Winter Cravings

So lately I’m craving chypres. Anybody wanna ‘splain that to me? ‘Cause I don’t get it. I’m the Floral Gal. And it’s winterrrr, for heaven’s sake.

Okay, so they are all chypres with a noticeable floral aspect. I mean, we ain’t talkin’ green meanies like Bandit here.  We’re talking mostly samples and decants and small bottles, because I don’t own large bottles of these, because other than L’Arte di Gucci*, I’ve never committed to any amount of a chypre that exceeds, say, 11ml. (Well, since my mom bought me that 1-oz. bottle of Prince Matchabelli Cachet back in high school, and even then, as I say, I didn’t buy it. It was definitely not my favorite. I suspect that Mom was trying to combat my devotion to honkin’ BWFs even then.)

What I’m wearing: samples of Roja Dove Diaghilev and Pierre de Velay Extrait No. 11 (which is, in a way, another Roja Dove creation, and those two have similar DNA), as well as Carthusia Lady. Also a decant of Leonard de Leonard (which puts me in mind of Cachet, although I have not smelled it in any iteration since about 1992). There are people who would call the Leonard a green floral, but they would be wrong; that is definitely a mossy-ambery drydown. I am wanting Soivohle Centennial every day still, but since I only have an 11ml bottle I can’t wear it every day as I would like.  My sweetie Mary Greenwell Plum is not chypre enough; it’s too summery and bright for these cold days.  I have not yet busted out the vintage (60s?) Coty Chypre or my teeny-tiny 2ml bottle of Mitsouko parfum from 1990, but perhaps I will tomorrow. Or next week.

What’s puzzling me is that yeah, I do go through these cycles of wanting certain types of fragrances. Last spring, it was all floral leathers. At times in the past, it’s been white florals.

Also puzzling me is that it’s winter. Why not ambers or spicy things or vanillas or traditionally warm things?

Chypres? Me? Now?

Why? It no make sense.

How about you, do you go through cycles like that?

*L’Arte is a ROSE chypre. In general, I love those. In these other things I’m wanting lately, the florals are very well blended and the focus is more on the chypre than the floral part.

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Scent Diary, Jan. 13-19, 2014

Monday, Jan. 13 – Chilly outside. SOTD is Chanel No. 19 edp again, my birthday present.  So beautiful. The rose is particularly noticeable in the edp, and it smells wonderful with a rose lotion like The Body Shop Moroccan Rose.

I'm craving roses. You?

I’m craving roses. You?

The hot local issue is whether or not the County Board of Supervisors will support the School Board’s proposal to build a new middle school, thus consolidating the two existing, 60-year-old middle schools which used to be high schools before the “new” high school was built, 40 years ago. There is a considerable amount of opposition, particularly in the town which is the county seat. This town used to be the center of population and of industry/business in the county, but as time has passed and development has moved elsewhere in the county – closer to where the Interstate runs through it – the county seat town has lost a lot of these businesses. There are a lot of reasons for this (the furniture and textile industries in particular, which used to make up a good deal of the business, have nearly all moved out of the US to other countries), but those who live in the county seat are concerned that the loss of the school within town limits will lead to further deterioration.  There’s also worry that raising our property tax (which is one of the lowest in the state) will cause our many older residents financial hardship.

I am all for a consolidated middle school. I understand that there are concerns that must be addressed: 1) finding the money locally since Virginia has gradually supported less and less of the financial burden of education, 2) the aging population, 3) the disposition of unused and aging school buildings, 4) keeping Pulaski residents happy, should the new middle school be in the center of the county as the high school is and not in the county seat.  Still. Neither of the middle schools have been maintained properly, and their roofs leak, their paint is peeling, they have structural integrity issues. There is an enormous push to renovate the existing buildings rather than build new, and if those schools were in good shape I’d agree. They are not, however, easily renovated. Pulaski Middle, which my parents attended when it was a high school, has 23 different floor levels. 23! And since any renovation must bring the school into compliance with ADA, those 23 levels must be reduced to two or three (with elevator) or one level without. In addition, the Pulaski site does not have room for athletic facilities, and the Dublin one does not have adequate space for parking. Neither building, of course, is compliant with current safety standards.

GAH. The citizens’ hearing meeting this evening was not pleasant.  There was a whole lot of “don’t raise my taxes!” and “don’t take our school away!” going on, but there was in general a consensus that something has to be done about the schools. (Dublin Elementary, built in 1968 on the cheap, must also be renovated, and nobody seems to be disputing that in the least. It was designed by an architect who typically designed strip malls rather than schools, and it is as uncomfortable a building as I have ever been in: there is no air conditioning, of course, but in contrast to the un-air-conditioned schools that I attended in my youth, the rooms are constructed so that windows are minimal and cross-ventilation nonexistent.  The heat index reached over 100F in August last year and the year before, and there were at least a handful of days that all county schools were closed because of the heat index at DES. It’s a mess.)

Tuesday, Jan. 14 – Warmer today. SOTD is Vagabond Prince Enchanted Forest. Sadly, I have discovered that my 10ml decant has EVAPORATED!! Down to 4ml!! I am aghast. The top was loose… don’t know if I did that or it came that way, who knows.  Anyway, this one is centered around cassis bud/blackcurrant, and it is incredibly tangy, with some pine and quiet florals and a lovely skin-scent drydown.

Wednesday, Jan. 15 – Day started out not terribly cold, but we got some blowing snow later in the day. No accumulation. Cold, though – The CEO built a nice fire.  I finished cleaning up allll the Christmas decorations, including my nutcracker collection which we left on display until my birthday.  SOTD: Soivohle Centennial. I don’t know WHAT is in there that makes it feel fuzzy, but it is. It reminds me of a fuzzy sweater in a deep orangey-salmon color that I used to wear in college.  Is it a patchouli-amber-civet angle? I’m not sure. It is noticeably floral and very chypre, but warm rather than chilly as some chypres can be. Also, it lasts for hooooooours on me, which is unusual.

The high school band was invited to nearby Radford University to play at a basketball game. Their own students are not back yet as they haven’t started their spring semester, so it was nice for RU to invite an area high school to play. I’m sure everyone at the game enjoyed it, too.  Gaze said it was fun, even though RU lost to Virginia Military Institute.  VMI is a much smaller school and somewhat limited in its capabilities to recruit for athletics, given that the cadets must meet certain physical standards so that the cadets can serve in the US Army after completing their degrees. It’s one of two colleges in the US that run a mandatory ROTC program concurrently with their academic one. It is a given – if you attend VMI or The Citadel in South Carolina, you WILL be a member of the corps of cadets, and you WILL be subject to the normal requirements of an ROTC program anywhere else.  (To clarify, VMI is strictly Army ROTC.) It’s a tough life. 

terry plunk vmi cadetI will say, though, that the cadet uniform is one of the most attractive military uniforms I’ve ever seen – similar in design to that of West Point, but it’s a slightly darker, bluer gray. To the left here is a picture of my friend Terry Plunk in his VMI uniform. 1st Lt. Plunk was killed in the Gulf War while clearing land mines.

Thursday, Jan. 16 – Addicted to Centennial again. I go through stages of not being able to get enough of it… which is bad, because I bought this 11ml for a ridiculously low price when Liz Zorn put several items on clearance. However, a number of people bought it because of the sale (myself included), it became better-known, and now I doubt it will ever go on sale again. Sadface.  This means that I shouldn’t be profligate with it.  Finding that balance between careful use of resources and enjoyment of them is so, so tough…

After showering in the afternoon, I put on L’Artisan Traversee du Bosphore (I think I read somewhere that this has been discontinued recently), as it is a soft and cuddly sort of scent, all rosewater Turkish Delight and soft buttery suede.  I always have to be very cautious in wearing fragrance to community chorus practice, as there is (at least) one soprano who feels that perfume closes up her throat.  She may be right, I can see that possibility, and it only may be certain ingredients that bother her, because I notice that orientals and high-pitched fresh florals seem to get the most comment.  Shampoo scents don’t seem to trigger her Perfume Alert mechanism.

Went to bed in Parfum Sacre, which is so lovely and comforting.

Friday, Jan. 17 – The boys are out of school for teacher workdays at the end of the 9-weeks grading period, and we’re trying to think of something fun to do.  In the meantime, there are errands and housecleaning, and SOTD is Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges.  Went to the grocery store and somehow managed to buy everything EXCEPT the laundry detergent we were out of… gah.

Saturday, Jan. 18 – We had a women’s brunch at a church member’s house this morning, just the ladies of the church (we range in age from late 50s down to early 20s, and I think that’s pretty cool. We do have one older woman, but she’s having knee trouble and didn’t feel like getting out this morning, so I hope we’ll see Miss Nancy tomorrow.  SOTD was Carnal Flower, which is just so fresh and beautiful.  Gorgeous.  It’s odd, you know, I keep seeing people talk about Carnal Flower having big sillage, but it does not on me. You have to be within about two feet of me to smell it… perhaps if I spritzed six times it would be big.

The boys went with the youth group to eat pizza and then go play laser tag, so The CEO and I went out to dinner and then came home to watch Bull Durham. Fun.

Sunday, Jan. 19 – Good church service today.  SOTD: Pierre de Velay Extrait No. 11, which I probably should review in full at some point. If you like Roja Dove Diaghilev, Mitsouko, Centennial, and Ballets Rouges, you would probably get on fine with No. 11, which is a chypre with floral leanings, and it’s lovely.  I don’t like Mitsouko, and Diaghilev was a touch outside my comfort zone, a little too chypree, but I do really like this.

Invited my MIL over for dinner and had a wonderful time.

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Scent Diary, Jan. 6-12, 2014

Monday, Jan. 6 – The boys went back to school.  Rachel, the orphan calf we’ve been feeding for several months, went out into the field to join the other calves her age, since she is now well capable of foraging for herself on grass. (I’m glad. She was very aggressive about going after her food, whether it was a bottle or a bucket of grain. Whew.) The freezing weather we had last week seems to be in abeyance for the moment.  SOTD: Alahine. I love Alahine. Did I say that before?

Tuesday, Jan. 7 – Bookworm and I hung out some today, which was lovely.  SOTD: L’Artisan Traversee du Bosphore. I like this… don’t love it, but it’s nice. Oh well. It would be hard to love everything.

Wednesday, Jan. 8 – Bookworm went out with Jeff (our farm guy) to help him haul calves to the livestock market. While they were there, the truck (the dually, the 2005 Silverado that we bought last year to pull the cattle trailer? Long John? Him) wouldn’t start, and they had to first try to jump his battery off another truck, which didn’t work, and then start him on a hill, which did. They still came home decorated with mud and manure; Bookworm didn’t seem to mind terribly.

The CEO left for a National Cattlemen’s Beef Board meeting in Denver very early. It was cold but bearable. SOTD was Memoir Woman.

Thursday, Jan. 9 – Temperatures in the upper 30s today, not bad at all. However, I had to drive Bookworm to the airport in Roanoke so she could catch her 9am flight back to school. There was a delay at her layover stop in Philadelphia, so she didn’t get back to her dorm room until nearly 5pm, about an hour and a half later than scheduled. Went sniffing at the mall after dropping her off, and tested several things, including Marc Jacobs Daisy edp, which I have always liked, and Estee Lauder Modern Muse since I liked it so much on a paper strip.

First community chorus practice of the semester. It went okay, I think – we’re going to be performing several spirituals and a short cantata called “The Seven Last Words of Christ,” which we’ve sung before. It’s old, written in the 1830s, but quite accessible to the modern ear without being too “classical.”

Friday, Jan. 10 – School was out! We had ice in the morning, and school was first delayed two hours and then canceled at the last minute, about 7:00 (schools start between 8:20 and 8:33). It wasn’t nearly as bad for us as it might have been for other people who live in less-accessible places in the county, but it was still nasty. We had a lovely fire. The high school band left as planned at 3pm anyway, since it’s tough to back out of a parade.  SOTD: Soivohle Centennial, which is a warm cozy blanket of a scent; I swear it feels fuzzy.

Saturday, Jan. 11 – My birthday! We did get to see Gaze’s band march in the inaugural parade for Virginia’s newly-elected governor, Terry McAuliffe.  As usual, however, the videocameras showed the front of the band with the banner, the flags, the drum majors, flutes, clarinets, and then cut to a different angle to show the saxophones, trumpets and percussion going past, then cut to the rear view to show the tubas – completely missing the low brass and trombones.  (BOO HISS. WHY DO THEY ALWAYS SKIP THE TROMBONES???) SOTM: The Body Shop Moroccan Rose body cream.

In raincoats because it was pouring!  Photo courtesy Isaac Sarver.

In raincoats because it was pouring! Photo courtesy Isaac Sarver.

Pulaski Co. (VA) HS Golden Cougar Marching Band Inaugural Parade 2014

Bookworm is in NYC with the Yale pep band for the Harvard-Yale hockey game at Madison Square Garden. I wonder what she’s making of the City? She’s SO not a city girl.  Anyway, she texted us from time to time during the game (we couldn’t get it on our TV) and told us she thinks the band really messed with the Harvard goalie’s mind during the second period, the only one where Harvard’s goal was at the end of the ice near the band.  Yale won 5-1.

Dinner was at our local pizza place (run by a Mexican family); I had calzone. Birthday cake was white with raspberry filling, yum. Also, I got to open the Chanel No. 19 edp that Bookworm bought for me at the Rome airport duty free shop on her Europe trip last summer, so that was the scent of the evening.  It’s lovely, it really is.

Sunday, Jan. 12 – Church was nice; we had soup for lunch. SOTD: Chanel No. 19 edp again, of course.

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Perfume Review: Marc Jacobs Daisy, EdT and EdP

Daisy Marc Jacobs for women

The adorable bottle for the original EdT version.

I’ve never reviewed this fragrance, although I encountered it early in my perfumista-dom – in late 2007, about the time I discovered Now Smell This and began really investigating fragrance rather than making do with whatever inexpensive scent I could afford.

In the fall of 2007 my sister asked for Coco Mademoiselle for Christmas. I Googled for a review and discovered NST; when I went to the mall I sniffed everything, including Daisy, and found that I liked it very much.  I bought a mini of the EdT on ebay. Soon after that I “fell down the rabbit hole,” as the saying goes, and Daisy seemed quite undistinguished once I’d smelled things like Chanel No. 19, vintage Jolie Madame, and Amouage Dia.

But I went by the mall yesterday to sniff whatever Macy’s had new, as well as some older things I wanted a refresher sniff of, and I gave myself a good spritz of Estee Lauder Modern Muse on one hand and one of Daisy EdP on the other.

Daisy Black Edition Marc Jacobs for women

The EdP version. (There are several editions of this thing. I rather like the black bottle with hot pink bendy flowers.)

Daisy lasted a good six hours on me, a little longer than the usual EdP performance on my skin, and carried a noticeable but quiet sillage.  It is, to use the terminology in Robin’s NST review of the EdT, “massively pleasant,” and I still think it’s one of the nicest unobtrusive fragrances currently marketed.  No, it’s not bold and distinctive – it’s just… nice.  Nice.  I know plenty of fragrances that are bolder, that seize my attention, but I put it to you that Daisy is distinctive in its niceness.

Noticeable to me is a light citrus and fruit top, with plenty of green. This slides into a gentle white floral, sweetened by violet, and from there into a pretty, comfortable, my-skin-but-better, woody musk drydown.  It never smells like frooty Kool-aid or straight-up laundry musk to me; instead, its core is a soft, sheer white floral. Which might, to be honest, be more interesting to me than to a lot of other people. Let’s face it, if your idea of how you’d like to smell on a regular basis is Calvin Klein Obsession or Iris Silver Mist or Passage d’Enfer, you’re going to find Daisy oppressively dull.  For a floral aficionado like me, Daisy is probably more acceptable.

The official notes for the original Daisy EdT, composed by Alberto Morillas, are strawberry, violet leaf, pink grapefruit, gardenia, jasmine, violet, white woods, vanilla and musk.  Marc Jacobs’ website lists only strawberry, gardenia, jasmine, violet, white woods, cedar and birch as the notes for the EdP and says that it is a “more intense” version of the EdT; Fragrantica suggests that there is no difference between the original in the clear glass bottle with white daisies (the EdT) and the black glass bottle with gold daisies (the EdP). My opinion is that there is a small difference between the two, with the EdT having more grapefruit, and the EdP more jasmine/vanilla. I like them both. There is a creaminess to the EdP as well, the same sort of cold cream thing I liked so much in Esprit d’Oscar.

I mean, look, I have yet to buy a full bottle of Daisy and it’s likely I never will, what with all the perfume I own. But you could do a lot worse than this. If you’re in the market for a nice quiet wallpaper scent, you could get stuck with Donna Karan Cashmere Mist, or Taylor Swift Wonderstruck, or (God forbid) Chanel Chance, all work-appropriate, inoffensive things that somehow smell a great deal nastier to me than Daisy does.

Other reviews (most are of the original EdT):  Robin at NST, EauMG, Victoria at Bois de Jasmin, Katie Puckrik Smells, Perfume Shrine.

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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?

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Scent Diary, Dec. 30, 2013 – Jan. 5, 2014

No, these are not our cows. Scene looks familiar, though.

Monday, Dec. 30 – It’s so nice to have my girl home.  (I’m sure that when her brothers go off to school I’ll miss them too… still. She’s my girl.)

Went to see The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug with the youth minister from our church – that was fun.  Taz spent the entire movie making his little I’m-so-excited noises, and then wanted to talk about it later, which was kind of cool. He and Bookworm and I are fantasy novel fans – Gaze, not so much! but he does enjoy The Hobbit, so it was fun to discuss the movie with him too. Gaze disliked the CG stuff; I don’t mind it and I thought the filmmakers did a good job with Smaug. Mind you, I am still freaked by all these New Zealanders and Brits referring to this dragon as “Smowwwwg,” like “ouch.” Very clearly the name is a pun, on “smog,” and should be pronounced accordingly, in my Humble Opinion. SO THERE. HMPH.  SOTD: DK Black Cashmere.

Tuesday, Dec. 31 – Boring day but nice.  The CEO and I stayed up with Bookworm and let her watch The Usual Suspects with us.  She didn’t figure it out (the first time I watched it, several years after it came out, I guessed Who but not How – all those decades of reading murder mystery novels must have paid off, in however dubious fashion!).  SOTD: Shalimar Light.

Wednesday, Jan. 1 – Is it horrifying that my feeling on the entire “new year” thing was pretty much, “Ho-hum, been-there-done-that”? I’m sort of horrified. I still wish I was going to school every fall, though.  SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. So glad I have this one. I had wanted to put up some personal pictures taken with my new little point-and-shoot camera, but I haven’t figured out how to connect it to my computer and the manual seems to have disappeared…

Thursday, Jan. 2 – The kids went to stay for a few days with my parents (no, no, that was my mom’s idea). It was nice. Quiet, but nice.  SOTD: Memoir Woman body lotion.  That’s the thing about Amouage body products – they smell strongly and they smell wonderful, and the scent lasts.  Dinner was pasta with crab and tiny shrimp, mmm.

Friday, Jan. 3 – Had a nice day in front of the fire with The CEO, and we went out for dinner. It’s cold here. Going to be colder next week.  SOTD: Organza Indecence. We went looking for a camera for Gaze since he’s wanted one for a couple of years now – found a really great bundle deal on a Canon DSLR, telephoto lens, memory card and camera bag at the Best Buy in Christiansburg, but we wanted him to see it before we bought it.

Saturday, Jan. 4 – Cleaned up the house, the usual Saturday cleaning tasks, and then I went to Mom and Dad’s to pick up the kids. Sounds like they had a good time (and nobody tried to kill anybody else, which is a relief!).  On the way home, we went by the Best Buy in Roanoke because it is less out of the way than going to Christiansburg – and the Roanoke store did not have the bundle deal.  It just didn’t. I spent a very frustrating ten minutes on the phone with The CEO with him yelling at me that the deal was SUPPOSED to be This Stuff for This Much, while I was telling him that I did not see that deal available, the salesman said it wasn’t available, that the current sale was good for another day, that the Christiansburg store should have exactly the same prices and no, he wasn’t going to call and check because the stores are THE SAME.  So I got the best deal that the Roanoke store could get me, and then we went to the Christiansburg store (adding about 40 minutes’ drive to the 70-minute direct trip from my parents’ house to mine) just to see.

The Christiansburg store DID still have the same deal – but when the sales guy tried to ring it up, his computer told him that such a sale did not exist. But the sale card was clearly displayed… we finally determined that the sale card should have been yanked the previous week when that sale ended, and somebody just screwed up (there were no sale dates listed on the card). However, they took back the items I bought in Roanoke and honored the sale as the card said, so Gaze got some nice camera equipment.

No scent until later in the day, but I enjoyed DSH Rose Vert.

Sunday, Jan. 5 – Warm today, a brief respite before we get cold weather on Monday and Tuesday again.  Church was good.  SOTD: Organza Indecence again, because I was wearing the same sweater as I’d been wearing Friday night.  The boys went to our church’s first youth group meeting ever, and we ate leg of lamb (bought on sale) for dinner.

AHA! Found the camera manual. No pictures yet, though. Wait for next week. :)

(I am posting this on Monday, and since I got up at quarter to seven, the temperature has dropped from 35F to 28F, and will be dropping farther still. The projected overnight low is 2F. BRRRRR.)

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Perfume Review: Micallef Mon Parfum Cristal

Mon Parfum Cristal M. Micallef for women

Mon Parfum Cristal was released in 2013, intended to be a “more crystalline” version of Micallef’s 2009 Mon Parfum. I have not smelled Mon Parfum and wonder if the “cristal” addition to the name was intended to reference the highly decorative bottles Ms. Micallef often uses, rather than the scent itself.

When I think of “cristal,” the French version of crystal, a few things come to mind: the brand of Champagne (though I’ve never had that, either!), chandeliers, gems, icicles, wineglasses, and… aldehydes. Well, you know me, I’m still the AldeHo.  However, there is nothing clear-and-sparkly about this fragrance. Rather, it is opaque and cuddly. Not that there’s anything wrong with that in itself, and the fragrance is very nice. But it’s not very crystalline in nature.

The notes for Mon Parfum Cristal are pink pepper, cinnamon, rose, vanilla, musk, toffee, musk, and amber.  (See? just from the notes list, you’re already thinking What about that has anything to do with crystal?? Well, nothing. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.)

The fragrance opens up with what seems to me like a bit of orange as well as the pink pepper and just a dusting of cinnamon.

Aside: it has become common among perfume fans to proclaim themselves sick of pink pepper, which always strikes me as being a silly stance to take. Sure, it seems like 80% of new launches contain pink pepper, but given the recent crackdown on citrus notes, I ask you, what are perfumers to do? Pink pepper, a synthetic aromachemical with rosy and mildly piney angles, functions much the same way as bergamot or other citrus notes do, and it serves a purpose. Pink pepper rarely serves as the focal point of a fragrance, but rather as a bridge or accent. (See this Fragrantica article by Elena Vosnaki of Perfume Shrine for more on pink pepper.)  You don’t hear people complaining, “Seems like everything out there contains bergamot these days!” It might be true that fumeheads much prefer citrus to pink pepper, and that stance is understandable. Everyone has preferences. But to complain that everyone is using it seems silly to me.  Whine about the recent overuse of synthetic oud, if you like; oud tends to be used as a focus rather than an accent. Okay, rant over. Sorry. Back to review.

Mon Parfum Cristal moves fairly quickly into its rose-vanilla heart and stays there most of the time. It is rather sweet, given the vanilla/toffee/amber notes, but the rose is really a lovely one, and the whole thing is girly and pretty and pleasant. I really can’t see a man enjoying this one much, but this confection is made for, say, the niece who loves pink. Longevity is good, approximately six hours on me, and the sillage is moderate. I’ve been dabbing from a mini bottle, but sprayed the scent has more presence.  I’d call this a “fleurmand” – a floral gourmand – because it’s focused on the rose and toffee notes.

The fragrance reminds me just a bit of Tocade, though it lacks Tocade’s “That Slut” sexiness, which seems to come both from its frilly rose-vanilla coupled with its smoky, dusty patchouli. Mon Parfum Cristal is every bit as frilly-sorority-girl, but it’s the sorority girl who’s slept the sleep of the righteously-caught-up-on-her-studies, not the one who stayed out all night doing keg stands. However, there is a distinctive “Micallef” recognizability to it as well; I’m not sure what it is, but all of the fragrances from this house that I have smelled seem to have in common a pleasantly-raspy vanilla in the base.

I haven’t seen the actual Mon Parfum Cristal bottle, though I think it is pretty in photos, and looks like it would be a pleasure to hold in the hand. The juice, too, is a pretty peachy rose color.

The perfumer for MPC is Jean-Claude Astier, who seems to have been responsible for much of the perfumed output of Micallef.  I’m not sure that this fragrance is available for purchase in the US as of yet; however, LuckyScent carries the original Mon Parfum, $225 for 100ml, so perhaps they will be carrying MPC soon.

Elena Vosnaki reviewed Mon Parfum Cristal on Fragrantica, here.

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Welcome 2014

blank journal from inknouveauIt’s a fresh new page in the journal of our lives… metaphorically, anyway.

It’s funny, you know, I always loved the beginning of a new school year much more than I ever appreciated New Year’s Day. There’s always carryover, I suppose – I might have been going to school on the first day with new school supplies and possibly new shoes (almost never new clothes, as my mom insisted that all her kids usually had a growth spurt in November, and she refused to buy new clothes before we went through that), but it was the same old me carrying them.

Still, there was always the hope that this year, new and exciting things would happen. And that carries through.

Wishing you the best on your fresh new page.

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Christmas 2013

Okay, so this is my house. This is my house at Christmas. As you can clearly see, it is being guarded by a demon dog with glowing eyes.rsz_dec11_jan_12_012(Okay, not really a demon. It’s our Hayley-dog. But she looks scary enough here.)

Christmas was lovely. Got to see my parents, and my mother-in-law and sister-in-law. Sunday, we had dinner with my aunts and uncles and my sister, brother-in-law, and nephew Doodlebug, who is really growing!

Got a nice little ELPH camera for Christmas so I don’t have to keep asking to borrow The CEO’s big fancy one. A nice sweater, a scarf, some books, a cute pair of sterling silver & cubic zirconia earrings, a trial size of LUSH Rose Jam shower gel, some Amouage Memoir lotion, and a 15ml bottle of Hermes Kelly Caleche EdP.  A nice haul!

I’ll be reviewing Kelly Caleche soon, the EdT as well as the EdP if I can find my sample of the EdT.

Hope everybody else who celebrates had a lovely Christmas as well.

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Candle Review: Rive Sud Interior “Via Della Basilica”

bougie-luxe-via-della-basilicaRive Sud Interior is a newish company based in France, producing fragranced candles.  Their collection of four scents created by Delphine Thierry was released recently. When I received an email from the company PR representative asking if I’d like a sample to review, I agreed happily.

I have never reviewed a scented candle for the blog before, though I like them.  The only “expensive” candle I’ve ever tried before this was a small size Annick Goutal Noel candle (which I bought during one of Parfum1′s discount sales).  Usually I make do with candles from Pier 1 or Bath and Body Works, and I’ve even been known to pick up a Pumpkin Spice candle or two from Wal-Mart.

The four candles released by Rive Sud Interior are as follows:

#1 Acqua di LatteFloral touches of fresh and ephemeral angelica, for a symphony of white and transparent fragrances. (Notes of star anise, angelica and white musks.)  220g candle, 70,00 €.

#2 Cap Ferrat Les PinsA carpet of pine needles on a warm earth, a sea breeze, sea spray on pinewoods. (Notes of sage, nutmeg, pine, papyrus.) 220g candle, 70,00 €.

#3 Via Della Basilica - Like a poem by Pavese, the streets will open into a hill of pines and stones leading silently to the basilica. (Notes of black pepper, myrrh and incense.) 1100g candle, 250,00 €.

#4 RosewoodAn elegant and warm mix of wooded scents highlight the voluptuousness of the essences. (Notes of cinnamon, gaiac, and rosewood.) 1100g candle, 250,00 €.

The sample I was sent was a small 75g Via Della Basilica candle, and it smelled lovely right out of the box. I’m not Catholic – indeed, my daughter was just noticing recently that our rural county of Virginia has about three times as many churches as it has stoplights – and I only have memories of incense from visiting Malta and Rome a few years ago.

This is a calming, meditative sort of scent. The black pepper is the first thing I smell, as well as a “cold stone” effect, which could be part of the incense, as I first smelled this effect in Comme des Garcons Incense Series Zagorsk. There is also a hint of polished wood, and some benzoin, but by and large this is simply an incense scent without much smoke, with a sort of outdoor cast. I’m not sure whether I’m smelling any pine or not, but there’s a chilly-air angle to it that recalls conifers.

I like it. Very much.

The wax burns cleanly and evenly although the wick is not located in the exact center of the candle. Oddly, though, I notice that once the candle is burning I lose my ability to smell it after about thirty minutes, and it’s only when I’ve blown out the candle that I can smell it again. Its unlit throw is not enormous, but within a few feet it’s noticeable (mind you, this sample is 75g, slightly larger than a votive candle and encased in sturdy glass).

Would I buy a 1100g candle ever? Probably not. I have noticed that the larger the candle, the less likely it is to burn evenly. I do find it a little odd that RSI is not offering a choice of sizes for these candles. It simply offers #1 and #2 in the smaller size and the other two in the large one.  Getting on to the price: these are really, really spendy.  Quality materials, as far as I can tell – frankly, Via Della Basilica smells wonderful and I would certainly buy it if it were priced for my budget. It’s not. The large candle costs approximately $345 at today’s currency exchange rate. Even if the dollar were stronger against the euro, that’s way out of my range.

From Rive Sud Interior‘s website, it appears to be the creation of an interior decorator and designer called Christine Bodino, who is based in the Cannes area. As such, I would imagine that anyone who can afford an interior decorator for their villa in Cannes or Cap Ferrat wouldn’t have any trouble dropping 250 euros on a candle; the company seems aimed at the luxury market.

As I said, it’s a beautiful scent and the candle is good quality.  Here are a few other reviews:

Elena at Fragrantica

Lucasai at Chemist in the Bottle

Kevin at Now Smell This

The Non-Blonde

Kevin and Lucasai both noticed notes of immortelle in the candle, which I did not. Immortelle tends to make me feel a bit queasy, and I’m rather glad I didn’t pick up on it, even after the mention of this note that smells something like buttery maple syrup.  Some reviewers also mentioned that the throw seemed minimal to them, especially given the price, and I’d agree that the burning candle did not seem to put much scent into the air, although I had a better experience with it unlit.


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Christmas Day, 2013

christmas-bells-ornaments-wallpapers-1024x768Wishing all of you who celebrate the birth of Jesus our savior a very merry Christmas, and to everyone, peace and goodwill.

Scent of the day will be Teo Cabanel Alahine, with its joyous golden cast and rich alto voicing.

And here are some lovely Christmas bells for you to enjoy: Hark, The Herald Angels Sing.

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No. No, I’m not dead. Why do you ask?

I’m just busy.  Christmas, you ever hear of that? Yeah.  Although I have been pretty sick with this nasty cold.

Also, and probably more significantly, I updated my WordPress version and the blog blew UP. I mean, I couldn’t even access it. I could SEE it… and could not access the admin page. GAH. I coulda bit nails in two, I was so mad. I have drastically revamped the blog in order to deal with the very slow loading time, and may change it again. Or I may not, I don’t know. The blog links have disappeared for now – if I get the blog speed decent again I will re-add them.

I have reviews to be posted: Micallef Mon Parfum Cristal, Hermes Kelly Caleche EdP, and a candle from Rive Sud Interior called Via Della Basilica.

Candles I’ve been burning recently, besides Via Della Basilica, include the “el cheapo” Wal-mart one called Pumpkin Spice (yeah, yeah, don’t judge me), Thymes Frasier Fir votives, and my favorite B&BW candle, simply called Winter. It smells like cold air and cloves, with just a hint of pine and smoke and vanilla.

Fragrances I’ve been wearing: B&BW Dark Kiss (at least until Bookworm got home from college), Serge Lutens La Myrrhe, PdN Vanille Tonka, and of course Teo Cabanel Alahine, without which it would not even feel like Christmas to me anymore.

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