Monday, Feb. 13 – Warm (upper 50sF) again. Taz was sick and stayed home from school; I went to pick up his classwork. I worked on revising — no, let’s call it what it is, rewriting the 250K behemoth novel.
I’m trying to wear rose fragrances this week. Today it was Le Galion La Rose, which I really must at least mini-review soon.
Tuesday, Feb. 14 – Colder than yesterday, but not February cold. More like November cold. Dangit. SOTD was Lyric Woman, very lovely. There’s just something about incense fragrances that seems to create a — well, an uncluttered space in the mind, is the closest thing to what I mean. A meditative attitude, maybe.
I am sick. I’ve probably got Taz’s bug.
Happy birthday to my favorite brother!
In the evening, I was chatting on Facebook with a writer friend who is working on a novel set in Prohibition-era Chicago, with a protagonist who is a singer in a speakeasy nightclub. We were talking about the general friskiness of young ladies in that time, with music and dress, and smoking in public and short hair, all radical changes from pre-WWI, and I mentioned that you see this radical change in perfume about this time as well. We go from florals and soft florals on oriental bases to bold chypres, leather and tobacco scents, and those full-on, all-out orientals like Shalimar. Long story short, she’d like to smell some of those classics, so I’m going to send samples to her. Can’t wait for the book! Also, this sounds like a whole blog post: Flapper Perfume.
Wednesday, Feb. 15 – This would have been my father-in-law’s 92nd birthday. I miss you, Bill.
Temps in the 40s today, and I’ve resorted to a sweater. This is good. SOTD was going to be a tad of My Sin before I send it to Wynter, but I hate it (maybe it’s gone off? it’s quite vintage), and it is in no way a rose scent, so I washed it off. Wearing By Kilian Rose Oud, which is a jammy rose-vanilla with a bit of wood, nothing particularly oudy about it. Yum. Now I want raspberries.
I managed to get to Bible study in the evening, but I sat there feeling chilled and feverish, so it was not a good idea. When I got home I had a cup of hot tea, took a hot bath with the last of my Arabian rose oil (gosh, I bought that little 3ml bottle years ago on Ebay), put on some Tauer Rose Delight body oil, and went to bed.
Thursday, Feb. 16 – Still sick. Yuck. Parfum Sacre today, for comfort.
Friday, Feb. 17 – Feeling somewhat better today; did all the normal Saturday cleaning chores. The boys went to play Capture the Flag with the rest of their church youth group – in the dark – and The CEO and I went out for Italian. SOTD was Shalimar Light, since I’ve been writing about flapper perfume and no longer own any actual Shalimar. This is good stuff.
Saturday, Feb. 18 – Gaze left early to go to Regionals indoor track meet. The CEO left around noon to watch him run. Taz and I went shopping for a new bookcase for him, since he has outgrown the one he has. (Yeah, Taz and his books. Eye roll. I just want them up off the floor!) When we got home I was exhausted; maybe I’m not so over this sick as I thought I was. SOTD was Cuir de Lancome. Every time I wear it I think, “Gosh, this is pretty.”
Gaze did very well at the meet. Didn’t win anything, but cut his 3200m time by 9 seconds! Most of our school’s athletes had a good meet, with new PRs popping up all over the place. I’m proud.
Sunday, Feb. 19 – I feel awful again. Stayed home from church. Napped. No perfume. Finished “Flapper Perfume” in the afternoon, though.
The 1920s was an influential decade for perfume, though striking changes in fashion began in the years immediately after World War I. The dust was settling in Europe after the war which had laid waste not only to infrastructure but also political alliances and the young male population, and everybody was tired of wartime bleakness and deprivation. There was a feeling that the old ways were gone and done with, and young women in particular were ready for a change. Gone were old-fashioned morals as well as those complicated hats, hairdos, and long dresses over rigid wasp-waist corsets.
The modern young lady was wearing tube dresses with little underpinning and tank-style bodices and short skirts, as well as dramatic makeup. She was drinking, not tiny ladylike glasses of sherry but potent cocktails in jazz clubs. She was cutting her hair and smoking! in public, yet! She could vote (as of 1918 in the UK for women over 30, and as of 1920 in the US). She could drive. She could — gasp! — possess her own checkbook.
And she wasn’t wearing her mother’s perfume, either.
She wasn’t wearing a soliflore — lavender toilet water, or a simple floral like Coty’s Jasmin de Corse. She wasn’t wearing a simple floral bouquet like Houbigant Quelques Fleurs, or a soft floral oriental like Guerlain L’Heure Bleue. No, she was wearing a decadent, sensual oriental, a sharp and bold chypre, a sparkling aldehydic floral, or a gender-bending leather or tobacco scent. New directions in scent abounded, and aren’t we glad?
Here are some fragrances that graced many flappers’ wrists and décolletages, and which are still in production today (albeit in changed form). Try one, or a handful of these, and smell history.
Guerlain Mitsouko (1919, fruity chypre) This more elegant take on the chypre is such a classic among perfumistas that it is hard to imagine it being daring, but it is. It has the bold chypre tripod structure of bergamot-oakmoss-labdanum, rounded with peach undecalactone, and it smells not only formidable but also kind of, well, ripe. I’m guessing that those flappers who danced the night through smelled a bit like this on their way home at dawn.
Millot Crêpe de Chine (1925, aldehydic chypre) Crepe de Chine was a mashup of the bold three-part chypre structure and the modern-at-the-time aldehydic floral. It is bold, but in a well-groomed, exquisite-tailoring kind of way. Where Chypre was a little, well, tribal, Crepe de Chine is much more civilized. This is for the flapper who only drinks her cocktails out of proper glasses, rather than resorting to a hip flask.
Guerlain Shalimar (1921, oriental, came into wide release in 1925) It was once said that there were three things a respectable woman did not do: smoke in public, dance the tango, or wear Shalimar. With its almost chiaroscuro contrasts of bright bergamot-lemon top and dark smoky, leathery, vanilla-balsamic base, it is striking… and sexy. Louise Brooks wore Shalimar; ’nuff said.
Corday Toujours Moi (1920, spicy oriental) This one is a kitchen-sinky oriental similar to Tabu (1932) with some green notes, and it is extremely bold. It wafts. It is a Liberated Woman scent very far from, say, the very-Victorian Berdoues Violette. It goes perfectly with its name, “Always Me,” and the attitude “Look, I have my own checkbook! and these great T-strap shoes!”
Caron Tabac Blond (1919, tobacco/leather) There is no tobacco listed in the notes, by the way, but the effect is at least somewhat tobacco-like. This scent seems to me to be an androgynous, “let’s steal all the things that smell like a gentlemen’s club,” appropriation of notes that had been regarded as traditionally masculine, softened by traditionally-feminine florals.
Molinard Habanita (1921, leather oriental) This scent began its life as an additive for cigarettes — you were supposed to dip the glass rod into the oil and stroke it along the length of your cigarette, so that while you smoked, the fragrance filled the air. Leaving aside the reason this was A Thing (you didn’t want Mumsy dear to know you were smoking? I mean, presumably she also knew about the hip flask and the lace step-ins, so you weren’t fooling anybody), Habanita probably smelled good with the tobacco smoke. Here’s Robin’s description at Now Smell This, because it’s pretty perfect: “If you can imagine dousing yourself in baby powder, donning an old leather jacket and then smoking a cigar in a closed room with a single rose in a vase 10 feet away, you’ll get the general idea.”
Chanel No. 5 (1925, aldehydic floral) Perfumer Ernest Beaux’ attempt to recreate an Arctic snow field and Coco Chanel’s affinity for the smell of starched linen combined with No. 5’s enormous overdose of aldehydes, the aromachemical that is in smell form big Hollywood klieg lights. (Maybe.) And Chanel’s famous dictum that a woman should not smell of flowers, but like a woman, played into its abstract presentation, too. (Maybe. There are a number of contradictory stories about its genesis.) No. 5 feels like a smooth marble sculpture to me. In its day it was utterly modern, and to its credit, its florals are still lovely.
Lanvin My Sin/Mon Peché (1924, aldehydic floral) Like No. 5, My Sin is an aldehydic floral, but it is dark and carnal in a way that No. 5 has never been and will never be. It’s a complicated perfume: along with the aldehydes and florals are some deep woods and an animalic base just shy of “Are there mating buffaloes somewhere on the premises?” I suspect that it got worn more often by women grabbing a little vicarious sinful pleasure than by women who were actually sinning while wearing it, but there you are. Brilliant marketing. And that cat! Love it.
Chanel Cuir de Russie (1924, leather) Again with the gender-bending for 1920s gals. Leather was previously known as a masculine note, and this leather-for-ladies boasts the enormous and expensive Chanel powdery iris as well as florals and aldehydes. Fans speak of its “good purse” leather, or its “expensive car” leather, both things that flappers seemed to enjoy.
Weil Zibeline (1928, aldehydic floral chypre-oriental) “Zibeline” means “sable” in French, and this fragrance was intended for scenting furs. As you might guess, Zibeline is heavy and rich, and yet dry and aromatic. It smells very much not of this century, but it is a luxurious scent in the best sort of way. One imagines fancy cars and diamonds and satin gowns, and that ne plus ultra sable, for a fancy party.
By 1929, with the stock market crash around the corner, the general prosperity which had allowed so many young women to taste freedom and decadence was about to disappear, and the day of the flapper was drawing toward a sudden twilight.
What the flappers left behind were some glorious abstract perfumes. Like much of the Art Deco of the period, the fragrances are bold yet graceful, natural yet influenced by humans. Chanel No. 5’s beautiful florals are buttressed on either side by the highly-artificial aldehydes and the pillowy strength of (nitro) musks. Shalimar’s combination of lively bergamot and smoky-sexy vanillin makes it round and memorable, unlike anything smelled in nature — but if you smell it on a person, even now, fifty-‘leven reformulations after its release, it has affinity for skin and does not scream I AM SYNTHETIC! the way many modern fragrances do.
There were, of course, several other classic fragrances released during the 1920s which are still favorites today, but I have not included everything here. Caron’s Nuit de Noel (1924), Bellodgia (1925), and Narcisse Noir (1925), for example, were hugely popular and remain extant, but they are not what I think of as bold and daring “flapper perfumes.” Nor are Chanel’s lovely woody Bois des Îles (1925) and satin-smooth Lanvin Arpège (1926). Coty L’Aimant (1927) is likewise a bit too prim, Emeraude (1920) too soft. Jean Patou’s Chaldée (1927), as a perfume recreation of French suntan oil (we can blame Coco Chanel for popularizing the tan!), seems to go with the flapper propensity for displaying bare skin, but it was not as widely worn as the others. Bourjois Evening in Paris (1928) is a gentle floral composition. Patou Joy, released in 1929, in my mind belongs to the Depression era.
Do you have a favorite flapper perfume? Do you love Art Deco and low waistlines? Does Daisy Buchanan make your heart sing? (And did you prefer Mia Farrow or Carey Mulligan?) Do share!
If you’d like to read more about how the social phenomenon of the flapper arose, check out this post at We Heart Vintage.
Monday, Feb. 6 – Funny how everything appears really bleak at home when you’ve been spending your days in a literal bubble decorated with exotic plants, waterfalls, and strings upon strings of Christmas lights. A sad side effect of vacation. (Luckily, the Drab at Home effect has no effect on people. The boys and the dog look as good to me as ever. :))
Gaze came home by himself after track practice. “Where’s your brother?” I asked him, confused.
“He’s at a MACC [academic challenge] match. Auburn HS. Should be home by 8 or so.”
“Wait, there was MACC and you didn’t go?” Gaze is captain of the Social Studies team.
“Needed to go to track because we have the conference meet on Wednesday. Besides, I wanted to see how they would do without me.”
As it turned out, they LOST. Boo. Taz is going to have to step up his MACC game next year.
Tuesday, Feb. 7 – Like yesterday, it’s warmer than it should be for February, in the upper 50sF. This is wrong in all kindsa ways. The CEO can cheer about warmer weather all he likes, but I want my winter! Testing Neela Vermeire Rahele this morning, roses later. (Rahele review later, too.) SOTE was Caron Parfum Sacre. So good.
My dad has been in the hospital with breathing difficulties. As it turns out, it’s just bronchitis, but he needed some breathing treatments and heavy-duty meds before they let him go home. Now Mom is sick too. Boo.
Wednesday, Feb. 8 – Warm again. Bleah. At least the kids can go outside to warm up before their races at the track meet today (yeah, they CALL it Indoor Track, but there isn’t enough room to warm up inside, so you just hope it’s not snowing). SOTD was Iris Poudre.
The CEO went to the meet to cheer on the boys. Our teams did unexpectedly well, the girls’ team finishing third by only six points (two points behind the runner-up) and the boys’ team coming in second by one point. ONE. Gaze finished 5th in the 3200M, right behind teammates finishing 2nd, 3rd, and 4th; he’ll go on to the regional meet. Taz finished 8th, not high enough to advance, but he cut his time from last week almost nine seconds, so we’re super proud of that. He barely qualified for conference with a time of 11 minutes 22.77 seconds. His new PR is 11:13.88, go Taz!
They didn’t get home until late, after 1 a.m., poor guys.
Thursday, Feb. 9 – The rain that started last night dried up, but the wind has not abated and it is COLD. This really stinks, because if we’d gotten the cold front before the precipitation, it would have been snow. Grr. Annnnnyway, SOTD is Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit, from that bottle I got in Nashville last week. Nice.
SOTE wound up being a dab or two of Tauer Une Rose Chypree,from a sample I’ve had, like… at least seven years. I think it’s going off; it smells a bit like used cooking oil. I never needed any more than a sample of URC because it’s such a powerhouse and I don’t, after all, love it. I just like it. But I think this particular sample, which I’ve used and enjoyed probably a dozen or more times already, should probably be jettisoned.
Friday, Feb. 10 – Had conferences with the boys’ teachers for this semester, except Taz’ drama teacher. It’s okay, I’ll catch up with Mr. McCoy later – he was holding rehearsals for the “Love the Bus” bus-safety presentation that the drama class puts on for the elementary school students in the county. The script changes every year, but it’s meant to be a fun and funny reminder of how to be safe on and around school buses, and what to do in emergencies. Gaze is doing well. So is Taz, except that nobody can read his handwriting. This is a perennial issue. I think his brain works faster than his hand can write. SOTD was the pleasant, pretty Cuir de Lancome.
Bookworm did not get rain in New Haven. Bookworm got snow. Here is a picture of her, at left in the turquoise and gray jacket, in the middle of a friendly snowball fight.
Saturday, Feb. 11 – Went to a gathering of church ladies (nice ones!) for a cupcake-decorating event. That was fun. We didn’t even eat the cupcakes until we were all finished. 🙂 SOTD was againLolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit, probably too much of it, but it was okay with all the sugar in the air. It’s warm again. Taz is sick: stuffy nose, headache, fever. He’s staying in his room and reading.
My refurbished wind chimes (Grace Notes Earthsong Medium, tuned to a mellow pentatonic scale – click here to listen) came home yesterday, all shined up and repaired! The CEO gave them to me twelve years ago, and they had needed repair. I’m glad to have them back. When Gaze and I took them out of the box and they rang out in the house, Hunter started singing with them. He’s so funny!
Sunday, Feb. 12 – Taz is better today. The bottle of Le Temps d’une Fete was calling to me, and it’s still warm, so I got a good three spritzes in. I’m going to be so sad when it’s all gone.
Monday, Jan. 30: We got about 3 inches of snow last night, and the word went out that school would be delayed two hours. Seemed reasonable for this amount of snow. Then the phone rang at 6:37 this morning (!!!) with a robocall message that school would now be closed. So the boys were home all day, except for taking the opportunity to get their hair cut (it’s tough to manage that when they’re busy from 8 am to 6 pm every day). I tried to prepare for our upcoming trip. SOTD was the never-wrong No.5 Eau Premiere.
Tuesday, Jan. 31: The CEO, looking a bit haggard, told me at breakfast that the control panel for the dog’s Invisible Fence was beeping intermittently last night, and it had kept waking him up. He was hoping that I wouldn’t have to stay home this week and take care of getting it fixed because we cannot let Hunter run free. There are too many sheep and goats in close proximity, and then there’s a four-lane highway about 500 yards away (over a rise and past the neighbor’s field). I checked with Invisible Fence and found that the beep means our backup battery needs replacing, but everything should be okay unless we lose power for some reason. Whew.
We left around 10:30 a.m. and headed for Nashville, TN. This is The CEO’s last year on the Cattlemen’s Beef Board (an advisory committee for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association), so his attendance at the annual convention is all paid for by the CBB. I tagged along. The convention is being held at the Opryland Hotel in Nashville this year. I’d never been here before. It is GIGANTIC. I mean HUGE ENORMOUS. I mean, the thing has nine acres of indoor gardens under roof, and that doesn’t include the convention center or the many (expensive boutiquey) shops or the (expensive delicious) restaurants included at the hotel. I keep getting lost. Luckily, the views are lovely even if you have no idea what you’re looking at or how to find your room.
SOTD was the lovely and comfortable Cuir de Lancome,but that had worn off by the time we wanted dinner. I brought a few decants and samples with me, and picked Teo Cabanel Ohabecause rose chypres go well with food. Dinner at Ravello’s (two floors down from our room) was delicious: lobster and shrimp tortellini, plus homemade bread with fresh-tomato topping, and a glass of Riesling. The bill: $101, with tip. Ouch.
Wednesday, Feb. 1: Much warmer here than at home, though we’re only 1 degree of latitude farther south. The altitude here is just under 600 feet above sea level; home sits at 2103 feet, so maybe that’s the big difference. We ate breakfast buffet at Shoney’s, and then I dropped The CEO off for meetings and went looking for a Wal-Mart, in order to pick up a few things we managed to leave behind. It was an adventure.
Tennesseans are known for driving fast. My aunt lives in Knoxville, TN, and I well remember my dad’s hatred of driving in the area when we visited her; you can be motoring along at what you think is a pretty decent clip, maybe 5-7 miles over the speed limit, and cars with TN plates are whooshing past you, a good 10mph faster. I’ve been driving for a little over thirty years, and Virginia-Tennessee traffic overlaps a good bit — but I can count the number of times I’ve passed a car with Tennessee plates ON ONE HAND. Truth.
I found the cutest coral faux-leather tote at the Mart of Wal, for $8. It reverses to a light peach-pink. Up close, you can tell it’s not leather, but you know what? I like it anyway. DON’T JUDGE ME.
SOTD was Chanel Les Exclusifs 1932 EdP. I’ve mentioned this before – the new version has less of that glorious happy-happy citrus topnote, but the drydown is a lot like a lighter 31 Rue Cambon, so I’m okay with the new stuff. I smellz gud. Dinner was Fajitas for Two at Chuy’s at the nearby Opry Mills mall: $40, including drinks and tip. That’s more like it.
Thursday, Feb. 2: Luncheon honoring the advisory board members who are rotating off their terms of service. While The CEO was in meetings during the afternoon, I went back to the mall and shopped. I bought a nice businessy skirt to go with my black blazer, and a blouse to go with both. Then found Bookworm some “interview clothes” at the Ann Taylor shop, and some jeans for the boys, and then I found myself a $24 bottle of Lolita Lempicka Eau de Minuit. I’ve been waffling on buying a bottle of Lolita Lempicka since Rome; this one (a 2013 LE) was on clearance.
Walked a lot more than I usually do; my Fitbit hit 10K steps before dinner. We ate with the guy from Meat Importers Council of America, and some other CBB members as well as two Kiwis and an Aussie from MICA. Yummy food, good conversation. The LL EdM goes fine with dinner, btw.
Friday, Feb. 3: More meetings for The CEO. I walked some, wrote some, walked some more and wrote some more. SOTD was more LL EdMinuit. Lunch was a salad, and by 6 pm I was utterly starving. And grouchy.
The grouch really did not go away until we ate at Mission BBQ, one of those “upscale fast food” places where you order and pay at the counter just like you would at McDonald’s, but the food is less junky. I had the pulled pork, The CEO had brisket. We had cole slaw and green beans and mac-n-cheese, too. There were six — count ’em, six! — separate pour-on sauces on the table, as well as a big dousing bottle of “Carolina Vinegar Mix-it-up Sauce.” I tried them all: Bay-B-Que (tomato-based with Old Bay seasoning), Memphis Belle (smoky and sweet red), Tupelo Honey Heat (honey and hot peppers), KC Classic (thick ketchup-based, like Kraft bottled sauce), Texas Twang (classic red sauce darkened by black pepper, Worcestershire and A1), and Smoky Mountain (little bit-a-tomato, lots of black pepper, smoky flavor, thinned by vinegar). They were all good, but my favorite was Smoky Mountain; I really love a vinegar-tomato sauce for pork barbecue.
I find it endlessly fascinating that “barbecue” means different things in different places. For example, there are places where that word means what we southerners would call “cook on an outdoor grill.” I’m not going to say that’s wrong, it’s just not what barbecue means around here. And the variants on BBQ are as different as they are definitive! Virginia isn’t one of the places where people are adamant about their barbecue being done Just So. It isn’t Eastern North Carolina, where if you suggest that the vinegar/spice sauce could use a mite bit of ketchup, you’ll get shunned. It isn’t Texas, where “barbecue” just means beef, brisket and/or ribs, with not an oinker in sight. It isn’t dry-rub-only, red-sauce-only, Alabama horseradish white sauce, hickory-smoked-only, pork-shoulder-versus-whole-hog, chopped-versus-pulled, “you can’t call it barbecue unless it’s pit cooked for two days,” “our way is the only right way and the rest of y’all are HEATHENS.” Nope. We Virginians might have preferences* with regards to our barbecue, but we’re too busy sampling alllll the forms of barbecue to fight over them. Virginians are the United Nations of BBQ, if you will, and we’re probably happier for it. Red Hot & Blue Memphis-style? East Carolina chopped? Dry-rubbed Texas short ribs? We’ll take whatever ya got.
(* My BBQ preferences are rather catholic for this area: pulled pork, please, preferably pit-cooked, with a Western North Carolina tomato-vinegar sauce. Pass the Texas Pete hot sauce, and don’t forget the cole slaw. That’s good eatin’. Bookworm loves to come home from Yankeeland 😉 and get her some pulled pork, and my sister would get cravings for pork barbecue that couldn’t be satisfied in the Land of Beef BBQ.)
Saturday, Jan. 4: We checked out of the hotel around 9 a.m., grabbed breakfast at Shoney’s, and got on the road. SOTD was Le Galion La Rose, a pretty almost-soliflore with an ambered woody base. It’s a dull drive, except for going up the western side of the Appalachians near Knoxville. I got hungry again (surprise!) near Bristol, around 4:30 p.m., so we ate late lunch/early supper then, and were home by 7 p.m. The dog was so happy to see us that he wigglebutted his way around the house for a good half-hour!
The boys did well at their track meet today; both of them qualified (Taz by a margin of .04 second) for the 3200M run at their conference.
Sunday, Jan. 5: Got up in time for church, but couldn’t get everybody out the door to be on time. Grr. SOTD is Parfum Sacre because it’s comforting. I’m exhausted, didn’t sleep well, and my ‘puter just ate a gigantic chunk of my Scent Diary. GRRR. I’m not even interested in the Super Bowl. I hate the Patriots. I’ve hated them since the 1980s, when some of their players were bent on embarrassing female sports reporters and the front office had nothing to offer but “boys will be boys, and if you don’t want to be bothered, don’t go in the locker room.” Uh, NOPE. In my opinion, the Pats have never been a classy organization, and Deflategate did nothing to change my opinion. I don’t have an opinion on Tom Brady one way or another, except that he works for some trashy people.
I can’t believe they won. Again. Bleargh. I’m taking a hot bath and going to bed.
Monday, Jan. 23: Rain. More rain. I am officially sick of rain, especially since I know that if the temperatures were colder, this precipitation would be snow. We need more snow. I need to wear some aldehydes in the winter cold, and it isn’t cold! Boo hiss. (Maybe I need to move farther north, so I get more winter and less summer? I’ll have to look into the possibility of picking up the farm and moving it… 😉 ) Wearing Memoir Woman and wishing for snow.
It looks like the washing machine has finally bitten the dust. It won’t spin. Must find a new one. But a traditional agitator type, or one of the new high-efficiency ones? I don’t know.
Tuesday, Jan. 24: The rain finally seems to be drying up. (GOOD. ‘Bout time.) Wearing Organza Indecence, which is not normally my kinda thing, and sometimes the dry-dusty patchouli in it gets on my nerves, but we’re getting along fine today. It might be my favorite vanilla scent, because it’s not about the vanilla.
Hunter is about to DIE of excitement because there are sheep in the shop lot. DIE, I tell you. He desperately, desperately wants to go play with the sheep, and I won’t open the gate and let them come into the yard, so he thinks I’m mean. Rotten Freaky Squeaky. He has been on the wrong side of the door alllllll day.
The sheep are in the shop lot because Lamb #7, two days old, has a lame foot. Could be due to birth trauma; we’re not sure. Gaze thought it would be best to confine the whole herd (now numbering 15) to a small area so the lamb wouldn’t have to walk far to keep up with his mama. He is apparently nursing well and seems to be doing okay. Incidentally, the sheep seem completely untroubled by the rain. They can go under the overhang of the shop roof, where we park the tractors, to stay dry if they want, but none of them have bothered to do so.
Wednesday, Jan. 25: The rain has finally abated. I’m still waffling on whether to get a traditional agitator-type washer, or one of the newer HE “tumbler” types. Consumer Reports says the HE ones clean better and get more water out of the clothes, as well as using far less water to begin with, but since The CEO likes to do the laundry and doesn’t trust the new tech, I guess we’ll go with agitator.
SOTD is Chanel 1932 EdP (the new version). The breathtakingly beautiful citrus opening of the original EdT is a bit muted, but the drydown is a gorgeous lightweight version of 31 Rue Cambon, so overall I’m happy with it.
Unfortunately, when Gaze went out to check the sheep this evening and give them some minerals, he found Lamb #7 lying dead, with not a mark on it. It definitely did not starve, and it wasn’t savaged by animals, so we don’t know what happened to it. The CEO surmises that perhaps it had a more extensive birth defect than we could see.
Thursday, Jan. 26: Not feeling so great today. Sampling Chanel Beige, wishing it were either prettier or more interesting. You know I have a weakness for the “just-pretties,” and I’ll tolerate a good bit of formulaic development if they’re really lovely, but Beige is not hitting that sweet spot for me. Eventually I got rid of it and put on some vintage Emeraude. Gosh, old Emeraude is beautiful.
The boys went off to their first MACC (academic challenge team) match this afternoon. When Taz walked in the door and I asked him how it went, his only response was, “80-15.”
“But did you win?” I asked.
He cocked an eyebrow at me. “I said the score was 80-15. You think EastMont scored that high on us?”
Okay, point taken. Their Social Studies team is pretty good, and last year they only lost one regular-season match, to the eventual regional champion. EastMont was not that team.
(Bookworm was on the Science team, but Gaze and Taz are history/geography geeks. I guess they come by their geekdom honestly… as kids, The CEO and I spent hours poring over the encyclopedia, just for fun. It’s why we still have an encyclopedia set, even though it’s much easier to just Google stuff: because if you just turn the page when you’re finished looking up whatever you wanted to know, you’ll probably learn something else too. We still subscribe to the newspaper for similar reasons.)
Friday, Jan. 27: COLD today. (Yessss.) And we have a new washing machine. The local place had a sale going on certain Whirlpool and Maytag models. There are other stores in the area, but Pulaski Appliance services what they sell, right away. You don’t have to wait three weeks like you do when you call Lowe’s or Sears repair services, and that’s valuable to us.
Saturday, Jan. 28: Still cold, yay. No track meet today. Gaze went to have an interview with a Princeton alum this afternoon; he said he thought it went okay. (Bookworm had done a couple of these as well — one with a Yale alumnus and one with a Princeton guy. They’re not required, and they’re not even available in all areas; it seems to depend on alumni volunteering to do interviews with prospective students. The Ivy League universities Bookworm applied to were pretty upfront about how much weight these interviews carry: not much. I suspect that they are mostly meant to answer the question, “Is this applicant the same person in real life as he or she is on paper?”)
With the cold has come the stink bugs. Ugh. We sometimes get them coming into the house in autumn, but hadn’t seen many this past one. In the last few days, The CEO and I have personally dispatched about a dozen of them. There are few things more unnerving than having one of these suckers go droning past your ear like a miniature B-52 and then landing THWAT on the laptop screen. (Or, worse, on your head. Which has happened to me exactly once, and that was more than enough.) Luckily, they’re not too hard to catch. You just have to be careful not to scare them, or squish them, because then they put out the most ungodly smell. I accidentally smushed one in a door frame once, not having seen it perched there on the jamb before I closed the door. It was gross.
The CEO and I went to see a Billy Joel tribute band this evening. The Stranger was fantastic, and I hope to see them in concert again at some point. If you ever get the chance to see these guys, GO. (SOTD, by the way, was the ever-gorgeous Frederic Malle Editions de Parfums Carnal Flower, which is wonderful in winter. In fact the first time I tried it, the temperature was below zero, and that terrific florist-case opening, with the mentholated tuberose, was a stunner. I love it better in winter than in summer, when it zips through its development too fast.)
Sunday, Jan. 29: Still cold! We woke up late and were 8 minutes late to church. (My fault, probably.) Got a compliment after church on my scent of the day: Pierre de Velay No. 11, a nice floral chypre thingie that I do wish I could a) afford and b) obtain. I don’t think Roja Dove ships to the US. The complimenter wears, I think, Coty L’Aimant, and has an appreciation for old-school frags. “I love it,” she said. “It’s… earthy.”
I always forget how much fun it is to do mini-reviews! I should do more of them.
Masque Milano Romanza: Okay, so you know I love me some narcissus, right? Oh, how I do love it. PdN Le Temps d’une Fete is still my favorite narcissus scent (not to mention, probably favorite scent of all time. OF ALL TIME, y’all), but I’m always looking for another narcissus scent. So then this Masque thingie showed up on the fumie blogs and I had to sample.
It’s pretty great, actually. The first five minutes it’s all drrrty intoxicating narcissus and a whap of something aromatic and bitter, and then that animalic stuff recedes to a lovely floral – narcissus and jasmine with green leaves. After that, the scent dwindles gradually to a vetiver-cedar base, very pleasant. The drydown sticks around for the bulk of the time the scent’s on my skin, but that’s not the part I love, so this will never be a replacement for LTdF. All the same, it’s very good.
L’Artisan Parfumeur Natura Fabularis Tenebrae 26: Somebody I know from a fragrance split group offered a bottle split of several of L’Artisan’s Natura Fabularis (“Nature Mythology,” according to three different Latin-to-English online translators). Tenebrae was the one that seized my attention for some reason, and although the split didn’t work out — not enough takers, I think — I decided to sample it.
This is not at all my usual sort of thing, of course. But something about the description, “a ‘dense and dark forest’ with incense, resins and sap,” just whispered that I needed to try it. Tenebrae means “shadows,” and I guess I was in a shadowy sort of mood, maybe. At this remove, I don’t remember.
So is it dark and dense? Is it foresty, shadowy, a David Lynch movie in a bottle? Nope. There’s enough vetiver and dry cedar in here that it comes off being quite light and dry and pleasant. The incense is prominent. Forest? Sap? Not so much. This reminds me a good bit of CdG Incense: Zagorsk, which I like. Good stuff. The juice is sort of light bluish-green, which I also like. It lasted for a good five hours on my skin, a big surprise for something that wears this lightly.
Serge Lutens Cèdre: this is the Serge that’s famous for its name being all Le Labo-misdirectiony, as in “Where’s the cedar? This is all tuberose!” (or amber, depending on who’s reviewing it). It’s also famous for being, and I’m quoting more than one person here, weird. I blew it off for a long time, but I finally broke down and got a sample, so I could check my opinion against everybody else’s.
Not that anybody is talking about Cedre these days. It’s one of the older scents in the Lutens stables, yet not a classic, so people forget about it. The official notes are cedar, tuberose, cinnamon, honey, musk and amber.
I put a dab of this thing on my left hand, and then I burst out laughing. Because, yes, it’s weird. It’s got some seeeeerious menthol going on the first two minutes, almost as minty as Tubereuse Criminelle, and then the next thought I have is, Hey, this is like the early blueprint for Memoir Woman: weird mint-spice thing, big white floral thing, cat-butt musk and leather. I love Memoir Woman, which has Almost Too Much, including a bizarrely medicinal opening, going on for its own good.
Twenty minutes later, the honey is coming to the forefront of Cedre and the whole thing is getting softer and sweeter, muskier and cat-furrier. It’s less weird, though I would not call it conventional by any stretch of the imagination. And yes, there is (eventually) cedar in here, although I’m still getting a very caramelly-buttery tuberose all the way to the bottom. Good 4.5-hour sticking power, not much waft, but that might be the fault of applying from a dab sample. Four hours is a pretty good EdP ride for me and my scent-eating skin; your mileage may vary.
This is kinda nice. It’s got way less teeth than Memoir Woman, though, so I think I’m finding it a little tame. (inorite? In 2009 I’d have probably run screaming from it found it too weird to wear, but now I’m all blasé and claiming it’s not teethy enough for me. Heh.)
Monday, Jan. 16: Martin Luther King Junior Day. No school. Last day of The CEO’s winter break. Gaze’s sheep have new lambs. SOTD is Iris Poudre. birthday-present DVD of “The Sting” came in the mail the other day, so we watched it after dinner. Gosh, it’s a good movie, and the performances in it are good… but I can’t help wondering how it would have been with different actors in the lead roles. It seems clear that the Redford role, Hooker, was meant for a young guy, not the 30-something Redford was at the time. Also, just in case you’ve never noticed, the guy playing Hooker’s fellow con man Luther at the beginning is Robert Earl Jones, father of James Earl Jones. Yep, that’s Darth’s dad! I hadn’t noticed it myself, until a couple of years ago. The movie was on, but I was only listening to it while I did some other things, and that voice sounded so familiar…
Tuesday, Jan. 17: Rain. Bleargh. Also, I miss Bookworm. Testing various samples today. Kind of nice to have the house to myself again, though. Gaze got a letter from our Congressman, nominating him to all three of the service academies, so that’s pretty awesome! Went to bed wearing Le Temps d’une Fete.
Wednesday, Jan. 18: Rain. The boys are sick and stayed home from school today, Taz with a stomach bug (he woke me up last night to tell me that he’d thrown up, and then threw up again while I was getting him some anti-nausea medication) and Gaze with a fever and nasty cough. I am very very lightly scented in Mariella Burani.
Thursday, Jan. 19: Lots of errands, busy day. Too warm for January. The boys are feeling better, so they went back to school today. SOTD was Pierre de Velay Extrait No. 11, a classic floral chypre from Roja Dove.
Friday, Jan. 20: Wish it would quit raining. I tested some samples in the morning, then put one tiny spritz of DK Black Cashmereon. Dinner was fabulous Mahi Mahi with Cajun seasoning, topped with Shrimp Creole. Yum.
Saturday, Jan. 21: The boys headed off to their indoor track meet in the morning. Except that this meet is actually a “polar bear” meet, held outside. It was a last-minute replacement for a meet that got canceled last week, and the school hosting it doesn’t have an indoor track. Most of the indoor tracks in the area belong to universities. So: they ran outside in 50F and light rain, and we parents tried to avoid walking anywhere on the ground, which is saturated with recent rain. My feet were wet by the time I had been there for five minutes. Grr. Gaze, still fighting off a nasty cough, didn’t run. Taz missed qualifying for Regionals in the 3200m by 5 seconds. It was kind of a bust.
And I rushed out the door without perfume, which didn’t help. After we got home at 4:30 p.m., starving, I made Breakfast for Dinner (pancakes, bacon, some leftover sausages, and fruit) and put on some Organza Indecence for warmth.
Sunday, Jan. 22: Ugh, this rain. You know how whatever the weather was when you were a kid becomes “normal” weather in your mind? The 1970s were an unusually cold and snowy decade, compared with the rest of the 20th century, and my childhood Januarys were full of sledding and snowmen and days off from school. (They were also full of birthday parties postponed for inclement weather, but still. Snow.) Away with this abominable rain!
SOTMorning: Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, BWF with a creamy feeling and a dark balsamic thread at the base. The afternoon I spent testing Serge Lutens Cedre, and then that made me wantMemoir Woman, so I spritzed some of that.
Hope it stops raining soon. Or gets cold enough that the precip turns to snow. HMPH.
Monday, Jan. 9: No school because of the snow. We started the Traditional School Snow Day Lord of the Rings Movie Marathon (we have the extended versions. Of course we do.) and ate meals in front of the fireplace. Temps were below 20F. SOTD was Donna Karan Black Cashmere, which despite its edgy spices and incense is extremely cozy. Somehow the whole of it isn’t edgy at all, but creamy and comforting.
Tuesday, Jan. 10: Still below freezing, but slightly warmer. School was on a 2-hour delay schedule today, so the boys were gone, but Bookworm and I continued the TSSDLOTRMM with The Two Towers. (Interestingly, I find the soundtrack for this movie the best of the three, though I’m not quite sure why that’s so since many of the musical themes are consistent throughout. Maybe there is too much ominous Mordor stuff in the third movie soundtrack for me, but I do love this one. I bought the soundtrack the week after seeing this movie in the theater, and Taz practically wore it out.)
SOTD was Ferre 20, which I bought in Rome in 2010 as a souvenir of a lovely trip. If I try to describe it, I come up with something like “aldehydic fruity floral musk,” which to be honest sounds just awful. However, it isn’t. It’s really pretty, something along the lines of Iris Poudre but easier. We had a lovely dinner with my parents to celebrate my birthday, and they gave me a pretty garnet pendant necklace.
Wednesday, Jan. 11: Yep, so I’m another year older today. It rained and temperatures rose into the low 40s overnight, so the snow is almost gone. My sweet MIL came by and picked Bookworm and me up to take us out for breakfast, which was a real treat. I wore Iris Poudre for real today; it’s such a cashmere scarf of a scent.
Bookworm helped me make a cake, and we ate lasagna for dinner. I worked on finishing up some alterations and hemming of her clothes since she’s planning to leave for spring semester later on in the week. (We always buy her petite sizes, but I always wind up cutting 2-3 inches off her pants and jeans anyway!)
Thursday, Jan. 12: It’s actually warm today! In the mid-50s, if you can believe it. SOTD was a tad (you only need a tad) of MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme, that dark Gothic rose scent.
The community chorus’ spring concert will be pop music from the 50’s and 60’s, which is not exactly my favorite (c’mon, I did enough of this stuff back in high school choir), but everybody else seems to be having fun. And we will be in costume, so that ought to be fun for me. It can’t always be “Messiah,” I guess.
Friday, Jan. 13: Bookworm has been dithering about going back to New Haven either today or tomorrow, but since she doesn’t HAVE to be there until Monday evening, for a FroCo informational meeting before classes start on Tuesday, she decided to stay until Saturday. YAY! We had a nice lunch with my parents and some of my aunts and uncles. (Aunt Becky made us a cheese ball, yum… someday I’ll get her recipe.) SOTD was beloved Le Temps d’une Fete.
Poor Gaze went to the first day of a two-day indoor track meet and got home hoooooours later. The varsity team left the high school at 11:30 a.m. and drove two hours to Lynchburg for this massive meet. Gaze was supposed to run his event at 9:30 p.m. (which is bad enough), but he ran at 12:30 a.m. Yes, that’s right: half an hour after midnight. Ugh. He didn’t do well — you’re surprised, aren’t you?? 😉 — and the team didn’t get home until 3:30. GAH. I stayed up until 1 a.m., waiting to hear from him, but then I went to bed.
Saturday, Jan. 14: Since the varsity team got back so unbelievably late last night, the junior varsity team went to their meet today on the bus, and the varsity team wound up in various parent-driven vehicles. Taz did fairly well at the JV meet, coming home at 7 pm with a 3rd place (3200m) and a 6th (1600). Gaze, at the varsity meet, again had a rough time. The meet timeclock wasn’t working, he barely got any sleep, ate poorly during the day, and then somebody cut in front of him and caused him to stumble during the race… he missed the qualifying time for regionals by 1 second. One second! Grrr.
Bookworm and I finished the TSSDLOTRMM and ate leftover chili, and snuggled a lot. I really miss her when she’s gone. She’d planned to drive back today, but since an ice storm hit a long portion of the country she must drive through, she decided to wait until Sunday. Oddly enough, the forecast for here was clear, and the forecast for New Haven was as well, but Pennsylvania got hit with the ugly weather stick.
Sunday, Jan. 15: Bookworm headed out about 7:30 a.m., and I snuck in another hour of sleep before getting up for church. SOTD was Mary Greenwell Plum. I need a nap.
Sunday, Jan. 1, 2017: Chilly. Rainy. My thought on 2017, as it begins, is that it would have to work really hard to be worse than 2016, so let’s be good to each other this year and see how it goes. SOTD is Cuir de Lancome and I smell nice.
We went to see Rogue One (Star Wars) at the movie theater today and had a great time. I practically had to twist The CEO’s arm to go — he’d heard that it was “not a real Star Wars movie,” and he usually hates to spend the money to go see a film in the theater unless he’s really excited about it. As it turned out, we all thought it was enjoyable: a tight, exciting story exploring the history of how the Rebel Alliance actually got hold of those Death Star plans in the first place. We went to the “good” theater, too, which is a half-hour’s drive away via Interstate but modern, comfortable, uncrowded and quite reasonably priced ($6.75 for matinee tickets, wow).
Monday, Jan. 2: Warmer and dry today, and I’m glad the weather is more comfortable for our trip to see my parents. They were gone over Christmas, visiting my sister and her family (including that new baby!), and Mom’s back is still bothering her. SOTD is Caron Parfum Sacre.
Tuesday, Jan. 3: SOTD, the golden and joyous and Christmassy Teo Cabanel Alahine. It’s time to take down the Christmas decorations. We usually start decorating about the second week in December, and then unless there’s an event we need to schedule around like there was this year, we un-decorate on New Year’s Day. That’s about as long as I want the Christmas stuff up, honestly. I’m not judging folks who put their tree up at the beginning of November…
… well, okay, maybe I’m judging them a little bit, but in an “I just don’t get it,” sort of way and not a “That is so trashy,” sort of way. I love decorating, but I really don’t want Christmas stuff up while I am still enjoying the end of autumn. If you are perfectly fine with celebrating Thanksgiving with a Christmas tree and a Nativity set up, good on you, but my preference is generally to finish up one season before I start on a new one.
Wednesday, Jan. 4: SOTD is Ferre 20 by Gianfranco Ferre, which I bought from a little shop in Rome; I was just in the mood for this comfy aldehydic floral musk. The CEO came home from his checkup and said, “Hey, you know we’ve been talking about trading in your minivan for a small crossover SUV, right? They’ve got a couple of nice ones at the certified-used dealership…”
We are typically the kind of people who consult Consumer Reports and shop around for sales and good deals over a couple of months, whether we’re buying a car or a dishwasher… but somehow we wound up buying a 2013 Kia Sorento, after test-driving it and having our mechanic check it out. I’m still shocked at the quick decision! I was okay with continuing to drive the 2007 Grand Caravan, but the low gas mileage (20-22 mpg) was starting to feel like a burden, especially since we’re not hauling around multiple kids in car seats anymore, and the van wasn’t getting any younger. I’m very pleased with the Sorento.
Thursday, Jan. 5: No scent of the day today. Bookworm has a cold and feels yucky, and I’m hanging out with her, so I just skipped fragrance today. We watched The Commitments and I ironed clothes: boring, low-key, nice.
Friday, Jan. 6: SOTD is Dior Poison. I really used to hate it back in the day, when everybody was wearing six spritzes too many, and you couldn’t walk through a girls’ dorm without needing a gas mask to survive the Poison fumes… now? potent but cuddly dark-berried white floral. My bottle is ca. 2003, and it’s missing that truly toxic vibe it used to have; I don’t know what that is. Brian at I Smell Therefore I Am thinks it’s the old musks… well, maybe, but that resinous cough-syrup-of-death thing that used to scare me so much seems to be missing as well. In principle, that might be good, but I notice that I hardly ever wear Poison, and I think that’s because it’s both nicer and less interesting than it used to be.
Since we’re supposed to get snow over the weekend, the boys’ indoor track meet has been canceled so they’ll get to stay home tomorrow. We stacked up a big pile of firewood and I’ve made cider for tomorrow, and we’re ready.
I’ve been playing around at Allrecipes.com and saving my favorite recipes there, since Bookworm has expressed a need for a cookbook with all the family specialties in it. I figure this ought to work just as well as a paper cookbook.
Saturday, Jan. 7: SNOW! Not enough to go sledding in, unfortunately, and with the wind, it feels like 4F outside BRRRRRRRR. We drank hot chocolate and cleaned up the house, and then when the boys went over to a friend’s house in the evening, The CEO and Bookworm and I watched Birdman. (My thoughts on it: How on EARTH did this pretentious, artsy-fartsy, depressing nonsense win awards? Gah. There’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back.)
SOTD was Amouage Gold, and I know I’m going to horrify at least one person, but — I don’t like it. I know, I know! I’m the AldeHo, I should like Gold. I kinda like Dia, though I wasn’t tempted in the least to buy it, and the Gold body lotion is wonderful on my mom. I had tried it from a sample someone sent me back in, oh, 2010 maybe?, and I didn’t like it then. My notes say it was “too big,” and I don’t think that anymore, but like vintage Arpege parfum, Gold is… thick. And heavy. And animalic. I didn’t feel elegant in it, I felt stinky. (And also like I ought to lose my AldeHo card.)
Sunday, Jan. 8: All the local churches were canceling services today, and I expected ours would as well, since we meet in one of the local elementary schools and there’s no guarantee the school system will scrape the parking lot before Monday. However, we all overslept, and when we woke up with half an hour to eat something, get dressed, and leave the house, theNOAA website said that the temperature with wind chill was -8F. That’s -22 Celsius, btw. DOUBLE BRRRR. So we decided to stay home. I made choc-chip pancakes for breakfast, chili for dinner, and put on some Soivohle Centennial for the warm fuzzies effect.
You have no idea how strongly tempted I was to leave this post completely blank.
As in, there was no best of 2016.
In a year that saw the deaths of so many favorite entertainers as well as a particularly vicious and disheartening political scene in the US, not to mention tragedies the world over, it’s hard to find any “best of.” This was not a great year for me personally, though it did hold some highlights — namely, the birth of my youngest nephew and some great trips to Hawai’i and Belize.
Even where perfume is concerned, I don’t have much to say since I tested few new fragrances this year. According to Basenotes, there were 1580 fragrances (heavens, don’t go check, it’s overwhelming!) released in 2016, of which I smelled maybe a dozen? For what they’re worth, however, here are my thoughts on the new releases I did manage to smell:
Chanel No. 5 L’eau: Well-done, an update that keeps the spirit of the original. But I don’t like it. All that laundry musk! No, thanks.
Eris Parfums Belle de Jour, Ma Bete, and Night Flower: I am a big fan of Barbara Herman’s writing; her book Scent and Subversion is a fun read, and I still read her reviews of vintage classics at Yesterday’s Perfume blog. I was pretty thrilled to hear that she was launching a new fragrance created by perfumer Antoine Lie, and then it turned into three new fragrances described as “vintage floral animalics” and I was even more excited. I really need to give these full reviews. In a nutshell, they’re nicely composed, coherent, throwback in the best kind of way, and yet somehow I didn’t love any of them. (Maybe I need more “floral” in my vintage floral animalics? In any case, it’s not Eris, it’s me.)
Alexander McQueen McQueen Parfum: Luxurious, decadent, wide-load Big White Floral. I like it. I like it a lot, actually, but it’s not exactly reinventing the wheel. If you enjoy this genre, you’ve smelled something close to it before. I already own a buncha BWFs, and the price on this one is high enough to discourage purchase.
LM Parfums Aldheyx: This is your friendly AldeHo here, saying Don’t Bother With This One. I suppose I was thinking this could be something like Iris Poudre, that face-powder-and-maribou-mules fluffy delight. Nope, it’s soap and Conversation Hearts candy, in an old record store swept clean.
Amouage Myths Woman: Sort of a cross between Parfums de Nicolaï Le Temps d’une Fete and Balmain Jolie Madame, both of which I love, with galbanum and narcissus and jasmine over a deep, dry base. The narcissus in this thing is utterly swoony, I tell you. Unfortunately for me, Myths W ends up with more of that early-’70s type vetiver-musk drydown than I’m really comfortable in, and so I don’t adore it the way I do the other two. Very well done, very worth trying if you like narcissus.
Dame Perfumery Soliflores – Gardenia, Narcissus, Rose de Mai: All gorgeous. All relatively short-lived, but quite inexpensive so I don’t mind. The gardenia is almost bleu-cheesy, so beware if you hate that, but it avoids the earthy thing I don’t like. The rose is just plain lovely. The narcissus is truly funky up top, but very quickly moves to narcotic. Wow.
Tom Ford Orchid Soleil – Plasticky cake-batter white floral. Um, no. I mean, it’s kinda genius in a Barbie doll sort of way, but it makes me feel sick.
Maria Candida Gentile Rrose Sèlavy – To be frank, a disappointment. I was expecting the “green notes, May rose, Turkish rose” in the description, but this one is pretty patchouli-heavy and rather bitter with some harsh woods. Boo. On the other hand, a guy could probably carry this one off with aplomb.
Charlotte Tilbury Scent of a Dream – apparently, Charlotte Tilbury is one of those makeup artists who become minor celebrities and then launch their own makeup lines (something like Mary Greenwell, whose first fragrance, Plum, I still love). This was described as a woody floral with pheromones (yeah, right!), and it sounded nice, so I scrounged a manufacturer sample. It’s a lot like Coco Mademoiselle, a patchouli floral, only minus that screechy high-pitched icepick-to-the-eyesocket thing that ruins Coco Mlle for me. It is also unfortunately minus the nice Chanelly drydown, with a metric tonne of Iso-E Super instead. After a period of time, it makes my head hurt. The packaging is terrible, like a plastic reproduction of Depression glass.
Giorgio Armani Sì Le Parfum – the extrait version of the original. It’s another Coco Mlle/La Vie Est Belle/Flowerbomb “pink chypre” clone. I liked Scent of a Dream better, TBH, because it was way less sugary.
I tested a fair number of Alkemia and SIXTEEN92 (indies you can find on Etsy) fragrances as well, too many to name or review individually. All of these were oil-format, and I need to tell you that 2016 was also the year in which I swore off oil-format fragrances forever. My skin is a good deal drier than it was in 2009 when I first started seriously testing stuff, and I find now that oils sink in and don’t radiate scent at all past the first ten minutes. For me, that’s a waste. I’m not even trying with these anymore. (Of course there’s an exception, which is Tauer Rose Delight body oil, which does last for several hours on me and pleases me very much with its gourmand rose during, but maybe the difference is that it is an actual body product rather than an oil-format fragrance?)
I would still like to test these 2016 releases: Masque Romanza (narcissus!), and the rest of the Dame Perfumery Soliflore line, especially Honeysuckle, Osmanthus and Mimosa. Neela Vermeire Rahele sounds like a gorgeous floral. Smell Bent’s Celebrity Garden Party and January are on my radar too. I have samples of the SAVFline (incense) that showed up in my Christmas stocking, as well as one of L’Artisan Natura Fabularis 26 Tenebrae. Penhaligon’s Equinox Bloom(tea, spring flowers) sounds lovely. So does Galop d’Hermes, but I already have Kelly Caleche edp and I’m not convinced I’d need both. I’d like to smell Providence Perfumes’ Love-in-a-Mist, but it’s super-pricey and all-natural, so I won’t test it.
This is the basic for-a-crowd recipe that I always make around Thanksgiving and Christmas — with everybody hanging around the house, it just sits in a big pot on the stove, next to the mugs and the ladle, and I add to it as needed through the day. I don’t know how to cut it down for fewer servings, unless you were to make it once and freeze it in small batches.
I have, in the past, taken the time to deliberately dry orange and lemon peels (see link for a how-to) and store them for use in this cider punch, and that works fine. However, I find that we typically have citrus fruit in the house this time of year anyway since the high school FFA citrus orders arrive the first or second week of December, so I just slice up fresh and add them to the pot.
This recipe has a lot of stretch and give to it, and will accept any number of substitutions, so long as you keep tasting and adjusting. Like it sweeter? add a little more brown sugar, or maple syrup if you have it on hand.
Like it tangy? Add a bit more lemon juice, or leave the sugar out.
I love spice, so I throw lots of cloves and ginger in, but you can adjust the amounts of whole spices however you like. Add a few green cardamom pods or whole star anise if you have access to them (I don’t). If you hate having stuff floating around in your cup and don’t have a strainer to ladle the punch through, you can tie up the spices in a cheesecloth bag.
If you can’t find cider at the grocery, wing it with apple juice instead. Use the frozen juice concentrates if you have to. Because there are are so many flavors in this punch, I can’t taste that much difference. Cider does have more “body” than plain juice, but it is considerably more expensive, too. You decide; either way it will be good.
I tend to buy decaffeinated tea because there are people in my family who are very sensitive to caffeine, but of course the regular works fine.
Like it spiked? Add in a few ounces of bourbon, applejack, or spiced rum, to your taste.
See? That sort of thing. Play with it, have fun. I always enlist Bookworm as my taste-tester when she’s home.
3 quarts to 1 gallon apple cider or apple juice
2 whole oranges, sliced (or substitute 1/2 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, or 3-4 large pieces of dried orange peel)
1 whole lemon, sliced (or substitute 2 tablespoons of juice – bottled is fine)
2-3 individual teabags of black tea, chai, Earl Grey or herbal spice (or combination)
2-4 cinnamon sticks, broken (I hit them with a meat tenderizer – small pieces give more cinnamon flavor)
1-2 tablespoons whole cloves
1/2 – 1 tablespoon whole allspice berries
3-4 small pieces crystallized ginger, or 1-2 peeled disks of fresh ginger
1/4 to 1/2 cup brown sugar, to taste
(For variety, I sometimes add a thawed can of this apple-cherry juice, and a cup of water. The apple-cranberry juice is good, too.)
Pour juice or cider into a large pot and add the citrus slices and whole spices. Heat over medium-low heat until mixture begins to simmer (tiny bubbles forming at the bottom, and/or wisps of steam rise from the top). Then turn heat to very low.
Steep the teabags for 4 minutes separately in 2-3 cups of boiling water. Then, unless you are only using herbal tea (such asCelestial Seasonings Bengal Spice), remove the teabags from the liquid. Heat and time will make black tea taste bitter. Add this brewed tea to the cider mixture, and then add brown sugar until you’re happy with the taste.
Ladle through a strainer to remove the spices and citrus peels. Enjoy!
(As before, blue links are informational and I receive zero financial benefit from them. Any pictures which aren’t The CEO’s are linked to their sources, and please don’t steal his.)
Monday, Nov. 21 – We’re up early and breakfasting on the veranda in the open air before we take our beach things to the rental car and head downtown to Belize City. Bookworm successfully navigates us through the one-way streets (and one intersection where the stoplights are nonfunctional) to the Museum of Belize. Louis pooh-poohed this institution last night, but he doesn’t know us.
You know how some people love the beach so much that they go every vacation? And how some people make the trip to Disneyland every few years? (Actually, I have a college friend who loves Disney World so much that she and her family go every year… and now she’s a travel consultant for Disney. I haven’t used her services, but if you’re thinking of visiting any Disney facility anywhere in the world, I know Holly would arrange something awesome for you:Holly’s Holidays.) Then there are people who vacation somewhere new each time, people who only go skiing, people who visit the same resort in the Poconos every year.
Us? We’re Museum People. Wherever we go, we find the museum(s).
So this morning, we park Big Red on a city street across from the museum and right near the Baptist church school, having on the way passed the Catholic school, the Apostolic Pentecostal school, the Methodist mission school, and the Assembly of God school; the windows are open and we can hear what’s going on in class. (Gaze and Taz are missing two days of school this week, and they’re not sorry!) As we walk to the entrance, we see a sign that states the museum’s hours… and they’re closed on Monday.
The security guard hears us wondering what we’re going to do, and motions to us. “Come on in,” he says. Really? Apparently so. The guy at the front desk tells us that we’re welcome. The CEO asks about the jade head from Altun Ha, and the desk guy explains that it’s kept in a vault within a vault within a vault in the central bank building behind the museum, which itself used to be a prison, and is not available for viewing. “They got it out for people to see it for half a day in 2012, you know, when the Mayan calendar was supposed to end. But bang, put it right back away safe.”
The museum is small, built of stone, and you can clearly see where the cells used to be. There’s an exhibit of Belizean stamps, and a small exhibit of glass and ceramic containers from Colonial times. There is an intense exhibit on slavery in Belize, during the days when it was British Honduras and shipped fine mahogany all over the world. Upstairs, there is a display of Mayan jade ear ornaments and necklaces, and a case containing the skeleton of the elderly man found in a tomb at Altun Ha with the jade head. Here, the head is clearly a replica and not nearly as well done as the replica in the exhibit at Altun Ha; I hope that the skeleton is a replica as well and the real bones have been buried with dignity. There are some really beautiful examples of Mayan pottery as well. All in all, the small museum our host dismissed as not worth the time keeps us engaged for just under two hours.
Then we grab our beach bags from Big Red and walk past two more schools (Anglican and another Catholic) toward the water taxi. The ferry ride takes 45 minutes to Caye Caulker, and although the sky is clouding up, we walk down the island hoping to see if we can find a place to eat the sandwiches we brought. It begins to rain just as we’re passing one of the businesses that advertise snorkeling tours, and we step in to inquire, grateful for the shelter. It’s after noon, and the tour for the day left at 10:30, but they have slots for Tuesday.
We have a tour lined up for Tuesday, to visit the Mayan ruins at Lamanai. Wednesday, then? Wednesday. We take the contact information for Hicaco Tours and walk on.
The rain stops, though everything is still very wet. Behind a sandwich shop that seems to be closed (we’re here at the very end of hurricane season, before the high vacation season starts in December), we find a picnic table and devour our lunch. Gradually the sun comes out and we walk on toward “the split,” the place where a hurricane washed away part of the island in the early 1960s, leaving those who lived or owned property on the northern bit without a good way to reach the southern bit, where the water taxi docks. “They thought about building a bridge,” the guy at the boat tour place told us, “but they figured that another hurricane would just wipe it out again.” I would have thought that a pontoon bridge might be sensible, since the area to be bridged is not large, but apparently the idea has been dismissed.
At the split, we visit the only public restrooms on the island. They’re hard to find and cramped, poorly lit. (This seems like a terribly tourist-unfriendly idea to me: Waikiki has public restrooms. Virginia Beach, Nags Head, Daytona: all have public-access buildings with showers and toilets and stalls where visitors not staying in hotels right near the beach might change into their swimsuits. True, those are all American beaches, but Bondi and Manly, near Sydney, also have public loos.)
The sun finally comes out, and it’s a beautiful day again. We keep seeing open-air kitchens and restaurants with odd hours along the two streets. Whatever they’re cooking (I’m guessing grilled chicken? seafood and plantains?) smells fabulous, but we can’t eat dinner here because the last ferry leaves at 5.
Bookworm and The CEO discover a low-tide area where empty conch shells are strewn about; they pick up three. One of them is a peculiarly greenish color outside, but its inside lip is a gorgeous pinky-orange, like sunset. Hardly anyone is on the beach here, just a few people sunbathing. We find a section of beach and put down our towels; I find several tiny spiral shells, perfect, and some scallop shells so pure and white they could be ceramic. The water is cold, and the sand is so fine it feels like mud underfoot. Farther out there are patches of seagrass. I’m not digging it. I avoid swimming in lakes for just this reason, gross stuff underfoot! We find some grass-free zones and swim around for an hour or two, before we get tired and decide to trudge back up to the split to change out of our suits.
At the ferry terminal, there’s a feisty little chihuahua wearing a nametag that says “Leo,” who amuses himself by sniffing everyone’s bags and shoes before returning to his repeated attempts to eviscerate his stuffed platypus. My feet hurt from walking around in flip-flops, and I’m definitely not well-hydrated, which is my fault for not buying enough water bottles.
Gaze leans against the bulkhead and falls asleep. Bookworm leans on her knees and does the same. Taz produces a paperback book from his backpack (good lord, the child can read anywhere), and The CEO reviews the pictures he took on the beach. Back in Belize City, we’re starving and stunned that all the restaurants near the water taxi entrance are closed now. You’d think they’d stay open and catch tourists taking the last ferry of the day back to the mainland.
We drive around the city looking for an open restaurant, but all the little mom-and-pop “fast food” shops doing brisk business selling garnaches and plates of stew chicken with rice and beans have closed up. It’s 6:30 pm, and the only option we find is a Chinese restaurant. We introduce the boys to the (American, probably) Chinese-restaurant custom of ordering several dishes to share, by asking for Chicken and Broccoli, Pepper Steak, Sweet and Sour Pork, and Vegetable Fried Rice. With it, we get Fantas and Coke and Sprite.
Fanta is everywhere here, in flavors we don’t get at home (pineapple, fruit punch, a weird root beer that tastes like licorice), which reminds me of my childhood. Taz has become fond of red Fantas. The other thing I notice is that the soft drinks are all made with real sugar, and they don’t have that weird whangy aftertaste that ruins nondiet sodas for me nowadays.
Tuesday, Nov. 20 – Lamanai day! The CEO has been thrilled about this jaunt since he booked it last week: an hourlong drive north from Belize City to the boat location in Orange Walk, then an hourlong boat trip through “crocodile-infested waters” to Lamanai and a tour, lunch included, then the boat trip and drive back to our guest house.
We start early. Ian the tour guide is a careful driver; we have to pause several times for uniformed students to exit school buses. There are government schools, Ian says, but most everyone sends their children to the church-run ones. On the way, we marvel at the various colors people have painted their houses here — mostly pastels, some vivid sherbety colors. It would look silly in Virginia, we agree, but in the tropics it’s delightful. Ian stops once, to buy plantain chips for the monkey we’ll get to feed on the trip, and we see a farm truck hauling Brahma-cross cattle. “For market in Guatemala,” Ian tells us. “We mostly eat chicken and seafood here, some pork, some beef.”
When we get to the boat dock at Lamanai Belize Tours, it’s cool under the trees, but we sunscreen up and bug-spray ourselves anyway. Our boat includes the five of us, a couple from Louisiana, and Ian, and we’re ready! We go a little ways upriver to see the spider monkey that hangs around (literally) in the same spot most of the time, and about half of us choose to feed him plantain chips. He poses for pictures.
Then we’re speeding back down the Rio Nuevo, which is particularly funny to us since the river we live near in Virginia is also called the New River. (Generally considered by geologists to be one of the five oldest rivers in the world, its name is contrary.) The vegetation ranges from small trees at the edge of the water to bushes to water lilies, and we see many waterbirds.
At Lamanai, “Submerged Crocodile,” we have to hurry the start of our tour because, Ian says, we’re attempting to get through before the cruise ship tours start. Our tour, with no set time to be back at the ship before it leaves port, will be more extensive than the one the cruisers get, but we’d better get going.
Ian tells us that this site was discovered when the people who lived near it started to wonder why there were hills there, when most of the land nearby is very flat. They started to dig, found stone, and realized it was an ancient Mayan site. This one was occupied for over 2000 years and, at its largest, held over 35,000 inhabitants. The site is not fully excavated, but clearly covers a much larger area than Altun Ha.
We first visit the Jaguar Temple, and then living quarters that once housed royalty or high-level religious officiants. We make our way past the smaller Stele Temple, with its beautifully carved standing stone, through the Ball Court, and then on to the High Temple, which is indeed really high. I get dizzy 3/4 of the way up, and refuse to go up any farther. Visibility is wonderful from this high up, but it makes me nervous.
Then we spend a few moments on a gravel path to the Mask Temple, so-called because of its depiction of a deity wearing a crocodile headdress. The masks here are fiberglass replicas too, which seems quite sensible to me in protecting the original from exposure to weather (and careless people). Here we run into not one, but two cruise-ship tours, full of loud people who spend a lot of time taking selfies. I actually hear two people refer to the temple as “Inca.” Eye roll.
(I dunno. I’ve said we’re Museum People and history geeks, and that’s true. We don’t go on vacation with thoughts of tropical rum drinks and tanning on the beach. We’re weird, and we like it that way.)
After the Mask Temple, we’re making our way along the tree-shaded, graveled path back to the entrance when we hear them: howler monkeys. We go to the picnic shelter for our lunch, of traditional Belizean stew chicken seasoned with annatto, rice and beans, fried plantains, cole slaw, pico de gallo, and soft drinks. It’s delicious.
Then we’re back on the boat, breeze blowing our shirts. Taz rests his head on my thigh and goes to sleep. We round a curve and six white herons rise on flapping wings into the air, lifting, lifting — and then we’re around the next curve and they’re gone. The CEO mutters to me, “They told me these were crocodile-infested waters. I feel cheated.”
We’re almost back to the boat dock when we see it: a roiling in the water, something being dragged down. I’m thinking, Ooh finally! a crocodile just grabbed lunch!, when Ian slows the boat to get a closer look, and it turns out to be…
… a tail-less crocodile, certainly dead, floating in the water. Ian speculates that either it had been killed by poachers and its tail taken, or it had been hit by a boat and something else, perhaps another crocodile, had eaten its tail. It was definitely moving when we saw it, though we decide that at that point, another crocodile must have been moving it, trying to drag it away to be lunch. The CEO goes back through his photos and finds one showing movement. SEE IT LOOKED ALIVE SEE SEEEEEE?? THERE WAS SPLASHING AND EVERYTHING.
I nearly drift off during the trip back to Belize City, while Ian and The CEO talk about the possibility that someone might come in and buy a bunch of the land that is just sitting idle here, and start an agricultural enterprise. There were once sugar plantations, after the mahogany had been thinned out, but people don’t really farm around here, other than a few private vegetable gardens, and those cattle we saw earlier. We see lots of little roadside stands selling fresh coconuts, but nobody really raises coconut trees; they find the trees and harvest the nuts to sell.
Dinner is at the Sahara Grille, five minutes’ walk for Mediterranean food. Picky Taz is nonetheless satisfied with chicken kebabs (and red Fanta, of course). The CEO can’t remember whether he likes falafel or not (I remember, and the answer is NOT), so he orders kefte, which he has a vague memory of liking. It’s all good, and although we have to dodge the potholes in the road with care, it’s nice to walk after dinner.
I’m still not wearing any perfume, by the by: too many mosquitoes, too big a chance of Zika virus and other nasty tropical illnesses. Better safe than sorry, though I could really dig a spritz of Tommy Girl at this point.