Saturday, January 26, 2013

What Does Winter Smell Like To You?

Our city's air quality sucks.  In fact, it's among the worse in the country. This means that whenever I go outside to get a breath of fresh air, there isn't any.  Instead it's heavy and dirty, and smells of lead and cold metal with a touch of oil refinery burn-off.  Along with bitter cold temperatures, we also have a lot of snow this year, so the essence of cold little kid cheeks, wet mittens and wool coats is everywhere.

By the way, old leather gloves make your hands smell sour. Honestly, it's nasty. I'm still working on tactful language around a gentle reminder.

'Huh, what's that sour smell?'

'Sometimes old gloves have that smell...are those yours?'

'What, you don't notice that your hands stink?'

Like I said, still workin' on it.

Daphne - my nose - is acting up a little, more tuned into the smells of the environment than the smell of my perfumes.  God knows I'm trying to please her by wearing my favorite winter scents, like White Aoud, Mauboussin, Jungle l'Elephant and Dune.  I even shook it up this week and wore Sur le Nil one day, just to get her attention.  She yawned.

Sometimes, big, unexpected smells interrupt everything.  Yesterday, on my drive to work, an 18-wheeler merged from the canyon onto the freeway in front of me.  Smoke poured from its hot brakes, filling my car with the acrid smell of burning tires.  By the time I could change lanes, my nose and my throat were burning.  Even opening the windows didn't help. (This is a trick Dad taught me to offset the smell of passing a dead skunk on the road.  When it seems like the odor will never leave your car, just crack the windows open briefly and whatever lingers will be gone).   Daphne was pissed and refused to pay attention to my perfume for the rest of the day.  She did get over her hissy fit enough to enjoy Montale's Red Aoud last night.

The good new is, I'm smelling more perfume on men this winter, which is delightful!  Maybe they feel more comfortable wearing scents in cold weather, or maybe I'm just noticing it more. Either way, it's the only thing making Daphne smile these days, so I hope the trend continues.

What are the best and worst smells of your winter?

image from

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Perfume Layering Successes

One day last weekend, I found myself on the floor in the smellie room playing with new perfume layering options.  Honestly, I rarely end up wearing these combos (Tea Rose and Sur le Nil being one notable exception), but discovering them always makes me feel better about hoarding perfume.  Plus, it's an activity that both Inner Critic and Inner Farm Girl can support, which hardly ever happens. 

My pairings include perfumes that I don't wear much because they are either annoying in some way on their own or just too far down the list to get much attention.  First, I test them side by side on a paper scent strip, then on top of each other on a separate strip.  If they pass those tests, I spritz them on my skin, again side by side and then one on top of the other.  Passing this final test, they get recorded in my smellie book, which I keep in the smellie room on top of the smellie cabinet. 


And the winners are: (layered like a cake):

Bal a Versailles + Cabochard
BaV has a civet sweetness (an oxymoron, I know) that is weirdly tamed into submission by the tobacco and burning leaves of Cabochard. In return, BaV encourages Cabochard to let down her guard and soften up just a little.  Sometimes, two powerhouse perfumes can bitch slap each other just enough to strike a wearable balance, which is exactly what happens here. 

Celine Dion Notes + Essence eau de Musc by Narcisso Rodriguez
CDN (bought unsniffed as part of an inexpensive perfume buying binge) smells like a stronger version of an even less expensive Adidas eau de toilette that I wear to motivate myself to exercise. But paired with EedM, these perfumes sing as if they were always meant to be a duet, suddenly alive and interesting in a whole new way.

Ralph Lauren Safari + Calvin Klein Truth
Both start out very green, and one must wait for the drydown to appreciate what they do for each other (you'll be tempted to scrub for the first five minutes).  I've always been annoyed that Truth's freshly cut grass vibe is lost when the top notes fade, but Safari keeps this element vibrating throughout the life of the base notes.  Plus, Truth cancels out the nose burning galbanum of Safari that prevents me from wearing it alone.

My favorite pairing of the three is Celine Dion Notes and NR Essence Eau de Musc.  With spring just around the corner, it's a combo I will definitely wear, no doubt about it.  Assuming I don't forget to check the smellie book. 

What is your latest perfume layering success?

Image from

Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Why Do I Say It?

Tonight, my sisters and I met for drinks - dirty martinis for me.

We always end up talking about our parents; my mother, who has been gone for almost three years now, and my dad, who grapples with the strange mix of his grief and his freedom.  As the oldest and youngest child in the family, my sisters share some common circumstances, like the burden and benefit of great expectations from my mother.  She was in awe of both of them for different reasons and encouraged them to be all that they were capable of being.  All that she knew they were.

Perhaps it's different for middle children - at least it was different for me.  I was not necessarily expected to excel, and to this day, it puzzles me that Mom seemed to overlook the possibility that I could achieve something of value, or that I, too, had unique gifts.  That we were all simply diamonds in the rough. 

Tonight, I stayed silent for a long time as my sisters talked about how hard it is to go home now that Mom is not there.  They both long for her company, her nurturing and even the drama of their imperfect relationship.  The audience of her is gone, and they miss it profoundly.  I listened with a conscious half smile that I was certain reflected the perfect level of empathy and understanding.  This time, I almost made it. 

And then, I said it.  Yet again.  'I don't feel that way.'

For some reason, I still have to assert my perspective, like I will disappear altogether otherwise.  I loved my mother, but we did not share the intense connection that exists between the believer and the one who is believed in.  Unlike my sisters, I had to create my own self image without the benefit of being essential to my mother's satisfaction.  Even though their relationships were not ideal, I envy my sisters' longing, their need for her and their desire to bask in her adoration one more time.

Every time I say it - 'I don't feel that way' - I regret it.  Stating this serves no one and just feels immature and bratty, like the prelude to a toddler's tantrum.  One day very soon, I will fulfill my goal of being supportive and warm as I listen to them recall the connection with our mother that they long for and have lost.  I will smile sweetly and nod, keeping my own loss to myself.

Image from

Friday, January 11, 2013

Inexpensive Perfume Delight: Mauboussin

Luca Turin and I finally agree.  Mauboussin is an amazing perfume, especially in the winter.  It's kinda oriental, kinda gourmand, a bit herbal-spicy and truly incensy.  Not in a Belle en Rykiel faux incense, squeaky clean way, but in the authentic, dirty, smoky sort of way.  I love that.

Mauboussin, introduced in 2000, is everything L'Agent tried to be, but isn't.

Of course, true to my style, I stalked Mauboussin for months before finally making the purchase (under $30, by the way).  Upon application, I smell rum, even though the top notes are listed as plum, bergamot and red tangerine.  Thrown together, they smell like booze.  I'm just sayin'.

Very shortly after comes the smokiness as the base notes seep through all the others and make their way to the top.  Sandalwood, cedar, patchouli and vanilla are present early on in the development of this perfume, giving it both earthiness and depth from the beginning.  Fifteen minutes in, I catch the slightest whiff of BO, which works beautifully and takes its rightful place among the other elements. 

There is a place for BO, after all.

Mauboussin is fuzzy and familiar, like the childhood blanket that stinks of food, naps and toys - the one you can't bear to part with.  Sillage is moderate and lasting power is very good.  Strong at first, Mauboussin quickly settles into itself and blends into the smell of my own skin, like a scratch and sniff patch where the scent is always there, but intensifies with friction.

I'm working from home today following a large snowstorm, and Mauboussin is perfectly reflecting my mood; engaged and relaxed, cozy and warm.  Reveling in what could be my best blind buy ever.

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Friday, January 4, 2013

New Years Resolutions for 2013

1.  Keep polishing my fingernails

2.  Read a book

3.  Eat more legumes

4.  Figure out what the hell legumes are

5.  Paint the smellie room

6.  Host a perfume party

7.  Post a rant about 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

8.  Get a bark collar for Paige

9.  Stop being embarrassed to read 'Vogue' on the airplane

10. Use the f-word only when I really need it

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

Celebrating the New Year Together

Me and My Sisters

B-man (2nd from left) and The Guys

All The Girls
 Pictures my own


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