Perfume Review: Byredo Flowerhead

flowerhead-by-byredoI’ve had this decant for a couple of months now, but I haven’t reviewed it yet. That’s partly because I needed a break from blogging, and partly because I was wearing it the afternoon that we took Hayley to the vet, never dreaming that she wouldn’t come home with us. But I pulled it out to retry today, and I am writing with a pic of Hayley-dog on the screen, so I think I will be all right.

This is a truly beautiful floral, centered on tuberose-jasmine-rose. I don’t think Byredo has done many florals, other than La Tulipe (mixed spring bouquet) and Inflorescence (a muguet). Byredo is very much an art-directed outfit, very visual, and typically the notes lists/art inspiration for their fragrances don’t encourage me to purchase samples. What I remember Byredo for is the sticky, melting, frozen-fruit-bar of Pulp, and the Blanche sample a friend sent me, which was fresh-air-and-clean-laundry to my nose (and I even like aldehydes. Oh well).

This one, as most fumeheads probably know by now since I’m months behind the curve on reviewing it, was inspired by the visual of an Indian bride adorned with a floral headdress. Byredo’s creator, Ben Gorham, is half Indian and had a large part to play in the wedding of his cousin, and was inspired by the vision of her with flowers for a head.

The six-year-old girl in me is RUTHLESSLY DELIGHTED at these bridal hairstyles. But they don't say "flower head" to me.

The six-year-old girl in me is RUTHLESSLY DELIGHTED at these bridal hairstyles. But they don’t say “flower head” to me.

Well, okay. Whatever caused Mr. Gorham to decide to focus on the natural glory of blossoms, I don’t really care much; I’m just here for the tuberose. And the jasmine and rose. Hand over the flowers and nobody gets hurt, okay?

The tuberose does tend to dominate, in my opinion, not that I’m bothered by that. It’s kept very fresh by tart berries, angelica and green notes, and I have to say this is one of the loveliest floral openings I’ve ever smelled, a glorious explosion of blossoms with the sharpness of cut stems and leaves. I love it. It’s almost like sticking your nose in a big bouquet – that’s one of my favorite scent experiences, by the way. The only thing missing from the bouquet is a “wet” dewy note. The visual for the fragrance features marigolds, and Ben Gorham has stated that he and perfumer Jerome Epinette attempted to include marigold but weren’t able to integrate it successfully. The tart berries and sharp herbal accents, to me, seem to take the place that marigolds would have taken, and I do love that effect.  In fact, the opening reminds me very much of Arquiste’s wonderful Flor y Canto (tuberose and marigold), and it’s gorgeous.

Half an hour in, it calms down a bit and the berries retreat, and there’s a wonderful tuberose-jasmine duet. The rose flies under the radar for me, and I can only pick it up occasionally, as a counterpoint to the white floral blend. There’s a fair proportion of natural materials in this, and it smells very fresh and gentle. I wish, to some degree, that the fragrance would stay loud, but the initial blast does calm itself down to a smaller sillage. This middle stage lasts three to three and a half hours, respectable for a floral fragrance on my skin.

Gradually it begins to fade away to a very quiet drydown. The official drydown notes are “suede and ambergris,” but I’m really smelling a quiet, dry woody musk rather than anything *I* would call ambergris. It may be, as a reviewer on Fragrantica suggests, Iso E Super there in the drydown. I am not sensitive to Iso E Super myself, can barely smell it at all; what I’m getting here is a soft, barely-there presence that simply helps to extend the florals. This stage lasts about three further hours on me, so that I get about 7-8 hours of wear from one goodly spritz. I would not choose the “spray until wet” method for this one (as I typically do for lightweight fragrances like summer Eaus and Annick Goutals), since Flowerhead’s initial sillage is so big.

Notes, according to Fragrantica, include lemon, cranberry, angelica, green notes, tuberose, jasmine sambac, rose petals, suede and ambergris.

Flowerhead is a really lovely fragrance. The straight-up floral is one of my favorite genres of fragrance, and I enjoy wearing it. One reviewer on Fragrantica says that it’s “too floral,” but I say Nonsense! No such thing! The more flowers the better!  Know your own tastes, I always say, and Flowerhead suits mine very well.

I could wish that the sillage would stay at the same level, or only gradually taper off, rather than dropping drastically half an hour after application – that was my frustration with DelRae Coup del Foudre, for example. At $220 for 100ml and $145 for 50ml, it’s probably outside my price range, but I will use and enjoy my 5ml decant.

Other reviews: EauMG, The Scented Hound, Robin at Now Smell this, Grain de Musc, Patty at Perfume Posse (brief), Colognoisseur.

Posted in Byredo, Perfume review, Tuberose scents, White floral | Tagged , , | 12 Comments

Band Camp Again, uh-huh

It’s that time again.

Santa Rita HS (Tucson, AZ) drumline.

Santa Rita HS (Tucson, AZ) drumline.

It’s going to be an interesting year, I think. You know the new high school band director we got last season, right before band camp started? And there was all this worry that we wouldn’t transition well from Mr. Butler, who’d been with the program for several years before leaving to take a position with a large high school near his wife’s job in North Carolina? And then Mr. Wilner came and we had another successful band year, with PCHS being named a Virginia Honor Band for the 13th time?

Well, Mr. Wilner found a new job. Yeah, right before band camp.

We met our new band director today. I think we’re going to like Mr. Shrewsbury. He grew up in the county and has been director of the marching and pep bands at a university in South Carolina, as well as assistant director of their concert bands, but I understand he was interested in returning home.

I’m very proud of the kids for taking the initiative to behave well, to claim the band as their own regardless of director.  Look for more updates soon.

As well as Scent Diary.

And a review of Byredo Flowerhead, as well.






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Scent Diary, July 14-20, 2014

Fourth of July at Glacier, Taz hitting Gaze with a snowball.  Photo by The CEO.

Fourth of July at Glacier, Taz hitting Gaze with a snowball. Photo by The CEO.

Monday, July 14 – Ugh. If Montana was too dry… well, then, Virginia is too humid! I’m never happy with summer. I’ve probably been sick of summer since I was in third grade and got chicken pox the first day of a week in which the temperature by the thermometer was 100 degrees Fahrenheit all week – and we didn’t have air conditioning. (Hardly anybody had it in the house then, though it was common for businesses to be air-conditioned. Hey – it was the 70s.) My sister and I both got chicken pox the same day, in fact, though my case seemed worse than hers, and hers was bad enough. We had spots on our scalp, under our hair, and Mom cut our hair very short to help with the itching. I even had spots inside my ears and mouth. I was miserable. We spent the week pretty much in the bathtub with colloidal oatmeal bath stuff in the cold water. We were itchy, spotty prunes.

(Incidentally, I am just waaaaaaiting for shingles to show up at some point. The CEO, who had a mild case of chicken pox, has already had shingles once. It was a small rash about the size of his palm, on his upper ribs. We didn’t know what it was until he developed a similar rash on his back, about the size of a Ping-Pong ball, when he described it as feeling not itchy but “on fire.” I remember saying, “I bet this has something to do with nerves – oh wait. Of course. Rash plus nerves, that’s shingles. Go see the doctor.” And sure enough, it was. Doctors will usually tell you that the more severe the case of chicken pox, the more likely you’ll get shingles as you age, which, GREAT. I’m probably going to want to die when I get it.

SOTD: Ralph Lauren Safari. Love the stuff. Took Taz to the orthodontist to see about his teeth; Dr. Vaughan says that the crowded teeth are about to come out, and the underbite may or may not be something that can be corrected with orthodontic treatment, so we’re on a six-month wait-and-see schedule for him.

Tuesday, July 15 – Gaze’s turn for a visit to Dr. Vaughan. He had the wires on his top teeth tightened and they’ll put the braces on his lower teeth next month. He seems to be doing okay with his braces, which has surprised me just a little. I would have thought he’d hate it, but apparently they’re common enough among his friends that nobody’s giving him a hard time about them. SOTD: DSH Pink Gardenia. Hmm… I know that at least a couple of bloggers really like this one, but it’s very sweet on me, very coconut/suntan oil. Beachy, sure, but for that I’d rather have Vamp a NY or de Nicolai Just une Reve.

I’ve been searching for another dog on Petfinder, which is sort of an online clearinghouse for pet shelters and rescues to post pictures and descriptions of the animals available for adoption. I don’t have anything specific against dog breeders, but since we are not interested in a particular breed and there are so many dogs out there without a home, adoption is the way we want to go. My criteria: Dog, preferably young, medium size (25-50 pounds or so), house trained.  No specific breed. We just want a dog who likes to cuddle and play, and I am of the opinion that we’ll know each other when we meet. I’ve contacted the caretakers of two dogs we liked the looks of on Petfinder; one of them I haven’t heard from at all, and the other sent me a lengthy adoption application that I had to fill out and have approved before we can even meet the dog. I turned it in on Saturday but have not heard back from them.

Wednesday, July 16 – SOTD: Jacomo Silences Eau de Parfum Sublime. It has been definitively decided that the new red Caravan, which looks just like the old red Caravan I called Eddie Van (for Eddie Van Halen), is not named Eddie II. Instead, he is Stevie Ray Van (in memoriam of the blues guitar player Stevie Ray Vaughan, of course). The CEO came up with that while we were on vacation, and I was resistant at first – but this evening, when I was taking Gaze and Taz to the park for cross-country practice, we actually saw Original Eddie Van! He caught my eye at a red light, and when I looked closer I recognized his dented bumper. “That’s Eddie,” I pointed out to Gaze. “Lots of red minivans,” he agreed. “No,” I insisted, “that’s really Eddie! Look! That’s his bumper!” Seeing Eddie so clean and well-maintained made me feel ridiculously happy, and at that point I felt that yeah, the new van could have his own name.

The CEO and Gaze are still editing the photos they took on vacation, but I’ll be posting some of them soon. They’re also getting a few of them printed and framed for entry into the photography division at the fair, which starts next week.

Thursday, July 17 – I cleaned out the closet under the stairs, which The CEO has been bugging me to do for a lonnnnnnng time. It took most of the day, but I was glad to have it done. Hauled all the old duffel bags/tote bags out, and the ancient sleeping bags we never use (now musty and mildew from storage); went through all the kid art and stashed the keepers in boxes. Got rid of some old computer accessory stuff.

SOTD: DSH Perfumes Reine des Fleurs, which is lovely but also quite familiar-smelling. It reminds me very much of Olympic Orchids Ballets Rouges, with something else in the base that reminds me of Soivohle Centennial. I’m not sure what that means, that suddenly everything is reminding me of something else, and dark rose fragrances are pretty common. Dunno. Will probably need to wear the two side by side. Reine des Fleurs was inspired by this piece of art, and I do get the relationship – bright rose on a dark background – but it’s also an all-natural fragrance, and it only sticks around on me for about 2 hours before subsiding into a skin scent. Grrr. I know proponents of natural/botanical fragrances feel that synthetics are bad for you, but with my scent-eating skin, botanical fragrances (with a very few exceptions) tend not to last long enough to bother with. I mean, really, I just have no patience with the short life and I don’t tend to have problems with synthetics, so why would I not rather have Ballets Rouges? (I do have it, actually. I finally broke down and bought a small bottle. Haven’t cracked it open, but I will.)

Friday, July 18 – Coolish day, which is nice – only up into the low 80s F. Gaze is off to Leadership Day with the other section leaders at marching band; hope that goes well.

Took a LOAD of stuff to Goodwill/trash/recycling, and cleaned the house in preparation for the kids from Bright Futures Atlanta to come visit tomorrow. SOTM: “An Impression Of” Marc Jacobs Daisy, from the cheapie versions they have at Walgreens. I love Daisy, it’s sort of a guilty pleasure, and I sometimes wish (sometimes) that I had more of it than a dabber mini, no matter how cute the mini is. The El Cheapo version doesn’t have that fruity topnote (on me, the real thing is two minutes of strawberry and ten of citrus) and zips through its generic white florals to plain musk, all in about an hour, so I can’t recommend it, not even for $18/50ml – but it isn’t awful.

SOTE: DSH Perfumes Scent of Hope, which is purported to be a recreation of Iris Gris. I’ve never smelled Iris Gris, and I’m not a huge iris fan, but Everybody Says Iris Gris is Stunning, so I’m testing this. It is rather wildly expensive, even in samples, but it is extrait strength, and you do get a FULL 1ml, not a short one, for your $23 (no added cost for shipping on a sample-only order) when you order it from the DSH website. I’m not loving it. That probably has a lot to do with it being primarily iris – it’s not that I mind iris, but I tend to find iris-focused fragrances a little… (ssshhh) boring. That probably says a lot about me, that I find iris boring and Daisy delightful to wear, but HEY. I yam what I yam. Not sorry.

Saturday, July 19 – More cleaning in the morning, but it was so wet (thank God for the rain, it’s been so dry here lately!) that the BFA leaders, Phillip and Gail, wanted to put off the visit until tomorrow. I did some straightening, took a shower, wrote a little, did some more straightening… no fragrance until after supper. I probably should have tested something new, but the rain impelled me to pick Jolie Madame extrait. Mmmmmm. It’s “Old Lady” in the best of ways – an old lady who could kick your butt. Like Granny in the Looney Tunes cartoons, the one that owns Tweety Bird, you know her: long black dress, gray hair in a bun, round glasses, little mincing steps, and a stunning facility with a shotgun. (Incidentally, I’ve been reading The Wettest County in the World, a semi-fictional account of the moonshining/whisky-running Bondurant Boys in Franklin County, Virginia, in the early 1930s. The book, written by a grandson of one of the Boys, was made into a movie called “Lawless,” starring My Boyfriend Tom Hardy… who says of his presentation of independent, stubborn, nearly-invincible, violent, steel-knuckle-toting Forrest Bondurant that he was inspired by Looney Tunes’ Granny – maternal and protective of those in his care, but unaffectionate to them and utterly ruthless to those who oppose him. It’s a horribly violent movie, and filmed in Georgia* to boot, so if you give it a pass I won’t be offended. I’ll never watch it again, after renting it from the library once. It’s not a bad movie, but it is horribly, horribly violent, and even TH can’t redeem it for me.)

Yet another gratuitous Tom Hardy photo... because I CAN, that's why. This is TH as Forrest Bondurant in the movie "Lawless."

Yet another gratuitous Tom Hardy photo… because I CAN, that’s why. This is TH as Forrest Bondurant in the movie “Lawless.”

*There’s nothing wrong with Georgia in itself. But if you’re filming a movie about mountain people, it might be good to film it in the mountains, ya think? It is not as if there were no places in Franklin County that aren’t still rural enough to pass for 1930s towns. Trust me. I live about 60 miles from the place, and grew up even closer.

Sunday, July 20 – The CEO was filling in for the minister at a very small Presbyterian church this morning, so we all went with him rather than to the lake to worship with our church. He’s still a commissioned Presbyterian lay pastor, even though we are no longer members of the Presbyterian Church, and will occasionally fill in (“supply” as the Presbyterians call it) for some of the smaller churches in the area, the ones that don’t have a regular pastor. This church has about 10-12 people show up on Sunday mornings, and I sometimes wonder how it can be worth it for them when there are three other Presbyterian churches (and probably two dozen churches of other denominations) within driving distance. Today, besides the four of us, there were only seven people in the pews. I played the piano – stick a hymnal in front of me and I’m usually decent, even with no practice – so at least there was music. SOTM: Frederic Malle Iris Poudre. So pretty… I never wear it without thinking the word “fluffy.”

Still have not heard back from the Radford Pound Pals, despite my sending an email asking if they received my application and wondering when they would have an answer. I specifically said that there was no rush, but that I wanted to know when I could expect to hear back from them.  I mean, when you apply for a job, typically they’ll tell you when you’ll hear from them. From these people? Nothing.  I know, I know, it’s a volunteer organization and people offer their time. But how hard is it to reply to an email saying, “Yes, we got your application, and typically it takes two weeks (or a month, or whatever) for us to process one.”?  Hmm?  Or even, “The dog you’re interested in may not be available because we’re talking adoption with another family. How about this one instead?” Instead, NOTHIN’.

However, I found another possible dog on Petfinder last night and sent an inquiry, expecting not to hear anything for several days, but I got a reply this morning. This rescue operation is two counties over, about 45 minutes’ drive, but I’m hoping that this dog might work out. We’ll see.

The Bright Futures Atlanta kids and staff came over this afternoon for a hayride, and apparently had a blast. It got warm and sunny about the time they got here, and the Iris Poudre was largely faded, so I spritzed a goodly amount of Moschino Funny! for its sunny citrus-rose. Phillip, one of the directors, drove the black Ford Ranger we use as a farm pickup (we call him Walker, for “Walker, Texas Ranger”) and Gaze drove the Gator, and The CEO drove the tractor with hay wagon attached. When they came back, they devoured 72 brownies plus six gallons of homemade lemonade, which always gives me a kick. They’re great kids.

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Scent Diary, July 9-13, 2014

Fireworks over Whitefish Lake, MT, 7/4/14. Photo courtesy The CEO.

Fireworks over Whitefish Lake, MT, 7/4/14. Photo courtesy The CEO.

Wednesday, July 9 – Gaze headed off this morning with the church youth group. He’ll be gone for five days, at church camp in North Carolina. Poor baby, we barely had time to get his laundry clean so he’d had something to wear. Had to restock the fridge, since I had left barely anything in it, other than condiments. It was nice to sleep in our own beds last night… but don’t you hate coming back from vacation, to face all the stuff you have to do at home? We’d turned the AC off and opened the windows just a crack, so the house was still hot when we got home. And it’s been super-dry here, very little rain, and the grass is crunchy. Also, I forgot to ask someone to water the hanging baskets on the porch, so they were almost dead EEP. SOTD: Ralph Lauren Safari. I don’t know why, but I’m almost addicted to this stuff lately. Was longing for it while on vacation.

Thursday, July 10 – The CEO is sifting through his photos to find something suitable for entering in the county fair’s photography contest. He took a lot of photos… Of course he’s not happy with what’s been done on the farm while we’ve been gone, but then he never is. Nobody else gets as much done as he could (or as much as he expects to get done), and there’s all that equipment to be fixed too. Tractors need a lot of maintenance.

The last time we took a “family” vacation that was longer than a weekend was four years ago, when we went to South Carolina. We took Bookworm on the Big College Tour trip two summers ago, but didn’t take the boys with us. And last summer she went to Europe for ten days with a school group. But other than that, it’s been a long time. We had hoped she could come join us for the last few days, but her work schedule, and the hoops she’d have had to jump through to get to an airport, prevented it. Wish she could have gone.  SOTD: Cristina Bertrand #3.

Friday, July 11 –We cleaned up the house a little, Taz and me, and had The CEO’s mom come over to have dinner and see the photos. I think she was a little disappointed not to see Gaze, but pleased that he was getting to go to camp. Dinner: grilled marinated chicken, rice, rolls, asparagus and steamed green beans, plus brownies for dessert. SOTD (after cleaning up): YSL Paris. It’s so nice.

Saturday, July 12 – More cleaning up today. I suggested a Redbox movie, but The CEO was not thrilled by the selection so we didn’t. Eh. SOTD: More Ralph Lauren Safari, which I find sort of delicious.

Sunday, July 13 – Our church is hosting the regular worship services at Claytor Lake this month. This is a state park, with a large dam-created lake on the New River, and it boasts plenty of fishing, boating, watersports, camping and hiking. There’s a tradition of Sunday morning worship at 9 am at the lake’s gazebo, and our church is serving there the month of July. So how often do you get to have church wearing shorts, sitting in lawn chairs, with a terrific view of the lake? Awesome. SOTM: Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete, a summer staple for me.

Gaze returned with the youth group from church camp this afternoon. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to be there to pick him up. Instead, The CEO and I attended the funeral of the father of a good friend. Bob Lilly was an educator, a musician, a family man, but most of all he was a man who knew how to enjoy life. I’m going to tell you about his biggest brush with fame, and some of the stories his son Bobby has told about it over the years.

Ever see “Dirty Dancing” – the 1987 original? The film was largely filmed at Mountain Lake Hotel and Resort, in Pembroke, Virginia, and most of the extras were local. Mr. Lilly’s daughter Terri and a friend wanted to audition at the call for extras, so he took them and then found himself a folding chair and waited, people-watching. He was soon approached by a casting agent presenting him with a clipboard and a pen. “We’d like for you to fill this information sheet out,” she told him.

“Oh, no, that’s okay, I’m not here to audition. I just brought my daughter.”

“You don’t understand. We want you to fill this out.” And just like that, Mr. Lilly became an extra in the movie. (Bobby suggests that they knew a character when they saw one.)

If you’ve seen the movie, you’ve met Mr. Lilly. He’s the smiling guy in the blue shirt and tweed cap standing next to Baby during the dance lesson in the gazebo, early in the movie. When the cast of extras were rehearsing dances, one of the directorial staff separated the people who could dance from the people who couldn’t, and herded the dancers off to another room while the non-dancers stayed involved with the dance instructors. Mr. Lilly got the staff person’s attention and suggested that they were taking the wrong group of people. “No, no,” he was assured. “No, this is what we want.”

The instructor then had the non-dancers run through the steps again, and the staff started culling the group. Like this: “You and you, sit down over here. Okay, now you and you and you two, find a seat. Good, now you sit down please.” It went that way until the group still on the floor was following the instructor pretty well. Those people got to take a break and sit down.

Still from "Dirty Dancing"

Still from “Dirty Dancing”

And then what happened is that they brought the principals, the real actors, in and had them learn the steps with the people who had been culled out for lack of dancing skill. Somebody placed Mr. Lilly right next to Baby (Jennifer Grey) – and it’s his foot she steps on during the dance lesson. I’m told that particular scene was filmed in one take. So there’s Bobby’s dad, immortalized in celluloid, wearing golf shorts and black sneakers and a goofy grin – having a fabulous time, as usual.

Baby says "Sorry," as she steps on Mr. Lilly's foot. Still from the movie.

Baby says “Sorry,” as she steps on Mr. Lilly’s foot. Still from the movie.

“Dirty Dancing,” despite its silly movie ending (oh please), is a favorite, and we’ll usually make time to watch it when it comes on, but I’ll point out that it is fairly peculiar to see a movie filmed in a place you know. In the first scene, Baby and her family are driving down what’s labeled “New York Thruway,” but those of us from around here are prone to saying, “Oh, no, it’s not – that’s Rt. 460 West outta Blacksburg.” We always repeat Baby’s memorable doofus line, “I carried a watermelon.” And we always commemorate the dance lesson in the gazebo by yelling, “That’s Bobby’s dad’s foot!” I expect we’ll still do that.

SOTE was Chanel No. 5, vintage parfum. A fitting tribute.


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Okay, we’re back to boring around here :)

I’m not sure what the heck is up with WordPress lately, or whether I am just picking inappropriate theme templates, or WHAT… so I am returning to an earlier theme that seemed to work fine. I’m a little disappointed because I never felt this theme looked particularly nice, but I may need to just play around with themes for a while to see how they work.

If you don’t mind commenting to let me know if you had trouble with any earlier themes – and what browser (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Chrome, what have you) and operating system (Windows 7, 8, Vista, etc.) you are using – I would greatly, greatly appreciate it.  Thanks so much.

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ANOTHER New Look (sorry)

Dior's New Look. (Not mine.)

Dior’s New Look. (Not mine.)

The CEO recently reported to me that he couldn’t read the blog because the type was blending into the background. DANGIT. (I liked that background. And it looked just fine in Firefox.)

So. ‘Nother new WordPress theme, which I hope to be playing with and tweaking around more to my liking. Meanwhile, I hope everybody can read it now.  Thanks for bearing with me.

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Scent Diary, June 27-July 8, 2014, and a mini-review of Dior Cuir Cannage

Friday, June 27 – Spent much of the day rushing around, trying to clean up/pack/get stuff done before the trip. Picked up Gaze from his last day of Camp Cougar (the month-long summer enrichment class which serves as a substitute for PE class), rushed him home to get the last bits of packing done, and headed out for a relative’s house that’s close to Reagan National Airport in DC. SOTD: Kelly Caleche EdP, the citrus helping to wake me up during the 4-hour drive.

Saturday, June 28 – Up at five, ate cereal, went to the airport. It was the first commercial flight ever for my two boys, and Taz in particular was thrilled with takeoff. Gaze had nothing good to say about the airport in Newark (our connecting flight to Bozeman left from there): it was dirty, it smelled, it was ugly, why in the world would anybody LIVE in Newark?? He is a confirmed country boy, I confess. SOTD: DelRae Wit, for its pretty, good-humored, mood-lifting qualities. Got into Bozeman around noon Mountain Time, had lunch at The CEO’s conference, and then spent the afternoon touring the Museum of the Rockies in Bozeman.

I love museums. This one, though probably meant for kids, was a good one! Most of the dinosaur specimens that have been discovered for study actually came from Montana, and the museum had a wealth of fascinating skeletons and artifacts. Loved it!

Yellowstone Lake, photo courtesy of The CEO.

Yellowstone Lake, photo courtesy of The CEO.

Sunday, June 29 – Yellowstone National Park! SOTD was two good spritzes of Dior Cuir Cannage, but it was very quiet and gone early. We drove east from Bozeman into Wyoming and entered the park at the north gate. First stop was Mammoth Hot Springs, which are pretty cool with built-up layers of minerals like stalactites and ledges. Then we ate a quick lunch and went south toward the center of the park. Took numerous short walks to see cool stuff that’s just off the road – waterfalls, geysers, more hot springs, and lots of wildlife. My favorite spot of the day was Gibbon Falls, but Yellowstone Lake is pretty too.

Saw a small herd of buffalo and one of elk, but they were far away. Then drove up through Dunnraven Pass, where there was plenty of snow on the mountains. Saw a black bear and her two cubs, and The CEO saw a grizzly bear.

Monday, June 30 – Weather has been cool and pleasant, but The CEO and I got sunburned a bit today. Or maybe windburned, because it was quite windy as well as being sunny. SOTD was Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano, which is a pleasant, creamy floral with a bit of fruit. Cheerful thing. We saw lots of cool stuff, from more geysers and mud geysers and more hot springs, to more waterfalls… and more wildlife! There was a solitary male bison, a big one, and then a small herd of elk with young males fighting – and then an enormous herd of buffalo, bulls and cows and yearlings and calves all together, maybe close to a thousand animals (as The CEO says, he knows how to count grazing animals). They were stretched across the road and along it, no fear of cars or people whatsoever.

Wow. Made my trip.

Tuesday, July 1 – Another gorgeous day, temperatures in the mid-70s and sunny. The CEO and Gaze have been taking pictures at every pull-off area; they’re fascinated with the Grand Teton Mountains. Remember when The CEO went to the Canadian Rockies a couple of years ago? Came home with like a bazillion pictures of mountains and lakes? That’s what he especially likes.  The mountains up close are really gorgeous. At the same time, people who live around here must long and long for summer. At home? I dread it. It’s like trying to breathe through wet wool (and it doesn’t even get REALLY humid in the mountains the way it does in Richmond, or worse, DC). The air is very, very dry here.

Grand Tetons with wildflowers. Photo courtesy The CEO.

Grand Tetons with wildflowers. Photo courtesy The CEO.

Here’s the Cuir Cannage (preliminary) mini-review, set off in another color in case that’s all you really wanted to read! The Cuir Cannage is pretty much gone after an hour, except for a very attractive drydown. I’m guessing it will wear better in humid Virginia – we’ll have to see. It does open up with a refreshing citrus note that smells a lot like a Chanel to me. (By “a Chanel,” I mean the classic Chanel cologne, or No. 5 Eau Premiere, or the opening of 31 Rue Cambon. Could refer to the delightful opening of 1932, too.) From there it becomes more floral, with jasmine and ylang apparent and also a small touch of rose. Quite powdery in a face-powder iris and makeup rose-violet sort of way. And then it goes very… hmm… pursey. Not exactly like Cuir de Lancome, which I adore, but the leather is quite apparent. It’s also very ladylike. I kept having to check – now this DOES say “Dior,” right? Yep. Regular readers will know that I absolutely hate and despise Chanel’s leather scent, the iconic Cuir de Russie. (To me, it’s a dead ringer for our cattle working pens, very dusty, with a medicinal and iodic sort of angle that does not cancel out the raw animal hide. Basically, it smells like fear. Bleah.) But this Dior smells all Chanely to me, more Chanely than the actual Chanel, isn’t that weird? The leather sticks around for about an hour, or at least it does here in Wyoming, all the time shrinking down closer and closer to the skin. After that, it slides into a very comfortable and attractive leather/benzoin skin scent, and that sticks around for a good twelve hours, even if I can only smell it if I huff hard. I love this drydown. In fact, I like the whole thing very much, and the only thing I’d wish for would be more sillage. It could use a bit of oomph.

What I do like about this area is the fascinating wildlife. We’ve seen elk and antelope here, and the remains of an early-1900s Amish farm settlement. I’ve noticed that the park service seems uninterested (unwilling?) to keep up old structures in these national parks, and so these historic buildings – labeled as points of interest BY the park service – are falling down. Which seems silly to me, but then I’m accustomed to the park service keeping up far older buildings as at Jamestown.

Wednesday, July 2 – Another pretty day. Still sunny, but less hot than yesterday. The CEO and I are rather burned (I sunscreened, he didn’t). I suppose the increased elevation is the difference. A driving day; we are headed north to Glacier. SOTD is Il Tuo Tulipano again. When we arrived in Kalispell, rather late for dinner, we saw on the Glacier park website that the Going-to-the-Sun Road is now open, as of 8:30 pm, for travel. Which is wonderful, because we were going to have to negotiate the park without it if they weren’t able to get it open.

Thursday, July 3 – Glacier National Park is without question the single most stunning scenic location I have ever seen. It beats out Hawaii and New Zealand and Yellowstone and Grand Tetons, and the also-stunning New River Gorge valley in West Virginia. Majestic! We hiked to see waterfalls; we saw glaciers and mountains and lakes and streams. We were a little surprised not to see any wildlife. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. The major road through the park is called Going-to-the-Sun Road, and portions of it are actually closed due to snowfall a good portion of the year – but they officially opened it at 8:30 pm on July 2, so the first day it was completely open for through traffic was today.

Taz meets Deer, trail near Baring Falls, Glacier. Photo courtesy of The CEO.

Taz meets Deer, trail near Baring Falls, Glacier. Photo courtesy of The CEO.

Friday, July 4 – Independence Day in a National Park… with snowballs! Logan Pass at Glacier had plenty of snow, enough for Taz and Gaze to indulge in a little sibling rivalry. Went on a lovely walk to see Red Rock Falls, one of the many beautiful waterfalls caused by snowmelt here at Glacier. Then The CEO and the boys went on another walk around one of the lakes, and another hike up to see another waterfall, while I had a nap in the car. SOTD: Hilde Soliani Il Tuo Tulipano. We saw a grizzly bear in a meadow near the road, and then when we were eating lunch at a picnic area, a young male elk wandered through the campground, munching away on grass and vegetation.

On the way back to the hotel we went to the Fourth of July celebration in the next town over, where they were having fireworks on Whitefish Lake. It turned out to be one of the best fireworks displays I’ve ever seen, second only to fireworks in Washington, DC. For one thing, there’s no ban on fireworks here in Montana like there is in Virginia, so there were numerous individuals around the lake setting off their own large fireworks and the general effect was very full and fun. (I’m guessing it was actually sort of dangerous, but hey. You only live once, right?) The official Whitefish town fireworks were shot off from a barge out in the lake, which was really cool. About halfway through, a kid sitting behind us noted out loud, ‘Hey, the barge is on fire.” We dismissed that, because all the way through the fireworks the kid had been saying things like, “We’re under attack!” and “It’s like cannon fire!” But at some point we noticed that he was right: the barge was on fire. And by the time the fireworks were over, the barge was not just on fire, it was burning fiercely, putting out a ton of black smoke. It was sort of horribly beautiful, fire on the lake. They did get the fire put out, but that was an exciting evening.

Saturday, July 5 – We drove through Glacier again and took in another hike, this one to a lovely waterfall. Also surprised a young doe deer on the trail; Taz was able to walk within four feet of her. All the advice is to leave wild animals alone, but she seemed very calm, and eventually walked on to another grazing area. We came out the other side of Glacier and drove to Waterton Lakes National Park in Canada. It was an experience for the kids to enter another country. Thank goodness, US-born children under 16, traveling with both parents, are allowed to use certified birth certificates instead of applying for passports. The Canada portion of the trip was added on rather late in the trip planning, so there would not have been time for us to get Gaze and Taz passports and we would have to have skipped Waterton.

This was more Walking Around Lakes. I am getting sick of lakes, honestly. We did stop at one point where a small swift creek ran near a picnic area, and Taz and I stepped into the creek. Just so you know, creeks fed by glaciers are, you guessed it, frigid. Even with flip-flops on, our feet were freezing. However, when The CEO made noises about taking another hike to go see some more waterfalls, I convinced him to let me and Taz stay near a different creek and play in the water. Which we did, and which we both enjoyed very much. When we came out of the water, there was a small (not full-grown) black bear near the parking lot, flipping rocks over and munching grubs. There was a rather large extended-family group of Indian people there at the same time we were, and one of the older men kept getting closer and closer to the bear with his smart phone, taking video. He made me nervous, frankly. And about that time, The CEO and Gaze showed up with their telephoto lenses and took some good shots.

Later that evening we saw a male deer with a nice rack grazing. Drove through a small bison preserve and saw a small herd, 8-10 animals, and also two predator animals that might have been either gray wolves or coyotes. Exciting! The wildlife has been the best part of the trip, for me. SOTD: Kelly Caleche edp.

Sunday, July 6 – I am sick of Walking Around Lakes. I let the boys go off to Walk Around Lakes at Waterton while I stayed in the hotel to do laundry. That turned out well. I walked around a bit, and went to the grocery store to pick up a few more snacks, and wrote some. SOTD: DelRae Wit again. The CEO enjoyed the hotel hot tub. As it turned out, the highlight of the trip back to Waterton was seeing a small herd of mountain goats. As it turned out, we saw nearly all of the varieties of wildlife that live in these national parks: moose, bison, grizzly bear, black bear, elk, antelope, mountain goat, deer, and wolves. Didn’t see a beaver, or any bighorn sheep, but I’m not disappointed.

Bison bull in Yellowstone, photo courtesy of The CEO.

Bison bull in Yellowstone, photo courtesy of The CEO.

Monday, July 7 – Drove south into Montana again, back into the US of A. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum. Stopped in Helena to have a look at the capital building, which is attractive and neoclassical. The CEO really enjoyed seeing the farm scenery and driving the more open, uncrowded roads in this area. Saw an electric pole with an enormous bird’s nest atop it, complete with enormous bird; The CEO thought it was a bald eagle at first, but after seeing it through his telephoto lens he decided it was an osprey instead.  Mexican food for dinner and a swimming pool at the hotel near Bozeman.

Tuesday, July 8 – up at 4 am to make a 5:50 flight to Denver. Denver to Chicago O’Hare, Chicago to Reagan National, Reagan to the DC Metro, Metro train to Vienna, VA, where we met the cousin who was looking after our vehicle for us. THEN (soaking wet because we came out of the Metro into literal buckets of rain): we drove four and a half from Northern Virginia to Roanoke, to pick up The CEO (who had a different travel itinerary since he initially traveled for his NACTA conference in Bozeman) at the airport there. Then an hour drive home. Air travel is a wonderful thing, truly it is, but all the same we got home at 1:15 am Eastern time (two hours ahead of Mountain time), which means I had been up and moving for nearly 23 hours by then. AAARRGGGGHHH.

SOTD: started off with nothing because I didn’t have time, but at Chicago, I hit the Duty Free and sniffed things. I love doing that, but the only thing I really wanted to spritz there was Marc Jacobs Daisy. Say what you like, but you’re not going to talk me out of liking Daisy! O’Hare smells like nothing, basically, unless you are standing near a food establishment. Even the Duty Free smells antiseptic; probably they don’t get many people spraying perfume in there the way people spritz it in, say, Philly (the last American Duty Free I entered). However, the entire corridor outside the Wolfgang Puck restaurant smelled so deliciously of fresh basil that I took deep breaths of it every time I went past.

And then the rain-wet pavement outside the Metro was a pure delight: wet, green-silver, ultimate freshness. I hope it rains at home soon.

Be on the lookout for more photos from the Montana trip! Gaze and The CEO, between them, took close to 2500 shots. They’ve cut it down quite a bit since editing, but so many of them were wonderful and I’ll be sharing some of their work soon.

Posted in Scent Diary, The scented life | Tagged , , | 2 Comments

Vacation 2014

Montana.  We’ll be there for several days. Never been. Should be interesting.

glacierI’m quite sure that it will be seven days of The CEO and Gaze wandering around looking at everything through their camera lenses.

We’ve got a friend house-sitting for us. Bookworm, off at her internship in Louisiana, can’t go (bummer, bummer).montana-lake

I’m taking decants of DelRae Wit, Smell Bent One, Hermes Kelly Caleche edp, and the new Dior Cuir Cannage with me. Will report back, of course.

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New look… again

I’ve been playing around with the blog again, since the last time I changed anything I simply went to a default theme and photo.


It may change yet again.  And I may actually begin posting some stuff here again soon, too. :)

I have become more and more frustrated with my web host platform, due to repeated hacking attempts and confusing fixes.  Am tempted to chuck it all and head back to WordPress.

I hate blogging, lately, and the logistics are getting to me.  I don’t want to stop writing, but it has been such a pain recently.

Posted in Uncategorized | 9 Comments

Scent Diary Summary, most of May 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

I’ll be keeping Taz as busy as possible.

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

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

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

And, oh yeah, I still hate purple.

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

Posted in Family, farm, Scent Diary, Seasonal picks | Tagged , , , | 6 Comments

Scent on Canvas Perfume Reviews

Scent on Canvas is a relatively new perfume house, based in Barcelona, Spain. It is the creation of Béatrice Aguilar-Cassarà, a formally trained perfumer who also loves art. She collaborated with perfumers Alexandra Kosinski, Shyamala Maisondieu and Jórdi Fernandez to create fragrances, which were then presented for visual interpretation by artists. The boxes containing the fragrances are printed on the inside with these original works of art (signed and numbered); you must unfold the box to see the entire work.

I haven’t seen the artwork except online. But I thought this was an interesting concept, and I was delighted that the Scent on Canvas website offers a sample pack, sturdy 2ml spray samples of each fragrance, for 12 Euro including shipping. Each fragrance is offered at €130 for 100ml. Blanc de Paris is an eau de parfum; the others are all extrait de parfum.
scent on canvasThere are five fragrances in the Scent on Canvas lineup, and I’ll review each one briefly. From the website:

The collection spans five fragrance genres with nuanced olfactory work within them: the starchy, woody musk, a predetermined crowd-pleaser (Blanc de Paris); the dark musty-mossy with guts (Noir de Mars); the mysterious, coppery woody (Ocre Doré); the rosy floral with mysterious, spicy-suede tonalities (Rose Opéra) and the complex hesperidic-leathery (Brun Sicilien).

Each of the scents has a color in its name: Golden Ochre, Sicilian Brown, Parisian White, Mars Black, and Opera Pink. More specifically, each fragrance shares a name with a specific color of paint.

Blanc de Paris, for women, was created to evoke “dancing on an early spring morning among flowers,” by Béatrice Aguilar-Cassarà. The notes list includes green mandarin, Calabrian bergamot, citron, iris, Bulgarian rose, white flowers, white musk, sandalwood, and benzoin. The artwork for this one was done by Maria Torróntegui.

I’ve tested this one three times. The first time, I applied a hefty spritz to the inside of my wrist, and the second application was a half-spritz, more like a large one-drop application, to the web of skin between thumb and first finger. That’s my optimal site for “I’m not sure I’m not going to hate this, so I’ll put it somewhere that’s easily washable.” As you might imagine from that strategy, the first test was a resounding failure. But the second and third were not, and since those took place seven weeks after the first, I’m not sure what the difference could be. The fragrance was freshly made and needed some time to meld fully? I had something on my skin (my bath gel? A stray drop of soap from washing the dishes?) that reacted badly with the fragrance? The third application was another hefty spritz on my forearm.

The first time I wore it, the citrus was very noticeable, a sharp freshness that I enjoyed, but it was followed by an overwhelming note of toilet cleaner, very harsh – like Comet or Ajax. I often get this toilet-cleaner effect from fragrances containing a linden flower note (for example, L’Artisan’s La Chasse aux Papillon and Tauer Zeta, though there are others as well), and I suspect that it just goes harsh on my skin. I never perceived any rose in this fragrance, and that disappointed me. What with the toilet cleaner and the white musk, I felt like a hotel maid pushing my cart down the hall for a full eight-hour day. You probably know that white musk is a very persistent base note, and it sticks around for a long time, even on my scent-eating skin. I did notice a wisp of iris root, and the benzoin was definitely there under the musk, but that first test was not pleasant.

The second and third tests were certainly more enjoyable. There was less citrus, and the fragrance seemed to move much more quickly to its floral heart. I can pick up on some clean jasmine, and there might be some muguet in there as well as the linden blossom. The benzoin was more prominent on the subsequent wearings, and since I love the stuff, this was all to the good. The white musk still tends to dominate the fragrance, and I’m not particularly fond of that, but it was much nicer in the later tests. It still lasted approximately eight hours on me, and smelled pleasantly clean.

This is really not my kind of fragrance; I didn’t get much of a spring-flowers effect. It is more of a clean musk fragrance with floral notes for freshness and benzoin for a powdery softness. But if you want to smell clean without smelling overtly like laundry, this might suit you quite well.

Brun Sicilien I wasn’t sure I was going to like. It’s a unisex leather fragrance, created by Alexandra Kosinski, and according to the website, it was meant to evoke “instinct, courage and freedom; the redolence of wild horsemen.” I sometimes have difficulties with leather fragrances being too woody, or too harsh, but this one is actually rather nice. In fact, it might be my favorite of the five. The accompanying artwork was provided by Tano Pisano.

The notes for this fragrance include Sicilian mandarin, white flowers, jasmine, leather, suede, black pepper, cardamom, heliotrope, musk, amber, birch, Indonesian patchouli leaf, and Madagascar vanilla. I don’t get much citrus in this, and in fact it reminds me quite a bit of a slightly-louder Cuir de Lancome (which I love). The spices are smooth, staying in the background, but I get quite a bit of jasmine and what might be narcissus.

There is leather in this, but if you were hoping for rawhide or saddles, with that birch tar accent, you might be disappointed. I’m not. I like my leather purse-like, thank you very much, and this scent pleases me. As the fragrance draws to a close, approximately six hours after application, it becomes more and more vanillic and creamy, and reminds me more of Parfums d’Empire’s ultra-comfortable Cuir Ottoman. It does keep its leather focus throughout, however. It’s not as heavy on the amber as Cuir Ottoman, or as sweet, and I think I like Brun Sicilien better.

I’ve worn this scent several times and will probably use up my sample with enjoyment. If it’s still available when my stash of Cuir de Lancome gives out, I might buy some.

Noir de Mars is not my usual sort of thing, and after testing it I’m positive that aficionados of the Truly Dark would laugh at its pretension to evoking black. If you liked CdG Black, or PureDistance Black, or LM Parfums Black Oud, or even Le Labo Patchouli 24 – or if those weren’t dark enough for you, forget this one. It’s nowhere near as cuddly or as much fun as I find Bvlgari Black (new bike tires! Ice cream!), but it won’t bite you. The perfumer, Jordi Fernandez, says this of the scent: “Every path is open to he who vibrates to the authentic aroma of oud.” The website explains that the perfumers traveled around looking for a source of oud of a certain quality, and finally settled on a source in Laos.

I don’t have much experience with oud, other than the admittedly synthetic oud used by Montale (which, oud connoisseurs would sneer to hear, I like). It’s just not my thing, and the fragrances I like that claim to contain it are typically focused elsewhere – on rose, usually. I like the Montale rose-oud things (Aoud Roses Petals is really nice), and I really enjoyed By Kilian’s Rose Oud and Amber Oud, neither of which have a noticeable quantity of oud, synthetic or otherwise. So if you demand the Real Deal – well, I have no idea. This one I’m reviewing from the perspective of an avowed floral lover.

This one comes with artwork by Jordi Trullás. Its notes include agarwood (oud), guaiac wood, sandalwood, cyperus esculentus, myrrh, leather, gurjan balsam, amyris, and amber. Cyperus esculentus, or yellow nutsedge, is considered an invasive weed in the US, but in Spain its tubers are used to produce an almond-milk-like drink called horchata. I’m not familiar with it, and I’m not particularly familiar with gurjan balsam or amyris (elemi), either. Oh well. What I was expecting was a dry woody fragrance, and that’s what I got. It’s dry and woody, and reminds me of Clint Eastwood somehow.

It opens up with, yeah, wood. Wood wood wood wood. Dry, almost charred wood, and a slight hint of leather work gloves (The CEO wears them on the farm), as well as a very tiny thread of sweetness among the resins, which become more significant as the fragrance progresses. There is some bitter mustiness to it, which is never an effect I enjoy. Noir de Mars does become more comfortable as the burnt note dissipates, and the sweetness deepens somewhat. Wood and resin is pretty much the deal here, and unfortunately I don’t know enough about these particular woods and resins to say to myself, “Oh, hey, there’s the elemi!” Ehh. It might be laziness on my part, but I am not inclined to do a lot of research in this area, since I don’t foresee myself wearing a lot of fragrances in this genre.

The fragrance lasts a long time on me, about eight hours even with a very light application.
It is meant to be unisex, and undoubtedly a woman could wear it. Just not me.

Ocre Doré, meant to highlight the luxurious aroma of white truffle, was composed by Shyamala Maisondieu. The brand’s creator says of it, “true luxury is found in nature’s perfection: on virgin land, in cascades of crystal water, in the reflection of light on a diamond and in the white truffle, an aroma that penetrates everything around it with an intense fragrance of flowers, woods, silence and mystery.” Its notes are interesting – it’s not often that an oriental type fragrance opens up with galbanum! The notes list includes Iranian galbanum, tea, maté, white truffle, oakmoss, “undergrowth,” guaiac wood, Paraguay wood, Virginia Cedar, Indonesian patchouli, and labdanum. The accompanying artwork, an abstract featuring varied tones of gold, yellow, brown, and orange, with a surprising streak of chartreuse, was provided by artist Mariona Esteba, and it makes me think of the Grand Canyon. The artwork is really lovely.

Ocre Doré opens with a sharply herbal/medicinal cast. Despite the presence of galbanum in the list, I don’t smell much of it. It’s there, yeah, but I really get more maté than anything else, with a raspy dryness underneath it. I dislike raspiness in my fragrances, and surprisingly I found this fragrance even more dry and raspy, more difficult for me even than Noir de Mars. Eventually the labdanum shows up, and it has that peculiar wet-canvas-tent profile that I also dislike in certain grades of labdanum. All in all, the two tests I made with this scent were a true trial of endurance for me.

It’s rare that I love a fragrance in the oriental genre. I have trouble in particular with balsamic notes, particularly when they are the focus of the fragrance, and I sincerely do not appreciate that raspy effect of very dry, earthy patchouli. For that reason, Ocre Doré is pretty much a failure for me personally. I did not scrub it; I gritted my teeth and rode out the six hours of wear. (Eight hours with a three-spritz application. Why did I do that? Urgh. Quease city. But that’s me, y’all. If you don’t have any trouble with Shalimar, or Obsession, or Parfumerie Generale L’Oiseau de Nuit, or… well, pretty much any oriental on a classic framework… you won’t have any problem.) If this is luxury, y’all can keep it, thanks. I repeat: my preferences are coming to bear in great degree on my verdict, but there it is. You never wear a fragrance in a vacuum. If you don’t like green florals, then no matter how often someone tells you that Chanel No. 19 is a beautifully balanced, elegant, dry green floral/chypre, then you’re not going to like it. So it is with me and Ocre Doré. I don’t like it personally, and it has a lot of well-regarded company (in terms of oriental scents considered to be well-made and wonderful) that I also don’t love. It’s Just Not My Thing.

It was intended as a feminine scent, but I think a man could wear it just as well. It is not sweet; rather it’s woody and (as I whined), dry, so dudes, go ahead.

Rose Opéra (now that’s a pretty paint color, I say!) is also intended as a feminine fragrance, but unlike Ocre Doré really does seem feminine to me. Perfumer Jordi Fernandez was inspired by a field of saffron, and the scent is meant to call to mind the luxury and romanticism of Marc Antony and Cleopatra perfuming themselves with saffron. This is my second favorite of the collection, and it really is truly lovely. The notes pyramid lists Calabrian bergamot, wild strawberry, jasmine, artemisia, Turkish rose, marigold, Spanish saffron, nutmeg, pink pepper, cardamom, macis [nutmeg flower], Javanese vetiver, cyprerus scariosus [cypriol or Nagarmotha], Peruvian lentisque, patchouli, Virginia cedar, and incense.

I get just a tiny whiff of intense strawberry, and then it’s gone. Actually, in the first hour or so, Rose Opera reminds me a great deal of By Kilian’s (not-oudy) Rose Oud, which also has woody notes and saffron. I really like Rose Oud; the rose in it is so silky and beautiful, and the vanilla light and creamy, and that Band-aid note just makes me happy. (I think I fell down a lot as a child. Band-aids meant help, and love.) The rose in Rose Opera – by the way, if you check Fragrantica, somehow the Turkish rose has been left out of the notes list, at the time of writing – is similarly beautiful, silky and rich and smooth. The saffron balances it and keeps it from being either sour or too sweet. The spices are very light here, and the drydown is woody and cool, less gourmandy than BK Rose Oud or L’Artisan’s Safran Troublant, but along the same lines. It also reminds me to some degree of Montale White Aoud, without the raspy balsamic base that makes White Aoud difficult for me.
It does not last as long as some of the others, but Rose Opera does stick around for 4-5 hours, approximately the same length as Rose Oud and considerably longer than Safran Troublant.

It’s a lovely fragrance, very femme, and like I say doesn’t reinvent the wheel – it’s just pretty. Whether you’ll like it will depend on whether you like woody/gourmand rose scents and what your position is on the “just pretty” fragrances. Like I say, it’s not groundbreaking, but it is well-done and very nice.

The Scent on Canvas fragrances are all nicely formulated, with a fair percentage of naturals (no more or less, overall, than most niche fragrances). I haven’t found one that I am going to run out and purchase on the spur of the moment, but if Brun Sicilien or Rose Opera were given to me, I’d certainly wear them with happiness.

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Memorial Day, 2014


Whatever you’re doing today – spending it with family, eating wonderful food together, enjoying fun activities – take at least a minute or two to remember and appreciate those who have served their country.  Pray for them, if you’re so inclined, both the ones who have served in the past and the ones who are serving now.

Today I’ll make deviled eggs and fresh corn salad and lemonade. We’ll hang out the flag and have a picnic lunch with family. We’ll water the peony on Hayley-dog’s grave.

The CEO is gone on a missions trip to Montenegro; he’ll be back on Wednesday evening. Bookworm is going to spend the week with my parents. This is the last week of school.

I’ll be wearing the first, lovely, Ines de la Fressange fragrance, which I’m sad to say that you cannot get now unless you’re willing to plop down about $15 for a 4ml mini.  I think I paid about $17 for my 30ml bottle from an online retailer, back in 2009, and when I found out how good it was I went right back and bought a 50ml for about $20.  Love the stuff.

Ines de la Fressange Ines de la Fressange for womenThis is the 1999 Calice Becker version in the octagonal bottle with silver top. Notes include aldehydes, peach, bergamot, rosewood, carnation, iris, jasmine, rose, ylang-ylang, lily of the valley, sandalwood, tonka bean, benzoin.  Yes, it’s a fruity floral. No, you don’t have to curl your lip and sneer, unless you’d curl your lip at a floral print dress. It’s not a ditz, and its fruit is unsweetened. What it is is lovely.

Enjoy the day.


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