This blog is for rambling about, well, everything that interests me. Gardening. The Farm. Perfume. Fashion. Photography. Fried chicken. Books. Clutter. Hoarding. Sewing. Writing. Murder Mysteries. Bacon. TV. Movies. Restaurants. Cooking. Oh, and don't forget the cat pictures.
I used to collect stamps. Off and on. And it's the "off and on" that interests me today. Though I warn you in advance that my thoughts below don't come to a conclusion.
Sometimes, for months at a time, stamps were the most fascinating thing imaginable. I dug through Scott's guide, and got stamp magazines, and debated who to order approvals from, and read Nassau Street and Stamp Collecting For Fun And Profit again, and tried to create what I thought of as "real" album pages, with typed or carefully lettered information about each stamp. And I'd buy cheap stamp mixtures from Woolworth's, and ever so carefully soak all the stamps off and dry them nice and flat and poke them into my stock book with stamp tongs, and reorganize and reorganize and reorganize them again.
And then, one day, suddenly, stamps would become incredibly boring. Little pieces of paper that people once used to send letters? Who could care about that? And I'd put all the stamp collecting stuff away. Then, a few months or a year later, the cycle would turn and stamps would be fascinating again.
Sometimes the stamps would give way to other hobbies, but more often, all of my interests would wax and wane at the same time. I'd either be bouncing delightedly from shiny thing to shiny thing, or I'd be sitting back watching the world go by. This sounds rather like depression cycles, but during those sitting back times I don't think that I was sad, I just didn't see any particular need to rush out and find things to change. I read books and watched television and ate food, and that was good enough. It wasn't as nice as the shiny things, but it was fine.
Right now, I seem to be in a waxing hobby cycle. I just took up knitting. As mentioned in The Other Blog, I'm threatening, as of today, to take up sewing again. I'm wandering through LuckyScent wanting to buy every perfume I see. I'm making plans to learn to make the perfect shrimp salad, of all things, with the shrimp properly cooked with their shells on, and homemade mayonnaise. I keep having vague thoughts of taking up wintersowing and propogating weird and rare seeds.
What I want to know is, what inspires the hobby cycles? What inspired this one? I know that I started this blog last October out of a vague feeling that I'd been staring at the world too long, and that it was time to get up and find something shiny to chase. I don't know if that creative effort sparked all the others, or if it was the beginning of a cycle that was on its way.
What about you folks? Does your creativity also cycle between idleness and frenzied activity?
The sample box was bulging, so I poured it out, threw out the empties, and looked for something new to try among the vials that had been hiding in the bottom. I chose Miller Harris Fleurs de Bois, because I couldn't remember anything about it, including why I bought it.
Looking up the notes list cleared up that question: Galbanum, grass, lemon, green mandarine, rosemary, rose, jasmine, iris, oak moss, patchouli, sandalwood, vetiver, myrrh and birch. Yum. The only thing wrong with that list is the myrrh.
Unfortunately, myrrh is often enough to ruin any fragrance for me, and it comes dangerously close to ruining Fleurs de Bois. I love the sharp green, and the subtle, un-candy citrus. The herbal bite of the rosemary and patchouli. The flowers - though I'd like a little more distinction between the rose and jasmine. The powdery texture that I believe comes from the iris, and the darkness that probably comes from the oakmoss. And something, probably the wood, giving it depth and structure. I imagine it as a stack of translucent, floating silky layers.
But then there's the myrrh, popping up through the middle with a Nelson Muntz Ha ha!
I can't tell if I'm going to get past it. This could, for all I know, be the fragrance that teaches me to love myrrh, surrounding it, the way it does, with so many lovely notes. I'll know after a few more wearings.
From the beginning, my sampling of Tom Ford Velvet Gardenia has been about the beeswax. I want a beeswax perfume. Not a honey perfume - that's different, and honey always goes urinous on me. Velvet Gardenia rarely, maddeningly rarely, produces an absolutely perfect beeswax note, so for months and months I debated buying a bottle.
Now it's been discontinued and the bottle option is gone (if you know of someone who still has bottles, don't tell me!), and I'm down to the large decant option. I'm wearing what's probably the third-to-last wearing from my small decant. And for the first time I'm asking myself, beeswax or no beeswax, do I like the gardenia part?
Yes. I do.
I see why others dislike it. It's cloyingly sweet, with a medicinal edge. And there's a bit of a ripe-dairy vibe - that's probably the note that people smell as blue cheese. This is not a fresh, dewy flower with a lovely drop of morning dew, it's an overheated flower that's starting to decay.
Yes, I'm strange. I'm the one that considers "smells like mothballs" to be a reason to seek out a perfume, remember? In fact, I can see the mothball/rotting-meat perfume (Tubereuse Criminelle) and Velvet Gardenia as being cousins, capering in surreal but oddly beautiful costumes, surrounded by a crowd that's keeping their distance from the medicinal vapors, but still can't help but watch in fascination.
Today I wore Parfumerie Generale Iris Oriental. Lovely, incense-dusty, starts out dry and dries down toward sweet. I'm considering a bottle. But how often would I wear it?
That makes me consider, how often do I wear anything? I've been logging almost every perfume-consuming day since I started this blog in October. I realized today that, hey! my tag counts give me an approximate idea of how much I've worn each fragrance. ("Approximate", because sometimes I tag a post based on a mention of a fragrance, rather than a wearing.)
The most wearings for any scent, in the ten months since I started the blog, is eleven. That suggests that I shouldn't own more than a decant of anything. Let's just ignore that fact and move on quickly.
Parfumerie Generale is heavily represented - that's no surprise. I wouldn't have expected Un Lys to lead the pack, but it is an all-season fragrance, while Cristalle and Sushi Imperiale are seasonal. No. 19, my favorite, was several positions down from the top, but that's logical - I'm very protective of its scent associations, and generally save it for special occasions.
Issey Miyake A Scent is an unexpected entry in the top ten - I would have said that I mildly like this scent and only bought it to support the "green" trend. But it appears that I'm quite fond of it.
Cuir de Russie is the only fragrance in the top ten that I don't own in a full bottle. I shy away from the huge Thermos-sized bottle, but maybe I should break down and buy myself a one-ounce decant, and find a pretty old-fashioned atomizer to put it in. Or maybe I should just buy the Thermos and run around town forcing half-ounces on everyone who's ever expressed an interest in perfume. (Postal Regulation Phobia bites me again; without that, I could do a bottle split and keep the bottle.)
I remember loving Cuir Venenum and Cedre Sandaraque, so I'm going to resolve to wear them more often, until they find their niche. Paestum Rose and Original Vetiver, on the other hand, may be bottles that I'm ready to let go. If I could do so without mailing them, that is.
I still want that bottle of Iris Oriental. But the numbers have me persuaded that that would be Wrong. We'll see how long this sensible phase lasts.
This doesn't, I realize, sound like a big deal. Not like, say, "I bought a pony cart" or "I bought a hobby farm". It's just girly sandals.
And they're not all that girly. They don't have a dozen little strappy straps, or glitter, or beads, or heels, or any of those extra girly attributes. They're just a nice little pair of flat black strappy sandals.
But, see, I never bought real girly sandals before. I usually buy shoes that cover my whole foot. The one pair of clumpy, practical sandals that I do own were purchased just to have shoes that I could wear with a skirt, without socks. They fill a functional checkbox category.
But I got these sandals yesterday because they look nice. They're an entirely fashion-based wardrobe purchase. And that's not normal for me. I've discussed my lack of talent in the girly world. And my recent reaction to a book about (gulp) clothes.
And there seems to be a slow change happening. Linen shirts. Bangle bracelets. And a shell, of all things - I bought something sleeveless?! Oh, and a pretty little purse. No, two pretty little purses. And I intend to look at winter skirts when they come in, rather than when they go on sale. (Unless it's already too late?)
And now girly sandals. Things are changing. Maybe the aliens are taking over my brain.
Himself hates patchouli. Yes, he disapproves of perfume, but he hates patchouli. And notes that you hate are always easier to detect than notes that you love. So while everyone else smells birch tar in Patchouli 24, and I smell tea leaves, Himself smells patchouli.
I like patchouli, but not enough to regularly make Himself flee. So I won't be buying a bottle of this one. Or of Parfumerie Generale Intrigant Patchouli. Or Bond No. 9 New Haarlem. Or Comme des Garcons Luxe Patchouli. Note hatred is good for the perfume budget.
Of course, that leaves more room for, say, gardenia...
Himself doesn't like perfume. Doesn't approve of perfume. Nevertheless, Himself presented me with a vial of Shiseido White Rose from The Perfumed Court, because I'd been rambling on about it. Have I mentioned that I'm very fond of Himself?
From what little I've read about Japanese perfumes, I expected this to be a quiet, retiring perfume, the kind that you have to sniff right at the skin.
I was wrong. I'm wearing one drop on one wrist, and it's wafting a an intense cloud of scent to my nose as I type. Digging for more information, I discover that this is less surprising than I would have thought - the scent was created in 1954, and Chandler Burr refers to it as an "absolutely classic scent".
But if you've been reading all the fuss about this perfume - the one that Chandler Burr also called "astonishingly beautiful", the one that you can only get from Japan, the one with the alarming price - you don't care about all that. You want to know what it smells like, right?
It smells like a rose. That sounds pretty basic, but it's rare that a rose perfume simulates the experience of smelling a living rose, warm in the sun. Real roses are peppery and spicy and green and tart and, most importantly, complicated. They have more notes than I, at least, can get my mind around.
And so does Shiseido White Rose. It's lovely, but I can't get my mind around it, or describe it properly for you. I can tell you that it's one of those scents that's so fine that the sensation of drowning is acceptable - like A La Nuit or like the queen, No. 19 parfum. As it develops, it grows less intense, but not less interesting - all of the complexity of the rose is still there, it's just quieter, as if the sun's gone behind a cloud.
And it is all rose - this is a soliflore, with nothing else in the mix. It might, finally, be my rose. There's plenty left in the vial, so I'll let you know after a few more tries.
Today was supposed to be Last Saturday. Well, it was Last Saturday, but it was supposed to be shopping Last Saturday. But I spent the day divesting, instead of acquiring - there's a big glob of stacked-up junk in the front hall waiting to be trashed or donated or Freecycled.
But when we miss Last Saturday altogether, we often redefine it as Last Sunday. And on Sunday we're having lunch at our traditional Sunday restaurant, which happens to be at the mall.
Ramble One: I have a policy about perfume backups. I've mentioned this before. While I may admire other people's squadrons of bottles, I'm too hoarding-inclined to risk such a collection myself. So my policy is to own only one bottle of each fragrance, and to make that the very smallest size available.
But I have four bottles of Cristalle. Two minis and two full-size. And I'm keeping them all. So there.
Ramble Three: It's Friday. My brain has agreed to cancel its plans for escaping from my head, if I agree to stop writing code until Monday. (Have you ever dreamed in a programming language? It's very unpleasant. I can't blame my brain for rebelling.) So it's nap time.
Since I was going to be alone for the daytime hours, I applied far more of this than usual - six sprays, I think. But I applied all of them well away from my nose - three on the back of my neck, three on my stomach.
This seemed to prevent the usual problem where over-application burns out the nose so that I can't smell the perfume any longer - I think that the scientific term is temporary anosmia?
So I was able to clearly smell those grainy sweet candied occasionally-momentarily-a-little-bit-skanky lilies all day.
You may have noticed that most of my images come from Wikimedia Commons. I wandered by there today and was so taken by the Picture Of The Day that I just had to present it here. According to the record, it was taken by "World War II and fashion photographer Toni Frissell, at Weeki Wachee Springs, Florida, 1947." And according to Wikipedia, the photo was used on more than one album cover.
I'm not sure if I find it beautiful, nightmarish, or a combination of the two. But I definitely find it fascinating. To see it at maximum resolution, click the "Image:" link below, and then click on the image.
I've mentioned the armor-like feel of Fou d'Absinthe. That feel has led me to wear it on a few too many grumpy irritable days. The result is that today, on a not-so-good day, it made me the day a bit more nervous and strange.
Time for corrective action - I need to hold it for a few better days.
We did a lot of driving today - actually, Himself did a lot of driving today, while I sat idly with a book and drank a lot of iced tea. So I refrained from perfume, given the whole small enclosed space thing.
Last time I wore this was in May, and according to that post, I didn't think that it worked for warm weather. But today it worked beautifully in hot weather.
As with Aomassai, lots of heat seems to dry out the syrupy elements of the fragrance, leaving something pleasantly dry - not in the sweet-versus-dry sense, but instead the sticky-versus-dry sense. In the case of Theorema, the result is rather like an orange-infused ginger snap.
Just a pointer to my Rambling Chicken post about a nice-smelling shampoo bar. (Why is it there? Because I'm trying shampoo bars in order to cut down on plastic use, and all the plastic talk is over there.)
I have hobbies. There are the three blogs, two of which I neglect shamefully. And another blog that I'm supposed to be helping with. And the garden, where I mostly admire the efforts of Gardener Artist (Miss Mosaic). And I'm trying to read 100+ books by the end of the year. And there's the chicken frying. And the decluttering. And the unprecedented idea of exercise, on the tricycle. And the park sitting. And we're watching all of Babylon 5 again, with friends. And I haven't taken the time to cook or sew or do anything with that box of beads that's around here somewhere, in a long time.
So I need another hobby, right? Of course I do!
Felted knitting it is. I've always liked the idea of knitting, but I only really like the masterpieces, the things that I might be able to create after, oh, thirty years at the hobby. I do like baby hats, but I don't know that many babies, plus I'd probably spend months reading up on Infant Hat Safety Guidelines before I dared to actually relinquish a hat to anyone with supervisory responsibilities over a baby.
So I tend to stop my projects before they're actually finished, after they demonstrate their first flaws. The fuzzy angora scarf with wide bands of several different colors is about ten years old and four feet long, but still not done. And Himself is still waiting for his sweater.
But I like felted wool things, both the difficult-looking things like hats, and the oddities like little felted balls. And I'm told that the felting process (heat, water, agitation, intended to produce what you produce accidentally when you throw a wool sweater into a washer on Hot) conceals many flaws. I knit many flaws, so this is good.
So I'm knitting (well, not while simultaneously typing; that would be impressive) my fifteenth row of a round of wool that is intended to be felted into an ittybitty gift bag, once I get another twenty-five or so rows on it and sew up the bottom. And felt it and block it and dry it and edge it and possibly also line it with some kind of gaudy silk, and add a cord. And then I'll...
OK, I don't actually know what I'll do with it; it was just the simplest project in the felted knitting book. Maybe I can use it to keep a perfume bottle feeling cuddled and secure. My eventual goal is to master felted knitted hats, but I'll probably work my way through glasses cases and potholders and tea cozies first. And inflict them on people.
I first wore this scent while moving a bazillion boxes on a hot, hot day, with Himself. I had a sample, and I kept re-spraying myself, to keep my morale up. I wore it again a few months later when we were doing a similar task - maybe cleaning out the garage? - on, again, a hot, hot day. As a result, I associate at it with doing things with Himself. (And with heat, boxes, and dust, but I'm ignoring that part.) So I put it on tonight, before we went to a concert by (woohoo!) Bare Naked Ladies.
Now, it's a little odd to own a scent essentially dedicated to a person who doesn't like perfume. But I like perfume, and I like Himself, and therefore I need a perfume to celebrate doing things together, so there it is.
And, by the way, it's a beautiful scent. It's a clean sparkly jasmine, very informal, and the mint adds to both the sparkle and the informality. There are other notes, about two dozen of them, but all I can tease out is the jasmine, the very low-key mint, and that Jo Malone almost-edible-but-not-quite base, grounding the other notes and keeping them from being pure carbonated froth. I've mentioned a strong but pleasant soapy aspect to the bath oil, but I don't get more than the faintest hint of that soap in the perfume.
For me, this is a happy scent, suitable for jeans and sneakers or sundresses and bare feet. But I think that it would stand up just fine to a far more formal situation.
My perfume lives in tilt-top bread boxes, to minimize light exposure while allowing quick accessibility. I used to keep some of it in drawers, but I got tired of the sound of bottles falling like dominoes every time I opened the drawer. Or the drawer next to it. Or walked by in heavy shoes.
The bread box storage makes it difficult to actually reach many of the bottles, as they're lined up in claustrophobic little rows, front to back. My favorite scents - currently L'Eau Rare Matale, Cristalle, Ivoire, and the oxygen-depriving florals like A La Nuit - hang out in front, or even cluster on the shelf above, improperly exposed to light. (But not, I promise, direct sunlight.) Those of least interest - Mitsouko, Philosykos, Sweet Lime & Cedar, and other worthy scents that I should just give away because I seem incapable of appreciating them - migrate to the very back and never see the light. It seems unfair that the least favorite gets the most protection.
Sometimes a favorite gets pushed into the wrong territory and has to be rediscovered when I'm digging deeper for something new. That's how I found Jasmine White Moss. I wore her, and she was lovely, though I don't have anything new to say about her - rather than blooming extra big in the heat, she burned off and ended up as a faint, but nice, veil of green. And now she's hanging out on the open shelf with the other favorites, all of them cringing from the light. I really must tidy up.
Yesterday, I (incorrectly) predicted that Caron Alpona would "drown me in essence of sticky orange liqueur." I said it as if it would be a bad thing. Drowning, smothering, or knocking down the wearer is usually undesirable behavior in a perfume.
Serge Lutens A La Nuit is an exception. I applied three sprays, and three sprays is enough to surround me with a fog of jasmine thick enough to require, if not a knife, at least a potato masher. I'm breathing in jasmine with every breath. And I want more.
This is the first perfume that has allowed me to understand the "more power" philosophy of scent. For years, I've been reading posts from people who demand to know how you can call yourself a perfume wearer if you just apply a wimpy spritz or two. Five spritzes! Seven! Fourteen! I recall people on Basenotes swearing that they've worn fifty. Normally, I just humor the crazy people and back away to a place with more oxygen. Today? Mmmm, fifty.
Don't worry - I won't put on even a little bit more. People are coming over tonight, and they probably need to breathe. And tomorrow I'll be back in the "less is more" camp. But today, for just a moment, I think I get it.
After the unexpected hot-weather success of Parfumerie Generale Aomassai, and of Issey Miyake A Scent, I thought I'd try another scent that strikes me as inappropriate for hot weather - Caron Alpona, a rich spicy bitter-orange perfume.
Nope. Failure. It didn't fail for the reason that I expected. I thought that it would drown me in essence of sticky orange liqueur, but it turns out that the problem is that the heat burns it off in less than an hour. For that hour, it was just fine, though it didn't undergo any special hot-weather transformation, like the other two did.
I haven't worn this in a little while. I remembered it as being a little ruffly-feminine, and I've never been the ruffly-feminine type. It seemed particularly wrong for today, when the temperature was expected to flirt with one hundred degrees Fahrenheit, and the air was unusually humid, and I expected to be rushing around in the resulting hot soup.
So, naturally, I wore it. And it was perfect. Much to my surprise, in the heat it develops an aspect that goes nicely with, well, sweat. The combination makes me think of salty lemonade. Weird, but good.
I love Parfumerie Generale. I love "green" perfumes. So I was excited when Parfumerie Generale came out with Papyrus de Ciane, a green with jasmine and galbanum and vetiver and so on. I'm eager to write up a proper review.
The problem is, I can't smell it today.
Now, I don't mean that I can't smell anything, the way that I can't smell anything with some of the l'Artisans. When I first sprayed on Papyrus de Ciane, there was a modest amount of scent, with a very distinct "top notes" fizzy vibe. I waited eagerly for the middle and base. And then, even with four sprays, the whole thing just vanished.
This fragrance is oddly perfect under almost any circumstances. In autumn, smoke and tea are always welcome. In winter, the vapors and the charred wood cut through the emptiness of the cold. In spring, it's sharp and bright and has that bug-killing vibe. On a hot day like today, all the heat of the charred wood vanishes, replaced with a breeze-like mood.
It's sober enough to feel appropriate on a formal occasion, but not so ornate or pretty that it's out of place with muddy garden gear. It would feel a bit out of character with a swoopy sundress, but in a pleasantly contrasting way, like a fine suit accessorized with a Mickey Mouse watch. Review Roundup: Is here.
The idleness started today. Saturday was party prep. And Sunday was party. (Fried chicken was involved. Of course.) So today is the first day of serious idleness. Park. Books. Dinner. Cocktail. And now I blog, in a rambling manner perhaps slightly influenced by said cocktail. (Lemon drop. Mmmmmm.)
I spent the day largely unscented, except for the above-mentioned Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint Bath Oil. I'm tragically out of ElizabethW Rose, and I decided that I really ought to use up some of my backlog of bath potions before ordering any more.
It's an odd scent - as a perfume, it smells like, well, jasmine and mint, with maybe a faint trace of soapy sparkle. But in bath water, it smells like soap. Specifically, like really nice laundry detergent, the kind that you imagine when watching people blissfully bury their faces in snowy white towels in television commercials for detergents, rather than the dreadful white musk that the laundry detergent usually really smells like. I like it, but I'm puzzled about the drastic difference.