Monday, December 31, 2012

My Most Worn Perfumes of 2012

Okay, I'm in. 

After reading many 'Best Of 2012' posts, I am truly impressed with the level of sophistication and awareness of other perfume bloggers.  Fortunately, I feel no need to compete with those who know much more than I about new, obscure niche offerings.

I try to avoid making an ass of myself whenever possible.  

But I do have to offer up something, because the middle child in me is jumping around, yelling, 'I want to play, I want to play, I want to plaaaaaay!'

Dude, relax.

Thinking back on the year, and viewing my perfume collection, I realize that both what I sniff and what I wear is first and foremost...accessible.  Below are the perfumes I wore the most in 2012.  A few are repeats from lists of years past.  But then, some loves never change.

My Most Worn Perfumes of 2012:

Un Jardin en Mediterranee by Hermes - My go anywhere, anytime with anyone perfume.

Rose Essentielle by Bvlgari - Makes me and everyone in the room feel a little sunnier.

Un Jardin Sur le Nil by Hermes - Peppy and serious at the same time.

Eclat by Fragonard - Floral, powdery and sweet...short lived but fun.

Prada Infusion D'Iris - Woody and floral, great office perfume that won't ruffle any feathers.

Josephine by Rance - The name, the story and the bottle is fabulous.  The juice, however, is better layered with Jovan musk.

DKNY Pure - Innocuous office perfume that says, 'No, really, I'm a warm person.'

Cabaret by Gres - Soapy, raspberry rose and incense. 

Montale Aoud Damascus - Aoud, rose and...ocean breeze.

Essence Eau de Musc by Narcisso Rodriguez - Freshly dry cleaned and steam ironed.

Baiser Vole by Cartier - Herbal green violet bouquet.

White Aoud by Montale - Deep woods, Band-Aids and vanilla. 

Montale Black Aoud would also appear on this list if I hadn't leaked a decant all over my make-up bag two trips ago.  Fortunately, the spill sillage (and the trauma) is fading, so you can expect this perfume on next year's list.

Happy New Year!

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Perfume I Tried To Love: L'Agent by Agent Provocateur

Before purchasing L'Agent by Agent Provocateur, I was certain it would be a new perfume love.  I obsessed for weeks and bought it unsniffed after reading all that I could and predicting how the top, heart and base notes would work on my skin. Typically, I love dark rose perfumes, and according to Katie Puckrik, it contains one of my favorite notes at the base: leather.  In fact, all Katie can talk about is the leather, leather, leather! 

Love you, Katie, but leather my ass.  

In all of the reviews that raved about L'Agent, WHY DID NO ONE MENTION THE CINNAMON?  I'm talking nose burning, drown-out-every-other-note cinnamon.

This threw me because cinnamon is not listed anywhere in the official notes of the perfume.  But Daphpne knows it's there.  I realize that skin chemistry might contribute to this reality, and I admit to developing a recent aversion to cinnamon in perfume because it's so wrong.  But even on a paper scent strip, L'Agent is a cinnamon monster. 

Like a good perfumista, I don't give up easily.  I've tried layering L'Agent with everything under the sun to tone down the intense spiciness.  At one point, I even thought L'Agent and Muscs Koublai Khan could work as a dirty rose team.  And they did...right up until the cinnamon burned through MKK like an acid spill on my favorite t-shirt.

Balenciaga Rumba is absolutely wimpy compared to L'Agent.

Here's my question:  Of all the ingredients that are now officially banned from perfume, why the hell isn't cinnamon one of them?

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Wednesday, December 26, 2012

What Perfume Captured Christmas For You?

Just by accident, we ended up doing Christmas right this year.  So many years come and go and I second guess what I could have, would have and should have done had I thought it through a bit more.  But not this year.  For whatever reason, this year was just right.

Knowing I'd be cooking our traditional Christmas brunch of waffles, scrambled eggs with cheese, bacon and sausage (while mimosas flowed freely), I wanted a perfume that blends well with any kind of food.  Plus, it had to mirror the smells of the season; delicate spices, a burning fireplace and early morning coffee. know, sweaty pirate adventures. 

My choice?  L'Artisan L'Eau du Navigateur.  It, too, was just right.

What was your Christmas perfume?  And why?

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Soup, Romance & Nuit de Noel

Last night, I made soup, and it turned out good.  I say this because I never follow a recipe so I'm not sure exactly how soup, or anything else, is going to turn out - it's different every time.  Usually, I look at two or three recipes that represent what I want to cook, then I wing it and make up the rest.  Occasionally, when it turns out great, I write down what I did.  But mostly, I just convince myself I'll remember, then end up starting over the next time.

Whenever I cook, B-man and I hang out together in the kitchen, talking and laughing as he pours the wine while I fake concentration on the process. This time, halfway through my soup project, I wonder what perfume will highlight the flavors and complement our meal.  After spending a few minutes in the smellie room, I decide upon Caron's Nuit de Noel.  Not just because the perfume itself is beautiful, but because the history behind it is so romantic.  As the story goes, perfumer Ernest Daltroff created Nuit de Noel for his lover because she was in love with Christmas Eve.  And he was in love with her. 

Telling B-man about this story last night, after he says how good I smell, I get a little teary.  Nuit de Noel is most enchanting at Christmas, and each time I wear it, I am reminded of the love behind the perfume and the love that fills my own life. 

Nuit de Noel is a beautiful accent to my soup.  This time, I wrote the recipe down and included it here so you can try this pairing for yourself.

Josephine's Roasted Squash & Pepper Soup


½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, minced
2 cloves garlic
1 cup almond milk
6 oz red wine
24 oz chicken or vegetable stock
1 inch piece fresh ginger, minced
½ tsp nutmeg
½ tsp allspice
1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
1 Tbsp brown sugar
2 lbs butternut squash cut in 1 inch cubes
2 lbs red/yellow peppers cut in 1 inch pieces
1 can large butter beans

Place cubed squash and peppers on a large shallow baking sheet and roast at 425 degrees for 45 minutes, turning once. Set aside.

In a large (at least four quarts) cooking pot, heat olive oil and sauté onion until slightly caramelized. Add garlic and ginger and continue to sauté for another two minutes. Add almond milk and red wine, then nutmeg, allspice and red pepper flakes. (Adjust pepper flakes to your personal taste.)

Add roasted squash, roasted peppers and butter beans to the almond milk/red wine mixture. Stir and coat the ingredients, then add chicken stock. Turn heat to medium high and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer for 30 minutes.

Remove from heat and puree with a hand held blender. Add brown sugar and salt to taste.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Perfume I Tried To Love: Belle en Rykiel

A full bottle of Belle en Rykiel, by Sonia Rykiel, has lived silently in my cabinet - boxed up - for several years.  I bought it unsniffed after a particularly compelling review by Luca Turin in which he mentions, 'mint, lavender, dry amber and woody floral notes.'  Luca Turin and I disagree on so many perfumes that I'm annoyed to have gotten sucked in by his review.  Must have been my second glass of wine.  In my defense, BeR comes in a cool bottle.

After spritzing, testing and comparing Belle en Rykiel with others that always come out on top, I decided to wear it to work one day last week, willing myself to like it with a whole body application. Luca Turin can be annoying, but he's not stupid, so I can learn to like it.  

I don't like it.

Belle en Rykiel has a twanginess that kills any other good thing that might happen.  What does twangy smell like, you ask?  Like Italian dressing heavy on the vinegar, or fruity/medicinal cough drops, or plain Greek yogurt or incense that stings your nose before it has finished burning.  You know, twangy.  Pile the fruit and floral on top and it's  Plus, Belle en Rykiel freezes in the top notes, never drying down, never evolving.  Instead, it just sits there waiting for something interesting to happen, oblivious to the fact that I'm hoping it will get interesting at some point.

I can't imagine why I would ever wear Belle en Rykiel again.  It's no scrubber, but as I changed into my sweats after work, I found myself wishing the perfume would fade like the memory of my work day and slip out the back door before anyone even realized she was gone.  But, as fate would have it, the lasting power is colossal.

What was the last perfume you tried to love, but couldn't?

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Inexpensive Perfume Delights: Nude by Bill Blass

Not long ago, I placed an order of seven inexpensive perfumes.  At 20% off.  Damn those perfume websites.  At this price, even Inner Farm Girl looks the other way.

Here's the thing: with a little research (that's my cleaned up term for full-blown, on-the-computer-all-day obsession), one can find gems among cheap offerings.  Great perfumers don't just mingle with the likes of Amouage, they also hang out and drink beer with Bill Blass and...Adidas.

Nude by Bill Blass is a wonderful little perfume formulated by the great Sophia Grojsman in 1990.  And she is great, but some of her perfumes just don't suit me, like Tresor and Calyx.  I bought Calyx on my birthday just to stop twitching from the disorder known as Birthday Perfume Obsession, but it soon went back because of the instant headache it caused each time I wore it.  Yep, I take perfume back if it bugs me.  Sales associates frown on this and try guilt inducing statements like, 'are you sure it was the perfume?' 

Either that or the meth.  Jeez.

Anyway...Nude is a musky, rosy, odd little perfume that is rumored to have aldehydes.  Not one to actively pursue aldehydes (Chanel No. 5 just smells silly on me), this gave me pause.  Nevertheless, after reading every review I could find, I made my final assessment and ordered Nude unsniffed for under $20.

Nude's top notes remind me of Silences by Jacomo.  Both have this 'don't act stupid and piss me off' vibe about them, but Nude is somewhat more inviting and a touch sweeter.  Just a touch.  Silences wins in the green and soapy category, but they both have an oldness - almost mustiness - in the heart notes.  Silences never reaches a musky stage on my skin, but Nude gets there quickly.  And it lasts for a long time, even in the cologne concentration.

I've worn Nude for the past three days straight, which makes a strong statement about any perfume, new or otherwise.  Nude is nicely present with moderate sillage, and sexy without trying too hard.  Inexpensive? Yes.  Cheap?  Not at all.

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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Daphne's a Freak

My nose, Daphne, is a freak - I already know this.  It's not that she is so precise when it comes to perfume (although I have my moments), but more that I experience life through smell.  It's the sense that leads me.

Today, B-man and I decide to get out of the house and go to our favorite Costco just to wander around and see what cool things are out for the holidays.  We're pretty easy to entertain.  In the car, B-man points to a subtle stain on my off-white, fleece jacket and says, 'huh, what is that?'  I haven't worn this particular jacket since early spring, so the stain has been there for awhile.  'Wow, I have no idea,' I say.  Then I lift up the corner of my jacket and smell it. 'Oh, that's olive oil.'

Tonight, we're hanging out on Big Red, drinking champagne and chatting about all sorts of topics, both meaningful and frivolous.  Then, out of the blue:

B-man: I can't believe you smelled the stain - which must be almost a year old - and knew right away that it was olive oil.  I'm not sure whether to be upset because your nose is better than mine or scared about everything you can really smell.

Me: Or incredibly impressed.

B-man: Let's go with incredibly impressed.

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Monday, December 10, 2012

Why Don't You Blog About That?

Have you noticed that once you start a blog, people around you comment on topics, pictures, and most of all, frequency of posts.  Like once you start, you better keep a consistent pace or you will be a huge disappointment to everyone that graces your blog with their presence. This is mildly annoying, but also flattering, because if people want you to blog more, it must mean they like reading what you have to say, right?  That's my theory and I'm going with it.

But sometimes, I don't feel compelled to write about perfume, my work, or anything in my life.  I just want to TAKE A BREAK.  In dating and in blogging, apparently, this is a cardinal sin.  How could you get us all revved up then just...stop writing?  Stuff's happening, I just don't feel the need to share it. 

My dad is King Prodder.  Sometimes, I get all defensive and say, 'look, I'm just not into it right now,' then end up writing a post anyway.   Or I say, 'look, I didn't blog because you prodded me into it.'  And he says, 'maybe not, but it worked.'

He gets all smug.

Sunday, Dad and I had a great conversation about a lot of different things.  At one point, we talked about my brother's current trip to Canada and I began ranting about the anxiety of plane de-icing.  Will they notice the ice on the wing?  Will they put enough de-icing solution on the plane?  And how long are we going to sit here on the runway, waiting for the plane to ice up again?  Jesus, get this thing in the air!

Guess what he said?  'Maybe you should blog about that.'

As you can see, I'm not blogging about that (well, I guess I just did), because I am obsessed with the seven inexpensive - but cool - perfumes I ordered that were delivered today.  The perfumes that I tested while sitting on the Smellie Room floor, along with my computer and a glass of wine.

B-man stuck his head in the door with that look that a parent has while watching his child play with building blocks, smiling as if it's the most charming scene on earth.  I chatted with him for a minute and told him about the unexpected treasures I found before waving him on, lost in my perfume exploration.

'Wow,' he said, 'you should blog about that.'

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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Luring Perfume Sites

All of my favorite perfume sites had fantastic 'Black Friday' sales.  This messed with my mind because I have almost reached my self-imposed annual budget.  According to Inner Farm Girl, that is.  And even she was being generous.

So I thought and researched and read reviews and walked the streets of my new downtown shopping center.  Then, I endured the annoyance of the Nordstrom sales associate who kept saying, 'we're carrying Bond No. 9 now!'   I'm not enamored with the Bond line - they all have the same drydown - but I tried to be polite. 

'Oh,' I said.  Shut up, it's the best I could muster.

In the end, I ordered Serge Lutens' Muscs Koublai Kahn, because I have always wanted a full bottle of that dirty little bastard.  Plus Cartier's Baiser Vole, to offset the dirtiness of the little bastard I've always wanted. 

Besides, B-man said Baiser Vole made him smile.

That's it for 2012.  I think.

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Friday, November 16, 2012

The Hierarchy of Flying

I spent most of last week in Washington DC and flew on three planes in the process.  On the first two, the following announcement was made from the cockpit:

'Two restrooms are located in the back of the plane and one in the front cabin.  Sit back, relax and enjoy your flight.'

But on the third and final plane, the announcement was a bit different:

'Two restrooms are located in the back section of the plane and one in the front cabin.  Please use the restroom in the cabin you are sitting in.  You may use the front restroom, but only if the two in the back are occupied.  If you must use the front restroom, please stand behind the first class section, at row number 10.  We cannot have a line forming in the first class section.  Thanks for your cooperation.'

I'm in coach.  I actually said, 'wow' out loud. 

My translation of this overhead message:  'Look, peasants, you get what you pay for.  Now just keep your moldy asses in coach because we don't want to deal with your pedestrian behavior.  You'll probably piss all over the toilet seat anyway.  Honestly, I don't know why we carry anything other than first class passengers - it's so annoying.  Just shut up and thank your lucky stars that we even let you on the plane.

Here's the worst part:  If I pay to sit in first class, I don't want the moldy asses of coach passengers using my very special bathroom, either. 

Yeah, I know.  Wow. 

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Saturday, November 10, 2012

Didn't Your Mamma Teach You Better?

Josephine's Tip-Of-The-Iceberg List of Bad Manners

1.  Not holding the door for the person walking right behind you. 

2.  Grown men rushing the elevator before women with children or the patient in a wheelchair. 

3.  Nurses laughing hysterically at a blind date joke in the intensive care unit. 

4.  Men with nose hair that curls and hangs out of their nostrils. 

5.  Receptionists that finish an e-mail or answer the phone before acknowledging me.

6.  Crowding my space when I'm shopping for clothes and standing so close I can smell your breath.

7.  Cutting your fingernails at your desk. 

8.  Flossing your teeth in the food court.

9.  Taking a crap in the ladies room while reading the newspaper.  No mercy flush.

10.  Men who spit out of their car windows. 

What bad manners drive you crazy?

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Wednesday, November 7, 2012

Settling In The Day After

Does anyone else feel exhausted when Election Night is over?  It's not that I stay up and watch the news program blather (imagine having to talk about something all night until the results are in), but I do find myself thinking about the candidates and how worn out they must be.  And their wives?  I can envision few things worse than schlepping around the country, smiling up at my man and obsessing over my wardrobe.  Shopping would probably be involved. 

Just shoot me.

Of course, I had my favorite presidential candidate, but of the two front runners, I didn't find either one horrible or wonderful.  Both are smart in their own ways, and enough checks and balances exist that one person has a hard time ruining the country out of sheer stupidity.  George W. proved that.

In the end, it comes down to who I can trust, who says the least embarrassing things and my opinion of who will represent us best to the rest of the world.  Mostly, it's just nice to know the outcome.  Now we can all get back to the business of watching what happens next.  

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Sunday, November 4, 2012

Still Driven: Looking for Lightning

Today, I'm reading about Taylor Swift's new album, 'Red.'  It's another huge hit for her and she's what...22 years old?  I start wondering why some people are successful at such a young age and others aren't?  What determines where lightning strikes?

Exactly how different would my life would be if I had Taylor's wealth?  Where would I go?  How would I spend my time?  In the end, money would be nice, but really, it's just money.  I also want Hillary Clinton's power and Steve Jobs' genius.

I've always been driven.

Last week, JD stopped by the house to see how the landscaping was going.  As usually happens whenever he and I are in the same room, we start talking about our lives after about five minutes of general updates.  That's one of the things I love most about him; he is devoid of bullshit and is not afraid to reveal his deepest thoughts with confidence and grace.

I can't remember exactly what led to his comment, but JD said, 'Growing up, I never saw you just as my mother, but as this driven woman who also happened to be my Mom.'  'I knew you loved me, but I always knew I wasn't your whole life.'

Even though he said this as if it was a good thing, I wish I had hidden it a little better.  My inner life and my desire to create something big - something of my own - has dominated my attention over all other things and, if I'm honest, over most relationships, too.  My therapist once described this trait with great understanding and compassion by saying, 'that's simply because you are self interested.'  We laughed hard together because no one had ever reframed my own perceived selfishness into something I could accept and embrace as an authentic part of myself.

My drive to achieve is as strong now as it has ever been, even though my ultimate goal is still unclear, even to me.  Plus, I find myself - shockingly - at 53 years old, so I feel a sense of urgency and know that time will win out in the end.  Every day, I continue to push myself higher and to search for those places I where I can make a positive difference.  Sure, I feel the clock ticking, but it's never too late for lightning to strike.

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Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The World's Worst Shopper

I was born without the shopping gene.  My sisters have it, my mother had it, hell, even B-man has it.  Me?  Nope, I don't have it.  Aren't we supposed to know what we like, what looks good on us and how pieces go together?  Yeah, I don't know any of that.  Plus, I'm claustrophobic (knee high boots and tailored clothes make me crazy) and I have fabric texture issues (wool makes me want to hurt myself). 

This is me at Macy's today on a long lunch break:

I like the shape of that top but I don't do prints
Those skinny pants are cute but they have 'camel toe' written all over them 
Ah, here's a black top that might add to my thousand other black tops
Too bad I don't wear dresses, 'cause I like that one
But if I start wearing dresses, what shoes go with them?
I love that the others I keep buying but never wear
Cute skirt, but what top do I wear with it?
Love that sweater, but what goes under it?
That jacket looks like I'm trying too hard
Hello muffin top
There are too many choices and now I'm overwhelmed
I could buy stuff then take it back
I wonder if B-man would become my personal shopper
He'll try to sneak in a print, I just know it
I could buy the black top just so I don't feel like a loser
Fuck it, I'm leaving

This shopping scenario is the norm, not the exception.   At least I'm certain, once and for all, that my body fits the apple shape profile because I googled it when I got home.  

Now what?

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Sunday, October 21, 2012

Ode to Blue Amber by Montale

Rotting Oak
Stinky Man Feet
Fruit Cellar
Welding Solder
 Unfiltered Cigarette Smoke

image from duftcontor

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Happy Birthday to My B-man

Today is my husband's 70th birthday.  For the past 26 years, we have loved each other and gone through multiple dramas together.  Everything about my life is better because of him, and he continues to amaze me with his brains, his humor and his warmth.

Normally, we would plan some adventure for this special occasion, but we're at home all day because concrete is being poured and small details of our landscaping project need to be overseen.  So we'll talk and laugh and eat good food.  Maybe we'll watch a movie.  Maybe we'll take a short walk.  It doesn't really matter because we'll be together.

Happy Birthday, Bobby.  I love you.

picture my own

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Landscaping - The Space Between

We're in the middle of re-landscaping our yard.  It will be done in two weeks, and a full crew has been here every day (even Saturdays) for the past two weeks.  We're excited to see the results, but right now, this is our life:

I'm having a hard time wrapping my mind around how everything will come together, but B-man is confident, and he reassures me often that we are simply in a process and the end is in sight. 

He's such a Libra.

Photos my own

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Perfume Is Unconditional Love

Today, an old insecurity was touched unexpectedly through something that happened at work.  Now, in spite of my resistance to it, I'm feeling depressed.  I'm having one of those days. 

My  mother was chronically depressed, and I cannot recall my childhood without that fact coloring each memory.  More often than not, I came home from school to find her lying on the bed or sitting at the kitchen table, her head in her hands, lost in sadness.  Or angry at some real or imagined slight that she had run over and over in her mind through the whole day.  By the time we got home, she was furious at everyone and everything, her anger exaggerated because of the time she had spent nurturing it. My bus rides home were shadowed with the fear of the unknown and touched by the hope that as we rounded the final turn and came over the hill, I would see the car was not in the carport, which meant Mom was gone.  And that meant it was safe.  I could come home in peace and breathe easy until she came back.

That memory makes me feel so sad.  How I wish that coming home as a child had been a point of joy in my day instead of one filled with anxiety and insecurity.  My adult life has been spent unlearning the notion that I was difficult to love and her sadness was somehow a result of this unfortunate fact. 

Today, this was triggered again; the feeling of being unneeded, frequently overlooked and less lovable than the others.  My grown up mind knows this isn't true, but every now and then, the vulnerable child that lives under the surface of my competent adult self gets exposed. Something will happen, something small, and I'm on the school bus again facing the unknown.

I came home early today because I just didn't want to be out in the world any more.  I meant to do some work, but my mind wouldn't cooperate.  Instead, I spent time with my perfumes, lifting multiple bottles to my nose and loving this calm, comforting ritual of familiarity.  When life is the most unpredictable, my perfumes remain the same, and I count on them to bring me back to what I know and to who I am.  Just like a child coming home from a hard day of school, perfume waits with its welcoming embrace, ready to soothe my mind and my heart like a mother's love.

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Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Ineke for Anthropologie...Channeling The Gap

Today, after jonesing for Ineke's line of perfumes for Anthropologie, I walk to our newly opened store less than 100 yards from my office.  Assuming they moved so close to me because they were the Next Great Thing (I think everything is a sign from God), I have to check them out.

Irritation #1:  There are no paper strips on which to spray the perfume.  WTF?  I go to the front desk and ask for paper strips and they give me some bogus paper sleeves that carry...who knows what?  A gift card?  Eyeliner?  Thong panties?  So I rip them into strips and realized they smell like ass before anything is sprayed on them. 

Irritation #2: They all smell like wet ass when sprayed on my ripped up paper strips.

Irritation #3:  I have no choice but to try Angel's Trupet and Poet's Jasmine on my skin, as I'm convinced those two perfumes will change my life once they hit my chemistry.

Irritation #4:  Am I in The Gap?  Both perfumes smell cheap for different reasons.  Angel's Trumpet is screechy in that 'notice me because I'm fresh' sort of way, and Poet's Jasmine smells like Swiffer sheets.

Irritation #5: Poet's Jasmine is kind enough to wash off quickly, but Angel's Trumpet sticks to my skin like flies on you-know-what.  I am hoping it will improve over time, but it doesn't.

I forget how many mediocre, cheap smelling new releases keep popping up everywhere.  But I didn't expect that from Ineke. 

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Monday, October 1, 2012

A Magical Weekend With My Favorite Women

For the second time this year, I spent the weekend with my sisters and nieces in Park City.  We laughed, danced, ate and drank, then gave each other manicures and generally hung out together.  Stepping out of our lives to be with each other in a beautiful setting is simply magical. 

My nieces, twins Alecia and Andrea

Baby Sis and  niece Joni Rose

Big Sis

Andrea and Baby Sis

Glamming it up with manicures all around
Baby Sis


You dance, girl

Images my own

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Epic Fail of Perfume Layering

Remember me blathering on about how any Montale perfume can be layered in every which way...because they're all Montale and they have certain similarities like aoud...oh yes, it's just magical.

That could be the biggest lie I've ever told.

 DO NOT EVER layer Aoud Damascus and White Aoud.  Just don't.  I mean it.  Say no.  Or you could have a conversation like the one at our house.

B-man: Wow, what's that perfume?

Me (proudly):  That's a new combo I'm calling White Damascus (I am so, so clever)

B-man:  Uh-huh, well that's some monster sillage you got there.

Me: Yeah, but it will calm down soon.

B-man: It's not calming down.

Me: God, I reek, don't I?

B-man:  It's, really, um, strong.

I was on my way out the door and didn't have time to do anything about it.  But I can tell you this.  On the elevator, I reeked (pay back for the BO reekers).  In my office, I reeked.  It wasn't until about 11:00 that I felt comfortable no one would pass out in my company.  Lightheaded, perhaps, but not hit-the-floor faint.

Aoud Damascus and White Aoud are in completely different gangs. 

I hate learning things the hard way - and I suck at gang slang.

images from 99 and

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

When Does Curvy Stop Being Cool?

The other day, I saw this picture of Lady Gaga 'revealing her new curvy figure.'  According to her, she's gained 25 pounds. How did she get such good press?  Usually, when a famous person gains weight, the headlines read something like, 'So and So Packs On the Pounds,' or 'So and So Caught Hogging Out at Burger King.'

Here's the random question that popped into my mind when I read the headline: how much weight would Gaga have to gain before she would no longer be viewed as just 'curvy?'  Another twenty five pounds?   Fifty pounds?  One hundred pounds?  At some point would her fans stop seeing her as a role model? 

How fat can Gaga get and still be cool?

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Monday, September 24, 2012

Hanging Out With Perfumes That Smoke

Last week, I received my birthday perfume, the lovely Aoud Damascus.  And I do love it, although I'm slightly miffed that the staying power doesn't rival that of White or Black Aoud.  Inner Critic just interrupted to ask, 'can't you ever be content?'

I have my moments.

Yesterday, as the obsession continued, I revisited some of my favorite fall perfumes from the 1980's and 1990's that I had boxed up and put out of sight.  I'm in the mood for heavier perfumes right now that speak of gathering in and preparing for the winter.  Perfumes that are always ready for a party and aren't afraid to misbehave. 

Perfumes that smoke.

Rumba:  You know I love Jean Claude Ellena, who made this creation way back in 1989, long before he became Mr. Understated.  Mr. Hot and Understated.  Rumba is a masterpiece in my opinion, but I have a hard time wearing it because I detect cinnamon through the drydown, even though it is not listed in the notes.  Dude, cinnamon hurts my nose.  Maybe its the combination of tuberose and carnation in the heart notes, or it could just be how everything from oakmoss, tonka bean and cedarwood comes together at the end.  Regardless, I love the dusty, burning, incense vibe that lets me know Rumba has drawn a Marlboro Red from the pack and just put a match to its tip.

Jivago 24K:  Floral and vibrant, 24K was released in 1994 and starts off with a minty note (Daphne often interprets florals this way).  I pick up rose and jasmine, which dries to an amber, musky base.  Certainly, there are other notes, too, like blah, blah, blah. The base notes remind me of Fragonard Eclat in that they're marshmallowy and chemical in a pleasant, drying paint sort of way.  But the secret of 24K is the hint of tobacco in the drydown that keeps popping up to say, 'didnt' see that coming, did you?'  Elegant and smooth on the outside, Jivago 24K still knows how to party.  She just insists on a cigarette holder to protect her opera gloves.

Sonia Rykiel Le Parfum:  Always in my memory, this perfume is a sillage monster, but in reality, as I wear it on my skin today, I realize that's not exactly true.  In fact, aside these other perfumes, Le Parfum, released in 1993, is kinda subdued.  Le Parfum is tricky in the fact that it only truly works - to my nose, anyway - in the fall.  Even then, there's a little too much apricot all the way through, although that's what makes it reflect the notes of autumn so well.  And Le Parfum smokes, alright, but you never see her with a cigarette.  You only know it because of the oakmoss/civet sillage that follows her everywhere from her last cigarette in the car.

Niki de Saint Phalle:  Listed as a green chypre, I'm not sure how I would classify this perfume, released in 1982.  Oddly powerful but also innocent, Niki has spice involved, but avoids the whole 'who put cinnamon in the perfume?' thing.  Niki is also green...not exactly piney, but definitely strolling through the forest. Wearing this perfume, I want to dress like Stevie Nicks in Fleetwood Mac with her black, witchy clothes and lace up boots.  Niki may have stopped smoking cigarettes years ago, but I swear someone just sparked up a doobie. 

What fall perfumes make you want to misbehave a little?

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Thursday, September 20, 2012

Montale Aoud Damascus...Oh My God

Aoud Damascus gave me the moment I've been waiting for - the OMG moment.  I knew it might be the one just by smelling the closed sample.  Montale perfumes are like that, you know.  You can get the essence of them before the container is even opened. On my skin, Aoud Damascus is amazing.

This didn't happen with my other Montale samples, even though I appreciated many of them.  Especially Roses Musk.  When B-man first smelled Roses Musk, he said, 'it's really nice, and it has a hint of what you call vajayjay.'  Huh, all this time, I thought it was a fruity, raspberry rose.  I'll consider Roses Musk again in the spring because it's peppy that way, and because it gives me a perverse buzz to think of showing up at the office smelling like rose and...well, hmm-hmm. 

I wanted my birthday perfume to be a sophisticated rose that doesn't move into spicy or powdery territory.  Aoud Damascus is exactly that with leather, incense and the perfect amount of aoud. Something about it reminds me of riding the ferry from Seattle to Bainbridge Island.

Doesn't get much better than that.

Aoud Damascus is as perfect on my skin as anything I have smelled since Borneo 1834 in the winter of 2009.  And now, it is mine.

Happy Birthday, Daphne.

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Tuesday, September 18, 2012

To William and Kate: There Is Another Option

Sure, we should all be able to sunbathe topless if we want to.  It's a basic human right, like scratching one's ass or getting one's toes sucked.  I could do all these things - and maybe I do, for all you know - without the fear of paparazzi. 

However, I'm not a duchess...well, I don't have a title.  I'm sorry that Kate's privacy has been invaded, but, hello, does she really think there is anywhere on earth she could go topless outdoors and not be photographed?  This could not have been a devastating shock.  And comparing it to the paparazzi tracking down Diana and causing her death is a little, ah, weird, if you ask me.

Gee, have you considered keeping your tits covered when you're outside? 

Crazy, I know, but I had to ask.

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Saturday, September 15, 2012

A Glimpse Inside My Perfume Obsessed Morning

A clip from this morning's conversation over coffee:

Me:  Wow, the 20% off coupon I got for my birthday from one of my perfume sites still works!

B-man: Good, are you going to order something?

Me: I'm thinking of ordering L'Agent perfume while I'm still testing my Montale samples, but I have a dilemma.

B-man lowers the newspaper and turns toward me.

Me: If I spend just another $16.36, I get free shipping.

B-man: How much is shipping?

Me:  I don't to ten bucks, I guess.  Maybe I'll look through the clearance section for something else to order around $20.

B-man:  You're not going to find anything decent for $20. Why don't you order a second perfume that you actually like and will wear, even if it's a replacement perfume?

Me: But then I'll spend as much as a full bottle of Montale and will have blown my birthday perfume allowance.

B-man:  Says who?

Me:  Who do you think?  Inner Farm Girl.

B-man: Look, I'd much rather you spend more money on really good perfumes than end up with a bunch of cheap stuff you don't wear and then give away.

Me:  But how can I justify buying a Montale if I end up loving one of the samples I'm testing in the meantime?

B-man: decided not to go to Sniffapalooza this year, which would have cost a lot more than a few nice perfumes, right?

Me:  Hmmm, true.  Plus, I decided to stay home and cook today instead of going shopping and spending money on frivolous stuff.

B-man:  That's right.

Me:  So really, I'll be dollars ahead if I simply buy perfumes online today.

B-man:  My thoughts exactly.

Me:  But what the hell is going to be my second perfume to get the free shipping?

B-man: Now, you're on your own.

Me: At least I know how I'll be spending my day.

Just one more reason I love the B-man.

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Thursday, September 13, 2012

Bertrand Duchaufour Is Bugging Me

Bertrand Duchaufour is popping up everywhere.  Now, according to Lucky Scent, he's the perfumer behind Ann Gerard perfumes.


Enough, already.

I'll openly admit to being pissed that Frapin 1697 - what I perceived as a great Duchaufour masterpiece before I put it on my skin - fizzled out like a firecracker that never ignites.  Dud City.

Perfume should never be better on paper than on skin.

Note to BD:  Just because you can, doesn't always mean you should.  Stop whoring yourself  and churning out one just-above-average perfume after another for every perfume house or designer that will contract with you.  Take a tip from Jean Claude Ellena, arguably the greatest perfumer of all time, and show a little restraint.  Maybe the quality of your perfumes will improve. 

Wow, little miss cranky pants feels better now.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Divine and Odd, Montale Is The One

Still no birthday perfume - I'm enjoying obsessing a little too much.  I mean I'm really into it, researching perfumes, reading reviews and ordering samples until I have to stop and drink wine just to remember the rest of the world.

But one decision has been made: My birthday perfume will be a Montale.

One of the things I love most about Montale perfumes is that they seem to be dearly loved or seriously despised.  I happen to love them dearly, as they represent everything French and multi-cultural and over the top bold.  I haven't been to France, but my sister has, so I'm only one degree removed.  Plus, my heritage is French, and I speak a little French.  Like, eight words, but still. 

No one can deny that Pierre Montale has done something extraordinary by capturing a theme and perfuming the hell out of it.  In my world, aoud belongs to Montale.

Yesterday, I ordered eleven Montale samples.  You know, the good ones, in the black Montale cardboard thingies.  I feel the need to explore the line more deeply before choosing my perfume and telling Inner Farm Girl to kiss it.  B-man said, 'by the time you're done buying samples, you certainly could have bought a bottle of Montale.'  In my defense, one order was a 'seven samples for $10' deal, where I get a certificate for $10 off a Montale perfume whenever I end up buying it.  Just as soon as I'm done obsessing. 

Black Aoud and White Aoud already live with me, and honestly, I like them best worn together, forming my own special concoction, which I call Grey Goose.  No, wait, that's vodka.  Whatever.  Montale perfumes can be layered all over the place to amp up or tone down certain notes, or to add a completely new element.  In terms of quality, sillage and lasting power, few others compare.

And in the category of 'divine oddness?'  Montale stands alone. 

What perfume house speaks to you? 

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Saturday, September 8, 2012

Rant: Don't People With BO Know They Stink?

Bad body odor is everywhere.  I'm talking really strong, revolting, couldn't-eat-food-around-it body odor.  Elevators are the worst.  Musty unwashed hair, sour backs of necks and smelly feet trapped in a metal cage leave me gasping for air.  Which, of course, only gives me more of the same.  During these painfully long elevator rides, I ponder (it's good to keep one's mind busy to avoid passing out):

Do you know you stink?

Followed by:

When was the last time it occurred to you to f-ing shower? 

Then come the theories:

You have no idea that you stink.
You lost your sense of smell years ago.
You know that you stink but hope no one notices.
You know that you stink, but you don't care.
You fear you might stink, but no one has said anything, so you're in denial.
You've been surrounded by your own stink for so long that you no longer notice.
Your whole family stinks so you think it's genetic.
You love your own stink.
You were raised by wolves.

Last week, I stepped into a new Aveda boutique downtown just to wander and play with new smells.  A well-dressed woman came over to help me and I was nearly knocked over by her body odor.  I'm sure I visibly flinched.  And she wouldn't go away.  The stinky ones never do.  I began smelling the body sprays that mirror each chakra, but in the small space of the store, they all had a base note guessed it...BO.

And don't even talk to me about perfume being annoying to sensitive noses unless you also address the assault of bad body odor.  Show me signs that say, 'No shower, no service' or 'Must shower before boarding this airplane.'  In fact, why can't airport security include a stink-o-meter that indicates who may or may not get on the plane?  Offensive perfumes and stinky asses would all be excluded. 

Tell me why that wouldn't work.

Look, I don't expect people to be clean freaks, but an occasional shower with deodorant never killed anyone, whereas rotting body odor has almost killed me on more than one occasion.  If you're unwilling to do that, then at least have the decency to take the stairs.

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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Why No Birthday Perfume? Meet Inner Farm Girl

I always thought Inner Critic was the biggest pain in the ass I could imagine.  Now, I'm not so sure.

After a long weekend of full-on perfume obsession, my cheap alter ego, Inner Farm Girl, won out.  Again.  Just once, I want to look for a new perfume without the constant fear of cheaping out, the regret of having cheaped out and the pain of telling B-man that yup, I cheaped out when he asks which perfume I chose.  So this year, I went into my annual search telling myself that things were different.  That I was different.

My perfume journey went something like this:

Frapin 1697: I first cheaped out on this perfume in Seattle a couple of months ago even though it made me swoon on the paper strip.  Now, by God, I was going to get a sample, try it on my skin and place the order while I was still twirling.  Except on my skin, 1697 was like, 'pfft.'  WTF?

The Different Company Rose Poivree:  Yeah, fine, whatever.

LeLabo Iris 39:  Elementary school substitute teacher.

Le Labo Vetiver 46: Meh, I've sniffed better.  And why do so many Le Labo perfumes smell like some variation of their only masterpiece, Rose 31?  So why don't I just get Rose 31?!  Inner Farm Girl, that's why.

L'artisan Voleur De Rose: Boring and vanishes in under 10 minutes.

Montale Roses Musk: Now there's a sneaky little beauty that is subtle but has amazing lasting power.  However, it has almost no sillage.  That, or I had burned Daphne out by the time I tested this one, which is entirely possible.

Montale Amber & Spices: Cumin monster.

Bottega Veneta: Like Bandit, it just made me feel pissed off.

Ineke Field Notes From Paris:  Love, love, loved it for the first hour.  Then the spicy factor started hurting my nose. 

Keihl's Musk:  We got a new Keihl's boutique in our city and yesterday, when I happened on it, I thought, 'it's a sign from God!'  B-man said, 'smells like burnt wood.'  It started bugging me.

L'Eau de Chloe: There's like...nothing there.

L'Agent by Agent Provocateur: I've never actually sniffed this, but want to order it anyway.  Besides, it's cheaper than the others.  See?  I'm doing it again.

Yesterday, B-man and I stopped in Park City and I went to my favorite perfume store where I bought a small bottle of...Calyx.  I had to buy something or I was not going to be able to sleep.  Inner Farm Girl didn't exactly approve, but at 42 bucks, she simply shrugged and walked away.  I don't consider Calyx my birthday perfume, but it will get me through the obsession withdrawal until I regroup, give Daphne a rest and revisit the topic.

This is so not over.

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