work into it… Well. He thinks he made the right choice now.

Taz struggled to some degree academically this year. Partly that was due to his lack of interest in organization, and partly that might have been due to his having to face some challenges that neither his brother or sister faced. It’s a good thing that his school now offers Algebra I for those 7th graders who might benefit (that was not available for Bookworm in middle school) and an online language course (not available for either Bookworm or Gaze), but it’s the first time he’s ever had to really put some effort into school, and, well, in a lot of cases he just didn’t. He pulled several B’s this year. However, he ran track, and came in second to a very accomplished player in the school’s chess club tournament. He’s grown too – Bookworm might have half an inch, or maybe even less, on him now.  The CEO and I were (pleasantly) surprised to find, at Taz’ 7th grade award ceremony, that he’d been voted “Most Attentive Boy” by his peers.  All I can say is, they sure don’t live here.  Good to know that he pays attention in class, though!

Bookworm herself had a good year as well. She would tell you that she wasn’t happy with her grades, but The CEO and I were fine with them. I think her current GPA is approximately 3.65, somewhere around there. She seems to have decided that she will be majoring in chemistry, and I think she’s on the right track. When your college freshman kid complains about Spanish and Calculus, but says that Chemistry is “easy” and “fun” – and comes home talking excitedly about all the “cool things” they did in class and lab? Well, that’s a good indicator that she may have found her niche. She got plugged in with Yale Students for Christ, which is the campus branch of Cru (which used to be known as Campus Crusade) and a church she likes in New Haven. She loved playing with Yale Precision Marching Band for football, basketball and hockey, and she had a total blast with her buddies on the ultimate Frisbee team.

Bookworm, we just heard yesterday, will be doing a summer internship in Louisiana, for a paper mill there. She’ll be assisting one (maybe more) of the chemical engineers at the plant in conducting efficiency testing on some of the equipment used, and hopefully will be able to either assist in a research paper or present her own. I’m a little bit nervous about her being 14 hours away for eight weeks, but I think it’s a terrific opportunity. She’s really excited about the possibilities. She leaves on Sunday.

It’s hay season. Ergo, it’s busy. Not just with racing the weather, either – The CEO has spent a lot of time fixing tractors that got through the winter fine. Haymaking seems to put more demand on them, and since almost all of our tractors are approximately my age, they need a lot of maintenance. Bookworm and Gaze have been helping Jeff work some cattle (treating them with dewormer, giving them their shots and ear tags and the like).

The cows look good. There’s lots of grass.

Gaze will be attending Camp Cougar this summer, which is an intensive four-week physical education course that can take the place of PE during the school year. Drivers’ Education class time is included, as well as a ropes course at the nearby Boy Scout camp, white-water rafting, caving, and some other fun activities. However, if you miss any part of any day – you can’t receive academic credit for the course, so he’ll be BUSY.

Then, of course, there will be summer band practices which he will need to attend. And pre-camp (for section leaders and rookie marchers). And band camp itself. ACK.

The CEO has to go to Denver for another National Cattlemen’s Association meeting, so this summer we will be joining him there in Montana to do a little exploring at Yellowstone and Glacier. That ought to be fun. We made plans before we knew about Bookworm’s internship, but we might be able to change her flight ticket and allow her to join us for at least part of the trip, assuming that she could get a few days off around July 4th.

I’ll be keeping Taz as busy as possible.

I have been wearing my spring scents and testing some new things, but just yesterday I got out some of my summer-only fragrances. Things that went INTO the bedside cabinet: DelRae Amoureuse, Chanel No. 19 EdP, Jacomo Silences PdT, Deneuve, Guerlain Chamade, Penhaligon’s Violetta, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, DSH White Lilac, L’Arte di Gucci EdP, vintage Jolie Madame parfum, Amouage Memoir Woman, Ralph Lauren Safari, and my vintage Emeraude PdT. I’ve been rather addicted to Safari recently, by the way – it is a warm green as opposed to a cool green like No. 19 or Silences.

Things that came OUT of the cabinet and into the hatbox on the dresser: Ines de la Fressange (the first one), Hermes Kelly Caleche EdP, YSL Paris Pont des Amours, Donna Karan Gold EdP, Hanae Mori Haute Couture, Cristina Bertrand #3, Tommy Hilfiger Tommy Girl, Moschino Funny!, Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, and DSH La Fete Nouvelle. The current rotation also includes Le Temps d’une Fete, Ferre 20, and Mary Greenwell Plum, as well as my vintage Chanel No. 19 EdT, because those only go into the cabinet in the winter. I’ve also got decants of DelRae Wit, Chanel 1932, and Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipo for summer use.

I have a whole set of 7 Oriza L. LeGrand fragrances still to review as well.

And, oh yeah, I still hate purple.

What’s in your seasonal rotation, if you have one? I know you blokes and sheilas Down Under are heading into winter…


Perfumes for Frigid Cold

accurite thermometerI know I’m not the first, by a long shot, to address the issue, but since today’s high was 14F (with wind chill of below zero), it’s sort of on my mind. Duh. 

So. There are differing ways of dealing with cold temperatures in terms of fragrance. You can wear warm cozy things to combat the cold with the olfactory equivalent of a woolen blanket and a hot cup of apple cider. You could cozy up to a nice log fire. Or you can pretend you’re on vacation and wear warm tropical florals, thus confusing your mental thermometer. Alternatively, you can follow the old Ben & Jerry model and wear chilly aldehydes while eating ice cream, on the theory that equalizing one’s inner and outer temperatures will make you feel the cold less intensely. Or you could just wear vanilla and smell like toasty-warm baked goods – that ought to warm you up, right?

(Okay, so I’m not sure eating ice cream actually helps, but I do know that New Englanders at one time had the highest per capital ice cream consumption rate in the US. That’s got to have something to do with their weather, because it’s just inexplicable otherwise. Read Calvin Trillin’s nonfiction story “Competitors” here, if you’d like to be entertained by the doings of premium ice cream makers. No, seriously, it’s a good read.)

(Also parenthetically, Bookworm is currently glaring at me because I’m typing while holding a conversation with her. She thinks I’m freaky. I tell her that touch typing is a very valuable skill to own, and she’d do well to develop it herself. I mean, c’mon, I learned to type on an IBM Selectric, in a summer community college class when I was sixteen, so I’ve been doing this for some time, but still. A keyboard is still basically a keyboard.)

preview_100-wool-picnic-rugWell, taking these theories of cold amelioration one at a time, first we have the Wooly Blanket-Apple Cider scents.  A lot of people love Serge Lutens Chergui for this sort of thing, or Hermes Ambre Narguile, but Chergui has a musty angle to it that just kills me and I don’t really like amber as a focus, so I won’t be naming them as favorites. Soivohle Centennial is a lovely wool-blanket floral thing with a fuzzy texture, and Givenchy Organza Indecence is fuzzy-blankety without the florals.  Teo Cabanel Alahine is a warm, rich floral amber that rings like tenor bells.  Parfums d’Empire Cuir Ottoman would be wonderful as well, and also Kenzo Jungle L’Elephant.

stone-fireplace-lit-roaring-fire-11630129burning-incenseOr you could cozy up with Warm Woods and IncenseChanel Bois des Îles or Sonoma Scent Studio Champagne de Bois would be lovely and warm, with their focus on sandalwood. SSS Winter Woods would be nice too. Or possibly the smoky goodness of Le Labo Patchouli 24 – which smells like a wood fire and vanilla, not like patchouli (making patchouliphobes like myself very grateful). Donna Karan Black Cashmere, either vintage or rerelease, is wonderfully comforting, and for incense I really like Comme des Garçons Incense Series: Zagorsk with its cold-air effect. DSH Twelfth Night is another lovely woody incense; this one reminds me of the smell of the cathedral in Mdina on Malta.

plumeriasNext up is the Tropical Floral Paradise type of scents. Frangipani, jasmine, tuberose, tiare, ylang-ylang, all those big, bosomy, generous florals that I love so much.  Bonus points if you can sneak a little bit of coconut in there. If you normally find BWFs too big for you, fear not – they cover the cleavage when the weather is this chilly, and wear closer to the body.  Parfums de Nicolai Juste une Reve would be wonderful for this purpose.  Frederic Malle Carnal Flower is another big white floral that smells great in cold weather. In fact, the first time I ever smelled Carnal Flower, it was a December day so clear and cold that the air crackled, and it was absolutely perfect. (I don’t, in fact, know of weather that Carnal Flower would not be perfect in. I’ve worn it in sticky August and it was, yes, absolutely perfect.) Escada Margaretha Ley is a warm, snuggly white floral (sorry for mentioning the discontinued). The original Karl Lagerfeld Chloë, which I wore all during my teens, is beautiful in winter; you can still pick up vintage parfum minis on eBay for under a ten-spot, if you are vigilant.  Micallef Ylang in Gold would be another to enjoy, or perhaps Diane von Furstenberg Tatiana, with its spicy-creamy lily. 

icicle lightsYou knew that your friendly neighborhood AldeHo would have some suggestions, right?  Try Sparkly Aldehydes in bitter chill – these sometimes-difficult, blindingly-bright molecules go crystalline with an undertone of powdery warmth in this kind of weather. Favorite aldehydic fragrances of mine for cold include Frederic Malle Iris Poudre, with its feathery iris and creamy benzoin under all those sequined aldehydes (spray a bit more heavily in the cold, or my experience is that it will evanesce too quickly) and Lanvin Arpege, preferably the vintage because its woody base is so very lovely, like polished mahogany. Mariella Burani is another aldehydic thing that gets cozy after its sparkles burn off.  (Sorry, that one’s discontinued. I apologize for mentioning it.) Chanel No. 5 parfum (try vintage, if you can get your hands on it, but the current is still nice) is truly wonderful, or you can go all-out aldehydes with No. 22, particularly the Les Exclusifs version which contains incense and has less of the crunchy sugar-grain thing that bothers me in the earlier versions. Coty L’Aimant – vintage only, you don’t want anything from the 1990s or later – is wonderfully rich, and smells like cooked peach pie once its sparkles float off.

vanilla_extract_01OR you can go Very Vanilla. Vanilla can often be Too, Too Much for me in warm weather, especially when it’s combined with sweet frooty notes as it seems to be in a number of mainstream celebuscents, but it too hugs the body in the cold.  I’m honestly not much of a vanilla fan in general, but I have my favorites.  I adore vintage Coty Emeraude, as regular readers probably remember. Just adore it.  Guerlain Shalimar Light (ack, sorry, another discontinued! Don’t worry, though, just go snag some Emeraude parfum de toilette instead) is a wonderful lemon-vanilla thing, very lovely. Serge Lutens Un Bois Vanille is a wonderful almost-gourmand that I keep dithering about getting a decant of. Hanae Mori Butterfly is a delightful, sweet, berry-vanilla a million miles from Kool-Aid ice cream; the related (and, sadly, recently discontinued) Bath & Body Works Dark Kiss is another one I really like.  Finally, there is the sinfully rich Prada Candy, which is not strictly vanilla but rather caramel and benzoin, such a delight.  If you have major cash, you can spring for Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille (though, honestly, I’d rather have the Prada Candy).

Edit: Shame on me for forgetting one of my favorite vanilla fragrances! Like most of my other favorite vanillas, it’s a Vanilla-And scent; that is, it’s not just vanilla.  Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka is, despite its name, a giggly, rummy, spicy carnations in a vanilla-bean-forest sort of thing, and it makes me laugh. Mmmm.

How’s your winter weather? And what fragrances will you be warming up with?


Summer Smells

Summer Landscape Nature Wallpaper, from
Summer Landscape Nature Wallpaper, from

So it’s really summer around here these days. Middle 90s F yesterday, and humid, ugh.  My purple clematis is going crazy right now, and last night after we waved goodnight to our Bible study group members, the fireflies came out.

On clear nights you can see a bazillion stars.

Yesterday I mowed the grass (again). Yesterday I cooked some fresh corn. Yesterday there was a floral sweetness to the air that I couldn’t identify, but it said SUMMER to me, and on top of that was the smashed-green smell of the weeds the boys and I pulled out of the flower bed near the sidewalk. Yesterday I brought the sheets in off the clothesline and buried my nose in their clean dry smell. Yesterday I cut up a watermelon, and a quart of strawberries.

I’ve been hanging my American flag out because I like the way it looks, so crisp and staunch against the softness of the daisies and clematis and butterfly bush blooming near it.  And I’ve been grilling out a lot too – hot dogs and chicken breasts primarily, and it’s about time we made hamburgers again.

Now I only need a few other smells to make it really summer: the smell of a campfire and S’mores made over it, the hot sweet smell of grass drying into hay in the sun, and the smell of the pool: chlorine, Bomb Pops, and old-fashioned suntan oil, which had a different odor than the sunscreen my mother slathered all three of her fair-skinned children (two of them red-headed) with.  Oh, and I haven’t been to a baseball game yet this summer either – I need the air to be full of the waft of beer and popcorn and sausage with peppers at least once, to make it summer.

What does summer smell like for you?


The Summer Switch, 2013

spring into summerOkay, it’s time.

Despite the fact that four out of seven days last week were below 70F temperatures, I was so humid-sticky-miserable in the house last night, with the A/C off and windows mostly closed against the rain, that I went ahead and put my SPRING perfume wardrobe back in the cabinet and brought my SUMMER one out.

I mean, it was humid and 78F in the house last night, and good luck trying to sleep. (Actually, I slept anyway. I was tired.) Bleargh.

But the truth is that of the fragrances I usually think of as spring-only (Crown Bouquet, DSH White Lilac) , or at-their-best-in-spring (the old Kenzo Parfum d’Ete, DK Gold, Chamade, Chanel No. 19, Amoureuse, Penhaligon’s Violetta*), didn’t really get worn a lot this spring. It was either too cold, or too muggy-hot for them. So I have put most of them, excepting No. 19, away for more appropriate weather.

*Violetta I like in spring or fall, but having discovered recently that Bookworm likes it, I left it available too. Maybe it will move in to her room while she’s here this summer.

So the fragrances I only wear in summer are now in the hatbox on my dresser. Moschino Funny!, Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, Hanae Mori Haute Couture, Cristina Bertrandt #3, DSH La Fete Nouvelle (my hay scent), all ready for summer. Also, I’ve put Annick Goutal Petite Cherie, currently residing in my fridge due to its notorious instability, back into rotation.

What else is in there, available for summer wear? Well, the aforementioned Chanel No. 19, DK Gold, original Silences, the new Silences eau de parfum Sublime, Tommy Girl (shaddup, I like it), the first, bellini-like, Ines de la Fressange, the old very-floral Kenzo Parfum d’Ete, Mary Greenwell Plum, vintage Emeraude, and L’Arte di Gucci (because sometimes you need a Killer Diva rose chypre no matter the weather). Plum I wear all year round, and the Ines is so lovely in warm weather but better in summer than in spring.  Seems like the only time I really like jasmine is in summer, and mixed with other things, but it’s prominent in the Cristina Bertrandt and the HM Haute Couture. Lots of rose in Ines, Rose d’Ete (duh), and Petite Cherie. Oh! And I should get out my multiple samples of DSH Rose Vert, that is gorgeous in summer. Someday I’ll have a bottle, but for now I’m making do with the little bits I have.


“Winter gave Spring a miss and went right on into Summer…”: the invisible springtime of 2013

… and in our case, Winter gave Spring a miss and went right on through to Summer.

Which, as a fan of Spring and a general disliker of Summer’s heat, humidity, and general torpor intercut with periods of frenetic activity, really really stinks.

I mean, we had what a lot of people would call an “English spring,” which has been described to me as cold, wet, gray, and windy with dashes of hyacinth and bluebell. We don’t have bluebells around here, and we did get a lot of flowering trees and bushes, but we had the cold and wet and gray. Bleargh. We hardly had any weather which would typify my ideal spring weather, i.e., cool and sunny.

I know, I know, I’m pretty whiny about it. But spring is beautiful, and summer around here is hot and muggy and full of stupid mosquitoes. Gah.

So. All of that complaining to get to my point, which is, I hardly got any wear at all out of my usual suspects for spring.  (Waaah.  Okay, got that out of my system.)

I was going to write about my usual spring things like Chanel No. 19, Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet, and Chamade, as well as Penhaligon’s Violetta and Parfums de Nicolai Le Temps d’une Fete (though to be fair, that one is really more of a four-seasons love for me).  However, I think I only wore No. 19 maybe four times between March and the end of May, Crown Bouquet once, Chamade perhaps twice, Violetta not at all – though I did anoint Bookworm with it – and Le Temps d’une Fete far less often than I normally do.

So what was I wearing, in the cold/wet/gray/windy? Floral leathers.  They just hit the spot in the gloom and chill.  I wrote about those already, but of noteworthy usefulness were Jolie Madame, Memoir Woman, and Cuir de Lancome.  I wore a few of my white-flowers-and-candy fragrances, such as Vamp a NY and Sweet Redemption. I wore my DSH White Lilac and my teeny sample of the late and much-lamented Jean Patou Vacances.

Nothing new at all, and I think I’d already reviewed every one of those except Vacances, which I’ve given a brief description of, but really shouldn’t have, given that the very few bottles still extant go for upwards of $500 per 75ml bottle on ebay.  (I know. I KNOOOW.  And speaking of which, Patou has given at least lip service to revitalizing a few of their classic fragrances, but Vacances was not among those. Grrrr. I mean, glad they’re doing a quality revamp on some of them, but I SO wanted them to bring Vacances back.)

Whatcha been wearing? And has your spring weather been seasonable, or not?  (It hit 86F today. That, to me, is definitely not spring weather.  Nope.)



May Day, 2013

Muguet for May Day
(Is this photo not absolutely gorgeous? Click on it to be taken to the photographer’s Flickr page.)

Not having had much of a tradition of celebrating May Day, other than the Maypoles we used to dance around in elementary school, I’ve adopted the sweet one of celebrating muguet, or lily of the valley, as a good-luck charm on the first day of May.

Muguet (or LotV, as it’s often abbreviated by fumeheads), is a tricky note. It cannot be produced from the flowers, as they yield no scented oil, and must be produced by a combination of several synthetic aromachemicals, at least one of which has been severely restricted in the past 3-5 years, so that recently manufactured lily of the valley notes smell mostly like harsh cleansers.

Does that make you as sad as it makes me?

There are innumerable muguet fragrances on the market still, but very few that have really charmed me.  Here’s a wonderful article on the note from Elena at Perfume Shrine, if you’d like to go exploring.  I’m going to list a few muguet scents that I really like.

diorissimo gruauI have a bottle of Diorissimo, once recognized as Queen of all the Muguet scents – it was lively, floral, young, scrubbed clean on top but with an undercurrent of human warmth underneath, provided by the animal growl of civet. By the time I bought my bottle (a tester bottle from approximately 2006), that animal growl had largely disappeared, and so had some of the sparkle.  It’s still lovely, still wearable, but there is the tiniest hint of screech in it if you pay attention.

1947muguetaddukeI can remember being entranced with a bottle of Coty Muguet de Bois back in about 1985 or so, when I located it at the Big Lots store. I should have bought it even though my mother kept telling me that I already had plenty of perfume and what on earth did I want with something that cheap?  I remember it as having a pronounced green quality (always a draw for me, of course) as well as the lily of the valley, but I remember almost nothing else about it.  It’s still in production, but I hear that like all (ALL! Coty, you SUCK!) of Coty’s fragrances surviving from earlier days, its composition has been cheapened and now it smells like a ghost of its former self.

kenzo p d'eteKenzo Parfum d’Ete – the old one, from 1992, as opposed to the newer one from 2002, which is also lovely but far less floral – is a staple for spring-through-early-summer for me. It doesn’t really smell like summer to me, as summer in these parts can be ripe, humid, heavy. Other than that, though, it is really delightful. There is a crispness to this one, probably from the identifiable hyacinth and green notes, but the muguet is prominent. There’s a beautiful clean fresh-air quality that flows through it, approximating the smell of sheets dried in the sun, and I think I love Parfum d’Ete best sprayed on sheets or a nightgown, where it helps me relax into sleep.

2666455-lily-of-the-valley-forest-of-springAnd then there is Andy Tauer’s genius muguet fragrance called Carillon pour une Ange, which I like to refer to privately as “Angel Bells.” I reviewed this one here, if you’d like to read further about it, but it is truly wonderful. I only have three small 1ml samples, and have not quite yet used up the first of them; this one would probably be overwhelming for me if sprayed. Two drops will scent me for a good six hours, with excellent projection, thank goodness. I doubt I’ll ever buy a full bottle, but I don’t ever want to be without at least a sample of it, because it is stunning. There is an earthiness to the thing which reminds me of the dirt those little white bells grow in, a forest-floor wildness that serves as a marked contrast to the clear floral tones, and I love it. I do.  It smells exactly like the photo above, with the saturated green notes, the lily of the valley, and under all the mossy-mulchy deliciousness of fresh damp dirt.

Wishing you all a wonderful May Day.  Today I’ve chosen Carillon pour une Ange – I waited to see what the weather would be like before making my choice. If it had been dry and sunny I’d probably have picked Diorissimo, but it’s damp and misty, and under those conditions the “Angel Bells” really sing.



moar pls

Yes, I have descended into LOLspeak. Because Teh Spring, it is make me giddy. Birds sing. Enormous bumblebees float around like miniature helicopters while I hang out the clothes. Dandelions dot the yard. Wild cherry trees are festooned with white blossoms thick as Irish lace. Giddy, I tell you!

My neighbor’s forsythia is blooming. Her lilacs are budding out now. So is her wisteria. The few apple trees still standing out in the Pond Field are blooming, too, and the redbuds. It’s so beautiful outside right now.

april 2013 008(Okay, I’ll stop now.) LOOK! My apple and pear trees, planted less than a month ago as bare-root sticklike thingies, have leeeeaves on them! Looks like they’re going to live. I’m psyched.

Photo by D L Ennis; permission granted for nonprofit use with attribution. (That is, if you borrow this, please include a link and proper attribution.)
Photo by D L Ennis; permission granted for nonprofit use with attribution. (That is, if you borrow this, please include a link and proper attribution.)

That candle I got from Pier 1 a couple of weeks ago? Is still smelling awesome, thank you.  Aspen Flower, with prominent notes of peach, tuberose and jasmine, along with violet, lily and coconut. I think I may actually break down and burn the thing soon, as its unburned waft is fading just a little.

Mowed the yard for the first time last week, and had to haul off six wheelbarrow-loads of clippings. Spring is just like that – certain places in the yard grow grass SO THICK that you can barely get the lawnmower through it.  Even the mulching attachment doesn’t really help, so for the next few weeks I’ll be hauling some of the clippings away (I dump them in the 20-acre field, generally, where they can’t do any harm).

You remember how I was waffling on last week about how pretty Taz’ eyes are? well, here ya go:Taz eyes

He’s kind of squinting into the light, and I made him take off his glasses so his left eye is a little wonky due to his amblyopia. 

And these are Gaze’s:Gaze eyes

Sometime I’ll post one of Bookworm’s eyes, but we’ve had a week or so of focus on her, so I thought I’d put the spotlight on the boys instead. Taz got my eyes and Gaze got his grandfather Bill’s, and Bookworm’s eyes are just like The CEO’s, in shape and color, but she’s got her own long curly lashes. It’s a shame, really, that they’re so light because they don’t show up. Gaze has gorgeous lashes, doesn’t he? (Wish mine were that long.) Looking at those eyes without the rest of his face in focus, I see that Gaze really does look a LOT like his grandfather. And I love Taz’ eyebrows, such a lovely curve they have.

Oh, yes: perfume. Le Temps d’une Fete, essential to springtime. And a TON of L’Arte di Gucci, diva neon pink rose on a wrought-iron bench in the middle of a Gothic garden. And Amouage Memoir Woman body cream worn as scent, a little easier to decipher than the perfume. I should be testing things new to me, but I don’t feel like it this week – I want to luxuriate in scents I already love.

And here is the view from our back yard into the 20-Acre Field behind the house, including cows.  Oh, yes, the spring is definitely here; now I want more. Or MOAR, as the case may be.april 2013 009