Categotry Archives: The scented life


Busted Sniffer


Categories: Blog housecleaning, FAIL, The scented life

I don’t know whether it’s allergies, or a cold, or a combination of the two, but I can’t smell anything.

Seriously.  I got out the L’Arte di Gucci, which is no shy flower, and made a sample of it on Monday, and I could barely smell it.   Busted out the famously-radiant YSL Paris mini yesterday, and it was faint.  I even opened the room-clearing vintage Poison mini I just nabbed off ebay (simply for reference, you understand, I ain’t gonna actually wear the thing) and it was like gauze in the air, not its usual asphyxiating self.

I’ll try to get the Fragrance Throwdown posted this afternoon, although I’d been hoping for another head-to-head, I mean wrist-to-wrist, comparison first.  I’ll just edit the post if something comes up in future wearings.

Into each life, some clogged-up noses must fall… wait, that’s a really disturbing image… see, I’m trying to be philosophical about this, and utterly failing.

Hope everyone else is enjoying their autumn!  (Unless, of course, you’re in the Southern Hemisphere, in which case I hope you’re enjoying your spring.)

Image is “bandaged stuffed nose” from Lara604 on Flickr (photo subject had her deviated septum repaired).



Ebay Sniping


Categories: That's Just My Opinion, The scented life, Tags: ,

So I just used a snipe service for the first time this evening.  I’d been watching this item for days:

The packaging on this looks very much like the Stunning Vintage Bottle I mentioned in my No. 5 post.  I emailed the seller to ask if the scent was fresh, and she replied back that it “smells full and fresh.  There’s nothing like perfume!”  Well, Amen. 

Earlier today I decided how much this bottle might be worth to me, and set up my first-ever snipe bid.  I’ve gotten tired of losing out on really great deals right at the last minute, even though most of the time it isn’t something I desperately want.  This one, though, I really wanted.  If I can’t beat ’em, I said to myself, I’ll join ’em.

The way a snipe-bot works, I found out today, is that the service places your max bid at whatever time you set (typically 5-7 seconds before the auction ends).  Of course, eBay’s general rules apply, and if you place your snipe bid at, say, $41.54 and 6 seconds before end of auction, and the closest bid is, say, $36  at 4 seconds before end of auction…

You win.  (Yessssss!)  You pay $37.

I ran across one of those Yahoo! Answers issues where an eBay seller was complaining about snipers – he liked to “watch the buyers get into a bidding war” and “watch the bids go higher and higher all week.”  In the comments, other sellers complained that the final selling price stays too low, when sniping is allowed. 

Butbutbut, I’m thinking, I put in the highest amount I’d be willing to pay.   I wouldn’t have bid above that anyway, even if I’d put that bid in five days ago.  I stay out of bidding wars – could I ever want something that much? – and it’s fairly nerve-wracking, watching your little “I want this” bid risking its life against “I REALLY WANT THIS” bids, but that’s the Nature of EBay.  It just is, that’s why. 

Are snipe services ethical?   It’s my opinion that they are, given that they operate within the parameters of the eBay system.  It’s okay to, um, “work” the rules, as long as you’re sticking by them, I say.  Football players do it all the time.  So do tennis players and runners and swimmers and volleyball players, and everybody else. 

So do lawyers.  (Lawyer joke told to me by one of the ushers at our wedding, who happens to be both an attorney and an amateur magician – no, seriously, Bobby is a terrific guy and a good friend:  “What’s the difference between a catfish and a lawyer?  One is an ugly, scum-sucking bottom feeder, and the other is a type of fish.”)

In your opinion, are auction snipers ugly, scum-sucking bottom feeders?

Image of perfume bottle from ebay seller rhinestonegreyhounds.  Image of catfish from wikipedia.



StYle? You mean, for me?


Categories: fashion, That's Just My Opinion, The scented life, Tags: , ,

Remember my Fashion Blog Rant the other day?  Well, I’ve been doing some digging around, and there’s a whole world of fashion blogging out there, my friends!  It’s all new to me.

First the good news:  not all the fashion bloggers are snarky Mean Girls.  In fact, the ones that are tend to be young and very, very focused on trends.  I’ve run across several that I enjoyed and that I’ll be revisiting, and I’ll add them to a sidebar soon.  The ones I really like are mostly, like perfume bloggers, Doing it for Fun, with an eye to assisting people who need a little help (uh, that would be me).   

The bad news: the Young Snarky Trendy ones are the ones that show up on Yahoo! Shine and other fashion-mag-type sites.  It took lots of sifting for me to find bloggers who are genuinely interested in helping readers develop their own sense of style, based on lifestyle, budget, body type and coloring.   Some of the sites recommended by commenters here were helpful to me, and some were more focused on What’s Hot/What’s Not – which is definitely not my area of interest.  (If What’s Hot is already your interest, there’s nothing for you to see here, move along… and by the way, I envy you,  just a teensy weensy bit.) I’ll be adding some of my favorites to a sidebar soon. 

Which brings me to another point that I’ve been mulling over for some time: people come into the Fragrance Kingdom from several different directions.  Some people want to recreate the past in some small way, whether it’s their own personal past or just a period of time that interests them.  For some people, it’s a matter of completing their grooming – they want a nice smell to spray on, the way they look for a great haircut or a terrific body lotion.  For some people, fragrance is a way of experiencing art, in the same way one experiences Schoenfeld or Kandinsky or, say, Christian Lacroix’ showy red evening gown here at left.  And for some few, it’s a fascinating intersection of chemistry, business, and psychology.

I look around at my fellow perfume bloggers – those of us nutty enough about the stuff to want to write about it – and I can generally divide us into two camps: those of us who are primarily interested in fashion and beauty as well as scent, and those of us who are more interested in music, art, and literature.  I’m not saying, mind you, that there’s no overlap.  Of course there’s overlap.  There are probably perfume bloggers who are just as interested in DiorShow mascara as in a gallery showing of Sofia Minson’s work (her “Messenger” here at right),  just as excited by the Alexandre Vauthier winter couture collection as by a new Margaret Atwood novel.

I’m not one of them.  Undoubtedly, my world would be bigger if I were one of those people… of course, it would be bigger still if I ever got to read every novel, see every piece of art or sculpture or architecture, hear every piece of music that I wanted.  I feel that I don’t have enough mental space, or enough free time, to go slashing round Macy’s (look, some of us don’t even have a Sephora or an Ulta or a Saks to complain about, okay?) looking for The Best Eyeliner Ever, or The Perfect Pair of Boots.  I’d rather be listening to a performance of Vivaldi’s Gloria.  Or, to be honest, reading Treasure Island to my kids. 

You pays your money and you takes your choice.  If it sounds like I’m dismissing the validity of interest in fashion, I’m not.  Really.  It just hasn’t been what I’ve chosen in my own life.

And how did I get sucked into Perfumista-hood?  Well, it started with Bath & Body Works Velvet Tuberose, which I bought and wore and loved for several months after a period of lean financial times and babies at home.  From there, I started investigating the Coco Mademoiselle that my sister had asked for as a Christmas gift, and ran across Now Smell This… and when I started intentionally smelling fragrances, a wildly new area of my brain lit up, emotional and richly sensuous, and I wanted to go and live in it.  Mostly I just visit – but it pushed me back into writing fiction, after a hiatus of nearly 16 years.  Worth it, I say, even if I never publish.

But this new interest in fashion, I think, I hope, will take me in a direction of simplicity.  Ditch the stuff that doesn’t fit, that doesn’t flatter, that didn’t survive the 56th washing, that for whatever reason just doesn’t work.  Stick with fewer classic well-made basics in colors I like, even if they’re expensive, and accent with a few new, inexpensive things each season (and those big silk scarves I love)… well, it sounds simpler, anyway.   Simple is good.  I can buy into paring down the things that don’t matter as much to me as my weekly choral group, or NaNoWriMo.

I’m sure I’ll be sharing some of my experiences as time goes on.  Meanwhile, if you’d like to share how you got interested in perfume, I’d love to hear.

Incidentally, most of these links are informational only.  I think that only one of them leads to a place where you could actually buy something (the DiorShow, of course), and it’s not a recommendation because a) $24 for a mascara seems ludicrous to me and b) I haven’t even tried it.  Top image is from Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History, lower one from Artfind.





Categories: Family, The scented life

… and here’s how I’m feeling today:

YIPPEE!   In case you’re wondering, I’m wearing my Happy-happy-joy-joy scent, Parfums de Nicolai Vanille  Tonka, the first scent I ever reviewed for this blog and still a favorite.

And a bonus Staples back-to-school ad, with Alice Cooper of all people:

Image is “School Buses Stop” from Steve McCoy at Flickr.





Categories: Blog housecleaning, The scented life, Tags:

Yesterday, I…

Went to work, where the IT guys had upgraded our software without letting me know they were going to.  I mean, I knew it was coming, but I didn’t know it was coming yesterday.

Tested DSH Perfumes Susinon (1000 Lilies), from her new Secrets of Egypt Collection.  Review soon.

Packed up the boys and took them to my mom’s house, 75 minutes’ drive, to stay for a few days.

Picked up 13 of her old quart jars for canning use, and a bushel of peaches from the local orchard.

Went by the mall to pick up some Lavender Vanilla body mist for my sister’s birthday at Bath and Body Works.  Smelled the new Dark Kiss fragrance there (Angel Berries, if you ask me).

Meandered down to Macy’s for some higher-end sniffery than I usually get.  Drove home. Started an outline for a post on the experience.  It’s coming soon, probably Friday, definitely before the 1000 Lilies review.

Proofread The CEO’s letter to the newspaper editor (he’s annoyed with an AP story with a really-misleading headline).

Cleaned, blanched, packaged and froze 42 ears of corn.

Washed, blanched, peeled, chopped, cooked, and canned another seven quarts of tomatoes.  One jar didn’t seal – one! out of the 34 I’ve done so far… it’s in the fridge, I’ll make salsa out of it or something.


Image is “backyard bee” from jennyw47 at Flickr.



Going on Vacation!


Categories: Blog housecleaning, Family, The scented life, Tags:

We weren’t sure whether we could manage to schedule a family vacation this year, but The CEO says he’s caught up on farm work to the degree that we could take a week off.

So we’re going.  Yay!

We’ll spend one day at an amusement park, one at the beach, one traveling and visiting an aquarium, one day at a maritime museum looking at ships and also at a historic fort, and one day leisurely driving home.  Should be fun… if I can keep the kids from killing each other in the back seat…

We’re leaving Monday morning, and I will be back to post the week’s Scent Diary on Sunday, 7/18.

Anybody have any suggestions for what fragrances I should take with me?  It’ll be hot where we’re going – the forecast is calling for mid-90s – but near the Atlantic, so the evenings might be bearable.  I’ll probably take a couple of decants in my purse instead of a bottle I’d have to leave in a hot vehicle for hours, but I can make my own decants from my larger bottles.  I’m not going to the trouble to list my wardrobe, but here are a few bits of information:

  • I don’t care much for cologne.  I’m not knocking it, but I just don’t enjoy it on me.  I’m not much of a citrus gal, either.
  • I like light florals and aldehydic florals.
  • I like white florals – but don’t worry, I’m not going to splash on the Fracas just before entering the amusement park. 

Or  just tell me what fragrance(s) you like to wear on vacation! 

I once had a cute little blue leather train case for toiletries and makeup.  It had a sectioned tray and a mirror, and a cushioned handle – so convenient!  It matched my hard-sided luggage set, the one I dragged around all through high school and college and the early years of my marriage, before the latches finally went bad, and before I decided that a rolling suitcase is the way to go.  I miss that train case.  Moreover, I miss the vacations when I could concentrate on my appearance rather than on whether I packed enough wet wipes, juice boxes and Cheez-Its to get us through the day… the image is Fluff Hula Cuties from Amazon, $30.  Soooo adorable.



Baseball Perfume Possibilities?


Categories: The scented life, Tags: ,

I already posted my choice of fragrance for the Red Sox – Orioles game last Saturday, and am working on a biiiig post on Baseball and Fragrance, so I won’t get into the actual experience here.  I did think, though, that it might be fun to share a bit of my thought process concerning my choice.  Here’s the list of stuff I took with me – all samples or decants except my small bottle of darling Le Temps d’une Fete – thinking that at least one might work well for this evening game in hot, humid DC/Baltimore weather. I considered the following:

Lolita Lempicka au Masculin – I like the anisey angle, but there’s something shaving-creamy in there.  I can’t say they didn’t warn me – it does say Masculin – so no ranting.

Chanel Cristalle edt (older) – This was the first time I’d smelled Cristalle in several months, and my first thought upon smelling it again was, Wow, does that ever smell like cigarette smoke!  I’ve never been a big fan of Cristalle anyway (citrus being, as you probably know, Not My Thing), but I don’t remember having this adverse a reaction to sniffing the mere vial before.

PdN Le Temps d’une Fete – Contrary to my ICK! reaction at smelling Cristalle from the vial, my reaction upon pulling the cap off my little bottle of LTdF is always the same: Mmmmmmmmm.  I love it.  It smells slightly dirty to me, as well as slightly floral and somewhat green, and I still think it smells its best outside.  Possibility.

Moschino Funny! – I remain nonplussed at the four-star review of this one in P:TG.  It’s very, very nice – I like that grapefruit/rose thing, and it’s light and cheerful, without veering into cologne territory.  It stays citrusy a long time in a pleasant, natural sort of way that doesn’t irritate me the way citrus usually does.  But unusual and distinctive?  Not really.  Possibility. 

Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint – I’d been saving this one to try on a hot day.  But on skin? Eeewwww, sour and garbagey.  My first scrubber ever from this house, which specializes in Inoffensive, Nice Smells.

L’Artisan Dzing! –  I’m not brave enough to wear this one out of the house – not only does it smell delightfully of old books and sawdust, it’s also got a strong presence on my skin of animal fur.  I had discounted the “circus” connection with it, since most reviews mentioned the Old Paper-Vanilla angle, but immediately upon spraying it on my wrist the other night I thought of the familiar/ unfamiliar/ exciting/ disgusting smell of the zoo: animal bodies, fur, hay, and dung or droppings.  Yep.  Circus.  Dzing! has also got a sweet component that makes me think of cotton candy, and those spongy orange circus peanut candies.  It’s fascinating! And, possibly, too Virtual Circus to wear as an actual perfume.  In conjunction with a baseball game and heat and crowds? Uh-uh, no way. 

Thierry Mugler Alien edp – It’s very sweeeet on me – all jasmine/woods/sugar.  I briefly considered its sweet vs. woody character and then dismissed it as being too heavy in this kind of humid heat.  I find it extremely comforting, though, and love it for bedtime.   But maybe the candied aspect would go well with hot dogs and peanuts and sweat?  Possibility.

Ormonde Woman – why did I bring this again? I do like the opening very much, with its piney, aromatic feeling.  But the sweet, ambery base of this one is so similar to Orris Noir that I tend to get them mixed up.  It’s too heavy for summer, in any case, although the dot of it I’ve got on my thumb smells great.

Guerlain Chamade edt (older) – considered for two reasons: its nearly-icy, air-conditioned green opening, and the fact that its subtly warm, vanillic base smells absolutely fabulous with buttered popcorn.   Popcorn, peanuts, hot dogs… and Chamade.  I think it’d be amazing. Possibility.

Eau d’Italie Paestum Rose – its sheer, dry rose is lovely.  But the more I thought of it, the less game-appropriate I thought it was.  Also, my sample is nearly gone.

Penhaligon’s Lily & Spice – Nice little thing, a lovely heady white lily with cardamom, just the sort of thing I loved in Amoureuse, but toned down a good bit.  It might be a bit too floral for the MLB Experience.

So I knocked my choices down to a short list and asked The CEO’s opinion.  Which I don’t normally do – usually I can make up my own mind, thanks! – but I was dithering.  I requested that he choose for me and started presenting him with my “possibles.”  First, though, he picked up Dzing! and sniffed it.  “This is nice,” he said.  “It smells like vanilla.” 

“Not that one,” I said.  “You don’t smell animals in there?”  He shook his head and went on sniffing vials.

His comments?  Le Temps d’une Fete smelled “too dressy” to him.  Funny! was “nice and light.” Chamade “smelled like old ladies at church.” (I admit, Chamade is tough to enjoy straight out of the bottle, even when you like galbanum as I do, and it takes a good couple of hours on my skin to get to the lovely rich base.  Besides which, The CEO has a lot of experience with smelling old ladies at church, and that’s not an image I like to evoke.)  Alien got a humming growl in the back of his throat.  “Rrrwowwr. Wear this one,” he said. 

Well, since you put it that way, I will.  Ding ding ding!  Winner bell for Thierry Mugler Alien.  And it did work very nicely.  You know how you’d think root beer would taste weird with hot dogs and chips, but it actually doesn’t?  It’s like Beer Nuts. The sweet goes with the salty-savory.  Alien was sweet and radiant and slightly feminine, and just trashy enough to add to the atmosphere of fun.

Image is Home Orange Outnumbered by Visitor Red from AntyDiluvian on flickr.



Weekend fun!


Categories: Family, The scented life

I’ll be leaving for a short family trip tomorrow morning.  I’ll be back Sunday night, but I doubt I’ll get the chance to post anything before Monday.  (I’ll take my laptop.  We’ll see.)

Here’s where I’ll be Friday afternoon and evening:

This is the New Zealand Embassy in Washington, DC.  The CEO did his master’s degree in NZ courtesy of a Fulbright scholarship, and every year he gets these invitations to receptions from the lovely Fulbright NZ people, and we never go.  It’s always hay season.  Or calving season.  Or something-else-season.  But this time, we already had plans to be in the Northern Virginia area, and who knows when we’ll get the chance again?  So I’ll be listening to the Fulbright scholars Ian Axford Fellows of the prior year presenting their theses, and eating canapes.  Probably I’ll be wearing heels, too.  (You can’t have everything.)  Oh, you wanted to know what scent I’m planning to wear?  Probably my decant of No. 5 Eau Premiere.  It’s travel-worthy, it’s versatile, it’s elegant, it’s Chanel – but in a friendly sort of way.    Should be nice.

And then we’ll be staying with some family, so I can take my sister-in-law her birthday bottle of Dune.  That should be nice, too.  I don’t get to see my niece and nephew often enough, and they’re terrific.  They’re the same ages as Gaze and Taz, so I’m sure the kids will stay up too late giggling and make a lot of noise.  It’ll be just like home… 

Saturday will also be also our hosts’ seventeenth wedding anniversary – congrats, E & K! – and my nephew Curiosity’s twelfth birthday.  To celebrate, we have tickets to a baseball game:  Boston Red Sox versus Baltimore Orioles at Camden Yards!  If I haven’t mentioned it before, The CEO has been a rabid, rain-or-shine, win-or-lose Sox fan since he was eight and they were making another failed run at the World Series.  Not that he’s, um, old or anything, but we’ll just say he’s been a fan for more than 30 years, and you can do the math yourself.  Wink wink.  How rabid a fan is he?  Well, rabid enough that he still occasionally has nightmares of Game 7 of the 2003 American League Championship Series where he wakes me up, shouting, “Take out Pedro!  TAKE OUT PEDRO!!!”  Also, we made a pilgrimage to Fenway Park on our honeymoon.  (Yes, really.  You could still get Fenway tickets in 1992.  Of course, they were obstructed-view seats, but there are a truly staggering number of obstructed-view seats at Fenway.) 

The seats we’ve got at Camden Yards are faaaaabulous seats – we have a friend who’s a member of a unofficial consortium that purchases Orioles season tickets every year and then splits up the tickets among its members.  This friend usually saves tickets to a Red Sox game for us, and they’re in the lower levels along the third base line, my favorite place to sit in any ball park, but especially at Camden Yards because you’ve got a great view of the Baltimore Sun scoreboard, and of the brick warehouse behind the park.  We live in hopes that someday when we’re there, a home run ball will actually break a warehouse window.  I hear it’s happened now and then.   It’s an evening game, so hopefully we won’t be dripping with sweat.  I haven’t decided what fragrance to wear, but I might take a handful of samples and a decant or two, and just see how I feel on Saturday afternoon.  This will be a research opportunity for me since I’m working on an article about Baseball and Fragrance.  (Oh, come on, it’s a serious academic endeavor.  Really.  Really.  It’s research.)

We’ll probably go to an early church service Sunday afternoon and head home after that.  You may shed a tear for poor Bookworm – we had the tickets all bought, all nine of them, before we found out that the summer phys-ed program she’s doing actually starts this Saturday, before school is out, and if she misses the first day she won’t get credit for the course.  I KNOW!  I couldn’t believe it either.  Poor baby.  Her father will probably make it up to her by taking her to some other game later in the summer, or maybe snagging tickets to a Virginia Tech football game, which she also loves.

Somewhere around here, I’ve got a photo of the Fam going to a Red Sox-Orioles game a couple of years ago, all wearing their Sox shirts.  It’s adorable.  I’ll put it up if I can find it (right now, I can only find it on The CEO’s Facebook page, and I can’t save it from there because it’s in bitmap format).

SO.  Back on Monday morning with a post, and hopefully the news that the Emeraude samples will be mailed on Monday as well.   Everybody have a great weekend, have fun, be scented, enjoy life.  😀

Images are from wikipedia.

Edit:  Just back from the high school band banquet Thursday evening, where Bookworm won the Rookie Marcher of the Year award.  Surprise!  (I wasn’t surprised at all.  I saw her march.)  I hope that takes a tiny bit of the sting out of missing the baseball game.



Sexy Cake


Categories: Oriental, The scented life, Vanilla scents

Just the other day I baked a cake. Nothing special, nothing fancy, no occasion for celebration – just a plain yellow cake from a boxed mix, frosted with chocolate icing from a can that I kicked up a little with some cocoa powder, vanilla flavoring, and a little confectioner’s sugar, for the stiffer texture I prefer. In deference to Taz’ Homer Simpson-like obsession with sprinkles, I added some of those.

C’mon… give a girl a break, willya? My days of making cakes from scratch1 ended at about the time Bookworm was born. Too busy. My copy of Rose Levy Beranbaum’s Cake Bible, pages once stained with my efforts, languishes unused on the cookbook shelf, and every so often I give it a longing glance. Chocolate Domingo Cake… White Lilac Nostalgia… Chocolate Truffle Cake with Intense Raspberry Jewel Sauce (okay, fine, I admit to making the raspberry sauce every couple of years or so, but it’s very time-consuming to get all of those little seeds out of the sieve)… Perfect Pound Cake… dacquoise, Italian meringue icing, chocolate leaves, crème anglaise, spun sugar threads…

Maybe someday. Every one of those recipes is delicious and exquisite, and every one of them takes forever to make. Which is why I’m making cakes from mixes these days, and thus the plain cake from the box. Its humble origins notwithstanding, it filled the whole house with the gorgeous smell of vanilla, sugar, and baked goods.

Which made me think of my sister. This is the girl who used to wear Vanilla Fields and Brown Sugar & Fig, and still loves the Aromatherapy Lavender-Vanilla line of body products at Bath & Body Works. She told me once that she enjoys wearing vanilla scents because the smell inspires her husband to hug her, saying, “You smell like cake! Um, I mean… uh, sexy cake, honey!” She’d rather wear Coco Mademoiselle for herself, but her hubby likes the vanilla ones.

If gentlemen prefer blondes2, do they also prefer vanilla? There are probably hundreds of discussion threads on the fragrance forums (Perfume of Life, Basenotes, Makeup Alley, Fragrantica) nattering on about which perfumes men find attractive on women. Having read a fair number of these discussions, I can tell you that – at least among men of Generation X and younger – vanilla is, apparently, a huge draw for straight men. Women (and men) mention everything from Aquolina Pink Sugar to Angel to Shalimar, with side excursions into Jessica Simpson’s Fancy, B&BW Warm Brown Sugar, and a whole slew of Comptoir Sud Pacifique fragrances.

They might be wrong about vanilla’s man-pulling abilities. But it does make me give fervent thanks that I’m not actively looking for a may-yinn 3 at the moment (got one, thanks for asking, although I might sell him cheap4 if he doesn’t stop leaving the toilet seat up), because I’ve never been all that interested in smelling like cake. Even, um, I mean, sexy cake.

Mind you, I really like vanilla. Give me a choice between vanilla and chocolate ice cream, and I’ll take vanilla every time. Plain doughnut versus chocolate, or raspberry-filled? I’ll thumb-wrestle you for the plain!

It’s just that most of my “vanilla” fragrances are really “vanilla-and-something inedible” fragrances: Shalimar Light is vanilla, lemon, and a hint of asphalt. That Slut Tocade is vanilla, rose, and nightclub smoke. Vanille Tonka is vanilla, carnations, limes, Dr. Pepper, and frankincense, a giggly Cuba Libre party in a bottle. Organza Indecence is probably the closest to “sexy cake” that I own – but along with its vanilla, orange, and spice, it contains some woods and a dusty patchouli that takes it right out of the bakery case. Havana Vanille is tobacco, rum, spice, and vanilla liqueur so clear and sweet and boozy that you think of pirates in tropical waters, not of Mom’s coffee cake.

There’s no sexy cake in my fragrance wardrobe, and I’m okay with that. To each her own.

How about you? Do you:

A) believe that men are attracted to the smell of vanilla cupcakes on women, assuming that you care about such matters?

B) own any Sexy Cake or other vanilla scents? Which ones?

As always, please feel free to tell me I’m a nutcase.

Images from top to bottom are: Vanilla cake vanilla buttercream from ladybugluggage; 3 vanilla cupcakes with vanilla sea salt from chockylit; and Vanilla beans from kendiala, all at Flickr. Image of my sister and her glorious hair from my sister’s collection. My sister has a small child of her own, so for safety reasons I’m not naming her.

1 When The CEO was a kid, he misheard his mother saying she’d made a cake “from scratch” as “from scraps.” They fed the dog table scraps, so for at least a couple of years, he was unduly impressed by what he thought was his mother’s magical ability to turn refuse into dessert.

2 Clearly, my brother-in-law is indifferent to blondes. My sister is blessed with the most glorious wavy red hair – in fact, it’s not red, it’s more a coppery bronze. It’s stunning hair. But no one will ever mistake her for Marilyn Monroe.

3 If this doesn’t make sense to you, try saying it the way Ru-Paul would. You know, not just a man, but a manly man who has bedroom potential.

4 He does laundry, windows, and the occasional decent backrub. But he snores, and he’s obsessed with Republicans and geography. Make me an offer good enough to induce me to discount 18 pretty good years, and we’ll talk…



Rescued from the fire…


Categories: The scented life, Uncategorized, Tags: ,

I had a particularly vivid dream last night that my house was on fire.  I dreamed that the smoke detector went off just after we went to bed, and we were able to get all the kids and pets out immediately, but the house burned down because the fire department’s pumper truck could not negotiate our narrow, twisty gravel drive.  So we had to stand out in the field and watch our house burn, and a more horrible feeling I can’t imagine (unless it’s to stand by and watch your child die, which would be far worse).  I heard the little ting-pop-roars as each perfume bottle caught fire and the glass broke, adding alcohol to the fuel mix and accelerating the fire.  It was dreadful.

Our smoke alarm actually did go off one Sunday morning in early summer a few years ago, right after I’d gotten out of the shower and dressed.  I went into the kitchen and put on my apron – and there it went, and if I had ever worried about whether the alarm would be loud enough to wake everyone up I worried no longer.  It was loud.  It was loud enough to bring all three kids down the stairs within thirty seconds and loud enough to hurt the dog’s ears.  We called the fire department from our neighbor’s house, and the trucks arrived (sans pumper truck, which truly could not negotiate our narrow, twisty gravel drive) within eight minutes.  The firemen – most of whom we knew, this is a small town – went all over the house and found no fire, just a little dust in the smoke detector.   The whole episode was both frightening and reassuring: the smoke alarm works, the fire department’s response is fast, but if there were ever a fire in our house or the farm shop next door, there likely would not be enough water available to put it out.

I tend to have vivid dreams anyway, and if I happen to mention them to The CEO, he likes to analyze them for me.  This one, he says, means that I’m anxious about basic safety and that I feel guilty about having too much stuff. 

Well, yes.  May 4 would have been my grandmother’s 96th birthday, if she were still with us.  This was the grandmother who lived with my parents my whole life, the one with bipolar disorder, the one with major packrat tendencies probably engendered by an extremely penurious childhood… the one that stored a 40-gallon crock of homemade soap in her kitchen closet for, no kidding, nearly fifty years.  She died four years ago, and my mother is still cleaning out her stuff.  This grandmother was the one that saved every greeting card she was ever given, old letters, photos, knick-knacks, things she “might use someday”.  She collected bird figurines, Harlequin romance novels, interesting bottles, rocks, shells, “Ideals” magazines, and anything with owls on it: lamps, salt and pepper shakers, trivets, you name it.  Every inch of wall space in her basement apartment was taken up with furniture. 

A lot of her stuff has come to me: the pink Depression glass dishes, her yarn collection, her miniature-pitcher collection, some of the china she painted.  And I have my own load of stuff too: paperback novels, DVDs, clothes I don’t wear, the cross-stitch supplies that I may never use now that the craft hurts my hands, not to mention my perfume collection. 

It’s time for a little closet-and-attic purging.  It may have to wait until after baseball season, but that’s my plan for the summer.  If I don’t use it or love it or need it, if it’s not a truly cherished piece of family history, out it goes

All this turmoil got me to thinking, if there really were a fire in my house and I could rescue only one bottle of perfume, which one would it be?  One of my very favorites:  Le Temps d’une Fete, Parfum Sacre’, Tabac Aurea, vintage Emeraude, the decant of Amouage Lyric Woman, the decants of Apres l’Ondee and Carnal Flower?   One of those Discontinued Saints, the gone forever or hard to find: Crown Bouquet, Mariella Burani, L’Arte di Gucci, vintage Magie Noire?    But most of those could be replaced.  I think I might choose to save the Stunning Vintage Bottle of Chanel No. 5.  There’s nothing else like it, it’s irreplaceable. 

What would you save in that situation?  (Fine, I know it’s an artificial construct, but I’m okay with that concept in the pursuit of proper prioritizing.)

Here are some resources if you’re thinking of decluttering your own living space: ,  And our dear Chicken Freak has a whole blog devoted to the topic, as well – I haven’t been checking out Declutter of the Day, but I think I will be doing that regularly.  I’ve actually been a member at Flylady for several years now, but I admit that the relentless “love yourself,” mushy-gushy vibe there really just gets on my nerves from time to time.   Nevertheless, I need to do this.  I’ll probably sleep better.

Image is Perfume fire on a bathroom floor, from bethyreese at



Discontinued Saints


Categories: Balenciaga, Crown Perfumery, Dior, Discontinued, Gucci, Guerlain, Lancome, Mariella Burani, Rant, The scented life, Tom Ford

I blame Left Coast Nose for this one.  She mentioned a scent she liked in a comment, and then helpfully pointed out that it’s discontinued.  Which got me to thinking… how much of the stuff I actually own and wear is no longer being produced and sold at retail?  A bunch of it, that’s how much.   Edit:  I should explain, I bought nearly all of the following at online discounters, where most of them are indeed still available at the time of writing.  Exception Shalimar Light, which is getting scarce as alligator feathers.

I had titled this post “Love’s Retail Lost,” and then when I went looking for a photo to accompany it, I found this:

which, although not precisely on topic, was too good not to share.

I checked my Excel file, where I keep notes on what I’ve tested, what I’d like to test, and what I’ve bought, to find out.  To be fair, I excluded my (extensive) collection of vintage miniatures, which I bought primarily because they were vintage/discontinued/hard-to-find.

Mariella Burani edt.  I think Mariella Burani is still making some kind of fragrance, but the eponymous one is no longer produced.  When you find it at the discounters, it’s likely to be very cheap because stocks have been dumped.  This does not reflect its quality.

YSL Paris Pont des Amours Printemps Edition 2008   Again, another LE.  I can’t really complain about limited editions not sticking around, however much I’d like to (I’m still mourning over the L’Artisan Jacinthe de Bois I never got to smell).

Tom Ford Black Orchid Voile de Fleur   I have seen Black Orchid recently in a retail store, but not VdF, and I can’t find an online listing for it at a retail establishment. 

Balenciaga Rumba.  Another “let’s just dump it at cost” scent because it’s been discontinued and there’s tons of old stock sitting around.  It’s a very 80’s style fragrance, big and rich and vampy, and that is quite unfashionable these days.

Donna Karan Gold.  Recently discontinued, along with a slew of other Karans.  I am saddened to report that they are still making the (hideous, IMO) Be Delicious and all its sugary little flankers.

This one’s in question: I can’t find Givenchy Organza Indecence, whether the original or the Les Mythiques version, anywhere.  But March says in her comments to me on this post she was told it’s not discontinued, just really hard to find.  Givenchy should get its act together – this one was a both a big seller and hugely popular among perfumistas.

L’Arte di Gucci.  It doesn’t surprise me that this one’s kaput, to be honest.  It’s too… too big, too lush, too animalic, too shrieking, too everything  for current tastes.  (Except marshmallowy and fruity.  It’s not fruit-flavored-candy enough for current tastes.  And now I’ll stop snarling about the fruity gourmand fad, at least for now.   I admit to liking Hanae Mori.)

Stetson Rich Suede, which was probably an LE to begin with.  Oh, well.

Ines de la Fressange 1999, the Calice Becker fruity floral  – there’s a newer version in a tall bottle with gold leaves, a gourmandish thing by Alberto Morillas, but I think it too has been discontinued.  I know I snark about fruity florals from time to time, but this one is done just right: light-hearted, tangy, a bellini in a bottle.

Okay, okay, fine, I’ll cop to this one: Victoria’s Secret Pink.   This would be the original Pink, not Pink Beach or Pink Angel or Pink Panties or whatever the heck those ever-sluttier Victoria’s Secret execs are coming up with these days, an airy green peony-freesia floral that is still pleasant to me, and which I bought another mini of this past year, to replace the old one that was getting really low.  My excuse? The CEO likes it.

Victoria’s Secret Victoria.   The very first fragrance VS released, waaaay back in the… late 80’s, I think, a beautiful floral chypre that nonetheless has a difficult opening due to age.  I’ve now smelled three different bottles of this, and all three are off in the topnotes – decayed bergamot, or something.  I never owned this when it was new – I couldn’t afford it.  But it’s lovely, when the weird top burns off.  VS used to carry really beautiful, elegant nightwear – I had a gorgeous teal satin spaghetti-strap nightie that I wore for years – heavy satin, with four-inch-deep soft ivory lace.  Victoria smells like that thing felt – elegant, luxurious, pretty.  

Crown Perfumery Crown Bouquet.  I hereby curse Clive Christian to live, without diamonds and Lexuses and cash, sleeping in a tent and eating local food, in a miserably poor place for three months.   Perhaps he’d give up this ludicrous “most expensive perfume in the world” nonsense, and all the teddibly posh trappings of his current perfume business, which just annoys the %#** out of me. 

Cuir de Lancome.  A perfume with brains and beauty and a backbone?  Of course it’s discontinued, because no one under the age of 21 bought it.  Look, I’m not being ageist.  I think young women should wear what they like, even if I happen to find the popular fruity-sweet style ditzy and unpleasant.  It just burns my shorts that Lancome should decide not to continue producing a beautiful scent and selling it to “mature women” because they’d rather concentrate their efforts on selling things like Miracle So Magic and Tresor In Love.  Which I doubt very much will sell better than Cuir – they’ll just sell to the right demographic.

Shalimar Light.   News Flash: Eau de Shalimar is not an acceptable substitute.  Whose bright idea was it to bottle the smell of lemon baby wipes?

Guerlain Terracotta Voile d’Ete.  This may have been intended as limited edition as well, but I can’t find anything that says so definitively.  (Note to self: Aha!  This is what Agent Provocateur Strip was reminding me of!  Not an exact match, of course – this is spicier – but similar in the floral-amber category.)

I’m not even including reformulated things like Ralph Lauren Lauren – the reformulation of that one was like taking Sigourney Weaver and turning her into, oh, Blake Lively* – and Kenzo Parfum d’Ete – which has been changed into a different, but still pleasant, scent.  (*Please don’t hate on me for the Blake Lively comment.  Blake’s fine as she is, but in my opinion, Sigourney is Too Much Woman to be turned into someone young, blonde, and… hmm, how to say it?  Naive.  Blake should aspire to be Sigourney, not the other way round.  RL Lauren used to be kind, interesting, beautiful, classic and strong.  Now it’s merely pretty. )

So if I count up the discontinued scents, ignoring the reformulateds and the vintages, that’s, like… (frantic scrambling to get the calculator) a whopping 28.6% of my full bottle wardrobe.  This is a little scary.  You think so?  On the other hand, it might tie in to the fact that I am a Total Sucker for stories of lost love.  This is probably even more scary when you consider that I bought all of these bottles knowing that these fragrances had been discontinued.

Anybody else as crazy as me?

Image is I’d rather be a perfect sinner by theilr at

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8