Mini-review Roundup: Three from Ava Luxe

I tried a few Ava Luxe scents early on in my perfume journey, and then not again until recently. Ava Luxe is one of those indie perfumers whose work is the darling of the bloggers… until the next New Hotness comes along and everybody goes flittering off to admire the New Hotness and forgets what was hot yesterday. (Humans. We’re like tha — OH LOOK A SQUIRREL!) On top of that, I have some vague memory that the house went offline for a period of time, during which the line was revamped and many people, including me, forgot it existed.

Back in the day, it seems that I tried the following: Thé Noir (black tea with wood, amber, and spices, very nice, still in production), Oeillet Rouge and Oeillet Blanc (straight-up carnations, one pleasant and the other really really not, and since I can’t remember which was which, it’s probably a good thing that these have vanished), and Love’s True Bluish Light, a milky skin-musk/vanilla that many fumeheads were raving over but I found not to my personal taste. During my intensive Tuberose Exploration, I also tried Tuberose Diabolique (interesting and pretty up top, and savagely weird with an interesting bitter note in the drydown).

The Ava Luxe website is attractive, and while the interface is a tiny bit clunky (I did a fair bit of flipping pages back-and-forth to read scent descriptions and choose which samples I wanted), it’s no harder to use than the much-maligned DSH Perfumes’ site. (I will put up with that website because DSH fragrances are so good, and I feel the same about Ava Luxe.) Indies are awesome. There is a person behind the products, and if you have a question, it’s pretty easy to shoot an email to that person… and very often, unless the matter is proprietary, you get an answer!

This go-round, I chose the following to test: Amande, Crepe de Chine, and Vintage Apple Blossom, all in eau de parfum format (parfum and perfume oil are the other formats available) and a small spray bottle.

Amande: “The deliciousness of sugared almonds, with a base of creamy vanilla and sweet musk. Notes: bitter almond, apricot, almond milk, vanilla, cream, heliotrope, sandalwood. A gourmand.”

I do love almonds, would love to smell like marzipan, and consequently have tried a fair number of almond scents. The One Almond For Me seems to be Montale Amandes Orientales, so you have some idea of what I like. This one sounded like it would be up my alley. However, after a queasy moment where it reminded me of a lip gloss I owned ca. 1979, it settled into plain ol’ sweet musk without the almond or milky notes I was hoping for. It stayed sweet musk from minute T+22 to minute T+260 or thereabouts, whereupon it faded away.

Crepe de Chine: “A stunning feminine chypre fragrance with a full bodied green floral accord and creamy woody base notes. Notes: bergamot, basil, neroli, aldehydes, bourbon ylang-ylang, gardenia, rose, jasmine, oakmoss, patchouli, Mysore sandalwood, Indian musk, Vetiver Haiti, vanilla.”

I was excited about this one. I wasn’t exactly expecting the classic F. Millot Crepe de Chine (which I have tested from two sources, and which, seriously, tried to bite me both times), but given that it’s described as a floral chypre, I thought I would enjoy. Alas, no.

It sounds great, right? Given the notes, it sounds stunningly like Soivohle Centennial, or Pierre de Velay Extrait No. 11, both based on classic floral chypre formulae. But on me, Crepe de Chine smells like herbal soap. It smells like Dial, actually. It smells like my great-aunt Leacy’s bathroom. Which was pleasant, mind you, but (again with my whine) I don’t want to smell like soap. I got a headache wearing it, into the bargain. I had to scrub it off, with real soap, and immediately felt better.

Vintage Apple Blossom: “A lovely fresh aldehydic floral fragrance based on the vintage apple blossom perfumes of the 1940s. Notes: Aldehydes, Hawthorn blossom, Acacia Farnesiana, Aubepine aldehyde, Lilac, Lily, May Rose, Sampaquita blossom, Jasmine, Rainwater, Sandalwood.”

Apple Blossom is probably an homage to fragrances of the same name from, I think, the 1940s, when it was a popular motif. I do love apple blossoms and their pale, fleeting fragrance, but it can’t really be captured naturally. And I like aldehydic florals, too. However, this Apple Blossom is strongly lilac on me, and very powdery. I retested it at various times, trying to find the individual floral notes listed, but never caught anything except lilac and a hint of the rose. It was pleasant but not memorable, and for some reason I did not feel comfortable in it. I felt like a room freshener.

Sometimes there is a consensus that certain perfume houses seem to “work” for certain individuals, while others don’t see the appeal — or actively dislike that house’s offerings. For example, I myself tend to do well with the classic and boutique Chanels (leaving aside Chance, Allure, and Coco Mlle.), and even if a de Nicolaï scent is not to my taste, I tend to appreciate it. Guerlain is more misses than hits, and Caron, with a few exceptions, is a Don’t Bother house for me. So are Diptyque and L’Artisan.

I’ve only tried, at this point, fewer than ten of Ava Luxe’s 100+ fragrances. But the only one I liked was Thé Noir, and not enough to buy it. I did spend a good couple of hours reading fragrance descriptions when picking out my recent samples, in the attempt to choose scents that appealed to me. All were not just fails, but big fails, with two being scrubbers (Crepe de Chine and one of the Oeillet scents). I’m not going to say these are badly done, because I found them very nice on paper and would probably like them on someone other than myself. Maybe I’m being too picky — I’ve long looked for the perfect almond, and have found only a few I like — and maybe I’ve tested the wrong scents. However, I will say that based on my limited sampling, they do not suit me and I’m probably done with testing any more Ava Luxe fragrances. Your mileage may vary, obviously, and it might be a skin chemistry thing. I still believe that matters, at least in some cases. It seems to matter here.

Ava Luxe’s website is here. It was a pleasure to shop there, and I like to throw some business to independent perfumers from time to time (ahem, as well as buying unsniffed vintage minis, of which I have FAR TOO MANY). These weren’t for me, but they might be for you. You never know.

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Scent Diary, May 7-13, 2018

Monday, May 7: Warm, sunny and breezy — in fact, very comfortable (although The CEO is not happy with breeze). Perfect weather for Le Temps d’une Fete.

Gaze moved his clobber back home last Friday evening and will be home most of the summer. He’s had a successful freshman year at Virginia Tech and seems to have settled in to the Corps of Cadets quite well. Nice to have him home! He mowed the yard for me today, right before it rained. (Unfortunately, all the stuff he brought home — WAY more than he took with him, since now he must have 20 sets of uniforms, a gigantic rucksack for ROTC, and a bunch of other official stuff — is now in my sewing room. I can barely get to the sewing machine, and I have projects started. Grr.)

Bookworm has asked to learn how to use the sewing machine, so we started with a simple project, an apron. We cut it out last night, and then this evening did a hands-on tutorial on sewing straight stitches (complete with installing thread and bobbin, threading the needle, finding correct tension, choosing stitch and stitch length, and turning a corner). She sewed all the straps. I’m proud of her.

Tuesday, May 8: Another day of pleasant temperatures; another day of Le Temps d’une Fete! Took Gaze to his annual vision check-up in the afternoon. It’s an hour’s drive there and an hour back, and I knew he’d have his pupils dilated so wouldn’t be capable to driving safely home. Last time I had an eye exam was five years ago (I know, I know, I need to do it again, but my eye doctor has retired so I need to find a new one), and skies were gloomy with rain, so I had no trouble seeing and drove the 6 minutes home without worry.

While tidying up my perfume collection I found a large-ish decant of vintage Guerlain Vega that I’d forgotten about. Gosh, this is lovely stuff. To be sure, it’s full of aldehydes, so if you hate No. 5 Vega will not change your mind, but Vega is gentler than No. 5 and, I think, easier to wear. I wore it to bed.

Wednesday, May 9: Happy anniversary to The CEO! 26 years and we haven’t killed each other yet. SOTM was a mishmash, miscellaneous sprays from various fragrances I’m selling, just to make sure that they haven’t gone off since the last time I smelled them. Amazone, 24, Faubourg, Chamade, Deneuve, Vanille Tonka, Ostara… I must say, I smell like the perfume section of a large department store.

Packaged up some minis and bottles from the blog sale to send out. Showered and put on some Guerlain Floral Romantique, because The CEO likes it. We went to dinner at Outback (because we had a gift certificate. because steak. Duh.), came home and watched Survivor. (You go, Donathan! And Laurel. Send Kellyn home.)

“La passione di Roma.” What a beautiful piece of advertising. (Also, her HAIR. That rope-twisted braid is lovely… not to mention the fur.)

Thursday, May 10: SOTM was original Fendi by Fendi, eau de toilette from a manufacturer sample vial, and eau de parfum from a mini bottle. Found both in a box of unloved decants (how’d they get there? I had never even tried them!). GOSH, this is gorgeous stuff. Gorgeous. Truly. Very 1980s, in that Fendi is a big floral bouquet atop a serious, weighty, beautiful base of oriental and chypre notes. According to Angela’s review of it at NST, “Fendi includes top notes of bergamot, aldehydes and rosewood; a heart of rose, lily of the valley, geranium, jasmine, tuberose, orris and carnation; and a base of cedarwood, patchouli, sandalwood, moss, musk, amber, vanilla and benzoin.” Fragrantica adds ylang-ylang and omits mention of several notes. What stands out to me is rose, geranium, muguet, patchouli, moss, sandalwood and benzoin, and the whole thing seems familiar without being recognizable.

It does strike me, somehow, as being very Italian. I can’t say why. Maybe it’s the ad? I do remember the ad, though I had never smelled Fendi before today. It reminds me of a whole slew of other scents: Magie Noire (though it lacks MN’s witchy, eerie herbal cast), La Perla’s original scent (though I think La Perla is somehow “dirtier,” with more of an intimate-skin angle), perhaps Ungaro Diva (though it doesn’t have Diva’s leather). It even reminds me a tad of the old Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, which you might remember I wore for thirteen or fourteen years, right through from middle school into the early years of my marriage. Chloe is more white-floral and much less chypre, but there is that sense of richness and detail, of tapestry, that it shares with Fendi.

(Gosh, Eighties perfumery was good. Wasn’t it?)

SOTA was two spritzes of Diorissimo, which I bought early on in my perfume journey (2009), and which I had always thought to be a tester from 2006. Today I discovered that it was actually bottled in 2001. It is beautiful, but somehow it never seems to hit the spot for me for very long, and it needs a new home.

And Gaze went back to campus tonight for a dinner honoring the sponsors of student scholarships. He cleans up good, doesn’t he? The HT under his ribbons stands for Highty Tighties, the regimental band, and the white shoulder braid (worn backwards, deliberately, due to some unexplained tradition) is also a band thing. The 1 on his right sleeve stands for the first-place score of his rifle drill company among other companies. I love it that he’s allowed to have hair now.

Friday, May 11: Uh-oh. I can feel the heat coming. Tomorrow is supposed to be at least 90F, and today will be muggy.  SOTD, for Now Smell This’s community project (“Wear a musk fragrance”), is Ferre 20. The CEO bought me this on our trip to Rome in 2010. This one never got much blog attention, and it’s aldehydes-heavy, so not to the taste of many people, but it’s good stuff: under the aldehydes are blackberry, rose, iris, vanilla and powdery wood (they say sandalwood, but it’s not the real thing), plus lots of fluffy, clean (but not laundry-ish) musk. Pretty, sweet, and smells like lipstick, kind of über-girly.

I managed to finish sewing a reusable shopping bag last night. I made it similar to this pattern, and it came out great! I think my MIL might get this one as Mother’s Day swag, but I have it in mind to make more.

The CEO and I went to a live-theater production, the first from a new local theater group. “Murder at the Howard Johnson’s” is a farce, which is never my favorite genre, but they did a good job with it. I wore some No. 19 edp, but it was somehow the wrong choice. It was dull.

Saturday, May 12: gorrrrrgeous weather. Warm and sunny, light breeze, and the only clouds are puffy ones high up. The CEO wound up coaching half the track team at their meet today; the elite ones are at a meet farther away, and Coach O is with them. (Girl on our team just ran the fastest 800 time in the state last night! 2:10.95, and her mom calls her “Amazing Grace.”)

Wearing beautiful Ines de la Fressange (Calice Becker version) today, because it is so nice outside — like summer without the brutal heat.

The CEO served as assistant track coach at a meet today, and since there is no shade whatsoever at this particular school, he came home miserably sunburned. Ouch.

Sunday, May 13: Mother’s Day was sunny and hot today. Wore Ines de la Fressange again, and was presented with French toast and sausage that I didn’t have to cook! Went to my parents’ and took my MIL along; a lovely meal and a Skype session with my sister’s family rounded out the day.

REMINDER: SALE OF MY PERSONAL COLLECTION IS GOING ON RIGHT NOW THROUGH THE END OF MAY!!  New items have been added and will continue to be added until sale ends.

 

 

 

 

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Full size bottles now for sale here at the blog through May 2018

My last post indicated that I had minis for sale, from my attempt to reduce the amount of my personal possessions.

Fragrances For Sale, May 2018

I’ve now added several full-size bottles from my personal collection that I think perfumistas might enjoy owning because they’re good juice. Anything labeled as vintage might have a few off notes up top, but they’re all what I would call excellent vintage condition, eminently wearable.

Please read the sale parameters carefully. I am so sorry that I’m unable to ship perfume internationally. I think the USPS is making a huge deal out of nothing (when was the last time a bottle of hair spray, liquor, or perfume on an international flight caught fire? I’ve never heard of it actually happening)… but. You know. I’d really prefer to avoid going to jail.

XO

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The Lure of Vintage Mini Perfumes

Selection from “Les Meilleurs Parfums de France,” The Best Perfumes of France. Apparently collections like this, of 5, 7, or 10 mini perfumes, were often sold on European air flights from the 1950’s through the 1980s. This one seems to be from the early 1970s, and is in super shape — except for Molyneux Vivre, which leaked itself empty. Sadface. Photo by me.

Aren’t these things cute? They’re adorable, aren’t they?

I first came to collecting vintage minis when I realized that many of the fragrances I wanted to try were discontinued, long-gone, and even unavailable in tiny amounts at the decant services. It’s the pull of trying something not otherwise available that I’ve never smelled — old, yet new to me. The possibility of smelling the party-in-Rio that is Balenciaga Rumba? Yes, please! The chance to try Jean Patou‘s lovely, tender Ma Collection version of Vacances? YES PLEASE. The opportunity to smell YSL Paris in its neon-pink, nuclear-strength, no-longer-made parfum? DOUBLE YES PLEASE!

Samsara mini parfum.

I’d go to eBay and search “vintage perfume mini”¹, and delight in what popped up: Here’s a tiny bottle of Ralph Lauren Safari parfum in lovely cut-glass; here’s a promotional mini bottle of No. 19 eau de cologne with spare, elegant Chanel lines. Here a micro-mini of Guerlain Samsara parfum; there a small bottle of Hermes Amazone. (Also, everywhere, figural Avon perfumes.) Etsy is another buying source, although I think that prices, particularly for vintage, are noticeably higher at Etsy. Or I’d play around in the sandbox at Miniature Perfume Shoppe and find that sometimes it was cheaper to buy a mini bottle than a sample at the decanters’, especially when I figured in the shipping.

I’m not saying anything that you haven’t heard before, but buying vintage is always a gamble. Not all of those minis contained wearable perfume, but more of them did than didn’t. In fact, there were only a handful I remember as being too age-damaged to wear at all: a tiny Emeraude parfum, one of Fath de Fath (1953 version, not 1993), a micro-mini of Carven Ma Griffe and one of Paco Rabanne Calandre. The rest? After a few moments of nail-polish remover or spoiled aldehydes, they smelled like perfume – probably not how they should’ve smelled when brand new, but recognizably like fragrance.

The classic Chanel parfum bottle — and look, it’s even retained its barbichage (the cord around the neck). So pretty. EXCEPT… that’s not perfume. This bottle is actually filled with colored water.

Mind you, not all of them were things I wanted to wear. For example, Lucien LeLong Indiscret turned out to be a heavy balsamic oriental, a genre I typically hate (and I passed it on to a friend who likes that kind of thing). Scherrer was, as a perfume friend of mine whose tastes I often share recommended, a green floral chypre, but far more “chypre” and less “floral” than I tend to like. The original Armani — for me, surprisingly, meh. Of the several versions of Shalimar I’ve tried over the years, the smoky chiaroscuro of that 1980s parfum de toilette mini came closest to being a version of Shalimar I might actually like, but I eventually decided it wasn’t for me. The adorable black-and-red bottle of Jean Patou Joy parfum was utter Ho Panties on my skin, though the friend I sent it to thought it was marvelous.

But sometimes there would be a sparkling gem in those small bottles. One tiny 1.5ml micro-mini bottle of Balmain Jolie Madame extrait, evaporated or used down to half, turned out to be difficult to hold. I spilled one fat amber drop on my favorite white shirt, and out billowed this nearly-perfect marriage of flowers and leather: a good purse, stuffed to the brim with fresh flowers, leaves and moss. It was so beautiful tears came to my eyes.

Not to mention that trying all those vintage fragrances gave me an appreciation and understanding of earlier styles that I couldn’t have gotten by wandering around the fragrance counter at Belk. Or, for that matter, even by exploring those niche and independent perfumers who specialize in producing retro-style perfumes.

BUT. (There’s always a but.)

I have too many. I have pretty much explored the vintage fragrances I want to explore. I’m keeping the ones I love: Jolie Madame, Karl Lagerfeld Chloe, original Victoria by Victoria’s Secret, Vacances, Dolce Vita parfum. Maybe that Paris parfum. Maybe the Samsara, I haven’t decided yet. Everything else? Outtahere. I’m paring down, and I’m hopeful that I can give others a chance to smell the past.

I have already listed a few things for sale on eBay. I will be posting the things I think might be of special interest to perfumistas here on the blog by Friday of this week.

Whatever does not sell here within ten days of posting, I’ll be selling on eBay, where there is a trove of mini treasures for your investigation well beyond my small collection! Also check out Miniature Perfume Shoppe, which has some really cool stuff (especially if you’re into the bottles) and good inventory right now.

¹ Try “Collectibles: commercial perfume miniatures” as well as “Health & beauty: Fragrances.”

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Scent Diary, Jan. 29-Feb. 4, 2018

Monday, Jan. 29: Warm for January, in the upper 40s. I did errands and made lasagna for supper. The CEO went to Taz’s academic challenge team match (which they lost, by one question, because Taz didn’t buzz in with the answer quickly enough).

I’ve been in communications with my webhost tech support about disallowing comments. They keep thinking they’ve gotten it fixed, but since I haven’t had comments for several weeks, I don’t think so.

SOTD was Mary Greenwell Plum, which was nice for about two hours but then shrank down too close to the skin. (Maybe the house is too dry? my skin is too dry?) I put on some Tabac Aurea before bed, when the wind picked up and temperatures began to drop outside. We got a robocall from the school system alerting us to a two-hour delay for Tuesday, due to expected high winds, low temperatures and snow.

The project for the week is Finding My Vanilla Scent. More info to come, but it’s not exactly going well.

Tuesday, Jan. 30: School was canceled early this morning, though why I don’t know. We only got a dusting of snow! And the temps aren’t that bad, either: 10F with the wind chill. (I’m feeling smug and puzzled because I had a 1970s childhood and would wait for the bus outside in this kind of weather on a regular basis in the winter. What, they don’t make coats and gloves and hats anymore?? The buses can’t run if there’s a quarter of an inch of snow??) The high for tomorrow is supposed to be in the 40s again.  Taz, of course, was jubilant at getting a day off until The CEO ordered him to do some housework.

SOTD is Ralph Lauren Safari. Good stuff, so good. I notice the ambery drydown more in cold weather, but this is a year-round favorite.

Wednesday, Jan. 31: Testing Guerlain Cuir Beluga today. Not impressed. Powdery vanilla suede, sorta kinda. Meh.

Thursday, Feb. 1: Warmer, with rain on the way. I’ve been testing Tom Ford Vanille Fatale today. I’m on the fence about it. It starts odd, with a twangy herbal thing, then slides into pretty-much-straight-up-vanilla extract. After that, it goes through a couple of weird stages that I don’t much like, with odd effects including smoke, slightly-rancid butter, and wet dog. But the drydown is gorgeous and reminds me quite a bit of PdN Vanille Tonka: a root-beery vanilla leather smell. Which is quite nice. On the other hand, if you were wishing (as I was) for the long, long delicious drydown part of TF Tobacco Vanille, that gorgeous clear nonpowdery vanilla-liqueur portion of it, you are out of luck.

Also, Vanille Fatale runs $230/50ml and Vanille Tonka, even with its originally wonderful lime topnote reformulated out, runs $155 for 100ml. I think the choice is clear, friends.

I think I might be coming down with something. Hope it’s not the flu, but I’m achy and my head hurts.

Friday, Feb. 2:  Groundhog Day, and a happy birthday to my cousin Holly! We were awakened at 6 a.m. with a robocall from the school system again: 2-hour delay. Then at 6:50, another call: school closed. It has been blowing snow all morning and the accumulation is about half an inch, if that. Temperature is 23F at 10 a.m., and with the wind chill it feels like 13F. So. Yeah, cold, but I can remember waiting for the bus in below-zero temps (and hey, metric system peeps, I mean below-zero Fahrenheit, so -18C). WIMPS.

SOTD is Amouage Memoir Woman. I love Memoir, but it is an all-day commitment, and sometimes it can get A Bit Much. Today I just don’t care. I’m luxuriating in cozy weirdness. And I feel better.

Saturday, Feb. 3: Cold again. The CEO built a lovely fire and then took some wood to a friend; the rest of us cleaned up the house and drank hot chocolate. SOTD was delicious Prada Candy, and we went to see the high school’s production of “Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat.” (Which I admit I’ve never thought much of. It’s like somebody’s senior high school music-writing project — great for an early effort, not great as a product of a mature composer.)

Sunday, Feb. 4: Woke to a light snow turning to sleet. It’s getting icy out there. No church today. Bleagh. Worked on structure for the new novel — I know where it starts and where it needs to go, but the middle part is nebulous. SOTD began with some vintage Arpege extrait, but I suspect this one has gone off. It’s not pleasant. I scrubbed and put on Organza Indecence for the rest of the day.

We ate snacky food (boneless buffalo wings with celery and bleu cheese dip, mozzarella sticks and marinara, spinach dip with pita chips) for dinner and watched the Super Bowl. GO EAGLES!

Well, okay, I’m not a big Eagles fan, but I hate the Patriots. Hate ’em. They’re a trashy organization from the administration down and I’m glad to see them lose. (Feel free to lob rotten tomatoes if you like.)

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Scent Diary, Jan. 22-28, 2018

Pulled by light on a winter’s day by Simon Matzinger, via Pexels

Monday, Jan. 22: Wow, three weeks into January already. The CEO just commented that January lasts forever, but I think it’s been zipping by. I’ve been working on the new novel, but after the weekend’s conference I have an idea how to deal with the structure problem that’s been making the old one tough to revise, so I’m rewriting some scenes for it. SOTD is Mariella Burani.

Tuesday, Jan. 23: More writing, and some cleaning up. Bleah. SOTD was Parfum Sacre, after testing Abdes Salaam Attar Benzoin

Wednesday, Jan. 24: Taz has a MACC (academic challenge team) match this evening — hope they win. Tested Guerlain Spiriteuse Double Vanille in the morning. SOTA was Hermes 24, Faubourg, which is still just a tad too orange-blossomy-soap to be a love for me, but which reminds me in a pleasant way of the  Karl Lagerfeld Chloe I wore as a teenager. I miss Chloe and it was a genius scent, but I really cannot wear it now. I’ve tried.

Thursday, Jan. 25: Chillier in the morning, but warmed up by the afternoon. Decent choir practice this evening, and I like most of the music selections for this semester. SOTM was a sample of Seveline Vanille de Madagascar (as part of my unofficial Vanilla Exploration Project); SOTE was Parfum Sacre.

Friday, Jan. 26: Weather is still warmish for January, which I don’t like. SOTD was Parfum d’Hermes. I continue to try with this one, but I just don’t love it. It reminds me a little of Chamade, and a little of Deneuve, but I can’t put my finger on why it fails to hit a sweet spot for me.

SOTE was a goodly spritz of Sonoma Scent Studio Tabac Aurea, which has hit that sweet spot for me since first sniff in fall 2009. I’m sad that SSS perfumer Laurie Erickson is ceasing production, but I wish her well in her new endeavors (I think she may be pursuing photography) and I do hope she is able to sell SSS to someone who will be able to keep the company going and producing Laurie’s wonderful fragrances.

Sharry Baby orchid image via Wikimedia Commons

Saturday, Jan. 27: Taz had an outdoor indoor track meet today. (Ha. I mean Indoor Track, the sport, held a “polar bear” meet outside today. Temps were middle 50sF, so not all that cold . . . but still not great running weather. He PRed in the 1000M, but didn’t run his 2000M well.) The CEO went with him. Bookworm and I went shopping for a baby shower gift, and did some house cleaning. SOTD was LeLong Pour Femme, which is a pretty, smooth floral-oriental — it’s mostly orchids and sandalwood, and pink in a very grown-up way.

The CEO and Bookworm and I went to see a Tom Petty tribute band at the local theater tonight. It was fun, Free Fallin’ was good, I love TP music, so an enjoyable evening. More LeLong pour femme.

Sunday, Jan. 28: SOTD was a half-spritz of Memoir Woman. Which is big. And rich. And weird. And probably too intense for temps in the upper 40s, but I don’t think I gassed anybody out at church. The drydown was amaaaazing. Sometime around 5 pm I was sniffing my arm with delight. So I respritzed after my evening bath. 😀

Beautiful service at church today.

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Scent Diary, Jan. 15-21, 2018

Not my house. I WISH we were getting snow.

Monday, Jan. 15: Chilly but not ridiculous-cold. Wearing Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences again from a sample and thinking, “Ehh. Meh.” It’s not bad, mind you, it’s just not exciting.  It’s sad, because the bottle’s gorgeous. It’s Vanilla Week at Now Smell This, so I’m gonna try.

Tuesday, Jan. 16: So The CEO forgot that he was going to take Taz to school, and I wound up taking him (without getting my own breakfast. or wearing makeup. or, heaven forbid, making coffee). And just as I got home, I found The CEO waiting for me in the driveway — really late — saying that Cameron (his Camry) was making the weird noise it makes when it’s low on oil, and that he would need to take Thorin (the Sorento, which is ostensibly mine to drive) and I would need to take Cameron to the lube place to get an oil change and, oh yeah, get it inspected because the sticker runs out at the end of the month. And he gets into Thorin and zooms off.

Slightly taken aback, I shook my head to clear it and went in to eat my now-cold scrambled eggs and put on a scosh of makeup and brush my hair. Then I mentally shrugged at Vanilla Week, stuck a Safari parfum mini in my pocket and zipped out the door to the lube shop where we get oil changes, because the Serious Repair Shop is short-handed these days and it’s tough to get common jobs scheduled there.

So the Safari was delicious, as usual — every time I wear it, I wonder briefly to myself why I ever wear anything else — but that was the only good thing because a) I had no coffee
b) the oil change guy said that Cameron needed an alternator
c) Cameron failed inspection due to two nearly-bald tires on the back.

So I called The CEO and he wanted me to go get his buddy at the serious-repair shop to look over the car and give his opinion on whether it really needed an alternator, and if the tires were really bad or if the lube shop was just trying to make bank out of a clueless female. However, the serious-repair shop was covered up with customers, so I made an appointment for Wednesday.

Wednesday, Jan. 17: Woke to an official robocall saying that the school system’s status had changed from “two hours late” to “closed.” Taz was joyous that he’d get to stay home. Bookworm and The CEO had to go to work anyway, and of course none of Gaze’s activities were suspended. I’m sure he was out with the Army ROTC for PT at 5 am as usual. (Brrrr!)

There wasn’t much snow, only about an inch, but it was slick. Conditions worsened as the day went on, because traffic melted what was on the road, and then it would freeze as ice. School will be closed tomorrow as well, not because we have a lot of snow, but because the roads are icy. Sure, you Northeasterners are laughing — but I guarantee you that you don’t know what it’s like to try to drive a school bus down some of the narrow twisty roads in the Hiwassee area. Add ice to those roads, and you got Accident Waiting To Happen.

SOTD was a spray sample of Natori, which nobody talks about anymore. I guess because it’s discontinued? Shame. It’s a velvety, plummy oriental that I can wear for a lonnnnng time — like 7-8 hours — before it starts pulling up that dreaded Youth Dew Accord and I have to wash it off. It reminds me, actually, of the also-late-and-lamented, by me, Tom Ford Private Blend Black Violet, of which I only have about 3 mls left in a mini. (PSA: if you didn’t manage to grab a bottle of Natori back in the day due to cost, check FragranceNet, where a 50ml is running about $17 and the 100ml $20. I actually considered the shower gel momentarily before deciding it would probably go very Youth Dew on me, and we can’t have that.)

My actual face.

I took Cameron to the Serious Repair Shop run by a school friend of the CEO’s for the new alternator, since Terry commented the old one was spitting sparks all over the place.  😯 Then, as I promised The CEO, I asked Terry if the tire tread would pass inspection.

He laughed. Hard. And then he said, “There isn’t enough tread on these for me to even measure. They’re toast.” So we ordered tires, too, which they’ll put on tomorrow afternoon. This whole little “Hey, take my car to get an oil change and an inspection,” suggestion of The CEO’s has turned into $600+ of necessary repairs, not to mention several hours. Of my time. (Which, I assure you, I would have been much happier to donate if I’d KNOWN this would take hours. Or if the Ranger hadn’t also been in the shop, so that I could have dropped the car off and left it there to be dealt with instead of sitting in the waiting room.)

Or if I’d gotten more than an offhand, “By the way, thanks.”

I’m thinking I deserve something good in return. Like maybe a bottle of Lubin Epidor? Or maybe just a hefty decant, so I can see how it wears when I spritz it out of a normal spray mechanism, as opposed to the plastic spray sample. Oddly, none of the usual decant services have Epidor in stock. Well, okay, Lucky Scent does, but they only either sell you a full bottle or a .7ml dabber vial, and I’m well past what a dabber vial will do for me. #firstworldproblems #i’llshutupnow

Hey, in any case now I have proof that the lube shop is not only competent to diagnose things like bald tires and alternators spitting sparks, they’re comparable to the serious-repair shop in terms of pricing.

Thursday, Jan. 18: Chilly weather. Spent a long time at the garage, waiting for the tires and shivering every time somebody opened the door (brrrr!). I’d made an appointment, but apparently it takes 2.5 hours to rotate and align tires. Shrug. The Ranger is still waiting for parts to be shipped, so it’s not ready yet. SOTD was Hermes 24, Faubourg.

Good community chorus rehearsal this evening — first one of the semester. The CEO eventually thanked me for going above and beyond in getting Cameron serviced.

Friday, Jan. 19: More chilly weather. SOTD was a half-spritz of Shalimar Light (lemon-vanilla powder, nice) for housework and writing, so I could actually wear something vanilla for the last day of this week’s NST challenge.

SOTE was Chanel 31 Rue Cambon (the edp, from my newish decant); I went to a writers’ conference in the evening. I had been to the Roanoke Regional Writers Conference several years ago, not long after I started blogging — either 2009 or 2010, I think, and hadn’t been since. I’m not sure why not. Sharyn McCrumb spoke at that earlier conference; she was really funny. I like her books, don’t love them, but she’s amazing. Tonight was good.

Saturday, Jan. 20: Temps in the mid-50sF today, which was certainly a switchup. Conference all day, wearing more 31 Rue Cambon. Incidentally, I’m not getting a big difference between the edp and the old, original edt (if indeed you can call something released in 2006 “old”). The edt might have been a bit more irisy in the drydown, maybe. And tighter restrictions on citrus and jasmine since 2006 have definitely taken some of the sparkle out of 31 RC, but it still smells like itself: classic, retro rather than vintage, and tastefully rich.

Conference was very good. I got something out of almost every seminar, and I’d even say that I got more out of the seminars today than I did from the very large Writer’s Digest conference I attended in Nashville last summer.

Then I had dinner with a college friend who lives in Roanoke and who I never manage to go see, because if we’re going to Roanoke, it’s pretty much to see my parents. That was lovely, and it was fun to meet her son, who reminds me a good bit of Taz.

This bottle. My mini came from eBay with no box, but it has that gold embossed cap so I know it’s the “fleur de parfum” version.

Sunday, Jan. 21: Still warm. Which is nice, but worrisome. I don’t like this big weather swing in January, I think it’s going to make us all sick. SOTD was a dab of vintage YSL Paris parfum, and y’all, that stuff is literally BIG PINK NEON ON SKIN. But gorgeous — it’s a huge exuberant flowery hug.

Member lunch and meeting after church. Then we had Breakfast for Dinner later on, and it was yummy but I am missing Gaze.

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Mini-Review Roundup, Jan. 19, 2018

Penhaligon’s Orange Blossom, 2010 reorchestration of the 1976 release, composed by Bertrand Duchaufour: really very nice. I had bought this small split portion a couple of years ago, and then apparently “put it away for safekeeping”, which any fool knows is like tossing things into the Bermuda Triangle: you never know if you’ll see those items again. I found the decant when cleaning out my closet recently and, despite barely remembering buying it, decided to give it a shot. Regular readers know that I Haz Orange Blossom Issues, by which I mean that OB fragrances nearly always smell like soap on me. I mean, it’s generally nice soap, of the creamy Dove kind, but still: soap. Bleagh. Don’t get me started on the list of OB scents that do not work for me, because it’s long. If they don’t smell like soap, they smell like candy. I really like By Kilian’s (pricey) Sweet Redemption, which is orange blossom and myrrh, but every time I wear it, Taz says I smell like grape and root beer lollipops. (Not that there’s anything wrong with that.) Honestly, I can’t remember why I went out on a limb for a 5ml split portion of the Penhaligon’s, other than I remember hearing it was good.

I’m glad I did, though. This one is distinctly un-soapy, which is a blessed relief, and more floral than candy-sweet. It’s a simple-seeming floral fragrance that is what I’d call a true soliflore, in that although there are materials in it other than orange blossom (notably petitgrain, jasmine, muguet, violet leaf, virginia cedar, vanilla), it mostly smells of orange blossom all the way through. The angle of light shining on the flowers changes, from a lemony-green sparkle up top to a warm, mellow, honeyed base. It’s lovely. It also only lasts about three hours with a moderate spritz, so the Annick Goutal spray-until-wet method would serve you well with it.

A couple of other reviews of the Penhaligon’s: Persolaise, Scent Epiphany and Olfactoria’s Travels.

Lubin EpidorAngela’s review on Now Smell This last May made me think that it would not be up my alley in the least. “Thick”?  Not my kinda thang. And Lubin’s ad copy mentioning peasant girls and ripe wheat and dreams is soppy and even more useless than ad copy usually is — even from Lubin, which is famous for its ridiculously OTT ad copy.

But then my almost-Evil Scent Twin Kafkaesque reviewed it and said it was very simple, linear, but called it “cozy comfort” and said she needed a decant. And then March’s review of it on Perfume Posse in December made me think that I needed to try this. She called it “unashamedly romantic” and “narcotic,” and told me the base was more hay/woody than sweet vanilla. So I ordered a 1.2ml spray sample.

La Faneuse by Emile Claus. Epidor smells like these colors: wheat and white and blue, all layered with honey-golden light.

And y’all, it’s gone already. I used it up. I like it that much.

The notes include violet, plum, orange blossom, jasmine, cedarwood, sandalwood, vanilla and tonka bean. It is not complicated at all: it is just so golden and pretty. I get lots of violet, a haze of white florals, then a gentle wheaty, almond-cake drydown. Which sounds like not much, right? but it’s just so dang pretty, and it smells relatively natural. None of that blocky, lab-created jasminoid thing that annoyed the pants off me in Twilly d’Hermes. No buzzy Ambrox. I’m not saying there aren’t any synthetics in it, I’m just saying that the synthetics in it are not ones that trip my “this smells like Chem 102 lab” threshold.

Pretty, isn’t it? Also kinda floofy.

Annick Goutal Nuit et Confidences

Ad copy mentions sparkling champagne and sequins; the bottle is floofy (see left). But the notes list is pretty simple: bergamot, black pepper, tonka, frankincense, white flowers, vanilla, white musk. The fragrance is pretty simple, too. It’s basically . . . vanilla.

To confess, I’ve never tried what’s generally recognized as the ne plus ultra of vanilla fragrances, Guerlain’s Spiritueuse Double Vanille. (SDV itself has been revamped in the last couple of years anyway, and aficionados say it isn’t as long-lasting now.) Never mind the fairly malicious review of it in Perfumes: The Guide, because people who love vanilla still love SDV. Haven’t smelled L’Artisan’s late, lamented Vanilia, either. I did enjoy a sample of Dame Perfumery’s Black Flower Mexican Vanilla, though it’s a tad more powdery than I’d prefer.

The thing is, I love vanilla-flavored anything, so long as it’s real vanilla. Offer me a choice of vanilla or chocolate cake? Vanilla, please. Vanilla or chocolate ice cream? VANILLA. Hands down. But for some reason, I generally don’t want to wear vanilla perfume. (See the Sexy Cake post for further explanations.)

In fact, on my skin Nuit et Confidences was so straight-up vanilla that I got out a bottle of vanilla extract to compare it. The extract lasts longer — and is significantly less powdery.

Now, for full disclosure, my bottle of vanilla extract is actually double-strength Madagascar bourbon: fairly expensive stuff from The Spice House, with vanilla bean in the bottle, absolutely worth its weight in gold. It has taken me three years to get the bottle down to the last teaspoon, and that vanilla bean has been macerating in there for long enough to infuse the stuff with real magic. At the current price point, it’s $26 for a 4 oz. bottle, compared to $190 for 3.4 oz. of Nuit et Confidences (currently out of stock at the Goutal’s US website). Frankly, my dear, I’d rather have another bottle of the double-strength vanilla extract.

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Scent Diary, January 8-14, 2018

Huh. I’m getting used to writing 2018 already. Usually it takes me a good month to automatically write the correct year on my checks.

Ironic yay balloon.

Monday, Jan. 8: We’re supposed to get freezing rain today. Poor Bookworm, after her disastrous trip home in the snow last month, is anxious.

I have a mammogram and another test scheduled for today. That means no deodorant, powder, or lotion. However, I have cheated and spritzed the web of my left hand with calming Iris Poudre.

I opted for the 3D imaging, mostly since I haven’t had a mammogram since 2011. I think it hurt less than last time, but as the day has gone on I’ve become more sore. Ouch.

The “freezing rain” started out as sleet (nasty enough), but the weather turned warmer and it became just rain by the time Bookworm left work, so there was no need to worry.

Tuesday, Jan. 9: More Iris Poudre. Boring day, considerably warmer than it’s been recently. I suspect I won’t sleep well tonight; I never do when the weather suddenly warms.

Wednesday, Jan. 10: . . . and I certainly didn’t. Sleep well, that is. It’s warm again today (50F), and this bouncing around from temperature extreme to extreme is certain to have everybody sick soon.

Tested — from a blind-buy decant that I somehow misplaced when it was new, ahem, a couple of years ago! — Penhaligon’s Orange Blossom. This is the re-release from 2010 orchestrated by Bertrand Duchaufour, not the original 1976 version. It’s really quite nice.

Bookworm made a wonderful birthday meal for me: fish tacos! I love fish tacos. Got some lovely birthday loot, too: some CDs, a nice scarf from The CEO, and a lightweight cardigan.

Scent of Bedtime was about eight spritzes of Mariella Burani. The thing about MB (sadly discontinued these 8-9 years ago) is that it is cozy and comforting without being heavy at all: lightly powdered aldehydes, soft citrus, musk, vanilla and benzoin. It doesn’t sound like much, and I suppose it isn’t; in a way it feels like Shalimar as a young and very innocent girl.

Still woke up about 2:30 a.m. Bummer.

Thursday, Jan. 11: My actual birthday. I overslept and had barely managed to drag myself awake about 20 minutes before my sweet MIL arrived to take me out to breakfast! It was quite nice. SOTM was a teeny half-spritz of MFK Lumiere Noire pour femme, which was probably too evening-y for a rainy warm winter morning, but I felt like it anyway.

My mammogram came back fine, so that’s good.

Still warm, but a little cooler than yesterday. Feels like winter. SOTA, after the half-spritz of Lumiere Noire wore off, was a huge honking application of vintage Parfum d’Hermes, which I am going to have to talk more about soon.  That deep red is about the color of the box, but the fragrance doesn’t smell that color to me. Actually, I am not sure which color would be best for it — I haven’t figured it out yet.

Friday, Jan. 12: Rainy. Gloomy. Considerably colder than yesterday. Gaze is going back to college this afternoon, because the Highty Tighties are marching in the governor’s inaugural parade tomorrow and the band members have to be back early. 😥 😥 😥 Oh well, it’s been nice having him.

SOTD is beloved joyful Alahine. My 2010 original-formula bottle, now half empty, is being rationed because the recent (-ish. 2015? 2016?) reformulation is such a disaster. But today’s a good day for joy.

Saturday, Jan. 13: Woke to a dusting of snow (yikes, poor Gaze will be cold today) but at least it’s not raining now. Rain is far worse than cold when you’re marching in a parade, in my experience.

The CEO made a lovely fire, and we cleaned house. SOTD was SSS Tabac Aurea, so golden and warm. Right after lunch everybody decided they wanted beef-vegetable soup for dinner, so I went spelunking in the chest freezer for some beef. All I found in the way of stew beef was either a small roast or something labeled “soup bone,” all of it from an old cow (and all of it has been in the freezer for at least a couple of years, because it’s been a long time since we took an old cow to be butchered). So I thawed both out and popped them into the slow cooker for four hours. After that time, the roast was sliceable but definitely not what I would call tender enough to eat. (Old Cow. Obvs.) So I cut it into chunks and put it back in for another hour before it got really edible.

The CEO says that it’s fine with him if I buy steaks and roasts at the grocery store now, rather than suffering with Old Cow any more, now that he owns far fewer cows. Which is great, trust me, but meanwhile we still have several packages to go through.

Gaze is second from the left in the second row. Marching alongside the group on the near side is Highty Tighties director Senior Chief Bean (in Navy uniform). In the background is the Virginia Washington Monument, depicting General George Washington — a Virginian — on horseback. Photo by Anne Simmons, all rights reserved.

We did manage to find the inaugural parade for Gov. Northam on TV, but owing to camera angles, could not specifically identify Gaze in it. Luckily, another cadet mom was taking pictures at the parade. And although the decision was made that “Harry Potter bag” — the nickname for the cadets’ hooded overcoats — was unnecessary, they looked chilly to me. See all those pink ears? Poor Gaze was already cold, having had the sides and back of his head “zeroed” yesterday before he went back to campus. There’s no wind protection from those visored caps.

Sunday, Jan. 14: Really cold. It was 14F (that’s -10C for you non-Americans) when I got up at 8:30. I put on a camisole under my sweater. Wore a tiny dab of Organza Indecence (nice cinnamony patchouli-vanilla, incidentally one of the few noticeably-patchouli fragrances that I don’t hate) and then later tested Lubin Epidor.

Am now plotting how to get more Epidor. Full review to come later, probably this week.

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The Terracotta Army

Image from today-i-found-out article; click through for link.

In 1974, a group of Chinese peasants digging a well in Shaanxi Province made a stunning discovery: a life-size clay statue of an ancient soldier. They notified authorities, who dispatched a group of archaeologists to investigate.

The archaeologists didn’t find just one soldier. They found thousands, meant to be an army serving Emperor Qin Shi Huang in his afterlife. (Read more about Qin and his army here from National Geographic, and here, from Smithsonian Magazine.)

Image of the dig site, now under roof, from Wikipedia.

They found more than eight thousand terracotta (baked clay) figures, mostly soldiers but also court officials, horses, acrobats, dancers, musicians, and servants. The kicker? Each one was unique. Some groups might all be wearing similar armor or clothing, but each face is different.

The General. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

Among the photos of the seven similarly-accoutered generals (distinguished by the tassels on their armor, their elaborate hats, and their pointing index fingers), for example, I see that one has a narrow face and tilted eyes, one has full cheeks and sideburns, one has flat broad cheekbones and worry lines on his forehead.

Horse and rider. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

This aspect fascinates me most. Did each person of Emperor Qin’s army pose for the clay-figure artisans? Or were the artisans given free reign to portray various personalities as they liked, representing different ethnic or cultural groups in the Emperor’s army? Or were only the figures of high rank actual portraits, while those showing lowly foot soldiers or archers just representational? I don’t think we’ll ever know for certain, though some research indicates that the figures are truly individual portraits.

The officer. His weapon (probably a sword) disintegrated over time. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

Qin’s legacy includes a group of former principalities unified into one country, the standardization of monetary units, weights and measures, vastly increased infrastructure and commerce, and the first version of the Great Wall. (Dude was busy.) However, his legacy has been somewhat tarnished by the recognition that he only managed to do all this with forced slave labor. Then, too, his heir survived only three years past Qin’s death due to assassination, and dynastic rule passed to another family.

Kneeling Archer, originally holding a crossbow. Check out his upper-body armor. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

However, the incredible tomb complex — which has not been fully excavated — is amazing. Read more about recent discoveries here.

The Virginia Museum of Fine Arts in Richmond is currently hosting an exhibit of several of these figures, as well as other artifacts from this time period. See here for more details about the exhibit itself. If you’re within driving distance, please do yourself a favor and go.

A foot soldier, originally armed with a spear. I love this photo for its detail of the soldier’s face. Even the chip out of his right eyebrow doesn’t detract from the strong facial features. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

The CEO took some wonderful pictures at the exhibit (flash is prohibited, by the way). These photos belong to him, so please don’t steal them. If you’d like to use one, just email me and I’m sure we can work something out.

I have not included here photos of the small stableboy figure, the court official, the full-size charioteer, or the quarter-size statue of a chariot drawn by four horses and manned by a charioteer under a bronze sunshade. I’ve also not included several interesting photos of decorated roof tiles and drain pipes, or some really lovely pottery ware from the period, also on exhibit. There was just too much to highlight it all.

Standing Archer, in the process of readying his bow. Note that in contrast to the Kneeling Archer, who would have been closer to the front, he has only a padded tunic and no armor. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

It was interesting to me that my family members had different favorites, of the figures on exhibit. Bookworm liked Kneeling Archer best, for his clever, narrow face and his battle-ready position. Taz preferred the horse and rider for their similar expressions. Gaze was most impressed with the General’s stalwart, assured stance. The CEO and I both chose the Standing Archer. The CEO favored his dynamic pose, and I liked his calm, alert face.

Look, doesn’t he have a cool face? I would be friends with this guy. Photo by JW Guthrie, all rights reserved.

The VMFA gift shop had several sizes of reproduction figurines for sale, the smaller ones quite reasonably priced and all beautifully made. Unfortunately there are none of my standing archer, and the general figurine has a different face than the one on display, so I didn’t buy one. I hope I won’t regret that. (Though there’s always eBay, should I change my mind later.)

I’ve been fascinated by the Terracotta Army since I was young and National Geographic did a story on the recently-found figures. It was so gratifying to finally see them and to recognize that they were even better than I’d imagined them.

 

 

 

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Scent Diary, Jan. 1-7, 2018

(It always feels different writing the new year for the first time, doesn’t it?)

Monday, Jan. 1: Still cold. High today of 18F. SOTD was Memoir Woman, because it is both delicious and really freaky. We took down some of the Christmas decorations; I think The CEO might be kinda ticked at me for asking him to go out into the cold and remove the wreath from the big second-story window as well as the garland and lights from the porch.

Tuesday, Jan. 2: So I’ve started a trial membership at Ancestry.com. This came about for two reasons: A) my sister is very interested in tracking our family but hasn’t been able to join the site, and B) on Saturday during our trip to the Virginia State Capitol, we were talking about famous Virginians. That discussion included Sam Houston and another Virginian who went to Texas and became prominent — Stephen Austin (namesake of the city of Austin, TX). Who I am related to, distantly, through my paternal grandmother. The CEO was not aware of this, and somehow neither were my kids, so I thought it would be good to fill out my side of the family tree for them. Some relatives of The CEO’s have done a thorough tree several generations back, so the kids have access to that, but the other side is fairly mysterious to them.

SOTD is Shalimar Light with a scosh of Organza Indecence on top. It’s still quite cold.

Wednesday, Jan. 3: Still cold. I noticed last night that the tree was getting a bit crunchy despite our plan to leave it up until Epiphany (Jan. 6), so we undecorated it. The Nativity and snow village and nutcrackers are still on display, at least until Saturday. SOTD was just a bit of Tauer Rose Delight body oil.

Just heard today that our former band director (Gaze’s, not Bookworm’s) had died as a result of injuries from a car accident. I’m stunned. You never expect things like that.

And our neighbor (the one with the goats) was on his cattle farm in a nearby county trying to coax a bull back through the fence the bull had broken through, and the bull took offense and knocked him down. Neighbor is in the ICU in Roanoke (50 miles away) with ten broken ribs and at least one cracked vertebra. If you feel like throwing up a prayer for Tommy and his family, please do.

Thursday, Jan. 4: Drove to Roanoke with Gaze to help my parents put away their Christmas decor. Mom’s just not up to moving boxes around, and it tires my dad out.  SOTD was DK Black Cashmere (yum) with a dab of Vero Perfumery Rozy edp on one wrist and Shanghai Tang Rose Silk on the other. Frankly, the Shanghai Tang is to me far preferable to the Vero; Rozy has that oddly flat fuzzy vanilla-dusty patchouli angle that makes me dislike it.

At 7 pm it was 8 degrees Fahrenheit, by the thermometer. With wind chill? -5. NEGATIVE. FIVE. (Bizarrely, the dog keeps wanting to go outside, five minutes at a time, three times an hour.)

Friday, Jan. 5: COLD AGAIN. 8F. Brrrrr. Nice to stay inside. I need to take the recycling to the town center because it’s starting to pile up, but it’s COLD, Y’ALL. It can wait. SOTD is vintage Coty Emeraude parfum de toilette, ca. 1973, rich and plush and a gentler take on Shalimar, for me. I mean, if you love Shalimar, more power to ya, I don’t mind smelling it — I just don’t want to wear it.

Also retested the Vero Rozy edp and instead of just disliking it, I hated it. Total scrubber. It wasn’t the dusty patch-nilla this time, it was a disturbing unwashed-body smell. (There’s honey in it. Maybe that.)

I had a free Redbox coupon code, and we’d been wanting to see “Dunkirk,” so I rented that. We Yanks don’t generally know a lot about what happened at Dunkirk, unless we’re WWII history buffs. I’ve read my share of British novels set during WWII, some of which mention this amazing rescue of the British army from the coast of France in 1940, but I really did not know many details. (And probably still don’t, since films based on historic events typically gloss over or omit, or even mischaracterize, significant details in favor of compelling storytelling. Which doesn’t bother me that much, to be honest, because I’d rather watch a compelling story and look up the reality later.)

It’s a very good movie. Part of that is that the real-life event is such an amazing story in itself — the removal of 338,000+ British and French soldiers from the coast of France where they’d been soundly routed by the Germans, to England, by some 700 civilian-owned seacraft and the British navy. True patriotism, true sacrifice, true heroism. Part of the movie’s excellence is the direction of Christopher Nolan, who makes such good use of his actors and his score and his visual approach. Dialogue is limited, and the trick of dumping viewers right in on top of characters we don’t know and letting us find our place as things progress is successful. Then, too, Nolan has a gift for using very talented actors and keeping them restrained.

If you remember, I was complaining recently about Kenneth Branagh’s self-indulgent turn as Poirot in the visually-lavish “Murder on the Orient Express”. Well, Ken was directing himself in that. Nolan keeps him on a tighter leash, and Branagh’s reserved and heartfelt performance as the British naval officer in charge of the evacuation is a reminder of how good an actor he really is when he’s not chomping scenery. Tom Hardy’s sub-5-minute screen time as a Spitfire pilot with a low fuel supply is a highlight. (Having only seen the poster showing a sea of tin hats and one tommy looking up, I didn’t even know TH was in it until that distinctive mug briefly popped out from behind his oxygen mask, and then I was all ooh look my boyfriend’s in this one! bet he dies tho. So of course when I went to Youtube to look for a trailer to embed here, he’s front-and-center in it! I don’t know how I missed it this past summer.) The rest of the cast, including several big-name British movie actors as well as theater stalwarts and some new faces, is uniformly excellent as well. Highly recommended.

Saturday, Jan. 6: Indoor track meet for Taz; The CEO went as well. It went badly. For one thing, it’s been far too cold for the distance runners on the team to adequately train. For another, the meet organizers somehow decided to combine two sections of the boys’ 3200 — and wound up with 38 runners in the race. That’s terribly crowded, and crowding has the effect of making the runners go out too fast in an effort to spread themselves apart, so the first half of the race was ridiculously fast and then the second half was ridiculously slow. Bad idea.

RIDICULOUSLY cute packaging. This vibrant color combination just makes me so happy.

SOTD was, first, Twilly d’Hermes from a spray sample. From reading (generally positive) reviews, I had expected something pretty, lightweight yet substantial, a sheer tuberose with ginger. What I got: that raspy, chalky orange-baby-aspirin/Tang dust effect, plus that synthetic spiky jasminoid thing that takes a Skilsaw to my nerves. Only after that stuff wore off, about an hour in, did it turn sheer tuberose. I never got much ginger, unfortunately; I think it was underneath the baby aspirin. The ad campaign’s bright colors (I love the color scheme!) fit the fragrance, and if you’re not sensitive to those two particular aromachems, you’ll likely find Twilly really attractive. I’m sad that I am sensitive to them.

In the evening, I sprayed some new/vintage Parfum d’Hermes. (Vintage bottle in box, batch code dating to 1990, but new to me.) I’m uncertain about it. It does remind me a bit of vintage Guerlain Chamade, but just a bit, and only the higher concentrations of it. And the thing  is, really, I don’t love Chamade. I only like Chamade. Further, if Kafkaesque is calling this thing (in vintage form) a powerhouse, then it ought to BE a dang powerhouse. And it’s not.

Maybe this bottle has aged badly. (Unusual for something still in a box.) Maybe this particular batch was improperly mixed or macerated. Maybe I’m anosmic or hyposmic to something in it, so that I’m not smelling it properly. (This is possible; when The CEO got home last night, he was most appreciative of my fragrance. “This room smells good. Hey, you smell good. You smell really good.” And I’m sitting there thinking, Wow, you can smell it? I can barely smell it.) Maybe the very low humidity in the house is affecting my nose. I don’t know.

Sunday, Jan. 7: Birthday lunch with my parents, a little early but Mom wanted to have a family get-together while Gaze was still on break. He has to be back at Virginia Tech on the 12th. As it turned out, the memorial service for Mr. Shrewsbury was at the high school this afternoon, and he had to leave early.

SOTD was more of the unsniffed-blind-buy Parfum d’Hermes. I like it, but to be honest, I don’t love it, and I only like it a little more than I like Chamade. And the more I wear it, the more I start thinking, the heck with this, I feel like wearing Safari instead.

We should be getting a break from the cold pretty soon, though. That’d be nice.

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