BWFs: Gardenia

whipped cream gardeniaI love gardenias, I do. I do. I crave them. It’s a little too cold for them to grow here in the mountains, unfortunately. If The CEO ever asked me what flowers I wanted for a corsage, I’d tell him tuberose (no, I wouldn’t, they’re unavailable around here unless you do a $75 special order) and then gardenia. I love yellow roses too, but that’s another story.

Gardenias. Sigh. Our neighbor once brought us a gardenia from his bush, back when I was, oh, twelve? Thirteen? And I was standing there in absolute heaven, while my poor mother was trying to say thank you without turning green. So I understand that not everyone likes them… but me, I love gardenias. So overwhelmingly gorgeous.

Sr. Perfumer Rodrigo Flores-Roux speaks of re-creating a gardenia scent in a ÇaFleureBon interview: Gardenias are somewhat wild and raw, and you have to be careful not to domesticate the scent too much. The perfume must remain a bit unbridled. For a gardenia, the sharp green edge has to echo the milky, almost buttery sides harmoniously, and the animalic sides, which are both indolic and cresolic have to be very present as well. The descriptors “fruity,” “ripe,” “bitter,” jasminic,” “honey-like,” “smoky” and “fungus-like” also come into play.

gardenia arrangementFlores-Roux has it right: it should be very green but very creamy, lush but earthy. He calls gardenia “wild and raw,” but I think the word that comes most to mind for me with real gardenias is “narcotic.” As in, I can’t stop smelling them. A gardenia should make you weak at the knees.

Unfortunately it’s a difficult note in perfumery – because gardenia essence is extremely costly and labor-intensive to make, not to mention flower-intensive. And therefore it’s extremely costly. What usually happens is that perfumers “build” a gardenia on a base of tuberose plus other notes, and thus you rarely get something that replicates the flower.

gardenia 2Here’s an incomplete list of gardenia perfumes (whether smelling of gardenia, or just named for the flower), in no particular order. If you have suggestions, please add them in the comments, and I’d love to hear if you shrink from the real flower or melt in its presence. The ones I’ve tried are in pink lettering.

Tom Ford Private Blend Velvet Gardenia (discontinued since 2013) – this one is a kitchen-sinky gardenia, complete with earthy mushroom notes and a bit of bleu cheese. Divisive. If you love it, you love it. I didn’t, but I have issues with “earthy.”

Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (which I like to refer to as ELPCTG) – lovely stuff, a good bit primmer than the Tom Ford. Sort of bridal, but in a good and lush sort of way. No off-notes to my nose here. I hear the parfum is STUNNING.

Michael Storer Stephanie – buttery gardenia (I think it’s a composition done with tuberose, not some of that pricey gardenia extract) with some musk and a slug of pepper. The pepper can take you aback; it did me. It leans a little too lactonic, though, for me. I wanted more green notes.

gardenia 4Marc Jacobs – This is beautiful stuff. Really. Gardenia/tuberose/jasmine, on the delicate side. I don’t know why I don’t own any. (Edit: actually, I do still own a mini bottle of the parfum, but it had gotten sort of lost in amongst all my mini bottles. I’ve been wearing it since I located it.)

Marc Jacobs Gardenia – incredibly beautiful bottle, but word is that it’s more aquatic than the original and less gardenia.

DSH Pink Gardenia – Lush Marilyn Monroe kind of fragrance, but done on Dawn’s usual musk base, which means it goes a bit too sweet on me.

Serge Lutens Une Voix Noire – This is Uncle Serge’s dark look at gardenia, not just an homage to Billie Holiday but also with the classic Lutens weird twist. It could be the smell of the Lady Day as her show winds down, with the gardenia she always wore in her hair beginning to brown and wilt from the heat of her body and that of the club, with a whiff of body odor, and the smell of burning tobacco in the ashtrays on the tables, and the hot sweet smell of whiskey and brandy left in the glasses. Could be, if you choose to interpret it that way. Or you could interpret it as a hot mess: wilting gardenia, dipped in meaty Mexican food and then in buttery caramel sauce, and rolled in some stale cigarette ashes to boot. I have a decant of this I bought unsniffed, and I never never never wear it. Three guesses as to why.

Isabey Gardenia – lovely. I’m not overly fond of the citrus notes up top, nor of the ambery ones at the bottom, but in between it’s attractive.

Guerlain Cruel Gardenia – as Luca Turin says in Perfumes: The Guide, “Not a gardenia.” He’s right. It’s not even a gardenia built out of tuberose. Still, it’s a very pretty perfume.

Chanel Gardenia (Les Exclusifs) – Also not really a gardenia. Sort of a lightweight mishmash of white flowers. Nice, pretty, not gardenia.

gardenia 3Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion – another not-really-a-gardenia. This is a tuberose with greenery. I like it anyway, but I don’t own any.

Jovan Island Gardenia – The current version is thin and bare, gardenia blooming three blocks away across chlorinated pools and the gasoline fumes from the whole neighborhood’s lawnmowers. It used to be better. Now it’s strictly low-rent.

Coty Sand and Sable – This one used to be better, too; when I was in high school in the mid-80s, I craved a bottle of it. (This is the one my mother made me return to the store, insisting that I was too young to wear it and smell like a divorcee on the make. Well, not that she SAID that, but I knew what she meant by the way she said it.) It starts out pretty cheerful and radiant like a real gardenia, but a scosh of air-freshener lilac and that screechy synthetic jasmine that saws on my nerves make it smell super-cheap.

Tuvache Jungle Gardenia – what I’ve smelled labeled as Jungle Gardenia was NOT the stuff I remember from my childhood. Man, could this thing knock you out from down the street: narcotic in the best sort of way. Now me, I loved that sensation. If you run across the vintage, snap it up. And if you don’t like it, send it to meeeeeee.

Edit: for full disclosure the sample I tried was secondhand, and I don’t know its provenance. It smelled thin and barely-there; like I say, the stuff I smelled growing up in the 70s was incredibly lush and powerful. If you notice in the comments, Jeffrey Dame says that the current version (since 1998) is made according to a 1974 formula. He’s kindly offered to send me a sample, which I’m going to accept with alacrity! I’ll report back when I have tried the new stuff.

Tauer Perfumes Sotto La Luna Gardenia – what am I to make of this thing? I still haven’t figured it out (need to review). It reminds me quite a bit of Tableau de Parfums Loretta, and it’s weird. It hits the mushroomy highlights though not the bleu cheese ones, but there’s that Tauerade Ambrox stuff in the bottom, and it’s… well, remember what I said about Une Voix Noire? It’s a little like that, minus the cumin and the ashtrays: sweet and wilty. Plus fruity. Plus balsamy. SO MUCH going on. Incredibly radiant, too. Look out.

Jo Malone Vintage Gardenia – if you like your gardenia with incense and a big mantle of grape Kool-aid*, this is the one for you. Pleasant, if you can get past the grape-flavored stuff. (* This effect, to me, is a sure sign that the gardenia in question is built out of tuberose, and maybe a bit of orange blossom. Methyl Anthranilate occurs naturally in certain white flowers; it’s isolated from natural sources and added to grape flavoring to intensify the grapeness. I have a range of tolerance for Methyl A., and this one is at least twenty decibels higher than the top end of it.)

Illuminum White Gardenia Petals – The former Kate Middleton reportedly wore this one when she married Prince William. It is quite innocently bridal, and has gentle sillage. It’s not very gardenia-like, either; it also boasts notes of lily, jasmine and muguet. Really, there’s a ton of that screechy synthetic jasmine in it. It’s not for me, but it’s at least inoffensive.

Annick Goutal Un Matin d’Orage – Nice. Not very gardenia, either, more a watery version of soft-focus white florals (gardenia, magnolia, jasmine sambac). That said, I think it’s lovely and if a bottle came to live at my house I’d wear it. It’s close to Dyptique Do Son, but where Do Son smells highly artificial to me (it has some clearly-synthetic tuberose in it as well as the watery accord), UMd’O smells more realistic. Pretty stuff, if you don’t mind aquatic notes.

Ineke Hothouse Flower – haven’t smelled this one, but Ineke Ruhland comments that she added creamy lactones and extra green notes like galbanum and fig leaf to tuberose to make it smell like headspace gardenia. I generally do very badly with Ineke fragrances, and I haaaaaate fig leaf, so I have not put this on skin.

JAR Jardenia – apparently a properly green-and-mushroomy-and bleu-cheesy version of gardenia. I haven’t smelled it.

Aftelier Cuir Gardenia – leather and gardenia as the name suggests, I’m told.

Arquiste Perfumes Boutonniere No. 7 – another indie version that is geared toward men. I’m not sure how that works (is it a gardenia fougere? I don’t know).

Jovoy Paris Gardez-Moi – Nice. Something along the lines of ELPCTG, but with a bit of grape Kool-aid up top. I’d rather have ELPCTG.

Penhaligon’s Anthology Gardenia – a reconstruction of an early fragrance by B. Duchaufour. No bloggers have anything to say about it, apparently. Shrug.

Strange Invisible Perfumes Epic Gardenia – I haven’t smelled this one, or any SIPs. Word has it that this one is good but not as good as SIP’s first gardenia perfume, Lady Day, which had to be discontinued because of the disappearance of a crucial raw material.

Creed Fleurs de Gardenia – apparently not a realistic gardenia, more a mixed floral.

Evyan White Shoulders – Like the Tuvache and the Jovan gardenias, this one used to be rich and lush and overwhelmingly narcotic, and easily bought in a drugstore. I remember it very well from church! (What else did church ladies wear? Youth Dew, of course, which is an entirely different story.) These days it’s made by Parfums International – whoops, no, Elizabeth Arden bought P. Intl. As you might guess, it’s only a shadow of its former self. Sad. Fortunately, you can still find Evyan-produced vintage bottles on eBay for not a lotta cash.

Parfumerie Generale Gardenia Grand Soir – Everyone I know was disappointed in this one’s being so ladylike and not very gardenia-y, by which I suppose we mean, well, ladylike. Gardenias are not ladylike. Gardenia screams “sexy” to me far more than tuberose ever does. Anyway, some people find a bunch of blackcurrant in this one, which I admit intrigues me. I love blackcurrant.

Aerin Lauder Gardenia Rattan – Reportedly, another “delicate” and office-friendly gardenia scent, which probably means that it isn’t gardenia-ish at all.

Parfums MDCI Nuit Andalouse – gardenia, jasmine, and orange blossom. A really lovely white-floral blend that reminds me somewhat of the original Marc Jacobs. Of course on me the orange blossom takes over, but that’s okay because it doesn’t go soapy.

VC&A Collection Extraordinaire Gardenia Petale – another I haven’t smelled; it’s reportedly one on the ladylike side.

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Scent Diary, San Antonio trip, Feb. 2-8, 2015

Monday, Feb. 2 – Spent the day getting ready for a mini-vacation; The CEO is going to the National Cattlemen’s Convention in San Antonio, TX this week, and I decided to tag along with him. The boys will be staying at home by themselves, which ought to be an experience for them. It’s that more than anything that has me a little stressed. However, I think they’ll be all right. There’s plenty of food in the fridge and pantry, and they know how to take care of the dog. They can do laundry if necessary, and since Gaze got his driver’s license last month, we’re set for transportation to school.* My sweet MIL is going to come over and let the dog out for a bathroom break in the middle of the day so he’s not desperate.

*Sure, they could ride the school bus. However, there’s not that much point in getting up half an hour earlier and driving them half a mile to meet it (or getting them up 45 minutes early and making them walk half a mile to the bus stop. Particularly since they’ve both got after-school activities, and since Taz has that “zero period” Latin class at the middle school, he needs to be there before the bus could get him there.

Got the van inspected. I noticed on Saturday that not only had I missed the expiration date on the inspection sticker, I had missed it for THREE MONTHS. Yep. It should have been done by the end of November. I can’t really say why I didn’t notice, except possibly because this van, Stevie Ray Van, is exactly the same color and model as our old van, Eddie Van (Halen), but three years newer. Anyway, Eddie’s last inspection was in July, and I think the experience of driving Stevie Ray every day is so similar that I just forgot to look up at the windshield to check. WHOOPS. In any case, he’s inspected now.

new hair feb. 2Also got my hair done. Cut and color with highlights; I’ve never had my hair professionally colored, and I like the way it looks.

Then Band Booster meeting, where I took notes as Secretary. Made dinner, packed up, made the boys an exhaustive list of instructions and tips and people to call if they needed help.

SOTD was testing DSH Perfumes Jacinthe de Sapphir from the Brilliant Collection. I loved the top and heart notes, which were indeed sparkling and lively, but eventually the fragrance took a note toward the balsamic and I’m Just Not Into That. Shame, really. There was a moment where it reminded me a great deal of a floral chypre done with hyacinth… a tiny bit like Deneuve.

Tuesday, Feb. 3 – Got the boys off to school and then The CEO and I took off for Johnson City, TN, to meet with our investment advisor about some investment opportunities. Then ran off to see some young heifers that The CEO had made plans to buy when they got old enough. They’re old enough now and we’ll be taking delivery of them next week, and he just wanted to check that they were doing okay, which they were. SOTD was Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, the more floral version of the soft vegetal/floral leather. The bottle was right there on my dresser as I was rushing out the door. I briefly considered a small vial of Fracas in the car, but decided that I really did not want to antagonize fellow travelers.

Then off to the Tri-Cities airport to hop a connecting flight to Charlotte and from there to San Antonio. (For some reason, it was cheaper for us to fly a two-leg flight out of Tri-Cities than to drive to Charlotte and fly directly out of there. Weird, huh? Don’t ask ME to explain airline economic decisions. I don’t geddit.) We had some delicious barbecue at Northwood Farms in the airport. For airport food that had vegetables but didn’t require an hour to eat and $50 a head, it was really a good choice.

Sitting on a plane making its descent toward San Antonio, it occurs to me that I really should have packed some Deneuve or some No. 19. Those would have been great. Alas, I did not pack either – I don’t have a decant of Deneuve and probably shouldn’t have risked my small parfum bottle anyway, but I do have a couple of decants and two vintage minis of No. 19 edt, more’s the pity. What I did bring? Decants of Iris Poudre and Dior Cuir Cannage, as well as DelRae Wit and Mary Greenwell Plum. I always have Iris Poudre in my purse because it’s so versatile and comfortable (well, for me anyway). I also brought several samples that I’ve been meaning to test. We’ll see how I do with those.

I stopped into The Body Shop in the airport as well, mostly to try the rose body butter that replaced Moroccan Rose (which was wonderful, and incidentally which I have loved layering with Chanel No. 19 and with Jacomo Silences). It’s called Atlas Mountain Rose, and it’s so faint it might as well not be there. Shame on them. (The website shows new rose body products called Wild Rose, but the Charlotte kiosk didn’t have them.)

we dont dial 911Wednesday, Feb. 4 – After The CEO’s morning interview in the selection process for the Cattlemen’s Beef Board Operating Committee**, he was free to explore with me. We went first to the Alamo, which is RIGHT DOWNTOWN. It’s incredible. Very well-preserved and maintained, and the National Park Service has created a nice little museum there that explains its historical significance. Of course it is surrounded by every tourist trap in existence: Alamo t-shirts, shot glasses, trolley or double-decker bus rides, ice cream, souvenir beer steins, Texas flags, metal signs depicting crossed pistols and the legend “We Don’t Call 911,” cheapie straw cowboy hats and t-shirts exhorting people to “Save a horse, ride a cowboy.”

From there, we went to the little downtown shop the hotel concierge recommended we visit to find The CEO a pair of boots. It’s called the Paris Hattery, and it sells genuine Stetsons as well as some other high-end hats, not just cowboy hats, and a nice selection of boots. It’s been in existence since 1917, a family business; the granddaughter of the original owner helped fit The CEO for his boots and told some family stories. The Hattery has fitted a number of country/western singers, including Johnny Cash and Dwight Yoakam, for hats, and several actors, including the casts of Lonesome Dove (Tommy Lee Jones!!) and Gunsmoke. They’ve even found hats for other celebrities such as Shaquille O’Neal and Christian Louboutin, and if you can remember seeing a picture of Pope John Paul II in his white Stetson hat – well, that came from Paris Hattery too.

Then we went to visit La Villita, the “little village,” which is an arts community sponsored by the city of San Antonio. We didn’t buy anything, but came away with an appreciation of what it takes to make that kind of community successful, after a good conversation with artist Henry Cardenas (see some of his artwork here). We grabbed lunch and had a text conversation with Bookworm, who had been concerned about her physics exam. SOTD was Iris Poudre, yum.

mission san joseAfter that, we took a city bus several miles to visit one of the five missions begun by the Catholic Church in Spain in the mid- to late 1700s, in order to convert the Indians of what was at that time Mexico. One of those missions was the Alamo; however, it was abandoned by the Church and became a fort and supply facility. We didn’t have time to visit Mission Concepción, but we enjoyed Mission San Jose and found it very interesting. The church in particular was small but pretty.

It’s a nice city, fairly clean, and peopled by some of the friendliest, most helpful folks I’ve ever met. We ran into a couple of people whose job it seems to be to keep downtown clean and steer visitors in the right direction; they wear official vests and park ranger type hats, and they don’t hesitate to walk up to you and ask, “Hi, how are you? Can I direct you anywhere or help you find anything?”
That’s their job, and they’re good at doing it with genuine smiles and welcoming attitudes. However, the attitudes and smiles spilled over to just about all the locals we met, including wait staff and locals taking the city bus home from jobs and shopping. The bus drivers and other passengers made sure we got off on the right stop, and even suggested other places for us to see while we were visiting. It felt like real concern, and I won’t hesitate to come back to San Antonio.

We went to dinner on the Riverwalk. It was late, and it took a long time to find a place that was still seating dinner customers after 9 pm, but we had some good Tex-Mex. SOTE was Mary Greenwell Plum.

beef-its-whats-for-dinner** Don’t even ask me. There’s the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association, and then there’s CBB, which is a separate organization tasked with oversight of the Beef Checkoff Fund. It’s the CBB which is directly responsible for all those “Beef. It’s What’s for Dinner” ads, and for the expenditure of the $1 assessed on each head of cattle sold anywhere in the US, for the purpose of marketing and lobbying for this agricultural product. Incidentally, if you want some legitimate nutrition facts about beef or information about the industry, this website is a great place to go.

Thursday, Feb. 5 – Early on, The CEO and I went to have breakfast at Denny’s across from our hotel, and then walked several blocks to the The CEO had meetings most of the day, and so I was able to explore the city on my own to some degree. I walked around the Riverwalk, around the convention center, then into the mall. Found a really lovely sterling silver ring with what the jeweler was calling “pink coral” and which looks like enamel to me. It’s pretty either way, and not expensive.

Had some really delicious dinner at The Granary: pork and beef brisket barbecue, and the best baked beans I’ve ever had, plus some appetizers and such. Met some really lovely people – some other members of the CBB and spouses, two people who work for the beef ad campaign, a gentleman who works for MICA (Meat Importers Council of America). Shared a bottle of wonderful Riesling, too. Go ahead, call me unsophisticated, but I like Riesling very much.

SOTD was Cuir Cannage. It was very light in the chilly weather, for some reason. Native San Antonians keep complaining, “It’s so cold!” but it’s barely lower than 45F. The rain sprinkles and wind do make it feel colder, though.

Friday, Feb. 6 – Got up early(ish), and went down to the lobby to pick up my rental car. It was a little Kia Rio, a real change from the Caravan, but okay to drive. I was surprised that it had as much power as it did; it handled the Texas interstate speed limits, ranging from 55 in a construction zone to 75 on some long straight stretches, just fine.

Incidentally, either Mapquest for Android sucks or I can’t read Texas road signs. Or both, maybe. :-) I got lost to a minor degree, going to see my sister A at Fort Hood. Wound up going about 10-15 minutes’ drive out of the way – not awful, but enough so that I came into town from the wrong direction.

We had lunch together and then went to her on-base house for the rest of the day. My BIL came home early – his work schedule over the last couple of weeks has consisted of making early-morning formation at… 7 am, I think, and then working until mid-afternoon, followed by a few hours of rest before he goes back to the motor pool where he’s assigned until 10:30 or 11 pm. But he was released early from work yesterday, and I’m sure he enjoyed being home and relaxing without the need to go back in. SOTD was DelRae Wit, so pretty.

My nephew was proud to show me his room and, then, how to play “The Battle for Middle Earth” on Xbox. He’s such a sweetheart, and so cute.

Got back late to the hotel, around 11:30 pm. It would have been sooner, except that I got off the interstate to put a few gallons of gas in the car and wound up stuck behind a disabled vehicle, THEN stuck in traffic when police, fire and rescue vehicles rushed out responding to an emergency.

riverwalk
The Riverwalk

Saturday, Feb. 7 – I have really enjoyed San Antonio – although to be fair I think I might not have enjoyed it quite so much during its hot, humid summer weather. It’s a city with a great deal of interesting history, and the downtown area in particular is very nice. The Riverwalk is enjoyable, but I also enjoyed walking outside the touristy area. In any case, it’s a very friendly and pleasant town.
Sometimes I wonder what air travel might have been like in the 1960s, when it was a great luxury and airlines went out of their way to pamper passengers. As I write, I’ve got my laptop open on my tray table and The CEO has his head leaned over on my shoulder (for some reason, probably the pressure in my head and ears from the high altitude, I can never sleep on a plane). SOTD is DelRae Wit, which I love a little bit more every time I wear it. I’ll work on this decant for now, because I have so much perfume on my hands, but I truly wouldn’t turn down a bottle of Wit. It’s a fresh floral in the nicest of veins.

We will definitely miss Gaze’s concert at Regional Band, unfortunately. It is just Not Going to Happen that we will be able to make it back to Bristol by 6 pm. However, my parents and The CEO’s mom, as well as Taz, are going to attend. I’m so glad of that.

victorian afghan and fireSunday, Feb. 8 – I’ve been working on a twin-size afghan for Bookworm since shortly before Christmas. It’s a fluffy thing in super-bulky chenille yarn, very soft and plushy. I hope it holds up to use. It’s an interesting variegated yarn, in colors that I think of as being very Victorian: raspberry-sherbet pink, deep plum, brown, and olive green.

Glad to be home, but I’m exhausted. SOTD is L’Arte di Gucci, big loud beautiful rose chypre. Wonderful stuff.

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I’m Back!

keep-calm-i-am-backAbout three weeks ago, my “saved” password for the blog stopped working. (I still don’t know why. It had worked for months…) So I requested a password reset through WordPress. But it never showed up, until I contacted Technical Support. So then I received the password reset email, and went in to change the password.

But I had somehow lost my admin status. I could log in, I could see my dashboard… but all the usual options were gone. GONE, I tell you. I spent several hours over the course of a week talking to people on WP forums and trying to get some help from Tech Support, but nothing was working. The following week I was so frustrated, I couldn’t even look at it.

Then The CEO went to San Antonio for five days, for the National Cattlemen’s Association Convention, and I went with him. I did nothing about the blog.

Then we got back, and dug out from under the mountains of laundry, and I found a tutorial on changing one’s WP password through the database on the web host. So I took a deep breath, copied the current settings, crossed my fingers, and went mucking around in the code. Which is scary, lemme tell ya.

But it worked. I changed the password in the database to what it should have been/what I believed it was, and we are back in business. And the kids have another snow day, and I have time to write, and I have some saved up Scent Diaries and mini-reviews to post.

Glad to be back.

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Scent Diary Summary, late January 2015

I’ll be getting back to the “BWF by flower” series soon. Meanwhile, this is an update as to what’s goin’ down.

stone-fireplace-lit-roaring-fire-11630129We’ve had some cold and some inclement weather, but nothing serious. The big snows of two years ago haven’t hit us (yet), and the sleds are still in storage. We’ve had some lovely fires in the fireplace, and lots of mulled cider and hot chocolate, anyway. I’ve tried some new teas, but nothing I want to talk about.

I have pretty much given up Pandora for Spotify. Both of them have ads, but I like being able to vet a playlist and delete items I don’t like from it instead of waiting for whatever is coming up next, like the radio. That said, sometimes I want to listen to something new, and Pandora’s good for that.

This is Kat, Maya, Bookworm and Sophia. The Facebook caption for this one says "On Fridays we wear plaid."
This is Kat, Maya, Bookworm and Sophia. The Facebook caption for this one says “On Fridays we wear plaid.”

Bookworm seems to be doing okay after the difficult semester she had in the fall. Yale and Harvard played their second non-conference “extra” game at Madison Square Garden the weekend before classes started, and Bookworm enjoyed playing with the pep band for it. I am no longer getting texts from her that discuss food she misses, or at least not on a regular basis. Her Facebook page is dotted with pictures of her with her suitemates and Ultimate Frisbee teammates and her bandmates, having fun.

Gaze just got his driver’s license. Oy. He does well with the driving, actually – it’s just everybody ELSE that I worry over. That’s my baby, y’all. Drive carefully and don’t hit him! As soon as we can shift some vehicles around, he’ll be driving himself, and perhaps his younger brother, to school. That’ll be helpful, especially since most of the time they’re both at indoor track practice after school. On Wednesdays Gaze has MACC (academic challenge) practice, and Thursday afternoons Taz has chess club.

My new phone!
My new phone!

Bookworm and Gaze and I now have smartphones (although Gaze’s and mine are prepaid, I admit). I’m still figuring out how to use mine… and it sucks power like nobody’s business, so I probably need to adjust some setting or other. Taz got my old full-keyboard phone (he’d better not lose it like he lost the other two!). The CEO is considering upgrading his slider, since we have started to feel like we’re stuck in the last century. No, we don’t NEEEEEEEED smartphones. We don’t NEEEEEEEEED to stream digital media to our TV. But we also don’t need to be our parents and shun technology just because we can get by without it.

On a related note, I got so sick of our internet going out multiple times over the past week, that I called Verizon tech support twice. After following their directions and buying new ethernet lines/new splitters for DSL, and resetting my modem FOURTEEN TIMES in an 18-hour period, I finally told them to just send me a new modem and we’ll see if that fixes the problem. (I bet it won’t. Every time it rains, water gets in on the main phone line in the area and causes our phone, as well as our neighbors’, to go staticky and awkward. Verizon says they’re meeting a minimum standard of service and they don’t have to fix it, and everybody’s going to cell phones anyway so it’s not financially feasible.) BUT. I’ll give it a shot. We don’t have FiOS out here in the sticks.

balcony flowchartIs it wrong that I am totally amused by this?

I have been wearing the heck out of all my white florals. I almost used up my sample of Fracas (and let me tell you, that sucker is NUCLEAR). Have also been wearing some animalic things like Soivohle Centennial and Amouage Memoir Woman, and some other scents I only wear in the winter, like my beloved golden Alahine.  Today I’m wearing Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea. Yum.

IMG_0187
Gaze said I shouldn’t name them, but I couldn’t resist. That’s Sweetie on the left, about an hour after he was born, and Precious on the right. SO CUTE.

OH! I totally forgot to mention Gaze’s FFA project sheep! Two of the five of them have lambed, and we have theeee most precious and darling little critters running around in the shop lot now. They are absolutely the cutest animals I have ever seen, ever ever.

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BWFs: Tuberose

The Tuberose Series OpenerThe Aztecs called it omixochitl, bone flower. The Mexicans call it nardo de San José, St. Joseph’s staff. Its common name in English refers to the tuberous nature of its bulb. Everybody has an opinion on the flower’s smell! What more is there to say about tuberose that hasn’t already been said by a million people, not to mention perfume bloggers? Fragrantica says: No note in perfumery is more surprisingly carnal, creamier or contradicting than that of tuberose. The multi-petalled flower is a mix of flower shop freshness and velvety opulence. Victoria of Bois de Jasmin says: Nothing captures better the essence of tuberose than its meaning in the language of flowers, used in Victorian England. Tuberose signified both dangerous pleasure and voluptuousness. The scent of the flower is a fusion of white petals and warm skin, an arresting sensual and heady fragrance. On a blotter, tuberose absolute opens up with a faint green note before warming into a sweet jasmine-like scent underscored by a rubbery accord. It vacillates between the coconut sweetness and the warm skin impression, as it dries down.

It’s funny – I don’t have an impression of tuberose as being “sexxxy” – it just smells good to me, luxurious and heady and rich but not slutty in the least. I’ve loved it from the start.

Tuberose is the Queeeeeeeen. She just is. And if you disagree, she will cutchoo. It’s okay with me; I love her. Most people either love her or hate her. For the lovers, here’s a list of BWF’s that feature tuberose, whether as a soliflore or as the centerpiece of the composition. (For the haters, you can keep this list for reference of Things to Avoid.) I’ve tried a number of these; the ones in black text I haven’t. Bolded ones I really enjoy.

glorious tuberoseSoliflores:

By Kilian Beyond Love
Le Galion Tubéreuse (newly rereleased)
DSH Perfumes Tubéreuse
Annick Goutal Tubéreuse
Santa Maria Novella Tuberosa
Caron Tubéreuse
L’Artisan Tubéreuse (discontinued)
Creed Tubéreuse Indiana
Il Profvmo Éclair de Tubéreuse
Serge Lutens Tubéreuse Criminelle (The opening doesn’t work for me, but it’s not the camphor/gasoline/menthol – it’s the rotting raw chicken note in there. Bleargh. Can NOT handle it. If you can get through without smelling that, you’re golden, because the rest of it is a wonderfully uncomplicated, simply-beautiful floral tuberose.)
Prada Infusion de Tubéreuse (infusion de boring, if you ask me)
Prada No. 6 Tubéreuse parfum (limited edition)
Parfumerie Generale PG17 Tubéreuse Couture
I Profumo di Firenze Tuberosa di Autonno
Maître Parfumeur et Gantier Tubéreuse
Hiram Green Moon Bloom (all natural)
Floris Tuberose
Terra Nova Tuberose (oil format)
Bruno Acampora Blu (oil format)

mixed flower tuberose arrangementCompositions:

Honore des Pres Vamp a NY (all natural)
Robert Piguet Fracas (There’s a ton of orange blossom in here, so much so that Fracas actually smells like tuberose-scented cold cream to me. Still the Queen. Still intoxicating.)
Robert Piguet Petit Fracas
Robert Piguet Douglas Hannant
Miller Harris Noix de Tubéreuse
Pilar & Lucy Tiptoeing Through Chambers of the Moon
Mona di Orio Tubéreuse
Versace Blonde (Huge. Somewhat synthetic. But nicer in the parfum.)
Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger (as much tuberose as orange blossom)
Ava Luxe Tuberose Diabolique
Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose (YEAH YEAH I LIKE THIS ONE FOR A CHEAP THRILL, SO SUE ME)
Juicy Couture Juicy Couture (Again, SO SUE ME. But it’s really good in the parfum.)
Frederic Malle Editions des Parfums Carnal Flower
Estee Lauder Private Collection Tuberose Gardenia (one of the very few Lauders that doesn’t go nasty on me after 2-3 hours)
L’Artisan Nuit de Tubéreuse
Histoires des Parfums Tubéreuse 1 (Capricieuse), 2 (Virginale), and 3 (Animale)
Dior Poison
Nasomatto Narcotic Venus
Roja Dove Scandal
Giorgio Beverly Hills (It’s dead. Don’t try the new stuff – but the old, despite being huge, was rather nice.)
Diptyque Do Son
Carolina Herrera Carolina Herrera
Parfums DelRae Amoureuse
Givenchy Ysatis
Arquiste Flor y Canto (tuberose and marigold and copal)
ByRedo Flowerhead (tuberose, jasmine and rose)
Parfums d’Empire 3 Fleurs (tuberose, rose and jasmine – pretty but I found it soulless)
Serge Lutens Cedre
Serge Lutens Datura Noir
Karl Lagerfeld Chloe
Givenchy Amarige
Tableau de Parfums (Tauer) Loretta (plum/grape/tuberose/PATCHOULI. A freakfest. Like Poison on acid.)
Guerlain Jardins de Bagatelle
L’Artisan La Chasse aux Papillons (smells like perfumery linden to me, not like tuberose, but everybody ELSE says tuberose)
Annick Goutal Gardenia Passion
Balenciaga Michelle
Madonna Truth or Dare
Kim Kardashian Kim Kardashian
Michael Kors Michael
Providence Perfumes Cocoa Tuberose (all natural)
Anya’s Garden Starflower (all natural)
Aftelier Cepes & Tuberose (another all natural)
Parfums de Nicolaï Number One
Ramon Monegal Kiss My Name
Jean Paul Gaultier Fragile
Amouage Honour Woman
Jil Sander No. 4
Jo Malone Tuberose Angelica

Goodness, there are a LOT of tuberose/tuberose-centric perfumes. A LOT. This is by NO MEANS a complete listing. Rather terrifyingly, I’ve tried 48 out of the 68 listed here (that’s about 71%).

So, is tuberose your BFF, or your worst enemy?

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BWFs: Lily

Gold Band lily. (All photos in this post are from Wikimedia.)
Gold Band lily. (All photos in this post, except the last, are from Wikimedia.)

Lily, in my opinion, isn’t the chiefest among the big white florals, but it’s a lovely one. I won’t get deeply into the definition and explanation of why white florals smell the way they do; I will simply point you in the direction of this blog post and this one by Elena of Perfume Shrine, for further reading.

I love lilies. Madonna lilies, Easter lilies, stargazers, orientals, all of them. I can’t have them in the house, however, unless I snip off the stamens. For one thing, the orange pollen stains, badly. I once ruined a white eyelet dress by getting too close to these monster 6-foot tall white lilies that bloom near the door at our old church. For another, the pollen is murder on my allergies. At that same church, they always used to decorate the rail of the choir loft with lilies at Easter, and before the service was over my head was stopped up and I was sneezing nonstop. Once the stamens are gone, though, I’m just fine.

Stargazer lily.
Stargazer lily.

And the smell – floral, green, spicy, creamy – is heavenly. Luca Turin famously commented that lilies en masse smell like ham, and I don’t really get that specific reference, but I do understand that thick, almost-salty, almost-fleshy smell. It’s gorgeous. It’s funny, but lily scents tend to highlight either the spicy aspects of the flower, or the creamy ones. Hard to find a photorealistic one, and I’m not sure I really want one of those; I’d rather just have a lily in a vase, sans stamens.

Lilies in perfume can sometimes take over – not that I mind that much.

(I’m not talking about lily of the valley, which has a completely different smell. Yes, they’re white florals, but I never think of muguet scents as “Big” white florals. No, not even Diorissimo.)

Easter lily.
Easter lily.

In the lists below, I’ve included both soliflores and scents where lily is the star among other noticeable components. The fragrances I’ve smelled myself are in color, and the bolded ones are favorites of mine. Any lily lovers out there? Please suggest some good ones.

Soliflores:
Serge Lutens Un Lys
Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Lys Mediterranee
Donna Karan Gold (discontinued)
Cartier Baiser Volé
Annick Goutal Des Lys
Yves Rocher Pur Desir de Lys
DSH Perfumes Madonna Lily
Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Lys Soleia
YOSH Stargazer
Antica Farmacista Casablanca

Mixed lily bouquet.
Mixed lily bouquet.

Compositions:
Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs (a floaty, green mixed floral centered on lily)
Tom Ford Shanghai Lily (spicy lily with milky-incensey woods, sort of as if DK Black Cashmere and DK Gold made a baby)
Ineke Gilded Lily (fruity modern chypre with lily)
Hermes Vanille Galante (lily intersecting with vanilla, a soft billowy scent)
Serge Lutens La Vierge de Fer (stern metallic lily)
L’Artisan Passage d’Enfer (faint lilies and soapy incense)
Oriza L. LeGrand Relique d’Amour (lilies and incense and cold stone – similar in concept to Passage d’Enfer, but in my opinion this one works where Pd’E doesn’t)
Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice (discontinued – lilies, spice and musk)
Le Labo Lys 41 (another soft billowy white floral with gardenia, jasmine and vanilla)
Keiko Mecheri Soussanne (lily, datura, and sandalwood)
Tom Ford Jardin Noir Lys Fumé (lily, ylang, and labdanum)
Jovoy Paris Lys Epona (woody lily)
DSH Perfumes Mother of the Bride (big mixed bouquet of lily, rose, and carnation)
DSH Perfumes 1,000 Lilies (Susinon) (lily, cardamom, sandalwood and incense)

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BWF January

Handmade paper flowers.  I'd rather have a ginormous bouquet of real ones, of course, but since THAT ain't gonna happen, here are these. (Click the picture for details on purchasing these. Not affiliated, I just admire.)
Handmade paper flowers. (Click the picture for details on purchasing these. Not affiliated, I just admire.)

So it’s January, and it’s dreary outside, and I want flowers. Big ones. Big smelly ones.  I keep hearing perfume friends talking about “picking up a couple of stems of tuberose at the market” with which to scent their houses, but I don’t live in a big city with a well-stocked flower market, so that’s out. (I could special order them… at a minimum $75 order, so THAT ain’t gonna happen.)

The Big White Floral, or BWF, is one of the most polarizing genres of perfume available. People either love it or they haaaaaate it, and they bring out the cross and the garlic to defend themselves (sort of the way I get with dusty tolu/patchouli orientals). I, of course, love me a BWF.

Andre', WWE baddie wrestler and consummate showman, who played Fezzik in "The Princess Bride," was a sweetheart... but he was huge. 7'4", 450 pounds huge. Sometimes BWFs are like that.
Andre’, WWE baddie wrestler and consummate showman, who played Fezzik in “The Princess Bride,” was a sweetheart… but he was HUGE. Like 7’4″, 450 pounds huge. Sometimes BWFs are like that. (Photo links to the book at Amazon, but I’ll warn you that the book is roundly panned by readers.)

BWFs can range from soliflores to mixed florals to floral orientals (and possibly even white-floral chypres, depending how strong a floral presence there is), but quite often, the operative word in the sentence is “BIG,” like Andre-the-Giant BIG, and that might be part of the issue. I’m not generally fond of potent sillage, and I prefer to keep my waft within a couple of feet of my person, but I’ll break that rule for a beautiful BWF.

I’m going to list a few of my favorites, just the tip of the iceberg, today, and will follow it up with more detailed listings, organized by central note, over the next couple of weeks. Here are some fragrances that come immediately to mind when I think of BWFs:

Karl Lagerfeld Chloë, the original. It’s still being produced (now by Parfums Chloe), but it’s strictly an online-stock thing now, and it’s had the heart sucked out of it long ago. If you loved it in the late 1970s, don’t bother smelling a new version now, it’ll break your heart. The vintage is still available on eBay, and the three samples I’ve smelled of 80s Chloë all smelled wonderful. This is a big, generous, everything-but-the-kitchen-sink floral on a bed of woods and moss, with peach and citrus and a tiny flourish of aldehydes up top for sparkle.  Carnation and rose are also present, as are muguet, jasmine, and honeysuckle but it is, first and always, a BWF centered on tuberose.

Christian Dior Poison. Yep, the Beast That Ate My College Dorm. It’s tuberose and orange blossom, plus resins and a few spices and a jammy plum so overwhelming you could swim in it. Definitely a white floral and a huge one (the sillage on this, even the reformulated stuff, is monster), but I can only think of it in terms of deep amethyst. Is that marketing, or is it truly a purple smell? I don’t like big sillage, I don’t even like purple, and I still don’t know why this stuff is so addictive.

Frederic Malle Editions des Parfums Carnal Flower. Centered on tuberose, with a lush, fresh jasmine backing it up, it is nonetheless somehow green, with menthol and green leaves up top. I first smelled it on a winter day so cold that warm breath turned to frost, and it was perfect. I’ve worn it on muggy summer days, too, and it was perfect. It’s never been not-perfect for me.

Robert Piguet Fracas. A ton of virtual ink has been spilt over Fracas, the first widely-popular tuberose-centered fragrance, created by Germaine Cellier to serve as the femme-est, pinkest, bombshelliest fragrance evarrrrr.  Despite assertions of it being THE Tuberose Fragrance, it is also completely and utterly jam-packed full of orange blossom, jasmine, gardenia, lilac, peach, and a zillion other things. The orange blossom is particularly prominent to my nose, and Fracas smells like nothing so much as it does a starlet’s dressing table, complete with lipsticks and cold cream and swansdown powder puffs and lavish bouquets.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur.  Big bad Black Orchid’s ingenue sister, this EdT version is discontinued. It centers on tuberose and ylang-ylang, with a milky, peppery veil over them. There is a light but persistent oriental base under it, with benzoin and woody notes.  I can’t find the right text color for it, but it’s a sunsetty orange-pink color, pretty but vivid.

More BWFs to come.

 

 

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It’s Cold, but I Smell Good

We haven’t had quite the frozen-tundra effect that some of the rest of the country has had recently (Facebook friends were posting about their under-zero temperatures), but it’s been pretty cold over the past couple of days, getting down to single digits at night… with WIND, giving us a wind chill factor of below zero. Brrrr.

Aren't these gorgeous?
Aren’t these gorgeous?

I’ve been fighting the cold with white florals – looks like my January tuberose/white floral obsession has rolled back around again. I’ve been wearing the following:

Houbigant Orangers en Fleurs. This is a very floral orange blossom with jasmine; a bit soapy but not overly so, as many many orange-blossom fragrances go on my skin. There may be a bit of tuberose in here too.

Robert Piguet Fracas. Not for nothing is Fracas the Queeeeeeeeen – she’s a movie star in cream satin and diamonds, with a dressing room jam-packed with bouquets, and a dressing table littered with cosmetics of every kind, lipsticks and face powders and mascara and beauty patches and eye shadows and kohls and blushers and cold cream. Enormous, and exaggerated to the point of artificiality, but beautiful. This is not, to my mind, “a tuberose perfume.” It’s a mixed white floral in which tuberose and orange blossom share the billing.

Le Galion Tubereuse (2014 rerelease). According to Grain de Musc, the original 1939 version of this tuberose soliflore predated Fracas, and reportedly influenced its creation – though I don’t see a lot of relationship between the two, honestly.  This one is very green and fresh – Fragrantica lists several fruity notes in the rereleased version, fruity notes I don’t get at all. It also lists orange blossom, but pretty much all I get from the Le Galion is tuberose and green leaves.

ByRedo Flowerhead. Tuberose, jasmine, and rose, with some bitterish stuff up top that mimics the delightfully pungent smell of marigold (though reportedly marigold, an important component of the Indian brides’ headdresses that Flowerhead refers to, was too difficult to add to the composition). I was wearing this for the first time when Hayley-dog died, so I’d been reluctant to wear it again, but it is very beautiful.

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Sadly discontinued, this gentler version of the polarizing original (I can’t stand Black Orchid; the florals are completely overwhelmed with a cucumber/dirt thing that smells like dank basements) is heavy on tuberose and ylang, with a milky, peppery veil. I’d like to smell Velvet Orchid, the newest flanker to Black Orchid.

If I hadn’t used  up my sample of Serge Lutens Fleurs d’Oranger – the newer stuff, less packed with cumin than the first version released – I’d be wearing that too, as it’s just as much tuberose and jasmine as orange blossom, and very lovely.

I once looked into getting fresh tuberose stems at the local florist. They were available – by special order, $75 minimum. Wonder if I could force the bulbs, and if so where I could get some…

Anybody else craving white florals in the cold?

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Monday. First one of the year. Yippee.

Friday faceThe boys go back to school on Wednesday, so I got them up at (close to) their usual get-up-for-school times today, to get used to it again – and you wouldn’t believe the ill temper and grouching.

Oh, wait, that was me. I’ve been sleeping as late as 8:30 am… I know, I know, slugabed. 6:45 came way too soon today.

I’ve noticed over the past three or four months that I haven’t felt like trying new fragrances. Sure, I’ve taken sniffs of the newish drugstore cheapies, when I’ve been picking up prescriptions and replacing my mascara, and I think I even got inside the mall once and smelled… oh, what was that thing?  Some Lauder thing, I think, or was it Oscar de la Renta? I can’t even remember. But I have all these samples from Surrender to Chance languishing on my dresser, and I hadn’t been able to muster any enthusiasm for them.

Until today. Today I’m trying a sample of Sisley Soir de Lune, a floral chypre that Luca Turin called a “cheap and nasty knockoff of Parfum de Peau.” You know, I rather liked PdP, at least in small doses, but it’s a bit… okay, it’s raunchy when you get right down into it. Leather and castoreum, if I remember correctly. Soir de Lune reminded me of a cross between L’Arte di Gucci and Coco Mademoiselle, without that screechy quality that Coco Mlle has on me. This is the diva on a Sunday afternoon, lying on her couch and reading romance novels. It’s a modern chypre for sure, and I can see why lovers of the old-school mossy chypres dismiss it, but I am finding it rather pleasant, a “clean” and floral scent giving homage to the rose chypres of the past. This is a Dominique Ropion creation, and I don’t know what his budget was (which often seems to make the difference between Ropion scents that I like and Ropion scents that I don’t), but it has that roundness and self-confidence that I associate with fragrances composed by him.

Anybody familiar with this one?

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Scent Diary, Christmas week 2014

HNY 2015Actually… looks like the last time I wrote any sort of Scent Diary entry was four months ago. It is hopelessly out of date, and I include it here simply for reference.

Monday, Aug. 18 – First full day of school this year – it was a two-hour early release last Friday. Taz almost forgot his lunch, and Gaze forgot his trombone. I had to take it to him.

RAIN. Super rain. All-day rain. It was like the weather on Venus in that Ray Bradbury story, “All Summer in a Day.” (Which, do not read it if you are a) concerned about the scientific feasibility of constant rain on Venus, or b) emotionally sensitive. It will annoy the crap out of you Sheldon Cooper types who have to have all the facts right or the story doesn’t count, in the first case. And it will flat break your heart in the latter case. Oh, but Bradbury is such a genius of the short story.)

SOTD is Ralph Lauren Safari. Again. Man, I could get addicted to this stuff. Fragrantica calls it a Floral Green, but elsewhere I’ve seen it described as a green chypre. Don’t care. I suspect that its style was, well, out of style when it was introduced in the early 1990s: too perfumey. Too green, too loud, too far removed from the smell of “clean” in the days of cKOne and L’eau d’Issey. Not that it’s a dirty perfume exactly; it’s not Joy or Bal a Versailles by any means, but neither does it smell like Windex.
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Wednesday, Dec. 24 – The CEO’s sister J has been visiting. We went to the Christmas Eve service at the church where my mother-in-law attends, and ran into one of my aunts along with my cousin and her husband, so that was lovely too. SOTD was Prince Matchabelli Potpourri, a wonderfully clovey carnation-woods scent (long discontinued, of course – I paid $12 for a full 1 oz bottle via eBay), with a spritz of Parfums de Nicolai Vanille Tonka for the evening.

I notice that my newish bottle of Vanille Tonka is missing its spritely, delightful lime opening. The lime’s still there, but it’s very subdued and there’s more of a root-beer feeling to the scent now. This is not bad, exactly, but I really adored that lime+spice thing. Sigh.

Was up late, but I managed to finish  not only my MIL’s chenille hat but also Bookworm’s Minion Hat. It is ADORABLE. (Here’s a link to the pattern, in case you would like to make it.)

Thursday, Dec. 25 – a quiet Christmas. The kids slept late, we slept late, and it has been so warm that there was no reason for The CEO to go out and have to feed cattle, so we dove into stockings first, and then had breakfast, and then opened presents. No scented gifts for me this year. (Which is okay. To a large degree I feel satisfied with my current collection, though I would of course love a bottle of Iris Poudre. I’ve gotten through a 5ml decant and I have two partial 10ml decants I’m still working on. The only thing that worries me is the impending purchase of Frederic Malle by Estee Lauder… Lauder owns Jo Malone as of Jan 1, 2015, in case you didn’t know that… I would hate for IP to be irrevocably changed because I love it.)

Bookworm loved her crocheted hat! She knew I was making her one… but when she opened her package she kept repeating, “It’s a MINION! It’s a MINION!” and didn’t take it off all day. Success, I proclaim.

We had a lovely dinner with The CEO’s mother and both his sisters, as well as his sister E’s husband and their kids. Very nice. SOTD was Teo Cabanel Alahine, because it smells like joy and Christmas to me, and it’s become tradition over the past five years to wear Alahine on Christmas.

Friday, Dec. 26 – We spent the morning of Boxing Day at home, straightening up a bit, before heading on to my parents’ house for Christmas Part II. I wore Alahine again, of course, because that is My Christmas Perfume, Period. I love Alahine so much. We had a nice time with family – a nice meal, an excellent time Skyping with my sister. My father recently replaced his 10-year-old Sebring with a Jeep crossover vehicle which seems rather sporty for him… in any case, he gave us the Sebring for one of the kids to use. I think he’d intended it for Gaze, who will be eligible for his driver’s license next month, but we decided that it might make more sense for Bookworm to drive it back and forth to Connecticut. Even with the $400 garage fee charged by the university, and the gas for it, it might be cheaper than airline flights! We’re still waffling on its name. Sebastian? Sabrina? Seabiscuit?* And Gaze, in any case, wants to drive the Ranger, which is way more “manly” than the Sebring.

*Yes, we are those annoying people who name their cars. Cameron (The CEO’s Camry, which is blue) and Stevie Ray Van (my Caravan, which is red) and Walker (the Ranger, which is black) refuse to share the driveway with an unnamed vehicle. 😉

Saturday, Dec. 27 – sunny day, temperatures in the 50s. Niece and nephew came over before the Virginia Tech – Cincinnati bowl game and hung out, and then The CEO’s mom and sisters and brother-in-law came over to watch the game. (My mother-in-law doesn’t have ESPN. In fact, she doesn’t have cable. Nor does she have internet access, or a computer, or even a touch-tone phone. She does have a cell phone, but only turns it on when she’s away from home and wants to ask someone a question. On the other hand, she seems to be getting along just fine.) So we did the basic house clean-up super-fast, and then settled in with some pizza to watch the Hokies trounce the Bearcats. SOTD was Caron Parfum Sacré, reapplied before dinner back over at the MIL’s house.  VT won the game, btw. Everyone was happy.

We have now determined that Gaze is a couple of inches taller than his same-age cousin Curiosity, Taz is now just a hair under my 5’4” height, and the cousin that’s Taz’s age, Primrose, is maybe half an inch taller than Bookworm. Everybody’s been growing except Bookworm, and she finally seems to have accepted that she’s just going to be a peanut. She did comment to me, however, that her friends have told her that she seems like a bigger person than her actual size – possibly because of her confidence and her grown-woman speaking voice.

By the way, I still don’t know why none of the Carons have captured my heart. True, the classic ones seem to have been reformulated badly, but even the vintage-ish stuff I’ve tried has seemed flat and dull to me. I did like Aimez-Moi, which was a more modern composition, but to be honest I never wore it so I traded it off to someone who loves it. Have I been influenced by the lukewarm reactions of Perfumes: The Guide? Perhaps. But I think it’s more likely that I simply don’t have an affinity for the style. I expected to find Narcisse Noir interesting, but the current stuff is way more orange blossom than narcissus, sort of a little girl’s yellow dotted-swiss dress, and the vintage sample I tried was so boring that I kept checking to see that the sample service hadn’t given me Narcisse Blanc by mistake. Tabac Blond is a wack combination of sweet, oily and musty, and Nuit de Noel is all that plus moss. The lovely Blacknall of A Perfume Blog sent me a sample of Or et Noir, which is said to be the precursor of Parfum Sacre, and I found that one difficult to wear, as its first hour or so is a sour, insistent rose soliflore before it relaxes into a beautiful soft ambery, mossy-woods drydown. (I suspect that it’s geranium I dislike so much in the rose scents that go sour on me.) Now, I do like Poivre, very much.

Sunday, Dec. 28 – a gray morning. Niece and nephew came over and played with our kids; I took a nap. We all went to church in the evening (our church, which normally meets at a local school on Sunday mornings, uses the sanctuary of another local church on Sunday evenings in the month of December) with my mother-in-law, as well as E and K, Primrose and Curiosity. Leftovers for dinner and football on TV… rain outside. SOTD: Organza Indecence, so cozy.

Monday, Dec. 29 – RAIN. Bleargh. A quiet day. SOTD was Shalimar Light. My first bottle of it (after the 5ml mini) is half gone; luckily I have one more stashed away. Best Lemon/Dirty-Vanilla EVAH. Made a batch of Nell’s Boiled Custard (YUM)!

Tuesday, Dec. 30 – The CEO’s laptop, or at least its screen, died last night and all attempts to revive it have failed so far. This is the Horrible! Clicky! Computer that I hate and despise because its “enter” key noise is so, well, offensively clicky that I literally cannot bear to be in the same room with it, so I am ambivalent about the matter. I’m sorry he’ll have to deal with the annoyance of a nonfunctioning computer, but maybe Virginia Tech will give him a new laptop that’s quieter.

Incidentally, over the month of November I found out that I have misophonia. That is, there is a name for the irrational feelings of rage/frustration one feels when hearing certain (generally soft and repetitive) noises. There is a NAME FOR IT, PEOPLE!! I am not (entirely) crazy! Gum chewing/popping… chewing sounds in general… the sound of toe/fingernails being clipped… that blasted clicky computer… gah. I have to leave the room. I cannot stand to sit in front of people who are innocently, but ANNOYINGLY, crunching popcorn at the movie theater. It is with the greatest difficulty that I restrain myself from turning around and killing them utterly dead. But at least I am not craaaaazy, even if very few people believe me about the soft-noise rage.

Yesterday’s rain turned to snow overnight, and we woke to a light dusting of the white stuff outside, though it isn’t particularly cold. SOTD: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur. Mmmm, white florals.

Wednesday, Dec. 31 – Glad to see 2014 go, for some reason. The CEO and Gaze have been watching college football bowl games most of the day, and I’ve been writing some, and doing a few year-end errands. My new Tracfone Android phone arrived today but is not completely functional yet; Taz will be getting my old phone when my new one works. Hope he doesn’t lose this one as he did his first phone and his second (a castoff from his brother); I’ve been fond of that phone.

The Christmas decorations come down tomorrow. Three weeks of those are about all I can manage, though I have friends who enjoy having theirs up for nearly two months. I can’t do it. I don’t mind leaving my nutcrackers out into the second week of January, but the tree has to go, and the garland and lights on the porch railing do too. Incidentally, the whole my-Christmas-tree-is-trying-to-kill-me thing seems to have been confined to the Canaan fir varietal. We had another Fraser fir this year and I’ve had no problems. And it was lovely, too.

SOTD is Memoir Woman. Mmmmmmmmm. I got an order from Beauty Encounter today – a candle that was on clearance/sale, plus a few samples and some mini shower gels. And my new crockpot, ordered from Amazon with my gift card, came today too! Yay! Delicious ham for dinner, and I’ve got an El Cheapo bottle of pink moscato (HEY! Don’t judge me!) in the fridge for The CEO and I to share at midnight.

 

Wishing everyone a wonderful, fragrant 2015!

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Goodbye 2014

Goodbye-2014-card2014, we hardly knew ye.

Or maybe I’d just prefer to skip over the year, filled as it has been with political crap and turmoil and…

Oh wait. That’s hardly unusual. Nebmind.

It wasn’t a bad year, I suppose, at least personally. The family is generally okay. The fiction writing is going slow but not badly. The blogging stunk this year… and I really don’t have a reason for that, except maybe that one new commenter who skeered the bejesus out of me earlier in the year. Or the gazillion changes to the blog theme/image. Or the fact that everybody else seems to have so much to say about perfume, and lately, I kinda just want to smell it without talking about it. I dunno.

There have been some changes here in the house, too: Gaze suddenly got tall! He’s now standing even with his dad at 5′ 10.5″. And Taz got tall-er! He’s shot up four inches since this summer, when he passed Bookworm, and now he’s only got about a quarter of an inch to go to be as tall as I am, at 5′ 4.5″. Gaze now has five ewes for his FFA project, and will be eligible for his driver’s license next month. (You may pray for me at any time, thank you.) Bookworm had a difficult and stressful fall semester of her sophomore year at Yale, but seems to be settling down now. Taz insisted on giving up trumpet in his last year of middle school, which makes me a little sad because someday I won’t be a Band Mom anymore. Gaze has both sets of braces, upper and lower, on his teeth now. He says it affects his trombone playing, but it doesn’t mess too much with his good looks. 😉 The CEO is still teaching business classes in the Agriculture Technology school at Virginia Tech, and we still own seedstock bulls.

I plan to be posting one article a week this year, or at least one a week. I’ve got a haphazard sort of Scent Diary to post, and I hope to pick it back up on a regular basis, but I may write some new reviews as well.

Wishing anybody who might still be reading, after four months of silence, a wonderful year. Smooches.

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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.

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