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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