New Page: “Shop my ‘fume stash”

I’ve been wanting to streamline my collection of perfumes, but I really don’t want to have to deal with selling on eBay.  As an alternative, I decided to offer my extras here.  If that goes well, great!  If not, I’ll bite the bullet and haul ’em over to eBay (and its apparently-weird seller rules). 

As you’ll see, if you go click on the tab next to “Comment Policy” in the header line, I’m not going to make any money on these items.  Most of them are mainstream and fairly easily gotten elsewhere.  A few are even free.  Basically, I just want them Out.The.House.

All proceeds will go, of course, to supporting my decant habit.

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Manly Cupcakes

Y’ALL.  You have GOT TO GO CHECK. THIS. OUT.

A former securities attorney in NYC, fed up with the tendency of cupcakes to be frilly-pink-sparkly-unicorn thingies, has opened Butch Bakery, which produces Manly Cupcakes.  

These things come in flavors like Driller (maple cake with bacon and milk chocolate icing), Sidecar (lemon cake soaked in brandy with white chocolate/ orange filling) and Beer Run (chocolate beer cake with beer buttercream icing and crushed pretzel topping), with each cupcake  topped by a flat sugar decoration in your choice of Camo, Plaid, Houndstooth, Wood Grain, Checkerboard or Marble. 

The owner says he wanted to eschew the usual “make it masculine by adding a golf tee or a baseball” idea, and concentrate on things that just make men happy.  I approve.  (Now, if I could get my hands on some tools that are made for women: handles that fit our hands, easy to use – and not pink! – I’d be happy.)

And whether it’s manly or not, I want a Tailgate (caramel cake, salted caramel swirl filling, vanilla buttercream)… mmm.

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Scent Diary, June 7-12, 2010

Monday, June 7: Cool, in the mid-70s F, with low humidity. My desk was piled with stuff from the long weekend, and I wasn’t enjoying work today. SOTD: Hermes Eau de Pamplemousse Rose, which I thought I’d like. Grapefruit and rose? Yum. Perfectly summery. Unfortunately for me, EdPR is an hour of wonderful followed by a couple hours of the Ghost of Cologne. It is basically a classic cologne structure topped off by a citrusy rose, and since I find cologne dull in the extreme, I can’t make a case for this scent for personal wear. I think I’ll go back to DSH Rose Vert (where’s my sample of that?) for citrus-green-rose. Or Moschino Funny!, that was a nice grapefruit-rose.

Tuesday, June 8: Warmer (80s) but still low humidity. If the weather stayed like this all summer I would enjoy summer a zillion times more. Typically we’ve got mid-90s and sticky, and that’s not pleasant. When I was a teenager, I read the following phrase and wondered greatly at it: “The two most beautiful words in the English language are ‘summer afternoon, summer afternoon.’” Whoever wrote that has got to be out of his gourd, I thought then – but it must have been written with a day like today in mind. SOTD: vintage Coty L’Aimant parfum de toilette. These vintage 1970s Coty scents like Emeraude and L’Aimant, and even the chypreish Imprevu, are far, far more attractive than their current drugstore iterations.

Gaze is sick with stomach troubles. I’m having trouble getting him to keep anything down, even ginger ale and jello, so we’re off to the doctor’s office tomorrow.

Wednesday, June 9: HOT. 90S and humid. Gaze has “the bug that’s going around,” poor baby. SOTD: Divine L’Ame Soeur, more aldehydes. I really love them in the heat, they’re so sparkly.

Thursday, June 10: Hot again, our standard summer weather. LAST DAY OF SCHOOL, AAAAARRRRGHHGH! Gaze was somewhat better, and I managed to convince him to shower before school today. It was 5th grade “graduation,” and the enticement of coming home right afterwards, as is customary at this elementary school, got Gaze moving in the right direction. I was proud: he had all A’s this year and three perfect scores on his standardized tests. (To be fair, Bookworm took two of the Standards of Learning, or SOL tests this year and made perfect scores on hers as well – and Taz, who’s been downright lazy about homework this past year, made FOUR perfect scores. I’m proud of all of them. Especially since Taz has recently managed to make his cursive handwriting, as opposed to his printing which is dreadful, actually legible. I do get to brag on them a little bit, don’t I? I’m their mommy. Of course I do.) SOTD: Chanel No. 5 Eau Premiere, still more aldehydes.

Gaze went to his baseball game and played four innings (two hits, a walk, an RBI, three stolen bases, and two runs scored) before getting overheated and tossing his cookies right behind second base. I felt so bad about that. He’d claimed to be feeling well before the game, and hadn’t run a fever for more than 40 hours.

Friday, June 11: Hot, humid, and miserable. We didn’t get the rain we should have gotten on Wednesday night, so everything is getting crunchy. I’m having to water my hanging baskets every three days. SOTD: Honore des Pres Vamp a NY, from that terrific giveaway at Grain de Musc. You know I love tuberose, and this one is fabbo. I’ve sniffed that little bit of Nuit de Tubereuse which everybody is going on about and been less than impressed (what is that weird opening – wet dirt? Potting soil? Mildew?), but the HdP is just lovely.

Saturday, June 12: Same weather we’ve been having all week. Two baseball games – Gaze (who’s feeling much better!) at the local park and Taz at the one twenty minutes away. As soon as I unlocked the van for Taz to chuck his bat and glove into the back, it started raining – and has really not stopped all day. You can feel the grass go, Ahhhhhh, that’s better. SOTD: L’Aimant again.

The bad news of the week? Busted mower. One of the discs got maladjusted in its timing and started banging into the one next to it, and that caused wear in the gears on the cutter bar (okay, I admit that I don’t really understand what I just said, either). But I understood how much the repair bill’s going to be: $4000. Ouch. This is a mini-lesson on How Expensive It Is To Run a Farm – you have to have some hefty cash reserves, or you’re just toast.

Sunday, June 13: Cooler again, in the 80s. SOTD: testing Van Cleef & Arpels Orchidee Vanille. Which, to be honest, is not very orchidee and lotsa plasticky vanille. I get about fifteen minutes of amorphous floral, um, thingy and then sticky generic vanilla, and I was wondering what was wrong with my nose until I asked the kids what they thought. Bookworm turned up her nose: “Smells like cotton candy, the kind in the plastic tub at the store.” Gaze was more direct: “I don’t like that at all.” So then I go and check out Octavian’s take on it at 1000Fragrances and he says something like, “Cheap generic cotton-candy vanilla.” Vindication!

SOTE: Petite Cherie, straight outta the fridge. It’s the only bottle I keep in the fridge, just because of the accusations of instability in the pear topnote, which is the part I love best. I love this innocent white-eyelet sundress of a scent, and I don’t apologize. Sometimes it’s just what I want.

Image of Guerlain perfumes at perfume convention from parfumgott at flickr. If you get the chance, click on the photo to enlarge it so you can check out what’s there.  I’m lusting after that gorgeous Vega bottle on the bottom left, but there’s also L’Heure Bleue and Chamade and Djedi as well as something I’ve not heard of, Elixir de Guerlain.

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Rescued from the fire…

I had a particularly vivid dream last night that my house was on fire.  I dreamed that the smoke detector went off just after we went to bed, and we were able to get all the kids and pets out immediately, but the house burned down because the fire department’s pumper truck could not negotiate our narrow, twisty gravel drive.  So we had to stand out in the field and watch our house burn, and a more horrible feeling I can’t imagine (unless it’s to stand by and watch your child die, which would be far worse).  I heard the little ting-pop-roars as each perfume bottle caught fire and the glass broke, adding alcohol to the fuel mix and accelerating the fire.  It was dreadful.

Our smoke alarm actually did go off one Sunday morning in early summer a few years ago, right after I’d gotten out of the shower and dressed.  I went into the kitchen and put on my apron – and there it went, and if I had ever worried about whether the alarm would be loud enough to wake everyone up I worried no longer.  It was loud.  It was loud enough to bring all three kids down the stairs within thirty seconds and loud enough to hurt the dog’s ears.  We called the fire department from our neighbor’s house, and the trucks arrived (sans pumper truck, which truly could not negotiate our narrow, twisty gravel drive) within eight minutes.  The firemen – most of whom we knew, this is a small town – went all over the house and found no fire, just a little dust in the smoke detector.   The whole episode was both frightening and reassuring: the smoke alarm works, the fire department’s response is fast, but if there were ever a fire in our house or the farm shop next door, there likely would not be enough water available to put it out.

I tend to have vivid dreams anyway, and if I happen to mention them to The CEO, he likes to analyze them for me.  This one, he says, means that I’m anxious about basic safety and that I feel guilty about having too much stuff. 

Well, yes.  May 4 would have been my grandmother’s 96th birthday, if she were still with us.  This was the grandmother who lived with my parents my whole life, the one with bipolar disorder, the one with major packrat tendencies probably engendered by an extremely penurious childhood… the one that stored a 40-gallon crock of homemade soap in her kitchen closet for, no kidding, nearly fifty years.  She died four years ago, and my mother is still cleaning out her stuff.  This grandmother was the one that saved every greeting card she was ever given, old letters, photos, knick-knacks, things she “might use someday”.  She collected bird figurines, Harlequin romance novels, interesting bottles, rocks, shells, “Ideals” magazines, and anything with owls on it: lamps, salt and pepper shakers, trivets, you name it.  Every inch of wall space in her basement apartment was taken up with furniture. 

A lot of her stuff has come to me: the pink Depression glass dishes, her yarn collection, her miniature-pitcher collection, some of the china she painted.  And I have my own load of stuff too: paperback novels, DVDs, clothes I don’t wear, the cross-stitch supplies that I may never use now that the craft hurts my hands, not to mention my perfume collection. 

It’s time for a little closet-and-attic purging.  It may have to wait until after baseball season, but that’s my plan for the summer.  If I don’t use it or love it or need it, if it’s not a truly cherished piece of family history, out it goes

All this turmoil got me to thinking, if there really were a fire in my house and I could rescue only one bottle of perfume, which one would it be?  One of my very favorites:  Le Temps d’une Fete, Parfum Sacre’, Tabac Aurea, vintage Emeraude, the decant of Amouage Lyric Woman, the decants of Apres l’Ondee and Carnal Flower?   One of those Discontinued Saints, the gone forever or hard to find: Crown Bouquet, Mariella Burani, L’Arte di Gucci, vintage Magie Noire?    But most of those could be replaced.  I think I might choose to save the Stunning Vintage Bottle of Chanel No. 5.  There’s nothing else like it, it’s irreplaceable. 

What would you save in that situation?  (Fine, I know it’s an artificial construct, but I’m okay with that concept in the pursuit of proper prioritizing.)

Here are some resources if you’re thinking of decluttering your own living space:   Flylady.net , About.com.  And our dear Chicken Freak has a whole blog devoted to the topic, as well – I haven’t been checking out Declutter of the Day, but I think I will be doing that regularly.  I’ve actually been a member at Flylady for several years now, but I admit that the relentless “love yourself,” mushy-gushy vibe there really just gets on my nerves from time to time.   Nevertheless, I need to do this.  I’ll probably sleep better.

Image is Perfume fire on a bathroom floor, from bethyreese at flickr.com.

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In Memoriam, April 16, 2010

 

Today marks the anniversary of the deaths of 32 students and faculty members at Virginia Tech.  I still grieve with the families and friends of those killed.  I also grieve with the shooter’s family, who lost a child as well that day.

I am grateful that The CEO made it home that day (the building where he teaches is the closest academic building to the dorm where the first shootings occurred).  I am grateful for the efforts of local law enforcement and emergency responders, and those of medical workers.  I am grateful for the outpouring of support that came from all over the world. 

Today we pause and remember the bright stars we lost.   If you go visit the Virginia Tech memorial website, on the right sidebar you will see the names of those killed.  Clicking on a name will open a brief bio, each one a picture of a vibrant, unique person whose loss diminishes the human community.   If you have time, I highly recommend your investigating Dr. Liviu Librescu, a survivor of a Nazi concentration camp, who at the age of 76 held the classroom door closed against gunfire, in order to give his students the opportunity to escape through the second story window.  I am in awe of that sacrificial love in action.

 

Photo is Hokies Thank the World, by Michael Kiernan,  from the vt.edu site.

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Scent Diary, Apr. 7-13, 2010

Wednesday, Apr. 7:  Yet another 90-degree day, which is freakishly hot for April around here.  SOTD: again, Crown Bouquet.  I look around and see that all the flowering trees that were bare last week have already bloomed – and the blooms are already fading!  That was fast.  I’m guessing our wacky weather had a hand in that: it was cold, it was cold, it was cold, it was cold, and then suddenly it was HOT, and we never got the gradual warming that we usually do.

Thursday,  Apr. 8: 70 degrees and rain; this is April weather I’m accustomed to.  SOTM: sampling Chanel Bel Respiro.  I find it pretty and comfortable, for the short time that it lasts.   SOTE: Le Temps d’une Fete, which is a Can’t Miss Scent for me – it always just makes me happy. 

For dinner: Zuppe di Pasta e’ Fagioli, which is my made-up version of chicken noodle soup with tomatoes, garlic, Italian herbs, and white beans.  Probably totally inauthentic Italian (as far as I can tell, real Italians don’t put chunks of chicken in their pasta e’ fagioli, or a lot of broth), but yummy stuff anyway.  I like the small pasta shells in it, but ditalini or those whatchamacallems, the little ruffly ones, work well too.  Not, you know, noodles as in your average chicken noodle: I mean pasta, bite-size but substantial, with some heft to go along with the basically rustic-peasant feel of the rest of the ingredients.

Friday, Apr. 9: Mid-60’s today, with clouds.  SOTD: Chanel No. 19 in vtg edt.   Somehow No. 19, for all its Invisible Armor qualities, manages to be comfortable and attractive as well as protective.  I don’t know how, but it works.  In the afternoon, my small decant of Guerlain Vega arrived (yay, aldehydes!).  Not sure what I think about the experience in toto yet; need to retest.  It’s something like Guerlain-does-No.5, with Guerlain vanilla and sandalwood instead of that elegant Chanel iris-sandalwood-musk, but something about the drydown was not pleasant.  However, I still had the dregs of No. 19* on my inner forearms, with Vega on the outside of my wrist, so perhaps it’s that Guerlain and Chanel weren’t playing nicely together. 

*Man, that stuff lasts… I could still smell it 12 hours after a one-spritz application. That’s one more reason why the vintage is worth seeking out – the modern edt only lasts maybe 2-3 hours, on me anyway.

Saturday, Apr. 10:  Relatively chilly today, compared to earlier in the week: in the 50’s.  No scent today – I cleaned the house and then did something to my hair, so by the time I had my shower I didn’t really want anything on.  Don’t worry, I’m not sick or anything…

Sunday, Apr. 11:  Back to the customary April temps, at 75 F, nice weather for the spring concert for my community chorus.  I’m supposed to stay unscented for these things, but I forgot and put on Diorissimo for church.  According to an informal poll of other sopranos, though, no one was bothered by it.  The woman who stands next to me was wearing Dune, and she smelled great.  I’ve never worn Dune, because my (territorial) sister wore it for several years before moving on to Coco Mlle., which as I’ve mentioned before, really smells gorgeous on her. 

Monday, Apr. 12:  Another day in the low 70’s.  My coworker made toast this morning, and I’ve been smelling that all day.  Toast smells gooood.  I was rushed, and I have another concert tonight (same program, different venue), so I grabbed the Mariella Burani

Tuesday, Apr. 13:  I’m way behind on my sampling, and people are so kind to send me more things in swaps that I’ve begun to have nightmares about opening a closet door and getting buried in sample vials… Eek.  I must get back to sampling again. 

But had no chance to sample today.  This evening, my sister and I took our mother to a performance of Riverdance, as her birthday gift.  It got me to thinking about family origins.  We’re largely of Irish descent, with dollops of English,  Scottish, German, Welsh, and the occasional Cherokee thrown in: what I like to, in semi-jest, call Standard Colonial Mix.  The CEO and I have been having an ongoing discussion on the matter – he thinks it’s silly that I even mention the Cherokee, when it’s five generations back.  (The lone Welshwoman, on my dad’s side, was also five generations back.)  My retort is that he’s about as much Scottish as I am Cherokee or Welsh; the only reason he thinks he’s Scottish is that the ancestor whose surname he bears came from Scotland, five generations back, and since then his family tree has included English and German names but no more Scots.  Edit: I did a bit of quick research, and it turns out that at least two of the family names on his tree, Meek and Adair, could be either English or Scots. So until someone does some hard research on the particular Meeks and Adairs in question, there goes my argument.

Luckily for me, I can wear Chanel even if there’s no French – so far as we know, anyway – in my ancestry.  I wore No. 5, in honor of my mom.  (For that review, and an homage to my mother, see here.)

Photo of my actual bottle of vintage No. 19 courtesy of eBay.com.

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Perfume Review: Juliet Has a Gun Citizen Queen

Perfumer: Francis Kurkdjian
Release date: 2008
Sample provenance: my own decant of CQ, thanks to a swap last spring with Queen Enabler Daisy.
Notes: Aldehydes, violet, rose, iris, leather, amber, immortelle, labdanum. The violet isn’t official, by the way, but I smell it.

Daisy had sent me a sample of this, saying she’d picked up a partial bottle at the scent-splits wiki page and had a bit to swap, and since I liked rose, what did I think?  As was my custom in those days, before I learned better, I dabbed on a bit from the sample vial just before heading into work.

Mistake.

Fifteen minutes into the ride, I’m sitting at my desk amid the brake rotors, hoping nobody has noticed my blushes.  This thing is seriously sex-aaay, and not at all the sort of scent one wears to crunch numbers on an adding machine.  I couldn’t bring myself to scrub it off, or even to damp it down a little, because it was so pretty.  Instead, I just sort of hid from my coworkers for the rest of the morning (doable because generally they keep me in the back, like some sort of backordered inventory item).

When I got home, I went straight to the computer to see if I could find my own bottle, or a decant if a bottle was out of my league.  It was. JhaG fragrances are available at luckyscent.com (not affiliated) in the US, and a 100ml bottle runs about $110, which is too rich for my blood, frugal fumehead that I am.  Bottle’s ugly, too, IMO – looks like an upscale shower gel, although it comes in a pretty sueded case like a tiny hatbox. So I hunted up a decant, which was good, because at that point I’d probably have sold my soul   hair  left eye to get some of this stuff if I couldn’t find it any other way.

I was not, at the time, versed in the details surrounding the fragrance company Juliet Has a Gun, and I’m only a bit more familiar with it now.  It was formed in 2006 by Romano Ricci, grandson of Nina Ricci (famous for L’Air du Temps, and still producing fragrance to this day, even if some of them are fruitchoulis).  The name of the company was a play on Signor Ricci’s first name, a variation of Romeo, as well as a declaration of “edgy, modern style.”  Citizen Queen was their third scent, following the straight-up-rose Miss Charming and the rose chypre Lady Vengeance.  Since then, JHaG has produced Midnight Oud (a rose-oud scent) and Calamity J. The only other JHaG I’ve smelled is Midnight Oud, which is quite nice if you like that sort of thing, as I do; it’s a sort of Montale Aoud Roses Petals with training wheels, if you will.  I’m not sure JHaG is all that “edgy” and “modern,” but their scents are generally regarded as being very attractive and wearable, and not your average Mall Candy.

And the name Citizen Queen?  The website doesn’t say, exactly, so I’ll take a stab at what I think it means: 

A long time ago, there was this country called “France.” The poor people who lived there were sick of the rich people taking all their food and money and letting them starve in the streets, while the rich people had big parties and fancy clothes and gold out the wazoo. So the poor people had a revolution and everybody came, and the way they got rid of the rich people, who weren’t very happy about the whole thing, was to cut their heads off. Then the poor people of France who had had their Revolution did something new with the Government, and nobody had special titles like “Earl” and “Baron” and “Comtesse” anymore. Everybody was Citoyen Gaspard and Citoyenne Fontanelle: Citizen This and Citizeness That. If there had been a queen at that point, she’d have been renamed Citoyenne Bourbon. But of course there wasn’t a queen, since she’d already had her head cut off.

So the implication of Citizen Queen is that anywoman/everywoman is a queen. Which, although totally corny, is still sort of Empowerment Cool, IMO.  Then, too, it sounds to me like JHaG is playing off the name of the classic Orson Welles movie Citizen Kane.  To be honest with you, I don’t much care what it’s called, because it’s a wonderful smell.

No, I didn’t take any classes in French history.  I don’t even speak French.  (Worse, my Spanish is getting really rusty, because there’s no one to practice on in the middle of the freakin’ mountain rural South. End non sequitur.) We can lay the blame for my esoteric knowledge squarely on all those historical novels I’ve read way too many of.

I notice that this is one of those fragrances that smells different wafting through the air than it does sniffed directly next to skin.  I love the waft on CQ – although it doesn’t go very far, unlike the Very Frightening Guerlain Insolence, the air is fairly saturated with it within my  officially-sanctioned three-foot sillage radius.  

So what does Citizen Queen smell like?  Well, it does start out with a very light, fizzy dusting of aldehydes; they go by so quickly that if you weren’t paying close attention you might miss them.  I frequently overlook them here and wouldn’t call this an aldehydic floral at all.  (In fact, fragrantica.com calls this a floral chypre, to which I say, GET. OUT. NO. WAY.)  This whiff-of-quinine-water is gone within two minutes, and then I smell a lot of violet.  Violet is not in the official list of notes, but it’s there, trust me, a nice sweet, fresh posy of Parma violets followed by one of those winey-woody rose notes that I love so much. I do not actually smell anything that I could identify as leather; instead, I smell warm skin.  It’s not sweaty, it’s just a warm, friendly, I-just-rolled-out-of-bed skin smell.  Could be a musk, I guess.  I do smell quite a bit of iris, and it tends toward the powdery here.  However, the creamy depth of labdanum (gosh, I love labdanum) keeps it from turning into Granny’s scented powder.  I haven’t a clue what immortelle smells like, and there’s nothing in CQ that makes me think of maple syrup, as immortelle is reputed to smell of, so I don’t think it’s is a large portion of the composition.

Up close I smell more iris and more powdery amber than I smell in the waft, which is more rose-violet-skin musk.  It smells rather naughty to me, although I must admit to you that when I refer to this effect on a forum somewhere, most other sniffers offer gentle demurrals.  In short, they think I’m nuts and are too polite to say so.  Of course, Your Mileage May Vary.

Citizen Queen has become my default Get Some Action scent.  (TMI? Sorry.  Don’t worry, I’m a respectable middle-aged married lady, and that’s all the detail you’re gonna get.)  The CEO seems to like it, but that’s really beside the point.  It puts me in the mood.  One of these days, I’m gonna be a little old crazy lady chasing my husband around the nursing home in our wheelchairs.  One of us will be radiating Citizen Queen, and the other of us will be giggling like mad and pretending to wheel away.  Won’t that be fun?                  

Review Report: I Smell Therefore I AmFragrance Bouquet, fragrantica.com, Feminine Things, The Scented Salamander.

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