The Muse in Wooden Shoes

Exploring a Scented Life: a blog about perfume, cooking, literature, family

The Muse in Wooden Shoes - Exploring a Scented Life: a blog about perfume, cooking, literature, family

Scent Diary, April 28-May 6, 2014

redbudMonday, Apr. 28 – End of the month approaching. And my clematis is putting up leaves, this is good. SOTD: Crown Bouquet.

Tuesday, Apr. 29 – New minivan. Well, new to me… it belonged to my parents, but they bought a brand new one and offered their old one to us. It’s four years newer and has the automatic doors and liftgate, but it’s the same color.

Really need to get the weeds out of the front flower garden. It’s bad… but it’s raining. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum.

Wednesday, Apr. 30 – More rain. Chilly. Gaze was supposed to have a track meet today, but they canceled it due to the rain. SOTD: Safari. I am wearing the heck out of Safari lately, because it is both green and warm. Chamade and Le Temps d’une Fete are green and warm, too, as opposed to, say, Chanel No. 19 and Silences, which are green and cool. The redbuds are beautiful, and we have six baby calves gallivanting about the 20 Acre Field behind the house.

Thursday, May 1– SOTD is Diorissimo. (I always feel like I have to explain about my Diorissimo… it’s not VINTAGE vintage. It’s a 2006 tester bottle, and there was a significant change to the formula in, I think, 2008, though of course there had been several changes all along. The current version I don’t like at all – it is screechy and borderline unpleasant.) Can’t believe it’s May already. Seems like spring has rushed toward us this year, unlike last year when the weather lingered in a limbo-like cold-and-wet holding pattern.

Friday, May 2 – Got insurance on the new van, which I would like to continue calling Eddie Van since it’s the same color, and which The CEO wants to call Val Van because the license plate starts with VAL. He says, “No, it’s perfect, because Eddie Van Halen was actually married to Valerie Bertinelli!” I blow raspberries all over that. It doesn’t feel like a girl van to me. Nope. I think it’s Eddie II. SOTD: Le Temps d’une Fete, because I can.

Took Old Eddie down to the Wal-Mart parking lot and put a For Sale sign in his window before parking it at the lower end of the lot. Got two phone calls about it within four hours.

Have been sleeping in a veil of YSL Paris Pont des Amours all week. Just so nice and powdery and rosy, very comfortable for sleep.

Saturday, May 3 – Wal-Mart called and said that they don’t allow people to sell cars in its parking lot, and would we please move the van. I apologized and said we would. It will be easy, because the second person that called last night came to look at it and drive it this morning, and they want it. YAY.

Went to the Cosmopolitan Track Meet in Roanoke to see Gaze run, and then I took Taz with me to see my parents this afternoon. My grandmother died in 2006, and my mom is STILL trying to get rid of furniture and just stuff that belonged to her… Mom is trying to figure out how best to divest herself of the 100 or so ceramic bird figurines that Bambaw left behind, as well as old jewelry, china, and glass dishes, and where I would either take it to an eBay reseller or simply haul it all off to Goodwill, she doesn’t want to do that. She feels that the 40% fee that the reseller would charge is too much, whereas I’m thinking that’s worth it to a) get rid of the stuff that Mom wouldn’t keep anyway and b) not have to deal with all the details of taking pictures and listing and selling and packing and shipping. GAH.

Gaze didn’t run very well today. He doesn’t seem to do well when we come watch him. It wasn’t bad, but he’d been hoping to PR today and he was about 2 seconds slower than his best time. SOTD: Kelly Caleche EdP. Nice and light for warm weather, though it was rather breezy today.

Sunday, May 4 – Nice spring weather here. I took the boys to church with me, while The CEO preached at one of the small Presbyterian churches nearby. (Nice that they like to go to our church.) After that, I packed up the van with all the spare boxes/plastic totes/duffel bags and drove north seven hours on I-81, the first part of the trip to pick up Bookworm from school. SOTD: Le Temps d’une Fete.

Spring has progressed much less farther in the mountains of PA than it has here. Hardly anything is blooming.

Monday, May 5 – Gorgeous weather here in Connecticut! Drove from just north of Scranton to New Haven, and was sort of cursing my GPS for sending me via I-95. We started calling it Miss Direction (it has a woman’s voice) as a joke. I swear, just a joke!! But lately it’s been an appropriate name. GAH. However. It’s cool and sunny and breezy: perfect weather for packing up college kid stuff and hauling it down two flights of stairs and then down the street and across two city streets (waiting for the light to change both ways, going and coming). Gah. Also, I lost my Fitbit. Don’t know where it slipped off and fell, but it is gone baby gone. Bummer.

SOTD: Chanel No. 19 EdP. Bookworm insisted on taking me into the courtyard of Pierson College to show me a blooming shrub that smelled lovely. I think it’s daphne… little white-and-pink flowers, small leathery leaves. If it isn’t daphne, I don’t know what it is. I pulled out my DelRae Wit to let her smell, and we both agreed that Wit doesn’t smell like this particular bush…. Hmmm.

Miss Direction sent us BACK via I-95, which made us go a good 30 miles too far south for my (unchangeable) hotel reservations to be helpful. We wound up having to backtrack going north, and probably drove an extra 60-70 miles this trip. GAH.

Dinner was nice, though, before The CEO got on the phone and went, YOU ARE WHERE????? WHY CAN’T YOU JUST GO TO HAZLETON????

Tuesday, May 6 – Cloudier in the morning, not quite as sparkling and lovely a day. Tired after the drive, but fine. Glad to be home. SOTD: DelRae Wit, which although it doesn’t smell like that particular blooming bush, is really wonderful.



May Bells

muguet postcardFirst, a public service announcement: I’ve been having technical issues with the blog again. WordPress blogs are apparently susceptible to hacker attacks, according to my web host platform, and any time someone tries to hack the blog, the web host shuts down the blog for a minimum of 15 minutes.

To prevent attacks, I first added an extra administrative password. It didn’t help. I was still facing a “locked out of the blog” situation every 4-5 days, on average. Then I added another layer of protection, by restricting the log in to my specific IP address. That helped for several weeks… until my IP changed. This is, apparently, normal; “dynamic” IP addresses are only active a certain period of time, and the router will change them periodically. Normally the user doesn’t even notice. But having my blog linked to my IP meant I had to log in to my web host account and change the htaccess code (no, don’t ask, I don’t really even know what it is) to reflect my new IP address. Then it happened again this week, and I couldn’t post or reply to comments until I made adjustments.

GAH. Frustrating.

In any case, it’s back up and running, and I can talk about lily of the valley, which I meant to do yesterday on May Day, but didn’t get to.

lotv ground coverOne of my aunts has a house near the lake, and her back yard is completely shaded by trees. She has a gorgeous patch of lilies of the valley, and I’ve loved them ever since I smelled them growing at Aunt Becky’s house. I wanted them in my bridal bouquet, but when I found that they’d have to be imported from the Netherlands, that put them out of my financial reach. Wish I’d just asked my aunt to provide them.

There’s a lily of the valley plant growing in my front flowerbed – just one, a gift from my sister-in-law to my daughter, whose birth month flower it is. It bloomed beautifully the past two years, but there aren’t any buds on it yet. I’m hoping they’re just delayed, and they’ll bloom when Bookworm gets home next week.

There are a number of lily of the valley (abbreviated LOTV, called muguet in French) fragrances, but if you’re at all conversant with IFRA restrictions, you know that the crucial aromamolecule associated with them, hydroxycitronellal, has been restricted in usage. It does, apparently, cause allergic reactions in large quantities. You can’t make a realistic LOTV fragrance without it, so classic muguet fragrances have all been reformulated.

I don’t even want to talk about that. It’s too depressing. So I’ll just mention a few lovely LOTV fragrances and ask whether you wore one yesterday.

lov3Muguet soliflores:

Dior Diorissimo – THE quintessential LOTV. I have a bottle from ca. 2006, and it’s lovely but already heading toward the screech of the current version.  Sigh. I wore it yesterday.

Coty Muguet de Bois – I almost bought this at Big Lots (an “overstock” store) in the mid-1980s. I think I was maybe 14 years old and didn’t have any cash on me, and my mom wouldn’t pony up. She said I already had plenty of perfume and didn’t need any more, so I should forget it. (I had three bottles: Avon Sweet Honesty, which I didn’t like much, Prince Matchabelli Cachet, a floral chypre so prim that it practically tugged your neckline up all by itself, and Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, which I wore most of the time.) Wish I’d begged hard enough, or gone back later. I remember it as being a green, fresh floral, and very pretty.

Other soliflores include Guerlain Muguet, Caron Muguet de Bonheur, Annick Goutal Le Muguet, Penhaligon’s Lily of the Valley. No doubt there are others; I haven’t tried these.

rsz_bouquetLily of the valley is also presented frequently in composition with other notes, and I find that often the screechy edge is blunted by the presence of other florals. Here are a few to try:

Kenzo Parfum d’Ete (the 1992 version) – green notes, muguet, hyacinth, peony, rose, narcissus and a cool woody drydown.  Discontinued. (The new version is nice, too, but not LOTV.)

Gucci Envy – the notes list is quite similar to that of the Kenzo, but it is strikingly metallic to my nose and difficult for me to wear. I don’t like it, but a lot of people do.

Parfums DelRae Debut – still haven’t smelled this one, either, but it is based on a cool, citrus-tinted muguet with green notes and linden blossom.

Jessica McClintock – so old-fashioned a floral bouquet centering on LOTV that it could be its own lacy handkerchief.

Parfums de Nicolai Odalisque – jasmine, muguet, iris and moss. Simple and elegant in the extreme.

Both Serge Lutens Clair de Musc and Jovan Musk for Women are soft, quiet clean-musk fragrances that make good use of a gentle muguet note in the heart.

Tauer Perfumes Carillon pour un Ange might be a favorite. It’s green notes, muguet, and an earthy/mossy/leathery drydown.  Beautiful stuff, very potent, extremely radiant. A drop or two will do you.


Scent Diary, April 21-27, 2014

Monday, Apr. 21 – The boys had today off for Easter break, so we drove up to the Roanoke area to hike out to McAfee’s Knob. I’d done this hike years (well, decades) ago, when my church youth group went there, and I didn’t remember it being so strenuous. But then, there wasn’t so much of me at the time, and I was in much better shape. Most of the hike was nice, but by the end I was sort of miserable. We didn’t take enough water, and we forgot to take bug spray. The midges were awful.

I had some pics I wanted to add to this post, but I keep getting “HTTP ERROR” from WordPress. I’ll go ahead and post this, but try to add the images again later.

The hike is about 7.6 miles round trip from the parking lot (old data used to say it was 7.2 miles, but distances have been relabeled after checking with GPS), which is a long hike when you’re only used to walking a couple of miles at a time – especially since a good third of the trail is UPHILL.  View was lovely, though.

No fragrance until after we got home and I had a shower, and by then I wanted something soothing. SOTE: Parfums de Rosine Rose d’Ete.

Tuesday, Apr. 22 – I am stiff. Mostly in the hip area; I am clearly not doing enough walking on an incline! Other than that, though, I don’t have any lingering ill-effects from that long hike. I enjoyed it. The CEO and I used to do a lot of hiking on trips early in our marriage, and I confess that I hadn’t realized how much he missed having me along. I don’t really care much about the hiking, myself, and to be honest he is nearly always more interested in getting to a destination than in the journey there. He likes to take grand pictures of sweeping landscapes (have I mentioned how many times we stopped for him to get snapshots of snow-covered mountains in New Zealand?) and I like to wander around in town, looking at houses and markets, people and museums, and wondering what it would be like to live there.

SOTD: Parfums d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite, which is my idea of a Fruity Floral Done Right.

Wednesday, Apr. 23 – We have plenty of calves out in the field behind the house, but so far nothing that we need to bottle-feed. Which is good; they do far better when they stay with their mamas. The redbuds are in bloom, and I just discovered some double daffodils that I’d planted last year and promptly forgotten all about. They’re gorgeous.

SOTD: Crown Bouquet. Sigh. Love it. It’s one of those I can only wear in spring.

Thursday, Apr. 24 – SOTD: Ralph Lauren Safari. Rather haylike – in that it’s all green up top, and has the sweetness of drying grass later. So pretty. Started to mow the lawn, but the belt pulling the blades is stretched out and close to breaking, and I had to finally give up.

Friday, Apr. 25 – Bookworm had two final exams today – an oral exam in her Spanish class, and a practical exam in her Chemistry lab. She says they went fine. I’m a little surprised that there haven’t been any reports of dinners, parties, receptions, whatever… I remember the close of college days being marked by those for me, particularly at UVa. SOTD: DSH White Lilac (oil format). Lovely stuff.

The construction guys finished the mantelpiece, too! It looks wonderful – it was cut from a walnut tree that grew on the farm, and made to resemble the old-fashioned mantels placed in houses built when you needed a fireplace for winter heat. (Side note: it bugs the heck out of me that people misspell mantel. A mantle is a cloak or covering; a mantel is a construct located around a fireplace. Completely different items. Grrr.)

I’ve been wearing my YSL Paris Pont des Amours (one of the many Printemps Limited Editions) to sleep in several times this week, because it’s quiet and powdery and soft.

Saturday, Apr. 25 – NEW CARPET! Not fancy stuff; it’s indoor/outdoor for the laundry room, but I like it. The laundry room is finished, and I’m so happy. Also: two new bulls.

two new bulls

“Hellooooooo, ladies!” (Photo and caption by The CEO.)

The CEO fixed the belt on the lawnmower, and Gaze mowed what I didn’t get done the other day. Yard looks nice; very green. All six of our fruit trees (two pears, four apples) that we planted last spring are leafing out, and two of the apple trees have blossoms on them.

My SIL E and her daughter, Primrose, were visiting this weekend; they came over with The CEO’s mother and we all had dinner together. Pretty cool to see them. SOTE: Penhaligon’s Violetta.

Sunday, Apr. 26 – Gorgeous weather – a little cool in the morning, but sunny and comfortable the rest of the day. SOTD: Mary Greenwell Plum.

Wild elderberry bloom.

Wild elderberry bloom.

Went for a good walk after dinner, and noticed all kinds of blooming smells: the neighbors’ lilacs coming into bud, black locust blossoms, apple blossoms, and many shrubs with clumps of tiny white blossoms on them. I am not sure what they are – they grow wild on the side of the road and they smell wonderful, but if you cut them and put them in water the stems droop (even if you crush the woody stems first). They might be wild elderberries, but I confess I’ve never noticed berries on these bushes in the fall, so I’m not sure.

Hooked up the new CD player… it works fine. SOTE: Tommy Girl. It’s a sharper, “cleaner” version of Rose d’Ete; clearly the Rosine has more naturals in it, and lacks both the tea note and the citrusy laser-focus aspect. I like both.



Perfume Review: Tauer Eau d’Epices

12 Eau D'Epices Tauer Perfumes for women and men

I was rather pleased to open an email from Jeffrey Dame asking if I would like a sample of Eau d’Epices to review. I had tested a small .3ml sample of it when it was produced as a limited edition in 2010, and liked it. But I’d used up my tiny sample ages ago, and since it’s not really my usual sort of thing I had not sought out any other supplies. (I tell you honestly, if it had been an offer of a sample of Orange Star or Zeta, I’d have said, “No, thanks, I’m familiar with those and I don’t want to waste your time. Now if you’d like to send me a bit of Carillon pour un Ange or Une Rose Chypree, or something else new from Tauer, I’d be all over that.”)

I have maintained from early on in my Tauer sniffery that when a Tauer fragrance works for me, it is wonderful, and when it doesn’t work – it really doesn’t work. There are at least several Tauer productions that I liked but didn’t feel the urge to purchase, but I tend to have strong reactions to the ones that I’ve tried. At this point I have worked my way well into the line, with the exceptions of Lonestar Memories, Vetiver Dance, and the Pentachords series.  The line offerings are about evenly split between Ooh, I really like this and No, thanks, not my thing.

The nifty little hang tag that came with my 1.5ml manufacturer spray says this about Eau d’Epices (sorry, no diacritical marks. Life is short.):

“HEAD NOTES: An Indian basket of spices with cinnamon, cardamom, clove and coriander with red mandarins.
HEART NOTES: An opulent heart of orange blossom, jasmine, orris root and incense.
BODY NOTES: A woody cistus ladaniferus resin, softened with ambergris, tonka beans and vetiver.”

Before we begin the Review Proper, you must understand that while I’m a big spice fan, I’m not typically a big fan of its oriental/woody accomplices. If there is a spicy fragrance, chances are very good that the perfumer is buttressing the spice rack with the usual suspects of labdanum, woods and balsams. And it’s true, I can name only a handful of spice-focused scents that I wholeheartedly enjoy: Donna Karan Black Cashmere and DK Chaos, Comptoir Sud Pacifique L’Eau du Gouverneur (sadly, discontinued), the long-gone Prince Matchabelli Potpourri, and Caron Poivre (one of the very few Carons I like). What these scents have in common is a spicy warmth without the ballast of heavy oriental notes underneath. The woody notes that serve as their bases are lighter. Poivre and Potpourri are distinctively floral while Black Cashmere is comfortingly creamy and L’Eau du Gouverneur cedary.

Commonly, the fragrances known as “spicy” are really essays on tolu balsam/labdanum: YSL Opium, Estee Lauder Cinnabar and Youth Dew, and even Tauer’s own L’Air du Desert Marocain. Regular readers will know that I think Opium and Youth Dew are evil, and any hint of the Dreaded Youth Dew Accord is the kiss of death for me. I was quite enjoying Frederic Malle Noir Epices when the Specter of Youth Dew popped up, and that absolutely scratched the fragrance off my tentative “look for a decant” list.

L’eau d’Epices is not much like my other favorite spicy scents, either, but it does lack the heavy, sticky, mustiness of Youth Dew. It does have that “Tauerade” aura, which seems comprised of ambrein, a sandalwood-like accord, and incense (see this Nathan Branch interview with Andy Tauer and the Perfume Posse post which first mentioned the phrase “Tauerade”). And like many of the other Tauer fragrances, it lasts several hours on me, even with my scent-eating skin.

Up top L’eau d’Epices is very brightly citrusy, with an orange tang that is very like the sensation of digging your thumb into a tiny fragrant clementine. Wonderful stuff, very refreshing without being in the least cologne-ish (yawn). It lasts for about twenty minutes on me, lingering on into the beginning of the spicy aspect, and this is my favorite part of the experience. The spices join the bright orange fairly soon, with the cinnamon and especially the cardamom prominent. Underneath, though, is the Tauerade, and if I sniff up close it’s quite noticeable.

Within half an hour the orange blossom – in this case, a soapy, neutral, barely-floral one – comes into play, with a dry earthy iris (never a favorite), but the spices linger. Within an hour and a half or two hours of application, I’m into the Tauerade. It’s still sprinkled with a light dusting of spices, and the dryness of vetiver offsets to some degree the richness of the labdanum/ambrein. If I apply one or two spritzes, L’Eau d’Epices lasts approximately five to six hours and radiates only a few inches above skin after the first half hour. I have been hesitant to spritz more, because Tauerade can be a headache and a half for me when overapplied.

L’Eau d’Epices is definitely a woody oriental fragrance, but it seems rather lightweight on me for that sort of scent, a sort of oriental veil – “Water of Spices” indeed. For me, that’s all to the good with regards to a genre that I don’t automatically love. I can imagine myself enjoying it in weather that would suit hot mulled cider or orange-spice tea; that is, fall to winter.  I particularly do love the orange-spice opening of this fragrance.

If you’re wondering how close L’Eau d’Epices is to Orange Star, I’ll just comment that I disliked Orange Star very much.  The salty-amber quality of it was too rich for me, and the orange blossom was extremely soapy (that’s a recurrent difficulty for me in particular with orange blossom), and there was a distinctive, raspy, “Tang dust in the back of the throat” quality that made it unwearable for me. The Tang-dust effect is fairly widespread (some people refer to this as baby aspirin, I think), but I don’t like it any time I run across it. L’Eau d’Epices doesn’t have any of these problem areas – again, it’s my problem – and I find it more focused on the spices and the quietly woody base than Orange Star is.

(It’s interesting to me that this scent which I’d only wear in cooler months is being released in spring. I noticed that Carillon pour un Ange, which for me is perfect in spring weather, was released in autumn, and although Switzerland has the same weather as the US, both these releases seem timed awkwardly. If it were up to me, I’d be releasing a lily of the valley scent in January or February, when people are starting to think longingly of green shoots pushing up through grass, and releasing a lightweight oriental in, say, August or September, when the seasons are beginning to turn and sweaters start to come out of cedar chests. But I don’t work in the business, and perhaps I’ve got the whole thing wrong.)

L’eau d’Epices is available in the US at all the usual sources (LuckyScent, MiN New York, The Perfume House in Portland OR, and IndieScents) for $135 per 50ml bottle.  Also available at Tauer Perfumes.  With thanks to Jeffrey Dame of Hypoluxe and to Andy Tauer for the sample.


Scent Diary, April 14-20, 2014

Monday, Apr. 14 – Mailed the tax return, did errands. Borrrrring. SOTD, that “greenest of green flower gardens,” Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet. Such a lovely gentle fragrance (once you get over that galbanum/marigold slap!), and so fresh in a way that has nothing to do with laundry detergent or shower gel.

daffodils and hyacinths

Okay, it really is spring now.

Tuesday, Apr. 15 – Tax Day turned out to be very strange in terms of weather. It was supposed to be 60F today, which is cooler than we’ve been getting lately, but we also got lots of wind and… oh yes… SLEET. Gah. SOTD was Tauer Eau d’Epices, probably more appropriate than I had guessed it would be. Rather nice.

SOTE: Houbigant Oranger en Fleurs. Such pretty jasmine in this, and not a single bit of soap from its orange blossom! I sort of love it. And at the same time, it’s not wildly innovative. It’s just Really Really Good. Probably not going to buy it, but I like it very much. I put it on late in the afternoon, forgetting that there’s a woman in our church small group who doesn’t like white florals. Oops. (Sorry, Debbie, I’ll try to remember next time.)

Wednesday, Apr. 16 – Another chilly day, but at least with no precipitation. This is the sixth anniversary of the multiple shootings at Virginia Tech, and it’s always a very difficult day for The CEO. I am glad that he was not caught up in it, as the building where he teaches was at the time (since then a student advising center has been built in the intervening space) the closest academic building to the dorm where the first shootings took place. Quiet little Blacksburg, where people don’t always lock their car doors when they go to the grocery store, is the last place we’d have expected to be touched by such an event. The pain lingers.

SOTD: Chamade parfum de toilette from my decant, because I needed both its chilly green opening and its warm powdery drydown.

Thursday, Apr. 17 – Sunny in the morning. SOTD: Chanel No. 19 EdT, the vintage with the leather.

Chilly weather in the evening again. Gaze had a track meet at a local high school – I was surprised that they’d moved it to Thursday, because when Bookworm was running, this particular meet was always the same day that her high school was holding the big spring formal dance. She’d rush home from All-American Relays, jump in the shower, and wind up going to prom with damp hair (in contrast to the girls who spend all day getting ready, from mani-pedis to having their hair and makeup done at the salon). The CEO went to this meet, and as it turned out, brought Gaze home right after he ran – not well. It was 11:40 before they got home, having left there at quarter after 11… Odd that they tried to pack this large, crowded meet into the hours after school, when in the past it’s taken them all day to run it.

"Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan"

“Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan”

SOTE: since No. 19 had put me in the mood, I wore Jolie Madame extrait, all proper violets, greenery and leather. Watched “Back to the Future” with Taz, and he loved it. His favorite scene was this one, in which Marty convinces his father, George, to ask Lorraine to the school dance by appearing in George’s bedroom in the middle of the night, wearing a radiation suit and torturing George with loud Van Halen music through the earphones of Marty’s Walkman until George agrees. (Don’t remember? Well, see, Marty… oh, just go watch the movie. Or the YouTube clip here.)

Friday, Apr. 18 – Warmer and sunnier than the rest of the week. The boys are out of school for Easter. SOTD: Cuir de Lancome.

Saturday, Apr. 19 – The laundry room is finished! It looks so wonderful. Twelve years we’ve been living here, and it is nice to finally have insulated walls and heat in there. The CEO spent most of the morning fixing it up and putting his home maintenance items back in place in there. We’re even going to get carpet in there, too – not wall to wall, but indoor/outdoor carpet that should be able to absorb anything he brings in the door, whether it’s an orphan calf or clothes stained with mud, manure, or hydraulic fluid. (He claims he’s better at laundry than I am, and although I don’t agree that the way he does laundry is always the way it should be done, I don’t argue. The clothes are clean.) Photos to come, once it is completely finished with carpet and everything back in place.

SOTD: Parfums DelRae Wit. We drove to Roanoke to choose the carpet and pick up the new(ish) minivan, which The CEO wants to call “Val.” I don’t like it. The drive was lovely, though, with all the leaves coming out spring green and all the redbuds and dogwoods blooming.

Sunday, Apr. 20 – Cloudy this morning, but not very cold. SOTD: Donna Karan Gold, of course, for lilies. Our church doesn’t really decorate for Easter, as we meet in a school, and I still miss Easter lilies, but I had my Gold.

Mountain Lake Hotel

Mountain Lake Hotel

My father has been ill with pneumonia for some time, and my parents were really not up to celebrating today. The CEO’s mother made plans with two of my aunts and some other assorted friends-and-relations, as A.A. Milne would call them, to have dinner at the nearby Mountain Lake Hotel. You might recognize the inn; a large chunk of the movie “Dirty Dancing” was filmed there, and although the lake has, since filming, almost completely dried up (leading to the discovery of the bones of a man who drowned while canoeing on the lake in 1921) and then begun to refill.

We had a couple of friends, two younger guys we go to church with, come over and have Easter dinner with us. That was a delight. I Facebook-messaged with Bookworm, my sister, and my brother, and allowed Gaze to use my computer to purchase an AirSoft rifle, and made plans to go hiking at McAfee’s Knob tomorrow, since the boys and The CEO are all out of school until Tuesday.


Scent Diary, April 7-13, 2014

Monday, Apr. 7 – Surprisingly chilly for April – we’d turned off the heat and opened the windows already, but had to correct that today.  Did some errands (I always shop for groceries on Monday) and the like, and ironed some clothes. SOTD: Guerlain Chamade from my weird fake-tortoiseshell 70s EdT bottle. The topnotes on it are a little wonky – decaying aldehydes – but after 7-10 minutes it’s so beautiful, green to yellow to cream. Sigh.  Respritzed after supper.

The CEO forgot to tell me that the construction guys he arranged to finish our laundry room were going to start this week, so I was surprised when they showed up today. “Oh, um… a contract? Uh… I don’t know where it is. But yes, I can write you a check for supplies… sure…” We have been in this house eleven years, and had never finished the laundry room. It was insulated on the inner walls, but not dry-walled, and the rest of the walls were cinder block. Unheated, and with the dog scratching at the wooden doorframe all the time, the outer door didn’t fit securely, and doing laundry in January got to be a very very chilly proposition. I’m going to be thrilled to have it done.

Tuesday, Apr. 8 – Beautiful weather. Warm, and it got quite toasty in the living room by 7pm when we had Bible study.  SOTD: a buncha samples. I had to diagram where I put what, with this “tattoo pen” I have.  Been thinking of Bookworm a lot because this is midterm week, and she’s a little stressed. I miss my girlie. Especially when the spring bulbs are blooming and all of a sudden things are so green outside that it looks like Ireland.

Brendan MACC

Gaze mugging outside the School Board office with his award. He looks so much like his late grandfather.

Gaze’s Social Studies academic challenge team was honored by the School Board this evening (before our small group met, thank goodness!) for their undefeated regular season and their tournament win. They did narrowly lose one match, in the East Semi-final, to the team that came in a distant second in the overall tournament, but I think it’s pretty clear that these kids were champs all the way through.

Wednesday, Apr. 9 – another warm day, but with rain. Wrote all day, except for going for a walk. SOTD: Cuir de Lancome. Gosh, Cuir is so nice. Essence of Nice Leather Purse, with makeup powder and some flowers.

Thursday, Apr. 10 – Lovely cool day. Did some errands, wrote, and then picked up Gaze at the high school. SOTD: a sample of Roja Dove Fetish, which reminds me a bit of several other green florals (No. 19, Le Temps d’une Fete, Chamade). Not sure whether this is the EdP or the extrait, since it’s a hand-written label. I’ll have to ask the friend who sent it.  It’s very nice, and at the same time I wouldn’t pay Roja prices for it, not even the EdP (his extrait bottles are running about $460/50ml, which I call ridiculously extravagant).

Gaze and I went to catch the middle-school track meet, or at least part of it. There are two middle schools in the county (they used to be the two high schools, before the combined county high school was built in 1974), and this meet was just the two of them. They went very fast, and poor Taz ran the 1600m (mile) rather slowly, then had to run the 800m not five minutes after. He put some effort into the 800, and did pretty well. I can tell, though, that he can go much faster, but the track team at DMS is big and there really isn’t enough experienced running coaching to get much out of these kids. There were two kids in the mile – an 8th grader from DMS and a 7th grader from PMS – who both beat Gaze’s mile time, so Gaze was pretty excited about that and invited both of them to consider running track and cross-country at the high school.

Then, our final chorus rehearsal before the concert this weekend. Crazy rehearsal – one of the tenor soloists is sick and seriously not in good voice, and our director was all over the place with little pieces of this and that we needed to go over. All the same, there were some moments when we were making real music, and it was lovely. Sigh. SOTE: Le Temps d’une Fete.

Friday, Apr. 11 – SOTD is Tauer Eau d’Epices again. This is fairly wintery, and at the same time not too heavy – a relatively transparent spicy-woody thing. It’s centered around orange blossom (which usually kills me) and the usual Tauerade, but unlike the similar Orange Star, I liked it when I first tried it and I still do. (Orange Star nearly killed me, with the Tang Dust Effect. GAH.) Will be formally reviewing soon.

Because of the track meet tomorrow, Gaze actually came home early on the bus today. Nice to see him in daylight. J  The guys working on the laundry room put the washer and drier back into commission so we could do laundry over the weekend. They’re making progress in there – the drywall is up.

Saturday, Apr. 12 – Busy day! Beautiful sunny, breezy weather, though cooler than we’ve been having.  Sirak and Gaze went off to an invitational meet in Bristol today and The CEO followed so that he could bring Gaze home after he’d run his events. After he left, he called the house in the middle of the usual Saturday cleanup to insist that I take Taz to a Native American festival taking place in a local park. So we did some basic cleaning, and then Taz and I went. I’ve been to something like this before, and perhaps if we had had time to stay all day it would have been better, but mostly it was vendors and dancers, and a very small gathering. The ones I’ve been to were much larger, where there was dancing taking place all the time (different shifts of people) in one location, and demonstrations of various things (storytelling, weapons-making, crafts) in others.  We were a little disappointed, though the dancing we saw was interesting. (Aztecs. The powwows I’ve been to were focused on more local tribes.)

Also, I could tell that I might burn even through my sunscreen, which I was not keen to do. So we grabbed milkshakes and went home.  SOTD: the brand-new-to-me partial bottle of Ralph Lauren Safari via eBay for CHEAP. I had tried it before from a mini parfum bottle and did not like it – it started out with some wonderful galbanum and moss, but then got way sweet. This bottle was actually advertised as being cologne strength, and I have a friend who claims that the cologne was far drier than either the parfum or the EdP, so I bought it. However, now that I see the bottle in the glass, so to speak, it’s eau de parfum. Reminds me to some degree of Deneuve.

Did some laundry and then The CEO was back with Gaze. We left for Salem, to see a Red Sox game. It was the first home game of the season, and I was thrilled to find that the regular catcher for the Salem Sox is Really Really Cute. I have a weakness for catchers and their mighty thighs… and the game hasn’t been the same for me since Boston catcher Jason Varitek retired a few years ago.  The CEO was thrilled to go take a picture with the World Series trophy, which is making the rounds of all the Red Sox minor league affiliates.  After the fourth inning, we were starving, and the Sox were losing to the Myrtle Beach Pelicans. (Yes. One more reason to love Minor League Baseball is the wacky team names… I still miss the Winston-Salem Warthogs.)  So we went out for pizza/calzones at an Italian place. Yum.

Bookworm playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Bookworm playing Ultimate Frisbee.

Bookworm is with the Yale Ultimate Frisbee team at Hofstra University this weekend, having lots of fun. She was particularly happy to hear that I have a new Catcher Crush. ;)

Sunday, Apr. 13 – Darkish and cloudy in the morning; SOTD for church was Safari again. I am doing fine with this EdP. True, it is rather sweet, but in a soft haylike way (I’m reminded of the wonderful drying-grass character of DSH Perfumes La Fete Nouvelle) instead of an ambery one.  Lovely and comfortable. The CEO likes it. Gaze says it’s “okay” and it made him think of my mother, which I’m not really getting because it doesn’t smell like any of her usual fragrances.  

Community Chorus concert today (the second one will be tomorrow evening, in a different location). It went well. There were, as always, a few mixups, but no serious flaws and it sounded quite nice. Gaze mowed the grass while I was at the concert, yay! He offered. Also, he is as of today eligible to obtain his learner’s permit from the DMV… now I just have to find an afternoon when he is free to go to the office with me.

I was tired, all day, and didn’t feel much like cooking, so I went with some frozen Chinese stuff – beef and broccoli, chicken potstickers, rice, veggies – while The CEO took the boys to church youth group.  Early to bed.


Scent Diary, Mar. 31 – April 6, 2014

Daphne odora

Daphne odora

Monday, Mar. 31 – Gorgeous weather today! Springy and sunny… some breeze… so nice.  Testing Oriza L. LeGrand Deja le Printemps, which is purportedly a green floral. It’s not. More about that soon.  Also testing the brand-new thing from Parfums DelRae, a floral based on the flowering shrub daphne odora, called Wit. Wit is gorgeous. Wit nearly made me cry.  More about that soon, too, but there’s a persistent yet gentle lemony cast to the flowers here, and particularly in the early stages, it reminds me quite a bit of the floral overlay of my favorite Le Temps d’une Fete. The drydown is considerably different – no woods/moss/patchouli in Wit, which is simply light musk with a touch of vanilla. (It’s the kind of musk that tends to disappear into skin on me, not the aggressively “clean” laundry type.) But the jasmine/narcissus heart shares some DNA with LTdF. I need some Wit.

Parfums DelRae is very much a hit-or-miss house with me. I like the brand’s aesthetic and philosophy, and I love it that DelRae Roth didn’t bring out a huge collection to start with, but the company seems to focus on fragrances that mean a great deal to its founder. Several of the DelRaes I don’t like – Emotionnelle is garbagey melon, Bois de Paradis’ citrusy top notes smell like turpentine on me (I’m not kidding. My grandmother painted china, and she used turps all the time. I know whereof I speak.).  Some of them I like but they’re too soft – Coup del Foudre is unbelievably lovely for two hours, and then shrinks down to a skin scent, no matter how much I ply the spray-until-wet technique. Mythique, too, is really wonderful, a leather/iris scent with the gentle fuzziness of apricot skin, but it’s barely noticeable until I’m snorking my wrist into my nostrils. I still have not tried Debut as it is focused on linden (which tends to smell like toilet cleaner on my skin), and Eau Illuminee is a cologne. I don’t do cologne. I have not tried, nor am I interested in, Panache. I do love Amoureuse very much. On me, it sings.

Tuesday, April 1 – April Fools’ Day. I’d been worried that Taz would pull something mean on me, but he didn’t.  Beautiful weather again today, too – with the windows closed, it got up to 74F inside the house toward the end of the day, and I had to open a window. Tested two more Oriza L LeGrand scents today: Horizon, and Jardins d’Armide. Hated both of them, for different reasons. Dreadful.

Got out the spring/Easter décor items, including Easter baskets, today – except Bookworm’s. I miss her. I am going to miss seeing her at Easter.

Also, was working on the novel, using the Write or Die app (which I love, in general), but about the time I got to 5700 words, it failed to save. I can’t find that stuff ANYWHERE on my laptop.  GAHHHHH. The WoD website does state that some people are having trouble with the save function – I’ve used it several times, but hadn’t had any problems before now. Am DYING of frustration.

Taz had a middle school track meet this evening, and got home past ten pm. They didn’t even stay for the entire meet – for some reason, this particular meet is always so large and so (apparently) disorganized, with four middle schools involved, that in the past the students haven’t gotten home until nearly midnight. This year they left early.  Taz only ran one event, and his time was slower than usual: he ran a 7:33 mile (1600m). His fastest time so far has been 7:14. He was disappointed to not get to run the 3200m.

Wednesday, April 2 – another gorgeous day. Hung the laundry on the clothesline to dry (ahh, the smell of line-dried clothes). This morning I tested Esther P Queen of Persia, which might be my favorite of the Esther P’s. All the same, it is nothing particularly special. 

SOTA is Jolie Madame extrait, the only version I really like. The EdT is too sharp for me, but the extrait is so beautifully floral atop the leather and moss. They haven’t made the extrait in a couple of decades now, so if you find it it’s de facto vintage, and it’s gorgeous. Bonus: those funky catercorner Balmain extrait bottles.

Thursday, April 3 – I really have to get the fans out of the attic. By 7 pm it’s 76 degrees in the house, even with the heat off and the windows open, and it stays that way until past midnight. Gah. Can’t sleep in that.  Tested the last Esther P, L’eau d’Emma – which is nice cologne, but you know me and cologne (yawn).

Mailed Bookworm a box with the stuff she left at home after Spring Break, plus a few things for Easter: her Bible, a book, some clothes, a towel, candy… and a cute little stuffed bunny. Eleven pounds worth, eep.  SOTA was Le Temps d’une Fete again, because I love it.

Community Chorus rehearsal was very up-and-down this evening; parts of it were very good, and parts of it were really awful. This would happen within one piece, the veering from good to bad, and that’s atypical for us – usually we’ve either got a piece down or we don’t. I have no idea what’s going on.

Daffodils-HyacinthsFriday, April 4 – gosh, it’s pretty out! Not too hot, but sunny and breezy. My daffodils and hyacinths are blooming.  Side note: I usually buy potted hyacinths in bloom, and then plant them after the blooms die, but when they bloom in the ground, they are neither as tall nor as heavily laden with florets as they were, grown in a pot. Wonder if I’m supposed to be fertilizing them or something.

SOTD: Cacharel Anaïs Anaïs EdP. I snagged a mini bottle labeled as “vintage” off eBay, cheap, and I think it must be at least early 90s. The top notes have gone a little funky – I think this may have had a touch of aldehydes, and of course they, like citrus, are the first to decay – but within ten minutes, it’s the smell I remember. My mother used to wear this, in the late 70s and early 80s, and the way I remember it smelling was “relentlessly clean.” That, I am convinced, is the reason my mom wore it. (Donna/Flora, over at Perfume-Smellin’ Things, counts this fragrance as a favorite and has stashes of bath oil and parfum as well as the more readily-available EdT. The EdP was discontinued at some point in the 90s, if I remember correctly. Donna says that the parfum is richer and less high-pitched.) In any case, it’s a soft white floral highlighted with steely hyacinth, muguet, and lily, with honeysuckle, jasmine, and orange blossom keeping the scent from getting too acerbic. The basenotes are very soft, powdered woods.  Lasting power from this vintage mini is very good, sticking around for a good eight hours on me.

Saturday, April 5 – it rained last night, and it’s considerably cooler, though sunny and breezy, today. Which is probably all to the good, because of two big local events taking place today. First, there is the Color Me Cameron Fun Run, being held in downtown Pulaski. It’s the second annual running of this event honoring a friend of Bookworm’s, Cameron Fitzwater, who was killed in a car accident just two months before graduation. I remember him quite well, as he was a jumper on the track team and a student at the Governor’s School. He was a year older than Bookworm, but they’d gotten to be friends since they were at one point the tallest and the shortest members of the track team, respectively. Cameron was a Boy Scout, and a genuinely delightful person. His mother organized the Color Run (in which participants of the 5K run/walk are pelted with powdered color) as a way to remember him with joy and to fund scholarships given in his name. Bookworm, of course, could not run this year, and Gaze was busy with the other local event, but some members of our church ran, and Taz ran too.  Sirak, the track coach, and many of the runners from the high school track team participated as well. Taz didn’t get as color-pelted as SOME people did… here he is with some people from our church.

That's Taz just to the right of the stroller. Photo by Dave Farris.

That’s Taz just to the right of the stroller. Photo by Dave Farris.

The CEO and Gaze, however, were involved with the other event which was the celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain. This was a small Civil War battle that took place about two miles north of our farm, on May 9, 1964. The celebration date for the reenactment was moved from the actual date because the battle at Spotsylvania Court House also took place on that date. That was a much larger battle, very close to Washington, DC, and involved Generals Lee, Grant, and Meade. “Our” little battle, though it was proportionately one of the very bloodiest of the war, concerned lesser officers and many fewer men, and was the only one that took place in Virginia west of the Shenandoah Valley.  

Union cannon firing. Photo by The CEO.

Union cannon firing. Photo by The CEO.

I could talk about the Civil War and why it still interests Southerners for… well… weeks, probably. But for now, let me just say that one does not have to admire the moral stances of the Confederates to find their doings significant. Briefly, this was history. It took place right here. Members of my family and The CEO’s family were directly involved in it, and that makes a huge difference. My mother’s great-uncle served as part of the Pulaski Home Guard in this battle, leaving home with a Revolutionary-War-era smoothbore musket and a powder horn, and without the benefit of shoes, to defend his home. As for The CEO’s family involvement, the old homeplace (his great-aunts lived there until the early 1970s, and the house still stands) served as a hospital for Confederate officers, and the women of the family served as nurses.  I won’t tell the story again – see this post if you want to read it – but it really is a fascinating story.

Reenactment of the Battle of Cloyd's Mountain. Photo by The CEO.

Reenactment of the Battle of Cloyd’s Mountain. Photo by The CEO.

The reenactment, headed by the 24th Virginia Rifles and the 1st Stuart Artillery, took place for the first time ever on a part of the actual battlefield. It was the first time I’d ever been to a reenactment, as well. I had been a little bit leery, to be honest, of people who focus so much on the Civil War, to the point of spending weekends dressed up in period clothes, sleeping in tents, firing reproduction weapons… but seeing it gave me chills. To people accustomed to modern war – automatic weapons, guided missiles, firing from a long distance – it was a shock to see how close the combatants got to each other. And indeed, in this particular battle, when weapons failed, there was very close hand-to-hand fighting, leading to heavy casualties. The Union side, numbering about 6100 troops, lost 688 men (approximately 11%). The Confederate strength ran about 2400 men, including Home Guard as well as regular Army, lost 538 (23%).

We met some really lovely people at the reenactment, and I’m hoping the event will take place there again. SOTD was Chanel No. 19 EdP.

Sunday, April 6 – I got sunburned yesterday. Really sunburned, and I feel awful. I even stayed home from church and did a bit of laundry and took a nap. Ugh.  SOTD: nothin’. Nada. Didn’t wear a THING until bedtime, and by then I wanted the coziness of Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, which is a beautiful tuberose-ylang-and-cream fragrance, with a dark thread running through its base.


Perfume Review: Esther P Fragrances

Esther P is a new company based in Canada, selling fragrances created in Grasse, France. From the website’s “About Us” page:

After selling perfumes in her shops for years, Josette André decided to create her Esther P line when she realized that people who love perfumes were often disappointed by mass production. Hundreds of issues every year, that finally were all smelling similar, aiming to please everybody, and not fulfilling the expectation of the connoisseurs. Most of the time, perfumes are marketing products, and customers have to follow the trend. This is not our vision.

For us, wearing a fragrance is a very personal decision. It must fit your personality, and you have to wear it and feel comfortable with it in the same way you wear your favorite clothes. Our products are certainly not a one-fits-all line, for us, each woman is unique. Never would our fragrances copied from an existing one. Each one would represent for a woman a moment close to her feeling, imagination, or way of life. These fragrances are a creation for someone wanting a unique, personal, made- for- her-only fragrance.

The main idea Josette gave to our creator, was “Simplicity”, hiding a very complex creation. This same simplicity crowns the culmination of techniques and skills supported by high standards of quality products. For each fragrance, we have chosen the purest and most natural components. Every time it is possible, we use natural ingredient, and when available, products from France. Our production reflects the luxury French signature. Ingredients, complex and modern harmonies, chic bottles, we want Esther P to be on all counts the ambassador of French elegance.

These fragrances will be sold through a network of independent and selected stores.

I recently won a sample set of Esther P fragrances from online retailer IndieScents, and wanted to review them briefly here. Fragrance info was taken directly from the Esther P website. 


Barbara is a woman living energetic days. Fresh with Lime and Spicy Anise, and the long lasting feeling of wearing fresh white linen. The Amber and Musk in the background reveal the sophisticated side of this lively woman.

Floral Oriental. Eau de Toilette.

Head notes: green notes, anise, sweet fennel, lime

Heart notes: jasmine, cotton flower

Base notes: ambergris, musk

Testing Barbara: Green notes apparent up top, along with something that smells like pear. Tiny touch of lime, not getting the anise. I don’t know what “cotton flower” smells like, but if it’s that “clean” thing you get in the B&BW Cotton Blossom, I don’t like it. Basically, after the first few minutes, this smells like clean laundry.  Not quite as nice as AG L’eau du Ciel, either.


Barocco is a floral harmony, elegantly blending Tuberose, Ylang-Ylang with a Jasmine heart and spiced clove. For a stunning and passionate woman. Soft Floral. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: white flowers, ylang-ylang, tuberose

Heart notes: lily of the valley, jasmine, spices, clove

Base notes: ambergris, white musk

Barocco starts off with JASMINE and some muguet; I’m not picking up on any tuberose or ylang, or indeed any spices.  It is soft, and it’s reminding me to some degree of something or other a friend’s mother used to wear, back in the 80s. This, however, is much quieter (and duller).  Eventually it begins to warm up, with less of a synthetic jasmine feel and more of a white floral mix.  However, it then dives straight for the laundry musk.  It’s a bit like Jessica McClintock’s fragrance.

Boteh Esther P for womenBoteh

A dreamy oriental. Filled by images of cashmere, gold embroidery, soft pillows along pools fragrant of Mysore sandalwood and Damascus roses. Green Oriental. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: grapefruit, blackcurrant, hyacinth

Heart notes: jasmine, Mysore sandalwood, rose

Base notes: vanilla, ambergris, musk

Testing Boteh: Blackcurrant immediately apparent, as well as the rose and vanilla. Up top, it reminds me a little of Moschino Funny, except that it also has a dusty, baby-aspirin quality I don’t like much.  Also reminds me a little bit of Micallef Mon Parfum Cristal, though I think that has better materials. This is wearable, though.

Fugue Esther P for womenFugue

Behind the fresh citruses and white flowers, a hint of discreet woody scent and musk, for a woman sure of herself, an apparent simplicity for a complex and sophisticated woman.  Oriental. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: mandarin, bergamot, pineapple

Heart notes: lily of the valley, iris, jasmine, heliotrope

Base notes: vanilla, sandalwood, cedar, tonka, musk

Citrus and musk, that’s all I’m getting. Maybe a little bit of muguet.  Not an oriental – it’s mostly laundry musk with some pale woody notes.  I don’t even smell any vanilla. It’s somewhere between Cashmere Mist and Light Blue, without the Cashmeran of the former and the Windexy aquatic notes of the latter.

L'Eau d'Emma Esther P for womenL’eau d’Emma

 “L’Eau d’Emma”, fresh and crisp. A harmony of sweet orange and fruity mandarin, with summer jasmine and iris, shaded by a cedar tree. Fresh floral. Eau de Toilette.

Head notes: citrus (mandarin, bergamot, lime, sweet orange)

Heart notes: jasmine, iris

Base notes: Atlas cedar, patchouli from India

This is a beautiful citrus fragrance, not quite a traditional cologne, but similarly fresh and invigorating. It starts out with a very lovely mixed-citrus blast, which is joined by that very clean jasmine material, and then a pleasant cedar… but then it goes to white musk, again. Overall it lasts a little less than two hours on me. This is not a type of fragrance I really enjoy – I don’t particularly enjoy citrus florals – but this one is very refreshing and attractive. I would still rather have Guerlain Aqua Allegoria Pamplelune for a citrus floral (grapefruit, jasmine, rose, cedar and patchouli), particularly at this price point.

Queen of Persia Esther P for womenQueen of Persia

Queen of Persia….A soft and modern Oriental fragrance. Rose and Jasmine, the symbol flowers of Grasse in Provence. Candied fruits soften the very modern note of incense and patchouli. Ambered Oriental. Eau de Toilette and Parfum.

Head notes: mandarin, bergamot, rose

Heart notes: jasmine, rose, candied fruits, iris

Base notes: vanilla, patchouli, frankincense

This is really pretty. It might be my favorite of the line. Not particularly “candied,” thank goodness, and it’s not as high-pitched as some of the others I’ve been smelling from this line. They are NUTS calling it an “ambered Oriental,” though, and regular readers will know that I am definitely not much of a customer for either amber or oriental! It’s neither. It is a rose-jasmine floral with a nice non-laundry base, and it’s somewhat similar to Chanel’s Coco Mademoiselle, without CM’s screechy patchouli.  It’s pleasanter to wear, but also doesn’t last the way a real oriental would – a good .3 ml application was gone in three hours.

As far as I can tell, Esther P is a boutique located in Canada. The proprietor sells perfume in her shops, and seems to have wanted a house line of fragrance to carry. The PR material makes a point of saying that these fragrances were all composed in Grasse, and that they reflect the centuries of perfumery originating there… but my opinion is that these are not particularly original, and they’re not going to appeal to perfume fans. These were designed for frequenters of the Esther P boutique, and as far as that goes, they smell fine. They’re at least department-store quality, or perhaps a little better, because although they do have that ultra-clean, streamlined feel of floral synthetics, there are at least some natural florals mixed in.

Longevity on these, on my scent-eating skin, is very bad, ranging from 2 hours to 4. Sillage tends to be very quiet to moderate, even with the heftier florals like Queen of Persia and Barocco. Of course I am dabbing from a vial (using about a third of a ml each time, and my test spot is pretty soaked) instead of spraying, and that might affect the experience.  However, most of these scents eventually get eaten up by white musk in the drydown (exception Queen of Persia, which nevertheless smells like several other department store scents with a modern-chypre base). I am a little surprised that Indie Scents is carrying the brand, since these are not anywhere near as wildly original as most of their other stock.

Again, pleasant fragrances, but not anything I would shell out for. In each case I could pick a different (and probably less expensive) option that would be better in terms of longevity and originality.

Each fragrance is available in eau de toilette; four of them are also available in parfum strength. I tested only EdTs. The parfum bottles, I must add, are particularly lovely, and if I were a bottle hound I’d want one. The Esther P fragrances are available at Indie Scent (only the EdT concentration, at $110 per 100ml bottle) and also at the Esther P website, but you have to email for ordering info. I do not know how much the 50ml parfum bottles cost.

My thanks to IndieScents for the sample draw.


Scent Diary Summary, Mar. 17-30, 2014

I didn’t keep up with Scent Diary on a regular basis, so I’m just going to summarize what’s been going on.

Weather: from beautiful to icky and back.  Over the past two weeks, we’ve had sun, rain, SNOW, sleet, wind, cloud, more sun, warm balmy spring weather and nasty-end-of-winter-weather.  Bleargh.

Farm: The CEO did the taxes. Bleargh. But we have lots of new baby calves running around in the Pond Field and the Twenty-Acre Field.  In other news, when Hayley-dog went running with Gaze yesterday, she killed a groundhog. By herself.

groundhog holeYou have to understand the farmer mentality concerning groundhogs: they are destructive to just about all our farm endeavors. They are literal pests. They dig holes which then become very hazardous to cattle – and trucks and tractors.  If a cow steps into a groundhog hole, she’s likely to break her leg, and since there is no good way to put a cast on a cow, she will then have to be slaughtered. (That’s if you can even salvage her, given the newish restrictions on cattle going to slaughter requiring that all cattle be ambulatory. This rule was meant to prevent animals with Mad Cow Disease from entering the food pipeline, which nobody wants, but since it also prevents animals with broken limbs or physical breakdown from being legally slaughtered, that means anywhere from $800 to $1500 wasted when you have to shoot the cow and send her to the landfill.) And twice now The CEO has run the front tires of the John Deere 3020, the “tricycle” tractor, into a groundhog hole and snapped the front axle. THAT’S expensive too. So – groundhogs are definitely Animalia Non Grata around here. The CEO will do his best to try to run over every single one he sees, and if anybody calls and asks if they can shoot groundhogs on the farm, he’s all, “Sure, come over, we’ll make you brownies! Just let us know when and where you’ll be shooting.” Sure, Punxsutawney Phil is cute, but he’s in a cage.

Fragrance: Still testing multiple things, from Scent on Canvas, Oriza L. LeGrand, and EstherP, as well as a few other random sample vials.  However, my usual Spring Suspects, the greenies, are out in full force too: Chamade, Le Temps d’une Fete, Chanel No. 19, Amoureuse. Other things I’ve been wearing include white florals like Tatiana, Black Orchid Voile de Fleur, and Carnal Flower; I even put on three sprays of Poison last night before bed. (No, I did not asphyxiate anyone. Honestly, I keep saying this, but white florals sink in on me and don’t reach out to choke people the way they often can. I haaaaated Poison back in the day when everyone was wearing tons of it, but there’s something about the orange blossom in it that makes it soft on me. It’s actually pretty.) Weil de Weil is another green/floral chypre I’ve been wearing, and of course Mary Greenwell Plum has been getting some wear.

I recently bought a small vintage bottle of Prince Matchabelli Cachet for the nostalgia value, since it was one of the few I owned as a teenager. That one my mother picked out for me, and upon resmelling it, I understand why she did. It is an astoundingly prim thing, and sits somewhere on the green-iris-rose-aldehydes-vetiver-musk continuum that stretches from Silences to No. 19 to Madame Rochas. I dislike Madame Rochas – it’s too vetivery and dry for me, not floral enough – and now I remember why I nearly always preferred my Karl Lagerfeld Chloe: Cachet, though it has aldehydes and florals and moss, is predominantly vetiver and musk. It’s a rather grown-up fragrance at this point. Still pretty, but too restrained for me. I like my flowers.

Music: I may be forced to enter the 21st century with regard to music technology.  See, what with all the mix tapes The CEO and I still have leftover from college (so SUE US, it was the ‘80s) and all the CDs we started buying when we got OUT of college… we haven’t yet moved on to mP3 players. Bookworm has a 2006 iPod she won in a drawing, and Gaze has an El Cheapo thing similar to an iPod Shuffle, but we still have the stereo system The CEO bought from his sister’s boyfriend in 1991. Except that we had to replace the 5-CD changer when we had an electrical power surge five or so years ago. Even then, it was a pain to even find such a thing, and Best Buy only had two or three of them.

Well, on her way out the door with some CDs to listen to in her dad’s car on the way to Union Station in DC, where Bookworm was going to take the train back to Yale, she bumped the CD player. It hit the wall. That seems to have damaged something inside the thing – it turns on, but it won’t turn off, and none of the buttons work now. You can’t open it, you can’t skip disc, you can’t do ANYTHING. So. The CEO wants to get a new one, but I’m thinking that at this point it might simply be easier to move on to an iPod or equivalent with a speaker deck. I can transfer all the CDs to the iPod, can’t I?

Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith

Mr. Jones and Mr. Smith

You know how in Men in Black, Agent Kay (Tommy Lee Jones, I love me some TLJ) says to the new recruit, Agent Jay (Will Smith), while holding some tiny little gadget on his palm, says, “This is gonna replace CD’s soon; guess I’ll have to buy the White Album again…”? Well. I’m in that position, I think.

Also, I recently discovered Pandora. It’s much better than radio. MUCH.

Books: Have been rereading Colleen McCullough’s novels on the Roman Republic, starting with The First Man in Rome.

Projects: Finally put away most of the winter décor and candles and wreaths, and got out the Eastery things. Also, I hemmed three pairs of pants for Bookworm (I buy her petites, but her jeans are always two inches too long!) and mended a pair of pants for myself. Now I just need to replace the foam pad on the seat of a wooden desk chair. (If I think long enough I’ll come up with more projects. Some of them should include decluttering.)

Look for some reviews to come this week. I know, I promised them last week, but… um… I lied. Sorry.


Testing, Testing, one two… nine ten… seventeen eighteen…

sound checkI’ll have a Scent Diary up tomorrow. Last week was a nice one with Bookworm home, and now I miss her, so I’m mentioning something else today.

After several weeks of not really testing anything new in a serious and focused sort of way, I’m back to it. I won a giveaway drawing at Indie Scent for a set of EstherP samples, so I have those six to test and report on, and I also have a brand-new set of (beautifully packaged) samples from Oriza LeGrand, all seven, plus a five-sample set from Scent on Canvas.

Yep. Busy sniffery ahead.

I’ve already worked my way through the Scent on Canvas ones and have tried half the EstherPs, so look for those reviews to arrive over the next week or two.  What is interesting to me is how varied the concept and approaches are among these three producers. (I hesitate to call two of them perfume houses, as their business focuses – foci? that sounds so wrong in English – are very different from the classic perfume houses.) Oriza LeGrand is the only one like a traditional French perfume house, in operation since the time of Marie Antoinette and producing fragrances, scented soaps and candles, and skin care items. EstherP is a design house – not unusual in itself, but its boutique shops are based in Canada; the company offers perfumes composed in Grasse. Scent on Canvas is located in Barcelona and attempts to marry their perfume creations with original art.

4th January 1973:  A girl tries some perfume at the counter.  (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

4th January 1973: A girl tries some perfume at the counter. (Photo by Evening Standard/Getty Images)

(I love this photo, don’t you?)

EstherP fragrances include Barbara, Barocco, Boteh, L’Eau d’Emma, Fugue, and Queen of Persia.

Oriza LeGrand fragrances include Chypre Mousse, Deja Le Printemps, Horizon, Jardins d’Armide, Oeillet Louis XV, Relique d’Amour, and Reve d’Ossian. (There’s another fragrance, Foin Fraichement Coupe, but it isn’t included in the sample pack.)

Scent on Canvas fragrances include Blanc de Paris, Brun Sicilien, Noir de Mars, Ocre Dore, and Rose Opera.

(Sorry, didn’t bother to put in the diacritical marks since I am lazy was writing directly in WordPress.  Oh well.)


Scent Diary, Mar. 10-17, 2014

Early spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains. (This, technically, is North Carolina, but of course the mountain range stretches up through Virginia into West Virginia, like a long backbone.)

Early spring in the Blue Ridge Mountains. (This, technically, is North Carolina, but of course the mountain range stretches up through Virginia into West Virginia, like a long backbone.)

Monday, Mar. 10 – After a spate of nasty weather, outside has turned the corner for spring. Seems to have, anyway. Temperatures have been in the 50s and 60s since Saturday, and my spring bulbs have started to push up leaves.  SOTD: Guerlain Chamade, vintage EdT. The topnotes are a bit off on this one and the aldehydes are nailpolishy, but then they burn off to reveal galbanum and then jasmine-narcissus-rose, followed by that powdery mimosa and vanilla. I’ve always thought it a very romantic fragrance, in that it turns from crisp and green to flowers and then to that melting, creamy drydown, the epitome of gradual surrender.

SOTE: Ferre 20, which I bought in Rome four years ago, when we went to Malta and then spent a few days in the Eternal City before coming home. It was glorious. I still like this scent, though I don’t know that I would buy it now – I might rather save up for my very own bottle of Iris Poudre which I adore.  On the other hand, wearing it reminds me of the trip, which I enjoyed very much. This scent is in a similar vein to Iris Poudre, though it’s fruitier and perhaps muskier; it doesn’t have that fluffy benzoin thing I love so much in IP. I think the musk used is the one that has the blackberry overtones, as in L’Artisan Mure et Musc, because the fruitiness persists into the drydown.

We’ve had the current track coach staying with us until he finds an apartment in the area. Sirak (“Coach O”) has a long unpronounceable surname and parents who came to the US from Eritrea before he was born.  He was assistant until last fall, when the former head coach moved on to a job at a larger high school near his hometown. He served as co-head coach for cross-country, and then was not selected to coach indoor track, so he moved to NC for a different non-coaching job. I won’t go into it, but the indoor track season was Not A Success (!), and Sirek was invited back to coach outdoor track. He agreed, but since he didn’t have a car or a local apartment, he’s staying with us in the meantime. I really like him.

Tuesday, Feb. 11 – Another lovely day, temperatures in the 70s. Retesting Arquiste Flor Y Canto and Amouage Beloved Woman. Planning for some roses for the yard… sigh. I want some David Austin ones. Good Bible study this evening; I was almost late because I had to go pick up first Taz from chess club after school, and Gaze from track, where they had a “mini-meet,” an in-team competition for racing spots. He only ran the mile and was disappointed in his time, 5:50; in the fall he ran the FIRST mile of a cross-country meet (usually it’s approximately a 5K, approximately 3.1 miles) in 5:23.  But he placed behind the three guys he was expecting to follow, so he just needs to pick it up a little.

SOTE: Ferre 20 again, such a pretty soft thing.

Wednesday, Feb. 12 – Temperatures high in the 60s again today, but cloudy. Wearing Aspen for Women. Up close it’s actually sort of horrible, and I can tell it’s deteriorating badly, but the waft two inches above my wrist is still very nice, a fresh-breezy, piney woody floral. 

Testing Houbigant Oranger en Fleurs – on first sniff, it’s reminding me of something I wore when I was younger. Like, MUCH younger.  Don’t know what.

Thursday, Feb. 13 – SNOW this morning. No school. By 11:30 everything was completely clear, so I don’t know what the closing was for… anyway, we built a nice fire. SOTD: Caron Or et Noir. I was leery, because, you know, Caron.  Eep. On the other hand, I love Parfum Sacre, acknowledged to have been inspired by Or et Noir. The similarity between the two is only noticeable to me well into the drydown. The topnotes are rather… um. Shrieky? This is a horridly sour rose for the first ten minutes, and then it calms down, and by half an hour in, it’s wearable. Lovely incense/benzoin stuff.  I just don’t think I can handle the topnotes.

HEY I figured out what Oranger en Fleurs is reminding me of: Diane von Furstenberg Tatiana, the vintage parfum.  That’s spicier, less soft, more lily and less orange blossom, but similar. (Funny, a LOT of things seem to remind me of Tatiana – probably because it’s a reference “mixed white floral” scent for me personally, and that’s certainly a well-represented genre. But possibly also because while it might not have been wildly innovative, it certainly smelled lovely. I think it’s still in production but smells nothing like its original self.)

Friday, Feb. 14 – Bookworm came home! She’s been at an Ultimate Frisbee tournament on the Georgia coast this week, and some friends drove her here on their way to Washington, DC. I fed them dinner and hugged my girl a lot. So happy to see her.  SOTD: Parfums d’Empire Osmanthus Interdite. So pretty; apricotty osmanthus and lots of rose.

Saturday, Feb. 15 – Absolutely gorgeous weather today. GORGEOUS. Upper 60s, breezy.  SOTD:  The Body Shop Moringa Body Butter. The CEO and Bookworm went to the high school to help administer the Western Division MACC tournament today. Gaze is on the Social Studies team, the Western Division regular-season champs.  (Bookworm was captain of the Science team two years running. She misses it.) As it turned out, the Social Studies team did not win the tournament but will advance to the Super MACC tournament against the Eastern Division regular-season and tournament champions next weekend.

Afterwards, Grey – a friend of both Gaze’s and Bookworm’s from Cross-Country/Track/Band/MACC – came over and brought his AirSoft rifles. He and Gaze wore camo and went skulking around in the woods shooting at each other, and Bookworm observed, in bright orange tee-shirt. The CEO and Sirak went out on the farm and plotted out a possible cross-country course for the coming fall. Gaze and Grey went out and ran the thing. Their verdict was: tough course. Can’t do it if it rains, it’s way too muddy. Lots of steep uphills, and the downhills are more gentle, the way it’s laid out.  By their approximation, however, there are two other courses on their regular meet rotation that are more of a pain to run, so they approve.

SOTE: Cuir de Lancome.  Grey stayed for dinner and told terrible, really funny science jokes. He’ll be attending Virginia Tech in the fall, in their well-regarded College of Engineering, but would like to do Air Force ROTC as he’s particularly interested in military applications… he has yet to talk his parents into allowing that.  I myself would not worry overmuch about the safety of my child as an Air Force engineer, as those people rarely spend time at the front, even on deployment.  They are (and this is rather horrible to say, but it happens to be true) too valuable to be wasted there.  I would worry about a kid in the Marines, or even in the Army, far more than one in the AF.

Watched a rented copy of “The Great Gatsby.” Interesting film version… like everybody else my age, I studied the book in 11th grade English class, and although I absolutely despise every character in it (yes, even Nick), the writing is just so lovely. Certain phrasings stick in the mind forever.  “And so we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past.” I’m not sure it’s true, but it is beautiful. And depressing. And I hate that I love the sound of that sentence.

Sunday, Feb. 16 – Church today; SOTD was Amouage Lyric Woman. I go through spells of craving Lyric – its sweet translucent rose, its vanilla- and benzoin-infused incense, its dry woods. There is that strange almost mango-y thing in the topnotes, but I like that part too.  Lyric always strikes me as being very meditative, quiet and calm without being too austere.

Bookworm has a friend who lives in her dorm at Yale who, although he lives in Wisconsin, has been visiting his sister at Virginia Tech this week. They’d planned to go hiking at The Cascades (a nice wooded hiking trail up a mountain to a waterfall/small lake), but the weather turned nasty again today with rain and sleet, so instead he came over and played Trivial Pursuit with us all afternoon and then had dinner.

So nice to hear Taz playing his trumpet this evening too. He’s really making progress.  SOTE: Cuir de Lancome.  Such pretty stuff.

And Monday is St. Patrick’s Day.  Let the green smells abound.