Thursday, December 30, 2010

SOTDays: Parfumerie Generale Tubereuse Couture and Heeley Cardinal

On Wednesday, I wore Tubereuse Couture. It was as lovely as ever, but gorgeous slightly dirty buttery flowers with a streak of green weren't what my brain wanted. I didn't know what it wanted until I got a whiff of smoke late in the day--I don't know if it was a snuffed candle, a match, or someone's perfume--and I developed a sudden inconsolable longing for incense. Not flowery or fruity or herbal or spicy or otherwise gussied-up incense, but just plain old incense. This is a brand new craving for me.

So today I wore Heeley Cardinal. Perfect. The opening was a fraction fruity--I have no idea what note was involved; the cistus?--but now it's plain, not-too-dry incense. The sample is almost empty and I'm thinking about a decant. Actually, that's a lie--I'm thinking about a bottle, but That Would Be Wrong.

Image: By LeonWeber and Heidas. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, December 28, 2010

SOTD: Chanel Coco EDP

I had a problem with tuberose for a while. It made me grumpy and prickly and irritable, and my theory was that somewhere in my childhood there was probably some annoying woman who smelled of tuberose. I got over it, and now I love tuberose.

I lavishly sprayed my new bottle of Chanel Coco EDP, and it made me grumpy and prickly and irritable.


That annoying woman apparently wore more than one perfume. Now, I'm confident that I'll get over it. Ignoring the associations, I do like this scent. I like the initial gingerbread notes, and I like the fact that they're accompanied with something sharp and tart and Chanel-like. I like the fact that the scent makes me feel like a grownup. I like the combination of Chanel and gourmand. It's all good.

I just have to forget the annoying woman.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Twitter: Let's #fumechat! (Friday, January 7, 10pm Eastern)

Apparently resistance is useless, because I am now using Twitter.

Tonight I was participating in BlogChat, a Twitter-based chat ("TweetChat") about blogging--great throngs of people all typing like mad, exchanging blogging ideas. And it occurred to me that, hey! There are plenty of perfume-type folks on Twitter, and they do some perfume chatting, but wouldn't it be cool if we were occasionally all around at approximately the same time, for higher-speed perfume chatting? Of course it would!

Now, I know little to nothing about the etiquette of TweetChats, and in fact I know very little about the etiquette of Twitter--my knowledge hasn't advanced substantially since this post. But why let ignorance hamper me?

I proposed the idea, and Eyeliner On a Cat and EauMG were both kind and encouraging to my crazy poultry self, and we concluded that Fridays at 10pm Eastern would be a fine, fine time to talk about perfume, and that #fumechat would do just fine as a hashtag. This Friday is an unlikely time, given that whole New Year's thing, so let's put the first chat off a week.

So, Friday after next, January 7, 10pm Eastern, 7pm Pacific, let's #fumechat on Twitter!

Image: By Green Lane. Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 27, 2010

SOTD: Balmain Ivoire, and soap

I mentioned that yesterday's scent, Hermes Hiris, included a note that I read as soapy. It reminded me of another "very expensive soap note" scent, Balmain Ivoire. I wanted to smell it again, so that's what I wore today.

Divina on Fragrance Bouquet described this aspect of Ivoire (all aspects of it, for that matter) far better than I could, and in fact her post may well be credited with my acceptance of soap as a note to enjoy.

I'm still picky--the soap note has to make me think of a creamy, sudsy bar, or perhaps a bubble bath, rather than a box of laundry powder or a clothesline of drying clothes. Hiris and Ivoire are the "sudsy bar", and Jo Malone White Jasmine & Mint bath oil, a favorite, oddly makes a bubble bath smell soapier than the bubble bath itself does. Lorenzo Villoresi Musk, sadly, leans a little too far on the laundry side, though I manage to like the fragrance for other elements. And Kieh's Musk Oil is pure laundry room for me.

Ivoire was as lovely as ever, and I enjoyed the soapy part of its development. One day soon, I may wear Hiris on one arm and Ivoire on another, to compare the creamy expensive suds vibes.

Meanwhile, any suggestions for other creamy-soap scents?

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Malene Thyssen. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, December 26, 2010

SOTD: Hermes Hiris. And negotiating with iris.

I got Hermes Hiris for Christmas! (As stated before, woohoo!)

Iris and I have had a rocky journey. Early on, I found it cold and gritty and unfriendly, and only appreciated it when it smelled like pencil erasers, and that only because it made me laugh.

Later, I learned to appreciate it, but I rarely found it friendly. Serge Lutens Iris Silver Mist? Cool and regal and otherworldly and quite possibly a little poisonous. (You know, in a good way.) Parfumerie Generale Cuir d'Iris? Iris and dragon leather--fascinating, but still not a personality that you'd invite over for tea. Parfumerie Generale Iris Taizo? Starts out stern and dusty-dry and a little grumpy, and only after a few hours does it turn gentle and sweet, like that strict English teacher when she unbends at the holiday party.

Now, iris can be a supporting player in warmer, more passionate scents. It's in Chanel No. 19 and Cuir de Russie, for example. They're both fully prepared to extend claws and teeth in a catfight and then, after decisively subduing the competition, settle in an instant back into smooth-furred gracefully posing elegance. But iris is responsible for the elegance, not the passion. Most of the time, iris is a good citizen, stern and with excellent posture. And that's all very well, but what's iris like when it's lounging, comfortably, at home?

Like Hermes Hiris, that's what. This is sunlit, relaxed iris, friendly and off guard. It reflects the best of Olivia Giacobetti's genius, managing to hand me a bouquet of notes that I normally don't like one bit, and make me love them. According to one notes list, it has orange blossom--I hate orange blossom, and I love it here. I'm usually dubious about rose; no problem here. And there's some powder, always a little iffy for me, but in Hiris it's barely there, quietly making the fragrance a little more feminine than it might be otherwise.

As Robin from Now Smell This observes, Hiris is "fresh" without resorting to ozonic air freshener notes. To my nose, I think it's the soap that does this, terribly expensive bar soap with a musky edge perhaps achieved with the ambrette seeds instead of that horrible white musk found in so many fragrances. The hay, too, no doubt adds to that persuasive fresh-air mood.

I can't tease out the the coriander, honey, vanilla, and woods, but I assume that they're draping all of these floral and fresh notes, grounding the fragrance and keeping it from exhausting my nose with too much high-pitched good cheer.

It's lovely. I'm wearing too much today, and I'm not sorry.

Review Roundup: Now Smell This and MakeupAlley and Savvy Thinker and Basenotes and Fragrantica and Eiderdown Press and Bois de Jasmin.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

SOTD: Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale. What else?

So, I wasn't sure what I was going to wear for Christmas. I was given a bottle of Hermes Hiris (woohoo!) and I gave myself a bottle of Chanel Coco. And Un Crime Exotique is, of course, a dandy holiday perfume. And Tea for Two is wintery and cuddly. And almost any of the winter oranges--Orange Star or Theorema or surely I have another one?--would have been festive as well.

And then it was 3pm and I realized, who am I fooling? It's Christmas. Sushi Imperiale, of course. Six sprays. Yum.

And then there were yams. And chicken fingers. And fried wings. And brussels sprouts and carrots with infinitely too much butter. And cake. And Russian tea cookies. And minty chocolate. And, generally, gluttony followed by napping and murder mysteries and junk television.

I hope that you all had a lovely Christmas of just the kind that you wanted.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Powerhauer. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, December 24, 2010

We Three Kings - Myrrh - Parfumerie Generale Querelle

So. Myrrh. Gold is happy and glittery. Frankincense is spiritual and serene. Myrrh?

Death. At least, that's my take on the major symbolism. Death and suffering. And what kind of third post is that, the day before Christmas? I'm not clear on whether myrrh was intended to comfort the sufferers, or just symbolized the suffering, like a smell that served the same purpose as a shroud or black funeral clothes.

I've been talking about my childhood self in these posts, though I can't claim that that was a plan. (I can't claim that I had a plan.) I remember the first death that I grieved, that of the retired policeman, infinitely tall and reassuringly wide, that supervised the crosswalk that I used to get to kindergarten--no doubt with Mom watching all the while, but I remember it as a daily journey on my own, my first foray out into the world.

He would talk to me and, amazingly, he got me to talk back, four-year-old me who was all but mute even with my kindergarten teacher. He died that year, and Mom quotes something that I said when I was told, probably something about Heaven, and definitely a protest against the idea that he wasn't coming back.

I don't remember the quote.  I do clearly remember the first day crossing the street with his replacement, a much younger man, perhaps a new recruit instead of an old retiree. He was bright and cheerful and efficient, putting the best face on a job that he no doubt hoped would be extremely temporary. He wasn't the least bit interested in pausing to wait for a tiny person to choke out something to say; I remember trying to get a verbal feeler out, trying to transform him into a substitute for "my" policemen, and him bustling brightly away before I'd even gotten started. I realized that no one was like my policeman, and that my policeman was indeed not coming back.

So that was death. To steal from that poem, I did not approve. I still miss him. I sometimes wish that I could send a decades-late reminiscing sympathy note to his family. He continued to populate my mind for a long time; I thought that Santa Claus must surely be like him, and perhaps one of the Three Kings, too, was a good man near the end of a life of responsibility, not just worshiping a King but reaching out to a child.

Now I've gone and made myself cry and, y'know, Querelle is good for that. Maybe myrrh was for comfort after all. The descriptive material on LuckyScent refers to this as "sensual", to use one of the milder adjectives, and apparently the namesake film is... well, I'm just not going there at all, because I get none of that from this scent. Querelle is a medicinal perfume to me, clean and sharp, with that protective feel that I get from Fou d'Absinthe, even though there's very little similarity otherwise. It is a bit inhuman, but in a sorrowful way, not a dangerous one. Comforting, and very peaceful.

And there ends my Three Kings week, on a sad note, but it's good to remember an old friend. For more of Three Kings week, please have a look at these lovely blogs:
And thank you, Krista and JoanElaine, for inviting me! I've enjoyed this very much.

Review Roundup: Basenotes and Fragrantica and Perfume Posse and Perfume Posse again and Smellbound and Perfume Patter and Snobby & Grouchy.

Three Kings Image: Three Kings Icon ©2010 Megan Ruisch
Crosswalk Image: By Susan Lesch. Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

We Three Kings - Frankincense - Regina Harris Frankincense Myrrh Rose Maroc Perfume Oil

I didn't grow up associating incense with churches or religion. Neither the Unitarians on my mother's side of the family nor the Baptists on my father's favored that particular ritual. Both parents veered away from their family spiritual choices--Mom to the Methodist church, my father to the philosophy of Henry James--but that didn't get me any closer to smelling sweet religious smoke.

Incense, to me, was represented by those sticks that "hippies" bought in odd little stores. As a small child, I thought that they were actually illegal--which of course made them fascinating and romantic, but certainly nothing I'd ever buy, or even rummage through to read the names of the various scents. I was a painfully law-abiding child.

I remember having that same shocked respect for displays of beef jerky sticks. While they were no doubt legal--nothing sold in gas stations, the most unromantic places possible, could be otherwise--I always assumed that they would require dental equipment beyond that of a normal human, dental equipment that one acquired along with one's hunting license. Sometimes I wish that I could interview my childhood self to find out where she got this stuff.

My ignorance has been a handicap in learning to appreciate or understand incense-based perfumes. I'm sure that they have all sorts of cues for perfume lovers who can understand them--this one is classic church incense, that one is from India, this other one from Japan, and so on. Maybe combining cathedral incense with (for example) Japanese herbal notes would be a delightful surreal experiment in jarring contexts. Maybe olfactory incense jokes could even make a person laugh. I wouldn't know.

Now, if I'd thought of incense as being associated with fire, perhaps I would have crossed those boundaries, at least to the point of sniffing the sticks at the store. I love fire. I love smoke. I love the smell of a just-struck match. I always wished that I lived somewhere where it was legal to burn leaves in the fall. I'm delighted that Himself insisted on a fireplace when we remodeled the house.

We never had a fireplace when I was a child, so Mom sometimes allowed me to make tiny fires in baking pans or structures of aluminum foil, sitting at the kitchen table burning matches and toothpicks and melting Green Army Men. This sort of risk was utterly incompatible with Mom's normally safety-first philosophy. I suspect that she observed my love of fire and feared that if she didn't give it some condoned and supervised outlet, my awed respect for the rules would break down and I'd go playing with matches on my own.

I suddenly realize that there's a trend here. If you add Fourth of July sparklers, glorious things with a fuzzy legal status in the states where we lived, then to my childhood self fire and smoke was all about crime, romance and danger. No wonder I don't "get" the soaring serenity of Avignon.

And what about Regina Harris Frankincense Myrrh Rose Maroc Perfume Oil? Well, it's not what I expected. I thought that it would be a shadowy confusing tangle of scents; I imagined getting lost in it, chasing down the notes. But as it turns out, it's so thoroughly blended that I can't find individual notes. There's certainly some dark richness and smokiness in there, but the overall effect is almost comforting, rather than adventurous.

It's medicinal, but it's a "good for you" kind of medicine, not the kind that you take when you're actually sick. I can't tease out the rose, but I can sense it there, sweetening the bitter notes. And there's not that much bitter, really--maybe it's the oil form of this fragrance that's blunting all the sharp edges. I usually fervantly dislike myrrh and mildly dislike frankincense, but in this fragrance I like them both just fine.

And that's all I have for you in the way of a review; my incense vocabulary is simply not equipped to speak to this fragrance. All I can say is that I like it, even though I don't understand it.

And don't forget! Amble over to these blogs for more of Three Kings week:

Review Roundup: Fragrantica and Basenotes and Nathan Branch and Perfume-Smellin' Things.

Three Kings Image: Three Kings Icon ©2010 Megan Ruisch
Incense Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

SOTD: Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale

On Wednesday, we had a Christmas party. I believe that there was a moment when we had twenty-five people in our house. We watched It's A Wonderful Life, and our friend Karen made a cake of supreme amazingness--Himself will be presenting it properly in his blog, and I'll be linking there. (And here's the link!)

As a lifetime loner, a painfully shy person, a person who as a child rationalized that friends were a meaningless fiction rather like that huge Brady house, this is mindboggling. It's not brand new--we've been welcoming people to our home for a few years now. But I'm still stunned every time, still announcing, when folks have gone, "We had a party!"

I wore Sushi Imperiale, of course; it's the perfume with the the proper glittering tapdancing sparkle for the occasion. Thank you so much, everyone, for coming, and I wish that we could have had all you folks in blog land with us as well.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Marlene Thyssen. Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

We Three Kings: Gold: Comme des Garcons 8 88

I grew up hearing the Nativity story at Christmas. I heard it in Midwestern Methodist churches, in books, and in Linus's voice in A Charlie Brown Christmas. Linus's rendition had the greatest impact on me, by far--should this worry me? It still affects me, even in my agnostic adulthood. I can conjure up his voice right now.

Linus never got around to discussing the wise men or the gifts, as far as I can recall. If he had, maybe those gifts would have made sense to me, but as it was, my response was "frankinwhat?" I remember thinking that frankincense and myrrh were something stinky and oily, and I was surprised to discover, later, that I wasn't too far from the truth. But while a little oily scenting is all very nice for a baby already living in a warm dry house, it seemed rather beside the point for the whole hay-and-stable situation.

Gold, on the other hand, gold made some sense. Not all that much sense; I wanted to hear, instead, that the kings had thought to spend some of that gold to provide some immediate practical gifts, maybe hot food and silk-and-feather comforters like those that Ram Dass left for Sara Crewe in A Little Princess. And, yes, the fact that I combined the Bible and children's chapter books as two elements of one big tapestry suggests that I didn't absorb that whole religion thing in quite the way that the church hoped.

But I conceded that a king facing a being that was heralded by a whole new star would feel the need to make an appropriate gesture, and pressing gold and sacred oily things on that being might seem just right. Even if a fire, tea, and hot buttered toast for Mary would be more useful.

(I suspect that a Sunday school teacher from my past is feeling a sudden pang of failure right about now, but doesn't know exactly why.)

Toast aside, gold is something to catch the imagination. It's wealth. It's royalty and pirates. It glitters. It doesn't decay, it doesn't dissolve. But it's also soft, a near-indestructible material that's nevertheless amenable to changing form based on a craftsman's imagination, so it seems more ours than hard, brittle jewels. You admire jewels; you fondle gold.

This was supposed to be a perfume review, wasn't it? All right, then: What should gold smell like? Do I agree with Comme des Garcons that 8 88 is a successful olfactory portrait of the stuff?

Only for a moment. Somehow, I expected Comme des Garcons to take a high-tech view of gold, cold and minimalist. I was wrong. 8 88 starts out girly, all mellow buttery flowers and a hint of fruit, with just a bit of an edge that, yes, seems a bit metallic. I think it's the saffron. The butter and fruit faded in less than a minute, leaving a nonspecific impression of brightness and warmth blended with the metallic saffron. That phase, lasting two or three minutes, was a pretty good impression of gold, though it lacked the sparkle that would make the mood complete.

After that, the last of the friendly warmth was gone and 8 88 developed into a cool, dry saffron perfume, no longer the least bit girly, with a woody note that grew as the hours passed. I like it; it might beat Washington Tremlett Black Tie, my previous favorite for the note, in a saffron faceoff. But saffron is not gold; gold must glitter, and 8 88 does not.

For more of We Three Kings week, please head for these fine blogs!
Review Roundup: Perfume Posse and  Perfume Posse again and Perfume Posse yet again and Fragrantica and Basenotes and Now Smell This and MakeupAlley.

Three Kings Image: Three Kings Icon ©2010 Megan Ruisch
Gold Laurel Wreath Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

SOTD: Slacking Off

It's odd; on normal non-vacation days, I seem to have plenty of time to blog,  in the evening after work or on long lazy weekends. On vacation, which should be an extended long lazy weekend, less blogging happens. Why is that?

In any case, just to maintain the Scent Of The Day data: Saturday I wore The Different Company Oriental Lounge, continuing its ascent into my favorites. And Sunday, to make up for violating Scentless Saturday, I wore no perfume until I found a Tokyo Milk Let Them Eat Cake tester. It was no more than Perfectly Nice; the vanilla was a little plastic, and there was no edge to make up for the bland cakey sweetness. I think it's better as a candle--we sniffed one of those, too, and liked it very much.

And that is all, for a weekend's worth of blogging.

Image: By Ardfern. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, December 17, 2010

SOTD: Chanel Cristalle


Oh. Yes.  Cristalle. I thought that Cristalle was a warm weather perfume, but today I had a craving for it, and the craving was correct--it was perfect. In winter it was sharper, the oakmoss darker and the galbanum sterner and the sweeter, softer floral elements standing well back. Yes, I know that there is no galbanum listed in the notes for this fragrance, but I still smell it.

Did I mention vacation? Bwahaha!

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, December 16, 2010

SOTDays: What? Oh, something or other

Perfume? Yes, I wore perfume these last two days (Nasomatto Absinth and Andy Tauer Orange Star), but I didn't pay much attention. I'm focused on the finish line where work ends and the holiday starts.

Friday is my last work day this year. I have two weeks off coming up. Ten work days. Plus three weekends. Sixteen days total. Not that I'm counting or anything.

Soon, I will have shifted to a four o'clock-to-noon sleep schedule. I'll be spending over ninety minutes a day in bubble baths, with a corresponding increase in the number of rumpled dampened-and-dried books on my shelves. I'd better order more bubbles. If I don't spend too much time online, I might even read the two books a day that would be required to get me to my goal of one hundred books read this year.

I might cook things. I might sew things. I might declutter. Or I might just engage in three hundred and eighty-four hours of idleness. Not that I'm counting.

Image: By ColKorn1982. Wikimedia Commons.

We Three Kings Joint Blogging Project


I was invited to participate in a joint blogging project! Bwahaha!

OK, maybe the evil laugh is inappropriate for Christmas. The project is We Three Kings, and the plan is to post about three scents, one each representing gold, frankincense, and myrrh. I can't wait to see what I'm going to say. The posts will be coming during the week of the 19th to the 25th.

The other fine and perfume-infused bloggers participating are:
Go read 'em!

Image: Three Kings Icon ©2010 Megan Ruisch

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

SOTD: The Different Company Oriental Lounge

I put on an ample supply of Oriental Lounge Monday before lunch and Christmas tree acquisition. I put on more before our evening plans. Then I put on more today.

I like this stuff. It's not going to beat out No. 19 or Sushi Imperiale or White Rose, but it's rising rapidly through the ranks to take a place among the top favorites.

Review Roundup: Is here.

(The picture? Nothing to do with perfume, but aren't the colors perfect for Oriental Lounge?)

Image: Produced by European Southern Observatory. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, December 12, 2010

SOTD: Bois 1920 Sushi Imperiale

We were going to buy a Christmas tree today. So of course I wore Sushi Imperiale, the supreme Christmas scent.

As it turns out, the early part of the day was grumpy and frustrating and made us cranky, so we decided against being a bad influence on an impressionable new Christmas tree. We'll get one tomorrow.

But Sushi Imperiale was still lovely.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Jorge Barrios. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

SOTD: None and None

Oh, dear. The lack of perfume is continuing. Now, Saturday is Scentless Saturday, so that's according to plan. But I'm not sure how Friday went wrong.

There's always Sunday.

That is all.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Thursday, December 9, 2010

SOTD: None, and Various

Wednesday was busy and scentless day.

Thursday, I tried Lostmarch Din Dan, and got distracted before I could respond with any more than, "Ooh! Lemony!" Then, when the citrus faded, I put on Feminite du Bois and remained oblivious to that, too.

Maybe tomorrow I'll pay attention.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

SOTD: biehl parfumkunstwerke al01

So who is this company? What have they got against capital letters? What does that long word mean? I've wondered this for a while, but never got around to reading the Luckyscent profile page, much less researching any further. The notes list for biehl parfumkunstwerke's al01 finally dragged me out of my apathy--while I'm dubious about the fruity notes, the presence of galbanum, bergamot, ylang ylang, sandalwood, and oakmoss, plus Luckyscent's assurance that it qualifies as a chypre, made it a scent that I wanted to try.

So I read the profile, and it failed to answer my questions about the capital letters. And Babelfish failed me on the long word. So, on to the perfume.

Which was fine. Just fine. Not cloying, not dull, not eager to please, not over-weird, not conventional, not a single bad thing. But, sadly, while there was nothing wrong with it, there was also not a lot of excitement. I think that I'd agree with the chypre designation, yes, but it's one without much bite. Many of the reviews on Luckyscent complained that it smells like an old lady scent, which I, of course, considered to be a plus. But it's not old lady enough. I was underwhelmed.

However, the problem may be seasonal. What I find vaguely sweet and with no bite now may be crisp, cool magic in the summer. I will try it again.

Review Roundup: Basenotes and Fragrantica and the gloss.

Image: Wikimedia Commons.

Monday, December 6, 2010

SOTD: Parfumerie Generale Un Crime Exotique


Have you ever had pfeffernusse? They're little domed dense spice cookies, sometimes dusted with powdered sugar, sometimes coated with a slightly crunchy white glaze. I've always loved them at Christmas, usually with lots and lots of milk.

I normally don't like spice-heavy fragrances, but Parfumerie Generale's Un Crime Exotique smells exactly like pfeffernusse. It's such a precise rendition that I have to struggle to tease out the notes--at first, it's just the cookie. As I keep sniffing, I get the gingerbread, and the anise, and a trace of cinnamon, and... well, no, that's really all I can get out. LuckyScent tells me that it also has Chinese osmanthus and tea and mate and vanilla and sandalwood. But if I stop analyzing, it just becomes pfeffernusse, and to me, that's the whole point.

Pfeffernusse is a Christmas cookie, making this a Christmas scent. I fell in love with it last December, but I restrained myself from buying a bottle, or even resniffing my sample. Who needs a fragrance that's only wearable for a month? But the world is full of discontinuations and reformulations, and I don't want to discover, too late, that this one is gone. So it's now basking on the new perfume shelf.

Review Roundup: Is here.

Image: By Dan Phiffer. Wikimedia Commons.

Sunday, December 5, 2010

SOTD: LesNEZ Let Me Play The Lion

I've always loved the name of this one. But, sadly, it produced a little celery/cedar for an hour or two, then faded away.  That is all.

Image: By Aka. Wikimedia Commons.

Ramble: Tryptophan Girl

I touched the top of a package of chicken a few hours ago. And I haven't washed my hands yet.

How is this meaningful? Well, I worry. A lot. I spend most hours of most days with one worry or the other either front and center in my brain, or waiting in the wings, merrily waving every few minutes to be sure that I can see him.

I recently realized that most of the foods that I crave and have thought of as "my foods" all my life--milk with various starchy junk foods, sunflower seeds with oversweetened iced tea, peanut butter and jelly on squishy white bread, turkey sandwiches on similarly squishy white bread, and, of course, chicken (usually with rice) are packages of tryptophan-rich foods plus carbs. Which, according to Google, help produce serotonin. Which is good for reducing worry cycles.

Oh. Now you tell me. So I've been self-medicating all my life? No wonder I'm round.

And, yes, I wash my hands too often, and I check doors, and I worry about bigger things that are harder to see as irrational and I demand that other people reassure me about those worries. OCD genes flowing down the family tree. Further Googling tells me that the cycle of obsession leading to compulsion leading to following the compulsion leading to temporary relief is, in the long run, about as addictive as a smoking habit. Every time I comply with a compulsion, whether it's washing my hands or demanding reassurance or rehearsing all the details of "did I do that right?" in my mind, I'm training my brain to demand another fix.

I think. This is, admittedly, all coming from Google. But the respectable-looking sites all seem to agree: Complying with those compulsions is not only bad in the moment, because you wasted thirty seconds running back to check the door, but they're bad in the long run, because you train your brain to demand the comfort of the compliance, like a baby who never, ever seems to be able to get himself to sleep without help.

I don't know what I'd recommend for the baby, but I think it's time to let my brain cry it out. I've kept a conscious level of control of the little OCD rituals--I won't let myself wash my hands or check my doors more than I did last week or last month. But that just seems to let the worry emerge in areas where it's less clear that I'm being irrational, and that's worse.

So I think it's time to stop merely holding my ground, and start making progress. No more washing my hands for no good reason. No more checking that I've locked the door--never, not even once, has it turned out that I hadn't locked up, so the check is clearly irrational, even if my mind is gibbering at this very moment that it's not.

And when those big, less defined worries come up, the ones where it's less clear that I'm nuts? I think it's time to accept that someday, before I die, I might actually do something wrong and somebody might actually be mad at me. But that the consequences will probably be less than the consequences of spending my entire life with the worry of the day tapdancing in center stage. So, no more making absolutely sure that I've done every conceivable thing to resolve the issue, no more rehearsing the details over and over in my mind, no more endless impossible-to-satisfy quests for certainty.

Now I'm going to go drink a vat of milk and eat a cookie or three. I'm not giving up the tryptophan yet.

Image: By Unisouth. Wikimedia Commons.

Saturday, December 4, 2010

SOTD: Heeley Cardinal (Quick sniff)

I've been playing with a new Batch O Samples this week. Friday's fragrance was Lyric Man, but I wasn't prepared for it--I expected something heavy and complex, and the first notes struck me as light and fresh and almost soapy. I need to try it again before saying anything more.

Today's fragrance was Heeley Cardinal. Wasn't someone recently looking for a church-style incense without a lot of side dishes? If I'd already tried this, I would have recommended it. The beginning was smooth and calm, comforting without being sweet, sober but not dark. Unfortunately, I was distracted and can't recall any details about the later stages--I enjoyed it all the way through, but that's all I remember. I'll have more another day.

Image: By Calapito. Wikimedia Commons.

Friday, December 3, 2010

Rambling: Fashion Voice

I've never been into fashion. I always used to see it as a frantic race by everyone to achieve the same magazine-picture standard, with the competitors possessing fewer resources being doomed to fail. Yes, in theory everyone could have their own take on clothes, but none of the relevant phrases spoke to me. Personal style. Fashion trademark. Signature style. Blah. Isn't that all just about whether you buy the latest shirt in the latest cut in blue or red or green? I saw it as a competition, and I wasn't interested in signing up.

But I was out today, in that hat in the picture, with that pin, and that scarf, and a heavy black sweater and a long black skirt, and I realized that I was mildly enjoying my clothes. This was a surprise. The enjoyment didn't seem to be about fashion, but more about silliness and self-expression, like a kid playing dressup. Or like my childhood insistence on red sneakers, one that according to Mom was stated so firmly and with such sober determination that she was a little afraid of my single-digit-age self.

Fashion as self-expression rather than competition shouldn't strike me as a revolutionary concept, but I must admit that it does. And as soon as the thought came, a phrase came with it: fashion voice. Like, y'know, writing voice, or blogging voice. The way that I express myself, rather than the way that I (don't) frantically chase that magazine picture.

Now, Googling tells me that I didn't coin the term--searching on "your fashion voice" gives me over a hundred thousand hits. On the other hand, "your personal style" returns five and a half million, so "fashion voice" still manages to fit in with my contrary insistence on coming to popular subjects from a nonstandard direction.

It's interesting that my decision to utterly abandon fashion is responsible for my finally starting to find my fashion voice. A few years ago, I decided to declare a uniform, to avoid having to make fashion decisions, and thereby avoid exposing my incompetence in that area. But once I decided that every garment would be black, every skirt would be long and straightish, every shoe would have zero heel, that all combined into, well, almost a plan. And then I started buying the scarves, and some gaudy modern jewelry, and some vintage costume jewelry, and things like little black velvet gloves with red fabric roses. All to contrast with the black.

And for the first time, at forty-odd years old, I'm starting to enjoy clothes. This is fun.

Photos: Mine.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

SOTD: Andy Tauer Carillon Pour Un Ange

I want to love an Andy Tauer scent. My fondness for Orange Star has reduced the urgency, but the quest continues. My issue with his big-gun scents--L'Air du Desert Marocain, for example--tends to be the dark incense notes, so a green floral seemed like just the candidate. And who could possibly have too many, or even enough, greens? Now, I do have issues with lily of the valley, but I sent off for Carillon Pour Un Ange all the same.

The top notes were intensely "perfumey", to the point that they made my eyes water and my sinuses rebel. This is not a wrist scent--for future wearings, I'll remember that I need the distance of a back of the neck application.

But there were some positive signs even as the top notes went on the attack. There's a grainy texture--I'd call it powdery, except that I don't much like powder, and I do like this. And rather than being cloyingly sweet, it was an intense mix of sweet and sour; I approve, though I do wish it were a little lower-pitched and a little less clean.

It took a couple of hours for the top notes to calm down and leave some room for the green. I don't get any of the calmer notes mentioned in reviews - no wood, no ambergris, not even leather. I just get very clean flowers, and a quite nice green. I can imagine getting addicted to this particular green, but I'll have to wear it a few more times before I feel that I've really got a handle on it.

Review Roundup: Perfume Posse and Now Smell This and CaFleureBon and Basenotes and Muse In Wooden Shoes and Perfume-Smellin' Things and MakeupAlley and Fragrantica and Hortus Conclusus and DivineCaroline and The Non-Blonde.

Image: By Olivier. Wikimedia Commons.

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

SOTD: Serge Lutens Cedre

Sweet. Sweet. Sweet. Oh, my God, sweet.

A while ago, I tried the two "one syllable C word" Serge Lutens fragrances, Cedre and Chene. I kept forgetting which was which, but since I didn't like either one of them, it didn't really matter.

But I recently fell madly in love with Chene, so it seemed like time to try Cedre again, in case I'd changed my mind about that one, too. But no. Flowers drowned in cinnamon and syrup. This is not going to work.

Review Roundup: Basenotes and Now Smell This and Perfume-Smellin' Things and Perfume Posse and Bois de Jasmin and The Non-Blonde and Perfume-Smellin' Things again and Fragrantica and PereDePierre.

Image: By Eylem Basak Ekinci. Wikimedia Commons.